Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3.25/2014 Tennessee Civil War notes

         25-30, Confederate Naval reports relative to Island No. 10

Report of Lieutenant Averett, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. Floating battery New Orleans, regarding affairs in vicinity of Island No. 10.

FLOATING BATTERY NEW ORLEANS, Island No. 10, March 25, 1862.

SIR: I am informed by Captain Huger that you desire to know my idea of affairs at this place.

This is the eleventh day of the bombardment. I think the entire results may be stated at 2 killed and 7 wounded on shore. I believe we are stronger here to-day than when the enemy first appeared. The enemy's gunboats and mortar boats have not been within the effective range of the battery. I have fired one shot at a transport as an experiment for the range of one of my rifle guns. She changed her berth soon afterwards. On the evening of the 17th two fieldpieces fired three shots at the battery from the opposite bank, but a few well-directed shots drove them off and I have good reason to believe that one of the field carriages was broken and 2 men killed. On the following evening two more pieces were discovered coming down toward the same point, but they were driven off by the battery before they fired a shot. The battery has fired altogether twenty-nine shots and shells. Some of these were fired to break up the enemy's signaling from the shore to their boats and to disperse squads of them who would occasionally, show themselves together.

The officers and soldiers of Captain O'Hara's Pelican Guards and of Captain Stubbs' company of the First Alabama Regiment have conducted themselves in a manner to satisfy me that they are men of determined gallantry and will make a fight worthy of the cause they are serving. The latter company has been under the charge of Lieutenant Stone and recently under that of Lieutenant Crockett. Captain Cooper's company from the Forty-sixth Tennessee Regiment was serving with me up to the 17th, when they were ordered away. This leaves me short of crews for two guns. I have repeatedly tried to get men for them, and orders have been given for captains to report their companies to me, but there seems to be the greatest objections to serving on board the battery, and I have for the present given up the hope of additional help from the army. Of the navy part of my command I can hardly speak too well. The officers and crew alike have evinced the best spirit and have done their duties well and faithfully. Mr. Gift remained with me six days after the acceptance of his resignation and by his vigilance and prompt execution of my orders, gave me much assistance. Acting Master Guthrie has been on leave till yesterday. Acting Master Erwin has unfortunately been sick during this interesting time. There have been no casualties on board the battery and the Red Rover. The battery has been struck by fragments of shells and severely jarred by their explosions under her and around her, but is unharmed. The Red Rover was cut through all her decks to her bottom by a piece of shell, which caused her to leak considerably, but not dangerously. She has not been our quarters since the enemy appeared, but is safely moored on the opposite side of the island. The quarters of the Pelican Guards were sunk alongside by a shell day before yesterday. They are now quartered on shore near the battery.

If you had not asked me my opinion of affairs generally at this point I should not be bold enough to offer it. I give it to you now as a matter of duty. There is every reason for us to expect a victory if the enemy attack this place with his gunboats. I do not believe it possible for him to run a part of his boats by in the night. Those that I have seen are slow and hard to turn, and it is probable that he would lose some of them if not all in the attempt. The post is alive and will give him hot work when he comes down. At this stage of the water this place is completely insulated, and unless a crossing is effected between the island and Tiptonville the land force of the enemy can not harm us if we do our duty.

At sunset to-day there were in sight three of the enemy's gunboats, and to-day and yesterday he has kept up a slow, irregular fire from two mortars. His position has remained about the same since the 16th. He is about 2¼ miles from the floating battery and a little less distant from the uppermost battery (Rucker's). One gunboat, the transports, and three mortar boats, which were with him during the first days of the bombardment, have not been in sight since the 23d.

I shall try to inform you of any changes that may take place here. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. W. AVERETT, Lieutenant, Commanding.

Flag-Officer GEO. N. HOLLINS, Commanding Naval Forces, Mississippi River.



MADRID BEND, March 29, 1862--12 o'clock.

It is said that the enemy are cutting away from the foot of Island [No.] 8 to St. John's Bayou (said to be progressing rapidly) for their boats. Bombardment slowly continues. One of our gunboats came up to Tiptonville last night. Fired at seventeen times.

J.P. McCOWN, Major-General, Commanding.

Colonel THOMAS JORDAN, Corinth, Miss.

Memorandum of the condition of the defenses at Island No. 10 and Madrid Bend, by Captain Gray, Engineer C. S. Army.

ENGINEER'S OFFICE, March 29, 1862.

On the mainland, or left bank of the river, which is the Tennessee shore, and ranging for 2 miles above the Island No. 10, are eight earthworks. Twenty-six cannon are now mounted in these works, as follows, viz.,:

Battery No. 1, called the Redan: This battery is the uppermost work, and constructed for reasons given in letter of September 18, 1861. It was located, after a rapid reconnaissance of a few hours, on August 15, the day on which the enemy's gunboats (two) passed down the river to New Madrid.

At daylight, August 19, the work was commenced, and on the morning of the 20th two guns placed in position, since when none of the enemy have succeeded in descending the Mississippi below it. It was laid off as a redan and subsequently connected with flanks and a cremaillére line. This was not expected to be occupied in extreme high water, but to produce certain effect for a certain period. It has answered this purpose and is not now in condition to be occupied, though it can be held as long as the other batteries last.

The long and unprecedented rise in the Mississippi has washed the parapet nearly away. The ground upon which the work was put up is firm and not a caving bank. The guns can not be used by the enemy and will not be materially injured. They can be easily guarded at night. Batteries Nos. 2 and 3 entirely command Battery No. 1. It has 6 guns mounted in it on strong platforms---3 columbiads (8-inch), and 3 smoothbore 32-pounders. One 32-pounder had one trunnion knocked off by the enemy's shot on March 20.

Batteries Nos. 2 and 3 are, respectively, 2,000 and 2,175 yards off. No. 2 has 3 rifled 32-pounders and 1 smoothbore 32-pounder. No. 3 has 3 rifled 32-pounders. There are earthworks thrown up above overflow and are in good condition. The banks are near and caving, but will last as long as expected at first. To place these batteries farther back from the water would lessen the command of the channel. If necessary other parapets can be thrown up in the rear and the same platforms used without losing the effect of but one gun for a short time.

Battery No. 4 has three rifled 32-pounders and one 8-inch columbiad. It is 425 yards from Battery No. 3; is in good condition, with some defect of caving bank, but in no danger of being inconvenienced in some time.

Battery No. 5 has seven guns. Three are 8-inch columbiads, three smoothbore 32-pounders, and one rifled 32-pounder. This battery was built some months ago, and is 500 yards lower down the river from No. 4. It is in good condition and has a second bank in front of it, and is the most elevated above the water of all our batteries. The bank is some 10 or 15 feet above the high-water mark. This work was put up last fall.

Between Batteries Nos. 4 and 5 is a parapet prepared for three guns, and another, 950 yards below No. 5, for three guns. No guns are mounted, and it is not thought necessary at present to place any there.

In the rear of and to the left of Battery No. 4 is a square redoubt, built 100 yards square. It has two 32-pounder smoothbore cannon on center-pintle carriages now mounted and in a couple of days will have two more up. These four guns cover the gorges of Batteries Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive.

The above constitute the eight earthworks on the mainland at Island No. 10, having twenty-six guns in position.

Batteries on the island: Belmont Battery, or No. 1, on the extreme upper end of the island, has six guns; two of them are 8-inch columbiads, four of them smoothbore 32-pounders. This battery contained the heavy 32-pounder rifled gun called "Belmont." At the third fire at the enemy on March -- it burst into fragments, but without injury to anyone. One of the two columbiads now replaces it. This battery is in good condition.

Island Batteries Nos. 2 and 3 are, respectively, 100 and 375 yards from No. 1. Battery No. 2 has four guns--three smoothbore and one rifled 32-pounder. Battery No. 3 has five guns--two rifled 24-pounder Dahlgren guns, one 8-inch columbiad, and two smoothbore 32-pounders. These batteries are in good condition.

Batteries Nos. 4 and 5 are where the four 24-pounder siege guns and four 8-inch siege howitzers or mortars were placed. These cannon are to-day in position at Tiptonville and along the western side of Madrid Bend peninsula, for preventing the enemy's landing from the opposite or Missouri side of the Mississippi. No guns have replaced the siege cannon on the island, but the naval floating battery New Orleans, carrying eight 8-inch columbiads and one 32-pounder rifled gun, is located there, so as to command the north channel.

Several batteries are now ready--facing the batteries of the enemy below New Madrid--and two heavy guns (8-inch columbiads and 32-pounders) will be in position on each side of the peninsula to open upon the enemy as well as to prevent the passing up or down of any boat which may possibly force itself through the canal being cut into [St.] John's Bayou.

I have located the batteries as near the end of the peninsula as the overflow will admit of, say 1½ miles from Fort Thompson, on the west side, and about the same distance from the mouth of [St.] John's Bayou, on the east side.

The canal being cut by the enemy is nearly opposite Island No. 8, below the mouth of the [St.] James Bayou, and is probably one mile long from the Mississippi into a small lake which connects with the [St.] John's Bayou. Tugs and flatboats, or barges, may possibly get through such a canal, provided the river remains up at its present high stage. It is now on a stand and may fall. A very rapid fall of the water through it might prevent the use of [St.] John's Bayou, and may prove fatal to our defenses by leaving our right flank unprotected.

It is not to be expected that the river can go down sufficient to enable the enemy to move with artillery through the bottoms in front and to the right of the cremaillére line of the Redan battery; but it does subside very rapidly at times, and the utmost attention and vigilance will be required to watch and repair our right-flank works and build new ones. As long as the water remains up we are secure in this direction, and our chief attention should be given to the present left flank, which is below Island No. 10 and on the west side of the peninsula.

A proper distribution of three or four thousand men, with the guns and ammunition at hand, might enable Island No. 10 to hold itself as it now is against the overwhelming force threatening it; but it will require every resource of mind, and the physical as well as mental energies of every man now in this bend. Any misjudgment or mistakes made now, such as have been witnessed from the planking of the streets of Memphis to the sad errors of Columbus, in the last eight months, will cost the Confederacy an irreparable injury.

If a gunboat were placed a mile below Tiptonville she would effectually prevent any landing by the enemy if he should strike across from Point Pleasant or Riddle's Point. The only landing that could be made by the enemy to effect anything below Point Pleasant must be had in this distance of 4 miles.

Between Point Pleasant and Andy Riddle's (the lowest battery of the enemy) a gunboat can lay without molestation from the enemy's batteries, nor could they place a gun between Riddle's Point and their battery at Andy Riddle's. The same may be said of the section between the enemy's battery at Doctor Martin's and his battery at Point Pleasant. A gunboat could lay on our side entirely out of the reach of the enemy's guns, and, by keeping up a little steam nights only, could be ready to destroy any expedition attempted by the enemy across the river from [St.] John's Bayou, at New Madrid, to their lowest battery at Andy Riddle's and at the same time not be exposed to any injurious fire.

If it became absolutely necessary, at any time these two gunboats could pass the blockade in the night, as is proven they can do, though at some little risk. The well-drilled and disciplined crews of these boats, with their vigilance at night and shell guns ready at a moment's notice, would render our position at Island No. 10 (with a judicious distribution of our own troops and guns and watchfulness) secure, I feel satisfied.

The placing of two of those gunboats, now below Riley's, at the positions I have indicated, I believe to be of vital importance, however disagreeable it may be to their crews: but inconvenience and risks all of us must be subject to. Two full regiments could not be as effective as two gunboats on the west side of the peninsula. As now located, to be signalized to by the uncertain explosion of rockets, etc., and move up in the dark, must prove abortive, if the enemy have the slightest energy and strategy, which must be accorded to them.



Letter from Flag-Officer Hollins, C. S. Navy, to Major-General Polk, C. S. Army, responding to enquiry regarding the necessity of evacuating New Madrid.

FLAGSHIP McRAE, March 30, 1862.

GENERAL: Your letter of the 27th instant, asking for information as regards the necessity of evacuating New Madrid, has been received. It was my opinion, from the manner in which the enemy progressed in their work under the fire of the gunboats and Fort Thompson, that in twenty-four hours more Fort Thompson would be cut off from communication with the upper fort entirely, and that if a necessity arose for abandoning the works later it would be impossible to take off the command at that point. I had been assured by all who appeared to know the character of the country that no heavy guns could be brought to New Madrid; but found that they opened with 24-pounders, and they had an 8-inch shell; one shell of that caliber was thrown into our works. I believed therefore that if the evacuation was to take place it should be done at once. Generals McCown and Stewart were both present at this consultation. General Stewart remarked that the artillerymen in the fort were worn out already, and the only chance of relieving them was by taking men from [Island] No. 10, and they would have to be sent there and the others taken away under fire of the enemy, which, to any vessel that had approached the fort during the day, had been more than dangerous.

The enemy was throwing up works on the lower part of the fort, as was proved by their opening fire the next morning from that side, enfilading the entire camp and position, and it would have rendered it impossible to send transports to the post at all. Their force was too strong for the small force we had at Madrid in the works erected there to hold out very long under any circumstances, particularly if regular approaches were made, which, to my mind, evidently was their intention. Our fire had not seemed to stop their progress, though our shot and shell appeared to do great execution, as we could see their ambulances going continually. Whenever their columns appeared on the open field we could disperse them and drive them back; but in their trenches I doubt if we were as successful; at least we did not appear to stop their works.

Under these circumstances I thought if our force was not strong enough to stop their work intrenching, we had better evacuate. It was my opinion, and so expressed to both generals; and that if it was to be done, the sooner it was done the better, and that it ought to be accomplished. What the facilities were for moving--I told General McCown that three of the gunboats would give such assistance as would be required. I ordered the Livingston, Commander Pinkney the gunboat Polk, Lieutenant Commanding Carter; and the Pontchartrain, Lieutenant Commanding Dunnington, to that duty. The Pontchartrain was employed at the upper fort; the other two vessels at Fort Thompson.

I was not myself on shore during the embarkation of the troops nor the dismantling of the forts, but will refer you for all this information to the honorable Secretary of the Navy, to whom I enclosed the reports of their movements on that night. I would be unwilling to say what ought or could be done under the circumstances, not having been present; but I believe much more might have been saved if stricter discipline had been maintained among the troops; but from my own observation I doubt the possibility among volunteers raised and officered as many of our regiments are.

I remain, general, your obedient servant,

GEO. N. HOLLINS, Flag-Officer.

Major-General LEONIDAS POLK, Corinth, Tenn. [Miss.]

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 22, pp. 746-750.



         25, Affair at Thompson's Station, on the Franklin and Columbia turnpike [see March 25, 1863, "Action at Brentwood"]

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, Gen.-in-Chief, U. S. Army, of operations in the Departments of the Ohio and of the Cumberland, February 3-July 26, 1863, relative Major-General N.B. Forrest's raid on the Nashville and Columbia railroad and skirmish near Brentwood, March 25, 1863

* * * *

On the 25th of March, the rebel Gen. Forrest made a cavalry raid on the Nashville and Columbia Railroad, burning the bridge, and capturing Col. Bloodgood's command at Brentwood. Gen. Green Clay Smith, arriving opportunely [sic] with about 600 cavalry, attacked the enemy in rear, and recovered a large portion of the property captured at Brentwood, pursuing the rebels to the Little Harpeth, where they were re-enforced. His loss in this attack was 4 killed, 10 wounded, and 4 missing.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. I, p. 7.



         25, Cavalry skirmish on Shelbyville Pike

No circumstantial reports filed.

HDQRS. FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE, Camp near Murfreesborough, Tenn., March 25, 1863.

Capt. SINCLAIR, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Cavalry:

SIR: In accordance with your order of this p. m., I sent the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, under Lieut.-Col. Sipes, to drive the rebels from the hill on the Shelbyville pike. Col. Sipes proceeded as far as the seven-miles stone without meeting any rebels. He learned from negroes [sic] and others that none but small parties of from three to four came near our pickets. The attack on the picket this a. m. was made by three men, and two of those returned badly wounded, one being shot through the leg and the other through the leg and an ugly wound on the head. There are small parties moving in every direction about the country, but the nearest camp is nearly ten miles from here, not far from the Widow Minten's house, and that is an outpost from Fosterville. My pickets on the Shelbyville and Middleton roads are now supplied with a few Enfield rifles, and the pickets on the Wartrace road will have them in the morning. I have given directions that these shall be placed in the hands of the best marksmen, and I trust that they will make a few of the rebs [sic] bite the dust.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

ROBT. H. G. MINTY, Col., Cmdg. First Cavalry Brigade.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 343-344.



         25, "Sale of Condemned Horses." [see also May 11, 1863, "Sale of Condemned Horses."]

Capt. Isom, on behalf of the Government, in the last three days sold 190 condemned horses, Capt. Hanmer acting as auctioneer, and Mr. C. H. W. Bent officiating as clerk. The whole sale realized $6003, which is considered a fair figure. The highest price paid was $390, and the lowest one dollar. When a horse will not sell at all another one is brought up and the buyer must take the pair. The $390 was a handsome mare, and was bought by Mr. A. J. Gilbert. Mr. Henderson, of this city, bid $380 for her.

Nashville Dispatch, March 25, 1864.



         25, "A Nashville Boy at Rock Island."

A friend has just received a letter from Mr. William A. Moss,[1] dated at Rock Island, March 9; in it Mr. Moss says he passed through Nashville on the 9th August last, for Camp Chase, where he remained until the 14th Jan., since which time he has been at Rock Island, Ill. He says he has been well treated, but hopes to be released. He is anxious to hear from Nashville, about his old associates, among them he enumerates a dozen or so. Among his prison companions are Louis Ledbetter, Anderson Epps, Davy Randall, and Green McIntosh; who are in good health, and send greetings to friends.

Nashville Dispatch, March 25, 1864.



         25, "A Notorious Character."

We mentioned the arrest yesterday of Eugene Leslie, a suspicious character, by the patrol guards, for perambulating the streets with brass nucks [sic] on his fist. We have since learned that on investigation has developed a second Jack Sheppard[2] in the career of this man. In February, 1864, he was arrested for robbing a negro [sic], and succeeded by his wits, in getting released. On the 27th of March 1864, he was arrested as a deserter, being at the time dressed in citizen's clothes. He was imprisoned, and made his escape. On the 3d of August of the same year, he was re-arrested, and escaped again, on the night of the 24th of the same month. He was again captured on the 26th of August, and ingeniously effected his release, and was ordered to his regiment. On the 16th of October he was arrested for being engaged in a disgraceful riot, and again sent to his regiment; but it seems that he soon broke loose, and continued on his rampage. On the 1st of December he was once again arrested-this time for shooting with intent to kill. No charges were preferred, and, he was released on the 18th of December, and once more ordered to his regiment. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested for stabbing policeman Jones, and got out of this difficulty, after which he was twice arrested by the patrol guards for other offenses. On Wednesday night [22nd] he was arrested for wearing brass knucks [sic], and he is also charged with desertion. The above is an eventful career for such a brief period. This modern Jack Sheppard is not in the military prison, and if he does not effect his escape before his case is disposed of, we apprehend that he will be brought to the end of his rope. We have repeatedly read of the extraordinary careers of bounty jumpers, but the history of Eugene Leslie for the past year will compare with any record published during the war.

Nashville Dispatch, March 25, 1865.



         25, "House of Refuge;" a suggested response to the rise of juvenile delinquency in Nashville

If there is one thing that our city needs more than another, it [is] a house of Refuge or Correction, for the indolent boys swarming the streets of the city. They are growing up in vice and crime, and unless some provision is made for them, our city will be overrun with thieves and the community demoralized. These children are brought before the Recorder daily, but their tender age shields them from continuation with the workhouse. We would urge upon our philanthropic citizens the necessity of establishing an institution of some description for the benefit of these depraved children. The moral interests of society demands this much of us, and instead of associating the rising generation with hardened criminals, we should provided a house of Correction for them, that they may become useful members of society in manhood. This subject is one which we would deeply impress upon our 'City Council.

Nashville Dispatch, March 25, 1865.



[1] There is no reference to William A. Moss in the OR. Moss is not otherwise identified, nor is his age, or those of his "associates" given. Perhaps he was a drummer boy for the Confederate army.

[2] Jack Sheppard was a notorious burglar and prison escapee in early eighteenth-century England. He became a folk-hero, the subject of plays, books and pamphlets. He was executed on November 16, 1724.


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-532-1550  x115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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