Friday, April 18, 2014

4.19.14 Tennessee Civil War Notes

19, Blue Jackets, the Committee of Public Safety and forced enlistment in the army of the Provisional Government of Tennessee in Memphis
* * *
As the St. Francis touched the wharf on the morning of the 19th of April…I stepped upon thee landing; meaning to look over the state of things in the city, and see if I could get out of it in the direction of the Nashville, where I had friends, who, I thought, would aid me homeward.
But I had not left the wharf, when a "blue jacket," the sobriquet of the military policeman that then guarded the city, stepped up and said, "I see you are a stranger." "Yes, sir." "I have some business with you. You will please walk with me, sir." To my expression of astonishment, which was real, he replied, "You answer the description very well, sir. The Committee of Public Safety wish to see you, come along." As it was useless to parley, I walked with him, and was soon ushered into the presence of that body, a much more intelligent and no less intensely Southern organization, than I had found in the grocery of Jeffersonville [Arkansas].[1]
They questioned me as to my home, political opinions, and destination, and received such answers as I thought it wise to give. Whereupon they confronted me, to my amazement, with a member of the Vigilance Committee which had tried me at Jeffersonville, one hundred and twenty miles distant, thirty hours before. I was amazed, because I did not imagine that any one of their number would have reached Memphis before me. He had ridden after me the night of my escape [from Jeffersonville], and when I stopped for breakfast, he had passed on to Helena, and taking an earlier up-river boat, had reached Memphis some hours in advance of the St. Francis; long enough before me to post the Committee of Public Safety as to my person and story when before the committee. Even with this swift witness against me, they were unable to establish any crime, and after consultation they told me I could retire. I was immediately followed by the policeman, who handed me a letter written by the chairman, suggesting that I would do well to go directly to a certain recruiting office, where young me were enlisting under the Provisional Government of Tennessee, and where I would find it to my interest to volunteer, adding, substantially, as follows: "Several members of the committee thing if you do not see fit to follow this advice, you will probably stretch hemp instead of leaving Memphis; as they can not be responsible for the acts of an infuriate mob, who may hear that you came from the North." I was allowed no time for reflection, as the policeman stood waiting, he said, "to show me the way." I now saw at a glance, that the military power in the city had resoled to compel me to volunteer, and in my friendlessness I could think of no way to escape the cruel and dread necessity.
Still the hope remained that perhaps I might make a partial promise, and ask time, and yet elude the vigilance of the authorities. As the M. P. grew impatient, and at length imperious, showing me that he well knew that he had me in his power. I walked on to avoid the crowd, which was beginning to gather, and soon reached the recruiting station. I saw, the moment I was inside, that the only door was guarded by bayonets, crossed in the hands of determined men. The Blue Jacket, in a private conversation with the recruiting officer, soon gave him my status; when turning to me, the officer said, with the air of a man who expects to carry his point, "Well young man, I learn you have come to volunteer; glad to see you-good company," &c.
To which I replied, "I was advised to call and look at the matter, and will take some time to consider, if you please."
"No need of time, sir-no time to be lost; here is the roll-enter your name, put on the uniform, and then you can passout," with a glance of his eye at the policeman and the crossed bayonets, which meant plainly enough, "You do not go out before."
To my suggestion that I had a horse on the boat [the St. Francis] which I must see about, he replied very promptly, "That could all be done when this business was through."
The meshes of their cursed net were around me, and there was no release; and with as good a grace as I could assume, I wrote my name and thus I volunteered!
* * * *
Stevenson, Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army, pp. 31-33.[2]

        19, Governor Isham G. Harris defends managers of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from charges of incompetence and disloyalty by Confederate military officials
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Memphis, Tenn., April 19, 1862.
Having learned that the managers of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad are censured to some extent, and even suspected of disloyalty, by the military authorities, from the fact that a part of the rolling stock and machinery of that road fell into the hands of the enemy when Huntsville was captured. I do not propose to enter upon explanation as to who is responsible for this misfortune. I leave them to make their own explanations, and only desire to state, as a matter of justice to the president and superintendent of that road, that I have for years known those gentleman intimately, and know the fact that they were zealous and industrious Southern-rights men at a time when the overwhelming majority of our people were Union men, and when a man was more or less odious if regarded as a secessionist.
Though differing with me on other political questions, they earnestly supported me and my policy throughout this revolution and from the beginning of the war. I know of no two gentlemen in the State who have been more disposed to sacrifice their time, their energies, and their private fortunes for the promotion of the cause of the Confederate States. There are none whose loyalty I would be more willing to trust. As railroad men they have been heretofore eminently successful, and certainly possess very high business qualifications.
This much I have deemed it proper to say as a matter of justice to them.
Very respectfully,
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt, p. 56.

        19, "An affection of distinguished consideration for wealthy scoundrels, will demoralize that class of people to whom we must look for reestablishment of law in these Southern States." Confederate Newspaper Coverage of Northern Newspaper Report from Nashville
Federal Reports from Nashville.-Rebels Still. The Nashville Correspondence (April 3) of the Cincinnati Gazette contains the following:
Our feminine rebels are plotting to taboo all the loyal of their sex. In one of their committees, admiration of good qualities of mind and heart got the better of secession lunacy, and a proposition was made to except Miss_____, a lovely young lady of shining accomplishments. She was so sweet, the declared, they could not think of leaving her out in the cold. But the object of their kind partially has a Roman spirit, with the heart of a true American maiden. When she heard of their offer, she scornfully declined it, and trusted Andrew Johnson would ask her company to divine service on Sabbath. His request should be granted with proud satisfaction.
In one or two letters I have mentioned efforts by Mr. Chase's special agent to recover the cotton used in the breastworks at Fort Zollicoffer. The other day a gentleman in humble circumstances, who was thought by his wealthy neighbors to have rendered the Government some assistance in finding the cotton, came into the city in great fright, having been told that the aforesaid  wealthy gentlemen were determined to hang him. He resides only two or three miles from the city. A person not so easily frightened by the threats of cowardly rebels, reassured him, and sent him to Col. Matthews, Provost Marshal, for protection. This poor fellow's perturbation  is only a sample of the complete intimidation wrought in the minds of "plain people" here by vigilantes and blustering Secesh bullies. And you may rest assured, that nothing short of summary punishment to a few noisy traitors will bring the color to their livers. An affection of distinguished consideration for wealthy scoundrels, will demoralize that class of people to whom we must look for reestablishment of law in these Southern States.
I informed your readers that the proposition by a sub-agent of the treasury, to arrest gentlemen who were known to have purloined cotton from the fort, and who stubbornly refused to give it up or denied having it possession was rejected by Gen. Buell. This extreme forbearance only emboldened the wealthy traitors who had combined to cheat the Government . After Gen. Thomas moved South,, a lot of fifteen bales, left in a stable near his encampment was secretly removed. It had been seized by the Government, and the removal was simply theft. The rascal who took it should go to the penitentiary.
I learned yesterday that two gentlemen, of considerable wealth, Bird Douglas and Benjamin Cockrill, now under arrest by the provost marshal, are supposed to be guilty of the threat which so terrified the poor fellow mentioned in a preceding paragraph. If they be dealt with as they deserve, the effect will be salutary. Gen. Washington Barrow, who was a very efficient aider and abettor of Gov. Harris, has also been arrested. It is whispered that others are under arrest, or will be soon, but I am not in possession of their names.
The city fathers endeavored to meet this morning, to decide what they should do to be saved, or whether they would do nothing, and be lost-or, rather, they pretended to make the endeavor. But there was not a quorum. They don't like to meet.
Thatcher, Burt & Co., of Cleveland, Ohio, have closed a contract with the Government to rebuild the railroad bridge over Cumberland river at this point, in sixty days, with a forfeit of $100 per day for all excessive time occupied in the work, and $200 per day added to terms of contract for time saved.
Gen. Washington Barrow, who was arrested on the 1st, was suffered to go on parole till 12 M. yesterday when he was sent out to the State Prison. Bird Douglas and Ben Cockrill are on parole.
Daily Picayune, April 19, 1862. [3]

        19, 1863 -  Observations on the Sabbath in Nashville
Nashville Tennessee April 19th
….John Marvin, Tim Marvin, Jos Blackson Harvey…& My Self went to a presbyterian church in the lower end of town heard a very good sermon the text taken from Corinthians first chapter & 21 verce [sic] the preacher prayed for the welfair [sic] of the union & the success of our army there was but very few cittizens [sic] at church about a duzin [sic] Ladies and a number of Children and some twinty five or 30 men the balance were Soldiers the church was not over one third full it is the finest and best finished church I have seen in Nashville….we went to the Presbyterian church this evening and saw a great many young secesh laydes [sic] they try to look sour at the soldiers but pleasant [sic] and smiling countenance will beat out in spite of ther [sic] teath [sic]
John Hill Fergusson Diary, Book 3.

        19, Elopement and Cuckoldry in Nashville
"Sloped and Eloped"
Dame Rumor says that before the "snaik man sloped," [sic] a former Lieutenant in the Federal army eloped with the wife of a friend, leaving the disconsolate husband and interesting children to take care of themselves. What the said Lieutenant has done, or intends to do, with his own wife, the good dame is not advised, but promises developments in due course.
Nashville Dispatch, April 19, 1864.

        19, Commencement of anti-guerrilla mopping up near Greeneville
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF EAST TENNESSEE, Knoxville, April 19, 1865.
Col. J. H. PARSONS, Cmdg. Ninth Tennessee Cavalry, Camp at Boyd's Ferry:
COL.: Brigadier-Gen. Tillson, whose command is now on its return to this post, has notified me that he desires no movement of troops at this post. Your regiment will therefore remain quietly in camp until I can consult the general. You will, however, send a detachment of the regiment to Greeneville large enough with the detachment there to make a full company with three efficient officers. You will direct the officer selected for the command to hunt up and chastise all guerrillas in that region, the mode and manner of doing so to be at his discretion. Peaceable citizens must not be disturbed, nor any depredations committed upon private property. All supplies of subsistence or forage taken for the use of the troops must be receipted [sic] for on the proper blanks.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. GIBSON, Col. Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. II, pp. 409-410.

        19, News of the end of the war reaches an incredulous Madison County farmer
....Mart....says it is not so that Lee has been captured, on the contrary formed a junction with Johns[t]on & ruined Sherman. There was a paper in town yesterday, the Cairo Eagle, in mourning for the death of Lincoln & Seward, said to be assassinated about the 15th by Booth an actor....Dr. Brown stopped here...said he saw a paper in town. The Memphis paper states that Johns[t]on...surrendered...Kirby Smith...surrendered...and Forrest was on his way to Vicksburg to surrender....
I gave these items as [a] sample of what [the] papers contain, not a word of truth in them.
Robert H. Cartmell Diary.

[1] William G. Stevenson, the author of this account, was a Kentucky native and had been visiting in Arkansas. He was not a secessionist and was strongly suspected of being an abolitionist provocateur. He left Arkansas after the local ad hoc committee of public safety in Jeffersonville threatened to lynch him.
[2] William G. Stevenson, Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army (NY, 1862: A.S. Barnes and Company).
[3] As cited in PQCW.

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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