Thursday, May 8, 2014

5.9.14 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        9, "Tennessee has taken her position and has proudly determined to throw her banners to the breeze, and will give her strength to the sacred cause of freedom for the WHITE MAN OF THE SOUTH;" excerpts from the "LEGISLATIVE ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF TENNESSEE" May 9, 1861.
* * * *
The election of a sectional President by an unreasoning appeal to numerical superiority, precipitated a crisis in the Government which many wise men anticipated and patriots would have gladly adjourned to another and far distant period. Several of the slaveholding States, upon the happening of this event, commenced preparations for leaving a Union which in their judgments, promised to become an instrument of destruction to the action constitutional rights of the South….A Peace Congress was called for, and anxious to give every evidence of a sincere desire to settle existing difficulties, prudent and discreet men were sent to confer with delegates from other States. The Congress resulted in a failure, as did the faithful efforts of Southern men in the Congress of the United States….It was believed that the masses of the Northern people would do justice to the demands of the South, if not prevented by the arts of their politicians. Subsequent acts prove that the masses are, if possible, more bitter in their hostility to the South than their leaders.
The inaugural address of the newly-elected President, however doubtful in its terms, was charitably construed into a message of peace. It was considered absurd to suppose that any President of a free country would ever venture upon the mad experiment of holding sovereign States together by means of the bayonet. No one not blinded by fanaticism, can fail to recognize the fact that a government based upon the popular will can only be maintained in its integrity by appealing to that powerful and controlling influence. Force, when attempted, changes the whole character of the Government; making it a military despotism, and those that submit become the abject slaves of power….
* * * *
Congress refused to vote a dollar for the prosecution of hostilities against the people of the South; he and his agents got the appropriation by falsehood, pretending that it was needed to pay off the Government debts, and instead of so using it, fails to pay even the maimed and wounded soldier his pension, or the hard-working census-taker his salary, but scatters it among a brutal soldiery, whom he has hired to murder Southern freemen and to desecrate Southern soil
* * * *
Tennessee, ever loyal to the Constitution, has been an advocate for peace, and has struggled to bring together the broken fragments of the Union, yet in the midst of her well meant efforts, a war is made upon her; every avenue of trade is closed up, and the people are suffering in all the privations of a blockade. Not even provisions, demanded by the necessities of the people, are allowed to be shipped into the State, and property of private individuals is made subject to piratical and illegal seizure. Boats have been plundered of their cargoes by authority of the Government, and when called on for an explanation by the Governor of Tennessee, even the honor of a reply is refused.
* * * *
Tennessee is unarmed, and the first great object was to organize the military and adopt every means of defence  within our power, menaced as out country is by armies of alarming magnitude. Our western borders exposed to attack, with life, liberty and property staked upon the issue, it is not time to think of half-way measures. The money and the blood of Tennessee will be called for in no stinted quantities, if it be necessary to protect the priceless heritage of freedom that we possess, and which we hold a sacred trust to our children. The military bill is also submitted with this address to the judgment of our constituents….In conformity with these obligations of duty, the Legislature has prepared two instruments to be voted upon by the people, on Saturday, the 8th of June.
* * * *
In submitting these two grave questions to the popular judgment the Legislature dispensed with all intermediated agencies, preferring to go at once to the great source of all political power – the people themselves….
* * * * *
The military league which has been formed with the Southern Confederacy is also submitted with this address…
* * * *
This league places Tennessee where she deserves to stand – in company with the old States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, whose histories are redolent with the glories of past struggles of liberty….
* * * *
It is painful to reflect that Tennessee has no representation in any national or confederate council; her gallant soldiers will go forth to battle for a common cause, and but for a short time, at least, her voice cannot be heard, only through the ballot box in June.
It is submitted that Tennessee has but one of two alternatives -- either to attempt to maintain a distinct and separate nationality, or to unite with the other States of the South. If you decide on the former, a provision should at once be made for new departments of government….
* * * *
When this body met, it determined to sit with closed doors. We are aware that this mode of legislation is object to by some. It is the first time in the history of the State that the rule had been adopted, because in that history no case had occurred to call for its exercise. The proceedings of the convent that framed the Declaration of Independence were in secret. The convention that framed the Constitution of the United States, held its secret sessions, and the Senate of the United States not unfrequently sit with closed doors. Those who have taken occasion to condemn us, may be purer than those who framed the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States; but we very much doubt whether they will have a greater hold upon public confidence. But the reasons for our course are our best justification: the country was excited, and the public demands imperious. We desired to legislate uninfluenced and unretarded by the crowds that would otherwise have attended our deliberations; but still more important than this, the western portion of Tennessee was in an exposed condition, with no military defence whatever; the towns and counties bordering on the Mississippi river were liable to be assailed at any hour by the armed forces collected at Cairo, and we desired that no act of legislation on our part, would form the pretext for such an invasion, so long as it could be avoided. Our fellow-citizens of West Tennessee, and of Arkansas, are laboring night and day to erect batteries on the river to prevent a descent of the enemy. A duty that we owed to them to the cause of humanity demanded that we should not make our action known till the latest possible moment. If some desired light, while we were at work, we equally desired to save the blood and the property of Tennesseans. Our doors have now been thrown open, the Journals will be published -- every vote is recorded, and he must be a fault-finder indeed who will complain after hearing the reasons that prompted our actions.
We have briefly touched the principal subjects that engaged the attention of the Legislature. Tennessee has taken her position and has proudly determined to throw her banners to the breeze, and will give her strength to the sacred cause of freedom for the WHITE MAN OF THE SOUTH [sic].
R. G. Payne, Chairman of the Joint Select Committee
Edmund J. Wood, S. S. Stanton, J. A. Minnis, G. Gantt, W. W. Guy, Robt. B. Hurt, Benj. J. Lea, Joseph G. Pickett.
White, ed., Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, Vol. 5, pp. 294-300.

        9, Skirmish on Elk River, near Bethel, Tennessee
MAY 9, 1862.-Skirmish on Elk River, near Bethel, Tenn.
No. 1.-Col. John Adams, C. S. Army.
No. 2. -Lieut.-Col. T. G. Woodward, First Kentucky Cavalry (Confederate).
No. 1
Report of Col. John Adams, C. S. Army.
HDQRS. BRIGADE, Camp Foster, Ala., May 10, 1862.
GEN.: Herewith I have the honor to forward a report from Lieut.-Col. Woodward of a skirmish with the enemy yesterday. I shall forward the prisoners over the mountain by the turnpike road to Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Col. Saunders, my aide-de-camp, has addressed a letter to Hon. Charles Gibson and Col. Levi M. Warner, at Moulton, requesting them to relieve my guard and furnish one to accompany the prisoners thence to Tuscaloosa.
The negroes [sic] I shall have tried by a military commission, and, if it is found that any were taken with arms in their hands, it may be necessary to inflict summary punishment; otherwise I shall order them turned over to the civil authorities.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
No. 2
Report of Lieut. Col. T. G. Woodward, First Kentucky Cavalry (Confederate).
SIR: In accordance with instructions from your headquarters, I started from this point on the 8th instant, at 6 p. m., with 350 men of my regiment and a detachment of 80 men from the Texan Rangers, under command of Capt. Houston, for the purpose of surprising a party of the enemy, supposed to consist of 350 men, in and about Bethel, a small town on Elk River, 32 miles from Lamb's Ferry. Capt. Noel, of this regiment, with 50 men, joined me on the road.
I arrived at Bethel by daybreak, but found no enemy, and learned that no Federals had been there except an insignificant party of stragglers. Ascertaining that Elk River could be crossed at two fords in the vicinity, and that a detachment of the enemy, variously reported as to number, were guarding a trestle work on the railroad on the opposite side of the river, I determined to capture them, and for this with the Texan Rangers, under Capt. Houston, with directions to cross at the ford below the trestle work and cut off the retreat of the enemy in that direction, while the party under my immediate command, crossing at the upper ford, should make the attack from above The movement was entirely successful, resulting in the capture of the entire force stationed at the trestle work, which force was found to be much smaller than had been represented. The enemy, under cover of some buildings, made a gallant defense for about ten minutes, but finally surrendered.
I have as prisoners 2 captains; 2 lieutenants, and 43 non-commissioned officers and privates; also 8 negroes [sic].
Our loss is 5 killed, among them Capt. Harris, of the Rangers, whose loss is deeply regretted, and 7 wounded. Among the latter I regret to include Capt. Noel, a most excellent and gallant officer, seriously wounded in the side. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was much heavier.
Capt. Houston is entitled to much credit for the able manner in which he co-operated, and the conduct of the men was extremely gallant and praiseworthy.
Minute particulars will be communicated to you as soon as they can be furnished.
Very respectfully, &c.,
Lieut.-Col., Cmdg. First Kentucky Cavalry
OR, Ser., I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 887-888.

CAMP OF THE TEXAS RANGERS, Lamb's Ferry, on the Tennessee River, May 10, 1862.
Brig. Gen. THOMAS JORDAN, Corinth:
DEAR SIR: A detachment of Rangers and Helm's men had a fight near Bethel, 25 miles from this place, yesterday, killing 17 men and taking 49 prisoners.
* * * *
JNO. A. WHARTON, Col. Texas Rangers
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 509-510.

        9, "Woe to them when the soldiers gets home."David F. Daihl, 77 Regt. Pa Vol. Co. A to Henry A. Bitner
May the 9th 1863.
Camp Drake Near Murfreesboro
77 Regt. Pa Vol. Co. A
Mr. Henry Bitner
Dear Sir
It is with pleasure that I seat myself to pen you a few linesto let you know that I am still in old Tennessee and living and in good health and spirits. I have nothing of importance to wright just now no more than we are still working at the fort at this place there are no sighns of a battle here soon but it is hard to tell what a day might bring forth but let them know we are ready for them. I believe that if the army of the Potomac would do what is right we would have closed up this fuss before now.
Another thing is the Copperhea[ ds] of the north witch I hear are trying to raise a mass well just let them keep on a little longer and they will see where they will come out. Woe to them when the soldiers gets home.
the soldjiers of the Cumber[land] are more united than ever they were and we are the boys that fear no [unclear: noir] that Southern Shiverly can bring against us.
The weather is fine here at present everything looks like midsumer wether is very warm at present but nights cool.
I will now bring my letter to a close with the hope that these few broken lines may find you and wife as it leaves me in good health no more at present but remain your friend
David F. Daihl
To Mr. Henry Bitner
Write Soon
Direct as before
Valley of the Shadow[1]

        9, 1864 - A Bolivar school girl's epitome of three months of socializing with Confederate soldiers
Gracious me! Is it possible that I have not written in my Journal for nearly three months! And no wonder, for I have had such glorious times with Confederate soldiers that I forgot [the] and every thing else. The dear fellows were with us a good long while during which time I was never happier. Oh, what delightful times we did have, having company all day and accompanying the soldiers to parties at night. We made a great many acquaintances among them was William Polk, a dashing young flirt (all my suspicions are formed on reports and appearances). Seargt. Major Cleburn, Adjutant Pope, and Lieut. Colonel[,] all of the 7th Tennessee, Capt. Elliot and many other of the 14th. [I] am acquainted with Generals Forrest and Chalmers also. Almost all the respective staffs like the Generals better than all the staffs put together [sic].
Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

        9, Major-General C.C. Washburn issues Special Orders No. 120 concerning refugees
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Memphis, Tenn., May 9, 1865.
* * * *
VI. No more refugees will be sent north at public expense. The country is now quiet, and such as are here are advised to return home and do something for themselves. Rations will no longer be issued, except to the aged and helpless and young children. There is employment for all in the country who are willing to work; it is not too late in the season to make crops; millions of acres are lying waste for lack of labor; those that can work must or starve, black or white. The Government will not encourage thriftlessness or idleness by supporting those that are able to support themselves. Transportation to the country will be furnished those who wish to go, so far as the cars run, and two days' rations to all who go. Orders for rations and transportation from Lieut. Finney, superintendent of refugees, will be respected by the commissary and quartermaster.
By order of Maj. Gen. C. C. Washburn:
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. II, pp. 692-693.

[1]Valley of the Shadow.

James B. Jones, Jr.
Public Historian
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN  37214
(615)-532-1550  x115
(615)-532-1549  FAX

No comments: