Friday, October 17, 2014

10.17.2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        17, Residents of Overton and Fentress counties seek retention of local units for domestic use only


In transmitting the letter of His Excellency Governor Harris to you, together with other communications, I beg leave to add that the regiments of Col.'s Stanton and Murray were ordered to be organized expressly for the protection of the section of Overton, Fentress, and adjoining counties. While subject to duty anywhere, their removal leaves, as you are assured by men of the highest respectability, the country wholly exposed to the enemy.





Nashville, Tenn., October 17, 1861.


DEAR SIR: I herewith transmit communications from highly respectable citizens of Overton and Fentress Counties showing a state of apprehension well grounded to some extent, I fear, of marauding parties from the enemy's camp in close proximity to these counties. Having transferred to Confederate States all the organized troops and army of the State, I must call upon you to take such steps as will protect our soil from invasion and defend the lives and property of our citizens.



OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, pp. 178-180.

        17, Confederate Chief of Ordinance for East Tennessee recalls government arms

Ordnance Office, Knoxville, Oct. 17, 1862.

All persons in the Department of East Tennessee having in their possession Guns, Accoutrements or Ammunition belonging to the Government of the Confederate States, are here by notified to return the same to these Headquarters, or give information that I may procure them.

Persons failing to comply with this notice will be dealt with to the utmost rigor of the law.

Knoxville Daily Register, October 19, 1862.

        17, Letter from a Texas Ranger in Confederate occupied Murfreesboro

Letter from Tennessee.

Murfreesboro' Tenn., Oct. 17th 1862.

Editor Telegraphs-There seems some peculiar attraction for Texas Rangers in this city. It is the rallying point from all the country round about.-Some are here from necessity, some from preference. After a brief excursion up to Rome, Tenn., en route for Kentucky, the Federal cavalry, which infest that region gathering up stragglers and destroying stores, intercepted our way, and very unwillingly we were compelled to return. Here we must await further operations in the military line. The majority of our boys here are those who have been wounded a different places or have been absent on sick furloughs. We have now a force numbering about twenty-five. We were all delighted to-day in greeting back again David S. Terry and two traveling companions, direct from Houston.-They made the trip safely. He is a great favorite with us. The gallant son of our heroic and lamented Colonel, who fell so early after we had entered the campaign, we hope that a brilliant military career is yet before him. William Ward, of company B, who was captures at Woodberry [sic]-while attending upon Sam Ashe, who was wounded-and carried to Nashville and confined in the penitentiary, effected his escape and has safely joined us here. It seems the Yankees cannot hold a Texian prisoner-they always managed to escape by some means. It being unsafe to venture through by the direct route to Bragg's army, all who are mounted are making arrangements to go via Sparta, Knoxville and Cumberland Gap.

It is a long route through, but the only safe one at present. In addition to the casualties of the stockade a fight mentioned in my last[1], I learn that James T. Pettus, of Company F, is supposed killed and Buck Drisdale was wounded in the thigh: also, James Prior, of Company G, was shot through the arm. He is able for service again. S. G. Clark of Company F. was killed near Nashville, whilst a portion of the regiment were flanking. We have nothing later than two weeks since from the regiment in Kentucky. We are anxiously awaiting some one to come through so that we may hear the result of the great fight there[2] and our loss. We doubtless, suffered as usual, very heavily, although we hope but a few have fallen. There is now no communication between these headquarters and Bragg's army. But it will not long astir on hearing that Nashville was being evacuated. At once troops began to move in that direction, Gov. Harris being in advance. We waited anxiously, and hoped for confirmation of the news. They wore away and left us in uncertainty. Today, again, a reliable messenger reiterates the good news, but we are yet in doubt. I believe, however, they are meditating such a step, and even preparing for it. There may yet be a bloody battle in the "City of Rocks;" but I hope not. Whenever the attack is made, notwithstanding their strongly fortified positions, we will be successful. We await the news of to-morrow with a deep interest. Troops are pouring in by railroad every day from Chattanooga, and son Gen. Forrest will have a good army here. Today he issued General Order No. 1, viz.

"Soldiers: -You have scarcely taken up your positions in the heart of Middle Tennessee, -cheered by the greetings of your fellow citizens, and a return to the region of your homes and firesides, before you are called upon to rejoice over another signal victory in Kentucky. I announce to you that the forces under command of General Braxton Bragg; have met the enemy, lately commanded by Gen. Bell, and completely repulsed them. We have captured more than 18,000 prisoners, including Gen. Tom Crittenden and other officers of distinction. We have killed and wounded from 10,000 to 15,000. Forty pieces of artillery, with large quantities of army and munitions of war, have fallen into our hands."

The Louisville Journal is also said to admit a loss of 25,000 and "nothing gained by it." Its editorials are written despondingly, and severely criticize Lincoln's late proclamation. It is the opinion of prominent statesmen here that this late reverse will drive their army beyond the Ohio, and give Kentucky to us. The people are becoming thoroughly aroused, and newspapers are now springing into existence, warmly advocating our cause. Kentucky and Tennessee once in our possession, then our army will have abundant supplies of breadstuffs. Providence has blessed them with an abundant harvest. Throughout this State, so far as I have seen the corn crop is very heavy, although grain is light; yet, as if in anticipation of a partial failure in this respect, the God of nature has caused the forest to bloom and I hear a most abundant crop of nuts, berries, and wild fruits. Such immense loads of these I have never before witnessed. And although our enemy has consumed and destroyed much of the crop whilst growing, both grains and fruits, yet here is a reserve storehouse filled with a rich supply, which will make the pork for our people and army, and fatten other stock. Thus our wicked and insulting enemy is thearted in his plans for starving us out. All things considered, our condition is most flattering, and the indications are prophetic of an earl peace.

In haste, yours,

R. F. B.

The [Houston] Tri-Weekly Telegraph, November 10, 1862.

        17, First Lieutenant Robert Cruikshank, 123rd New York Infantry Regiment, letter home to his wife Mary – short rations, quarters

Dechard [sic] Station, Tenn.,

October 17, 1863.

Dear Mary,-

We have remained in Camp at the place since I last wrote you and have an easy time but short rations. We have built good quarters and if we had plenty to eat would be a happy lot of fellows. Soldiers always want plenty to eat.

The country is so poor we can get nothing from the inhabitants. When the country is good and productive we can live very well, but where the country is as poor as it is here and when we have short rations it is a little hard. I have seen no cattle or sheep since we came here, and I should have added hogs, horses and mules are scarce. I do not know what the people live on now unless it is corn. There is a little of that grown.

We hope to move from here soon.


R. Cruikshank.

Robert Cruikshank Letters.[3]

        17, Newspaper report on Action at Bull's Gap



A Brilliant Action at Bull's Gap


Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 17, 1863

Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck. General-in-Chief, Washington:

On the 8th inst. The enemy held down as far as Blue Springs, and a cavalry brigade of ours held Bull's Blue Springs, and a cavalry brigade of ours held Bull's Gap, supported by a small body of infantry at Morristown.

I, accordingly, dispatched a brigade of cavalry around by Rodgersville [sic] to intercept the enemy's retreat, and with a considerable body of infantry and artillery moved to Bull's Gap.

On Saturday, the 10th inst., I advanced a cavalry brigade to Blue Springs, where they found the enemy strongly posted and offering a stubborn resistance.

Skirmishing continued until about 5 o'clock in the morning, when I sent in a division of infantry, who charged and cleared the woods, gallantly driving the enemy in confusion until dark.

During the night the enemy retreated precipitately, leaving their dead on the field and most of their wounded in our hands.

We pursued in the morning with infantry and cavalry. The intercepting force met them at Henderson's but owing to some misunderstanding, withdrew and allowed them to pass with only a slight check.

The pursuit was continued until evening, when I withdrew most of my infantry and returned to this place.

Gen. Shackleford with his cavalry and a brigade of infantry continued the pursuit, the enemy making a stand at every important position; but he had driven them completely from the State, captured the fort at Zollicoffer, and burned the long railroad bridge at that place and five other bridges, and destroyed the locomotives and about thirty-five cars.

His advance is now ten miles beyond Bristol.

Our loss at Blue Springs and in the pursuit was about 100 killed and wounded.

The enemy's loss was considerably greater.

About 100 prisoners were taken.

A.E. Burnside, Major-General

New York Times, October 17, 1863.

        17, Report of Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy, U. S. Army, commanding Defenses of Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, of operations during Wheeler's raid. September 29th-October 11, 1864

HDQRS. DEFENSES NASHVILLE AND CHATTANOOGA R. R., Tullahoma, Tenn., September 17, 1864.

MAJ.: In obedience to the order of the major-general commanding the District of Tennessee to report my operations after Wheeler, I will state I had no operation after Wheeler, but operated to a small extent after Williams who, I understand, was one of Wheeler's generals, and I respectfully submit the following statement of said operations:

Maj. Waters, of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, stationed at McMinnville, with three companies of his regiment, was attacked at that place on the 29th ultimo by some 300 rebel cavalry and guerrillas, under Col. Dibrell, and after a skirmish of some three hours, he was driven out with the loss of 1 man killed and 1 wounded, and about 10 were captured, consisting mostly of sick in the hospital. I had some days previous withdrawn from that place all the quartermaster's and hospital stores. I instructed Maj. Waters to keep vigilant pickets well out on the road eastward, and upon the approach of any force of the enemy to skirmish with them sufficiently to ascertain that they were in strong force, and upon ascertaining that fact to at once send off his transportation and camp equipage, with such Union citizens as wished to come away, to this place, and to cover their withdrawal to this place but Maj. Waters after being attacked continued skirmishing, supposing he could hold the place, till he was nearly surrounded, and barely escaped with his men and two small mountain howitzers, losing his camp equipage and 10 wagons and 1 ambulance, with 3 teams. Having learned late in the evening of the 29th that Maj. Waters was attacked, I started the remainder of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, together with the Tenth and Twelfth, which had recently come over from Pulaski, under Lieut.-Col. Clift, to his rescue, but they met him at Manchester and did not go any farther. On the night of the 30th the railroad and telegraph line between this and Murfreesborough was cut, some four miles from Bell Buckle. I sent down a reconnoitering party of soldiers on the 31st to examine and report extent of the damage and to drive off the enemy, if any. They returned and reported in the evening. I sent down a string party the next day on a construction train, who soon succeeded in repairing the track. I also on the same day sent a construction train, with a guard, in charge of Capt. Baird, my inspector, to repair the track and telegraph line, which had been cut between Decherd and Cowan the night previous. The damage here being but slight was soon repaired and Capt. Baird went on down to Stevenson, and there met Gen. Steedman with a force of some 3,000 infantry on trains, and ordered Gen. Steedman to come through this way to the assistance of Gen. Rousseau instead of going around by Decatur and up the Tennessee and Alabama Central Railroad. Gen. Steedman passed this place in the evening, and hearing that Gen. Rousseau was hotly engaged against overwhelming force of cavalry under Wheeler between Murfreesborough and Nashville, I deemed it best to throw all the cavalry I had to his assistance, and started the Fifth and Twelfth Tennessee to march through, via Murfreesborough, and ordered the Tenth Tennessee up from Decherd, where I had sent it, to be sent after the Fifth and Tenth on a railroad train. It was about 12 o'clock before I succeeded in getting the horses and men of the Tenth together, with two mountain howitzers belonging to the Fifth, the regiment and horses on the large train and the artillery and horses on a small train attached. I went with the greater portion of my staff with the regiment. About 3 o'clock on the morning of the 2d instant, when within about six miles of Murfreesborough, the train ran into a large wood pile that had been thrown on the track, and soon after the rebels opened fire on the two trains. I sprang out and commenced giving commands in a loud voice to different regiments to form line of battle to the right and left of the train. The rebels hearing this, and my men returning their fire pretty effectively from their carbines, supposed, from the length of our train, that we had a large force and beat a hasty retreat and left us at liberty to throw the wood off the track and go on to Murfreesborough, where we arrived at daylight. We killed 1 rebel and captured another in the attack, from whom we learned that we had been attacked by two regiments. I met Col. Spalding at Murfreesborough, who had arrived there during the night with orders from Maj.-Gen. Rousseau to bring the two cavalry regiments to join him as soon as possible in pursuit of Wheeler. Previous to meeting Col. Spalding with this order, I had determined to search after the rebels that had attacked our train, but after waiting here I doubted my authority to withhold the regiments from joining Gen. Rousseau, and concluded to go with them to him in hopes of getting some command in the pursuit. We started in the evening and lost our way in the night, and had to retrace our steps some six miles; rested and slept a few hours before day [3d]; received a dispatch from Gen. Steedman at daybreak, saying that he was confronted by a large rebel cavalry force on the railroad at Stewart's Creek and desired for cavalry to help him bag them. I thought it best to go to him at once. I arrived at Gen. Steedman's quarters about 8 o'clock, and he reported the enemy still in strong force in his front, and suggested that I divide the cavalry and send out a portion around the flanks of the enemy to drive them in, while he would attack them with his infantry and artillery in front. I accordingly divided my cavalry and sent them around and commenced driving them in, but no rebels were found. After several hours my scouting parties reported they were several miles off to the southeast, passing through Jefferson. I at once put the cavalry in pursuit, pushed on north of Jefferson, crossing Stone's River, until we struck the pike running west; followed this pike nearly north of Murfreesborough, when we turned toward that city and followed the enemy to within four miles of that city, when they turned square west again. It being about dark [3d] we soon afterward stopped to rest and feed. I directed Col. Spalding to have 100 men to push forward and to keep on the road of the enemy and watch his movements, and send couriers to pass us advises of their movements, and when they would stop, &c., and to move his command to town. His command was near to town, but the men were not sent in pursuit, the consequence of which was that we knew nothing of the enemy the next morning [4th] until the regiment, in seeking a corn-field for forage, overtook the enemy about 8 o'clock, camped about four miles from town between the Shelbyville and Salem pike. The brigade had been detained thus late in pressing horses and in getting shoeing done. After a slight skirmish the enemy commenced a hasty retreat; in about two miles they made a stand with three pieces of artillery and a strong rear guard, but after some brisk skirmishing they continued the retreat in a northeesterly direction, crossing the Salem pike, until they came to the road running west toward Triune, which they followed, hard pressed by the Tennessee cavalry and turning at bay every few miles and shelling our advancing column with their artillery, strongly supported. By taking up strong positions from time to time, they were thus enabled to hold us in check while the main column moved on. We found from the reports of citizens and of the wounded who fell into our hands and from stragglers captured that the rebel force was commanded by Williams, and was fully 2,000 strong, while the whole force with me was about 900. Had this force been properly disciplined that they could have been efficiently handled in action, the rebel battery could have been captured. Indeed I think this could have been done as they were had there been no question of my authority to enforce obedience to my orders, but from orders received by Col. Spalding from Gen. Rousseau there was some doubt in my mind on this point, but Col. Spalding, from the way my orders and suggestions were treated by him, appeared to have no doubt in his mind on this point. Our last fight with the rebels was at Triune, about 5 o'clock in the evening. [4th] At this point they turned south on the pike. Col. Spalding here reported to me that his brigade was short of ammunition and provisions, insisted that Williams would probably effect a junction with Wheeler during the night, and that it was his (Spalding's) duty to go to Franklin and form a junction with Gen. Rousseau as soon as possible. In order to do this I reluctantly consented. We arrived at Franklin at 10 o'clock. [4th] Ammunition was obtained from Nashville, horses were shod, and, being joined by a detachment of the Sixth Indiana, I pushed on in the evening and camped at Spring Hill. [5th] Passed through Columbia next day, the 6th, and learning that Gen. Rousseau had gone west after Wheeler, and not hearing of Williams crossing the railroad any place to join Wheeler, I found that he had gone back east and attacked the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Having no authority to take the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry and Sixth Kentucky with me, I left them to go on to Gen. Rousseau, and pushed out that evening with the Fifth Tennessee and the detachment of the Sixth Kentucky in the direction of Tullahoma. I passed through Fayetteville the next day, [7th] captured 4 rebel soldiers, and arrived here on the morning of the 9th at 6.30 a. m. and found that Williams, after stopping a day at or in the vicinity of Farmington and Cornersville, and learning that my force and that of Gen.'s Rousseau and Granger were between him and Wheeler, who was pushing southeest, he turned east and passed through Shelbyville on the night of the 7th, and crossed the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad on the 8th in great haste, having been skirmished with and bushwhacked by Capt. Worther's gallant little company of home guards, who, after disputing the entrance of the rebels to Shelbyville, held them in check till all the Government stores in that place were removed and arrived in safety at this place, fell back to Elk River bridge. From this place they rallied and fired on the rebels, who hurried across the railroad in such haste that they did not interrupt the railroad track or telegraph wire. Learning on my arrival here that the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry had arrived at Murfreesborough, I telegraphed to Gen. Van Cleve to order that regiment to McMinnville, and ordered the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry to proceed from here to form a junction with the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry at McMinnville and pursue Williams. The Fifth Tennessee arrived at McMinnville on the 10th. I waited some hours, and the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry not arriving, moved down the pike toward Murfreesborough some seven or eight miles, and not meeting them, came on back here. The next day, [11th] receiving a dispatch from Col. Jordan that he was at McMinnville a waiting orders from me, I sent an order to wait until I could send the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry to join him with provisions for his command, and then to push on with the two regiments after Williams. The result of their pursuit has been made known to the general by a copy of the report of Col. Jordan sent him. I cannot speak too highly of the bravery, endurance, perseverance, and patience of the Tennessee cavalry regiments that were with me. With proper discipline they could not be excelled by ally troops. Inclosed I send you a copy of the report of Brig.-Gen. Van Cleve. I join with him in commending the efficiency of the block-house system for the defense of the railroad, which has been clearly demonstrated by the total failure of the raid to do any material damage. More block-houses are much needed at different points along the line. Upon this point I would call especial attention to the suggestion and recommendations in the report of Capt. Baird, my assistant inspector-general, recently forwarded. He has examined these matters with myself; and his views of the requirements of the defenses of this railroad I fully [indorse] and think of the first importance. I join with Gen. Van Cleve in commending the heroism of Lieut. Orr, of the One hundred and fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and Spartan band for their gallant and successful defense of Block-house No. 5, and recommend him for promotion for gallant conduct. It is with pain that I mention the death of the brave Lieut.-Col. Eifort, of the Second Kentucky, who received a mortal wound while gallantly leading a charge on the rebel battery and rear guard about noon on the 4th instant, of which he soon afterward died. The Tenth Tennessee Cavalry had been ordered to move around to the left of the rebel position and charge them in flank, while Col. Eifort, with the detachment of his own regiment and a portion of the Fifth Tennessee, went to charge them in front. After a sufficient time had been given the Tenth to get into position Col. Eifort charged forward in the most gallant style, but the Tenth had failed to get into position and charge simultaneously, as was intended. The consequence was that Col. Eifort was repulsed and driven back; and while the colonel was bravely trying to hold his men in the unequal fight, amid the enemy's guns, he was shot through the body. In his death society lost an ornament and the country a brave young officer of much promise. Inclosed I also send a copy of the report of Col. Boone, of the One hundred and fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

I have the honor, major, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. H. MILROY, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 38, pt. II, pp. 490-494.

        17, The restoration of the local judiciary in Memphis

Civil Jurisdiction.

We are gratified to announce the fact that Major General Washburn has ordered that all person now in confinement in military prisons in this district, for offenses against the statutes of the State of Tennessee, be turned over to the civil authorities for trial in the civil courts. Hereafter [sic] the military courts will be limited to the trial of offences against the United States Government. This will be received with satisfaction by our readers. Yesterday the following criminals were turned over to the civil authorities civil authorities by the Provost Marshal. They will be tried at the October term of the courts: John Dorty, murder; C.J. Harris, attempted to kill; Susan Mitchell, murder, Martha Palsey, attempt to poison; Hickey Pearsons, murder; W. Bolin, attempt to poison; Lewis Leech, larceny; Lewis Farley, attempt to poison; Bustabe Adler, burglary; and Delia Pearsons, murder.

Memphis Bulletin, September 17, 1864.

        17, Memphis River Police stop smuggling

Arrest of Smugglers.

The tug boat Royal Arch was seized by the river police at the levee yesterday, as she was preparing to leave for up the river. It is alleged that she had been engaged in smuggling goods to the rebels at Island 43, between which place and Memphis she has been running for several months under cover of wood and watermelon trade. Sergeant Gleshine has watched her with suspicion for some time, and yesterday succeeded in trapping her. Quantities of whisky, rice, tea, coffee, sugar, etc., were found on board, of which they could give no satisfactory account. A deck hand stated that the officers of the boat had a standing arrangement with rebels in the neighborhood of the above island. By which they served them with such necessities as those mentioned, at round prices, and that he had frequently seen rebel officers and soldiers come aboard and buy. The officers of the boat were held in bonds to answer for smuggling.

Memphis Bulletin, September 18, 1864.

[1] Not found.

[2] Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.

[3] As cited in:

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-770-1090 ext. 123456

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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