Sunday, October 19, 2014

10.20.2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        20, Letter from "A Rebel" in Nashville to the Chattanooga Daily Rebel

Nashville, Oct. 20th, 1862


Thinking you might like to hear from us in the City of Rocks, we pen the following lines, not to say that we are still in Yankeedom, this you know already, but to give you some idea of our condition.

I have always heard that this is the freest country on earth. Forever, and forever let me contradict it. Imagine a lamb in the jaws of a cannon and it will give you as good an idea of our liberty as you can well have.

Gen. Negley is now in command of this post. I mean by that, Nashville and as far round the city as his thieving soldiers can venture, with several regiments of cavalry and infantry, and forty two to four pieces of artillery. For almost three months, this enemy has been living on half, and sometimes quarter rations, and stealing the remainder from the people in our country and Williamson [county]. Parties go out every day, and sometimes as many as three or four a day in different directions, and when they go they are licensed to take anything they can lay their paws on. Remember, these soldiers have no restraint put upon them, and they are no better than animals. In the first place they take from a farm all the corn, fodder, and anything they can find in that line. Then everything like cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, turkeys, ducks, and chickens. Then to the house, first, everything to eat, then to the clothes for which they have a terrible passion; and all the silver, china, knives and forks and furniture are pressed, and at last the man who a few hours before was living in ease and luxury, finds himself sans meat, sans bread, sans everything except bare walls, and the clothes on his back, provided they do not burn his house down.

About the time that Gen. Morgan established his head-quarters at Hartsville, the war on the party of the Yankees assumed the form of a silk-dress war .[1] One party that was at Gallatin said to a friend of mine, "I never ran in my life and I did from Morgan at Gallatin but I paid them for it." "How?" said the lady. "I took four silk dresses from one house." The war has now come down to ladies underclothing, but let me say right here, it is not the privates alone who have this thieving passion; from Gen. Negley down it is the same thing. I do not believe this army would stay in Nashville, only they expect to do as Gen. Mitchel did, steal themselves rich.

Gen. Pope's fiendish order has been carried out in and around Nashville, and tell us why the order of the Confederate Congress, about Pope and officers should not extend to Negley and army. Little contemptible puppies of orderlies make no more of cursing a gentleman and telling him if he opens his mouth will take all the possesses on earth, then he does of eating the dinner he steals. In the neighborhood of Nashville the other day, a Dutch officer, after taking all he could rake up from one place, took the spectacles from a lady's nose. She was old, and begged him to give them back to her that she might read her Bible. He said, "I have von old voman vat vould like some cold spectacles as well as you," and he took them. The day of the fight at Lavergne [sic][2],[sic] one officer showed to a lady, and in fact to several persons, a diamond ring he took from a young lady. He said, she told him that she had rather die than give it up, she prized it so much, but the gallant officer of the U. S. A. told her that he would cut her finger off, and she gave up the ring. This same officer told of a large quantity of ladies under-clothing that he had. If you could be here tonight, you would see a magnificent castor[3], taken that same day. If you can catch that officer, salt and pepper him well. Give him a round from a rebel castor in the shape of a six shooter.

At one place a wretch demanded the ear-rings from a lady's ear. While she was taking one from her right ear he tore the other from the left. At the house of a gentleman a few miles from Nashville, they went in and found the lady ill, with an infant three weeks old. After taking everything from the house of any consequence except the bed she lay upon, she asked them please to leave her one cow, as her little babe could not live without milk. One of them replied by seizing the nursing bottle and breaking it, and saying it should have neither milk nor bottle. I really think that this would be a good army to send where Pope has gone. They are so much like savages that they should be sent to fight them. You have heard of the murder of Dr. Bass.[4] How many of our citizen may be murdered in the same shocking manner we do not know. I could recount things of this kind all night, but must close. You shall hear from me again. God bless you all in Dixie.

A Rebel.

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, Entry for November 2, 1862.

        20, Action at Philadelphia

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 193. HDQRS. ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Missionary Ridge, October 22, 1863.

I. The general commanding announces to the army with pride and satisfaction two brilliant exploits of our cavalry:

* * * *

On the 20th instant, the cavalry under Col.'s Dibrell and Morrison attacked the enemy in force at Philadelphia and captured 700 prisoners, 50 wagons loaded with stores, 6 pieces of artillery, 10 ambulances, and a lot of mules, horses, and other property. The enemy was driven to his defenses at Loudon, and is reported as completely routed. Too much praise cannot be given Col.'s Dibrell and Morrison and the brave command under them for the dash and daring displayed in the expedition so completely successful. Such blows dealt the enemy in quick succession are no less honorable to our army than indicative of future success.

By command of Gen. Bragg:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. I, p. 8.

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., October 22, 1863-12 noon.

(Received 6 p. m., 23.)

Maj.-Gen. HALLECK, Gen.-in-Chief:

By courier I learn that Burnside had a fight yesterday with the enemy at Philadelphia. Result unknown. He is concentrating at Kingston. Has withdrawn his cavalry from Post Oak Springs. River only observed by courier from mouth of Sale Creek up. I have it guarded as well as I can from Sale Creek down. Scouts report that a considerable force marched toward Knoxville day before yesterday. Deserters report that their heavy guns were removed five or six days since. Their force in our front does not diminish in appearance. We are getting supplies enough, notwithstanding the loss of wagons by Wheeler's raid and the bad condition of the roads hence to Bridgeport. Hope to move Hooker in a few days, to open the wagon road and railroad from here to Bridgeport.

GEO. H. THOMAS, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. I, p. 700.


....A fight at Philadelphia Tenn., between some of Braggs [sic] cavalry and Burnside's. We captured 700 Yanks, 50 loaded wagons....

Diary of Edward O. Guerrant, October 22, 1863.

        20, "Affairs in West Tennessee. Refugees in Memphis. Capture of Rebels at Brownsville."

For weeks past the upper counties of West Tennessee have been placed in a state but little removed from terror, on account of the manifold depredations and remorseless conscription which has been carried on persistently by several small bands of rebels. Volumes might be written in the vain attempt to illustrate and shadow forth adequately the many and shocking outrages which have been perpetrated on unarmed men and defenceless women and children. Nearly every man who could do so, has left his home to avoid the conscripted. In this way from seventy-five to one hundred loyal Tennesseeans [sic], it is estimated, are now in Memphis, having sought protection in Federal lines from the guerrillas. They are true and loyal men, but having no means to withstand the terrible ordeal, they have come to Memphis for relief from oppression, cruelty and tyranny.

We are gratified to know that this reign of terror will no longer be permitted. Already a Federal force is on the wing, and soon the roving bands of thieves will be made to pay for their audacity. Last Wednesday [14th], at Brownsville, our troops came upon a rebel force of some dozen men, prowling around and gobbled up the whole party. It is also state that they went to other points, and whenever they found a rebel they took him up for safe keeping. At last accounts, the rebels were retiring before the advance of our small force, and probably by this time the whole thieving band, so long a terror to the people in that vicinity, has been gobbled up. If this is not he case already, we are gratified to believe, that it is only a question of time.

Memphis Bulletin, October 20, 1863.

        20, A Protest Against Military Governor Andrew Johnson's Franchise Guarantee and Lincoln's Defense of the Test Oath

The Tennessee Test Oath.

From the New York Commercial Advertiser.

A few days ago, we adverted to the course of Andrew Johnson in Tennessee, in ordering a strange and unusual, not to say illegal, test for those who would vote at the coming election, and the hope was expressed that the President would at once repudiate the "plan" of his Military Governor and disavow any suspicion or intention of interfering with a free ballot in Tennessee.

It is impossible for any right-minded man, free from partisan bias, to approve the Tennessee test oath and the manner of its requirement. Mr. Johnson, who orders the oath, is on the same ticket with Mr. Lincoln, who regards opposition to it as a "political" concoction. They desire to have the votes of Tennessee, and, in order that they may get them all, compel the voter to take an oath which obliges him to vote against the Democratic nominee, and to pledge himself to any possible terms of peace or negotiations therfor, until the rebels are utterly subdued. This requirement reacts upon the President also, who, in his "to whom it may concern" letter, proposed to "receive and consider" propositions "which come by and with an "authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States." A person having such control must be a "rebel in arms," against whom the Johnson test is directed. Mr. Lincoln further said that such propositions from a rebel in arms would be "met by liberal terms." Mr. Lincoln, if "honest" in his letter, would be debarred from a vote in Tennessee. He could not take the oath prescribed by Andrew Johnson, and could reach the ballot-box only by a resort to the "war power."

It is precisely such a course as this taken in Tennessee that changes doubtful men in the Border States to open enemies; that encourages the opponents of the Administration and gives them fresh war cries: that makes the "judicious grieve," because a "wild hunt for office" renders those to whom grave public trusts are committed so careless of the limitations of their prerogatives; and that loosens the respect for our free institutions by placing the mandate of a ruler above the plainest suggestions of justice toward political opponents.

Let us not be understood. The openly disloyal must not be allowed to vote in those States. The ballot-box may be purified and the rights of loyal men regarded without resort to a test so utterly indefensible as that required in Tennessee, and which may yet be exacted in other States.

We publish elsewhere the report of the interview with Mr. Lincoln, and a portion of the protest of the Tennesseeans. That they are the McClellan electors does not preclude them from the possession of rights which the President "is bound to respect," while it should have entitled them to a dignified hearing. The President's talk of "political concoctions," his preferring to manage his "side" in his own "way," and his hint, only, that he may give the delegation an answer, are all unworthy of the chief of the nation, who should be above mere partisan motives, and whose "side" should in reality be the "side" of the people. As well might James Buchanan in 1860 have required the voters to swear to sustain the platform of the Charleston Convention, as for Mr. Lincoln to require an oath against that of Chicago in 1864. It is not in this way, non tali auxilio, that the power and influence of republican institutions are to be sustained. And we do most earnestly hope that the President, instead of issuing a "smart" letter in reply to the Tennessee complaint, will "manage his side" by strict adherence to the right.

~ ~ ~

From the New York Sun of October 18th.

[Report of the interview with Mr. Lincoln:]

The inherent power of a people to an untrammeled selection of public officers is the fundamental principle of republican government-the corner-stone of liberty. For this right the war of the Revolution was inaugurated; for its perpetuation the Federal Union was erected. It is the sacred inheritance which the Fathers of the Republic have warned us, more repeatedly than any other, to guard with the most anxious solicitude-to protect with the most jealous care. They knew that freedom of election is the great barrier which protects republic and government from the encroachments of despots, and they foresaw the inevitable consequence that would follow its destruction. An ordeal like that through which our country is now passing was perhaps never anticipated by the founders of our Government; but they were aware of the general truth that the tendency of civil war is to generate despotism, and no doubt they sought to counteract the influence of centralization by unlimited freedom of ballot.

In those districts which at the present time are under military occupation, and where there is unquestionably an element of opposition to the Government it is right and proper that a test of loyalty should be adopted. To this no plausible objection can be made, for it is demanded alike by justice to our cause and consideration for the interests of the loyal classes in those districts. Further than this, however, the Government has no constitution right to go. Neither the President nor his subordinates is justifiable in making any distinction between electors, unless that distinction is for the sole purpose of separating loyalty form disloyalty.

[A portion of the protest of the Tennesseeans:]

In Tennessee the Military Governor of the State, who also happens to be the President's colleague in the present political canvass, has practically nullified the privilege of free ballot in his State. He has issued an order for the government of the forthcoming election, and has appended an oath which he prescribes as a qualification for voting. This oath provides that the voter shall swear to "oppose all armistices or negations for peace with the rebels in arms until the Constitution of the United States, and all laws and proclamations made in pursuance thereof, shall be established over all the people of every State and Territory embraced within the National Union," etc. This means that the elector must endorse the President's emancipation proclamation, the confiscation act, and all the anti-slavery edicts and proclamations which have emanated from the present Administration.

But this proceeding of Governor Johnson is not an isolated case. In every other district which is under military surveillance the same general course has been pursued, although to some extend modified in certain instances. The one alluded to, however, is sufficient to illustrate the dangerous encroachments that are being made upon the freedom of election. It teaches that if the American people would preserve those rights which they have inherited from their fathers, they must by all loyal means insist upon a rigid observance of the Constitution by those whom they have elevated to power.

Daily National Intelligencer,[5] October 20, 1864.[6]

[1] This pilfering of women's clothing was not restricted to Union soldiers. See June 4, 1863, "Confederates rob stores in Franklin,"below, and July 14, 1863, "Merchants in Franklin seek recompense for losses sustained during Confederate raid on Franklin" below and January 9, 1864, "Petition to Military Governor Andrew Johnson seeking recompense as a result of Confederate raid" below.

[2] See October 7, 1862, "Skirmish at LaVergne," above.

[3] A beaver hat.

[4] William James Bass, son of erstwhile mayor of Nashville John M. Bass, joined the Confederate army. He was murdered on October 1, 1862, after an absence of several months, when he returned home to visit his wife and five young sons. "Before dawn on the following morning, after Federal authorities had evidently been informed of his presence by some…[slaves] a squad of Union soldiers arrived at the house and shot the unarmed Dr. Bass to death in his front yard, where he had gone expecting to meet men from his own unit. After the killing, the soldiers ransacked the house, and then remained, threatening and ridiculing various members of  the family.

The killing brought an early view of the harshness of war to the citizens of Davidson County, and the complicity of the slaves who informed the authorities…must have shattered the illusions of local slaveholder who  believed that slaves were largely contented with their way of life." See Paul Clemmens, A Past Remembered, A Collection of Antebellum Houses in Davidson County, Vol. II, ed. and comp. Linda Mason and Stephen T. Rogers (Nashville: Clearview Press, 1987), pp.14-15.


[5] Washington, D. C.

[6] TSL&A, 19th CN.

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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