Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10.22.2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        22, William Blount Carter enters East Tennessee to initiate bridge burning, loyalty of Tennesseans in County to the Union

NEAR MONTGOMERY, MORGAN COUNTY, TENN., October 22, 1861. (Received November 4.) Brig.-Gen. THOMAS.

SIR: I reached here at 2 p. m. to day. I am within six miles of a company of rebel cavalry. I find our Union people in this part of the State firm and unwavering in their devotion to our Government and anxious to have an opportunity to assist in saving it. The rebels continue to arrest and imprison our people.

You will please furnish the bearers with as much lead, rifle powder and as may caps as they can bring for Scott and Morgan Counties. You need not fear to trust these people. They will open the war for you by routing these small bodies of marauding cavalry.

* * * *

I am obliged to send this note unsealed.

In haste, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


OR, Ser. II, Vol. I, p. 889.


HDQRS. EAST TENNESSEE BRIGADE, Camp Calvert, November 12, 1861.

Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, U. S. Army.


* * * *

Yesterday I sent forty-five pounds rifle powder, fifty pounds lead and twenty boxes rifle caps into East Tennessee for the Union men. I borrowed the whole from Col. Garrard. Will you have the kindness to have rifle powder forwarded to me not only to return that borrowed but also for further distribution among the mountain men? The ammunition sent yesterday was to be delivered to the men mentioned by my brother in his letter to you. Lead and caps are also needed.

We thank you, general, for your assurance that as soon as you can you will move toward East Tennessee. Our men and officers have entire confidence in you and shall be most happy to see you in our midst. If the reports made to me to-day are true-and they seem to be reliable-we might get possession of the mountain passes without loss or even opposition. Do you not think so?

I am persuaded you will do what is right and proper.

With respect,


Acting Brig.-Gen. Comdg. East Tennessee Brigade.

HDQRS. EAST TENNESSEE BRIGADE, Camp Calvert, November 16, 1861.

Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, U. S. Army, Cmdg., &c., Crab Orchard, Ky.

GEN.: My brother William has just arrived from East Tennessee and the news he brings I think of so much importance that I will dispatch a special messenger to convey it to you. My brother left Roane County near Kingston on Monday night last. He reports that on Friday night, 8th instant, of last week he succeeded in having burned at least six and perhaps eight bridges on the railroad, viz.,: Union bridge in Sullivan County, near the Virginia line; Lick Creek bridge in Greene County; Strawberry Plains in Jefferson County, fifteen miles east of Knoxville, partially destroyed; Hiwassee bridge, seventy miles southeest of Knoxville and on the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad; two bridges over the Chickamauga between Cleveland and Chattanooga and between Chattanooga and Dalton, Ga. These bridges are certainly destroyed. The Long Island bridge at Bridgeport on Tennessee River, and a bridge below Dalton on the Western Atlantic road are probably destroyed.

The consternation among the secessionists of East Tennessee is very great. The Union men are waiting with longing and anxiety for the appearance of Federal forces on the Cumberland Mountains and are all ready to rise up in defense of the Federal Government. My brother states that he has it from reliable sources that the rebels have but 15,000 men at Bowling Green many of them badly armed and poorly organized. The other 15,000 men are distributed at two other points in Southeestern Kentucky.

The above information was obtained from Union members of Tennessee Legislature who were at Bowling Green on last Monday was a week ago.

* * * *

Gen., if it be possible do urge the commanding general to give us some additional force and let us advance into East Tennessee; now is the time, and such a people as are those who live in East Tennessee deserve and should be relieved and protected. You know the importance of this move and will I hope use all your influence to effect [sic] it. Our men will go forward with a shout to relieve their native land.

The brigade commissary has not yet handed in his report of the amount of provisions on hand; but I think we have already nearly if not quite a month's supply on hand.

With much respect, I am, dear general, yours, very truly,


Acting Brig.-Gen., Cmdg. East Tennessee Brigade.

OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, pp. 892-893.

        22, Sherman's reply to Miss P. A. Fraser relative to policy following guerrilla attacks on the Catahoula and Gladiator.[2]

MEMPHIS, October 22, 1862.

Miss P. A. FRASER, Memphis:

DEAR LADY [sic]: Your petition is received. I will allow fifteen days for the parties interested to send to Holly Springs and Little Rock to ascertain if firing on unarmed boats is to form a part of the warfare against the Government of the United States.

If from silence or a positive answer from their commanders I am led to believe such fiendish acts are to be tolerated or allowed it would be weakness and foolish in me to listen to appeals to feelings that are scorned by our enemies. They must know and feel that not only will we meet them in arms, but that their people shall experience their full measure of the necessary consequences of such barbarity.

The Confederate generals claim the Partisan Rangers as a part of their army. They cannot then disavow their acts, but all their adherents must suffer the penalty. They shall not live with us in peace. God himself has obliterated whole races from the face of the earth for sins less heinous than such as characterized the attacks on the Catahoula and Gladiator. All I say is if such acts were done by the direct or implied concert of the Confederate authorities we are not going to chase through the canebrakes and swamps the individuals who did the deeds, but will visit punishment upon the adherents of that cause which employs such agents. We will insist on a positive separation; they cannot live with us. Further than that I have not yet ordered, and when the time comes to settle the account we will see which is most cruel-for your partisans to fire cannon and musket-balls through steamboats with women and children on board, set them on fire with women and children sleeping in their berths, and shoot down the passengers and engineers, with the curses of hell on their tongues, or for us to say the families of men engaged in such hellish deeds shall not live in peace where the flag of the United States floats.

I know you will say these poor women and children abhor such acts as much as I do, and that their husbands and brothers in the Confederate service also would not be concerned in such acts. Then let the Confederate authorities say so, and not employ their tools in such deeds of blood and darkness. We will now wait and see who are the cruel and heartless men of this war. We will see whether the firing on the Catahoula or Gladiator is sanctioned or disapproved, and if it was done by the positive command of men commissioned by the Confederate Government, you will then appreciate how rapidly Civil War corrupts the best feelings of the human heart.

Would to God ladies better acted their mission on earth; that instead of inflaming the minds of their husbands and brothers to lift their hands against the Government of their birth and stain them in blood, had prayed them to forbear, to exhaust all the remedies afforded them by our glorious Constitution, and thereby avoid "horrid war," the last remedy on earth.

Your appeals to me shall ever receive respectful attention, but it will be vain in this case if Gen. Holmes does not promptly disavow these acts, for I will not permit the families and adherents of secessionists to live here in peace whilst their husbands and brothers are aiming the rifle and gun at our families on the free Mississippi.

Your friend, [sic!]

W. T. SHERMAN, Maj.-Gen., Comdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt, II, p. 288.

        22, Skirmish at New Madrid Bend[3]

No circumstantial reports filed.

        22, Confederate situation report relative to flour mill operation, pickets and scouts on the Tennessee River, Igou's to Blythe's Ferry

HDQRS. 35TH AND 48TH TENNESSEE REGIMENTS, Near Georgetown, Tennessee, October 22, 1863.

Gen. STEVENSON, Cmdg. at Charleston and Loudon, E. Tennessee:

DEAR SIR: I am commanding the Thirty-fifth and Forty-eighth Tennessee Regiments at this point, numbering about 400 men. I was sent here to gather up wheat and put three mills in operation, and to gather up stock for the army. Have been very successful in both. I am also picketing the Tennessee River from Igou's to Blythe's Ferry with my infantry and a few mounted [men] whom I have in my command.

The enemy has fortified and done a good deal of ditching on the opposite side at Blythe's Ferry. They have also ditched on the island at that point to protect them while hauling corn from the island. Col. Cooper, commanding a regiment in Spears' brigade, is in command of about 400 men at Blythe's Ferry. I have a good company of infantry guarding that point stationed on this side. Spears' headquarters are located on Sale Creek. The remainder of his brigade is with him. Byrd, commanding brigade of cavalry, is located at Post Oak Springs above.

I have scouts who go across the river every night. They report that Joe Clift, owning a mill on opposite [shore], and who has been grinding for the Federals, applied to Gen. Spears on last Tuesday or Wednesday for a guard for his mill. Gen. Spears replied that they were under marching orders and liable to move at any moment, consequently he could not furnish it. Gen. Spears told Joe Clift that the Federal forces in east Tennessee were in a precarious situation; that our troops were marching on them from above and below, and that he was fearful they would be cut off. The Union men and private soldiers are of the opinion that Rosecrans is preparing for a retrograde movement; that he could not support his army where he now is very long.

Rosecrans sent 1,000 wagons across Walden's Ridge by the Poe road, loaded with sick, wounded, and other surplus, as the Yankees say, on last Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday night four or five batteries passed up by Sale Creek in the direction of Post Oak Springs or Smith's Cross-Roads as though they were hunting out a road to Middle Tennessee or getting forage for their stock or going to East Tennessee. Our scout was not able to ascertain which. They were nearly starved, as they pressed Gen. Spears' corn as they went up by Sale Creek. They had a general rip and cursing spell. They said that their horses had had no forage for forty-eight hours.

Some of the gassing, boasting officers brag that Rosecrans had received 60,000 re-enforcements and would hold his position, while others of his men and officers said that he had not received one-half that number and could not hold it.

I have thus summed up and penned down the various items of information acquired by my scouts on the opposite side of the river. You can weigh it and judge for yourself. I hope if anything of importance should occur above you will let me know, and oblige,

Your obedient servant,

B. J. HILL, Col., &c.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, p. 577.

        22, Federal acquisition of a Murfreesboro Confederate woman's furniture

Head-Quarters United States Forces

Murfreesboro, Tenn., October 22nd 1863

His excellency, Andrew Johston [sic]

Mil. Governor, Tenn.,


As Mrs. Avent's letter was referred to me by you, I deem it proper to inform you that I have carefully examined the case of Mrs. Avent, concerning household furniture taken from her by the agents of the government.

The facts are as follows, viz.,: it seems that, on the day of the evacuation of Murfreesboro by Gen. Bragg's army, Mrs. Samuel Morgan when with it, and then transferred the furniture of her house to Mrs. Avent, Mrs. Childers, and Mrs. Beans, and it does not appear than any consideration was given for it.

I have therefore decided that the property is properly taken by the U.S Agent and the aforesaid women have no legal title to it whatever.

With highest regard, I am, Very Respectfully

Your friend & Ob'dt servant, Jno. W. Geary

Brig Gen U. S. Vols., Comm'dg

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 6, p. 431.

        22, Captain Benjamin S. Nicklin, 13th Light Indiana Artillery, to Military Governor Andrew Johnson about developing a policy concerning the disposition of freedmen after the war

Head Quarters 13th Inda Battery

Gallatin Tenn. Oct. 22 1864

To. His Excellency Andrew. Johnson [sic]

Mily Govr Tenn.

In obedience to the request of your Excellency I have the honor to Submit [sic] the following statement of my views for the best management of the interest of the as we call them contrabands [sic] and what I may say is founded upon [sic] and must be construed with the FACTS that

1st. Slavery is virtually dead, & that the negro's [sic] are now without masters who can control them

2nd The Govert. [sic] having acknowledged the fact that the rebellion has freed them is bound to provide for them until they can do for themselves

3rd There should be some place given them where they can be protected & taught & where they would desire to be so that they would leave their masters & seek the protection of the Govt. for.

4th In the same ratio the slaves leave their Masters will their Masters become loyal

5th They should not be brought from slavery & thrown at once on their own resources as freeman but should be brought gradually to appreciate & make good use of the advantages of freeman [sic]

6th Both the whites & Blacks [sic] have a lesson to learn before our country can enjoy the peace of yore, even though the cannon should be silent –

The former master must learn to hire the Negro & the negro [sic] must learn to be hired –

The above are a few of the facts I have in view & upon them & others that will suggest themselves to your Excellency I found my idea of the proper management of the freedmen[.] My idea is this –

Let the whole care & management (in say Tennessee) of the Contrabands [sic] be placed under the charge of one man who shall be responsible to you as Mily [sic] Governor or the secretary of war. Let him be authorized to receive and provide for all Negro's coming in & claiming the protection of the Government. Let him have authority to take any farms or plantations whose owners are in rebellion against the Govt[.] Let him appoint for, Say [sic] each Militry [sic] district an officer to take charge of the district. Let that district officer have an officer as Quarter Master for his district & have the power to appoint at each point at which he may collect the negros [sic] an agent to oversee that point, (this agent might be a civilian [sic]) [.] Let there be kept at each District Head Quarters books showing the whereabouts, name, age sex [sic], &C [sic] of every Negro in the district who claims protection of the government. Books showing the same of each station should also be kept at each station. The officers should have rank & pay enough to give them influence & keep them honest.

This is the machinery except some minor details & how to work it[.]

I would gather all the contrabands (in this District for instance) and place them on the deserted farms & plantations. Would [sic] receive all that would leave their masters of their own accord – I would then gather up every Negro found in the district that was not

1st Still remaining with his Master [sic]

2nd In employ of Govt as soldier or laborer

3rd Those that were free when the war broke out (This would make laborers scarce) & with these exceptions place them on the farms also. I would then fix a price per month for men, for women & for children for their labor on the farms –

I would also establish a price at which Citizens [sic] could hire them off the farms entering into a written contract & if the Negro did to fulfil [sic] his contract make him, & if the citizen did not live up to his Seize his crops pay the Negro out of it giving back the surplus to the citizen[.] I would make the prices paid them on the farm less per month that the price per month to be paid by citizens[.] This would after while cause the Negro to want to hire out for the most money - & there being no loose negros [sic] around to hire the citizens would be obliged to come to the government agent[.] I would not allow a negro [sic] to leave a farm on which he was placed to go to another farm or place to work without express permission. I would permit the schools kept convenient[.]

The products of the farms to be sold by the Quarter Master the hands paid & the balance accounted for to the Government [sic] [.] These farms could in every instance that I know of be worked with the horses that are run down in the service & which even while doing the work of the farm would in many instances again become serviceable & could be turned back to an A.Q.M.U. S.A[.]

The officer in charge should not enforce any contract either for or against a negro [sic] that was not made with & through the government officer –

The officer in Charge of say such a district as this should have at least rank & pay of Col of Cavalry but not connected with the army proper, although all should be military for the next 3 years[.]

Winter is coming on & unless something is done for them they will freeze & die & the arrangements at all events should be made now so that they can go to work early in the spring –

It will cost the government no more to try this than it does now & unless we are driven out of the country by rebels the who[l]e expense, including the pay of all officers connected with it will be paid by the farms in less than 4 years –

& [sic] when that time comes the government can give it up for then they can take care of themselves – There are many minor details that I have omitted as your Excellency only desired an outlilne[.] I know I can make it such a success that the negro [sic] question can not bother us any more.

Thanking your Excellency for your many kindnesses & trusting that in the high position you are soon [to] occupy you will be able to assist in directing the old ship safely through the storm that now seems to threaten her.

I am Your Excellency's Obt. Svt

Ben S Nicklin, Capt 13 Ind Batty Light Arty.

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 7, pp. 242-244.


[1] William Blount Carter, the civilian bridge burner, was brother to Brigadier-General Samuel Powhattan Carter, the military bridge burner.

[2] These guerrilla attacks prompted Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman, then in command at Memphis, to initiate a policy in which Confederate sympathizers were to be sent across the lines into the Rebel lines. One woman, Miss P.A. Fraser wrote a letter to Sherman objecting to this policy. Her petition is lost, but Sherman's reply is not.

[3] According to the OR General Index, p. 98, New Madrid Bend was situated in Tennessee, not Missouri.

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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