Wednesday, October 22, 2014

10.23.2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        23, Thomas Menees seeks elective office

To the Voters of Sumner, Cheatham, Montgomery, Stewart, Dickson, Humphreys and Hickman Counties composing the Eighth Congressional District: [sic]

The shortest space of time between the passage of the bill re-districting the State and the day of election for Representatives, to the Confederate Congress, renders it impossible for me to visit you personally. I therefore avail myself of the medium of a circular to make known to you my candidacy for that position; which candidacy I assume in obedience to solicitations of friends from various counties in the district.

At the present time, when party lines have been obliterated there are no political issues to be discusses; and believing as I do, in the wisdom as well as the necessity of the policy of ar [sic] complete unity of action on the part of our people as is practicable, it would be manifestly improper in me to see to revive former party issues. I trust that party spirit, so happily allayed for the present, may not be again evoked, at least during the great struggle for our national existence.

With some experience in legislation, I pledge to you, if elected, in honest and faithful effort to subserve your interest, and that of our common country, by supporting by uncompromising earnestness and zeal, all measures looking to a vigorous and successful prosecution of the war to a triumphant termination; that being the one great and only issue now pending before the Southern people.

Respectfully, Thomas Menees[1]

Springfield (Tenn.) Oct. 21, 1861

Nashville Daily Gazette, October 23, 1861.

        23, A Federal private claims a Confederate battle flag

We suppose that the flag mentioned is in possession of the proper authorities, it is not the custom, we believe, to allow privates or subordinate officers to retain such trophies as regimental flags. We hope that Congress will pass a law granting medals for meritorious conduct to soldiers in the army as well as in the navy.

Camp 21st Regt. Ohio Vol.,

Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 23, 1862.

Editor Nashville Union:

On the 7th inst., in the "affair" at Lavergne, I captured the regimental flag of the 32nd Regiment of Alabama Rebels, and, with the assistance of a private of the 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteers, took prisoners at the same time ten rebel soldiers. I do not know the soldier's name, but he and myself were the first in the rebel camp. I took possession of the flag and what guns the prisoners had, and in a few moments some cavalrymen came and took charge of the prisoners. I laid the flag, guns, and some other traps in a pile, and went to catch a horse which was running about ready bridled and saddled, and one of the cavalrymen who was marching off the prisoners which the 18th Ohio man and myself had captured, picked up my flag and put off with it. I am told that these cavalrymen say they captured it, but I know they did not. The flag is a little faded—the colors "run"—and was presented to some Rifles, I disremember the name, by the ladies of some town in Alabama; I disremember the name of the town—Mobile, I think—and also some lettering which was on it. I write this in hopes that the flag may be returned to me, or turned over to proper authority for me. Perhaps it was removed by mistake, as I think no good soldier would intentionally wrong his brother-in-harms.

Yours truly,

Isaac Taylor, Private, Co. C, 21st O. V. I.

Nashville Daily Union, October 23, 1862.

        23, Fraternization with the enemy and Federal camp life in the Chattanooga environs, excerpts from the letter of Bliss Morse to his mother

Dear Mother:

* * * *

We came off picket this morning and had a very pleasant time until it rained this morning. Our Brig. went out with us. Our boys talked and swapped papers with them also traded coffee for some of their tobacco.

Our lines are very near to each other where we picket – the banks of Chattanooga creek described the lines of our pickets.

At night every fifth man is sent down to the water's edge. It is…deep and rapid now. As one of our boys went down to the waters [sic] edge he saw a reb [sic] sitting on a log across the stream. It was moonlight. He (the reb [sic]) halloed out "are you a vidette? Yes. Well, so am I." Two of them swam across the creek the other night, and many more of them would like to come in, judging by their actions, as they will come down and hang around the lines looking very wishfully over in to the "promised land." Our batteries shelled the rebels in the P. M., soon we heard firing in their rear and some shots during the night. All at once their tents began to look rather thin….Last Monday we moved camp….It would have been quite a sight to all of you to see the Regiments moving around,-as we had to take our materials along with us. Some carried bedsteads, window sash[es], cracker boxes, pieces of sheet iron and everything you can imagine to make tents comfortable….We have pitched our tents…We have a chimney of brick to which we have sheet iron stove that we manufactured and can do our cooking on it – beside bake pies, cakes [sic], and beef if we get [sic] any flour to use. We have a table to write on and burn a "slit" light for candles, also sleep three in a bed. Our rations are more plenty and regularly issued yet I have held my own in flesh….

Diaries of Bliss Morse

        23, Suggestions aimed at making the Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis more efficient

MEMPHIS, TENN., October 23, 1864.

Brig. Gen. C. W. DUSTAN, Cmdg. Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis:

GEN.: The undersigned, commanding officers of the several regiments of your command, most respectfully call attention to the following facts in regard to the militia organization of Memphis, which we think demand the consideration of the military authorities in order that the organization may be more efficient:

The militia is composed of the business men, clerks, and laboring men of Memphis who are physically able for duty. In addition to drilling once a week they are required to guard the armories day and night, to arrest absentees from drill and guard duty, to patrol the city from time to time in search of delinquents and those who wish to avoid duty in the organization, and at the same time they are expected to keep their arms and accouterments in good order. These requirements, it has been found by experience, are a severe tax on the time and pockets of the members, and more particularly on the clerks and the laboring class of community. This would not be so objectionable, or at least would not be made a matter of complaint, were it not for the fact that there are nearly, if not quite, as many exempts (from various causes--under age, over age, and physical disability) who are equally interested in the safety of the city as there are men in the militia, and who contribute nothing to the organization, neither time, money, nor good will, and who do not, as the recent emergency plainly proved, tender their services in any manner or form in time of need. Inasmuch as the organization is for the better defenses of the city, the city is certainly interested; and as it is an organization required by the military authorities we most respectfully request that said authorities aid us in making the following changes in the organization: We ask that permanent guards be employed, to be paid by the city, to do duty at the several regimental in their charge, additional guards in cases of emergency to be detailed from the different regiments; that a sufficient number of competent persons be employed by the city to keep the arms and accouterments of the different regiments in good serviceable condition, and that the city furnish and needful articles for keeping the arms in good condition and repair. We also suggest the almost absolute necessity for the regimental adjutant to be constantly on duty. Business men cannot be found who have sufficient time to discharge the duties of the office. We therefore request that a competent person for each regiment may be detailed from the army, or that we be authorized to select such officers, and that in either case they be allowed the pay of regimental adjutants in the army, on condition, however, that they do not engaged in any kind of business while holding the office. During the fall and coming winter we suggest that all business he suspended after 12 m. on Monday of each week, and that each regiment be required to devote at least three hours to company and battalion drill.

C. McDONALD, Col. First Regt. [sic] Enrolled Militia.

D. RYAN, Col. Second Regt. [sic] Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis.

M. T. WILLIAMSON, Col. Third Regt. [sic] Enrolled, Militia, Defenses of Memphis.

[First indorsement.]


Respectfully forwarded.

So much of the communication as applies to permanent guards at the several armories is disapproved. I deem it necessary that the commands should be instructed by practice in the manner of properly performing guard duty. The other suggestions contained in the paper are heartily approved, and earnestly recommended. In order to promote the efficiency of the organization I would suggest that the system of fines for no-attendance to duty in the several regiments be abolished, or at least modified; its working at present is to throw nearly all the duty on the laboring man, who can illy afford the time lost from his daily work. The man of means neglects or avoids the many calls for extra or daily duty, and by paying his fine exempts himself from unpleasant consequences. Every tour of duty he thus avoids is thrown upon his poorer neighbor. My opinion is that a system that would punish neglect of duty by assignment to extra duty, to which might be added in gross cases imprisonment and perhaps fine, would work successfully. In order to adopt this plan it will be necessary for the city to make a monthly appropriation to support the regimental organizations. In my judgment one dollar per month for each officer and man actually present would be ample for the requirements of the several regiments.

C. W. DUSTAN, Brig.-Gen., Enrolled Militia, Cmdg.

[Second indorsement.]

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF MEMPHIS, Memphis, Tenn., November 6, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded.

The suggestions and recommendations of the regimental commanders of the militia are approved. Something ought to be done to lessen the burden of militia duty, especially of the poorer class of men. It is now a great hardship on that class. The armories should be guarded at the expense of the city. There is no justice in requiring the comparatively few men who are now doing the duty to bear the whole burden for the benefit of the city. The property and business of the city should be made to pay.

R. P. BUCKLAND, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. III, pp. 410-412.


[1] Menees was elected, in November 1861, to represent the Eighth District in the First Confederate Congress. He comfortably won reelection in 1864 with no opposition. During both terms he served on the Medical Department Committee, a practical task, since he had was a medical doctor with more than fifteen years' practice in the field. He was also assigned to the Printing and Public Lands committees.

Initially, Menees, a resolute secessionist, opposed mandatory conscription as a subversion of state rights. Yet when the winter and spring of 1862 brought disastrous defeats to the Confederate army-particularly in his home district-Menees changed his mind and supported the draft, even though he still favored the continuance of local defense forces. Later in the year, in the most important of the seventeen bills he brought up while in Congress, he voted to annul the draft exemption for employees whose businesses gained profits in surplus of 25 percent. The amendment lost. By February 1864, near the end of his first term, Menees had voted to abolish all individual exemption and to lower others. He also countermanded himself concerning the bothersome habeas corpus issue, while he supported the 1862 measure that empowered president Davis to fugaciously reject the right of the writ, he steadfastly resisted further endorsement.

Arrested by Federal forces but paroled in late July 1865, Menees returned to his Robertson County home in August . He thereafter moved to Nashville, where he later taught medicine. In 1866 he was elected president of the Nashville Medical Society, and in 1873 he became Professor of Matreia Medica and Therapeutics in the Department of the University of Nashville. He was later Professor of Obstetrics and dean of the faculty of Vanderbilt University. He died in Nashville on September 6, 1905 and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

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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