Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10.28.14 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        28, Correspondence from T.M. Brennan, president of the Clairborne Machine Works, Nashville, to Major V. K. Stevenson, president of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and Confederate Quartermaster regarding estimate for weapons production:

CLAIBORNE MACHINE WORKS, Nashville, October 28, 1861.

V. K. STEVENSON, Quartermaster-Gen., C. S. :

SIR: Agreeably to your request, I take leave to say that the present capacity of my two foundries for the production of munitions of war is fifteen guns a week, viz.,: twelve field guns, 6 and 12 pounders, and three siege and garrison guns up to 32 pounders, inclusive. I can turn out about ten tons of shot and shell a day. My present orders will take me about six weeks to complete, but I have a proposition before the War Department at Richmond for one hundred field guns and fifty siege guns, fully mounted and equipped. I do not know what action they may take in reference to it, but this I will assure you, that I shall use every exertion possible to meet the requirements of the present emergency.

Respectfully, yours,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 4, p. 481.

        28, Recruiting, return of escaped Confederate soldiers and requisition of slave labor; excerpts from Special Order No. 54, Breckinridge's Division

Special Order No. 54

Head Quarters

Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oct. 28th, 1862

*  *  * 

III. Col Ben Anderson is hereby authorized in pursuance of a Telegraph [sic] order from the war Dept. hereto annexed[1], to proceed to Kentucky and there muster into service of the Confederate States a Regiment of Cavalry to be known as the Regt. [sic] of Kentucky Cavalry. All escaped soldiers from Fort Donelson are ordered to report to Col. Anderson and remain with his command until forwarded to their respective Regiments. Col. Anderson's Regiment will be attached to his command but will remain in Kentucky as long as possible after which they will report to these Head Quarters for further orders.

IV. Capt. David Spence will secure 40 able bodied negroes [sic] making his requisitions equitably to be reported at the R.R. Depot at Murfreesboro to Mr. Boone, Government Agent to load cars & for other duties. They will be provided with quarters & food, will not be taken from this point and will be returned to their owners when the work is done and a few hired paid for their serviced. They will be required to bring Blankets and cooking utensils with them, and Capt. Spence will attend to all the details, which will secure the comfort of the negroes [sic] and their return to their owners. It is not probable they will be needed longer than ten days.

By Command of Maj. Gen. Breckenridge

William B. Bate collection

        28, Skirmish, Russellville

Report of Col. John B. Palmer, Fifty-eighth North Carolina Infantry (CSA), commanding Mountain District of North Carolina, relative to the skirmish at Russellville, October 28, 1864.


MAJ.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the recent operations of the force under my command:

* * * *

On October 21 I formed a junction with Gen. Vaughn at Bull's Gap. During the night of that day I moved to Russellville, and having effectually destroyed the railroad in that vicinity and collected and secured the telegraph wire, I, by Gen. Vaughn's directions, returned to Bull's Gap.

On the 27th of October I proceeded, by directions of Gen. Breckinridge, to Morristown for the purpose of conferring with Gen. Vaughn, whose forces I found skirmishing with the enemy. That night my mountain howitzer was ordered forward. I inclose Sergeant Byrd's report, showing the manner in which it was captured by the enemy. Gen. Vaughn requested me to send back to Bull's Gap and have my command in readiness to move the next morning at 6 a. m. to Russellville, should he so order. This I did. Early on the morning of the 28th I addressed a note to Gen. Vaughn to know if my command had been ordered up during the night, in order that if it had I might go back and place it in position at Russellville; or if it had not, that I might go to his headquarters and hold a conference with him as directed by Gen. Breckinridge. I received the following reply from Gen. Vaughn's assistant adjutant-general:

HDQRS. CAVALRY, &C., Morristown, October 28, 1864.

Col. PALMER, Cmdg., &c.:

The general directs me to say, in reply to your inquiry, that your command was ordered to Russellville last night. Enemy are still in our front. Some skirmishing this morning.

Respectfully, &c.,

BIRD G. MANARD, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

I notified Gen. Vaughn that I would place my command in position at Russellville, and immediately returned to that place, in the vicinity of which I found my command had arrived a few moments before. I selected a line about one mile in advance of Russellville, on the Morristown road, and was moving my command into position when Gen. Vaughn's staff officer arrived from the front and requested me to form my line in rear of Russellville, on the Bull's Gap road. I faced the column about and was marching it to the new position when Gen. Vaughn's retreating cavalry swept by my men in the wildest disorder. My men were hastily thrown across the road and an ineffectual attempt made to stop the fleeing cavalry and induce them to form a line. The rear of Gen. Vaughn's baggage and supply train had just reached my line when the pursuing enemy entered the town on its opposite side. Skirmishers were immediately thrown out from my command on the left and engaged the enemy, while my artillery opened from a slight elevation in rear of my right, effectually checking the enemy's advance and enabling Gen. Vaughn to rally from 150 to 200 men in rear of my line. The enemy made no farther advance, but fell back to Morristown, stating that they had encountered at Russellville the whole of Breckinridge's corps. I had with me not more than 600 men, the balance having been left at Bull's Gap by direction of Gen. Vaughn. From this position I was ordered back to Bull's Gap, and from thence to Greeneville, I protesting against both movements. From Greeneville Gen. Vaughan fell back to Rheatown, and by his directions my command returned to this district.

* * * *

J. B. PALMER, Col., Cmdg. District

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. I, pp. 852-857.

HDQRS. DEPT. OF WESTERN VIRGINIA AND EAST TENN., Wytheville, Va., November 29, 1864.

COL.: When Brig.-Gen. Vaughn met a reverse near Morristown, Tenn., toward the last of October, he fell back to the east bank of the Watauga and the enemy made a corresponding advance. Thinking the enemy too close to Bristol, I collected a miscellaneous force, composed of Vaughn's and Duke's cavalry, some dismounted men of Cosby, Duke, and Giltner, and a few niter and mining men and East Tennessee reserves, amounting to about 1,800 men, with four 12-pounder and two 6-pounder howitzers, and moved forward to meet him. Col. Palmer, from Asheville, N. C., afterward joined me with a mixed force of some 600 men. The force of the enemy was about 2,500 strong, with six pieces of artillery and a large wagon train. He retired before us to Lick Creek, and on the evening of the 11th of November, after a short engagement, his rear guard was driven by Duke's command into Bull's Gap.

An attack from the next morning was arranged as follows: The artillery under Maj. Page, with some dismounted cavalry as a support (the whole under command of Col. George B. Crittenden), was to make a demonstration in front; Gen. Vaughn, with his command, was to attack in rear, while, with Duke's cavalry (dismounted) and a body of dismounted men belonging to Vaughn, Duke, Cosby, and Giltner, under Lieut.-Col. Alston, I was to ascend the mountain and moved on on the enemy's left. The plan was carried out with perfect exactitude, and the enemy actually attacked at the same time in front, flank, and rear. The force on the mountain succeeded in carrying a line of works, but the assault as a whole did not succeeded, most of the troops being unaccustomed to that mode of fighting.

The next day (13th) Col. Palmer arrived, and the same night I moved with Vaughn and Duke to turn the enemy's right, Col. Crittenden following with Col. Palmer's force, the artillery, and the dismounted men of the other commands. The enemy having foolishly withdrawn his pickets, we passed without opposition or notice through Taylor's Gap, about two miles and a half below Bull's Gap, and the enemy having evacuated the gap the same night, at one o'clock on the morning of the 14th, with Vaughn and Duke, I attacked his column near Russellville. The results of this night attack were a good many of the enemy killed and wounded, about 300 prisoners, and all his artillery, wagon trains, &c. This force was routed with much confusion, and few of them stopped this side of Knoxville.

Following to Strawberry Plains, I found strong works on the opposite side of the river, manned and furnished with artillery. The flanks of this position were well protected and it was quite unassailable in front by the troops at my command. The enemy received re-enforcements from the garrisons beyond Knoxville and probably a regiment or two from Chattanooga.

We had artillery firing and active skirmishing for several days, and Gen. Vaughn, crossing the Holston above, made a demonstration on their rear and burned the railroad bridge over Flat Creek, but I made no serious attack on the position.

The weather now became very inclement, the streams much swollen, and the roads almost impassable. I have left Gen. Vaughn with his command and a battery of four guns to hold the country, if possible, as far as the Plains, and have withdrawn the rest of the troops.

The enemy has been driven back nearly 100 miles, and I do not think he will attempt a campaign this winter in upper East Tennessee.

The troops bore with cheerfulness rather unusual exposure and privations, and I have to express my gratification at their general good conduct.

Brig.-Gen. Vaughn, Brig.-Gen. Duke, Col. Crittenden, Col. Palmer, and Lieut.-Col. Alston, commanding dismounted men, together with their officers generally, deserve mention for zeal and good conduct.

Maj. Page, chief of artillery, proved an efficient officer, and I am indebted for valuable services to Maj. Poor, Capt. Sandford, and Lieut. Clay of my staff.

Dr. B. C. Duke, acting chief medical officer, was active in attention to the wounded.

I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. I, pp. 892-893.

        28, Guerrilla harassment of L&N railroad section gang at Fountain Head


Maj.-Gen. ROUSSEAU, Cmdg. District of Nashville:

GEN.: The following dispatch was received at this office from the roadmaster at Nashville, October 28:

Two of the robbers, Buck Smith and Taylor, came into Fountain Head, where section men were working, and took them out a mile from the road and robbed them and threatened to kill if they were caught working on the road again. They struck two of the men over the heads with their pistols and cut them pretty badly. What is to be done? I will not be able to keep any men at work on this end of the road.


I would respectfully call your attention to the above, which shows that it will be impossible to continue to operate this road, if the workmen cannot be kept on the road. I trust that you soon will be able to take measures to clear out this robber band, which seems to be confined to the part of the road from Mitchellville to the tunnel. The other parts of the road are comparatively secure.

Very respectfully, yours,

JAMES GUTHRIE, President Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

Per ALBERT FINK, Superintendent of Railroad.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. III, pp. 508-509. [2]


[1] Not found.

[2] It may be that this does not qualify as a military incident such as a skirmish or scout, but it did involve indigenous partisans, or guerrillas, and it involved activity that was anti-Union in sentiment and innocent people were the victims of depredations. Thus, as a guerrilla action it qualifies as a military operation in Civil War Tennessee. It may be that there were more of these kinds of incidents than are generally known or imagined.

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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