Thursday, November 20, 2014

11.20.2014 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        20, "Sewanee Coal."

The enterprising and liberal-spirited gentlemen constituting the "Tennessee Mining Co," deserve, and, no doubt have, the earnest thanks and best wishes of the people of Nashville, for the philanthropic and generous course they have pursued towards this community in supplying the city with coal at prices much lower than we had reason to expect. With the approach of cold weather our citizens were astounded with the announcement that the speculators in coal had increased the price of that indispensable article to an almost fabulous figure. Without the enterprise of the "Tennessee Mining Company," there would necessarily have been an immense deal of suffering in Nashville during this winter. To prevent this deplorable state of things this company is doing all that money and labor can accomplish. They have an adequate force employed at the mines, and their daily shipments to the city are near about equal to the demand.

Nashville Daily Gazette, November 20, 1861.

        20, "I have to request at least that the prisoners I have taken be held if not as traitors as prisoners of war." A Confederate Inquiry for Instructions Relative to the Fate of East Tennessee Unionist Prisoners

HEADQUARTERS, Knoxville, November 20, 1861.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.

SIR: The rebellion in East Tennessee has been put down in some of the counties and will be effectually suppressed in less than two weeks in all the counties. Their camp in Sevier and Hamilton Counties have been broken up and a large number of them made prisoners. Some are confined in jail at this place and others sent to Nashville.

In a former communication I inquired of the Department what I should do with them. It is a mere farce to arrest them and turn them over to the courts. Instead of having the effect to intimidate it really gives encouragement and emboldens them in their traitorous conduct. We have now in custody some of their leaders--Judge [David T.] Patterson, the son-in-law of Andrew Johnson; Col. [Samuel] Pickens, the senator in the legislature from Sevier and other counties, and several members of the legislature, besides others of influence and some distinction in their counties. These men have encouraged this rebellion but have so managed as not to be found in arms. Nevertheless all their actions and words have been unfriendly to the Government of the Confederate States. The influence of their wealth, position and connections has been exerted in favor of the Lincoln Government and they are the parties most to blame for the troubles in East Tennessee. They really deserve the gallows and if consistent with the laws ought speedily to receive their deserts; but there is such a gentle spirit of conciliation in the South and especially here that I have no idea that one of them will receive such a sentence at the hands of any jury impaneled to try them.

I have been here at this station for three months, half the time in command of the post, and I have had a good opportunity of learning the feeling pervading this country. It is hostile to the Confederate Government. They will take the oath of allegiance with no intention to observe it. They are the followers and slaves of Johnson and Maynard and never intend to be otherwise. When arrested they suddenly become very submissive and declare they are for peace and not supporters of the Lincoln Government but yet they claim to be Union men. At one time whilst our forces were at Knoxville they gave it out that great changes were taking place in East Tennessee and the people were becoming reconciled and loyal. At the withdrawal of the army from here to the Gap and the first intimation that the Lincoln army was like to penetrate the State they were in arms, and scarcely a man with only a few honorable exceptions but what was ready to join them and make war upon us.

The prisoners we have tell us that they had every assurance that the army was already in the State and would join them in a very few days; that the property of Southern men was to be confiscated and divided amongst those who would take up arms for Lincoln.

I have to request at least that the prisoners I have taken be held if not as traitors as prisoners of war. To release them is ruinous; to convict them before a court at this time next to an impossibility; but if they are kept in prison for six months it will have a good effect. The bridge-burners and spies ought to be tried at once and I respectfully request that instructions be forwarded at as early a day as practicable as it needs prompt action to dispose of these cases.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. B. WOOD, Col., Cmdg. Post.

OR, Ser. II, Vol. I, pp. 845-846.

        20, Costume ball announced in Memphis

Ball Masque.—We understand that a grand Masquerade Ball will be given at Odd Fellows' Hall, on Tuesday evening next. It is intended to be a recherche affair, and every assurance is given that nothing offensive or indecorous will be permitted. When properly conducted, such entertainments are highly diverting. They afford room for display of taste in costuming, and of sustaining character. So many of the young and gay people of Memphis have been engaged in the various tableaux, they must be quite well provided with the necessary paraphernalia, and suitable masks may easily be procured or made.

Memphis Daily Appeal, November 20, 1861.

        20, Paranoia in Memphis

Memphis, November 20. -An immense meeting of the citizens was held here to-day, to provide measures for the public safety. A resolution was adopted, to send immediate aid, in men and money, to Columbus, Ky. An address was also issued, calling, in the name of Tennessee, upon her sister States of the South, to send forward men and guns for the defence of the Mississippi Valley. The address says, that the long threatened invasion is at hand-that the enemies of our rights and our liberties are moving upon us, by land and by water, in overwhelming numbers-that within the next five days, a great battle will be fought at Columbus, and that if our army there be overpowered, unless Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana give help, Memphis is lost to the South. It is urged that the friends of Tennessee in surrounding States, must look the facts sternly in the face, before it is too late.

The Charleston Mercury, November 22, 1861. [1]

20, Newspaper report on Federal and Confederate activities in Middle and East Tennessee

The War in Tennessee.

Gen. Rosecrans and his command are within 12 miles of Nashville. Bragg, without an army, was in command at Willlahonia. The rebels in Knoxville for their army. Leading rebels in East Tennessee are preparing to leave for the South. The rebels are not expected to make a stand this side of Chattanooga. The tunnels on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad are expected to be completed by Sunday.

Pittsfield Sun, November 20, 1862.

        20, Skirmish at Sparta

No circumstantial reports filed.

        20, Description of Sculpture Spring, a summer resort near Winchester

Started at 7oclock [sic] on the Shelbyville road. Passed a Summer [sic] resort, Sulphur Spring, about 10 a. m. quite [sic] a picturesque place, situated down a little shady valley enclosed by steep hills couvered [sic] with evergreens. a [sic] cool retreat from busy noonday sun. The house is quite a large one boasts of a Billiard room, Bowling ally, dancing hall and all the accompaniments of a Wattering [sic] resort.....

Campbell, Three Years in the Saddle, p. 110.

        20, Federal intelligence report at Whitesides

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, Whiteside's, [sic] Tennessee, November 20, 1863.

Col. STARLING, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:

SIR: A Miss Reed that left here on Tuesday for Lookout Mountain with a pass from Maj.-Gen. Thomas returned this evening. She confirms the story of the two deserters of yesterday, that Wauhatchie trace, Powell's trace, and Nickajack trace are all picketed with one regiment (she says in command of Col. Butler), and that Gen. Stevenson came late last evening to a house at the head of Powell's trace and took the house for his headquarters. He is a division commander in Hardee's corps. With trouble she got from them, and down the mountain at 9 this morning. She says they are looking for us to advance, and the men say they will have to leave the mountain again. The rebels took her horse and she returned on foot. I sent her to her sister's, 5 miles, on the river. She says she is to report to Gen. Thomas. Two of Gen. Sherman's divisions have passed, leaving their rear and heavy trains here to-night. I hear, but not certain, that another division of his is to pass yet. I will inform you. Nothing further of interest. We are ready to move.

Your obedient servant,

W. GROSE, Col., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, p. 204.

        20, Federal scout in Knoxville environs

BEAN'S STATION, Tennessee, November 20, 1863.

(Received 5 p. m.) Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,


The following just received:

HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, Blain's Cross-Roads, Tennessee, November 20, 1863--5 a. m.

Brig.-Gen. WILLCOX:

A dispatch from the front says the advance scout is within 5 miles of Knoxville, and within one-quarter of a mile of the rebel pickets. It is reported that the road from this side is blockaded.

F. W. GRAHAM, Col., Cmdg.

O. B. WILLCOX, Brig.-Gen.

(Same to Grant.)

CLINCH MOUNTAIN, Tennessee, November 20, 1863.

(Received 5.35 p. m.) Maj.-Gen. HALLECK,

The following just received:

BLAIN'S CROSS-ROADS, November 20, 1863--7 a. m.

Brig.-Gen. WILLCOX:

Citizens report that there are from 80,000 to 100,000 rebels around Knoxville. Firing ceased at dark last evening. Steady and heavy firing during the afternoon. Rebel pickets all around the town.

Very respectfully, F. W. GRAHAM.

Another dispatch states that firing ceased at dark last evening. It is possible that Gen. Burnside is overwhelmed. Col. Graham says no firing this morning. I do not credit citizens as to numbers, but it is possible that Bragg is shifting his base of operations, but probably you know best. My train is nearly through Clinch Gap. No signs of an attack in the rear. I shall go forward.

O. B. WILLCOX, Brig.-Gen.

(Same to Grant.)

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, p. 205.

        20, Demonstration on Rogersville, advance to Tazewell, scouts from Jonesville to Cumberland Gap

BEAN'S STATION, Tennessee, November 20, 1863--9 a. m.

(Received 5.10 p. m.)

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

My advance commenced moving on Tazewell at 12 o'clock last night. If nothing happens, Col. Foster will arrive there about noon. My movement to this place from Bull's Gap was covered by a demonstration on Rogersville, which seems to have checked the advance of the enemy on that road. I have heard of but two regiments of the enemy moving down on the Rogersville road. Do not know where the main body of Jones' cavalry is. A force reported at Bull's Gap yesterday; I do not know how strong. Scouts from Cumberland Gap on Jonesville road have not reported any movement in that direction yet. I think the main body of Jones' cavalry, which defeated Garrard at Rogersville on the 6th instant, is moving in a body, but cannot tell where. At Knoxville some shelling reported yesterday afternoon by the telegraph operator at 2 o'clock. I have no particular. Morristown telegraph station was abandoned by Col. Davis last night at dark. Have sent Col. Graham to Blain's Cross-Roads, hoping to open communication with Knoxville by cavalry, but a division of rebels is reported on the north side of Knoxville. Cannonading was thought to be heard here at daylight in the direction of Knoxville. Clinch Mountain Gap is very bad. The Clinch River ford is bad, but I hope my rear guard will get over Clinch River this evening.

O. B. WILLCOX, Brig.-Gen.

(Same to Grant.)

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, pp. 205-206.

        20, Longstreet's situation report

NOVEMBER 20, 1863.


We drove the enemy's skirmishers and pickets into his lines of defense yesterday. His position here is stronger than at Chattanooga. He gives no sign of moving out to meet us, nor of attempting to escape; it is hardly possible for him to escape. I think his force cannot be less than 20,000. I cannot invest him completely, but have closed all the avenues to the town pretty well, and have them strongly guarded. It seems to be a question of starvation with the enemy, or to re-enforce. If he attempts the latter, we can beat him in both directions. Let us catch this party, as it is now in our power, or seems to be. Hurry the Virginia troops up to help me to shut up the place.

J. LONGSTREET, Lieut.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. III, p. 721.

        20, Small pox in occupied Murfreesboro, an excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

[Small pox]...has been raging here to some extent since the summer. Is [sic] mostly confined to the negro population. Some white persons caught the disease, a few died with it. A great many negros [sic] have fallen victims [sic] to the disease. It is a great wonder the plague has not been of a more alarming nature, as there were such a large number of negros [sic] in from the country, fit subjects, one in ten who had been vaccinated, and it being almost impossible to keep them from mixing about through one an other [sic]. They seem to be like rats [sic], [and] are going at all times and places.

The army had a hospital built for that purpose, on the bank of the river near the Nashville pike. At this place the cases were moved to as fast as they were found out, which is the cause of the disease being kept down.

Being told by one of the negros [sic], who had been sick there, said the Drs [sic] and nurses paid little attention, or cared, whether or not the got well....Says as soon as the breath was out, they would lay the dead out side [sic] of the door, sometimes lay [sic] there a day or two before they were moved or buried....Large number died. [sic]

If this tale be true....It shews [sic] one of the modes of emancipation for the slave, making them free indeed.

Spence Diary.

        20, "A Yankee Soldiers [sic] Profession," a Northern factory worker lectures an audience of Negroes, an excerpt from the diary of John C. Spence

At one of the negro [sic] revivals of religion, a soldier makes a profession. After the first feelings of the excitement was [sic] over, he undertook to lecture his comrades and negros [sic] that was present at the meeting. To his comrades he addressed himself a short time, told them he feared they were disposed to make a sham of all the important matter, warned them of their course, gave this his advice, then turned his attention to the negros [sic]

He says-["]true, I am a white man, but I have been raised a servant in the North, as you are here. You think your times are hard, but you see nothing what [sic] I have seen. [I] Have been a subject of all kinds of drudgery. Have worked in a factory. Went as many times as I have fingers and toes barefoot, when there was sheets of frost on the ground, to work. Had to work the ten hour system at winter time. It would be after night before I got home, had but little to eat when I got there. Go to a cold bed, and have to be up by day, get ready to work before it was light, before any of you are up.

This is the way we poor people live in the north. There is [sic] hundreds of children living in the same way, young as eight years old, all have to labour hard, and scarcely get pay enough to clothe and keep us from hunger and cold.

My poor mother, who is in her grave, died with almost starvation. [sic] If we get sick, could hardly get a doctor to attend us. I joined the army because I thought I could make more that way. You may think your lot hard, but it is nothing to what we poor people have at the north. He went on in this stream for some time.["]

Spence Diary.

        20, "Our Reg[iment]. never looked better than it did today…." Frank M. Guernsey's letter to Fannie

Memphis, Tennessee

Nov 20th, 1863

Dear Fannie

You see that I have commenced this letter on a very large sheet, so if my ideas should happen to give out before I fill it, you must exercise some degree of allowance. I have commenced it with a determination to fill it, so that my will is good if my pen fails.

I was very agreably [sic] supprised [sic] day-before yesterday morning by a letter from you, not that you write so seldom, your letters are a surprise, but that Uncle Sams [sic] mail has once more remembered me in its daily visits to our camp. I had made up my mind that I was to have no more letters as it had been nearly three weeks since I had received one from any quarter. I was much pleased reading your letter to see in what light you looked at the trip I proposed for you. It was very evident that you wanted to come very much, but still you hardly dared to do it, for fears some one might make some remarks about it, even if it was none of their business. Now I tell you Fannie dear how I generally manage in such cases, as long as my intentions are good, if I want to do any thing that would give chance for remarks I just do it, and then let them talk if they want to. I never pay any attention to what they have to say, but I suppose it is different with you, as far as I am concerned I should not care one bit, what they had to say. From what Glen said a few days ago I think it is doubtful about Nellie's coming down. He said he had written her not to come as we were here much under marching orders and in all probability we should not be here much longer, so that I suppose we shall see neither of you here this winter. Our Reg[iment] has been relieved from all duty in and around Memphis and we were under marching orders for nearly four days expecting to leave every hour but that has passed over and we may remain here two or three weeks yet, and perhaps even longer than that time.

Fannie I commenced this letter a day or two ago but have had so much to do that it is not finished yet. To day is Sunday and I hope I have not got anything else to do but to write you. This Sunday has been the same so far as all our sundays [sic] in the Army and what more we may have to do the Lord only knows. This morning we received orders for a Brigade Review. We fell in about eight oclock [sic] and marched out about one mile from Camp to the City fair grounds. A very pretty place smooth and clear from all objects that would hinder our evolutions. It was a grand sight I tell you. Our Reg[iment]. never looked better than it did today, every man in the ranks had his best gown on, his boots well polished and white gloves on. We marched and counter-marched before the Reviewing officer with Colors Flying and Bands playing and performed all sorts of evolutions laid down in the Tactics. There was quite a number of spectators present and all appeared to be well pleased with our performance; the Col is just putting us through on drill, we have from two hours to five hours, generally five hours drill each day.

I had a little scout in Arkansas a few days ago there was five commissioned officers and about one hundred men in the party. I had about twenty-five men in my command. We crossed the river to the opposite side of Memphis and then struck off in different directions. We went out some nine or ten miles into the country and scouted it over thoroughly but could not find the enemy. We returned to our starting point on the river about nine o'clock at night, tired and hungry having had nothing to eat or drink since early morning. I got down on my knees and took a glorious good drink of Mississippi water and was as good as new. It appears to be a settled thing that we are to be mounted before we go into the field again. It is now nearly two weeks since we were relieved from duty and I can't imagine what we are waiting for unless it is for the horses. I hope they will come soon for I do not fancy the idea of footing it again for three or four hundred miles.

Fannie I suppose you are having some very cold weather in Wis [sic] by this time, are you not? I wish you could be here a few weeks and enjoy this pleasant weather that we are having. It is just as pleasant as can be, we have warm sunny days and cool evenings, so that our fireplace is a great institution. It looks really home-like with a good fire sparkling on the hearth. I enjoy it very much.

I sent you some music a few days ago Fannie have you received it? I could not find the sheet I told you I would send, so I sent others in the place of it. I suppose you will agree to sing them for me when I come home again, wont you, Fannie. You will have a good long time to learn them in, longer than I wish you did, but this cruel war will be over some time or other. Glen just looked in my tent and saw me writing and said send his best respects to all the folks, but my sheet is nearly filled and I must close, please give my regards to all and to Fannie in particular

Affectionately yours


Guernsey Collection.

        20, Military state of affairs in East Tennessee

The Situation in Tennessee.

The news from East Tennessee this morning is late and important. There seems to be no doubt but that the rebels are operating in considerable force against Burnside from the Southeest, and that his force is a part of Bragg's army, detached for that especial purpose, and commanded, probably, by Longstreet. The dispatch speaks of the advance of the enemy as being made by the Kingston Road. Kinston, like Knoxville, is on the north bank of the Tennessee, but owing to a great bend in the river lies almost due west from the latter place, and distant about fifty miles. We have had no account of its occupation by the rebels, and they have probably avoided it, as it is too far to the left of their lie. It no seems that the rebels, after compelling our troops to evacuate Loudon, on the river, thirty five miles southeest of Knoxville, two weeks ago, crossed at that place and moved on Knoxville, following the line of the railroad and bringing up supplies via Cleveland, Tenn. Knoxville has been the headquarters of Gen. Burnside ever since he entered East Tennessee, and it is reported to be strongly fortified. It should not surprise any one if some of the ground in that section is yielded when threatened by a heavy force. Gen Burnside has been clearing out and occupying a district of country two hundred miles long by nearly one hundred broad, and his troops have been necessarily widely scattered. Sudden concentration is, therefore, a matter of supreme necessity, and some points heretofore held must be temporarily abandoned.

But in view of Gen. Grant's position and strength at Chattanooga, this movement appears to be not only bold, but hazardous to the enemy. Their force, although distant, is directly upon the left flank of Gen. Thomas' army, and now north [sic] of the Tennessee. For the time being, it cuts off the possibility of Gen. Burnside forming any junction with Thomas, but if our leaders at Chattanooga know, the strength of the enemy thus detaching itself from the main body, the movement ought to know, the strength of the enemy thus detaching itself from the main body, the movement ought to result very disastrously to the rebels, even though Burnside might suffer temporarily.

Gen Sherman's forces have undoubtedly been added to those of Gen. Thomas, and our total strength at and near Chattanooga must certainly be superior to that of the enemy. Such a bold and independent movement as this against Burnside, therefore, by a detachment of the force in front of Chattanooga, can hardly be allowed to pass without counter movements on our part.

New York Times, November 20, 1863.

        20, Differences between Brigadier General Mitchell and Major General Stanley and command assignments

CHATTANOOGA, November 20, 1863--2.30 p.m.

Brig.-Gen. Mitchell, just relieved from command of cavalry, Department of the Cumberland, is incapacitated by ill health, resulting from severe wounds, for field service. He will not ask for leave of absence, and desires duty as commander of some post. Thomas has no such command to give him, and would be glad if you could employ him on some board or court. He is a shrewd, energetic man, might be used advantageously on Crittenden and McCook court. Thomas has been much embarrassed by Stanley, who gets drunk and is lazy and careless.[emphasis added] Still, he is a major-general assigned to this department by the Administration, and Thomas has not felt himself at liberty to order him away. Accordingly, he has very reluctantly appointed him to command a division. Can I tell Thomas that he must follow his own judgment in such cases?

[C. A. DANA.]

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 31, pt. II, pp. 62-63.


[1] As cited in PQCW.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-770-1090 ext. 115

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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