Sunday, January 18, 2015

1.18.15 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        18, Letters of S. T. Williams, at Fort Donelson, to "A Cousin"[1]
Fort Donelson
Jan. the 18th '62
S. T. Williams:
To A Cousin
Dear Cousin,
I shall drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well hoping these few lines will find you enjoying the same. We have changed our position since you heard from us last. We have charge of the heavy artillery. When the Yankeys [sic] come now we can give them fits. We have one that caries a one hundred & 28 pounds [sic]. It is raining here, today. The river is rising very fast. I have nothing of importance to write only we are expecting a fight every day. They had a fight a Fort Henry 12 miles below us yesterday. I have not heard how it terminated. I hope we whipped them. I think we can than them up here if they come. Tell all the women howdy and the parsons [sic] youngest gal particularly. Nothing more. Give Aunt Nan my best respects. My love to you. I bid you adiew [sic].
S. T. Williams
Write Soon
Winds of Change, p. 24.

Fort Donelson
Jan. the 18th '62
S. T. Williams:
To A Cousin
Dear Cousin,
I take the present opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgotten you. I am well at present and hope when these few lines come to hand they find you enjoying the same blessing. Most of the boys are well. We have quite a muddy time here. It is raining now and has been all the morning. The river is rising very fast, very fast. We have taken charge of a battery on the river bank. We have one 128 pounder. I think we would shake an old gunboat right smartly if she was to vinture [sic] up. It is rumored that they were fighting at Fort Henry yesterday and would attack us today, but it is twelve 0-clock sick and no Yankees yet. We are all sitting back in our house as safely as pigs. They have made little house for the guards to stand in. I don't think they will be exposed, so know they can stand in them when it is raining and not get wet. I want you to tell me John Williams is getting to the present and if him and Mr. H. has been down to raise the blockade yet. We have plenty to eat here. Frank bought us three or four boxes of cakes, pies, chickens, butter, and such things. We have been living high on them. Well, it is dinner and I must close. Tell all the girls howdy for me and give them my best respects. Tell them to write me. Excuse bad wrighting [sic] and spelling aright [sic] soon.
T. M. Soyars
Write as soon as you get this to and direct your letter to little runt as you call him.
Winds of Change, pp. 24-25.
        18, "General Grant and the Jews."
One of the deepest sensations of the war is that produced among the Israelites of this country, by the recent order of Gen. Grant, excluding, as a class, from his Military Department. The order, to be sure, was promptly set aside by the President, but the affront to the Israelites, convey by its issue, was not so easily effaced. It continues to rankle, and is leading to sharp controversies and bitter feuds in the ranks of the Faithful. It seems that a committee of Jews, in this City, took it upon themselves to thank [sic] the authorities at Washington for so promptly annulling the odious order of Grant. Against the conduct of this committee the bulk of the Jews vehemently protest. They say they have no thanks for an act of simple and imperative-but grounds for deep and just complaint against the Government, that Gen. Grant has not been dismissed from the service on account of his unrighteous act. The matter has been to assume an importance that requires a mention of it in our columns, as constituting an exciting chapter in our current history. We therefore present the order of Gen. Grant, that the public judgment in the premise may rest on a clear perception of the facts:
Headquarters Thirteenth Army Corps,

Department of the Tennessee

Oxford, Miss., Dec. 17, 1862.
General Orders, No. 11.-The Jews, as a class [sic], violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department, also Department orders are here expelled from the Department within twenty-our (24) hours from the receipt of this order by Post Commander.
They [sic] will see that all this class of people are furnished with passes and required to leave, and any one [sic] returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them [sic] out as prisoners, unless furnished with permits from these headquarters.
No pass will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.
By order of
Maj.-Gen. Grant
John B. Rawlins, A.A.G.
Official-J. Lovell, Capt. And A.A.G.
It must be admitted that this order is open to severe criticism in more respects than one. The first and mildest objection we see, is its atrocious disregard of the simplest rules of English composition. To be dealt harshly with is bad enough, but to be vilified in execrable English cruel, if not unusual, punishment. But if the execrable English of the general excommunication from Grant's attractive Department is very objectionable, the mockery of the allusion to special exemptions is utterly unworthy. "Any one" [sic] (any Jew) "returning" after a notification to leave, they [sic] will be sent away as prisoners, "unless furnished with permits from these headquarters." But "no pass will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of getting permits." Such is the substantial and almost literal conclusion of Grant's order. It is mortifying to know that such a jumble of bad writing and worse logic should emanate from the headquarters of a Major-General commanding a Military Department of the United States.
As to the odious principle of Gen. Grant's order, there can be no doubt whatever. To condemn any religious body, as a class, and by wholesale, is contrary to common sense and common justice-contrary to Republicanism and Christianity. Gen. Grant may have been harmed by hangers-on of his army, who were swindlers and extortionists. It was desirable that he should be rid of such. But will he say that all the swindlers that best him are Jews? We are of [the] opinion that there are degrees of rascality developed by the war that might put the most accomplished Shylocks to the blush. We have native talent that can literally "beat the Jews." Gen. Grant's order has the demerit of stigmatizing a class, without signalizing the criminals. All swindlers are not Jews. All Jews are not swindlers. Gen. Grant assumes that the reverse of this latter proposition is true, and he expels the Jews, "as a class," from the Department. That carries women and children-women at home and children at the breast. A number of Jewish families that had been quiet, orderly and loyal citizens of the town of Paducah for years, hurriedly packed up their goods, and left their homes, under this cruel order. They had had nothing whatever to do with Grant or his army, but they belonged to the "Jews, "as a class," and were denounced and expelled. Their situation must have revived the history of their unfortunate people during the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when England, France and Austria successively followed each other in decrees against them of banishment and persecution. And it is a humiliating reflection that after the progress of liberal ideas even in the most despotic countries has restored the Jews to civil and social rights, as members of a common humanity, it remained for the freest Government on earth to witness a momentary revival of a the spirit of the medieval ages.
If we take a merely selfish view of Grant's treatment of the Jews, it will appear in the highest degree impolitic. Persons "of this class" have come to hold high positions in the leading Governments of Europe, whose good opinions we cannot afford to despise. M. Fould, of Louis Napoleon's Cabinet, is a Jew, and his voice might, in the possibilities of things, go far to decide the fate of the American Union. The Rothschild's wield a power in the financial world that is well nigh omnipotent to raise or destroy the credit of any nation. We may find it better to have their friendship than enmity.
But, rejecting all such considerations, we rely on the general principles of republican right and justice for the utter reprobation of Grant's order. Men cannot be condemned and punished as a class, without gross violence to our free institutions. The immediate and peremptory abrogation of Grant's order by the President saved the Government from a blot, and redeemed us from the disgrace of a military assault upon a people whose equal rights and immunities are as sacred under the Constitution as those of any other sect, class, or race.
New York Times, January 18, 1863.
        18, A Farewell to Memphis; the inebriated exploits of the 15th and 16th Iowa Infantry on board the troop transport Minnehaha
This morning at 8 o'clock we struck tents and marched to the Landing and when we got to the bluff above we formed inline and had to stand in the slush and mud until 4 o'clock in the evening when we got aboard the Steamer Minnehaha that same old boat that carried us to Pittsburgh Landing. We have a superstitious idea about this vessel and that she will again carry us into some trouble [sic] Our Regt and the 16th Iowa are both crowded onto this boat Co "G" is located on the boiler deck and here we and Co "B" and the entire baggage of the Regiment are all packed The place is as dark as Hades We cannot see in the day time without candles The men climbed on top of the baggage and some into the bunks of the crew and wherever they could until every space a square foot was filled.
During the night – while still at the wharf – the men run the guards [sic] and made a raid on a large lot of Sutlers [sic] goods on the shore They carried on board all kinds of goods – especially cases of canned fruit and champagne and whiskey with wine and brandy Hats, caps, boots and shoes. Soon all this became badly mixed and the roar commenced. Such a bedlam was never seen The men were soon drunk and the whole command became demoralized – The most of the officers were of course in the Cabin but their slumbers were soon disturbed by the earthquake [sic] around the boiler deck and they came down and tried to quiet the different drinks [sic] that had been taken but it was no use they could do nothing with them The men swore they were going to Vicksburgh [sic] and to hell [sic] and they intended to have a good time now [sic] One fellow fell overboard and was fished out and laid out in the Cabin to dry [sic] Co "A" wee [sic] almost all drunk and were fighting like dogs among themselves all night and several badly used noses were visible in the flickering candlelight.
Boyd Diary.
        18, Negroes and the law
A Gross Outrage.
We published in Friday morning's Dispatch[2] the testimony adduced from two negroes in the Recorder's Court, concerning the occupancy of a barn by a large number of negroes, said to be in the employ of the Government. The publication of their statements has brought to light facts which it is proper the public should know, and which will no doubt be promptly inquired into by the proper authorities—civil and military. It is a melancholy fact that negroes think themselves privileged to do almost as they please, at the present time, and few indeed have sense enough to know that they are day by day, by their infamous conduct, heaping coals of fire upon their heads. They are forfeiting the esteem of their best friends, and drawing down upon themselves the vengeance of every white man, whatever may have been his former professions of sympathy for the African race. In this, many of the blacks are more deserving of pity than of blame; but it is nevertheless the duty of good men to frown down attempts on the part of the negroes to assume any position other than that in which they are placed by law and nature. Many of them are taking privileges now for which some day they will have to be severely punished, and humanity would dictate that negroes should be made to understand that they must obey the laws. While this was understood by them, none but the worst class were confirmed law-breakers; lead them to believe that they are free, and they become a body of law-breakers, for they define freedom to mean a license to do as they please.
To illustrate more clearly what we mean, we will cite the case referred to in our Court proceedings on Friday. It appears from information obtained yesterday morning, that the house alluded to by the negro Henry is that owned by the late Gen. Heiman, and occupied at the present time by Capt. A. T. Julian, (of the First Middle Tennessee Cavalry,) his wife, and five small children. Henry had been employed by Capt. Julian as a servant, but was discharged some time ago for dishonesty; yet during the Captain's absence from home on duty the negro frequently intruded himself into the house as slaves are accustomed to do, although he had been repeatedly warned to keep away. It is a well known fact that one bad negro will corrupt many, and the consequence in this case was that not only the family of Captain Julian, but the neighbors generally, have repeatedly suffered from the depredations of Henry and his companions, notwithstanding complaints have been made to the proper authorities, as Capt. Julian informs us.
On the morning of Thursday last Henry was again about the premises, when the sixty or eighty negroes went there. They broke upon the stable and rocked the house, and Henry, without authority from Mrs. Julian or any of the family, ran into her room where she was lying sick, and took therefrom the Captain's sword and double-barreled gun, which gun and sword were taken from him by the guard, and have not yet been returned. All this took place while the Captain was on duty with his regiment in the neighborhood of Harpeth. The Captain also informed us that on some occasions when he was absent from home the negroes have forcibly taken possession of the stable, built fires therein, stolen his corn and other property, and committed other depredations.
This is truly a sad state of affairs, but it is much easier to speak of an evil than to point out a remedy. One thing, however, must be done before anything like order can be restored among the vagrant negro population among us, and that is, to furnish the civil authorities with a place suitable for their confinement during the night, and the means of working them during the day. Large numbers who are now leading a dishonest life about town could then be put to profitable employment, and the community relieved from an intolerably burden and nuisance. The workhouse is the only place under the control of the Corporation, and that is occupied principally by the military authorities—leaving room for only about twenty corporation prisoners.
We have heard frequent complaints of a character similar to those of Captain Julian, and we trust that he and others will represent these facts to the military authorities, and exert their influence to induce the military to relinquish the workhouse to its legitimate use, the only one calculated to remedy present evils.
Nashville Dispatch, January 18, 1863.
        18, Letter to Former Tennessee Attorney-General J. B. Rodgers, from his nephew, a Tennessee refugee in Illinois, describing conditions in the Volunteer State
Persecutions in Tennessee.
Messrs. Editors: I served in the army under Gen. Jackson as a staff officer, was wounded, witnessed the execution of Ambrister and Arbuthnot, was offered a high position in the Confederate Government, with protection to myself, family, and property – all of which I declined for protection from my own Government. I served Tennessee some ten years as Attorney General.
The following letter will give some idea of the sufferings and outrages to which loyal people in Tennessee are subjected:
J. B. Rodgers.
Harrisburg, (Ill.) Jan. 18, 1863
Dear Uncle: I knew you must feel much solicitude about home, and I set down this morning to give you a history of things, as well as I can, since you left.  A few days after Jones and his company ran away from home, in March last, (for they told aunt they were ordered to arrest you and send you to prison at Tuscaloosa or Richmond as a political prisoner, because you would not take the of allegiance, as requested by Judge . Jones and his father-in-law, old Bledsoe, came to aunt for your copper tubes, pipes, pumps, &c., in order to open your salt wells. Aunt would not give her consent. They then went to Major Murphy and made him produce them. They fixed [the salt wells] up; and about the 1st of May they commenced making salt. In June pa sent for some salt, for which he paid ten dollars per bushel; and it was said they were making five hundred a bushels in twenty-four hours. The county court made an order that the salt should not be sold for more than two dollars and seventy-five cents, but the order was disregarded, and they often sold it for more than ten dollars per bushel than less. Uncle, they have cut down two hundred acres of your beautiful forest out towards Bowen's.
Aunt is getting along as well as any one could do that was living in a country where nothing can be had to eat of wear. You can guess how that is.
In October last an order came to conscript all the men in the country, particularly the Union men, without exception. You can scarce imagine the consternation it produced over the whole country. Captain John, brothers Dewit, Leslie, Leslie and I went out on Cumberland mountain into the Grand Gulf, built us a shanty in the mouth of a cave, [3] where the sun has never shone, and where we remained some six weeks safely, until discovered by a spy, old Tom Stepe, (for I am told twenty-five dollars per head is paid for all such conscripts, and old men constituted the spy force.) He went to McMinnville and obtained some cavalry, and came to our camp – the other boys, being out on the bluff, escaped. But they arrested me on carried me to McMinnville, where, through the influence of a friend, I obtained leave of absence for ten days. In the mean time, Dewit, Leslie, and I made tracks for Illinois, where I now am safely landed, at Aunt Mary Robinson's. Cousin John would not come, as he desired to remain near the family, in order to help them if opportunity presented. There is a cave on the point not known to any but John and Leslie, that goes in on the rocky side and comes out on cany. John says if they find him the cannot stop him up. Old Jesse went to the mountain and obtained a lot of pine lightwood, (for there are no candles in the country.) which he can use. He will remain in the cave in day time, ad come out at night. Brothers Eustace and Archy are in the Federal army, I suppose – don't know. The Confederates arrested father, carried him to Sparta, made him take the oath of allegiance to the Southern Confederacy, and spoke of keeping him as a hostage for Judge March banks. His health is so delicate that if they put him in prison he cannot survive it one month. Uncle you are so lucky to have made your escape when you did. The Confederates were so afraid of you that they would have killed you privately. They say that if they had not feared you, they would have arrested you long before you came off. They are actually afraid of you now. It was at one time reported you were appointed Brigadier General, and had arms at Nashville for one thousand men. We had big hopes, and the secesh said if you get into the mountains with a military force they would all leave the country, for they believed you would kill the last of them. Many are looking for you now, or were when  we left; many others are in the mountains who were in hope that you would come, when they could join you to a man. You could have raised one thousand in October: I cannot say what you cold do now. It is worth any man's life to say one word against Jeff. Davis. How the country is to be fed this year no one short of Divine knowledge can tell. There are a good  many secesh left at home on frivolous excuses – but not one Union man over sixteen and under fifty, if he looks like he could fight. They take the Union men more by appearance than age – and there are many, very many, in the army, even over sixty! All the horses and provisions in the country are carried away. Some Union families are starving now.
Aunt wants to leave the country the first opportunity. Uncle, I wish you could devise some way to get you family away, with  mother and Frank, for, if father gets away, he will have to ship off, if he is  not confined. If they can not be got away, they will come near starving soon. They had not a half supply when I left.
I will write you again in a few days; and will brother Leslie. I am so full I do not know what more to say, only that Tennessee is ruined.
Aunt is well, and so am I, with blistered feet.
Your affectionate nephew
Gen. J. B. Rodgers, Washington.
P.S. – Some person asked Gen Jones how he expected to settle with you for using your property.. Said Jones, "if he comes here we will settle with him as the rebels settled with the tories in the Revolutionary war."
Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), January 29, 1863.
        18, Skirmish at Chucky River [see January 23, 1864, Skirmish near Newport, below]
        18, Confederate Soldiers in Yankee Uniforms
Bloody Works in Tennessee.-In its news from Longstreet's command, the Atlanta "Confederacy" has the following:
About four or five days ago a squad of our men, ten or twelve in number, captured a lot of Yankee clothing, and were in the act of draping themselves in their captured property, when they were recaptured by the Yankees, who finding them in Yanking clothing, contrary to their published orders,[4] led them out for the purpose of shooting them. Just at this time the 4th and 7th Alabama regiments of cavalry arrived upon the spot and charged them but not in time to save our men, who were shot down in cold blood the ruthless villains escaping. A few days afterwards the regiments above alluded to caught 15 or 20 yankees and shot them in retaliation.
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, January 18, 1864[5].
        18-20, Small Pox in Knoxville, fighting at Strawberry Plains, a Confederate account
Russellville, Jan. 18.A gentleman who left Knoxville, Tuesday, gave interesting news from that city. The small-pox was raging terribly among the Yankees and negroes, there being six hundred cases in the city In consequence of this and the scarcity of forage, the enemy had moved up to Strawberry plains [sic], leaving a garrison of six hundred men. Our troops moved forward on the 19th, for the purpose of driving the enemy from French broad [sic] river in East Tennessee. They met them in Chuckey river on Saturday, the enemy making a feeble resistance, and retiring on Dandridge. They were pursued by our troops. We are still pushing forward, and yesterday very heavy firing was heard in that direction. It ceased at dark.
Russellville, Jan. 19-Therr is but little doubt that the enemy intended by his late demonstration to force Gen Longstreet out of Tennessee by occupying all of the country capable of sustaining an army, which he totally failed in consequence of the promptness with which he was met by our troops, which he was evidently unprepared for as has been shown by his rapid retreat. They are supposed to have withdrawn from Strawberry plains, and the country with the exception of the vicinity of Knoxville, will be once more freed from their presence. Loss on either side small. The Federals removed seventy-five wounded from Danville towards Knoxville. Our cavalry rapidly and closely pursued Lieutenant Col Blakely, on the cavalry, was wounded.
Russellville, Jan. 20.-Major Dave Buckner's Legion attacked a force of the enemy, 1500 strong at Big springs [sic] near Taswell [sic] yesterday, with 1000 men, killing and wounding six, capturing three Lieutenants and 64 men, 70 negroes, six wagons and teams, six ambulances and 50 stand of arms. It is reported on good authority, that the enemy have crossed the river at Strawberry plains [sic] our cavalry still pursers.
Houston Daily Telegraph, February 8, 1864.
        18, 1865 - Unpaid bill in Memphis; the story of a carnal Confederate deserter
T. B. Johnson, a recent Confederate deserter, found himself at the Recorder's Court. Maggie Montgomery "a lady of easy virtue" testified that Johnson had:
called at her house on a recent occasion, drank wine, and shared her bed, and departed without paying her claim for services rendered. She claimed that inasmuch as houses of the stamp kept by her are licensed by the city, it is the duty of the city to prevent and punish imposition on the keepers of said housed, as practiced by the defendant, and she therefore looked for redress....His honor, however, failed to see the case in that light, and informed the exasperated nymph that it was not within his jurisdiction.
That being the case Ms. Montgomery preferred charges of drunkenness and disorderly conduct against Johnson. The judge fined him $18.00, and he was happy to have an end to the affair. It was rumored also that Johnson had not paid the hack who took him to and from Montgomery's bordello.
Memphis Bulletin, January 18, 1865.

[1] Evidently these were analogous to form letters to his various cousins.
[2] Not found.
[3] According to the Crossville Courier, July 24, 1918, there were believed to be 65 army deserters holed up in "the Gulf," a rough area around the Caney Fork River in the vicinity of Bledsoe, Van Buren and White Counties. The deserters were said to be "well equipped with money, arms and food…they threaten death to any person who attempts to arrest them." The area of "the Gulf" served as a haven for draft dodgers and deserters in two wars. See: James B. Jones, Jr., Every Day in Tennessee History, (Blair: Winston-Salem NC, 1996), p. 146
[4] Actually it was not contrary to Federal orders, which were quite specific calling for the summary execution of any Confederate soldier found in Federal uniform.
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 7. HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO, Knoxville, Tenn., January 8, 1864.
Our outposts and pickets posted in isolated places, having in many instances been overpowered and captured by the enemy's troops, disguised, as Federal soldiers, the commanding general is obliged to issue the following order for the protection of his command, and to prevent a continuance of this violation of the rules of warfare:
Corps commanders are hereby directed to cause to be shot dead all the rebel officers and soldiers (wearing the uniform of the U. S. Army) captured within our lines.
By command of Maj.-Gen. Foster:
HENRY CURTIS, JR., Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. III, Vol. 4, p. 54.m
[5] 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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