Thursday, March 24, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, March 24, 1861-1865

Notes from Civil War Tennessee,






24, Rabbi Peres wins in common law court

The Hebrew Trial.—In the case of the Rev. J. J. Peres, who sued in the common law court for salary claimed by him from the congregation of the synagogue in this place, a verdict was given yesterday in favor of Mr. Peres. A trial for libel in which Mr. Peres is plaintiff is expected to take place next week. It will be very interesting, many points respecting the present religious standing of the Jews in this country and their observances, will come up. The clergy and religious portion of the city will find much to interest them.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 24, 1861[1]





          24, General Mitchel reprimands Mrs. Polk

The Nashville correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette tells these incidents:

"The following interesting scrap of news is told by an eye-witness to the scene: One day last week General Buell and the Brigadiers of the Department, who were present, went in a body to call upon Mrs. James K. Polk and her niece, daughter of Ex.-Rev. Gen. Leonidas. Mrs. Polk seemed determined that no doubt should be entertained as to her sentiments in regard to our unhappy difficulties. The gentlemen present, as they were severally addressed, simply bowed in silence, until Gen. [Ormsby MacKnight] Mitchel who was standing somewhat away from the party, was singled out. To him Mrs. P. remarked: "General, I trust this war will speedily terminate by the acknowledgment of Southern Independence." The remark was the signal for a lull in the conversation, and all eyes were turned upon the General to hear his reply.

He stood with his lips firmly compressed, and his eyes looking fully into those of Mrs. Polk, as long as she spoke. He then said: Madam, the man whose name you bear was once the President of the United States; he was an honest man and a true patriot, he administered the laws of this Government with equal justice to all. We know no independence of one section of our country which does not belong to all others, and judging by the past, of the mute lips of the honored dead, who lies so near us, could speak, they would express the hope that this war may never cease if that cessation was purchased by the dissolution of the Union of States over which he once presided." Needless to say that remark was, in a calm dignified tone, apt with that earnestness for which the General is noted, no offence could be taken.

Southern independence was not mention again during the interview.

New York Times, March 24, 1862.

          24, The Forty-fifth Illinois Ordered to Save the Bacon at Nichols' Landing

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE, Savannah, March 24, 1862.

Maj. M. SMITH, Forty-fifth Illinois Volunteers, Cmdg. Expedition:

You will proceed with the force under your command to Nichols' Landing, 2 miles back of which it is understood that a large quantity of Government (Southern Confederacy) bacon is stored. You will get it and return.

Nichols' Landing is 10 miles below Clifton. Mr. H. Gibbs, of Clifton, will accompany you to that place, and furnish a guide there, who will show you where the bacon is. You will avoid all delay, but remain until your expedition has completed the object for which it is sent. Private property is on no account to be molested nor citizens annoyed. The troops under your command should be impressed with the idea that the neighborhood where they are going is almost entirely Union. It was a citizen of the country, or rather a delegation of citizens, who gave the information of the bacon being where it is and of its ownership.

No large bodies of troops are supposed to be near where you are going, but small bodies of cavalry are known to be there. You will therefore keep your men from straggling, and at all times keep a guard at the boat to prevent accident there.

You are to be particularly cautious against engaging an enemy of your own or superior numbers. You are not going to fight the enemy, but for a different object, where nothing could be gained by a small victory, which would cost us a single man. Should the enemy therefore appear in sufficient force to make a stand, return, and a large number of men will be sent.

U. S. GRANT, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. II, pp. 63-64.






          24, "The Dirty Street Theory;" the pre-germ-theory debate on public health in occupied Memphis

On Friday[2] we gave a synopsis of the arguments used by Dr. Merrill, in the City Council on the previous evening, at a meeting to consider the propriety of increasing the force now at work on the streets in accordance with the directions of Gen. Veatch. Ald. Merrill, while a physician of considerable experience, and who spoke from a professional point of view, was absolutely confident that, now the temperature has become warm, the consequence of removing the immense mass of filth with which our streets and alley are filled, will be disease and death. These effects arise, in his opinion, from the exposure of putrefying and fermenting matter, which sends off poisonous effluvia into the air, from whence it is received in o [sic] and acts upon the human system; whereas, if it were suffered to lie at least in the streets and gutters, a comparatively small surface of the objectionable material being exposed to view, and that portion being comparatively purified by rains and the solidification of the superficial larger, [?] this pernicious result would be at their minimum [sic] or smallest amount. It is well known that new lands, which were perfectly healthy as long as the surface remained undisturbed, become sickly, and abound in horrible chills and fatal fevers, as soon as the hand of improvement exposes to the air portions of soil, by plumbing or other ways. It is on this principle that Dr. Merrill objects to a wholesale cleansing of our streets at the present time. During the cold of winter the frosts would neutralize the pernicious influence of the effluvia, but now the moisture left by the winter rains is acted upon by the head of a temperature not less for the most part of the day than seventy five degrees in the shade, the subsoil of our filthy streets is in the very worse condition it can possibly be for removal; its powerful evil is now at its height. We believe we have now given a fair representation of Dr. Merrill's theory, and shall proceed to give it, as the importunate of the subject demands, a brief examination

Constantinople, Smyrna, and other cities of the East, have long been the abodes of the plague; they are dirty cities to a proverbial London, the city in which the plague used to play havoc in the most fearful degree, has not been subject to that visitation since it underwent the purification of the great fire of 1666. Since modern science has paid attention to the great questions of ventilation and purification epidemics have decreased and the average duration of human life has been increased. These facts are pertinent [sic] to every student of sanitary science. We place ventilation and purification in the same category, for both are injurious by poisoning the atmosphere, though in different ways. That as a general principal, cleanliness is favorable to health, and uncleanliness the reverse, is agreed on all hands, and therefore Dr. Merrill's theory, if true, is so, not as a part of the general law, but as an exception to it. The question then, narrows itself down to this -- is the street theory an exception to the general rue of cleanliness? It must be remembered the streets, alleys and gutters at the right time, but that he contends that the present season is not the right time. Is he correct in this? Is it better to let the city remain in its present filthy condition during the summer, or at once remove the poisonous and putrefying material from the streets?

It appears to us that the filth in the streets cannot but be injurious to public health. All who have been able sufficiently to bear the stench, to notice the material that has been carted off from the city during the past week, will have noticed that when the dried surface is removed, there is very commonly found herewith a mass of moist garbage and filth that is fermenting and rotting. However, invisible on the surface of the dirty street, this decaying process is every moment proceeding actively beneath and every moment noxious gasses, which are positive poison, are becoming disengaged parting into the atmosphere, and obtaining entrance into human lungs. If we suppose that this process is discontinued in time, by the heat of the sun, causing the moisture contained in the filth to evaporate, we must remember that thin moisture mounts into the air charged with deleterious particles, and is of course, as actively poisonous as the effluvium itself. When the filth becomes dry, the surface of it is continually undergoing abrasion by passing feet and vehicles and disintegrated by atmospheric influences. The portion thus pulverized becomes dust, is raised in clouds by every wind, and every passing foot and carriage, and is taken as directly into the human stomach as the medicinal powder that is administered by the physician. But succeeding rains at intervals supply new moisture; the process of decomposition is again renewed; new masses of effluvia are ejected; the drying process is repeated is recreated, and other beds of dust are sent whirling in the air. These facts make it evident that to allow the filth in the streets to remain there, is by no means a [sic] stoppage of the pernicious effects arising from it; it is not in a state of quiet immortality, but is an active injurious agent.

Ald. Merrill relies much on the predictions he claims to have made in 1855 of the coming disaster which predictions were followed by the ravages of the yellow fever. The parallel which he supposes to exist between cleaning in March 1863, and the work that was done in the street of Memphis in June 1855, has no existence in fact. At the former date the city authorities caused several streets in the southern portion of the city to be graded, and large masses of earth were dug up in elevations, and deposited elsewhere on raised depressions [sic], so as to level the streets thus improved. The turning up of new soil was, in Dr. Merrill's opinion calculated to produce the same results on public health, as those which follow in districts where new lands are cleared and broken up. In the latter cases, it is evident, an entire new surface of soil is exposed to the atmosphere, exhaling into it is ominously believed, miasmatic influences. In removing the superincumbent soil from the streets of a city no new surface is in the manner laid bare; the same process is that of removing from the original surface foreign garbage and filth, which has been deposited on it. There is no exposure of a new yielding pernicious exhalations but a removal from the old surface of refuse matter in which such pernicious influences are engendered. The argument in favor of dirty streets is a fallacy, and the fallacy consists in the case parallel just pointed out. We know that the Doctor making an error of fact asserts that the soil which General Veatch insists on having removed is merely sand and clay, coming from the gravel on some streets, and the unpaved natural surface of others. An inspection of the wood pavement on Jefferson street, between Front and Main streets; of the gas tar pavement on Monroe Street, between Main and Second streets; or, still better, if he can bear the stench sufficiently to make the inspection-of the soil itself as it is thrown into the carts will convince him of his error as to the nature of the filth which illness the gutters and clogs up the alleys. On the North River, in New York, and at the Battery, there are acres of new grounds, made on nothing, but soil deposited on and removed from well paved streets.

We remark in passing, that the opinion of Dr. Merrill as to the cause of the advent of the yellow fever into this city in 1855 is by no means universally received by physicians, nor was it at the time. The H. R. W. Hill arrived here with persons from New Orleans on board who were suffering from yellow fever. The proper precautions were not used to prevent persons going on board, and some of the sick were taken into the city. These things many believe to be the originating cause of the fever here, and that the cutting of the streets was a mere coincidence in point of time. Such persons regarded the coincidence as being like that where there was exceeding good wine produced in a certain year on which a comet was visible, and the common people of the time believed the comet to be the cause of the superiority of the wine of that particular vintage. It cannot fail to strike the observer that there is a great difference between the hard clay of this bluff and the rich mold of decaying vegetable substances, which is popularly believed to give rise to chills and fevers when new ground is broken up.

Dr. Merrill's argument, however, though, owing to his laudable desire for the public welfare, [is] loaded [?] with more than its premises will bear, is not without an amount of truth. When the streets after having been, we almost in jest say criminally left for a long period uncleaned, and covered with pestilential filth, much noxious effluvia must be set free when the cleaning is at length commenced, and it is therefore desirable and necessary, that the process, when once begun, should be quickly completed. We hope therefore, that the attention on Dr. Merrill has called to this subject will have at least, the effect of preventing any more filthy soil being thrown from the gutters and for leveling uneven places; also that strict care will be taken that as soon as the mass of filth is heaped up by the laborers in the streets it shall be removed, and that on no account shall that shoveled up one day be allowed to remain until the next day. Let each day's work be entirely complete, as far as it goes. It is also desirable that the soil should be placed where its offensive and pestilence breeding explanations can do no injury. In this connection, we call attention to the fact that at the upper part of the landing, the river has made a breach which threatens destruction to the entire bank there. If the streets will be emptied into the water at this spot, and permanently closed up the chasm, a great good will be affected. If it is washed away the soil will be where no harm can come from its effluvium.

In conclusion we hope that Gen Veatch's requirements will be fully, but carefully carried out, and after being well washed by the heavy rains, we may yet look for, Memphis will for once, rejoice in the luxury of clean gutters, alleys and streets.

Memphis Bulletin, March 24, 1863.



          24, Capture of Union City[3]

Report of Capt. John W. Beatty, Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, of the capture of Union City.

CAIRO, ILL., April 12, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that I have made my escape from the enemy after being surrendered, together with 16 officers and about 500 enlisted men, by Col. Isaac R. Hawkins, at Union City, Tenn., on the 24th of March, after fighting six hours and repulsing the enemy four times.

The enemy drove in our pickets at 4 a. m., 24th March, and skirmishing commenced soon after, and by sunrise our camps were entirely surrounded. Their force numbered about 1,500 commanded by Col.'s Faulkner, Bell, Duckworth, Faris [?], Freeman, Tansil and Russell. They first made a charge, mounted, and finding that they were losing a great many men and horses, dismounted and made three unsuccessful charges with heavy loss in killed and wounded. Finding it impossible to rout our forces from their works, fell back great confusion, taking shelter behind fallen timber, stumps, &c., their sharpshooters keeping up a continuous fire until fifteen minutes to 11 o'clock when they cease firing and sent in a flag of truce, demanding an unconditional surrender of our force, &c., giving Col. Hawkins fifteen minutes to make up his mind, stating that they would take the camp by storm as they had re-enforcements close at hand.

Col. Hawkins called together the officers and asked them what they were in favor of doing. I remarked if they had artillery they could whip us; if not they never could get inside our works. All the officers said fight except Maj. Thomas A. Smith. Just at that time the telegraph operator said that they had two pieces of artillery; that he had seen them. Col. Hawkins said that it would save a great many lives if we would surrender, and that if we renewed the fight they would kill every one that might fall into their hands. We the officers, then agreed, to surrender on condition that they would parole the officers and men and allow the men to keep their private property and the officers their side arms; otherwise we would fight as long as there was a man left.

Col. Hawkins then went out and met Duckworth at 11 o'clock, and ten minutes after 11 o'clock, the rebels came in, and Col. Hawkins ordered that all commanders of companies and detachments march their men outside of the fort, or works, and require them to lay down their arms. Afterward we found that Col. Hawkins had made an unconditional surrender. The officers and men cried like a whipped child. They also cursed Col. Hawkins and said he was a traitor, and that they would never serve under him again.

At 12 o'clock the rebels burned our barracks and marched us via Jacksonville to Gardner's Station, on the Nashville and Northeestern Railroad, a distance of 16 miles, where we camped for the night. Lieut.'s Hawkins and Helmer during their night made their escape.

On the next morning, March 25, at sunrise, we were marched 15 miles toward Trenton, Tenn., where we encamped for the night. The rebels gave our men about 1 ounce meat each, and no bread; this was the first that they at since the evening of 23d.

March 26, we started at sunrise and marched to Trenton, Tenn., where the citizens sold our men biscuits at $5 per dozen and baked chickens at $5 each.

March 27, we remained at Trenton during the day. The rebels drew our men up in line and marched them into court-house and searched each man as he went, in robbing them of their money, blankets, &c. Lieut.'s Neely, Bradford, and Morgan made their escape at Trenton. Col. Hawkins said that he would have any officer dismissed from the service that would leave the rebels. They offered to parole Col. Hawkins at Trenton, but he refused to accept it. The rebel officers told me that they knew they would get our regiment when they were 400 miles south of Union City, Tenn. They also said they were willing to parole Colonel Hawkins and let him get some more horses and arms and then they would come and get them.

March 28, we marched to Humboldt, a distance of 15 miles, where Capt. P. K. Parsons and myself made our escape.

JOHN W. BEATTY, Capt. Company K, Seventh Tenn. Vol. Cavalry.

OR, Ser. I. Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 542-544.


Cairo, March 25 – The rebels being reported in force near Union City, Tenn., yesterday forenoon, Gen Buyman, with a force of 2000 men and a battery of artillery, proceeded by railroad to within six miles of Union City, where they learned that Col. Hawkins, with 400 of the 7th Tenn. Cavalry, had surrendered at 11 a.m., after repulsing the rebels (who numbered about 2000) three times. The men were all armed and equipped, and had recently been paid for over a year's service. The enemy burned what was combustible about the fortifications, and marched off with their prisoners. Gen. Buyman proposes to abandon the outposts of Hickman and Union City, as they are of no use to us or the enemy.

New Hampshire Statesman (Concord NH) April 1, 1864.[4]

          24, "Military Police Regulations;" the continuing struggle to improve public health in Nashville

Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger has just issued an order, appointing Capt. M. D. Chamberlain, twenty-ninth Massachusetts infantry, as Chief of the Military Police of this city, and authorizing him, in the discharge of his duties to search all premises, alley, out-houses or yards, and to give any orders or directions concerning the cleaning, or keeping of the same, and any orders or directions go given, will be considered as coming from the Headquarters of the Post Commander. The order further provides that no obstruction of any kind will be allowed to remain on the pavements, but must be taken in as soon as delivered. It also provides for the disposition of dirt and rubbish of all kinds, and imposes a fine of $5 for any violation of the orders. As a compensation for faithful compliance with the Police regulations, we are promised clean streets, which will be sprinkled daily at the expense of the Government, and a fair prospect of a healthy city the ensuing summer.

Nashville Dispatch, March 24, 1864.





24, Capture of Confederate navy officers attempting commando attacks upon Tennessee River shipping

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF EAST TENNESSEE AND FOURTH DIVISION, TWENTY-THIRD ARMY CORPS, Knoxville, Tenn., February 25, 1865--7.15 p. m. [Received 27th.]

Maj. S. HOFFMAN, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Department of the Cumberland, Nashville:

Two officers in the uniform of and claiming to belong to the Confederate navy were captured yesterday near Loudon. They state they were of a party sent from Richmond to destroy the bridges and steamboats on the Tennessee River. The balance of the party made their escape and are still at large.

DAVIS TILLSON, Brig.-Gen., U. S. Volunteers, Cmdg. District and Division.


Maj. Gen. JAMES B. STEEDMAN, Chattanooga:

Two officers in the uniform of and claiming to belong to the Confederate navy were captured yesterday near Loudon. They state they were of a party sent to capture and destroy the steam-boats on the river. The remainder of the party made their escape and are still at large; they may attempt to carry out their plan. I respectfully suggest that guards on the boats be increased and cautioned to exercise unusual vigilance.

DAVIS TILLSON, Brig.-Gen., U. S. Volunteers, Cmdg. District and Division.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, p. 769.

          24, "Frame Houses."

The law prohibiting the erection of frame houses in the city without the consent of the City Council was yesterday repealed by that body. It was contended on one hand that this action would tend to create nuisances, endanger valuable property and increase the rates of insurance, while on the other it was maintained that it gave the poor people the advantage of building a home, and encourage immigration into our city. It is a debatable question.

Nashville Dispatch, March 24, 1865.

          24, "Uniformed Police."

The bill passed by the City Council yesterday to uniform the policemen of the city is another step towards progression [sic]. In all cities of any pretension, the police are uniformed, and it has proved of great advantage. The suit prescribed is pretty and appropriate, and cannot fail to lend an air of authority and dignity to our guardians of the city. The will be in the literal sense of the term "clothed" with authority. Strangers visiting us will be impressed with the "greatness of our institutions" and conduct themselves accordingly.

Nashville Dispatch, March 24, 1865





[1] March 22, 1861. Continuation of Rabbi Peres vs. Congregation of the Memphis Synagogue

Common Law Court.—At this court yesterday the case of the Rev. J. T. Peres, who sues the congregation of Israel for the balance of his salary, for the remainder of the year on which his services were dispensed with, on the alleged ground of a desecration of the Sabbath—was continued. The present Rabbi of the Memphis Synagogue, the learned and Rev. Simeon Tuska, who had been examined the day before, was recalled. The testimony of this gentleman was most interesting, throwing much light on the religious position of the Isralites [sic] in this country and in Europe. In accordance with the requirements of the prosecution, Mr. Tuska produced in court that venerable record of Rabbinical wisdom, the Talmud; the authoritative exposition of Moses and the prophets. The book was in twenty volumes, the text in the ordinary Hebrew character, but without points, but the commentary is in the Rabbinical character. We hope the members of the bar who would not accept the statements of the reverend gentleman as authoritative, as those of a professionalist, or an expert, are satisfied now they have dived into the profundities of the Talmud. They should next investigate the mysteries of the Massorah, and try their hands at reconciling the Samaritan with the Hebrew Pentateuch. Some of the Israelites in court declared their belief that the lawyers were Goyim.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 22, 1861

[2] March 20, 1863, The Public Debate on Sanitation in Memphis

City Sanitary Measures.

In consequence of a mandate from Gen. Veatch requiring a larger force to be put to work cleaning the streets than at present employed, a meeting of the city council has held yesterday.

Ald. Mulholland, who had been very active in having the district committed to his case well cleaned, was of the opinion that a full force should be set to work, to have every alley and street thoroughly cleansed.

Alderman Merrill addressed the board at length, repeating his experience gained in the city of Natchez and in this city during the yellow fever period of 1855. He was of the settled opinion that the process of removing the filth lying in the alleys and gutters, at a time when the warm weather was just coming upon us, is one of the most fearful danger. Observations made in New Orleans with the microscope had shown that such street filth was filled with myriads of animalcule. These little creatures were devouring the filth among which they subsist, but when the filth was removed and thrown out so as to expose it to the sun and air, those creatures die and become a mass of putrifying [sic] corruption loading the air with poisonous exhalations. The cleansing process now proceeding should have been performed during the winter. To expose the filth to the air at this period, the speaker declared as a medical man, replete with disease and deaths. [sic] He hoped the board would not underrate [?] the dreadful responsibility of uninviting death to hold horrid carnival in our city- desolating households, sweeping away every away families, bring death and weeping into every house. For his own part he would not, he could not be a sharer in a responsibility as awful. To avoid it he would if necessary, after giving as solemn a warning as was in his power to do, resign his place at the Board, lose his personal liberty, and meet death itself. He spoke what he knew, what experience in this and other southern cities had taught him. The opinions of northern physicians, totally unacquainted with the peculiarities of the Southern climate were on weight in the case. He had, not only in conversation, but in repeated communications in the newspapers in 1855, before the yellow fever broke out, predicted what was coming. The soil was then turned up, and miasmatic affluvia [sic] filled the air, and disease and death was the consequence. Alderman Mulholland was of opinion that a committee should be appointed to wait upon General Veatch and call his attention to the facts he had adverted to, and consult with him generally upon the subject, which was agreed to.

Alderman Drew wished to have an ordinance passed forbidding citizens to throw slops or refuse from their houses into the streets.

Alderman Merrill warned the Board against taking measures that would lead to such articles having poured down in the yards and cellars of private premises. Whatever objection there might be thought to exist against depositing such substances in the open air in the streets, there were innumerable and most important objections against placing them in holes and corners where they would become hotbeds of disease. The official report of the Council, which we publish,[2] explains what steps were taken by that body. We may tomorrow have some remarks to make on Dr. Merrill's theory of street cleaning.

Memphis Bulletin, March 21, 1863


[3] The capture of Union City by forces led by Nathan Bedford Forrest with assistance from was said to be one of the most disgraceful and apparently cowardly acts of any Union commander in Tennessee during the Civil War.



James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Editor, The Courier

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214


(615)-532-1549  FAX


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, March 17, 1861-1865

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, March 17, 1861-1865



17, Memphis alderman investigated on moral's charge of "improper intimacy with a negro woman"

Alderman O'Mahoney.—Council met on Friday night to investigate charges of immorality preferred against Alderman O'Mahoney, of the first ward. The nature of the charges have been stated in our report of the recorder's court, as consisting of improper intimacy with a negro woman. Alderman O'Mahoney appeared in military uniform and pronounced the charges false. The Board appointed aldermen Fraser, Kirby and Crews a committee to examine witnesses, aided by the city attorney, and to report to the Board as early as possible.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 17, 1861[1]





17, Skirmishing at and surrender of Columbia to Federal forces

The pickets of the enemy and our own pickets shot at each other across Duck River at Columbia for about two hours some 100 shots the bridges being burned down and the river verry [sic] high they could not get near enough to do much harm to each other. All our cavalry left this morning for Decatur. Col. Biffle & Col. Scott's cavalry, Scott is from Louisiana.

The Mair [sic] & Aldermen sent a flag of truce to the enemy…acknowledging the surrender of the town to the enemy[.] [I]t was all the citizens could do to keep the yankeys [sic] from shelling the town in consequence of shooting at them.

Diary of Nimrod Porter, March 17, 1862.



          17, A visit by a military poet the afternoon I was a good deal bored by a long visit from a "Morgan man" who pretended to be "literarious," [sic] and repeated to me stanza after stanza of his "pieces." His name was Daniel. I heard the children come home from school and felt so worried that I was obliged to remain in the parlor and could not go out and meet them. When at last the man took his leave, I came out and found Mollie and the children at dinner--.

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, entry for March 17, 1863.





          17, Wedding party at the home of Mr. Reynolds on Walden Ridge

I do not suppose that the history of the world contains such a rare case of universal concord being the result of such universal discord. [sic]. The [wedding] party was composed of 1st, Rebel and Union citizens; 2d, Rebel and Union soldiers; 3rd, Rebel and Union deserters; 4th, Rebel and Union spies; 5th Rebel and Union bushwhackers.

Scarcely a harsh word was uttered during the whole night; all danced together as if nothing was wrong, and parted mutually the next morning, each party marching off separately.

Considering the great hatred existing between the different parties it is marvelous that bloodshed was not the immediate result.

Chattanooga Gazette, March 17, 1864




          17, U. S. S. Peosta conducts anti-guerrilla operation

"...after midnight the Peosta landed at Crump's landing and sent out scouts. They returned with six prisoners at 5:30 am who were found to be within the Peostas [sic] lines. That afternoon a detachment of the crew exchanged small arms fire with rebels across the river from Savannah. Such patrols and exchanges between the crew of the Peosta and area guerrillas were repeated during the next few days.

U. S. S. Peosta Daily Deck Log.



[1] Erin Go Bragh!


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Editor, The Courier

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214


(615)-532-1549  FAX


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Notes from Civil War Tennessee, March 16, 1861-1864.

Notes from Civil War Tennessee,

March 16, 1861-1864.





16, Memphis' Italian-American population

Our Italian Population.—We learn from an intelligent Italian correspondent that not less than five hundred of his countrymen reside in this city. They are of all classes of society, but everywhere industrious and law-abiding. They have no societies or clubs for Italians only, or any especial place of congregating, but mix themselves with society in general and become good American citizens.

Memphis Daily Appeal, March 16, 1861.





16, Skirmishes near Pittsburg Landing

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Brigadier-General William T. Sherman relative to skirmish at Pittsburg Landing, March 16, 1862.

HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, Pittsburg Landing, March 17, 1862.

SIR: Last night I dispatched a party of cavalry at 6 p. m., under the command of Lieut.-Col. Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, for a strong reconnaissance, if possible, to be converted into an attack upon the Memphis road. The command got off punctually, followed at 12 at night by the First Brigade of my division, commanded by Col. McDowell, the other brigade to follow in order.

About 1 at night the cavalry returned, reporting the road occupied in force by the enemy, with whose advance guard they skirmished, driving them back about a mile, taking 2 prisoners, and having their chief guide, Esquire Thomas Maxwell, wounded, and 3 men of the Fourth Illinois.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt, I, pp. 24-25.

16, Report of Lieutenant Gwin, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Tyler, regarding a reconnoissance in the Tennessee River

U. S. GUNBOAT TYLER, Pittsburg, March 16, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, I reported to General Grant at Fort Foote on the 7th instant and remained at Danville Bridge, 25 miles above, awaiting the fleet of transports until Monday morning, by direction of General Grant, when, General Smith arriving with a large portion of his command, forty transports, I convoyed them to Savannah, arriving there without molestation on the 11th.

The same evening, with General Smith and staff on board, made a reconnoissance of the river as high as Pittsburg. The rebels had not renewed their attempts to fortify at that point, owing to the vigilant watch that had been kept on them in my absence by Lieutenant Commanding Shirk.

The same evening, 11:45, stood up the river with the Lexington, Lieutenant Commanding Shirk, for the purpose of reaching Eastport by daylight....

* * * *

The river is, again, very high and rising. The people here have given substantial evidence of the strength of the Union sentiment so often expressed to me before in this vicinity, as very many have enlisted in the different regiments.

The Tyler is lying at Pittsburg for the protection of General Sherman's division, which has occupied that point. The Lexington is lying at Crump's Landing, protecting the division of General Wallace, which occupies that point. Everything is working favorably for the cause of the Union.

Enclosed you will find Lieutenant Commanding Shirk's report.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. GWIN, Lieut., Comdg. Division of Gunboats, Tennessee River.

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, U. S. Navy, Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters, Cairo, Ill.


U S. GUNBOAT LEXINGTON, Pittsburg, Tenn., March 15, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of my proceedings since my last arrival in this river:

We reached Savannah on the 5th instant. The next morning received on board this vessel twenty armed men, refugees from Wayne County, Tenn., who asked my protection from the rebel marauding cavalry. Six of these men were from a rebel regiment which has been stationed at Clarksville, and had been told, upon the fall of Fort Donelson, to make the best of their way home. Their arms were those that had been issued at Clarksville. Some of these twenty men have shipped on board of this vessel, and the remainder have enlisted in regiments in General Smith's command.

I then proceeded up the river to take a look at this place, and discovered several flags of truce on the hill. I sent a boat to communicate with a rebel officer at the landing, and received a letter for Lieutenant Commanding Gwin, in relation to exchange of prisoners. No work has been done since the bombardment of the place on the 1st instant by the Tyler and this vessel.

The nights of the 7th and 8th I laid at Craven's Landing, protecting many Union men from [William H.] Robinson's rebel cavalry.

During the 8th and 9th I conveyed about 120 refugees from Craven's and Chalk Bluff to Savannah for safety. On the 9th I paid another visit to Pittsburg, having on board Colonel Worthington, of General Smith's advance. On the 10th I took on board some more arms at Chalk Bluff.

That night I laid opposite Savannah, the transport with the Forty-sixth Ohio Volunteers lying at the town.

On the 11th the U. S. Gunboat Tyler arrived, followed by General Smith with his command in sixty-three transport steamers. At midnight this vessel followed the Tyler up the river to make a reconnoissance....

* * * *

The small arms which I have taken from Craven's and Chalk Bluff belong to Union men, and I have promised that they should eventually be returned to their owners.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

JAMES W. SHIRK, Lieutenant, Commanding.

Flag-Officer A. H. FOOTE, Comdg. U. S. Naval Forces, Western Waters, Cairo, Ill.

Navy OR, Ser. I, Vol. 22, pp. 666-668.

16, Night time skirmish at Black Jack Forest


Report of Major W. D. Sunger[1]

Camp Shiloh, Headquarters First Division, U. S. A.

West Tennessee, March 28, 1862


The expedition set on foot for the purpose of intercepting communication on the Memphis and Charleston, started about six o'clock, on the evening of the sixteenth, and proceeded from Pittsburgh Landing, on the road toward Corinth.

Major S. M. Bowman[2] having the right in command of a detachment of the Fourth Illinois cavalry, eighty-six men, company M, Captain George Dodge,[3] at the head of the column, followed by company I, Lieut. Hopeman commanding, and a part of Company L, Lieut. Merriman commanding; and all followed by a detachment of the Fifth Ohio cavalry, three hundred and fifty men, in regimental order, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Thomas T. Heath; Lieut. Charles Chapin, with a platoon of company L, of the Fourth Illinois, preceded the column as advance guards.

Col. Johnson of the twenty-eighth Illinois, and the undersigned, accompanied the expedition, Lieut. Colonel Heath having the chief command.

The march was conducted with the utmost caution, to guard against surprise, and had proceeded without interruption a distance of about five miles, when at a place known as Black Jack Forest, about nine o'clock, the presence of the enemy was discovered by Lieut. Chapin, across and near the road, with their pieces ready to fire on the advance-guard. Lieut. Chapin, with great presence of mind, instantly discharged his pistol, and was immediately seconded by the discharge of a carbine by one of the men, which had the effect to frighten the horses of the enemy and disconcert his fire, and thereby save the advance-guard from the raking fire of buckshot and balls prepared for them.

Major Bowman, with the utmost promptitude, deployed his entire command into line, and advanced rapidly on the enemy, driving him as far as he could be seen.

After retreating a short distance into the forest the enemy made a stand, partly in front and partly on our right flank. Thus far the only force engaged was company M, commanded by Capt. Dodge, and it is but just to say that this officer, aided by Lieut. Allshouse, conducted this advance upon the enemy amidst all the difficulties of the night-time, and through the forest in a most fearless and gallant style, and that his men behaved with all the coolness and bravery of veterans.

By this time company I, and the remainder of company L, came up in perfect order, ranging in front of that part of the enemy's force which had formed on our right, and within thirty yards of his line. But it was impossible to tell, even at that distance, whether we might not be looking at our friends instead of the enemy, and our fire was reserved for that reason.

We were not, however, long kept in doubt on that subject, for very soon the enemy poured his fire into our ranks and over our heads, making the woods luminous along the whole line, to which a response was made by our carbines, such as caused him to break and run in every direction, leaving us in possession of the field.

Company I received the heaviest part of this fire, and in reply delivered their charge, which first broke the enemy's line.

It is difficult to conduct an action by night, on horseback, and in a forest it is much more hazardous to pursue, under like difficulties, an unrelenting foe in his own country and on his own ground. It was therefore deemed prudent not to pursue. We took two prisoners on the spot. Four of our men were wounded-none severely-and none killed. Two of our horses were killed and several wounded. Our guide, upon whose knowledge of the country we were wholly dependent, was wounded at the first fire, and rendered incapable of going on. The Fifth Ohio cavalry, being in the rear, had no good opportunity of engaging in the action, and were not employed.

We had no means of knowing the amount of the enemy's force, or the full result of the action, until the next day, when it was ascertained, from the concurrently testimony of the inhabitants on the road over which the enemy had passed, and from the prisoners taken, that his force was five hundred strong. It was also ascertained that he imagined himself met by a large force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery; that he fled with the utmost precipitation, without any regard to roads, leaving the evidences of his flight scattered for miles around.

It was further ascertained that he contemplated a night attack on our encampment at Pittsburgh Landing, which design was thus completely frustrated.

We recovered several horses at least four miles from the battle-ground, which had been mire down in a swamp, and abandoned by their riders, in their extraordinary flight.

We could not ascertain the number of the enemy killed and wounded. Nor is it important. The great moral fact is palpable, that a small force of eighty-six cavalry met, on his own ground, five hundred of the enemy's cavalry, and put him to rout.

* * * *

W. D. Sunger, Major Fifty-fifth Illinois

Aid-de-camp to Gen. W. T. Sherman

To Brig. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, Commanding, etc.

Rebellion Record, Vol. 4, pp. 347-348.


A correspondent writing from Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn., March twenty-first, gives the following account of the affair:

On Sunday last [16th] Major Bowman, with about seventy of his battalion, reconnoitered westward, on the road to Purdy, and when about six miles out overhauled and chased a force of the enemy's cavalry, about one hundred strong, killing an officer by the name of W. R. Roper, and wounding several others. Roper is believed to have been a native of South Carolina, and was in the rebel service at Pensacola, as shown by papers found upon his person. He was shot through the head and died instantly. In this little encounter the rebels fled without firing a shot; consequently nobody was hurt on our side.

The following night [17th] an expedition was started for the purpose of destroying a portion of the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, in the vicinity of Juca [sic] distant from this point some twenty three miles, and thus cut off communication between Memphis and the East. Our force consisted of three hundred and fifty cavalry and a part of Major Bowman's battalion, eighty-six men, the whole under the command of Lieut.-Col. Heath. The expedition was started at seven o'clock in the evening, and intended making the whole journey before daylight the next morning. It appeared that the enemy was at the same time organizing a night attack against our encampment and the transports, which were then disembarking troops at this place, and, as the sequel shows, but for the most unexpected meeting of forces which ensued, there is no telling the injury we might have sustained; for our forces at the boats were in a disorganized state at the time, and were scattered about in a manner quite inviting to the enemy; and had the enemy, with his large force of cavalry, rushed in upon us in the night, the consequence might have been a disastrous stampede of our troops.

The rebel forces, as learned from some prisoners taken, consisted of five hundred cavalry. They rendezvoused at Pea Ridge[4], and advanced on us over the Corinth road, the same road taken by our expedition, and when out about six miles from here the heads of the columns met. It is evident, however, that the enemy had the first notice of the approach of the crisis; for they had halted, were prepared to receive us, and delivered the first fire. The collision occurred at Black Jack Forest, five miles this side of the Mississippi line.[5] The first intimation our forces had that the enemy were upon us, was from a fierce fire into our advance-guard, which wounded the guide and several horses. The advance guard, however, stood firm and returned the fire immediately. Major Bowman instantly threw his command into line of battle, and advanced rapidly, the enemy falling back, firing as he went, while our forces returned the fire with the greatest promptitude. They fell back farther and farther into the forest, and finally seemed to make a stand and when they discharged their double-barreled shot-guns, loaded with buckshot and balls, they revealed, by the glare of their fire, a long line immediately in front and not exceeding sixty yards from us. Their fire was on every occasion returned with the carbines of our cavalry-that is, Bowman's portion of it-which threw their lines into confusion, and they retreated apparently in great disorder, making the wood fairly ring from the clatter of their sabres and trappings as they plunged thorough the thickets, followed by a continuous fire from the carbines of our men. Major Bowman maintained his ground, thinking the enemy might return; but he gave no signs of it, as they clatter of sabres and pattering of their horses grew fainter and fainter until they died entirely away.

The damage on our side was one guide and four soldiers wounded-none seriously-two horses killed and several wounded. Of course we could not tell what loss the enemy had sustained; but it must have been considerable. We took two prisoners, who stated that they saw quite a number of their side fall; but whether they were killed or only dismounted they did not know.

It was finally agreed upon by our force to return with the wounded, as we were then without a guide, and, our plan of advancing upon the railroad being discovered, it might result in our loss, if our men were to advance.

The following day [17th] a small body of cavalry and a force of infantry marched over the same road close to Pea Ridge, where the enemy had kept a considerable force. Upon examining the battle ground in the afternoon, it was discovered that the rebels had left the field in extraordinary haste, leaving their hats, guns, pistols, sabres, saddles, and horses scattered in every direction for six miles beyond; that is some cases the brave cavaliers had dashed their steeds down steep precipices, against the roots of upturned trees, and into swamps, where they remained until extricated by order of the General. In short, it appeared, but the evidence palpable by daylight, and by the concurrent testimony of all the inhabitants in the vicinity of Pea Ridge, that the rout was the most extraordinary ever heard of. The brave, chivalrous, daring rebel cavalry, who never asked anything better than to be pitted against the cowardly Northerners in the proportion of one to five, (being, in fact, more than five to one,) were driven back and frightened out of their wits, and actually destroyed themselves, like the herd of swine who ran down into the sea, "being possessed of the devil."

There is something in the battle of Black Jack Forest, calculated to attract the attention of the reader. In the first place, the meeting of the two forces was wholly accidental; in the second place, it was night-and who eager heard of a night action between two bodies of cavalry? In the third place, the enemy was on his own ground, having selected is own position to begin the fight. Again, the action was a spirited one, carried on for half an hour in the woods, by the light of the moon: and finally, the enemy, five hundred strong, as confessed by themselves, were whipped and put to rout by less than one hundred of our troopers-the balance of our force being out of sight and taking no part in the action.

Major Bowman, the hero of Black Jack Forest, is a New Yorker, a lawyer by profession, and recently practiced in New York City.

Rebellion Record, Vol. 4, pp. 348-349.[6]

16, D. C. Donnohue to Secretary of the Interior C. B. Smith on progress in acquiring cotton seed

Savana,[sic] Tenn.

March 16, 1862

Hon. C. B. Smith

Secretary of the Interior

Washington City, D. C.

I can procure cotton seed – in great abundance – So soon as the country is occupied by our troops – cotton plenty and cheap. Dispatch to me care of Genl. Smith

D .C. Donnohue

Letters of D. C. Donnohue.

16, "Commanders of all grades will be held responsible for the suppression of this great crime." Braxton Bragg tightens discipline in the Army of Tennessee

Down on the Plunderers.—Gen. Bragg is an officer not to be misunderstood. Here is a general order issued by his command from Bethel:

Bethel, Tenn., March 16, 1862.

With a degree of mortification and humiliation he has never before felt, the Major General has to denounce acts of pillage, plunder and destruction of private property of our own citizens by a portion of the troops of this command, which brings disgrace upon our cause. Men capable of such acts may swell our numbers, but will never add strength to our armies. They would do us less harm by serving in the ranks of the enemy, and if not prepared to abandon the vicious habits they have unfortunately contracted, had better lay down their arms and retire. Gallant men, not thus demoralized, stand ready to use them, and will do so with that firm reliance on an overruling Providence which a consciousness of right can alone give. The first step towards achieving success is to deserve it.

Commanders of all grades will be held responsible for the suppression of this great crime. Full compensation will, in all instances, be made from the pay of the offenders, and where this fails in its effect, summary punishment will be inflicted. The General will not hesitate to order the death penalty where it may be necessary, and will approve its execution by subordinates where milder measures fail. By order of Major General Bragg.

American Citizen [CANTON, MS], April 5, 1862.[7]

16, Occupation of Pittsburg Landing by US forces

CORINTH, March 16, 1862--6 a.m.

The report that the enemy has landed in force at Pittsburg has been confirmed.

Hold yourself, Clanton's cavalry (one company excepted), and Chalmers' Mississippi regiment ready to move when ordered.


Brig.-Gen., C. S. Army.

CORINTH, March 16, 1862--4 p. m.

There is no doubt that the enemy has landed in force at Pittsburg. The doubt that was stated in connection with this matter no longer exists. Gen. Bragg desired me to communicate with you freely.


Brig.-Gen., C. S. Army.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 29-30.





16, Confederate stratagem to raid Murfreesborough and kidnap Major-General Rosecrans[8]

HDQRS. POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Shelbyville, March 16, 1863.

Lieut. Col. JAMES C. MALONE, Jr., Cmdg. Cavalry:

COL.: You have consulted me as to the lawfulness or expediency (supposing it to be practicable) of capturing and bringing out the general commanding the forces of the enemy, whose headquarters are now at Murfreesborough. It is a very grave enterprise, but if it could be accomplished, it would be attended with important results, especially if you could add to the capture the papers of his adjutant-general's office. As to its lawfulness there can be no doubt, for it is as lawful to capture one man in arms against us as another, nor can there be say doubt as to its expediency, for obvious reasons.

There is but a single point you have to guard against, and that is, that you do not allow his life to be taken, nor, as far as possible, any violence to be done to his person; for, while neither he nor those with whom he is associated in the campaign of extermination in which they are now engaged have a right to claim any forbearance at our hands, still, we owe it to ourselves to be true to our own civilization and to deprive the most critical of all occasions of censuring our mode of maintaining resistance. From the work of assassination we would recoil with just abhorrence. Bold and daring enterprises are in our line, and become those who are struggling against the bitterest persecution and the most merciless warfare. Take him, therefore, and his adjutant-general's papers with him, if you can, and I believe you can.

This will be handed you by my aide-de-camp, Lieut. W. B. Richmond, who volunteers to accompany you on the expedition.

Very respectfully, &c.,

L. POLK, Lieut.-Gen., Cmdg.


Lieut.-Gen. POLK, Cmdg., &c.:

GEN.: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of March 16, relative to the matter of which I had the honor to speak to you in person on the 14th instant, and I beg leave to say that I approve, most heartily, the sentiments you have expressed therein. As to the point of which you speak, relative to taking the life or doing other violence to the person of Gen. Rosecrans, I approve most fully your views. Far be it from my mind, general, to give this undertaking any appearance of a murderous character. My whole nature recoils from anything in this matter that looks toward assassination or murder. You may rest assured that, should the alternative of taking his life or abandoning the entire project be at any time presented me, I shall most assuredly choose the latter. Nothing short of an active effort upon his part to put my own life, or that of my command, in jeopardy would or could, in my opinion, authorize the taking of his life or injury to his person. This, I take it, we have no reasonable ground to apprehend.

I have the honor to be, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,

JAMES C. MALONE, JR., Lieut.-Col., Cmdg. Fourteenth Alabama Cavalry.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, pp. 701-702.

16, Skirmish at Holt's Corners

No circumstantial reports filed.


Chapel Hill, April 16, 1863 Lieut.-Gen. POLK:

GEN.: I wrote you a dispatch this morning, which, through some oversight, was not sent. The enemy came up to Holt's Corners this morning. The picket relief, about 80 strong, attacked them and drove them 3 or 4 miles. Capt. [P. H.] Rice, who was in command, states that their number was about 300. They captured our advance guard, 5 men. This was done by a decoy, which led them into an ambuscade. The officers and men engaged acted very gallantly. The enemy left no dead upon the ground, but the fatality among their horses was severe. Nobody hurt on our side. The enemy are still side of College Grove. When my scouts return I will be able to give you the particulars as to their whereabouts.


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 23, pt. II, p. 775.

16, A Confederate soldier's observations about the home guard at his home place in the Cleveland environs

* * * *

There is a camp of Federal troops within a mile and a half of our home, and they sometimes visit our house and the houses of other southern people in the neighborhood and carry off such articles as they like, but the worst enemies by all odds, and the ones for whom our people have the greatest dred [sic] are those who call themselves "homeguards," but who are simply organized bands of bushwhackers and robbers.

Diary of William A. Sloan, March 15, 1863.

16, Sol Street's guerrilla attack on a Federal forage train foiled by U. S. Cavalry between LaGrange and Saulsbury [see March 15, 1863, "Sol Street's guerrilla band's activities near Grand Junction" above]

Memphis Bulletin, March 22, 1863.

16, Grand Review of the Army of the Cumberland in Murfreesboro; excerpts from the letter of Albert Potter, Fourth Michigan cavalry, to his sister

Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Wednesday Mar 17th

Dear Sis

*  *  *  *

We had a grand review and inspection of all the Cavalry Force in the Department or nearly all by Maj Gen Rosecrans yesterday at 12 M it was a grand sight. The Review was on a large common 2 miles from town. There was one large flag with the Gen'l and then the "star" flags of each Brigadier or Commander of Brigade numbered to show which each commanded and then most of the different Companies had their Guidions. All together made a handsome show with the officers with their full uniforms and white gauntlets and red sashes. Gen Stanley wore a Yellow Sash. The maj gen wore none at all. Rosecrans is a large well proportioned man, looks about forty five. Is quite bald as I could see when he saluted the Brigadiers. He looks good-natured and benevolent. Has a large Roman nose slightly hooked as he passed us on a gallop with his staff. He said "good morning, gentlemen! I am glad to see you all out this morning." And a little further on "you are the hope of the army. Do you mind that?" and on he went talking along the line and encouraging the men. Mrs. Rosecrans was at the Review also. I was not close to her. She was dressed in black and rode a splendid horse. I believe Gen Rosecrans is the most popular Gen'l in the army of the Union. He has never been whipped and permit me to say he never will be. The army in this department has the prestige of success and victory and we intend to keep our name good. The rumor prevails here at the present that Vicksburg is evacuated and the army moving up to crush us out. How much truth there is in the report I can't tell. We will be ready for them at any rate…..

Potter Correspondence.

16, Punishment for disobedience of orders, 34th Illinois Infantry, Murfreesboro

Monday, March 16 – Joseph H. S_____ a private of Company G having been tried by Court Martial convicted of disobedience of orders and sentenced to forfeit one months [sic] pay and publicly reprimanded by the Colonel in the presence of the Regiment was compelled to undergo the latter part of the sentence during Dress Parade this evening – when his name was called S____ stepped from his place in the ranks in front and center of the line and stood there with uncovered head while the Colonel reprimanded him.

Diary of Lyman S. Widney

16, Excerpts from a newspaper report relative preparation of hospitals for Union casualties to trade with the enemy from occupied Memphis



From present indications Memphis promises to become a vast hospital the coming summer. Even now there is not a little preparation for such a consummation. All the large houses, whether hotels, stores or whatnot, have been seized and the occupants forced to leave, and immediately thereafter the work of converting them to hospitals commences. Accommodations are to be made for ten thousand sick and wounded; but it is probable the accommodations will far exceed anything previously calculated upon. Some of these buildings have been fixed up in the most successful manner and the prospect is that all our hospitals will pass as worthy of the name.

The trade of Memphis has been materially affected by recent military regulations. Heretofore, any one from the South who wished supplies could come to the city and get them. But this ruinous policy no longer prevails. Persons can, indeed, get supplies necessary for their comfort; but they must prove their loyalty by taking the oath, and, in addition, swear that the supplies needed are not to be used by parties in the interest of the confederacy. The result is that the wholesale smuggling is stopped, and but little now passes to the enemy beyond our lines. The wonder is that such restrictions were not placed on such articles having a Southern destination. The question naturally arises, "Where has the greater bulk of them gone to?" and there is but one response and that is, to the enemy. This being a fact it is more than ever necessary that, if "trade follows the flag," it should be regulated by wholesome restraints that preclude the possibility of injury to the cause of which the flag is but the symbol. It is said there are hundreds of reputed good Union men making fortunes by running the blockade and conducting a contraband trade; but if it depended upon such to restore peace we should not have it for ages to come. They would never favor peace while they were making fortunes out of war.


The New York Herald, March 16, 1863.





16, Confederate raid on N&C Railroad, near Tullahoma

MARCH 16, 1864.-Raid on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, near Tullahoma, Tenn.


No. 1.-Maj. Adolphus H. Tanner, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

No. 2.-Capt. George R. Hall, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Adolphus H. Tanner, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

HDQRS. 123d NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS, Elk River Railroad Bridge, Tenn., March 17, 1864--5 p. m.

GEN.: I have the honor to make the following report:

The patrol sent out by me on the railroad toward Tullahoma, as reported yesterday, came upon a band of rebels about 3 miles from this post, just as they had thrown a train of cars from the track, had taken the passengers prisoners, and were engaged in robbing them and destroying the train. My men drove the enemy, rescued the prisoners, and saved most of the train. I have this day received information that this rebel force, numbering 110 men, well mounted on horses marked "C. S.," came from the direction of the mountains back of Hillsborough, and retreated in that direction. They murdered several non-combatants (negroes [sic]) and robbed all their prisoners of their money, jewels, and clothing.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. H. TANNER, Maj. 123d New York Vols., Cmdg. Post.

No. 2.

Report of Capt. George R. Hall, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.

ESTILL SPRINGS, TENN., March 17, 1864.

GEN.: I have the honor to report that yesterday (16th) at 1 p. m. I received intelligence of a citizen by the name of Martin Hays, sent by citizen named John P. Hefner, who tends a grist-mill about 2 miles from this post, that a band of rebel cavalry from 70 to 100 and Chattanooga Railroad, and said they were going to throw off the first train of cars from Tullahoma and then blow up the bridge across Elk River.

On receiving this intelligence, I immediately reported it to Maj. Tanner, commanding One hundred and twenty-third Regt. [sic] New York Volunteers, and re-enforced my pickets accordingly, and awaited orders from the major; but receiving no definite orders and awaiting sufficient time for my patrols to return, not having sufficient force here to leave the stockade safe and meet the enemy, I took the engine of the construction train, which was here, and went to the regiment and reported the facts to the major, who immediately sent Company C to take the place of my company (E) and sent my company in pursuit of the enemy.

At 4.45 p. m. I left camp, marching with the main part of my company on the railroad, having a line of skirmishers on each side of the road a reasonable distance in advance. After proceeding nearly 1½ miles I saw a train coming from Tullahoma, and watched in until it ran off the track, and heard the firing on the train. It was about one-half mile in advance of my skirmishers. I then filed to the right into the woods and took the double-quick step in order to flank them, but they had got notice of my approach and commenced a retreat. I came up on their flank, opening upon them, which was returned by them, but made no stand of any account; formed line of battle twice, but as soon as we fired upon them they turned and ran. I pursued them about 1½ miles, when my men became so much exhausted that farther pursuit would have been useless and I returned to the wreck, where I found the cars on fire, but succeeded in extinguishing the fire so that but three cars were burned. The engine was but little injured.

During the fighting, men captured from the cars were recaptured, and in about one hour the remainder of the prisoners came in-7 of the Twenty-seventh Indiana and 2 men of Company E, One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers; also Capt. Beardsley, of the Twentieth Connecticut, and Lieut. Williams. All were robbed of everything valuable, not excepting their clothing. Two men of the First Michigan Engineers were wounded; also a citizen by the name of Stockwell-the latter seriously, the ball having passed through the left lung. One negro [sic] was killed and 1 wounded. The prisoners report that the rebels were commanded by Lieut.-Col. Hughs, formerly of the Twenty-fifth Tennessee. The names of the other officers I could not learn. One of my company that is reliable told me that he counted 97 men, while a prisoner, and at the time 15 or 20 were out after the other patrols. The man spoken of above of my company was one of the patrols who were captured. They were armed with carbines and rifles. The last I heard of them they passed the mill about 2 miles from here at dark, apparently in great haste. Two of their men were killed, and 1 seriously wounded. I captured three saddles and one carbine. Had I been a few minutes earlier I could have saved the train, and think killed or captured most of them.

GEORGE R. HALL, [Capt. One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers.]

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 499-501.


Colonel John M. Hughs, 25th Tennessee Infantry (CS), in his report covering his activities in Middle Tennessee from January 1 to April 18, 1864 was a bit more terse about this fight in his report on his operations in Middle Tennessee from January to April 1864.

Report of Col. John M. Hughs, Twenty-fifth Tennessee Infantry.

DALTON, Ga., April 28, 1864.

SIR: I have honor to submit herewith the following report of my operations in Middle Tennessee:

* * * *

On the 16th March we tore up the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad near Tullahoma and captured a train of freight cars heavily laden with supplies for the Federal army at Chattanooga. About 60 Yankee soldiers were captured and about 20 Yankee negroes [sic] killed. The train and supplies were burned and the engine destroyed.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 57.


"Railroad Raid"

Some Confederate cavalry made a raid on the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad, on Wednesday evening, in the neighborhood of Estelle Springs [sic]. There are numerous stories floating about town on the subject, of which this is one: That on Wednesday a body of Confederate cavalry, under Col. Roddy, arrived in the neighborhood above indicated, and throwing out his pickets, tore up a portion of the track; his men then concealed themselves, and the up-train came thundering along, with three other trains close up. The first soon became a wreck, the second ran into the first, and the third into the second, before they could be stopped; the 'confederates in the meantime coming out, firing into the train guard, and capturing a few of them. The engineer of the fourth train "smelt a mice," and put back, while the Confed's [sic] burned the three trains, destroyed the Elk river bridge, and put as if the devil had been after them. A correspondent of the Louisville Journal tells the story thus, in a telegram from Decherd, dated the 16th:

"A band of guerrillas under Colonel (unknown,) attacked the freight train from Nashville, near Estelle Springs [sic] to-night. By displacing a rail the train was thrown off the track and burned. Capt. Beardsley of the 123d New York and seven men have just arrived here on a hand car, having been paroled after being stripped of their clothing and money, watches and jewelry. The Rebels killed three negroes [sic] who were on the train. Two of the band were killed. No losses on our side. They belonged to Roddy's command."

Nashville Dispatch, March 18, 1864.


The account of First Lieutenant Robert Cruikshank, 123rd New York Infantry Regiment, letter home to his wife Mary

Camp 123rd Regt. [sic], N. Y. S. V.

Elk River, Tenn.,

March 24, 1864.

Dear Wife,-

I wish I had something new and interesting to write about, but I have nothing. I do not care for a battle or a long and weary march to furnish items of interest, but sometimes when I take my pen it is difficult to know what to say, for when we are in Camp we know but little outside. We hear little and what we do hear has been told so many times, or told by one to another that when we get it we question its truth. You know by the papers what is going on in both armies before we do, so I cannot interest you in that. What I write must come under my observation and now my resources are small,- only the camp of a regiment doing guard duty on a railroad.

Captain George R. Hall had an exciting time with a band of guerrillas numbering one hundred and twenty on the 16th inst. The patrol not returning on time to Estell [sic] Springs where the Captain and his Company (E) are stationed, he took forty of his men and started out to see what had become of them. When about three miles up the track he saw that a band of guerrillas had wrecked a train and was burning it and robbing the passengers. The Captain charged his company on them at once, retaking the patrol and other soldiers who were on the train whom the guerrillas had taken as prisoners. He then flagged two other trains that were following the one that was wrecked. On this road that is the way they run the trains,- three, one after the other.

The guerrillas charged on Company E, but they beat them off, killing two. The Captain and his forty men saved several men from being taken prisoners, three engines, sixty cars DO [sic] loaded with supplies, and perhaps General Grant as he was in the second train. Geo. H. Edie of our Company was on the first train when wrecked and he lost five dollars in money, a watch, and would have lost his overcoat had not Company E come up when they did. They left him taking it off.

You can see what sort of men the 123rd Regt. [sic] are made of, to attack three of the enemy to one of their number and put them to flight. We have a brave lot of fellows that I believe enjoy such a skirmish. It breaks the monotony of camp life and gives them something to talk about and something to write about.

With love,

R. Cruikshank.

Robert Cruikshank Letters.

16, A Confederate soldier's observations about his home place in the Cleveland environs

* * * *

There is a camp of Federal troops within a mile and a half of our home, and they sometimes visit our house and the houses of other southern people in the neighborhood and carry off such articles as they like, but the worst enemies by all odds, and the ones for whom our people have the greatest dred [sic] are those who call themselves "homeguards," but who are simply organized bands of bushwhackers and robbers.

Diary of William A. Sloan.

16, "…I suffered horribly in anticipation of trouble." Smuggling goods to the Confederate army through Federal lines in Shelby County; a page from the diary of Belle Edmondson

March, Wednesday 16, 1864

Went up Street directly after Breakfast to finish a little job I forgot on yesterday. At one o'clock Mrs. Facklen, Mrs. Kirk and I began to fix my articles for smugling [sic], we made a balmoral of the Grey cloth for uniform, pin'd [sic] the Hats to the inside of my hoops-tied the boots with a strong list, letting them fall directly in front, the cloth having monopolized the back & the Hats the side-All my letters, brass buttons, money, &c in my bosom-left at 2 o'clock to meet Anna at Mr. Barbie's-started to walk, impossible that-hailed a hack-rather suspicious of it, afraid of small-pox, weight of contrabands ruled-jumped in, with orders for a hurried drive to Cor[ner of] Main & Vance-arrived, found Anna not ready, had to wait for her until 5 o'clock, very impatient-started at last-arrived at Pickets, no trouble at all, although I suffered horribly in anticipation of trouble. Arrived at home at dusk, found Mr. Wilson & Harbut, gave them late papers and all news. Mrs. Harbut here to meet her Bro. bro't [sic] Mr. Wilson a letter from Home in Ky. Worn out. 8 yds. Long cloth, 2 Hats, 1 pr Boots, 1 doz. Buttons, letters, &c. 2 Cords, 8 tassels.

Laura, Beulah & Tippie Dora, all in.

Diary of Belle Edmondson

16, Report on Cherokee Indians Taking Advantage of Federal Amnesty Program

Knoxville, Tenn., March 15.

~ ~ ~

Peace has been ratified with the North Carolina Cherokees. Those recently captures say the were induced to take up arms und the belief the were fighting for the United Stated government.

Two were permitted to go in search of the band and represent to facts to their Chief (Too-kannic.) Thirty of the tribe have since come in and accepted the amnesty.

~ ~ ~

Boston Herald, March 16, 1864. [9]







[1] Not found. Also listed in Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee but not identified in the OR. Sunger is not identified in the OR. There is neither a listing for Black Jack Forest in the OR, nor is there a reference in CAR. Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee, p. 846, leaves no clue as to where he found this information. There is no reference whatever to a place known as Black Jack Forest in Tennessee. The entry may be referring to black jack oak (Quercus nigra), which grows abundantly in the Southeast. There is, however, a Black Jack Community, Tennessee, located either just south of or abutting the Kentucky border and apparently in both Sumner and Robertson counties. See United States Geological Survey Map 309-SE. This knowledge does nothing, however, to verify the report of this event. There is likewise another community in Tennessee with the name Black Jack, just southwest of Manchester in Coffee County (USGS Manchester Quad).

[2] Not identified in the OR.

[3] Not identified in the OR.

[4] Other reports in the OR identify Pea Ridge as being in Tennessee, but there is no reference that provides information about any combat.

[5] Since this account was written from Pittsburgh Landing it must be concluded that Black Jack Forrest was in Tennessee, although there is no reference to it in the OR. Likewise there is no reference to Black Jack Forest as being in either Hardin or McNairy counties, in Ralph O. Fullerton, ed. Place Names of Tennessee, (Nashville: Department of Conservation, Division of Geology, 1974). The location of the forest seems to have been lost since the war's conclusion. Perhaps it was either burned in a forest fire or completely cut down by loGALEGROUP - TSLA 19TH CN  ers in the later nineteenth century.

[6] The source for this account is not given although it appears to be from a newspaper in New York City.

[7] As cited in:

[8] There is nothing in the OR to indicate that an attempt to kidnap Major-General Rosecrans ever took place.

[9] As cited in PQCW.


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Editor, The Courier

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214


(615)-532-1549  FAX