Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1.28.2015 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        28, 1862 - Excerpt from a letter by Edward Bradford, at a Confederate camp of instruction in Gainesboro, to his father in Tank, Tennessee

....There was a great many gentlemen from Nashville up here to see their boys. The most of them expected to find them dead or badly wounded....John Porch...was wounded in the hand and one of his fingers had to be taken off....I am in hopes we will be transferred to the Bowling Green service as I never want to go into a fight under Gen. Crittenden again. I don't think he is of the right stripe. He was in camp two hours before anybody else and one of the first that crossed the river. If he had stayed with us and carried on things right, I don't think we would have lost more than half we did. I believe we could have saved every one of our cannons and all of our wagons and mules....

Frederick Bradford Papers, TSL&A

        28, Skirmish near Yorkville

JANUARY 28, 1863.-Skirmish near Yorkville, Tenn.

Report of Col. Oliver Wood, Twenty-second Ohio Infantry.

HDQRS. UNITED STATES FORCES, Trenton, Tenn., January 29, 1863

SIR: I have to report to you concerning the skirmish near Yorkville, Tenn. (15 miles northeast of Trenton), as follows, viz.,:

Yesterday, 28th instant, about 9 a. m., the detachment of infantry, 110 men, under command of Capt. Govette, Twenty-second Regiment Ohio Volunteers, after having been divided into four parties for foraging, were attacked by [W. A.] Dawson and his band, 98 or 99 men (as the citizens report.) The party which was attacked numbered 30 in all, under the immediate command of Capt. Govette, who, with the assistance of Capt. Moffitt and 10 men of the Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, soon repulsed Dawson, with no loss whatever on our side. Dawson lost 1 killed and 5 wounded; also 2 horses wounded.

Immediately after the skirmish, our forage party commenced gathering what they had left when attacked, making in all 6 wagon loads of corn and 2,000 pounds of salted meats, which will be sent to Jackson to-night, excepting the meat. The infantry detachment (Twenty-second Ohio) will return to Trenton to-night.

As soon as the cavalry which was sent for this morning arrives from Jackson, I intend sending out every horse and man that can be mounted, for the purpose of entirely clearing the county of Dawson.[1] Last night I had occasion to send Capt. Miner with 9 men, mounted, to South Gibson. On his way down he reports that he passed the picket line at Humboldt without being halted, and that the guard fired but once, and that, too, after the squad had passed.

Respectfully, yours,

O. WOOD, Col., Cmdg. Post.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. I, p. 333.

        28, Skirmish near Collierville

JANUARY 28, 1863.-Skirmish near Collierville, Tenn.

Report of Col. Albert L. Lee, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, Cavalry Division.

GERMANTOWN, January 29, 1863.

Had a skirmish with 200 guerrillas south of Collierville, and killed about a dozen. Lost 1 man. All right on the road.

A. L. LEE, Col., Cmdg. Second Brigade, Cavalry Division.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. I, p. 334.

        28, Skirmish near Nashville

No circumstantial reports filed.

        28, Child killed playing with a pistol

Probable Fatal Accident.—We regret to learn, that a serious, if not fatal, accident occurred to a son of Mr. B. Clemons yesterday morning. It appears that a playmate of his was amusing himself with a loaded pistol, when it exploded, the ball entering little Battle's groin, inflicting a dangerous wound, from which it is feared he will not recover. Some persons must be to blame for allowing a boy so young to have possession of a pistol, either loaded or otherwise. Such things should be always kept out of reach of children.

Nashville Dispatch, January 28, 1863.

        28, Religious services for the fallen at Stones River

The Mass for the Dead.—The Cathedral was well filled yesterday morning with the relatives and friends of deceased soldiers who fell in the battle of Stone's River. Among mourning worshippers we noticed many representatives of our most distinguished families—Protestant and Catholic—and a number of Federal soldiers. The Right Rev. Bishop Whelan preached an eloquent sermon, appropriate for the occasion, which was listened to.

Nashville Dispatch, January 29, 1863.

        28-30, Scout from LaGrange to Ripley Mississippi

JANUARY 28-30, 1863. Scout from LaGrange, Tenn., toward Ripley, Miss.

Report of Maj. William D. Blackburn, Seventh Illinois Cavalry.

LAGRANGE, TENN., January 30, 1863.

SIR: In pursuance of orders, I sent Maj. Blackburn, in command of the effective force of this regiment, 112 men and officers, on the 28th instant, on scouting, for the purpose indicated in said order. Maj. Blackburn has just returned, and reports as follows:

COL.: In obedience to your order, I started on the morning of the 28th instant, with 103 men and 9 officers, and proceeded to Ripley, leaving Salem a little to the right, and calling on Capt. Street, of guerrilla notoriety. Found no force at Ripley, except stragglers. Captured in Ripley Lieut.-Col. [L. B.] Hovis, of Seventh Mississippi Cavalry; Private Davis, of Seventh Mississippi Cavalry; Private Patten, of Twenty-seventh Mississippi Cavalry, and a private of Street's band; also recaptured Privates Henry [M.] Jenkins, Fred. Miller, James Cornelison, William Going, William Cornelison, J. H. Eaton, William D. Harris, S. A. Eaton, and Martin Smith, all of Company G, Sixty-sixth Indiana Infantry, who were captured at Tuscumbia Bridge, 6 miles south of Corinth, on the 27th instant; also captured a number of muskets, shot-guns, rifles, &c., which were destroyed as not worth carrying.

We patrolled the roads 4 miles south and east of Ripley. Found nothing but stragglers. Lost 1 man--taken prisoner, private Company E, while on that duty. Returned by the way of Saulsbury, and crossed the trail of 60 Southern cavalry within a mile of that place. They took the Holly Springs road, and gave out that they were Forrest's men. We were within three hours of them.

Got reliable information from Pontotoc on the 28th. Pinson's First Mississippi Cavalry was there, and Van Dorn, with his usual force, say 6,000, were then moving from near Grenada toward Verona, on the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad. They gave out that they were going north, and had ten days' rations.

All the conscripts of that region are being organized and sent to Savannah, on the Tennessee River, where they are said to be fortifying.

The roads, except near here and near Ripley, are good.

Respectfully,

EDWARD PRINCE, Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Regt. [sic]

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. I, p. 334.

        28, Skirmish at Kelley's Ford [see January 26-28, 1864, Operations about Dandridge above]

        28, Letter to Jefferson Davis regarding hostage taking in McMinn County

CALHOUN, McMINN COUNT, TENN., January 28, 1864.

His Excellency Jefferson Davis,

President of the Confederate States of America:

SIR: John L. Bridges, esq., Mr. Alfred Swafford, and myself were arrested last Saturday morning [23d] at our homes, in this county, and are now held at this place by the military authorities of the United States, as they allege, merely as hostages for Jesse R. Blackburn, a citizen of this county, who they allege was arrested in November last by the military of the Confederate States for being, as they alleged, engaged in bushwhacking or harboring bushwhackers, and who, they allege, is now held in custody at Richmond.

The friends of Mr. Blackburn here aver that he is innocent of the charge made against him and he has never had any trial.

I know nothing myself of the circumstances of Mr. Blackburn's arrest, and, in fact, knew not of his arrest until after I was arrested myself, when his son-in-law, Mr. Thomas A. Cass, who had me arrested, informed me of it and made his statement to me of the circumstances under which Mr. Blackburn was arrested. His statement is that John Dunn, esq., an agent of the Confederate States, came to the dwelling of Mr. Blackburn to impress some hogs belonging to said Blackburn and Cass, when an altercation took place between him, Cass, and Dunn about the authority of Dunn, and when Dunn determined to take the hogs, he, Cass, without the knowledge of Blackburn, went off, collected some friends, intercepted Dunn and his party, fired into them and rescued the hogs.

If these are facts, surely Mr. Blackburn ought not to have been arrested or molested in any way. I trust, therefore, you will have this matter inquired into, so that justice may be done to all parties and Messrs. Bridges, Swafford, and myself be discharged from the custody of the Federal authorities.

As I never had but one short interview with you, and that more than two years ago, you may not remember who I am. I therefore refer you to the members of Congress from this State.

Respectfully,

T. NIXON VAN DYKE

OR, Ser. II, Vol. 6, pp. 890-891.

        28, Affair at Lee's House, on Cornersville Pike

JANUARY 28, 1864.-Affair at Lee's House, on Cornersville Pike, Tenn.

Report of Capt. George W. Overmyer, Eighty-first Ohio Infantry.

HDQRS. DETACHMENT EIGHTY-FIRST OHIO VOL. INFANTRY., Sam. Mills', February 2, 1864.

SIR: On the 28th January, 1864. I sent out a forage train for corn and pork, in charge of Corporal Casey, acting wagon-master, with instructions to keep the teams and men close together, permit no straggling, and go to Mr. Dabney's farm, about 4 miles from camp and on the left of the Cornersville pike.

About 2 miles from camp the train was fired upon and captured, with the following loss: James Mills, teamster, shot through the thigh and left on the field; 6 mules and harness taken away and wagon burnt; William Kimble, teamster, shot in left shoulder, taken prisoner; 6 mules and harness taken away, wagon filled with rails and fired, but was put out by citizens; Corporal Casey and 1 horse, saddle, and bridle captured; David Reece and William Reece, guards from Company K, Eighty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Nelson Shappell, James D. Smith, John Reichelderfer, and Jeremiah Parker, guards, Company G, Eighty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, captured and taken prisoners.

Recapitulation: Captured, 1 teamster (wounded), 6 guards, 1 wagon-master, 12 mules and harness, 1 horse, saddle, and bridle; 1 wagon destroyed; all chains for 2 wagons lost or destroyed; wounded and left, 1 teamster.

The attack was made at a bend In the pike about 200 yards from Mr. Lee's residence by 24 rebels (mounted), armed with 2 pistols and Colt revolving rifle each. They were lying behind a hill in waiting. The attack was made by throwing 6 men in the road in front of the teams and 18 men coming over the ridge. All commenced firing about the same time at short pistol-range. They had our men surrounded and captured almost Infantry. They took the men out east about 20 miles, and that evening gave them paroles, signed by Capt. Harris, Fourth Tennessee Cavalry, by order of Gen. Forrest.

Men got back to camp on the morning of the 29th, having had all their arms and accouterments taken from them (Corporal Casey was robbed of his watch), but say they were kindly treated.

The men have been assigned to duty, but an application for arms has been returned. None to furnish at present.

Respectfully submitted.

G. W. OVERMYER, Capt., Cmdg. at Sam. Mills'.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 153.

        28, Skirmish at Fain's Island [see January 26-28, 1864, Operations about Dandridge above]

        28, Skirmish at [Swann's] Island Ford [see January 26-28, 1864, Operations about Dandridge above]

First Cavalry Division, commanded by Col. Edward M. McCook, Second Indiana Cavalry.

From Returns of January 1864.

* * * *

January 28, advanced with Garrard's and Wolford's divisions to Swann's Island Ford, French Broad River; Wolford being engaged, LaGrange's (Second) brigade was advanced to his support. Our casualties, 2 killed and 4 wounded. Under orders from Gen. Sturgis returned to Hodsden's house, Middle Ford of Pigeon River.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 35.

        28, Skirmish at Swann's Island [see January 26-28, 1864, Operations about Dandridge above]

        28, Skirmish at Kelley's Ford

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from First Division, Cavalry Corps, commanded by Colonel Frank Wolford, First Kentucky Cavalry, from returns of January 1864:

* * * *

January 28, marched to Kelley's Ford and attacked enemy's position, Had sharp fighting for two hours, [emphasis added] and then fell back (the enemy not pursuing) to Maryville via Tuckaleechee, Wear's and Miller's Coves, reaching Maryville at 4 p. m.

* * * *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, p. 55.

        28, Skirmish at Indian Creek [see January 26-28, 1864, Operations about Dandridge above]

        28, Plea for protection of slave property from Mary Sharp College President Zwinglius C. Graves in Winchester

Winchester Jan. 28th 1864

A Johnson

Military Govr. of Tenn.

Dr. Sir.

I addressed you yesterday by Telegraph informing you that a Negro [sic] man by name of Marcus Combs now living in Nashville came to my house yesterday accompanied by some soldiers who belong to the command of Col. Ja [sic] S. Selfnage[2] of the 46 Pa. Vol. and demanded a Negro [sic] girl belonging to me, aged 13 years[.] This Negro [sic] Marcus Combs claims to be the father of the girl. This negro [sic] man Marcus formaly [sic] belong [sic] to me and the community demanded of me to sell him out of the place for theft & other mis conduct [sic] which would have put a free man into our penitentiary. Such is the character of the Negro [sic]. Now he brings a verbal order from you to the Col Selfnage commanding the post at Dechard [sic] Depot (so the Col. informs me that the girl is to be delivered up to him) and I assure you, that I am a good loyal Citizen of Tenn, having taken the oath of allegiance at the earliest day possible for me, and received a Guarantee of Protection signed by yourself & Major Gen. Rosecrans, for all my property both real & personal[.]

Now with this statement of facts before you I would most respectfully petition you to inform me either by mail or Telegraph immediately (for the case is very urgent) whether the Negro [sic] girl is protected by the papers I hold? Whether Col. Selfnage has a right to take the property from me without given [sic] me a voucher for the same as he is commanded to do by yourself & Gen Rosecrans in the protection papers given to me at the time I took the oath of allegiance? If you wish any further information in relation to my self [sic] and the case I present before you inquire of W. P. Marks who is in a store on Union St. [in Nashville] & he can definitely give it. I wish to be governed by the law in the matter for the sincere desire of my heart is to be a law abiding citizen.

As such I petition to you as my Gov. for instructions in the case, assuring you I shall remain what I always have been your supporter & well wisher, if you will see that justice is done in this matter.

* * * *

Z.[winglius] C. Graves

Pres. of Mary Sharp Coll.

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 6, p. 597.

        28, "Small Pox"

For the information of those whom it might concern, we state that we are informed that Smoky Row is a perfect pest house, and we know that hundreds of soldiers and some hospital people frequent those houses. According to testimony adduced in court, a house of ill-fame on College street contains two small-pox patients, and some other girls, [sic] and that soldiers and government employees frequent the house. Having given the facts, free gratis for nothing [sic], we beg to ask, are such things calculated to increase or diminish the spread of small-pox? Imagine an inmate of one of our hospitals spending one night with two small-pox patients, and the next day and night in a hospital! [emphasis added]

Nashville Dispatch, January 28, 1864.

        28, Columbia's mayor charged with murder

"Serious Affray"

We hear that Mr. James Andrews, Mayor of Columbia, was brought here a prisoner yesterday, charged with killing one Federal soldier and fatally wounding another, belonging to Capt. Welch's company, fourteenth [sic] Michigan. From all we could gather on the subject, it appears that a difficulty occurred in Mr. Andrew's business house, and originated in the soldiers demanding from Mr. Andrews money instead of provisions which he had no authority to give. The soldiers insisted, Mr. A. persisted in his refusal to comply, and the soldiers made an attack upon Mr. Andrews, when he drew his pistol, and firing, killed one of them on the spot, and so seriously wounded the other that no hope was entertained for his recovery at the latest accounts.

Nashville Dispatch, January 28, 1864.

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

Camp of the 123rd Regt., N. Y. S. V.

Elk River, Tenn.,

Jan. 28, 1864.

Dear Wife,-

I shall take a few moments to pen you a few lines although I can hardly spare the time. As it is about time to receive mail I hope I will receive a letter from you before I close. If I do not get one today I do not know when I shall receive it, as five companies of the Regiment are ordered on a foraging expedition, to be gone fifteen days and I am to go and take Company H. It will be a long time not to hear from home. I write you this that you may not worry about not hearing from me. If I have an opportunity to send a letter I shall do so. I do not know where we are going or whether we are to have communications with the other companies or cut loose from them and live on the country. We shall have to go some distance from the railroad to do so.

My health is good. The weather is fine, warm and pleasant. I have no fire in my tent now. I have not received the wished-for letter and must close with love to you and Ella and the friends.

R. Cruikshank.

Robert Cruikshank Letters.

28, Late news of the war in Tennessee

 Summary of Late War News.

News from Chattanooga is to the 23d. Trains were running regularly to Nashville. The greatest distress exists in the rebel army. Desertions are frequent and sometimes number over one hundred in one day. The Tennessee and Kentucky troops in the Rebel army are said to be kept under guard to prevent desertion. Union recruits are arriving sufficient to balance the number of veterans going home. The Rebel army at Dalton is reported to be 30,000 strong, and so reduced in supplies that they are killing their best mules for supplies of meat. Gen. Grant arrived at Chattanooga on Saturday morning.

A Cincinnati dispatch says. Capt. Ekin, a staff officer from Knoxville, Thursday week, brings information that Longstreet had been re-enforced with 20,000 men, and was advancing on Knoxville, pushing Granger's forces before him. It was thought that our army would be compelled to fall back to the intrenchments at Knoxville. It was reported that John Morgan, at the head of 5,000 cavalry, was about to make a movement to cut off communications between Knoxville and Chattanooga, or for a raid in Kentucky.

It seems that Rebel Gen. Vance, recently captured near Strawberry Plains, Tenn., was a Major General, and that four of his staff, who were captured in his company, were recognized as having been paroled at Vicksburg.

One of the 117th New-York Volunteers, having straggled away from the line of march during Gen. Smith's late expedition in West Tennessee, was hung up by the heels and had this throat cut by Rebels.

New Hampshire Sentinel, January 28, 1864.

        28-February 8, Expedition from Gallatin to Cumberland Mountains

JANUARY 28-February 8, 1864.-Expedition from Gallatin to Cumberland Mountains, Tenn.

Report of Col. Henry K. McConnell, Seventy-first Ohio Infantry.

HDQRS. U. S. FORCES, Fort Thomas, Tenn., February 10, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by the troops under my command in the expedition from January 28 to February 7, 1864, to the Cumberland Mountains:

As the forces were under command of yourself in person until we passed Carthage, it is not necessary for me to say anything until from that point.

In obedience to your orders, I crossed the Cumberland River at the mouth of Caney Fork River, on the morning of the 30th January, with the detachment of the Seventy-first Regt. [sic] Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the battalion of Tennessee troops, under command of Maj. Garrett, and pushed directly to Flynn's Lick,[3] the Seventy-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry going directly up the Cumberland and the Tennessee troops by the way of Chestnut Mound, with orders to concentrate at Flynn's Lick at 10 a. m. of the 31st.

In our advance on this place we had numerous running skirmishes with detached squads of Hamilton's marauders, killing and capturing about 20. We found Flynn's Lick occupied by Hamilton with about 40 men, who ran upon sight of our advance. Learning from citizens that Hamilton had said he would fight us at that place, I selected 30 men, and leaving the balance of the command 2 miles out, I went into Flynn's Lick in some hope that with this small force he might risk an engagement, but he dashed wavy as soon as we came in full view. At this point we awaited orders from you.

On the morning of the 2d instant, as per your orders, I started in pursuit of Hamilton and Hughs, who were in the direction of Livingston, Tenn. I followed until the 5th Instant, which found us at Old Miner's. There I separated the detachments, and gave orders to sweep the country between the road on which we had come and the Cumberland River back to Flynn's Lick. While at Livingston I received a communication from Col. Stokes, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, in which he informed me that he would move from Cookville [sic] up the Calfkiller River to Sparta, and cover that country. The net results, so far as I have received valid information, are 102 prisoners, 33 killed, 8 wounded, making a total loss of 143 to the horde of robbers that infest that country.

Finding Old Columbus, 3 Miles above Gainesborough and between the Cumberland and Roaring Rivers, to be the veriest [sic] den of thieves and murderers, I removed the women and children and burned it. I have no means of knowing the number of mules and horses taken. It was considerable, but the quality and condition of the stock was so inferior that its only importance to us was to get them out of the hands of the enemy.

I have the honor to respectfully suggest that the country between Carthage and the Cumberland Mountains through which we passed is bordering upon famine. Families without regard to politics are eaten out and plundered by those common enemies of making (rangers) until even those formerly wealthy are utterly reduced, and many of the poorer are now actually starving. The people are sick of their folly and of the evil they have contracted and brought it upon themselves. They are asking for counsel. They are anxious to have such gentleman as Hon. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Stokes (I use these names because they used them), to whom they formerly listened, but whose counsels they learned to despise, to come and directly them, make speeches to them and form a nucleus around which they may gather. In Jackson, Fentress, and Overton Counties rebels go to Glasgow and other towns in Kentucky, where they purchase goods, contraband and otherwise, using but little restraint. We completely broke up for the time being the [guerrilla] bands of Hughs, Hamilton, and Doherty.

I have the honor to be obedient servant,

H. K. McCONNELL, Col., Cmdg.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. I, pp. 155-156.

        28, Expedition from Winter's Gap, Tennessee to Louisa, Kentucky

No circumstantial reports filed.[4]

        28, Engagement at Blount's House, a.k.a. Dibbrell's Hill

No circumstantial reports filed.

January 27-28, Operations about Dandridge, Tennessee. Report of Colonel George Gibbs Dibrell[5], Eighth Tennessee Cavalry, C. S. Army, of operations about Dandridge, Tennessee, January 28, 1864.

HEADQUARTERS, ARMSTRONG'S DIVISION, CANNON'S FARM, February 2, 1864.

[General]: I respectfully submit the following report of the engagement on January 28 with the enemy near the residence of a Mr. Blount (but our men and officers insist on calling it Dibrell's Hill) after the repulse of you command on January 27, under General [John Tyler] Morgan. I was directed by General [Frank Crawford] Armstrong, commanding division, to camp my brigade in the rear and to be saddled up two hours before day [the 28th]...put a strong picket six miles out, and early in the morning sent a strong scouting party out beyond the pickets. The scouts had hardly returned to camp before the pickets came running into camp, hotly pursued by the enemy. As we were saddled and ready for action, Colonel [William Sugars] McLemore immediately charged their advance with his Fourth Tennessee and drove them back on to their main force. He then contested the ground back to where I had selected a very strong position on the ridge called Dibbrell's Hill and I placed the brigade in such a manner as to command the entire valley. As McLemore gallantly fought them back, we received them with a yell and a shout that drove them back in great confusion.

General Armstrong sent us the Third Arkansas, which we placed on the extreme right, protected by a long fence. On their left we put the Eleventh Tennessee [Cavalry], Colonel [Daniel Wilson] Holman. In front and [the] most exposed we put the Ninth Tennessee [Cavalry] under Colonel [William E.] DeMoss and Colonel McLemore's Fourth Tennessee on our extreme left. And never did men do better fighting then was done on this day. Not a straggler was seen, although we had only six regiments and the advantage in position. The enemy was composed of all of General [Washington Lafayette] Elliott's Cavalry, composed of our or five different brigades. All were flushed with the victory of the day previous; yet we at our position repulsed every effort they made to dislodge us and punished them severely. At dusk the fight ended. We were out of ammunition and could not pursue. General Elliot retreated thirty-five miles before stopping and citizens reported his loss at 350 killed and wounded. He reported at Sevierville he had fought all of Longstreet's Infantry. [sic] Our loss was two killed, five wounded, and three captured.

I have never witnessed a more determined fight that this [one]. Our men [were] determined to win the fight and so they did. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon every officer and man engaged, as none straggled of shirked. We moved to this place on January 30, General Armstrong having left in a leave of absence, hence I report to you.

G.C. Dibbrell, Colonel Commanding

SOR, Ser. I, Vol. 6, pp. 218-220.[6]

UNRECORDED BATTLE.

How a Victory That Has No Place in Written History Was Won.

The Battle of Dibrell's Ridge and the Men Who Took Part in It-An interesting Reminiscence of the Rebellion.

Special Correspondence of the Avalanche.

Jackson, Tenn., June 3. – For some years past the writer has heard veterans of the 9th Tennessee cavalry (Biffles [sic]), resident in this county, discuss at reunions a battle called by them the battle of "Dibril's [sic] Ridge," Which has no place in any work yet published on the late war between the states. It was fought under somewhat peculiar circumstances. Gen. W. T. Martin, a new man to the Western cavalry, commanded the mounted troops operating under Longstreet in East Tennessee in the fall of '63 and winter of '63 and '64. He was not popular with that portion of this force trained under Forrest and but recently detached from his command. Armstrong, who commanded a division was, especially dissatisfied with Gen. Martin.

The "old brigade," as it was called, composing part of Armstrong's division, was in full sympathy with Armstrong in this feeling. The "old brigade" was composed of the 4th Tennessee, McLemore; the 8th Tennessee, Dibrell; the 9th Tennessee; the 10th Tennessee, DeMoss, and the 11th Tennessee, Holeman. This was "Forrest's old brigade," and the finest body of cavalry in the western army. Col., afterwards Gen. G. G. Dibrell, succeeded to the command of this brigade, and lead [sic] it from the death of Starnes, near Fayetteville, to the end of the war. But this feeling of Armstrong against Martin, a feeling justly shared by his division, and especially the "old brigade," was at the bottom of the engagement I am about to describe.

BATTLE OF DIBRELL'S RIDGE

The battle of Dibrel's [sic] Ridge was fought on January 28, 1864, four miles south of the French Broad River and the village of Dandridge, and about 50 miles north by east of Knoxville. Some days previous Morgan's and Armstrong's divisions of cavalry had been thrown across the French Broad to hold that fertile valley and secure its supplies for the confederates [sic]. Morgan (not the great Kentuckian[7]) reached Fair Garden, some 28 miles from Dandridge on the road to Knoxville. At this point, early in the morning of the 27th of January, and before he could be reinforced by Armstrong, he was attacked and routed by a superior force of federals [sic] under Gen. Elliot. The route was complete, ending in wild panic. In this plight, Morgan's men fell back upon Armstrong's rapidly advancing force, seriously affecting its integrity. But order was restored as soon as Morgan's routed division swept past to the river which is crossed, carrying alarm to Gen. Martin and the troops on the confederate side of the river proper. Armstrong made his dispositions to receive the advancing enemy and strike a blow for the beautiful and fruitful valley so much needed as a store-house. But before the enemy came up, Gen. Martin's preemptory order to fall back and recross the river at Dandridge immediately, was received, Armstrong was indignant at this interference with his plans, but was too good soldier to disobey orders. He did this, however, he determined to fall back in good order, and hence placed Dibrell's brigade in position to cover the retreat, giving Gen. Dibrell, in whom he had unbounded confidence, full discretion in the premises. Gen. Dibrell and his men were imbued with the spirit of their commander and determined to make a stand for the fair valley at all hazards. Without a work pro or con from his superior, further than to look well to the duty of a mere guard, Gen. Dibrell determined to strike a special blow for his half-starved horses and ill-fed men, as well as for the general cause. With that clearness and quickness for which he was and is distinguished, he took on the whole situation. To give up the valley was to place the confederate cavalry in great peril for supplies during the winter and early spring. He felt that Morgan's disaster should have been repaired by the commanding general; and though with weakened force and in defiance of a strict construction of orders, he determined to assume the responsibility and make the effort. The result vindicated his judgment, but denied a place in official history to one of the most brilliant engagements of the great war.

Gen. Dibrell fell back to a range of hills four or five miles from the river, and, with consummate skill, selected a strong position that could not be flanked without wide detours and perilous chances of attacks on the rear or in detail. His men lay down to rest in line of battle and horses saddled. Early in the afternoon of the 28th of January 1864, their splendid position was assailed. The line lay along a ridge that fell away and rose to abrupt and regal heights at each end. It was about three miles long, and the main road crossed it about the center and at almost right angles. Behind were slopes and broken round, trending to the deep valley, where lay shinning in the winter sun the restless beautiful river. Coming around a high elevation, far to the left, was the valley road proper, but cut off by rough hills and rocks and tangled forests from the road to Fair Garden, over which the federals were streaming, flushed with victory.

In front of the line of battle, from amid ravines and river hills wound the main road to a dip in the ridge, where it crossed to the sloped and the valley.

On the right of the road was a deep ravine at right angles with it; to the left a shallow ravine [sic], swelling back to a high ridge and sweeping forward by a very gentle slope to the ridge on which was the left of the confederate line. Immediately in front of the entire line was open woods, with gradual assent to the ridge on the left, and more abrupt on the right. Both flanks of the line were gashed by lofty and rocky hills. The following was the order of battle: On the extreme right the 3d Arkansas, with its right thrown forward along the base of the knoll that sprung out of the ridge, giving it command of the open woods to the left and near the road. Next, the 11th Tennessee lying along the brown of the ridge facing the enemy. Next, and commanding the road, thrown forward in under the brow of the ridge lay the 9th Tennessee; Biffle, at the most exposed point, holding indeed the key to the position next, and to the left of the road the 8th Tennessee, Barnes; next the 10th Tennessee, DeMoss; next, the 4th Tennessee, McLemore. The left of the line lay back from the center of an angle of about 45 degrees, giving the eastern line something of the cresent [sic] shape, with the right of the cresent [sic] thrown forward.

Gen. Armstrong as he passed over the river in obedience to orders, quietly posted the 11th Texas so as to watch and guard the valley road two or three miles to Dibrell's left rear and the 8th Texas at the junction of the roads immediately in Dibrell's rear, with orders to report to Gen. Dibrell if the exigency arose. The 4th Tennessee brought on the engagement in gallant style. The enemy came up in a gallop, and though from a turn in the road 200 yards away they might have seen the confederate line, they dashed on until a wall of fire arrested their progress and the rattle of 400 rifles bade them beware and be prudent. They rushed back in confusion into the darkness below. But the tramp of many feet over the dry leaves of the valley, the beating and blundering of the thousands of horses over stony ground, the distant notes of many bugles, the faint sound of voices giving command(s), told the story of the preparation for determined assault. Quickly and confidently the enemy formed in the ravine to the right of the road and running parallel with the position held by Biffles' [sic] 9th Tennessee. They formed in perfect security.

The commands of their officers could be distinctly heard. Right dress, left dress, center dress, the ominous words, "Load at will," the exhortation to rush upon and crush the enemy, who were few in numbers, and charged with the desperate and impossible duty of holding the victorious federals in check until their army with its stores could recross the wintry river. All this fell distinctly on the waiting and watching confederates. Then came the solemn command, "Forward march," "Steady," and the tramp of many feet is heard and ere long over the tip of the gorge streamed one, two lined of blue, and then there was a rush to sweep over the 200 yards on intervening space. On they came, with an ominous silence reigned in their front. On they came, while yet not a gun broke the silence that hung over yon thing but frowning line of gray. On they came with a shout, when in an instant, obedient to a single clear, ringing voice. 300 rifles blazed along the ridge and down beside the high hill. The two lines of blue melted into one, the one staggered, reeled, broke in route and were lost in the shadows of the deep hollow. All again was still, save the groans of wounded and dying and the distant notes of renewed preparations. Again was [sic] heard the commands of reforming, announcement of reinforcements, assurance of victory. Again, out of the deep hollow, came the assailants – one, two, three deep. Again they shout and rush upon the gray wall under the brow of the great ridge. Again they reel back, broken, routed, the dark ground darker with their dead. There is no longer waiting, greater notes of preparations. A voice from out of the hollow announces that Brownlow's come [sic] up and is forming for the charge. Another voice cries out that McCook's mounted infantry are up and forming on the other side of the road to sweep the confederate left. There is great shouting. Bugles peal on the air, the dull treat of thousands of heavy, feet, the jangle of sabres and spurs and all the trappings of war, the fierce murmuring, swelling now and them into savage rears of men maddened with blood; all these sounds came to the silent line that lay in the shadow of the ridge or along its frowning brows. But they are still and confident. They know their commander, and feel that in his strong grasp and with his cool head and in his kind heart all is well. He has never failed them. They are strong in the confidence that he knows what he is doing[.] Then there falls upon the air the sound of many feet, the smothered thunder of advancing hosts. And then from out of the jaws of the dark ravine in Biffle's front and in front of Holeman; down from the ridge on the confederate left poured a mighty host, one, two, three, four lines deep, officers to the charge; and on they came, like waves when the storm is on the deep. They shout in maddened glee, and rush for the ridge. And then again the ridge is begirt with flame and the air is raining lead. Two and three lines melt into one. The lines break into great masses that sway forward and reel backward. There is a rush forward here and a plunge back there. On the extreme left the confederate line is forced back slowly as if by weight of numbers; but the leader sees his peril and flings himself into the breach. His men order him to the rear and charge the enemy, home, resorting the line and breaking the enemy's assault. But on the front center the battle sways up and down the hill. Biffle's men are backed against the precipice of the ridge and fight with guns and pistols. They cannot retreat if they would and would not if they could. A very hell of fire and lead and death rages around them. The confederates to the left and right pour a deadly fire into the moving columns of assault. They stagger back and fly, to rally within a hundred yards around Rogers' reinforcements and return to the assault. Now every man in the confederate line is engaged to the death. Behind their trail works of rock and logs they load, fire and yell like fiends.[8] The battle is confined to less than a mile of line. The field is confined within hills begirt with plains and vomiting death. The evening sun hangs read in the winter sky. The din, and roar and blackness and flame is terrific. And the assaulting columns set back in broken masses, rally for a moment; a critical moment, for the confederated are nearly out of ammunition, and then plunged into darkness of the ravines and forests below, and disappear to come no more. Four hundred dead tell the tale of desperate assault and defeat. They flee in route and halt not until well near Knoxville. But they are not to pursued, for the confederates are exhausted and out of ammunition. Late in the evening Bushrod Johnson's Tennessee infantry arrived near the field. They heard the heavy firing, and hearing that a brigade of Tennessee cavalry were holding the hill against immense numbers and were too hard pressed to make a safe retreat, the plunged into the icy waters of the French Broad, and wading it neck deep, pushed on until they were near the field of strife. But when they arrived the victory was over and evening was passed. Their heroic action, however, deserves to live forever.

Among the sad incidents of the battle was the death of a confederate officer and a federal officer, both within a few miles of the homes and loved ones they had not seen for many months.

As a result of the victory a fruitful region of country was saved to the confederates for months, affording supplies and largely solving the previously serious if not perilous problem of subsistence. It also demoralized the enemy and kept them closely confined to the fortifications around Knoxville until the confederate withdrew from East Tennessee. The results were simply all and more than was expected and vindicated the wisdom of that modest, able soldier and statesman Gen. G. G. Dibrell, in assuming indirectly the responsibility of giving battle against the strict letter of orders, although not issued to him.

The same calm, clear, strong judgment that made Gen Dibrell respected and a power in congress made him an able soldier who accomplished much with little. Tennessee has no worthier son and it is due to him and the gallant men who followed him in war and honor and would serve him still that the battle of "Dibrell's Ridge,' won by, splendid skill and courage at small cost and which inflicted terrible losses of blood and treasure upon the enemy, shall have a place in history. For that reason this sketch is written and respectfully submitted to the public through your columns.

Duke

Daily Memphis Avalanche, June 6, 1886.[9]

        28, General Orders Nos. 14 and 8 issued in Knoxville, relative to civilian claims upon U. S. Army

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 14. HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO, Knoxville, Tenn., January 28, 1864.

Whereas the command of Maj.-Gen. Burnside, when it entered East Tennessee, was so poorly supplied with officers of the quartermaster's department that the transactions of that department were necessarily intrusted to inexperienced officers, and conducted in a loose and irregular manner, in many cases no receipts at all being of such a character as to present no proper claims against the quartermaster's department;

And whereas the command of Maj.-Gen. Sherman, in its recent advance into East Tennessee, subsisted upon the country, and the officers of the quartermaster's department on duty with this command gave no receipt for property taken;

And whereas a commission has been instituted to investigate the claims arising from the action recited, many of which are held by loyal citizens suffering for the necessaries of life: It is therefore ordered--

1. That Lieut. H. S. Chamberlain, Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and acting assistant quartermaster, take charge of and settle, as far as possible, the claims referred to, which have been or may be contracted prior to the 31st of January, 1864.

2. That Lieut. H. S. Chamberlain, Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and acting assistant quartermaster, select for appointment some suitable officer to attend to the settlement of the claims referred to, under his direction.

3. That all officers doing duty in the quartermaster's department in East Tennessee shall, without delay, receipt to Lieut. H. S. Chamberlain, Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and acting assistant quartermaster, for all the surplus property they may have taken up, or which may accumulate prior to the 31st of January, 1864.

4. That all purchase or impressment of quartermaster's property or stores, except by the orders of the chief quartermaster of the department or of the several army corps, is prohibited.

5. That after all claims are approved by the commission instituted to pass upon irregular accounts, payment shall be made on them so far as the property and stores accumulated by Lieut. H. S. Chamberlain, under paragraph 3 of this order, will cover them.

By command of Maj.-Gen. Foster:

HENRY CURTIS, JR., Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 8. HDQRS. TWENTY-THIRD ARMY CORPS, Knoxville, Tenn., January 28, 1864.

Complaints being made daily at department headquarters by loyal inhabitants of East Tennessee that the troops of this command are robbing them of all their means of subsistence, the attention of the division and brigade commanders of this corps is called to Gen. Orders, Nos. 29 and 30, Ser. of 1863, from these headquarters, which still remain in force.

Officers impressing forage or subsistence must see that enough is left the citizens to prevent their suffering during the winter.

Division and brigade commanders will take prompt measures to secure obedience to this order and cause the arrest of any or all officers on men violating it, preferring charges and specifications against them in proper form.

By command of Brig. Gen. J. D. Cox:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 32, pt. II, pp. 251-252.

        28, "A Few Facts About Our Streets."

The order relating to the cleaning of streets seeming to cast some reflections upon our civic authorities, we desire to say a few words on the subject. In the first place, it is well known that for some time past it has been utterly impossible to do anything toward cleaning our streets, the ground being frozen hard. However, while thus frozen, the Mayor applied verbally to Lieut. Col. Donaldson for carts for street cleaning purposes, which he, the Mayor, proposed to pay for. Nothing definite having been done at this interview, Mayor Smith wrote to Col. Donaldson about the 20th of the present month, stating that the corporation had no carts, and that none could be bought here, and asking that the Department furnish the corporation with the number requisite to remove the mud from the streets. This letter was referred by Col. Donaldson to Capt. C. H. Irvin, with power. On the 25th, Capt. Irvin wrote the Mayor, promising to furnish any number required, at any time and place the Mayor might designate. On the 26th, the Street Overseer, by authority of the Mayor, made application for eight carts, to rendezvous at the Post office at half past six the following morning; but in reply to this was received a sorry to say that in consequence of the great press of business, etc., it would be impossible to furnish the carts for two or three days to come. On the 27th the order was published.

Thus it will be seen that the Mayor was in communication with the military authorities on this subject, by written correspondence, seven days before the order was published, and for some time previous to that, verbally, beside having advertised to pay the highest price [sic] for one hundred hands. So much for what the Mayor has been doing. Let us look at another thing or two.

Ever since Nashville has been a city, her streets have been cleaned and kept in order by workhouse criminal and slaves hired by the year. Our slaves are all gone, and none can be hired. It is deemed almost a miracle to find a negro in the workhouse two hours after he is convicted of a misdemeanor; he is either liberated by order of some military official, or is enlisted in the army, and we hear no more of him until again caught engaged in crime; but the same course is again pursued, and he is again liberated. It is thus that the Street Overseer is frequently without hands, and seldom has more than a dozen or twenty at his command.

Again, the large amount or rock needed for macadamizing our streets is broken in the workhouse by white criminals; but lately, before a criminal has time to make a second breath after reaching the workhouse, the recruiting officer pounces upon him, and he is liberate to enter the service of Uncle Sam. It is true many of them reach their old quarters again, charged with drunkenness, disorderly conduct, assaults, robberies, etc., but they remain only long enough for the fact to reach the ears of their officers, and they are out again to disturb the public peace, to plunder public and private property, and to disgrace by their general conduct, the service which [in] they have enlisted.

These facts we publish for the information of the military authorities, and in justice to our civic officers. With many of them we are perfectly familiar, and we believe to be perfectly true all we have above stated. Give the Mayor half a chance, and he will do justice to all alike, military and civilian.

Nashville Dispatch, January 28, 1864.

        28-31, Running skirmishes, Cumberland River to mouth of Caney Fork River to Flynn's Lick, Jackson County [see January 28-February 8, 1864, Expedition from Gallatin to Cumberland Mountains above]

        28, Anti-guerrilla patrols in Middle Tennessee, Lawrenceburg to Lexington, Shelbyville to Fayetteville to New Market and Winchester

No circumstantial reports filed.

SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 14. HDQRS. SIXTH DIV., CAV. CORPS,

MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Pulaski, Tenn., January 26, 1865.

* * * *

II. Col. Mix. Eighth Michigan Cavalry, will march with his regiment on Saturday at daylight, the 28th instant, for Fayetteville. At Fayetteville he will be joined by 200 men of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry marching from Shelbyville. This detachment is ordered to be here by 4 p. m. Col. Mix will unite this force with his own, and will then patrol the country in the neighborhood of Fayetteville, New Market, and Winchester, and the triangle of country embraced between these points. He is expected to clear this country of guerrillas and such straggling parties of Confederate cavalry as may be found there, and will govern his operations by what information he can from time to time obtain from citizens or any other source, bearing in mind that what is desired is not the mere dispersion of those forces, but to capture or kill them, and, if guerrillas, they are not to be captured. He will take with him as much bread, sugar, coffee, and salt as the men can carry without too much encumbering the horses. The country must be relieved upon for rations when this gives out. All serviceable horses, and none but serviceable horses, will be impressed. Col. Mix must see that in all cases receipts are given for property taken, specifying whether the owner is loyal or disloyal. Indiscriminate pillage must not be permitted. Except one ambulance, no wheels will accompany the regiment.

III. Lieut. Col. R. W. Smith, commanding Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry, will detach a force of seventy men or thereabouts from his regiment and send them in command of an efficient and reliable officer to Lawrenceburg, thence to Lexington, and thence crossing the country to the east to Sugar [Creek?], thence returning to this point. The command will carry bread, sugar, salt, and coffee for five days. They must depend upon the country for meat rations. No wheels will accompany the expedition. The purpose of the expedition is to scout the country thoroughly. All guerrillas will be killed at sight. All stragglers of the cavalry, of which it is supposed there are many in the neighborhood of Sugar Creek, particularly of the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee Regiments, will be arrested and brought in. If, as may possibly be the case, small parties of rebel cavalry should be found, the commanding officer must not be content with driving them from his road, but must endeavor to capture or kill as many of them as possible. The command will march slowly, care being taken to preserve the condition of the horses. Citizens will be questioned frequently on the road, and all the information possible obtained as to the condition and disposition of the inhabitants and the topography of the country, upon which the officer is expected to report upon his return. Guides will be impressed from the country if it be found necessary. All serviceable horses will be seized, and only those are serviceable, and receipts given there for in every case, specifying the loyalty or disloyalty of the owner. Indiscriminate pillage must not be permitted. The officer in command will take sufficient time to examine the country thoroughly. It is supposed that a week will be amply sufficient for the purpose.

By command of Brig.-Gen. Johnson:

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, pp. 587-588.

        28, Action at Athens

JANUARY 28, 1865.-Action at Athens, Tenn.

REPORTS.

No. 1.-Lieut. George W. Ross, Seventh Tennessee Mounted Infantry.

No. 2.-Capt. Thomas A. Stevenson, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery.

No. 1.

Report of Lieut. George W. Ross, Seventh Tennessee Mounted Infantry.

ATHENS, January 29, 1865--3.30 p. m.

GEN.: We were attacked yesterday by 300 rebels of Vaughn's, Wheeler's, and bushwhacker commands and repulsed them from town, but they captured some twenty or twenty-five our of men, including Maj. John McGaughey. They retreated from town in the evening and remained all night seven miles from here, and rumor says they are going to make another attack in connection with about the same force that came to Madisonville yesterday. We have not the horses to follow them, there and if we only had two pieces of artillery we could have killed or captured half of them, as they would not come in range of either the court-house or our fortifications. If you have them to spare we would be pleased to have two companies of the Second Ohio Heavy and two pieces cannon; them we are all right here, but we will have to have cavalry to follow them and capture them. They burnt one stable and one outhouse and robbed all the houses in the outskirts of town.

I am, very respectfully, yours,

GEO. W. ROSS, Lieut. and Regt. [sic] Quartermaster.

KNOXVILLE, TENN., January 29, 1865.

Lieut. GEORGE W. ROSS, Quartermaster, Athens, Tenn.:

Your dispatch received. I congratulate you upon your success, but regret very much the capture of Maj. McGaughey. What were the casualties to the enemy, and among our forces?

DAVIS TILLSON, Brig.-Gen. of Volunteers.

ATHENS, January 29, 1865--7 p. m.

Brig. Gen. D. TILLSON:

We killed 12 or 15 and they took their wounded, some 30 or 35, off with them; some of them very badly. Our loss is some 15 or 20 prisoners and mules killed.

GEO. W. ROSS, Lieut. and Regimental Quartermaster.

No. 2.

Report of Capt. Thomas A. Stevenson, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery.

HDQRS. FIRST BATT., SECOND OHIO HEAVY ARTILLERY, Knoxville, Tenn., February 3, 1865.

CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report; Early on the morning of the 29th ultimo I received orders to report at the depot with my command. Maj. Standish, Tenth Michigan Cavalry, ordered four companies of my battalion, Companies A, B, G, and M, to embark on the first section of the train, also fifty men under Capt. Roberts, Tenth Michigan Cavalry, Maj. Standish to follow with Company I, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, and a detachment of his regiment on the second section. I received instructions to run as far as Mouse Creek and wait for orders. At Loudon we learned of the disaster of the second section of the train. At Mouse Creek we took aboard a telegraph operator and proceeded to Athens, where we arrived at 2.35 p. m. The garrison, composed of a part of the Seventh Tennessee Mounted Infantry, about 500 men, were scattered through the town and country a greater portion of them having disappeared in the timber on the approach of the enemy the day previous and had not yet returned. At 3 p. m. Lieut.-Col. Grosvenor arrived from Chattanooga with 700 men and two pieces of artillery.

From the best information we learned that about 200 guerrillas dashed into the place the day before about 1 p. m. and that they were in the public square before the garrison knew it; that they remained three hours [emphasis added] and drew off at their leisure without doing any injury to the town. On the morning of the 30th the troops from Chattanooga returned. As I was then in command I moved my battalion into the town, quartering one company in the bank and three in the academy. Capt. Roberts mounted his men the evening of the 29th and scoured the country in the direction of the mountains ten or twelve miles without finding any signs of the enemy. On the 30th I sent a detachment of the Seventh Tennessee to arrest three of the most noted rebel sympathizers in the county, to hold as hostages for Maj. McGaughey, who had been taken prisoners by the guerrillas. The officer in charge of the detachment found but two of the three, John Goldy and David Cobb. On Tuesday we were alarmed by several citizens dashing in with the report that 500 of the enemy were at Scarborough's Mills and moving toward Athens. As these men were vouched for as being loyal and reliable men, I made proper disposition of the forces and awaited the appearance of the enemy. At 3 p. m. I sent scouts out on several roads who returned at dark and reported all quiet. I allowed the men to return to their quarters with instructions to be ready to fall in at a moment's notice. At 2 a. m. February 1 the Tennessee vedettes, on the Columbus road, ran in past the pickets from the Second Ohio and reported they had been fired on, and that they returned the fire. The men were soon under arms and we waited patiently until daybreak for the enemy. As none appeared I sent Lieut. Burrows, with twenty-six men of the Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, mounted, out with instructions to scour the country thoroughly and return by 2 p. m. He returned and reported he had visited Scarborough's Mills and other points where the enemy were reported to have been seen the day previous; that no enemy had been at any of the places; that none had been in the country since early Sunday morning, except five of six, who were stealing horses, on Monday, the 30th. That evening I received orders to return with Companies A and B to this place.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. A. STEVENSON, Capt. Cmdg. First Battalion, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, pp. 13-15.

 

Jan 30 1865  Athens Tenn [sic]

To Brig Gen Johnson Mil Gov

On Saturday [28th] the rebels numbering over three hundred attacked this place & we repulsed them with thirteen killed & thirty five badly wounded[.] our [sic] loss five slightly wounded[.] The rebels captured twenty five our men including Maj [sic] John McCaughey & they took him some twenty five miles from here & killed him this morning by shooting him five times[.] they [sic] also killed Maj [sic] Devine[.]

Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 7, p. 447.[10]

        28, Mollie's Change of Heart

An Important Letter.

The following letter was handed us for publication. It speaks for itself:

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 28th, 1865.

Dear Brother Tom: I wrote you some six months ago, and feel quite uneasy about you, as not a line has reached me since you left last summer. I now repeat that matters and things about here are getting worse every day.

You will be astonished to hear that your friends of the female denomination are dropping off every day.

Yes, dropping too as willing victims into the arms of the ruthless invader: Just think of it! Mollie—the unconquerable--who used to parade that large Beauregard Breast pin, and who used to sing "Maryland my Maryland" with so much pathos, was married some four months ago to a Federal, with but one bar on his shoulder. Sally who used to sleep with the Bonnie Blue Flag under her pillow, looking daggers and pistols at the invaders, who would not speak to her school mates N. & C., because they received and treated Federal Officers with due politeness; she too has gone, she married a Federal Officer with two bars. She, the Historical one, who carried the glittering Stiletto in her belt, who was going to imitate Charlotte Corday and assassinate somebody for her country's sake, she too has gone the way of all flesh, and married an Officer with that detestable Eagle on his shoulders. And now pull out your handkerchief and prepare for the worst, my poor brother Tom. Your old sweet heart Anna; the one to whom you dedicated your sweetest verses and whose melodious voice so often mingled with yours in the days of yore--who defied generals and the whole 15th army corps, who was sent first to the North, but upon whose rebellious temperament no climaterial [sic] change could have the least influence; she too has hauled down the stars and bars, and is about to surrender at discretion. I should not have believed this, but to convince myself, I passed the house the other night with a gentleman--who protects us during your absence—on purpose to find out the state of her political sentiments, for a musical programme; take it like a man Tom, for I must tell you that I heard very distinctly the words of "Rally round the Flag" and the Union forever, sung in her best style, with a glorious tenor voice mingling with it. Poor brother Tom you know I considered her always the Gibraltar of the South, and now when she surrenders, I think that the Confederacy is gone up.

You had better come home immediately and look after your interests in that quarter, as perhaps, it may not be too late yet to procure a favorable change in your favor. Tell the boys down in Dixie if they do not return soon, they will not find a single girl or widow below Conscript age in these parts; as the watchword seems to be "Suave qui peut" which means marry who you can. My principles are unchanged and I am as true to the South as ever. We have a Captain boarding with us, merely by way of protection, who appears to be rather a clever fellow for a Federal Officer. He takes a sly glance at me, at the table sometimes, but of course I do not return it, you know me too well for that. Let me hear from you soon and believe me ever

Your loving Sister,

Mollie.

P.S. I. Do you think it would be a violation of my Southern principles to take an occasional ride with the Captain? he has such a nice horse and buggy. You know there can be no possible harm in that.

P.S. II. That impertinent fellow actually squeezed my hand as he helped me out of the buggy this evening. We had such a delightful ride. I want you to come home and protect me Tom--as I don't want to live this way much longer.

P.S. III. If ever I should marry a Yankee, (but you know my principles too well for that), I would do it merely as the humble instrument to avenge the wrongs of my poor oppressed country; little peace should he find by day or night; thorns should be planted in his couch, his dreams should be of Holofernes, and my dry goods bills as long as the Infernal Revenue Law.

P.S. IV. Come home poor Tom and take the Amnesty Oath for two months or thereabouts.

I was to tell you a secret; on due consideration, I have come to the determination to make a martyr of myself. Yes brother Tom I am going to marry the Captain on patriotic principles.

Mollie.

[Marshall] Texas Republican, August 25, 1865.[11]

        28-30, Athens, Madisonville environs, Federal scouts against Confederate cavalry

ATHENS, January 29, 1865--6 p. m.

Gen. TILLSON:

Your dispatch received. The enemy is reported eight miles out on Georgia road. I had sent off Capt. Roberts' men with some scouts from this vicinity to ascertain the position of the enemy, and if he is within reach I will push vigorously before daylight. I will send cavalry on first train after they return.

C. H. GROSVENOR, Lieut.-Col., & C.

ATHENS, January 29, 1865--4 p. m.

Capt. DEANE:

All quiet here. The enemy, reported 300 strong, left here yesterday at 4 p. m., and are reported seven miles from here this morning. Three hundred are reported at Madisonville.

T. A. STEVENSON, Capt., Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, Cmdg. Detachment

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, p. 611.

        28-31, Expedition, Strawberry Plains to Clinch Mountain, with skirmish

JANUARY 28-31, 1865.-Expedition from Strawberry, Plains to Clinch Mountain, Tenn., with skirmish.

REPORTS.

No. 1.-Maj. Daniel W. Hoffman, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery.

No. 2.-Lieut. Don A. Dodge, Tenth Michigan Cavalry.

No. 1.

Report of Maj. Daniel W. Hoffman, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery.

HDQRS. U. S. FORCES, Strawberry Plains, Tenn., January 31, 1865.

CAPT.: I have the honor to state that the expedition under Lieut. Dodge has returned. A fight occurred at or near Stearns', and our men retreated. They report killing several of the enemy in a running fight. We lost no men. According to your order, I sent Lieut.'s Wiley and Smith with sixty men of Second Ohio Volunteers Heavy Artillery to report to Lieut. Dodge. Leaving camp at 7.30 p. m. on Saturday they marched twenty miles before daylight. On account of the severity of the march a great many men gave out so that in the fight the infantry numbered only thirty men. I have ordered Lieut. Dodge to make a report of the action, which I will forward as soon as received. If you order it, I will have Lieut. Willey, in command of the infantry, make a report also, as there seems to be quite a difference of opinion as regards the necessity and management of the retreat.

Respectfully,

DAN. W. HOFFMAN, Maj., Second Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Cmdg. Post.

 

No. 2.

Report of Lieut. Don A. Dodge, Tenth Michigan Cavalry.

CAMP COMPANY, TENTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY, Strawberry Plains, East Tennessee, January 31, 1865.

MAJ.: I have the honor to make the following report of my command on the 28th, 29th, and 30th to wit: I left Strawberry Plains at 1 p. m. January 28, with nineteen men of Company M, Tenth Michigan Cavalry, armed with sabers and Colt army revolvers, with instructions to proceed to the house of Pleasant Stearns, nearly opposite of Rutledge, living, on the north side of Clinch Mountain, and arrest him (Stearns) and bring him to Knoxville. On reaching Blain's Cross-Roads, I learned that a man by the name of Hepshire was at and in the vicinity of Stearn's with eighty men, and also of Lieut. Clark with thirty-five of forty men, and a small squad with Popejoy and Beeler. I halted and sent courier too you, stating the facts and requesting re-enforcements to proceed that night on the mountain path, and at 11 p. m. Lieut.'s Wiley and Smith, of the Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, reported to me with sixty men. I immediately started to proceed over the mountain paths, and finding it impossible to reach the locality in which the rebels were reported, owing to the condition of the streams and defiles through which I had to pass in the night, I camped at 5 o'clock on the morning of the 29th five miles southeast of Powder Spring Gap, for rest and feed and at 7 a. m. the 29th I started by way of Powder Spring Gap. Arrived on the north side of the mountain, two miles from Pleasant Stearns' house, at 2 p. m. Learning of rebels in close proximity to us I halted. Owing to the tediousness of the march some of my infantrymen had given out and straggled, leaving me at this place with nineteen cavalry and thirty infantry, forty-nine men in all. Here I placed my men under cover. Learning that Popejoy and Beeler had just passed in a southerly direction, I took seven cavalrymen and tracked them to the base of Clinch Mountain, two miles and a half, in a southeesterly direction. Failing to overtake them, as they took to the rocks and bushes in the mountain, I returned to my command and moved to the house of Pleasant Stearns. I learned from a lady in that vicinity that a girl of Mr. Beeler's, living half a mile from Stearns' had passed down and met a rebel scout and gave them the strength of my command. I camped at Mr. Stearns', and being fully aware of an attack from the enemy on the evening of the 29th, I moved my command at 10 p. m. two miles southeast from Stearns' house, the position which I held at that time not affording me any cover, nor could I dispose my troops here to repel or make an attack successfully. Having moved under cover of wood I camped, and at 8 p. m. the 30th a woman came to my picket-post and reported that a number of the enemy, estimated at from twenty-five to thirty, arrived at Mr. Stearns' house at 4 o'clock the morning of the 30th; also that another detachment had passed on to the Powder Spring Gap, endeavoring to get in my rear, and at 9 a. m. the 30th the enemy commenced firing on my pickets. We exchanged occasional shots on picket posts for half an hour, [emphasis added] the enemy endeavoring to divert my attention in this direction. Observing that they were sending forces on both sides of the mountain, trying to get possession of the only passage I now held, I ordered in my pickets and started with my command to gain this point before the enemy could arrive there. After proceeding about one mile, they charged my rear with about twenty cavalry. I immediately formed, repulsed, and drove them back. I then moved forward three-quarters of a mile, halted for a short time, moved forward again, skirmishing for about two miles, when the enemy again charged my rear, and as in the first charge I formed and again repulsed them, this time with my infantry, moving my cavalry on to hold a long deep, cut leading to the road and to keep the enemy from flanking me at this point. The skirmishing was kept up by the infantry until they came up with the cavalry. Knowing that the enemy were superior in numbers, and that they held the advantage of position, and that with the force I had I could not inflict any damage upon them, my troops being very much jaded and worn, I returned to camp on the evening of the loss of a man. The loss of the enemy was 2 men killed and 1 wounded.

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

DON A. DODGE, First Lieut., Tenth Michigan Cavalry Volunteers.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, pp. 15-17.

 



[1] There is no Dawson County in Tennessee or Kentucky. It is hard to know what Colonel Wood was referring.

[2] Actually, James L. Selfridge

[3] Flynn's Lick is located in Jackson County near Whites Bend on the Cumberland River.

[4] Not listed in Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee.

[5] Not found.

[6] There is no reference to this event in the OR or Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee .

[7] The great Kentuckian had been killed while visiting behind enemy lines in Greenville on September 4, 1864.

[8] This confederate victory was won as the result of an excellent defensive position held by the rebels.

[9] This account has apparently remained unseen until discovery in early 2002. It may or may not be ironic that the account of this Confederate victory appeared on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the fall of Memphis to Federal forces.

[10] The author of this note is not identified.

[11] As cited in: http://www.uttyl.edu/vbetts.


James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

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