Huntsville’s Role in the Civil War
Huntsville is the county seat of Scott County, Tennessee.
The town is surrounded by the low mountains and hills that comprise the southern section of the Cumberland Mountains.
Confederate soldiers frequently raid the town, looking for Unionists who voted to secede from the State of Tennessee.
Andrew Johnson appointed U.S. Military Governor of Tennessee.
Pro-Confederate Governor Isham Harris had to flee Nashville after Battle of Fort Donelson.
All of Tennessee except East Tennessee is under Union control.
28 MARCH 1862
Confederate expedition to Scott and Morgan counties to disperse organized Federal bands.
Report of Maj.-Gen. E. Kirby Smith, C. S. Army.
Commanding Department of East Tennessee.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE, Knoxville.
SIR: I have the honor to report that under instructions from department headquarters, Brig.-Gen. Danville Leadbetter sent an expedition … into Morgan and Scott Counties … for the purpose of dispersing organized Federal bands existing there and the removal or destruction of all supplies …
These troops, under the command of Col. [John C.] Vaughn, of the Third Tennessee Regt., advanced as far as Huntsville, in Scott County …
Returning in the direction of Kingston a sharp skirmish occurred at a small village near Montgomery in Morgan County, lasting about thirty minutes …
The entire population of these counties is hostile to us, those able to bear arms being regularly organized as Home Guards.
All loyal citizens have been expelled from the country.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, p. 50.
Confederates begin the draft.
Many men flee, hide, or join Pro-Union guerrillas.
13 APRIL 1862
Battle of Huntsville
Col. William Clift and 250 men of 7th Tennessee Infantry (USA) have fortified a hill southwest of Huntsville.
They are attacked by Confederates (600 Infantry and 300 Cavalry) under Capt. T. M. Nelson.
U.S. troops are forced to retreat.
MAY 1862 – AUGUST 1862
7th Tennessee Infantry (USA), 250 to 400 men camped on a hill near Huntsville.
Confederate guerrillas raid homes of Jimmy Slavin, Esquire Blevins, and Hiram Marcum.
At Buffalo Creek, Julia Marcum kills a guerrilla with an axe.
She lost an eye and a finger.
13 AUGUST 1862
Skirmish at Huntsville, Scott County, Northeast Tennessee.
Report of Colonel William H. Clift, Seventh Tennessee Infantry USA.
DEAR SIR: I avail myself of the present opportunity of reporting to you my movements for the last three months.
The way has been so blockaded by the enemy as to entirely prevent my reporting to you sooner.
I was ordered about June 1, by Maj.-Gen. [George] Morgan to go to Scott County, Tennessee, and commence recruiting and making up the Seventh Regt. Tennessee Volunteers, and was also ordered that so soon as I had a sufficient number of men to attack the small bodies of rebel troops stationed in different parts of East Tennessee to do so.
Accordingly about July 1, I made a scouting expedition to Montgomery, Morgan County, Tenn., to engage a party of rebels that were in the habit of coming up to that place from Kingston, Tenn., but the enemy had left on the day before we got to Montgomery, and we had to return without any engagement.
About July 20, I made another expedition to Anderson County, Tennessee.
Our friends in that county had promised to provide means for us to cross Clinch River to engage same cavalry from Alabama that was stationed near Clinton, Anderson County, Tenn.; but no preparation was made as promised.
I then turned my course, after taking several [Confederate] guerrillas prisoners near Clinton, Tenn., and returned by way of Wartburg and Montgomery, Morgan County, Tenn., to Huntsville, Scott County, Tenn.
About August 8, I made another expedition into Anderson County, Tennessee, at the request of our Union friends of that county who had again promised to provide means for us to cross Clinch River, but again failed and we were disappointed.
At intervals when I was not scouting I was busily employed fortifying an eminence near Huntsville, Scott County, Tenn.
I was attacked about 9 o’clock by the enemy, numbering from 1,500 to 2,000 men.
On the appearance of them in such disproportionate numbers my men (who were mostly new recruits) left my breastworks in wild confusion.
But while I speak in dishonorable terms of a part of my command, I am proud to speak in the most honorable terms of a part of the officers and men that remained under my command.
About 50 men held our breastworks for one hour and forty minutes against the enemy, at least 1,500 men.
Maj. James S. Dunan, Capt.’s Robins, Wilson, and Shelton fought with great coolness and deliberation.
When our numbers in the breastworks were reduced to about 20 men I ordered a retreat, which was conducted in good order, carrying with them our guns without any loss.
My position in Scott County, Tennessee, has been very perilous until within the last few days; but I kept my men in the most obscure parts of the county, and posted my pickets from 20 to 25 miles from my camps and within a short distance of the enemy’s lines, and in this way I evaded collision with the enemy until Gen. Bragg’s army retreated out of Kentucky.
I again sent out a scouting party October 1, and we passed over the counties of Scott and Morgan and a part of Fentress County, Tennessee, capturing some prisoners and a little of the rebels’ property.
I sent out another scouting party about October 15, which returned on the 29th instant, and report that they passed over Scott, Morgan, and Fentress Counties, Tennessee, and had a skirmish with [Champ] Ferguson’s guerrillas, killing 4 of them, and among the number was the cruel murderer Capt. Miliken. They also captured some property.
I have been subsisting my troops on corn bread and beef since the fight at Huntsville, Tenn., at a cost to the Government from about 10 to 15 cents for each soldier per day and about the same for about 50 horses for mounted infantry.
I deem it highly indispensable to break up these guerrilla companies as speedily as possible, as there can be no safety to the peace of the country while they are permitted to exist.
Your obedient servant,
WM. CLIFT, Col., Cmdg. Seventh Regt. of Tennessee Vols.
The ADJUTANT-GEN. U. S. ARMY.
OR, Ser. I. Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 858-859.
The 13 August 1862 skirmish at Huntsville was part of a larger context which included regular U. S. forces, and Confederate forces associated with Bragg’s withdrawal from Kentucky, and Rebel guerrilla forces.
Clift was a delegate at the East Tennessee Convention held in Greeneville on
May 31-June 1, 1861 17—20 June 1862.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, p. 150.
13 AUGUST 1862
After the Battle of Huntsville, Confederate soldiers spend two hours looting Huntsville.
16 AUGUST 1862
August 16, 1862—12 m.
… I have this moment received a telegram from a person calling himself Lieut.-Col. Hazeland, Seventh Tennessee Volunteers … informing me that Col. Clift, of that regiment, was attacked at a place called Huntsville, near Jacksborough, by a force of 2,500 men. He has twice disobeyed my orders to fall back upon Barboursville.
Brig-Gen. Volunteers, Cmdg.
18 AUGUST 1862
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
Brig. Gen. THOMAS JORDAN, Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Dept. No. 2, Chattanooga, Tenn.
GEN.: I have the honor to transmit, for the information of Gen. Bragg, a copy of a communication from Col. John H. Morgan, received this evening.
I have also to acknowledge the receipt of a telegram from Gen. Bragg in reference to Gen. Buckner, and which I have forwarded to Maj.-Gen. Smith.
I am informed, unofficially, that Clift’s force of renegades at Huntsville has been completely routed.
This I have reason to believe is the fact.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. BELTON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 763.
23 AUGUST 1862
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
Col. S. J. SMITH, Cmdg., Loudon, Tenn.
COL.: I have reason to believe that the force of the enemy under Clift, recently dislodged from Huntsville, Tenn., is not broken up nor disorganized, but is only awaiting an opportunity to attack some vulnerable point—probably Loudon.
You will therefore direct your cavalry to scout in the direction of Kingston, especially to the northward of the road from that place, keeping out strong pickets to give timely notice of any advance of the enemy from toward Childer’s Gap, but in doing this other avenues of approach must not be neglected.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. BELTON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 774.
OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 1862
Confederate guerrillas raid Parch Corn Creek, No Business Creek, and Buffalo Creek.
Attack farms of Mr. Chitwood, Carroll Cross, Dennis Trammel, and James Chitwood, burn houses, steal 103 horses and capture two men that they hanged.
At the head of Buffalo Creek they skirmish with Union men (7th Tennessee Infantry) under Capt. James Duncan. Four Confederate guerrillas killed.
7-11 NOVEMBER 1862
Troubles in Scott County.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Maj.-Gen. H. W. HALLECK, Gen.-in-Chief.
GEN.: I find in the Louisville Journal, of the 12th instant, a narration, to which I wish to call your attention, in connection with my communication of the 13th.
Scott County, Tennessee, is in my own district, and the names and localities are perfectly familiar.
From that small county have gone many soldiers, now in our service, leaving their homes to such devastation as is here described.
Oh, Lord, how long?
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HORACE MAYNARD, U.S. Congressman
AFFAIRS IN THE MOUNTAINS.
We have received a letter from a correspondent at London, Ky. … Our correspondent is a refuge[e] from Huntsville, Tenn., and feels much interested in events which are occurring in that region.
On the 7th of November a rebel force of 1,100 men crossed the Cumberland Mountains, by way of Big Creek Gap.
Arriving there, they separated into three detachments, one detachment going through Whitley County, by way of Boston, to Williamsburg; thence across Gilico Mountain, to Gilico Creek, and thence to Marsh Creek.
From that point they marched across to Ponch Creek, Scott County, Tennessee, and quartered on the farm of Mr. J. Chitwood.
On the route they stole 89 horses.
Another detachment crossed the mountains about 18 miles above, in Scott County, and visited the residence of Dennis Tramel.
The third detachment crossed still higher up, and proceeded up Smith Creek, burning the residence of Mr. Carwell Cross, stealing from him $690 in gold, and driving away 14 of his horses.
On the 9th ultimo the same party burned the residence of Dennis Tramel, afterward going to James Chitwood’s, at which point they joined one of the detachments from which they had previously separated.
On the 10th they resumed their march toward Huntsville, burning houses, shooting stock, and committing other outrages on the way.
Near the headwaters of Buffalo Creek the rebels encountered a number of Capt. Duncan’s Home Guards.
A skirmish ensued, in which 4 of the rebels were killed and several wounded, the Home Guards sustaining no loss whatever.
The rebels then retreated down Buffalo Creek, destroying and carrying off everything valuable that fell in their way.
On the route they captured Larkin Cross and Ransom Conover, both of whom they hanged in the apple orchard belonging to the widow Angel.
Mr. Cross was a good citizen, and the loss is severely felt. He leaves a wife and five interesting children.
Mr. Conover belonged to the Second (loyal) Tennessee Infantry, and was ill at the time he was so cruelly murdered.
He was highly esteemed by his neighbors, and leaves a wife and two children, wholly unprovided for.
On the 11th ultimo the rascals recrossed the mountains, and made their way to Jacksborough.
Our correspondent informs us that the rebels are committing many depredations in Whitley County, Kentucky.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. II, pp. 178-179.
11 NOVEMBER 1862
Skirmish at Huntsville.
Tennessee Home Guard.
14 AUGUST 1863
The general commanding calls upon all members of his command to remember that the present campaign takes them through a friendly territory, and that humanity and the best interests of the service require that the peaceable inhabitants be treated with kindness, and that every protection be given by the soldiers to them and to their property.
~ Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, Camp Nelson.
20 AUGUST 1863 – 3 SEPTEMBER 1863
U.S. Army Occupation
This campaign under U.S. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Ohio is the largest to move through the area.
Prior to the march, Burnside commissions Union guerrillas in Tennessee counties and orders them to spy and harass (bushwhack) Confederate forces.
Almost two thirds of Burnside’s 16,000 men march through the Big South Fork area on their way to occupy Knoxville.
They move through Jamestown, Pine Knot, Chitwood’s, Huntsville, Montgomery, Wartburg, Emory Iron Works and encamp at numerous places.
3 SEPTEMBER 1863
I have the honor to inform you that our forces now occupy Knoxville, Kingston, and other important points.
~ General Ambrose Burnside to Major General Henry W. Halleck.
16 NOVEMBER 1863 – 14 DECEMBER 1863
Battles of Longstreet’s Knoxville campaign.
Campbell’s Station November 16
Kingston November 24
Fort Sanders November 29
Walker’s Ford December 2
Siege lifted December 4
Bean’s Station December 14