Lucy Virginia French Diary

Lucy Virginia Smith is born 26 March 1825 into an affluent family in Accomack County, Virginia. After her mother’s untimely death, Lucy and her sister Lide attend Mrs. Hannah’s School, a private academy in Washington, PA, where Lucy graduates with high honors. While they are away at school, their father remarries, and the girls are not happy with the situation at home. They move to Memphis in 1845, where they both found jobs as tutors for the children of prominent families there. Lucy and Lide work to pay for their education, which their father did not pay.

I know she hated to be called Lucy, but I think L. Virginia is worse, and LVF is no better. So I am calling her Lucy.

While living in Memphis, Lucy publishes some of her first writings in newspapers and magazines and published poetry for the Louisville Journal under the pseudonym L’Inconnue, the unknown. In 1852 Lucy is hired as associate editor of the Southern Ladies’ Book in New Orleans. Neither of the girls marry until they have reimbursed Mrs. Hannah’s School for their education.
While reading her poem “One or Two,” a wealthy landowner and horse breeder from McMinnville, Tennessee falls in love with Lucy. He travels to Memphis and asks her to marry him. On 12 January 1853 Lucy Virginia Smith marries John Hopkins French and moves with him to his estate, Forest Home, in the mountains near McMinnville, in Warren County—a few counties west of East Tennessee. The Frenches have three children, a son and two daughters: Walter Scott French in 1854, nicknamed Bouse; Jessie Virginia in 1855; and May Lide in 1857, nicknamed Ting.

Lucy Virginia French continues to write and publish her poetry after the wedding. John French wholeheartedly supports his wife’s profession, often tending to the children to give her time to work. From 1856 to 1879 Lucy serves as literary editor of various newspapers and magazines, among them the Southern Homestead in Nashville, the Rural Sun, the Sunny South, the Crusader, and the Ladies’ Home, all in Atlanta; and the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond.

Though McMinnville is somewhat remote, Lucy does quite well there. The larger community also support her work. Friends write newspaper articles to southern papers introducing her work to larger audiences. On average she earns $400-500 per year for her work [$16,445.96 today], quite a feat for a woman of her time.

From the 1850s through the late 1870s, Mrs. French publishes her first book of poetry, Wind Whispers (1856), financed by her husband; a series of legends in verse; Istalilxo, the Lady of Tula, a five-act tragedy of Mexico before Cortez (1856); Legends of the South (1867), a book of poems; My Roses (1872), a novel; and Darlingtonia (1879), a novel.

In 1860, Lucy Virginia French organized a Ladies Petition against Secession, and invited her personal and intellectual friends from both the North and the South to sign it. In that document, she argues that the United States Constitution offers the best protection to women and children, obviously concerned about the issues then facing the country. Tennessee becomes one of the Confederate States on 8 June 1861. Lucy supports the Confederacy once the war begins, and her diary reflects that.

As the Civil War begins, Lucy John French are living at Forest Home with their three children in McMinnville, Warren County—a few counties west of East Tennessee. They own slaves and are loyal to the Confederacy. Her home and her family are always her first priority; she writes because she loves it, just as she loves painting, playing the piano, embroidery, and working in her garden. In the 1860 U.S. Census of McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee, the Frenches list three children ages six and under, one boy and two girls. Lucy’s profession is listed as “Poetess, Author.

In 1862 Lucy begins keeping a diary, mostly about the Civil War, but she also writes lengthy comments about politics and society from the perspective of an affluent, educated woman. Her journal entries are written at her family’s homes in McMinnville and Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. She does not write daily entries, but summaries of the previous week’s events. The author becomes well-known, and during the Civil War, soldiers from both armies stop at her home to meet Mrs. French and get her opinion of their own work. During her lifetime, she also works tirelessly for equal education for women.

In addition to urging his wife to take time for her writing, in 1856 John French financed the publication of her first book of poetry, Wind Whispers, a series of legends in verse.

Lucy Virginia French’s Civil War Diary
Sunday 16 February 1862
Two weeks have passed since I have written upon these pages. During the first week the weather was either rainy or cold! I [staid] stayed at home sewing & we had but few visitors. The war news was not inspiriting to us, Fort Henry being taken, and the Federal gunboats making a reconnaissance as they call it, up Tennessee river. … The second week I spent mostly in company. On Sunday went to Church; Monday evening took tea at Mrs. Read’s.
Tuesday spent the day with Mrs. Campbell, & took tea with a family party at Lou Spurlocks; Wednesday had company to tea myself; … Mr. Cap Spurlocks [Lucy’s friend] being home on a brief furlough seems to be the cause of all this suppering. … Thursday was a lovely day. News came in the evening that they were fighting hard at Fort Donelson, and that our troops were evacuating Bowling Green & falling back to the Tennessee line. Tennessee is now invaded, and every man will be called out to defend her soil. …
Saturday we intended to make calls but were prevented by weather being so cold. Quite a fall of snow occurred on Friday (Valentine’s) night, the second we have had this winter. It was about 2 inches deep and is melting some to-day. The last night’s news is that we have whipped the Federals badly at Fort Donelson notwithstanding their invulnerable gun-boats & overwhelming numbers.
Bouse [her son] is looking very finely—he is a handsome boy, with a manly spirit. He asked me last night to explain to him about the gun-boats of the Yankees.
We were all amused at Ting [daughter May] yesterday—she was reading us the ‘nuse’ as she calls it in the paper. Seeing the Eagle on the Banner’s heading she pointed to it with such roguishness … “See here, Cousin Mollie, this is the thing the Yankees are bringing to peck us!” Her readings about “our men” and the Yankees kept us in a roar of laughter. … Dear little children! They are so full of fun and frolic as ever – they know nothing of this Yankee war! And God be praised they do not – they are all the sunshine we have in our darkened homes now!”

22 February 1862: Opinion of a Warren county Confederate woman on Fort Donelson
Saturday. I cannot remember that I have ever experienced a more gloomy week than that which is just past. On Sunday evening last [16th] when we were all confident of victory at Fort Donelson, the news came that at last we were completely overpowered—that hundreds were killed and thousands made prisoners—that Nashville had surrendered unconditionally—the Federals have taken possession and that our Bowling Green army had fallen back to Murfreesboro! A deeper shock I never felt; I gave up the Confederacy as lost.
All this week we have been in a state of the utmost anxiety and suspense—not a mail has reached us from any point, and we are dependent altogether on rumors, of which there are a thousand and all conflicting. Today it seems that we met with disastrous defeat in the end at Donelson by the enemy’s overpowering numbers surrounding our men, who fought bravely and well. Gens. Floyd and Pillow escaped with some of the troops, but Buckner is a prisoner. It is now contradicted that Nashville surrendered, and sent a boat of truce with a flag on it down the Cumberland to meet the enemy and give up the city (!) as it was at first reported—but it is certain that our troops from Bowling Green have fallen back to Murfreesboro, and they have burnt the bridges, steamboats, etc. at Nashville and not a Yankee near them!
Oh! it is disgraceful! Gov. [Isham] Harris who rode around town alarming the city by saying, “Every man must take care of himself; I am going to take care of myself.” … but seeing his mistake has now it is said returned, saying he is going ‘”to fight to the death” and that he only ran off to carry away the archives of the State. Well, any excuse I suppose is better than none—but, the fact is that he and Gen. A. S. [Albert Sidney] Johnston have disgraced themselves and Tennessee by their inefficiency and cowardice. A rumor has been heard that our army would fall back to Chattanooga! I think they had better if Johnston is to command them, fall down into Mexico at once, and be done with it. …
This is the anniversary of the birth of our Great Washington and set apart for the inauguration of Jefferson Davis whom some style the “second Washington.” Will he prove himself such? That remains to be seen. If this day is to be ominous of our political future, it will be gloomy indeed. I have been sick all day with one of my dreadful headaches which added to other dark clouds around me to make me desponding. Still, I confess I have much to be thankful for, my children are well—my husband is still with us—may God preserve us thus in peace at home.

2 March 1862
Another week of suspense, gloom & oppression has passed over us. The weather has been mostly spring-like, and the birds are beginning to be singing everywhere. I should have gone to church to-day notwithstanding the high wind, but Mrs. Spurlock has our buggy (she went down to Murfreesboro to see her husband who is in the army & sick), and I did not feel well enough to walk. During the past week the Federals have taken possession of Nashville. Gen. [Don Carlos] Buell USA it is said made a speech to the citizens, in which he told them to go on with all their accustomed business, that he was there, not to molest, but to protect them! etc. etc. We shall [see] how this will be.
Our forces are falling back from Murfreesboro. Harris has called out the militia, & every man is obliged to go. While I was instructing the children in their Sundays lesson this morning, a messenger came for cousin John to come to town to attend to some meeting of the men. In this meeting it was resolved that no organization could go on here, now, as we are all under Lincoln rule, and his army is so near us. It is quite uncertain what will be done. We were all very much surprised this evening at cousin Jimmies arrival. He is not well & does not look well, but has raised a cavalry company for the war. I don’t think he will be able to remain long in the army.  Wednesday. Mollie [Lucy’s cousin] and Jimmie left this morning on the train for Mississippi. I was sorry to see Mollie go and yet I was glad or rather I was satisfied, for it is better for her. She will not feel the privations & hardships of these trying times half so much there as here. I received a letter from Lide [her sister] night before last; all was in status quo with them. Mollie & Jimmie will stay a day with her as they go down.

9 March 1862
We have had no war news of interest during the past week. We are now in Yankee Land, as Grandma Lyon mentioned today. Why dear she said, I haven’t shaken hands with you since we all got into Lincolndom! Things seem to be quiet here, how long they will continue so, we cannot tell. Report says that goods, salt, coffee etc. which are so scarce & dear here, are plenty in Nashville as they have opened the blockade and have connection with Louisville and Cincinnati. How true it is we do not know. … may we be enabled now to trust in God & hold out to the end!

23 MARCH 1862: One Warren County woman’s opinion of Isham Harris
A good story is told of one Tenn. girl and Gov. Harris. When the Gov. got up his Hegira [a journey to escape from an undesirable situation] he had a special train to carry his high mightiness—a young lady the daughter of a clergyman residing some 25 miles from Nashville was going home and came on the Gov’s train not knowing that it was sacred and “special.” The gallant Gov. ordered her to be put off instantly. “Sir,” said she, “six men such as you are could not put me off this train. I’m going home.” and so she did. Oh! Isham-gallant, chivalrous, courageous and swift … Some of the John Spurlocks asked last night, “Where is Harris now, anyhow!” Brown said. “We hadn’t yet been able to get a train swift enough to catch up with him and find out where he was.”

30 March 1862: We knew they were Yankees
On Sunday last our mail stopped—the train being taken off to prevent its falling into the hands of the Yankees. I was sitting in the parlor with Mrs. Armstrong when I saw an armed force coming up the road. We knew they were Yankees, but all went out on the portico to look at them. I think only of my domestic affairs— my children, flowers, and chickens.

2 April 1862:  138 of them—cavalry. 
Yesterday as I sat sewing by the front window I looked up & saw the road thronged with soldiers—Yankees. They looked down at the house so much that I feared some of them would call upon us, but it not being feeding-time they went on. There were 138 of them—cavalry. They did not tarry long in town, going on in the same direction the others went. We are blockaded now most effectually; we can get out no way but by going over the mountains to Chattanooga. No mails ever reach us, & we don’t know anything of what the outside world is doing.

20 April 1862:
This is a rainy day & I cannot go to church. I stay at home reading Carlyle. This week has passed quietly enough. On Monday night a nephew of Mr. Hy. Smiths staid with us; he brought papers containing an account of the battle at Corinth, or rather Pittsburg Landing, but they are all Federal papers. Andy [Senator Andrew] Johnson will allow nothing favorable to the South to be published in Nashville. The Patriot office has been confiscated because its editors would not give in to Andy’s despotism. On Tuesday the Col. took Mr. Smith to Altamont, he staid all night with Mr. Armfield & came home on Wednesday. On the way he met Mrs. Armfield, returning from Nashville; she said that reports came in favorable to our side in regards to the Pittsburg fight, but all such news was suppressed. The Federals claim a great victory—the Confederates do also—so we don’t know how it is. On Friday I had a letter from Lide [her sister] written on the 7th, the day of the battle. She had not heard of it but said all Memphis was holding its breath with expectations. I sent on Friday a letter to the dear old folks [?], sent it open to Nashville so that the Federal pickets might read it if they felt so disposed, and Eddy Campbell is to mail it at Nashville. I also wrote to Lide by Brown Spurlock who is going to Chattanooga. The Federals are in possession of Huntsville & the R. R. as far as Stevenson. Savages Regiment has gone to Corinth.

27 April 1862
This has been a most lovely day; we went to Church, taking little Jessie with us. The past week has been very quiet; we have had a few visitors. I have finished all the children’s summer sewing, and my yard is nearly all arranged for the season. I attend diligently to the children’s lessons, speeches, music, etc. and have time also to play with them, read them stories, take walks after flowers, go fishing, etc. with them. They are all in fine health, for which I am truly grateful. This week has been so quiet that its record must necessarily be short. The woods and mountains look charming; they are quite green; and everything seems fresh & full of life and beauty.

A young Lucy French

Sunday, 4 May 1862
The past week has been almost as quiet as the one preceding it. No news of any reliability has reached us except that the Federal gun-boats were before N. Orleans, but their bombardment of the city was protested against by the English & French ministers. I never could have imagined it possible for one to live in the midst of a revolution & know so little of the real manner in which it is conducted; we feel the effects of war; yet we see but little of its modus operandi. Last week I had my house cleaned from top to bottom, the yard also is all cleaned & arranged for the summer, & everything looks delightfully fresh and smiling. On Thursday (May Day) evening we took a second boat ride on the river with some young friends; it was exceedingly pleasant. Today we went to Church; I took Ting [daughter May]; the little thing grew very weary before meeting was over, and says she had rather go to Grandma Cain’s than to church any more. On Tuesday Grandma Cain, Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Reed, & Mrs. Campbell spent the day with me. They took me quite by surprise, but we had a pleasant day nevertheless.

11 May 1862
There is news this week of a great & bloody battle being fought at Corinth; which side gained the victory we have not heard. There is also a rumor that the Confederates have evacuated Yorktown, & fallen back within 12 miles of Richmond. [Gen. John Hunt] Morgan & his men were surprised at Lebanon a few days ago by a Federal force from Nashville and dispersed Morgan himself & most of the men escaped, & we learn are rallying again. On Tuesday evening last I took my first horseback ride this spring; we went to Mrs. Cain’s. On Wednesday evening we had a party of young ladies & gentlemen to tea & then we all went boating on the river, by moonlight. It was very delightful. Thursday evening I rode out again. Friday I was unwell & in bed all day. Mary Armstrong was here & spent the day and Mrs. Spurlock, Julia & Florena, came down in the evening and went boating with the Col. [her husband]. Saturday I was in bed most of the day, & today I am not at Church. Walter went with his Pa; it being his day to go. When he was ready to go, I thought him the finest looking boy I ever saw.

18 May 1862: Wartime Anxieties as Expressed by Lucy Virginia French in McMinnville
Monday of this past week the 12th was little Walters birthday; he was 8 years old. When he was six months old I laid aside a book as the commencement of a little library for him to be given him on the day he completed the 8th year. That day has come and passed, but I did not present him the books. The times are such I could make no party, or little fete for him, and I shall postpone giving him the library until he is 10, perhaps 12. How little, when I made the resolution to collect the books for him did I imagine the state of our whole country would be in when he came to be eight years of age. But so it is, and I may perhaps never see the day he is 12, or he may never see it.
During the past week I have had the children with me all the time, deciding that they must not on any account make associates of the Negros. I put Martha to working out. I teach them constantly–something—devoting myself to them exclusively. It is hard work—very confining—sometimes making me exceedingly nervous, but it is my duty, and that is sufficient.” It must be done, if I wear out with the constant friction.
A few days since I was gladdened by a good letter from dear Auntie in reply to mine. They were all well, and going on as usual. How I love them, and then not to have heard a word from them for nearly a year! I wrote last night to Lide endorsing Aunties letter, and I wrote to Mollie also having an opportunity to send the letters to Chattanooga for mailing. On Monday evening of last week I went to see Mrs. Richardson who has just returned from Texas, taking the children with me. That was the only visit I paid, the only time I went out during the week. I have been sewing, reading, and teaching all the time.
The Federal army continues to encroach upon the Confederate limits. Norfolk is taken, the famous Merrimac or Virginia blown up by the Confederates. Lincoln I am told has opened the blockade by proclamation, but I have not seen the document. He considers the rebellion crushed. Beauregard has ordered the destruction of cotton, sugar, & molasses, etc.; it is being done. A convention met at Nashville on the 12th, resolving on the restoration of Tenn. to the U.S. John Morgan with 200 men made a raid into Ky. on the 11th destroying cars, trains, etc. & securing some 8 or 10 thousand dollars in money!

26 May 1862: Federal forces visit McMinnville
The Federals visited this place again on Friday last [23rd]; came, I presume, to look up resigned officers and disbanded men, but they found none. Contented themselves with stealing horses, watches, etc., and paying for forage etc. in counterfeit money. They did not molest us, however. There are informers among us who keep them thoroughly “posted—as it is quite plain for us to see from their actions and inquiries every time they come …

6-8 June 1862: Movement of Confederate and Federal cavalry through McMinnville
On Friday [6th] the Yankee cavalry rode into town—took some horses and two prisoners from [Col. James] Starnes CSA cavalry now camping at Martin’s. They only remained an hour or two in town—passing back again at a rapid pace. About an hour and half later, about 180 of Starnes cavalry came thundering in pursuit. On Saturday [7th] they came back, brining back all the Yankees but three who escaped and 7 whom they killed. They overtook them on Saturday morning below Woodbury—getting their breakfast at Jetton’s, Barton’s, and Major Talley’s. Two were shot in Mrs. Barton’s parlor, it is said. They shot at our men from the parlor windows. Some were killed in Maj. Talley’s rye-field. On yesterday-Sunday-the Yankees passed down the road again on foot—being released on parole by Col. Starnes. We may look for new forces up here soon—to harass us as they are doing the people about Jasper. Mrs. Read brings shocking news of their outrages over in the Sequatchie Valley.

Civil War Marker
Occupation of McMinnville: Conflict on the Home Front
Early in 1861, when the state first voted on secession, Warren County residents, like many Tennesseans, opposed it. When balloting next occurred in June 1861, however, sentiment overwhelmingly favored secession, and county residents voted nearly 100 to 1 to leave the Union. Young men flocked to Confederate enlisting offices, quickly forming the 16th Tennessee Infantry under John Houston Savage. Benjamin J. Hill organized the 5th Tennessee Infantry, later renumbered the 35th; it trained just south of town at nearby Camp Smartt.
The county’s resources and the Manchester and McMinnville Railroad made McMinnville a strategic location that attracted raids by Confederate Gens. Joseph Wheeler, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Braxton Bragg. Gen. John Hunt Morgan spent his honeymoon here and planned his Kentucky and Ohio raids from the home of kinsman Dr. John Barkley Armstrong.
McMinnville changed hands at least five times. After April 1863, it frequently served as a Federal base; fourteen forts and blockhouses eventually were constructed to guard against Confederate attack. Union Col. Henry C. Gilbert’s 19th Michigan Infantry was among the first Federal units to occupy the town.
Federal occupation meant some safety from Confederate guerilla bands, but, nonetheless, county residents felt the hand of war when houses, warehouses, factories, and bridges were burned. Local Confederates especially disliked Gen. William “Bull” Nelson, who ransacked the Cumberland Female College here. Partisan bands harassed the Union garrisons with occasional raids. Local poet Lucy Virginia French chronicled the war in diaries detailing the conflicts between Confederate and Unionist families. The last Federal troops departed in September 1865.
Image, lower left
Col. John H. Savage
Image, upper middle
East Main Street, McMinnville ca. 1861
Image, upper right
Cumberland Female College, ca. 1855
Image, lower right
Warren County Court House
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
The marker is located on the grounds of the Warren County Courthouse. At the intersection of West Court Square and East Main Street (Tennessee Route 380).

9 June 1862: Effects of the war upon a Southern aristocratic woman’s emotions and her children in Warren County
Yesterday I was not well enough to write. I was quite unwell on Thursday—and have been so ever since until this morning—I now feel somewhat better. In addition to my headache and its concomitants, I have been troubled with a diarrhea similar to that I suffered so much from last fall—arising I suppose from the cold, I have taken in some way. I am not worth a picayune—everything upsets me. I have managed to keep up however, and have not missed the children’s lessons. Puss [a slave?] is “ailing” too, and has been for three months—I think if we both were sent to Beersheba [Beersheba Springs, a nearby resort] for a month or two, we would be benefited. I have done but little during the past week, but read, when I could do so for my head. Thursday was dear little Tingie’s birthday—5 years old. The comical little creature knows her letters-and that is all she knows in the book line. But how funny and “cunnin” and knowing she is in a hundred other things. And she asked so many outlandish questions. The other day she asked “Mamma if Pap was to go away to the war and get shoot—what would you do? Would you get you some other husband to take care wid you?” Just now her “ruling passion” is a kitten given her by Mrs. Lou Spurlock—without which, sleeping or waking, she is never seen. I keep the children under my own eye now all the time, and I must confess that having charge of them always [is] in no way [a] very easy task. But it is better for them, and it must be done.

15 June 1862: Federal forces move through McMinnville
On Thursday the 12th, a force of between 4 and 5 thousand Federals passed us going into McMinnville. The first I knew of their approach Martha [a slave] came running up stairs where I was hearing the children’s lessons exclaiming, “The Yankees are coming up the road!” I looked out & saw four or five horsemen at the gate, in a moment they were up to the house. I ran down stairs, and saw that they were taking our favorite horse, Black Cloud. Darlin [John] was in town, what could I do? I did nothing. I said not a word. They were the roughest kind of men, and I did not know how to address them. I was angry and excited & feared I should not say the right thing. So I forced myself to silence. I was the more enraged too because of the lamenting & crying of the children & servants over the loss of the horse. I knew however that Darlin was in town that everybody knew his fine horses, and that he could not fail to see the animal, & would get him back if he could.
Throughout the day the troops came to get something to eat—they were very respectful to me when they saw me. … but a squad of them who sent a stolen negro down after dinner for them sent word to send their dinner, or they would come & take it. I sent a quantity of bread, meat & vegetables which they took & sent the boy back a second time saying that was not half enough. I forwarded or at least told the servants to send them a second supply. Two of those who came to the house offered to pay but I would not receive it. I would not allow the Negros who brought them the victuals to receive it either.
While they were eating however I generally gave them a piece of my mind. They did not seem to get angry acknowledged that I was telling them the truth and thanked me for their dinners!! Oh! how angry and embittered I felt that day to see what trouble this vile thing Secession has brought upon us!
One of the men told me that, “the South had brought this army with all its consequent troubles upon herself.” I said, “If you know anything at all—you know very well that Tennessee never brought this upon us. She stood firm for the Union that she loved until Lincoln’s war proclamation drove her into exile, and rebellion—and now here you are with your armies to drive her back again, I suppose.” He sighed—for he seemed very weary, and said he wished to heaven it could be ended—he wanted to go home. He looked worn, as there was homesickness in his voice as he said it, and I did pity him. I knew that he was the enemy of the South—that he stood before me, an enemy, but I felt sorry for him and it did me good to see him drink the cool milk with an evident relish.
In the evening more cavalry came—rode around the stables, etc. hunting horses, they found none, and went away without molesting anything but the chickens. Late in the evening (as soon as he could get out of town) Darlin’ [pet name for her husband] came home—he was as calm as a summer evening—I really wondered at him. … Next morning [Saturday] the troops left town, going in the direction of Pikesville, a squad of 8 or 10 returning to Murfreesboro. …
Next day those gentlemen got the Negros they came to reclaim [not Lucy’s], and Darlin got his horse—it was taken by Pennsylvanians 7th Reg. The children had a perfect jubilee when their Pa returned with the horse, & Cooper showed his ivory to admiration.

Another image of young Lucy Virginia French

22 June 1862: A reconnaissance in force
The reconnaissance in force which we had thought were moving on to Chattanooga went only 38 miles across in the direction of Pikeville, & then returned. I presume they were in reality hunting Starnes; it is said they heard he was up here in the mountains somewhere fortifying, and they came to dislodge him. They pressed everybody’s horses, mules, wagons etc. to carry them on, some of which were returned to the owners, others were not. They tore up everything at Mr. Betty’s, broke all the furniture, ruined the garden & even tore to pieces Mrs. B’s clothing. They searched our neighbor Spurlock’s house 3 times__ took all their meat, and Mrs. S’s jewelry. They broke into the groceries & literally rifled them. …
On Tuesday evening the long train passed again going back to Murfreesboro, & Shelbyville. Some of them came for corn on Monday night, & while Darlin was giving them the corn, they stole a bridle & Cooper curry-comb & horse brush. On Wednesday morning Willie French came down to tell us they took Bob Halton about midnight the night previous. Darlin was advised by his friends to go on after the horse & he left for Woodbury about 11 o’clock. …
This week with its excitements has broken in considerably on the children’s lessons. I do not intend that it shall be so again, if I can possibly avoid it. Everything goes on as usual now, the Negros work on in their common way, and I think this inroad of the Yankees has done good in one respect at least, it has shown the Negros very plainly that the war has not been made on purpose to free them. They have found too from those who have tried Yankee masters & life in the army, that such a life is not exactly the state of perfect beatitude which it has been represented to be. Darlin arrived at home about 10 o’clock last night, very tired. He had been to Woodbury, Murfreesboro, & Wartrace. … He says he was very courteously treated by the Federal officers. I was so glad to have him at home again …
This is a lovely day but warm. Everything is very dry, for we have had no rain for 3 weeks past, and my flowers and the garden begin to show the effects of it. This morning I went up on the hill with the children after blackberries, the first of the season. The road was dusty & as Jessie walked through it she asked, Ma did God make us all out of this kind of dust? On Friday I happened to ask Puss what day of the week it was? Why mamma said Jessie, as if in great surprise ain’t you a big enough girl to know what day it is? She evidently thought that knowledge a question of age & inches only. I have not been to church for several Sabbaths, thinking it best for us to remain at home in these unsettled times.

29 June 1862: A week of complete quiet
The past week has been one of complete quiet. Our isolated position is assailed by rumors of battles near Richmond, reports that that city has succumbed, or the reverse, and tales are rife of the invasion of E. Tenn. … I have been sewing & reading this week, and have attended rigorously to the children’s lessons. I have been out but once & that was on yesterday evening when I rode in to see Mrs. Armstrong for a little while. The times are so very feverish, & community so split to pieces that home seems to me the best place for a quiet woman.

6 July 1862: The dear old folks are well
Today I am in bed, quite unwell. During the past week I have as usual been reading, sewing & teaching the children, who improve every day. Darlin and myself have been taking very pleasant moonlight rides also. We rode last evening. On Friday we had a letter from Mollie, the second received since her absence. She is well & extremely Southern. Jimmy [Mollie’s husband] is at Vicksburg with his regiment; they seem determined to hold that point. This week we have had good news from Ark. Carolina, and Va. The Federal army under McClellan has met with defeat before Richmond; the fight commenced on Thursday week when the Yankees were driven from their entrenchments & thousands were made prisoners.
Our latest news reports that they were still fighting, the Yankees endeavoring to reach their transports & our men pursuing them through the swamp. This is all very well so far, but Ill bet they gain in the end. They will be reinforced, and then fresh troops will do the work. So it was at Donelson; so it was at Shiloh. They are legion and I greatly fear the result will not be a complete victory on our part at last. God help us if it is not.
We understand that there is a large cavalry force (Forrest’s) at Altamont coming across to march on Nashville. Gen. [CSA William J.] Hardee is said to be marching on that city with 40,000 men. We know not how true is the rumor; one hears anything & everything in these times. Darlin brings the news this evening that McClellan’s army is totally defeated cut off from reinforcements & from their gunboats, and fifty thousand of them killed and prisoners, also that France and England have recognized our independence. I trust this is so; yet I cannot but doubt it. Time will show. I greatly fear that this pleasing prospect will prove a delusion fading away, as others have so often done before. It seems to me quite too good to be true.
I received this evening also a letter from our dear Auntie Martha, kind and cordial as ever. She tells us she heard … that Lide has a baby nearly two months old; it does seem so strange that we should hear this from Auntie first. The dear old folks are well thanks be to the Good Giver of good for their welfare and peace.

13 July 1862: A large cavalry force passed here
Sunday 13th July. At breakfast this morning the servants reported cannonading in the direction of Murfreesboro [approx 50 miles northwest], and sure enough it was so, we all heard it very distinctly; it continued I should think from an hour to an hour & a half. A large cavalry force passed here yesterday about 4 o’clock in the evening, destined I suppose for Murfreesboro. They would I presume reach there this morning & we surmise that an engagement took place as soon as they reached that place. If the men who passed here were the only troops sent to take Murfreesboro our men are whipped sure, but if other forces rendezvoused there, (as the servants report the soldiers to have said they were going to do.) then it may be well for our cause. …

17 July 1862: A McMinnville woman’s account of the raid on Murfreesboro
It is all over, and a glorious victory remains with the South! All day Sunday we were fearfully anxious as to the result—in the afternoon I became very uneasy indeed. I expected every moment to see flying fugitives come panting in jaded horses—and I watched the road narrowly. … About dark I saw two men ride past—then two more—then a squad of some 15 or 20 looking very tired as I thought—”Ah” I said to myself, here they come, I feared it would be so! Presently I heard a great “Fuss” up on the road and told Cooper to run up to the “white gate” and ask the news. He bolted off, but soon returned saying that the men said we had a victory, taken lots of prisoners and these mules. I was incredulous it seemed to me I could not believe our good fortune. But Cooper said they had the mules sure enough, so I began to give way to hope—a little … in a short time 13 wagons filled with the “blue bellies” [Union soldiers] (as the boys call them) came along. … When Darlin’ came home from town, at a late hour, he confirmed the joyful intelligence—a complete victory had been gained! …
Scores of the men stopped … for water—the poor fellows were wearied down as well as their horses. They had gone since Saturday without food or sleep. Many of them if they had to stop and wait awhile for anything—threw themselves off their horses on the ground, and in a moment were asleep. It was 12 o’clock when we got home after the [wagon] train had passed. By the moonlight we saw it all pretty well, except the first column of prisoners who passed before the moon rose out of her eastern clouds. They had about 1300 prisoners—4 cannons and caissons—large lots of mules and horses—and a great many fine wagons filled with arms, prisoners and so forth.
One of the [Texan] Rangers showed us a flag he had taken. We took it into the parlor where a wounded soldier was sleeping and examined it. It was a beautiful banner, elegantly made of the finest silk, and embroidered—belonged to the 9th Michigan Infantry, presented to the commander Col. Wm. Duffield, by the ladies of Detroit. I shall never forget the scene which passed before upon this evening. Did I ever think to see the “stars and stripes,” a captive banner and not weep over it? I felt so badly to see it thus I confess, it was the old flag I had loved so long.
But was I sorry to see the men who had treated us all so badly a few weeks before, brought up again as prisoners, no, you may be sure I didn’t weep over that! Well here were they, and here were the conquerors. … Next morning D. Hardeman and one of his comrades came out to see us and get some breakfast. They told me all about the fight [at Murfreesboro]. It was a complete surprise—they took the pickets dashed into town and charged the camp before the Yankees knew they were there. The ladies were perfectly wild with excitement—cheering on the men, and showering “God bless you’—and they could not be kept out of the streets—the bullets were flying in every direction.
The boys said it had a bad effect on them—the ladies excited them so much that they didn’t know what they were doing, and fired at random. They charged the Yankee camp however and took it, burning all the tents etc. The cannonading which we heard was the Yankees shelling their own camp, to drive our men out of it. … The Provost-marshal whom they made prisoner wanted the soldiers to shoot him then and there, and show him no mercy whatever. The soldiers however were very kind to the prisoners, they would not even eat provisions which our citizens had provided for them, until the prisoners were served.
On Tuesday night about bed-time 1,300 of the prisoners being paroled, passed here on their return to Murfreesboro. They seemed very jolly—chattering and singing as they passed. There was a fine band among them, belonging to a Minnesota Regiment. Their instruments and all arms which they claimed as private property our men returned to them. Indeed, our gallant fellows behave all through this like true knights—they were so gentlemanly and quiet too among the citizens—showing such a marked difference between themselves and the Yankees, who visited us only a short time previous. … I cannot but smile at times when I see how people’s opinions vacillate in times like these. I used to think “Vox Populi Vox Dui” [The voice of the people is the voice of God] was a great truth. I smile now and remember I ever thought so. The popular voice is the wind’s voice. …

25 July 1862: The Yankees are gone!
I have drawn a long breath for the first time in 3 weeks, a long deep sigh of satisfaction and relief, the Yankees are gone! Thank God! And may He in His goodness & mercy grant that they may never visit us again! The depredations they have committed are almost incredible. The town I am told looks desolated; completely torn to pieces. They never had any wood hauled, but burned fencing palings, gates etc.; the Fair Ground is ruined. In going about our place here they never crossed over a fence, but threw it down, passed, & left it so. On the day Gen. [Jacob] Ammen USA came in, he & his staff took shelter under the sheds at the new stable, from a shower of rain; they did not come to the house. I see citizens riding into town in groups this morning, a welcome sight & one not seen for the past three weeks. …
I keep repeating to myself, “They’re gone!” The wretches are gone! and I cannot but amuse myself by imagining the countenances of those very honorable Union men who were getting up that pretty little scheme for having the Col. compelled to take the oath! It tickles me no little the craven-hearted cowards!__ Oh! full, how full of thankfulness and grateful joy were my prayers last night! And this morning I keep saying in my heart, Thank god! Thank God!
Everything is very, very dry; we need rain badly, not having had any since the Monday night after the Yankees came in. We should make some corn yet, notwithstanding the vandals have destroyed so much, if we could now have favorable weather. Our people will have to bestir themselves now to get enough together to keep us through the winter__ if we are harassed no more by these villains we may be able to get along. The Col. has found some of his hogs in town; they had wandered off after the foraging wagons. I wonder they were not all killed. Perhaps we can yet get up sufficient for our winters meat. I hope so. Bacon is 37 cents per pound, south of us it is 50 cents.

10 August 1862: They dug up everybody’s potatoes
They [Federal soldiers] went nearly to Sparta—and returned on Wednesday [6th] to town [McMinnville]. A regiment or two had been left here meanwhile, and large foraging parties sent out in all directions. They savaged the town and vicinity from one end to the other—broke into every store except Mr. Henderson’s (which he had guarded,) took out everything they wanted; went into everybody’s garden, poultry, dairy, etc. and helped themselves. Mrs. Rowan went out to expostulate with them about her garden, when they turned in to cursing her so that she left them and went into the house. …
They dug up everybody’s potatoes, took their green corn, tomatoes, etc. They have got all ours—drank the milk in the spring house, stole nearly all our chickens—and you can’t look out any time scarcely that you don’t see some of them prowling round after something. They got into our apples and peaches, though not yet ripe, in a positively piggish manner. I abominate the very sight of the miserable wretches—they are so brutal looking—so impertinent—and so insufferable in every way. …
Three days ago [7th] 8 or 10 came here and waited dinner. The Col. had gone to town, and just such going on I never saw. They pulled off their shoes on the porch and ran thro’ the house in their bare feet—went down into the orchard while their dinner was preparing and brought up hats full of green fruit which they crunched, meanwhile spitting tobacco about the porch, whistling and singing, making out to catch the chickens, etc.
I was sitting in my room reading—one came to the door and stood staring at me and taking an inventory of everything in the house for about 15 minutes:—I never “let on” that I saw him at all—but seemed intent upon my reading all the while. They went in every place they dared. … I let them eat in the kitchen for their elegant manners—some of them seemed quite dissatisfied with the arrangement …
One of the two who ate supper here on Saturday evening [9th] who gives his name as Sulser, his residence as Cincinnati and his business a lithographist, had paid us two visits since. He seems far more gentlemanly than any others I have seen, and is the only one who had ever knocked at the door before entering, or touched his hat when speaking with your Great Caesar! what a difference between their manners and those of the Confederates who were here only 10 days ago.
One report reached us that Gen. [Braxton] Bragg CSA was crossing Walden’s Ridge with 100,000 men, but I do not believe it. To think that these insufferable Yankees will be driven from here is too good news for us. Here they will remain, harassing the citizens, stealing and gasconading until they eat the whole country up, and God knows how much longer. We heard today that the Confederates are fortifying at Chattanooga—if so, God help us! for we are powerless here. Where our bread is to come from I do not know—as good luck would have it we got in two barrels of flour and two of [corn]meal, just before they came in. … In fact the last barrel, with one of salt, (for which the Col. paid 35 dollars,) was rolled in after they came. …

Civil War Marker
Railroad Town: A Series of Occupations.
McMinnville’s location at the end of the Manchester and McMinnville Railroad shaped the town’s Civil War experiences. Strategically important industries here included pork and mule breeding, fruit and apple brandy production, a textile mill, and saltpeter works at nearby caves. During the war, the opposing sides occupied McMinnville, which changed hands at least five times. Confederate Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest bivouacked at the Rock Martin farm about seven miles northeast of town and passed through here during his July 13, 1862, attack on Murfreesboro. Union Gen. William Nelson’s troops occupied McMinnville on August 3, 1862, but then withdrew near the year’s end to take part in the Battle of Stone’s River. Returning in April 1863, the Federals built fourteen forts and blockhouses and set up a hospital in the Cumberland Female College. Foragers requisitioned supplies from unwilling townspeople and restricted their freedom of movement. Confederate raiders retaliated by burning the railroad depot, cotton mills on the Barren Fork River, and almost every railroad bridge and station between McMinnville and Tullahoma.
Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan stayed at Dr. John B. Armstrong’s McMinnville home during a lapse in the Union occupation before his 1863 Kentucky and Ohio raids. On October 3, 1863, Gen Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry attacked McMinnville and forced the small Federal garrison to surrender. The Federals reoccupied the town from November 1863 to September 1865. Until the end of the war, Union commanders here tried and failed repeatedly to capture such guerrilla leaders as Champ Ferguson and Dick McCann.
Quote, lower left
“I found the town in a most deplorable condition. The rebels robbed the citizens of pretty much all they had. And after they left the First East Tennessee Cavalry were sent here, and from what I learn were a nuisance hardly inferior to the rebels.”
~ Col. Henry C. Gilbert, 19thMichigan Infantry, October 28, 1863.
Quote, upper right
“Every day—nay—every hour these graceless tramps of Yankees are stealing and prowling about the place—and corn, fruit, vegetables, and chickens disappear with marvelous celerity.
~ Lucy Virginia French diary, August 17, 1862
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Location. 35° 40.436′ N, 85° 46.641′ W. Marker is in McMinnville, Tennessee, in Warren County. Marker can be reached from Old Morrison Road west of South Chancery Street (Tennessee Highway 55), on the right when traveling west. Marker is located in Pepper Branch Park. 
Image credit:

17 August 1862: Union-occupied McMinnville
What I have written as occurring in our midst during last week—had continued the whole of the past week … Every day—nay—every hour these graceless tramps of Yankees are stealing and prowling about the place—and corn, fruit, vegetables, and chickens disappear with marvelous celerity. One month ago this place was as Mammy says “J’s linaded” with poultry—about 500 chickens—now there is not 50 to be found and they are going fast. We have been “pitching in” to them very freely ourselves also, during the past two weeks—thinking we would eat all we could to save them from the “blue devils.” … They even take the setting hens and their eggs —much good may they do them!
We had 44 head of hogs—now scarcely one can be seen anywhere. The goats will go this week I suppose, of course. They dig up the potatoes with their bayonets and have taken … up the cows and [are] milking them. Of peaches we have scarcely had any. I never go out side in the yard—and Nancy [a slave] tells me she will not go out into the garden for to milking without taking some of the children with her to watch for the Yankees. … Let the Col. holler at them when they are on a chicken chase, and they sink away out of sight, like a sheep-stealing dog. …
Two cordons of picket guards are placed around the town and camps—and so thickly are they set that it is impossible to pass them. All along the road above us they are posted—upon and around the bluff and along the river on both sides. …
I was quite surprised this morning, as I sat at my window to see Dr. Armstrong [a Unionist] riding up to the gate. [They had been unable to get medical help.] I met him very cordially for I was glad to see him on account of Puss [a slave or one of the children?]. He went to see her and pronounced her case not a serious one—says she needs strengthening treatment and ought by all means to have chalybeates water. I do wish I could take her to Beersheba, a chalybeates spring nearby; she is not willing to go unless I go with her. Then Dr. spent a long time with us—took dinner, etc.
I cannot see thro’ him exactly. I thought he was maneuvering to get the Col. to take the oath, if required. I studied him well as he talked and though he was maneuvering—so did the Col.—as he has since told me. How abominable it is to appear frank, cordial, and friendly to a person whom you all the time distrust—whose sentences you are weighing every moment—whose drapery so speak you scan keenly with an eye “that seeing all seems naught to spy”—to catch if possible the chance sheen of a hidden danger.
The Dr. may be a true friend—if he is I trust God will forgive my suspicions—if they are unjust no one would soon ask pardon than myself. But when he said that “some men” talked like the Col. ought to be brought in and made to take the oath—and argued that if he were the Col., and were taken, he would take it rather than be sent to prison and depart from his family, I thought he was maneuvering to get the Col. to say “Yes—so would he,” and he would have done it in order to paralyze his farther influence with the southern soldiery. I do not see why he should do this however, because it was only Darlin’s influence with these soldiers that saved his [the doctor’s] property, and his own life too when he was in the hands of the Confederates.
He told the Col. he would get him a pass to come to town to look after his hogs—and urged him to come to town as that would quash the little conspiracy hatching against him by men who thought he was staying out for fear, when he was only staying because he could not get a pass to go in. Now this looked as if he really had no wish to have the Col. made to take the oath, but on the contrary desired to have him passed over and put to no inconvenience. I cannot see the bottom of it yet—but time will show. …
The Yankees arrested Mrs. Lawson Hill, and brought her to town—as a hostage for her husband. They sent him word that if he did not come in, in two days they would cut down every tree in his orchard. He has immense orchards and a distillery for the fruit. Dr. Reid was arrested but subsequently released, whether or not he was made, to take the oath, I do not know.
Mr. Jesse Martin was arrested and put in prison. The troops tore up things dreadfully at his house, I am told. They broke open a trunk and took thence 1000 dollars in gold before his wife’s face—they accused him of assisting Brewster [a local partisan leader.] and his men to capture several Yankee wagons, teams, soldiers, etc., who went out in that direction on a foraging expedition. Martin has since been released—he was made to take the oath, of course. I wish there could be some hope of this force leaving, but I see no gleam of hope.
They have brought in large supplies of provisions from Murfreesboro by wagons, and hauled in immense quantities of forage from everywhere around us. They are positively eating the country up— destroying great quantities which they take—cutting down corn in the fields, etc. In town I am told, everybody’s garden is laid wasted, fencing burned up—and general desolation will reign supreme when they leave—if they ever do. They are working on the [Rail]Road [Manchester and McMinnville Railroad]. If that should be repaired and put in operation, perhaps, we might stand some chance for the winter—how it will be Heaven only knows. [Gen. William “Bull”] Nelson USA has left and another officer Gen. [Jacob] Ammen has taken his place. Nelson’s reputation is dreadful—he is cross, crabbed, crusty and full to the brim with curses. In short, it would seem from report[s] that he ate, drank, and slept, damning everything as he went. His troops seem to be like him for you can hear from the road the “God damns” in a perfect stream. It is execrable indeed.
The troops here number 15,000—there are smaller forces at Manchester, Tullahoma, Murfreesboro, and between this and Alexandria. …  A report has reached us also that there are 160,000 Confederates at Chattanooga—if so why don’t they move on up this way and clean out these wretches from here? … This week and last, on account of distress of the family, Puss’s illness and my increased cares consequent thereon, my own illness this week, and the warm weather all combined. I have allowed the children to go with[out] any lessons whatever, except to have Jessie practice … and indeed I had but little heart for that. …

25 August 1862: Long deep sigh of relief
I have drawn a long breath for the first time in 3 weeks—a long deep sigh of satisfaction and relief—the Yankees are gone! … Thank God! Thank God! And may He in His goodness and mercy grant that they never visit us again!

26 August 1862: The iron clamps are down on us again
How true it is now that “we know not what a day may bring forth.” I am saddened by looking over my record of yesterday. Then I was rejoicing that we could again have an opportunity to “catch our breath”—now the iron clamps are down on us again. This day is a type of the strain of suspense we are in all the time. This morning we heard early that the “Southerners were coming in upon every road,” and the news made our heats beat with hope and exultation. The Col. went to town—in an hour or two I saw some 15 men flying out the road in groups, some of whom I thought were Federals. “Ah!” thought I, “the Southerners are coming.” I did see some Federal flying I am positively certain. But about 11 o’clock the Col. came back saying that the Yankees were coming in and looking at the road that runs along the base of the mountain, I saw great clouds of dust—made by the returning marauders. Soon after a small body of the “blue” cavalry passed out in the direction of Murfreesboro. Some citizens came into town shortly afterwards reporting that these same cavalry were badly scared,—and it is thought they saw Southerners on the mountain and retired. These men said also that Nashville is taken by the Confederates—Nashville, Clarksville, and Gallatin. But how can we know? Just such a state of turmoil, and such a hey-day for Rumor, I have never seen.

31 August 1862: How we are to live this winter God only knows
Sadder than ever, and not well beside, I take up my old pen: again to record the doings and sufferings of the past few days. The threat of last Sunday was … made in good faith by the Yankees and intended to be permanent. This I am convinced of from the fact of the men saying they had learned that 70 thousand of the Secesh [Southerners] were advancing upon them. Also their burning up some stores, wagons, etc. which they could not get away. And also because I have learned that they say since their return that they were leaving, but meeting with Thomas division some 15 or 20 miles out, they returned. … That train, with its escort, the Yankees say was captured somewhere about Woodbury, by CSA Gens. [John Hunt] Morgan & [Nathan Bedford] Forrest, how true it is we cannot tell. Consequently these men are without tents and almost without provisions. What they lack however, they make up off the citizens—whatever they want, we are the sufferers.
Never shall I forget the scenes that occurred here on Wednesday morning. The pickets were out in very heavy force. … Soon after day light the whole place was crowded with them, racing to & fro, everywhere in search of food. … Some had the cows up in the corner milking them. Endless crowds beset the kitchen and smoke-house, begging, cussing and threatening, so that Nancy [a slave] had to just give over cooking breakfast. …
Other endless crowds were racing about the orchards, shaking down and crunching the half-ripe fruit with the fierceness of famine and the voracity of wild animals, while others in bodies of 15 to 30 were running down our fat hogs and killing them with rocks. … I saw them hem in and stone one poor fellow [a hog] to death myself out in the grove. Two others they killed in the same way at the limestone spring. How far it would have gone I know not. Had not the Col. went up to the Spurlock house where there was a Major quartered & entered protest. This officer ordered a guard out immediately and the wholesale destruction was cooled down for the time. … On Wednesday evening when that brigade left, the dust was so thick you could not distinguish the men & horses, and it rolled in clouds down through the grove, filling the yard full, and extending in great waves to the river.
On Friday evening some men came to the kitchen who acted worse than any had yet done—cussing, & spitting everywhere, going into everything in the cup-board & stove, inciting the Negros to run away, and upon finding out that they were better satisfied at home cursing them for fools, and trying to insult and aggravate them in every possible manner.
Last night they [the Yankees] expected to be attacked from the direction of Woodbury, and the men were drawn up in line of battle all along the road above us, … On the low flat just across from the house, I saw them stand in a solid body across the road, with their guns ready, and so I suppose they stood all night. … before I went to bed I looked out my window. The moonlight swept sweetly all over the grove and all was so still and hushed, you could not have conjectured there was an armed man in a thousand miles of the place; yet the shadows were full of them, … When I awoke this morning, no fight had occurred, nor do I imagine there will be one here.
In the mean time they have scoured the country in every direction, taking … everything that can be eaten. How we are to live this winter God only knows. … They took one man prisoner about 14 miles from here, for selling cattle to the Confederates. His wife was nearly distracted, & his only child, a little boy of some 7 or 8 years followed the party who were taking off the prisoners for a mile and a half, screaming and crying for his father. The father wept. They tried every way to get the child to return, but he would not. At last one of the men took him upon his horse and rode back with him as hard as he could go.
I have seen nothing of [Dr.] Armstrong this week, consequently heard nothing more of the Union conspiracy which was to make the Col. take the oath. … I have despaired of the Southern army doing anything for us here. Our prospects for this year are beyond repair, if we can keep from starving it will be as much.
I am told that … James Spurlock, & all the farmers in that direction are ruined, for this year at least, and that a body of cavalry went one night to Mrs. Spurlock (the white family being all in town.) and drove the Negros all off the place into the woods. This was done just for pure meanness. … Levi came out yesterday evening. I asked him the news. “Lord, Miss Ginnie,” said he, “there ain’t no news. There’s nothin but Yankees! We are just in the cordon of picket ports; sometimes we can’t get to either white gate. The one next [to] town they have taken off the hinges … “

Yet another image of young Lucy, while living in Memphis

3 September 1862: … so they could break into the house
This morning one week ago was the one upon which we were so overrun with Yankees that I felt as one feels in some horrible dream when fancy pictures hundreds of wild beasts all around you, and you almost at their mercy. On yesterday we were dreadfully annoyed with them about killing the hogs, and in the morning Nancy could not cook breakfast for them. The nasty, lousy things filled the kitchen, boiling their coffee & cooking their meat, our own pigs which they had killed, and then brought to the house to have cooked! The Col. told them he would certainly report them. They did not say much to him, but when he left the kitchen they talked all manner of impudence and threatening to the Negros. Nancy said she was so outdone she did not know what she was doing.
They said, “This man [John French] makes a mighty row about a hog or two, we ain’t going to leave him anything at all when we leave here. He’s a Secesh. These women over at the branch told us so. Just let him go & tell the officer, and [we] will not leave a stick standing on his place,” etc. And in the afternoon they were running the hogs again. They ran them down, or cornered them and killed them with their bayonets. These men were of the 21st Kentucky.
The Col. went down to the stable and spoke to them again. They cursed him and told him he was a Secesh that the Secesh has all cooked grand suppers when they left that Thursday and they (the said Secesh,) thought the Confederates were coming in and he was the one who had done it! This is a specimen of the lies they make up to justify (!) their excesses. They have pumped every Negro on the place dry a hundred times, to get something out of them so that they could break into the house. But the Negros have all acted with great prudence and discretion, …
Night before last a large body of men & an immense train came in from the direction of Murfreesboro. One of the Cols. & a squad of cavalry rode down to the steps. Darlin was sitting there. It was nearly twilight. The horsemen dismounted, & the officer said he was going to encamp two regiments in the grove. Darlin told him there was not water sufficient, pointed him to the Spring below the new stable, and directed him to the next hill. (below [the] Richardsons) where camps have frequently been made. He rode off not saying whether he would go on or not. But after a short while we saw the column move on to my inexpressible relief. … While Darlin was eating his breakfast some cavalry came dashing up to the stables hunting horses. Darlin ran out and carried Black to the lime-stone spring. The cavalry men not finding anything at the stables, went off, and Darlin came back & finished his breakfast. All this time and until 9 or 10 o’clock the mass of men, horses, wagons, ambulances, cattle, sheep, etc. surged along the road in front of us, & now, at nearly noon, the road & grove and everywhere, seems as quiet as if an army had never existed. … But alas our place shows what it is to be near the track of an army. Fences, gates, etc. are no more, cornfields, bare or trodden under foot, livestock all, or nearly all disappeared; gardens & flowers, withered & gone.

5 September 1862:The Southern Confederacy has too much brain for us
Yesterday was quite a busy day with me. Early in the morning Darlin wanted me to go in town to see Mrs. Rowan. I went out and gathered a beautiful bouquet for her, & put up in a box three nice pair of baby-socks for Mrs. Marbury’s babe. Then the Col. got on Black & I on the Gray Filly, & we set off. Just as we got up to the outer gate—or rather where it used to be—we met some of Forrest’s men, and I exclaimed, “God bless these old gray coats & brown jeans, how glad I am to see them once more!” We stopped and talked with them a little and then rode on. Below Richardsons where the Yankees had encamped, the place was a sight. In the house opposite the gate, there is not a pane of glass left, & some of the windows are gone, sash and all: the guttering torn down, door broken, etc. Everywhere gleamed the gaunt eyes of desolation.
Just as we rode into Mrs. Rowans yard we met Mr. & Mrs. Marbury on horseback. They had heard that some of the Yankees were returning and were getting out of town as soon as possible. We had not seen any Yankees so we stopped on our horses and talked a little while. I gave Mrs. Marbury the box. She said the Yankees had behaved scandalously at their place. Three of them had located their bounty land there and had quarreled over it out at Dr. Warders until they almost came to blows! We staid a short while at Mrs. Rowans. She looks dreadfully worn down and harassed. The Major being off hiding in the bush all the while the Yankees were here, & she having all to bear alone. She lost two Negro men; in all she says they damaged her about three thousand dollars worth.
Thinking that we would ride down to the Fair Ground to see the desolation there we started on, stopping at old Uncle George Purvis however, for all the family were at the door and Sam Pennebaker of Brewster’s company also. … Pennebaker grew excited as he spoke of the way in which things had been carried on at his house during his absence, (it was there they found the arms, & I learned that the place was literally ruined & the house so guarded that they would not allow even Armstrong to pass in to see Buttons sick child,) P. said he would have blood for their treatment of his family. …
This week we have had splendid rains & everything looks refreshed; the debris of the Yankees are I trust washed away. We have some few peaches left, and the place looks better since the rains. I learned yesterday that Gen. Ammen said to Dr. Armstrong, “The Southern Confederacy has too much brain for us; they out manage us. This was an admission for a Federal Gen. to make! Captain Spurlock [Captain Drury Spurlock of the 16th Tennessee] is at home; what a flutter there will be among the young ladies!
The children have attended to their lessons regularly this week, though Bouse [son Walter] was a little unwell yesterday. Puss [one of her daughters, I assume] seems to be improving somewhat, but very slowly. I wish the Col. would take her to Beersheba [a nearby spa] this week, and leave her there for a month. I have talked of going all summer, but first one thing and then another has postponed it, & I have not gone yet.

21 September 1862: A day of thanksgiving & prayer
This week has been a quiet, yet a busy one to me. The weather has been fine, & I have been engaged all the week in putting up peaches—what the Yankees left. We have quite a quantity of very late fruit which, as it was green as grass & hard as the nether millstone, when they were here, they condescended to leave. On yesterday we actually did have a mail from Chattanooga; it contained for us 3 letters from dear Mollie, all written previously to the one which was sent us by Cap Spurlock, …
Last Thursday was appointed by President Davis, as a day of thanksgiving & prayer for the victories in Ky. at Richmond, and on the old battlefield of Manassas. I was so sorry I did not learn anything of the proclamation until after the day had passed; however I suppose it made no very essential difference for I’m sure I thanked God with my whole soul—not only one day, but every day since we heard the glorious news. …
I have heard of the death of Mr. Rankin, Mrs. Reads father__ how hard it will go with poor little Maggie! Mr. R. was so harassed & tormented by the Yankees when Buell’s army was over in the valley, that his disease (fever,) was consequent upon these persecutions. His family may lay his death to the charge of these miscreants, as truly as if they had killed him with their bayonets.

28 September 1862: Mollie is coming
I have been in bed all day today, about the middle of the night awaking very unwell. I can write but little, and indeed have but very little to write. Things go on quietly with us at present & I am busy arranging the children’s clothing for winter, as well as I can. The weather is fine & genial, quite warm for the season. I received a letter from Mollie this week; dated the 15th in which she says she will be home the last of this month or the first of next. I shall soon begin to look for her & Jimmie. Jimmie has resigned his position as a cavalry officer, and gone into the ordnance department with the same rank & pay as formerly… His health was so delicate & uncertain that he found it impossible to remain in the cavalry. …

1 October 1862
I did not post up my journal on Sunday, being engaged in reading, etc. all day. This morning the servants heard heavy firing very early, in the direction of Nashville. I am all impatience to hear where & what it portends; what if it were Price & Breckenridge attacking Nashville? The townsfolk say the firing was heard there two hours before daylight. I trust we shall hear ere long, what it means. On Saturday (4th.) I went to see Mary Stubblefield & carried her a fuchsia in bloom, called then on Mrs. Crutcher, then on Mrs. Murry & Ann, then as I came home stopped at Mrs. Reads (Richardsons) and got some rose-slips, which I planted in boxes the same evening. Mrs. Crutcher, & indeed everybody had a good deal to say concerning the Yankees. …
One of them said to Mrs. C, They tell me you are the strongest kind of a Southern woman; of course she replies did you not expect to find Southern women in the South? An officer asked her if there were many Union people in McMinnville. She told him there used to be quite a number, but the Federal army had converted them; they were mostly good Secesh now. The Yankees said they intended to burn up this end of town because it was illuminated when Forrest brought the prisoners up from Murfreesboro. The illumination was that Gen. Forrest sent on a courier requesting the citizens to have water set out all along at their doors for the prisoners & the citizens had done so, setting out pails & tubs of water with lights near them so that they might see to get it! …
The weather now is very dry indeed; my roses would be blooming nicely notwithstanding the Yankees and the pigs, if it were not so dry. It is very warm too for the season, as warm as September or August. I have filled all my cans with peaches; October peaches which were so green when the Yankees were here that they could not use them.
I instruct the children every day. Bouse is engaged on the first lessons in drawing & he writes quite well. To-day he first commenced using a pen to write, & joining his letters together. He is now in his third copy-book. Jessie is still writing with a pencil; she sings & plays 8 songs very sweetly, they are Nelly Gray, Busy Bee, Hark! My Mother, Lazy Sheep, Ellen Bayne, Blue Juniata, Prairie Flower, & Maggie by my Side. Both the children read & spell quite well. …
Oh! that we could conquer a peace before hard weather sets in! I fear so for our soldiery. I am afraid they are not well provided for, and I see no general & well organized efforts to make them comfortable. I am ready & willing to cut up all my carpets to make covers or blankets for them if necessary. I have not now a spare blanket or comforter to send. They are all gone long ago to the camp, & the hospital. We can scarcely get clothes for our children & servants [they are slaves, Mrs. French] …

Skips from page 98 to 109 in the original transcript

19 October 1862: The ladies rushed out to meet the soldiers
The Secesh women were frantic with joy when [Gen. Edmund] Kirby Smith’s army arrived [in Lexington KY]—they even went to the absurd length of hugging and kissing the horses of the soldiers. … At Columbia the ladies rushed out to meet the soldiers, and told them to destroy the town if necessary rather than yield it to the Yankees. At Nashville, when the Lavergne prisoners were taken in, beautiful women rushed from their houses and caught the hands of the poor fellows, blessing them and pouring out words of commendation and comfort. Some even embraced them as brothers.

26 October 1862: The days are indeed dark and gloomy.
Politics seem to be running high at the North—the Democrats are taking up the cudgels against the Republicans, and if one knew how to count on Yankee demonstrations we might infer … that Lincoln would be shortly deposed, and sent home in disgrace. … McClellan has forbidden the discussion of politics in his army! The whole North is said to be groaning under the reign of terror inaugurated by the Radicals.

Skips from page 113 to 119 in original transcript

7 December 1862: I was inexpressibly wretched.
This is a clear bright day, but this morning was the coldest of the season. We had quite a snow on Friday last, & this morning the thermometer stood at 18 [degrees] out of doors. I think from present appearances that we are to have a very hard winter & sorry enough I am for it. I do dread cold weather so much.
The Southern army is at Murfreesboro, Shelbyville & the Yankees at Nashville. [CSA Gen.] Joseph E. Johnston has taken command of our forces. [Gens. Nathan Bedford] Forrest & [John Hunt] Morgan are skirmishing but that seems to be all of a forward movement anywhere.
Poor little Bouse [son Walter] who has been barefoot all this fall, got his shoes last night. … Mrs. Chasteen has promised him a shirt of jeans at 3 dollars per yd, but it is not woven yet. I would dress Bouse in it if I could get the cloth, of course I would prefer gray, but that is not to be had here. … I am as good as barefoot & have been so for three weeks, yet I cannot get my shoes, which have been promised for a month or more. Every species of clothing is very dear … The Negro boys have plenty of clothes, Yankee of course. … I would willingly give five dollars per yd. for such gray mixed cloth as used to sell for 75 cents, if I could get it. The bareness to which we are reduced would have seemed to me two years ago as incredible. We live on wheat coffee, pork, or goat meat, bread, (both corn & wheat,) & we have a few potatoes & turnips, & one cow. Butter is 1.00 per lb., eggs 1.50 per dozen. No sugar, no molasses, a little dried fruit, & some in cans, but nothing to sweeten it with.
During the past week I have been busy sewing, knitting, etc. it being my wish to get all such work of that kind off my hands by the New Year, when, if we have any luck, I would like to commence my study & book writing. Small advantages have I for this it is true & it will be as hard a task as Charlotte Bronte ever undertook, yet I want to make the effort. I may fail, or the book may fail, (which is more than probable.) yet I must try for two reasons. 1st Darlin will never be satisfied unless I do try, and as our circumstances may be poor indeed by the time this infernal war is over, I could not have any easy conscience unless I at least tried to do whatever was in my power to mend them.
We have no pleasures to look forward to now, but only duties; henceforth we are not to enjoy, but to labor, & endure. We shall belong to that class of the worlds drudges who work that they may eat & eat that they may be enabled to work. It is a cold & gloomy future, how different from that my imagination pictured two years ago! Yet it must be met, & met with stout hearts too, or we shall fail & fall by the wayside. May Heaven help us, & our children! …
All day Monday I lay in bed, my head wrapped in a shawl, the victim of the most demoniac neuralgia & morbid melancholy. Late in the evening there was a rap at the front door. The Col. went out; a young rebel officer desired to see Mrs. French. There were two of them, they were invited in, and one of them proved to be Brooks Trezevant, my good boy & especial favorite of former days. His companion was Lieut. Partee of Miss[issippi]. … I was so ill, I feared I could not see him, but next morning the Col. insisted on it, and I went for him to my darkened room. How surprised I was to see the little boy of 8 years grown into a gallant young gentleman of 19! Brooks is not handsome but he is good looking, intelligent, graceful & sensible. I don’t know when I have enjoyed anything more than my talks with this fresh young nature, full of hope and kindly feeling about old times, when Lide & myself were as the older sisters of Mrs. Lou’s children. We recalled a thousand incidents of home life at old Conquest Hall (now in the hands of strangers.) and Brooks enjoyed it just as much as I. He seems to have an exceedingly tender & sensitive nature. … How well I remember him a little black-eyed scamp of some 5 or 6 summers!
The above I wrote in the day time on Sunday while all were gone to church. I passed a sleepless night. I was inexpressibly wretched. I had a distracting pain in my head; my mind was as full of pain as my body, my eyes burned & I ached with their fierce rushes of tears. In the morning I was limp & weak as a rag.

7 December 1862
The bareness to which we are reduced [would] have seemed to me two years ago as incredible. We live on wheat, coffee, pork or goat meat, bread (both corn and wheat,) and we have a few potatoes and turnips, and one cow. . . . Butter is 1.00 per lb. and eggs 1.50 per dozen. No sugar, no molasses, a little dried fruit, and some in cans, but nothing to sweeten it with.

Skips from page 122 to page 128 in original transcript

28 December 1862: News from Murfreesboro
On Monday last I was quite sick all day. On Tuesday evening Brooks Trezevant came to spend Christmas with us. He brought me as a Christmas gift 25 lbs. of nice sugar, than which nothing could be more acceptable. On Wednesday having made a rise of a few dozen eggs (butter I could not get.) some turkeys etc., I set to work cooking Christmas goodies, and succeeded totally well, in fact considering the scarcity now prevailing; I succeeded beyond my most Sanguine expectations. We had to be Santa Claus ourselves this season, for cakes, apples, a little candy, & some picture books were all that could be procured for the children. We had to tell them Santa Claus couldn’t get thru the pickets, Jessie [younger daughter, nicknamed Bee] wanted to know why the old fellow couldn’t go to his Quartermaster & get him a pass?
They seemed to enjoy their Christmas quite as well as usual however, notwithstanding that Santa Claus was black headed, indeed I often feel rebuked by the way the children take what is set before them never complaining or repining that it is not better, or that they must now do without this, that, and the other to which they have been accustomed. [Cousin] Mollie gave me a beautiful silver waiter for a Christmas gift. I got her a handsome pair of pins & cousin John a set of shirt buttons, gold & enamel. Mollies pins were gold & turquoise. I got Bouse 2 sets linen collar & sleeves; Ting & Bee , white dresses; the Col some new socks & Brooks 6 pair of the same.
To each one of the servants I gave something, & so did Mollie, with the exception of Martha who got no Christmas on account of bad conduct [she took 20 dollars out of Mollie’s portmanteau]. This unpleasantness was the only one that happened during the holidays to mar our enjoyment. The Col. made Martha return the money immediately, but the occurrence annoyed us exceedingly; we lost all confidence in Martha’s honesty.
Last night the news came from Murfreesboro that there had been fighting all day Friday & Saturday on our front near Lavergne. All the troops here were ordered down immediately, & the news this morning is that a general engagement will take place to-day. Oh! how I wish it were over, & how I pray that the God of battles may give us the victory! Our all depends upon this issue; even the question are we to remain at home, or fly as refugees is to be decided by the result of this pending battle. I fear greatly that our army will fall back to the Tenn. river after this fight, & if so, we are lost. We cannot remain here.
Gen. [John] Buford USA left this morning for Murfreesboro with his cavalry, & the N. Carolinians leave tomorrow. Every one that I hear speak of it seems loath to leave McMinnville; they all say they have been treated so kindly here.

29 December 1862: Prelude to Stones River
On Monday morning Brooks [Trezevant] left in company with Capt. Burke, (the telegraph operator here) for Readyville, where Gen. [John P.] McCown force is stationed. On that day we heard that the continued cannonading which had been heard was only heavy skirmishing in front, & that a general engagement was expected soon to take place__ say in a day or two. We heard also that Gen. McCown’s command had been ordered forward to Murfreesboro.

31 December 1862: Battle of Stones River / Second Battle of Murfreesboro
This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro. It was a clear cold morning, with a brisk breeze setting from the North. I suppose there was 50 men left town for the scene of conflict, and everything in the shape of a soldier went.
I commenced writing my book in the morning, (my story was to commence on this day 2 years ago.) and the sound of the firing came rolling into the quiet of my chamber every few seconds. Every now and then I would pause in my occupation to utter the fervent prayer, God protect those gallant men who stand between us & the foe! My nerves were tensioned all day to an extreme pitch. I felt keenly how much depended on the issue of this battle. Not only the fate of our own noble State, but possibly that of the Confederacy, and assumedly our fate as a private family. This battle was to decide whether or not we were still to have a home, or be sent forth as refugees to find a sojourning place in a land of strangers.
Darlin went into town and came home about 11 o’clock with glorious news. … [Our troops] had whipped the enemy—loss heavy on both sides. … I could scarcely keep from crying for joy when Darlin’ told me the news. … I could not sleep for thinking of the poor fellows who were lying on the battlefield—some cold in death—others shivering with cold and writhing in pain…. [But] who was there with a warm glance to cheer their last agonizing hours?… The surgeons are busy tonight—the little city of Murfreesboro is full of the wounded. God help them!

1863 Timeline

2 January 1863: Summary of the Battle of Stones River
The Battle of Stones River was fought from 31 December 1862 to 2 January 1863, in Middle Tennessee. Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland marched from Nashville on 26 December 1862 to challenge CSA Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. On 31 December 1862 each army commander planned to attack his opponent’s right flank, but Bragg struck first. A massive Confederate assault overran one of the Union wings. A stout defense by the division in the right center of the Union line prevented a total collapse, and the Federals assumed a tight defensive position backing up to the Nashville Turnpike. Repeated Confederate attacks were repulsed from this concentrated line.
Fighting resumed on 2 January 1863, when Bragg ordered an assault on the well-fortified Union position on a hill to the east of the Stones River. Faced with overwhelming artillery, the Confederates were repulsed with heavy losses. Falsely believing that Rosecrans was receiving reinforcements, Bragg chose to withdraw his army on 3 January 1863 to Tullahoma; and lost the confidence of the Army of Tennessee. The battle was inconclusive, but the Union Army’s repulse of two Confederate attacks and the Southern army’s subsequent withdrawal were a boost to Union morale; and it ended Confederate desires for control of Middle Tennessee.

4 January 1863: Cap Spurlock is killed
The news of a great victory at Murfreesboro gladdened our hearts & we counted over the spoils as follows: 6000 prisoners, 3000 mules, 40 cannon, quantities of ordnance & ammunition, a good deal of coffee etc. for our sick, burnt six hundred wagons and killed Yankees in some places 10 to 1. Our loss in killed & wounded 5000. Alas! how was this triumph sullied with blood. After supper we were all sitting in the back room when Cooper [a slave] came to the door & said, “Mr. John Spurlock has just come from Murfreesboro and he wants you to come up there.”
Mr. Cap Spurlock is killed & they are bringing his body up now. Great God! I felt as if stunned by a thunder-bolt. Cap Spurlock killed! I could not realize it. I could not believe it. Alas! Alas! it was too true. We all three, Mollie, Darlin & myself went up immediately. The corpse had arrived. Oh! how very wretched it made me feel and how I wept and sobbed. He was in the hottest part of the fight; his company was stationed on both sides of the R.R. just where it crossed the pike. He had sprang on in advance of his men, cheering them on, when he was struck down. He fell & I suppose died instantly. The ball entered just below the left nostril & passed through his head, stopping just under the skin, This however, no one knew as the struggle was so fierce and the firing so furious that they fought over him from 2 o’clock until night, and it was 11 o’clock at night before his body was recovered.
His father was there; he had gone down with a wagon to carry the boys’ Christmas things; & he brought back the body of his son! We went into the parlor to see poor Cap as soon as he was laid out. His uniform was very bloody & had to be cut off him; they had dressed him in a fine suit of black cloth such as he used to wear before the war began. How noble and handsome he looked, & how natural! You could not notice the small place where the ball entered, it was concealed by his moustache, and his face was oh! so serene & calm & his mouth had a faint sweet smile upon it; he was paler than usual, but otherwise looked just like himself in a calm, sweet slumber. But oh! how wretched I felt to know that he was dead! About 10 o’clock they took him down to town to his mother. Darlin went with the corpse, and remained all night, John Lucas Thompson came with us. It was moonlight and there was a large and brilliant halo round the moon. … Oh! little did I think when on Wednesday night last I lay down in bed, and was thinking about the dead & wounded that then were lying out in the cold that our dear Cap was among them! …
On Friday afternoon we attended his funeral. I made a beautiful wreath of geranium leaves & Daphne. … In his coffin, still & pale, he looked the Christian hero that he was. A garland of geranium & evergreen was laid all around his head & shoulders; my wreath,   emblematic of the completeness of his life, lay upon his heart. Few looked on him without tears; his family and friends were overwhelmed with grief. The frantic exclamations of his mother … & the still, silent agony of the aged father, were terrible to me. About dark we came home in John’s carriage; I had cried so much & been so excited I was sick all night and all next day. It rained all day Saturday, & rained & blew furiously last night. …
About 8 o’clock last night Henderson came to the door & said Mr. John the telegraph operator says for you to come in there he’s got a dispatch for you. Boisterous and stormy as it was Darlin jumped on his horse & rode in. I was confident Brooks Trezevant was killed or wounded. Mollie & I sat here in the greatest suspense until Darlin returned. What is it? we asked breathlessly. “Go South immediately,” he replied! Our army was then retreating! Brooks Trezevant was safe, and I thanked God for that. …
What is to become of us, God only knows. I wish we could go to Georgia; yet how to get something to eat there, that is the question, And if the Yankees come in here, as they assumedly will, how are we to live here? I feel as though it was no use to try to save anything for we are ruined; let us go or stay. We may as well give it up. …

6 January 1863: A tribute to the memory of Cap & Cicero Spurlock
I wrote today a tribute to the memory of Cap & Cicero Spurlock* & will try to send it to Henry Watterson of the Chattanooga Rebel for publication. I wanted to go to Church today but it was so muddy & windy I could not. Darlin seems to have some idea of leaving here and moving to town. I look for the Yankees here very soon, sooner than we are ready for them. I expect nothing else but that they will come in and find us right here. …
8 October 1862: Cicero Spurlock killed at Perryville
Cicero was born in 1840, in Warren County, Tennessee. In 1860 he was living in McMinnville. He was killed 8 October 1862 at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky at the age of 22.
31 December 1862: Cap [Drury] Spurlock killed at Murfreesboro
Report of Colonel John H. Savage, Sixteenth Tennessee Infantry:
The following report of the conduct of the Sixteenth Tennessee Regiment in the battle before Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862, is respectfully submitted:
When the advance was ordered … I was directed by General Donelson to move along the railroad, but two companies to its right and eight on its left, taking the guide to the right. The advance was made under a heavy cannonade, and the line of battle and direction maintained, although serious obstructions impeded the march. The eight left companies advanced between the railroad and the turnpike in front of the Cowan house without the slightest protection, engaging a battery and the enemy’s infantry in the woods at a distance of less than 150 yards. The right companies advanced through a stalk-field to the edge of a cotton-patch. Here the enemy opened a heavy fire at short range from a line extending to the right as far as I could see. This killed Captain Spurlock, who fell while leading his men in the most gallant manner. … The men maintained the fight against superior numbers with great spirit and obstinacy. The left companies, being very near and without any protection, sustained a heavy loss. Thirty men were left dead upon the spot where they halted, dressed in perfect line of battle.

19 January 1863: 12th anniversary of our wedding day
Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of our wedding day. Ten years married & the first time I have failed to have a fine dinner on the anniversary. But in the midst of such scarcity how could I get up a fine dinner? A pound cake was all I could make for the occasion. I regretted it more because it was the tenth anniversary when I wished to have something extra.
We have had rain the most of last week which turned to snow and the weather was piercingly cold on Friday & Saturday—thermometer standing at 28 and 29 in the hall. Yesterday it moderated a little but to-day is cold & grey with a bleak thin wind. Morgan and a portion of his troops have been here all the past week, I had a sick soldier, one of Morgan’s men, & a comrade who attended him. The name of the sick one was Rice; he was 15 years of age. I did the best I could for him & next morning he was able to go on his way. Another staid all night Friday night, but we have been obliged to send off a great many because we really do not have provisions to feed them. We have bread & meat, wheat coffee & sassafras tea, a little milk & a very little butter. Oh! it is so hard for me to send those fellows off when they are polite and gentlemanly. When they are not I don’t care.
Our situation here is one of [great] anxiety and uncertainty. The Yankees we hear [have] advanced as far as Readyville. I don’t suppose their cavalry will come this way while Morgan is here, but there is no telling. Maj. Rowan has a dispatch from Harris yesterday which did not encourage us any. It was to the effect that we were not now safe, that the Yankees might come to McMinnville attempting to flank Bragg & if so Bragg unless re-enforced would be compelled to fall back to Chattanooga.
Last week Mollie commenced with the children and I commenced thinking & reading & writing preparatory to going on with my book again. I arranged all my old letters, getting out those received at the commencement of the war, for really my feelings since then have undergone such a change that I have forgotten how I felt when I defended the old Union with all my heart and soul. I was sincere then & I am sincere still, but oh! how changed in sentiment! I am glad I was a Unionist then, though glad I am not now; though I am not a secessionist now, nor ever will be.

15 February 1863: I have never passed so uncomfortable a season
Rain, rain, rain! It poured all last night & this morning is gloomy indeed. Cold indigo blue hills, wrapped in mists, raining at intervals, and everything dull, dripping & dreary to the last degree. … The middle of the month is here today, or rather yesterday which was St. Valentines, & I do sincerely trust that ere long will have some promise of good weather. In 14 days the winter will be over_ shall we have Spring then? I doubt it much. I have never passed so uncomfortable a season. Hard fare, and a house in confusion seem to strip life of half its attractions then the constant strain of suspense, apprehension of Yankee advances, etc. Oh! it is all very, very wearisome.

11 March 1863: Lincoln is a dictator
On Thursday, though it was a chilly day, it was bright & Darlin & I went to see Mrs. Scott & Mrs. Armfield. The roads were awful, & we had to go a round about way crossing the river on the old bridge. We found all well and much delighted to see us, if appearances go for anything. … Mrs. A. had made some nice little presents for the children which I brought home to them, together with some nice apples which she had reserved for them. I came home almost frozen. … There is no freedom now at the North. Lincoln is a dictator. Our independence depends now upon our steady front to the foe. If God would in His goodness grant us a triumph at Vicksburg, & at Tullahoma, we should have peace ere long.

McMinnville and the Civil War
McMinnville changed hands at least five times. After April 1863, it often served as a Federal base; fourteen forts and blockhouses eventually were constructed to guard against Confederate attack. Partisan bands harassed the Union garrisons with occasional raids. Warren County residents held slaves, but there were no large plantations and cotton was not a significant crop. McMinnville’s location placed the community at risk during the years 1862-1865. Often caught between armies, the town experienced frequent periods of internal strife. The last Federal troops did not leave until September 1865.

17 March 1863: A dinner party for Gen. & Mrs. John Hunt Morgan
On this date the Frenches host a dinner party for Gen. & Mrs. John Hunt Morgan. Lucy Virginia French remembers the evening in her journal:
I had the richest, clearest, and hottest coffee, light bread, biscuit, and waffles, potato cakes, stewed peaches and apples, Cole slaw, chicken salad, pickles sweet and sour, golden butter, a splendidly done turkey, and fine boiled ham, and to crown the repast a very large ‘snow cake’ that would just melt in your mouth, and a stand of the most elegant custard in silver cups. How everybody seemed to enjoy that supper! We had a charming time and everything passed off completely to my satisfaction. … Mrs. Morgan [Mattie Ready of Murfreesboro] was dressed in crimson silk with a black figure in it—point lace and pearls. I wore blue silk; Betty Reid had on a gray and Miss Sophie light blue silk.

May 1863: To Beersheba Springs to rest and write
In the spring of 1863, at the urging of her husband, Lucy accepts an invitation from Colonel and Mrs. John Armfield to come to Beersheba Springs, a popular resort community in the Cumberland Mountains south of McMinnville. In 1833 Beersheba Porter Cain, for whom it was named, discovered a large natural chalybeate spring and suggested that the water, with its high content of iron salts, contained medicinal properties. In the 1850s, the Armfields had bought out several landowners, sold lots to prosperous Southerners, and built a new luxurious hotel, which, along with the cabins and grounds, accommodated up to four hundred guests.
At Beersheba, Lucy could try to regain her health while McMinnville braced itself for the summer heat. In theory that would move Lucy away from household concerns and the most immediate military activities and allow her to live in relative peace where she could work uninterrupted on her writing projects. In addition to urging his wife to take time for herself, John French also financed the publication of her first book of poetry, Wind Whispers.

11 MAY 1863: First entry in the Beersheba diary
I am here on the misty mountain top—at kind, good Mrs. Armfield’s. Everything around me is congenial, and conducive to health. Everybody is extremely kind and attentive, and I think if I do not write here, it is clear that I cannot write at all. Last Wednesday we came up—it was a chill half rainy day, and the ride was melancholy to me. I had “inner reasons” for sadness—it seems to me I will never be understood, or have justice done me. Justice is all I ask, but it is the hardest thing for man to give woman. They will be lenient, affectionate, generous—anything and everything but just. I see this all around me … I have written twice to my darling children—heard from Mollie and the Col. twice … Today I commence in earnest on my writing—it seems so slow … I have never been so favorably situated for writing since I had children, and I feel the responsibility—deeply. I must made good use of my time, or be committing a grievous wrong.

Life at Beersheba Springs
After a few weeks of peace, the Frenches bring their three children, cousin Mollie Smith, and two [servants] slaves to Beersheba for the summer. The family crowded into one wing of the main house while the slaves lived with the Armfields’ slaves. The idea of Lucy having a break from the war and disturbing incidents on the home front was a good one, but there is no respite from the outside world and the breakdown of society.

10 JUNE 1863: We have been expecting an attack from robbers
A perfect storm this morning with lightning and thunder. It has stopped now (9 o’clock.) but the east wind is blowing strongly & clouds hang along the mountains. For the past two days we have had no news, and the mountain people report that they heard cannonading in the direction of Murfreesboro all day on Monday. The weather is cool; we have fires always in the morning.
For two nights past we have been expecting an attack from robbers. It is a band of lawless depredators who … stop men on the high[way] in day-time & rob them. A few nights since they went to the house of an old citizen near Altamont and telling him if he stirred out of his tracks they would kill him; took everything they wanted, but did not get his money, which was concealed by his wife.
Those same thieves have been threatening Beersheba & Mr. Armfield. For two nights, seven gentlemen have slept here, all armed with double-barreled shot-guns & revolvers. A sentinel stands guard each night in front of the house, which is the only approach to it almost. The tramp, tramp of the men at night on the galleries, and their warlike preparations of defense remind me of stories I have read of old Border feuds, or tales of Spanish romance.

Yankees and Bushwhackers
Residents at Beersheba lived under constant threat of harassment from Yankees one day and bushwhackers the next. Nothing is safe; personal property that could not be buried was sacrificed. Finally, in an effort to achieve some kind of protection from these gangs, Armfield and John French traveled to McMinnville and took the oath of allegiance to the Union. Tennessee was already lost to the Confederacy.

26 July 1863: The Beersheba Raid
Scenes enacted here beggar description. Early in the morning the sack [pillage and plunder] of the place began. But a few of the bushwhackers were in—the mountain people came in crowds and with vehicles of all sorts and carried off everything they could from both hotel and cottages. … They were emptying Mrs. [Cockrill’s] house as we went to the school house, and two rough fellows were in our room playing the melodeon [a small accordion]. … [The] scenes we witnessed are indescribable. Gaunt, ill-looking men and slatternly, rough, barefooted women stalking & racing to and fro, eager as famished wolves for prey, hauling out furniture—tearing up matting and carpets.
[The Union soldiers] amused themselves by pulling down the chandeliers in the dining room, throwing ink bottles against the wall in the office—setting up bottles of wine upon the long Piazza and rolling nine-pin balls at them—using bottles for pins, (the Piazza floor was crimsoned with claret,) cutting the green cloth from the elegant billiard tables, one of which they broke to pieces, and divers other capers of like caliber such as distinguish Yankees wherever they may go.
It has been a memorable day this 26th July 1863—when ‘the master’ [Armfield] went down … to town ‘to take the oath’ and become in Lincolnite parlance a ‘subjugated rebel’—and Beersheba was sacked in his absence by a wild onset from the very people [mountaineers] he has been building up for years!

29 July 1863
I felt pretty well this morning and learning that Mrs. Cain—the lady who discovered Beersheba Springs—was going to leave in an hour or two for McMinnville, I went up with Darlin to tell her good-bye. … We found Mrs. Cain up and ready for her journey, but was not able to get off this morning on account of a wagon tire being broken. She will leave as soon as it can be repaired. I found that Mrs. Hill—[Mary Vesta Hill, wife of Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Hill] had left on the night at 12 o’clock. …

In her diary Lucy French reveals that she and her friends have begun calling the bushwhackers, ‘the Gentlemen.’ Bushwhackers are  irregulars, crude & primitive, who hide in the woods, attack the opposition, and loot the locals.

5 August 1863: Gentlemen and irregulars
On Monday I was excited all day. The place was full of people, the bushwhackers in force and very bold. … They seemed to have a passion (a sudden one) for roaming about the cliffs below the house and garden and I set the girls (daughters Jessie and May) to stand picket on ‘the rock’ because a great many of my valuables were out in the bushes on the hanging cliffs below us. Fortunately they did not find [any] of them. …
Mr. Madden came up from McMinnville last evening. … His report is that the Yanks are very quiet in McMinnville—afraid to stir about much for fear of Forrest [cavalryman Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA] … The Yanks are fortifying McMinnville … They are pressing all the Negro men to work on the fortifications. …
I was better in health and spirits last summer at this time, at home and bound down among the Yankees than I am at present. … I feel actually worn out with constant worry which I have lived in for three years. ‘The constant drop will wear the stone’ …

12 August 1863: Bushwhackers!
On Sunday last when I wrote in my journal I was … so low down as to persuade myself I didn’t care one jot for the Confederacy or anybody in it—which was a dreadful pass for me to come to. About dark I was walking on the gallery—we were all out there … when three horsemen dashed by at full speed—we caught our breath, and ‘Bushwhackers!’ was echoed from lip to lip.

2 September 1863: A group of lawless thieves
“That doomed hotel,” writes Lucy Virginia French in her diary on 2 September 1863. That day a group of lawless thieves broke into the apartment of Tom Ryan, the Irish overseer of the closed inn, took what they wanted, and set fire to papers, straw carpets, and clothes. … Just then a maid of the French family was passing by and ran to tell her mistress that Ryan’s rooms were on fire. Lucy’s son Bouse, age nine, ran to the hotel cistern with an earthen crock. He made many trips as he dashed water on the flames and saved the property from total destruction.

12 October 1863: Lawless men roam at large
We are environed by dangers on every side and live as it were on the brink of a precipice. Robberies take place every day or two, and we know not when our turn may come. Lawless men roam at large, all about, belonging to neither, or both armies, but whose only object is rapine [the violent seizure of someone’s property] and plunder. I see that the Abolition Nashville Union exalts in the fact that Warren county has been desolated.

1864 Timeline

30 March 1864
Yesterday’s news was that France has certainly recognized the South; Charleston has really been abandoned by the Federals in despair, Grant has been ordered to [supersede] Meade in Va., to try his hand against the greatest man of the times—Gen. Robert E. Lee.

18 September 1864
Today is the day appointed by [Gov.] Andy [Andrew] Johnson, as the day of thanks-giving and rejoicing over … success of the Federal arms—and the military are to be made to give thanks and rejoice at the point of a bayonet! How worthy of the famous, (or rather in-famous) Andy! McClellan accepts the nomination of the Chicago Convention, but in his letter of acceptance clearly ‘shows his teeth’ in favor of war, viz. unless the South consents to return to the Union [What?]. …

20 November 1864
I have written nothing since election day…. I suppose [the gloomy weather] is prophetic of the second term of Abraham, assisted by the Tailor of Tennessee [Andrew Johnson].

27 November 1864
Peace is a thing no longer to be even dreamed of. It is like a beautiful mirage—a nothingness—a myth of the by-gone time with which we poor war-ridden wretches have nothing else to do, I have laid aside all thought—all hope— all prayer for peace—and shall only strive now to accept our fate as courageously calmly and patiently as I can.

25 December 1864
Christmas 1864. Tonight I have but one thought—the cause of the South has gone down. … For my part I freely acknowledge that I can see no brightness now for the Confederacy. … Oh! I felt very, very sad this morning— our Christmas times are no longer [a] holiday—as of years [before]. How dark and darker they grow! I am [ready] tonight to cry. Oh! God give us peace, peace on any terms!

1865 Timeline

1 January 1865
[Still] we are under the clouds—as dull and gloomy as ever—perhaps even more so. There seems but little to live for—yet we live on. … Life to us is devoid of pleasures—and is made up of endurances. … To look back is most saddening— to look forward, even more disheartening for it seems we have nothing for which to hope. … I feel discouraged in every way—our cause seems to be sinking day by day…. [As] a family we merely get along, as agents for any good anywhere—we are powerless.

8 January 1865
The sentiment among officers and men caused them to say, “There will yet be a Confederacy!” … I do not see that the prospect is very brilliant at present. … I do want to improve myself during all these years we are compelled to live under the cloud of war. … But yet I almost despair of being able to accomplish anything.

24 January 1865
There is a contraband camp [near McMinnville] where … poor wretches literally freeze to death by dozens during this severe weather—they have no clothes scarcely—bedding, shelter, and food the same, while their friends the Yankees curse and abuse them for everything low and vile and no account. Of course, who expected anything else? The papers at present are full of Peace rumors. I think the Yanks are becoming quite as weary of the war as Rebs are reported to be…. A more important rumor is the old one revived—Intervention of England and France. It is stated that they will … recognize Mr. Lincoln as President only of the States which elected him—thus recognizing the Confederacy.

22 FEBRUARY 1865
Last Wednesday was the 22nd Feb.—the day appointed by the Johnson and Brownlow Convention for the people of Tenn. to vote the State back into the Union as a free State! … A sadder day and sadder faces I think I never saw. It was an understood thing … that everybody should vote ‘Ratification.’ Federal bayonets were on hand—the motive power—and men marched doggedly into [McMinnville] voted, and immediately slunk home again—as if saddened, perhaps ashamed.

30 March 1865
The Yankees look upon the Rebellion as having all its legs now broken all to pieces—its backbone which has been cut in two—’chawed up’ [chewed up] and otherwise demolished … is not annihilated, & the whole Confederacy like an over-ripe pear, falling to pieces of its own inherent weakness is about to precipitate itself piece-meal into the victorious arms of Sherman and Grant.

9 April 1865: General Lee surrenders.
In her diary Lucy Virginia French expresses a weariness she has never felt and frequent headaches. Her house, Forest Home, once her haven, is now in need of extensive repairs. She is certain their wealth is gone.

Lucy Virginia Smith French Marker
Poet and author, born 1825 in Accomac County, Va. Moved to Memphis ca. 1845, where she taught school and published poetry under the pseudonym “L’Inconnue”. Editor of several Southern literary magazines; married John French in 1853; moved to his McMinnville residence, “Forest Home”.
Published several volumes of prose and poetry including, Wind Whispers, 1856; Legends of the South, 1867; and Darlingtonia, 1879. Died 1881, buried Riverside Cemetery.
Erected by Tennessee Historical Commission.
35° 41.26′ N, 85° 47.591′ W.
McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee.
On West Main Street (Tennessee Route 380) west of Bradford Road.

23 April 1865: Rumors fly faster than truths
A great tragedy has been enacted … in the assassination of Lincoln and Seward. … I was out in the front yard clipping some cedars when the Col. [her husband] came to the door … and he said very quietly, ‘Well, Lincoln is dead.’ I had not the smallest idea it was true. … The story [we read was] that Lincoln and [Andrew] Johnson had been at the theatre together—a man had rushed up and stabbed both—killing Lincoln and mortally wounding Johnson, and the assassin had himself been killed on the instant. …
Next day, in addition, comes the report that Seward had had his throat cut also; then I didn’t believe any of the story. Thursday, however, a courier came from Tullahoma & Mollie came from Woodbury. The story then ran that Lincoln & Mrs. L went to the theater. Mr. L. was shot in the head in his box by Wilkes Booth son of Booth, the actor, & that he escaped on a fleet horse.
The same evening Seward’s room was entered; his two sons were murdered & he himself had his throat cut from ear to ear. …  Andy was inaugurated next day. … We are told also that about 30 citizens in Nashville were arrested because they implicated Andy in the assassination of Honest Abe. Some persons in Murfreesboro took the crepe from their doors, which had been placed there by military order. The houses were entered & the furniture destroyed or carried off. … In town, soldiers exerted themselves to draw citizens into some expression of joy over the tragedy so that they would have a pretext for ill-using them. I feel that it is dreadful—a tragedy solemn even to awfulness.

10 May 1865: Mollie was carried away to Tullahoma
Lucy’s cousin Mollie Smith is arrested for expressing joy at the news of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. As the Frenches prepare to defend her, Dr. Armstrong organizes a petition among the community’s Unionists on her behalf. And Union Lt. Colonel W. J. Clift, a long-time citizen of McMinnville, advises her how to answer the questions she would be asked. Mollie is released without charges.

14 May 1865: They sleep among strangers in unknown graves
But little has passed since I last wrote, and nothing has yet transpired as to the final settlement of our affairs. We understand that trade restrictions are being removed and the Federal army is being reduced, by resignations of officers, mustering out of men, cutting down Quartermasters Departments etc.
None of our Boys have yet returned from their regiments, some of Lee’s paroled soldiers who live up in the counties north of us have passed, but none of those belonging to this town or vicinity have as yet come in. Probably they will be in the 22nd of this month, which was the day they all started out in 1861. Poor fellows, four long years of service, hardship & suffering, & all for what? … Some are sleeping here in our crowded graveyard and many will never even be so near even in death—they sleep among strangers in unknown graves, on dreary battlefields. …
It is perfect folly for us to sit down here and let circumstances grind on—unless we make new conditions with fortune, we will find ourselves ground exceeding[ly] small before many years. … There is no use in waiting for things to turn up now; we ought to put our shoulders to the wheel & turn them up. I do not suppose I will ever learn to be patient. … I don’t see how I can well afford to be so. Our time here will be short; what we do we ought now to be doing with our might, but I suppose we will sit here [until] our time [is] out & drop into the grave like thousands around us, having done no more or being no better than they.
I begin sometimes to feel quite charitable towards the North but the moment I catch sight of these blue things I am full of resistance & rebellion. How I do hate them! And how I want to let ’em know it to the full! Sunday May I have just been looking over the above writing & smiling at it a little; it is so impatient. Well, I try to be patient Heaven knows, but I do not succeed in being so at all times. I got very angry once this week, insomuch that the Col. lectured me a little about it & told me I looked exceedingly ugly in that condition! Well, I was angry & as I conceive not altogether without cause.

29 May 1865: Pres. Johnson issues his Amnesty Proclamation
Johnson’s Reconstruction strategy disenfranchises large land-owners (anyone with taxable property over $20,000) and former Confederate military leaders until their individual petitions for amnesty are approved; the federal government also now requires all states to ratify the 13th Amendment; only 10% of the voting population of any Southern state must take a loyalty oath in order for the state to be readmitted to the Union.

26 June 1865: I want to sell out & leave here.
A very lovely day—cloudy in the morning with much appearance of rain, but cleared off about 10 o’clock with a pleasant breeze. Cleaned house up all over after breakfast, dressed, went down to see Mammy [old slave is sick], came back & heard all the lessons, had dinner, cut out a pair of linen pants for the Col. & now sit down to write a few lines.
On last Thursday I sent a political letter (private) to the Eds. Cincinnati Enquirer, … I am so sick of the present Press of strong Unionism & feeble intellect! It is too much for my patience. … [Lucy’s new chores; most of their slaves ran away] I milk, and set table, make beds, clean & sometimes assist Puss in ironing. …
On last Thursday I sent a political letter (private) to the Eds. Cincinnati Enquirer, … I am so sick of the present Press of strong Unionism & feeble intellect! It is too much for my patience. … [Lucy’s new chores; most of their slaves ran away] I milk, and set table, make beds, clean & sometimes assist Puss in ironing. …
I want to sell out & leave here, and go to Huntsville, Ala. I am weary of this stupid place. I want to get where there is some progress and some civilization. There is no life here; no vitality in anything. I don’t intend to buy anything I can possibly do without until the hard times loosen themselves in some manner. Oh! I must stop writing; sitting down in this way makes me so sleepy & dull. I must stop & go off & do something.

20 August 1865: I have tried to do my duty
Very many bitter thoughts came over me—I have tried to do my duty—but those whom we know have been mean and inconsistent, nay even wrong, but have been successful in life and we have lost—lost until there is little left now to lose. I do feel discouraged—so weary—so worn out with hoping and working and all to no purpose. I have tried so hard, and still seemed to go back all the time … I now feel pleasantly ready to sit down by the wayside and never strike another lick. … What a wretched, savage mood I am in today. It wears me so. I wish I had a live book to read to take me out of myself. I will try Shakespeare then for my amusement.

Thus ends the diary Lucy Virginia French kept from February 1862 to August 1865.

My Roses, a novel (1872)

31 March 1881: Lucy Virginia French passes on
Lucy Virginia Smith French dies at Forest Home after a long illness, and is buried in the little cemetery there.

Clopper Almon, Editor, “Beersheba Springs, A History,” Volume I: General History, the Hotel­ Assembly, and Shops, 2010 Edition, Beersheba Springs Historical Society,

Connie Lester, “Lucy Virginia French’s Civil War,” for Civil War in the Borderlands, accessed 14 December 2020,

“Lucy Virginia French Diary,” Civil War Talk, accessed 14 December 2020,

“Lucy Virginia French Diary,” Tennessee Virtual Archive, accessed 22 August 2021,

“Lucy Virginia French Diary,” Tennessee Secretary of State Files, accessed 27 August 2021,

“Lucy Virginia Smith French,” Shades of Gray and Blue, website co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University Libraries, Middle Tennessee State University Walker Library, and the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, with generous support from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, accessed 14 December 2020,

“Lucy Virginia Smith French’s Journal–Near the War’s End,” Shades of Gray and Blue, accessed 27 August 2021,

“Occupation of McMinnville,” Historical Marker Project, accessed 22 August 2021,

“Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook,” Searchable collection of over 7,000 articles, Tennessee State Library and Archives, accessed 27 August 2021,

“The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Timeline,” Tennessee in the Civil War, accessed 27 August 2021,

“Union-occupied McMinnville,” Tennessee Secretary of State Files, page 224, accessed 27 August 2021,

“War Journal of Lucy Virginia French,” Civil War Sourcebook, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Civil War Resources, Tennessee Historical Commission, accessed 27 August 2021,

TSLA, Diaries, Memoirs, etc., French, L. Virginia (Smith), War Journals, AC nos. 89-200 and 73-25.

Herschel Gower, editor, “Beersheba Diaries 1863—1864,” Beersheba Springs Historical Society, 2007

Anderson County Tennessee in the Civil War

Anderson County was originally a part of Knox County, which once extended all the way to the Kentucky border. By 1801 there were enough people in the region to establish a new county, which they named Anderson for Judge Joseph Anderson. A county seat was also created that year near a popular spring on the Clinch River. It was named Clinton for Thomas Jefferson’s vice president, George Clinton. The county grew slowly for the next sixty years. As in most of East Tennessee, the mountainous terrain was not conducive to the large farms and sprawling plantations that developed in the other two divisions of the state—Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee.
On the eve of Civil War in 1860, Anderson Countians loyalties were deeply divided. On 8 June 1861, they voted against seceding from the Union, 1,278 to 97. No major Civil War battles were fought in Anderson County, but, as in most Northeast Tennessee counties, there were Union and Confederate sympathizers. Divided loyalties often erupted into violence. Guerillas on both sides raided farms and tormented their enemies. Bushwhackers attacked by surprise from hidden locations. The County suffered greatly during the Civil War years, but change came rapidly in the decades following the War. Farming resumed and the county prospered.


Violent Clashes: “Flying … in the wildest disorder”
With the threat of war looming, Anderson County residents voted overwhelmingly against secession in 1861. When Confederate forces occupied East Tennessee and established a conscription center at nearby Clinton, Unionists slipped into Kentucky to evade the draft and join the Union army. Many used nearby “Eli’s Cabin”, built by county resident Eli Ward, as a safe house.
Although fortunate to escape the state’s most devastating battles, soldiers clashed at nearby Wallace’s Crossroads on 15 July 1862. Union Gen. George W. Morgan wrote of the fight, “On Tuesday noon [Union] Gen. [James G.] Spears, with a party of infantry, attacked 500 of the enemy’s cavalry at Wallace’s Cross Roads, near Clinton. A citizen reports that at 2 p.m. of that day he net about 300 of the enemy flying toward Knoxville in the wildest disorder; some were on horses, but without coats or arms; others were bare-headed and no arms. It was a complete panic, and they had gone at full run for the distance of 9 miles and were still flying.”
As the war progressed, loyalties remained divided. Guerilla violence increased as unionists and Confederate sympathizers clashed. Years of deprivation and violence took a toll on local residents. After the war, the county gradually recovered, aided by the construction of the Knoxville and Ohio Railroad in 1867.
Bottom box
In 1942, the Army Corps of Engineers began acquiring land around Oak Ridge for the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb. Many communities that had survived the Civil War, such as Wheat, Scarboro, and Robertsville, were moved or demolished. A small slave cemetery in the Wheat community, (believed to be part of the Gallaher-Stone Plantation) remains nearby and contains 90 marked graves with no inscriptions.
Location. 36° 0.746′ N, 84° 15.461′ W. Marker is in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in Anderson County. Marker is on South Tulane Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located in front of the Oak Ridge Public Safety building.
Images on marker.
Left image
Gen. George W. Morgan USA
Center image
Gen. James G. Spears USA
Upper right image
Map of Kentucky and Tennessee 1862
Bottom right image
Formation of guerrilla bands
Marker erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

Sarah Taylor: Daughter of the Regiment
Sarah Taylor (1841–1886) was a schoolteacher before the Civil War, a reasonably peaceful lifestyle for a young lady of the period. However, she must have had a strong sense of adventure as well. In September 1861, twenty-year-old Sarah left her home in Anderson County, Tennessee and traveled to Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky—some 150 miles away.
Sarah’s stepfather, James A. Doughty, a Knoxville native, had recently been appointed captain of Company K of the 1st Regiment Tennessee Volunteer Infantry in the Union army at Camp Dick Robinson. It was the habit of some regiments on both sides of the war to select one of the men’s daughters to be the daughter of the regiment. In this case, the soldiers of Company K chose the stepdaughter of their captain. The title of the daughter of the regiment was pretty much symbolic and a morale-booster for the soldiers, but these daughters also worked as nurses and served food and drink to soldiers in the field.

Young lady wearing a knee length dress over long pants, similar to the outfit Sarah Taylor would have worn.

These young women often created their own uniforms, which was some form of short skirt over long pants. Long, flowing dresses with crinolines would not have worked on the battlefield. When the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment marched away from Camp Dick Robinson toward a battle at Camp Wildcat in southeastern Kentucky, Sarah went with them. A reporter from the Cincinnati Times described Sarah’s uniform as:
She has donned a neat blue chapeau, beneath which her long hair is fantastically arranged; bearing at her side a highly-finished regulation sword and silver-mounted pistols in her belt, all of which gives her a very neat appearance. … She wore a blue blouse and was armed with pistols, sword, and rifle.
Although she was well-armed to defend herself, young Sarah was captured by the Confederates but was later paroled, probably after she promised to go home. The tale of her troubles appeared in an article in the Memphis Daily Appeal on 18 July 1863:
Sallie [nickname for girls named Sarah] Taylor, “La Fille du Regiment” (French for daughter of the regiment). This notorious (beautiful, though she was) woman was arrested, as our readers will remember, some months ago and discharged upon her parole, has kept herself quiet recently, when, as we are informed, she so far captivated, if not captured, a private in Cobb’s battery stationed at Clinton, as to induce him to steal the horse of one of the lieutenants of his company and to escape with her into Kentucky, where she may resume in propria persona her nom de plume of “Daughter of the 1st (Bird’s) Tennessee regiment.


Civil War in Anderson County: Skulking bushwhackers
Divided loyalties in Anderson County, as elsewhere in East Tennessee, often erupted in violence. It was commonplace for guerillas on both sides to raid farms and capture opposing sympathizers. In the county seat of Clinton, Confederates established a conscription center to draft men into military service. Many Unionists, trying to avoid conscription, stole across the border into Kentucky to join the Federal army. They used ‘Eli’s Cabin,’ built by county resident Eli Lovejoy Ward, as a safe house to rest and eat before heading over the mountains.
A small engagement occurred in the county on July 25, 1862, when a Federal foraging party fired on Confederate cavalry pickets at Clinton Ferry. Confederate forces moved quickly to establish control of the area. An East Tennessee correspondent for the Atlanta Intelligencer reported, “The number of [Confederate] troops gathering here renders this a place of some interest … situated on the Clinch river, twenty miles north of Knoxville. … Cooking utensils, baggage and tents, have been given up, and large supplies of ammunition are being collected. There are no armed enemies near us, except the skulking bushwhackers, and they are getting extremely cautious in their movements.” Even after the war ended, resentments lingered.
Lower right box.
Norris Dam State Park, built in 1933 as the first Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) project, features 4,000 acres along the Norris Reservoir, which furnished electricity and controlled flooding in the Tennessee Valley. A corn and wheat mill, constructed in Union County by James Rice in 1798, was dismantled in 1935 and reassembled on Clear Creek. The building has served as a sawmill, cotton gin, and source of power for the Rice homestead. The nearby Old Emery Road, “cut and cleared” in 1787, was the first authorized road connecting Kingston to Knoxville and Nashville. Travelers stayed in the David Hall Cabin, a tavern built in 1799. Confederate soldiers occupied it during the war.
Images on Marker.
Left image
Union refugees
Courtesy Library of Congress
Middle image
Mountain Region of North Carolina and Tennessee, 1864
Courtesy Library of Congress
Upper right image
Guerillas meeting with scouts
Tennessee State Library & Archives
Lower right image
Old Rice Mill, Norris Dam
Tennessee State Library & Archives
Marker erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Location. 36° 12.728′ N, 84° 4.378′ W. Marker is in Norris, Tennessee, in Anderson County. Marker is on Norris Freeway (U.S. 441) 0.1 miles south of Clear Creek Road, on the left when traveling south. Marker is in the parking lot of the Lenoir Museum. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2121 Norris Freeway, Norris TN 37828.

Samuel Black
Samuel was born 29 March 1840, was raised on a farm, and was educated near Clinton [Anderson County seat] and in its own schools. He worked on the farm until August 1861, when he enlisted in Company H, of the First (Federal) Tennessee Infantry, in which he served until the organization of the Third Infantry, when he was promoted lieutenant of Company C and served as such for three years. Black was discharged 28 February 1865, at Nashville, and began farming again, and has continued with decided success up to the present. He now owns 300 acres on Clinch River and is one of the prosperous and well-to-do farmers of his district.

Henry Clear, Jr.
Henry was born in Anderson County, 8 January 1846 and educated in its schools. In October 1863 he left home and went to Knoxville where he enlisted in the Ninth (Federal) Tennessee Cavalry, serving throughout the war. He was twice wounded, the first time in the right arm at Greeneville, Tenn., and next in the left side at Bull’s Gap, Tenn. He was mustered out 11 September 1865 at Knoxville and returned home. On 31 December 1865, Henry married Martha E. Wallace, with whom he had eight children.

H. C. Coward
H. C. was born 13 March 1846. He enlisted in the Confederate Army in June 1863 joining first the Seventeenth regiment, Tennessee Infantry, Bushrod Johnson’s brigade and in August joining the Fourth Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry (Confederate) commanded by Paul Anderson. He was captured on 8 March 1864 near Ringgold, Ga., and on being taken before the provost-marshal and given his choice of imprisonment or taking the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government, he wisely chose the latter and went to Nashville where on 9 March 1864 he joined the Federal Army under the assurance that the war was about over and he would have little or no fighting to do. Contrary to his expectations he was at once sent to the front with the Fourth Regiment, Tennessee Federal Cavalry and in Heard County, Ga. was captured by the Confederates, 3 August 1864 and sent to Andersonville prison, remaining about thirty-two days and was then removed to Charleston and finally to Florence, S. C., and in 1865 was paroled after seven month’s imprisonment. He remained at home a year after the war, and then traveled from State to State until 1872, and in 1882 purchased the McBath Mills on Bull Run Creek which he has operated up to the present. On 4 June 1871, he married M. F. Vaughn. They had seven children.

Henry P. Farmer
Henry was born in Anderson County, Tenn., 20 July 1844 and is the son of Nathan A. and Filena J. (Hoskins) Farmer. The father was born in Anderson County, in Dutch Valley, 11 April 1803 and was the son of Henry Farmer a native of Halifax County, Va.  He was one of the first settlers of Anderson County he clearing a farm in Dutch Valley at a time when there were but few white men in the county and Indians were numerous. Henry was reared on the farm and acquired his education in the neighboring schools and Clinton.
He worked on the farm until 28 May 1863 when he enlisted in Company C of the Eleventh (Federal) Regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry and in Company I of the Ninth Regiment after the consolidation of the Eleventh and Ninth Regiments. He was captured at Wyman Mill, Lee County, Va., 22 February 1864 and was imprisoned at Belle Isle [Virginia]. After a month’s confinement he was paroled 22 March 1864 and sent to City Point and thence to Annapolis, Md., then to Camp Chase, Ohio, then to Nashville, and in June of the same year rejoined his command at Cumberland Gap. He was mustered out of service at Knoxville 11 September 1865 and returned to the farm and has since followed farming.

William R. Hicks
William was born in Knox County, Tenn., 16 December 1842, the son of Richard N. Hicks, who settled in the Sequatchie Valley at an early date. William was reared on the farm and attended the neighborhood schools.
On 7 August 1861, he enlisted in the Second (Federal) Regiment Tennessee Infantry. He was captured at Rogersville, Tenn., 6 November 1863 and confined in Confederate prisons at Belle Isle, Libby and Andersonville and 9 September 1864 was removed to Charleston, SC, and finally discharged in the following December. While en route to Charleston he escaped from the [railroad] cars at Augusta, Ga., but after walking sixty miles was picked up by Confederate patrols and carried to prison again. He was mustered out of service at Knoxville in February 1865 and returned to his home in Anderson County.
For a year following the war he farmed and then decided to improve his education and entered school at Bushy Fork. For a year he attended school at different places and then began teaching. On 19 March 1868 (his wedding day) he borrowed a copy of Blackstone and began to read law. He was admitted to the bar in 1872 and at once began practicing in Clinton [the county seat] and continued until August 1886 when he was elected judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. He is also one of the leading lawyers of Anderson County.

Elijah Jennings
Elijah was born in Anderson County 18 November 1825. He was the son of Daniel Jennings, a native of England who immigrated to Virginia and came to Tennessee, one of the pioneers of Anderson County. Elijah was reared on the farm and attended the schools of the neighborhood. He has followed farming as a vocation, making a success of the same and now owns a good farm of over 300 acres. In the fall of 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army, joining the body-guard of Maj. Gen. McCown [McCowan]. Elijah served until the spring of 1863 when he was discharged for disabilities and sent to the hospital. After the war he returned home and has been engaged in farming up to the present time.

Clinton, Tennessee
County Seat of Anderson County
This 1938 view of Clinton shows the topography of the area.
By Tennessee Valley Authority, The National Archives, Archival Research Catalog, ARC identifier: 280439, Public Domain,

“Anderson County: Proud History, Bright Future,” Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, accessed 21 August 2021,
“Violent Clashes: Flying … in the wildest disorder,” The Historical Marker Database, accessed 21 August 2021,
“Civil War in Anderson County: Skulking bushwhackers,” The Historical Marker Database, accessed 21 August 2021,
Tennessee Civil War Trails, “Sarah Taylor,” Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, accessed October 16, 2020,
Susan Lyons Hughes, “The Daughters of the Regiment: A Brief History of Vivandieres and Cantinieres in the American Civil War,” Soldier-Women of the American Civil War, January 8, 2011, accessed October 20, 2020,

Northeast Tennessee Railway Bridges Timeline

1850s: East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad
The East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company is established on 27 January 1848. The construction of the railroad is financed by the residents of Northeast Tennessee, who purchase stocks and bonds in the Company. The company builds 130.7 miles of 5 foot gauge railroad. It runs from Bristol down to Knoxville and through these Northeast Tennessee counties: Carter, Greene, Grainger, Jefferson, Sullivan, and Washington.

After its completion in 1858, the ET&VA Railroad becomes the main transportation line going through this region. It also connects with the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, which runs from Knoxville down to Chattanooga. After the American Civil War begins, the ET&VA becomes the main railroad of the Confederacy, operating through a largely Unionist territory.

Northeast Tennessee Railroads in 1860: ET&VA stations

1860: The Northeast is not much changed
One would think that farmers in Northeast Tennessee would grow the southern cash crops of cotton and tobacco in larger quantities—now that the railroad provides a much larger market. However, the New York Times Opinionator Pages begs to differ:

“Few East Tennesseans, however, live close enough to the railroad … to capitalize on the growing market connections to the rest of the South. For the most part, the region remained defined by small farms and communities, with few connections to, or sympathy with, the slaveholding economy of the Coastal and Lower South.”

1860-1861: Secession crisis in Northeast Tennessee
During the secession crisis of 1860-1861, two elections are put before the citizens of Tennessee to vote yea or nay, for or against, seceding from the United States of America—one in February and one in June. On 9 February 1861, East Tennessee votes a resounding no to calling a secession convention, and the statewide vote is also nay, but not by a very wide margin. 
Between the two votes, Presbyterian minister and Unionist William Blount Carter (1820-1902), a native of Elizabethton, Carter County, Northeast Tennessee, becomes an active Union leader. He campaigns tirelessly to drum up support for the United States; travels throughout the area, giving speeches; and serves as a delegate to the East Tennessee Conventions held at Knoxville in May and at Greeneville in June.
At the 8 June 1861 secession vote, Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee heavily favor joining the Confederate States of America. W.B. Carter and his fellow Unionists suffer the heartbreak of losing their beloved state to their arch enemy. Plus, the Greeneville Petition to allow East Tennessee to become a separate Union state is summarily dismissed by Governor Isham Harris, a secessionist from West Tennessee, and the General Assembly. And Tennessee secedes.

8 JUNE 1861: Tennessee Ordinance of Secession
Adopted 6 May 1861 without the consent of the voters
Ratified 8 June 1861 by a vote of 104,471 to 47,183
We, the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform, or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper, do ordain and declare that all the laws and ordinances by which the State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America are hereby abrogated and annulled, and that all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws and ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the United States, and to absolve ourselves from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred thereto; and do hereby henceforth become a free, sovereign, and independent State.
Second. We furthermore declare and ordain that article 10, sections 1 and 2, of the constitution of the State of Tennessee, which requires members of the General Assembly and all officers, civil and military, to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same are hereby, abrogated and annulled, and all parts of the constitution of the State of Tennessee making citizenship of the United States a qualification for office and recognizing the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of this State are in like manner abrogated and annulled.
Third. We furthermore ordain and declare that all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof, or under any laws of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

Counties of Northeast Tennessee
Unicoi and Hamblen Counties were not established until after the Civil War

SUMMER 1861: Carter to the rescue
Soon after the General Assembly rejected the Greeneville Petition, Reverend William Blount Carter, [W.B. Carter I will call him; I will introduce you to his brothers later] wants to help his fellow Unionists who are suffering harassment, arrests, and violence from Confederate troops. He leaves East Tennessee, heading North, hoping to find some relief for his countrymen and women. Carter soon comes up with a plan to cripple the Confederacy by burning the main railroad bridges of the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad from Bristol to Knoxville.

28 JUNE 1861: Rumors causing much consternation about East Tennessee
CSA Senator Robert Toombs received a letter from his friend Sam Tate:
I came through East Tennessee yesterday. Saw some of our friends, but many more of our enemies. There is truly great disaffection with those people. It is currently reported and believed that [Senator Andrew] Johnson has made an arrangement at Cincinnati to send 10,000 guns into East Tennessee, and that they have actually been shipped through Kentucky to Nicholasville, and are to be hauled from there to near the Kentucky line and … to be conveyed to Union men in Tennessee. They openly proclaim that if the Legislature refuses to let them secede they will resist to the death and call upon Lincoln for aid. Nelson, Brownlow, and Maynard are the leaders.
Samuel Tate,
President of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad

26 JULY 1861:
CSA Governor Harris sends troops into Northeast Tennessee
After the Unionists hold the East Tennessee Conventions and submit a petition to become a separate state, Confederate officials go a little nuts. Fearing outright rebellion from the Northeast Tennesseans, Governor Isham Harris orders CSA General Felix Zollicoffer and 4,000 soldiers to Knoxville on 26 July 1861. This force will be in position to suppress any resistance to secession.

8 AUGUST 1861
Harris gets another term
Isham Harris is re-elected CSA governor of Tennessee on 8 August 1861, giving him more time to harass the Unionists. On 18 August 1861 he orders General Zollicoffer to arrest and, if necessary, banish pro-Union leaders from East Tennessee.

Tennessee Governor Isham Harris
Photographer: Mathew Brady

A reign of terror
Confederate general Albert Sydney Johnston orders General Felix Zollicoffer to march his troops north to the Cumberland Gap and repel any Union invasion from Kentucky. Secessionists and untrained soldiers unleash what Oliver P. Temple—author of East Tennessee and the Civil War—calls “a reign of terror” against Union sympathizers. They are subjected to interrogation, false arrest, and imprisonment.

“Bridge-burning part one: Union men take action but where is the army?” Kingsport Times News, accessed 7 February 2021,
“Bridge-burning part two: Union men take action but where is the army?” Kingsport Times News, accessed 7 February 2021,
“East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad,” Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, accessed 8 February 2021,
Meredith Anne Grant, “Internal Dissent: East Tennessee’s Civil War, 1849-1865,” 2008,Electronic Theses and Dissertations, East Tennessee State University, accessed 7 February 2021,
Aaron Astor, “The Switzerland of America,” New York Times Opinionator Pages, 7 June 2011, accessed 8 February 2021,
Paul A. Whelan, “Unconventional Warfare in East Tennessee, 1861-1865,” University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Thesis, 1963, accessed 1 April 2021,

General Thomas takes command
In August 1861, George H. Thomas was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. On 15 September he assumes command at Camp Dick Robinson, a Union recruiting camp in southeastern Kentucky. Thousands of Northeast Tennessee Unionists have made the arduous trip across the mountains to enlist in the Union Army at that camp; thousands more will follow.

Carter reveals his plan to liberate his countrymen
On 30 September, William Blount Carter travels to Camp Dick Robinson and meets with USA Generals Thomas and William Tecumseh Sherman. Carter reveals a comprehensive plan to burn the main bridges of the East Tennessee and Virginia [ET&VA] Railroad. Carter’s proposal calls for several groups of East Tennessee Unionists to burn nine railroad bridges, on the same night, at the same time. He believes this will cripple the Confederacy; it certainly will keep them from sending more troops into the area by rail. General Thomas likes the plan, and although General Sherman is initially skeptical, he soon endorses the project as well.

Four of nine bridges targeted in Northeast Tennessee are over these rivers:
The Holston River at Zollicoffer, sometimes called Union, now Bluff City
The Watauga River at Carter’s Depot, now the town of Watauga
Lick Creek, near the town of Mosheim in Greene County
The Holston River at Strawberry Plains, northeast of Knoxville


William Blount Carter

<OCTOBER 1861>

A trip to Washington DC
WM. BLOUNT CARTER carries this message from General Thomas to General George B. McClellan in Washington DC:
HEADQUARTERS, Camp Dick Robinson
Commanding Department of the Potomac
GENERAL: I have just had a conversation with Mr. W.B. Carter of Tennessee on the subject of the destruction of the grand trunk railroad* through that State. He assures me that he can have it done if the Government will entrust him with a small sum of money to give confidence to the persons to be employed to do it. It would be one of the most important services that could be done for the country, and I most earnestly hope you will use your influence with the authorities in furtherance of his plans which he will submit to you together with the reasons for doing the work.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
*The ET&VA Railroad was known as the Grand Trunk Railroad because it linked the lower southern states to the North. Soldiers, supplies, and other materiel passed through Northeast Tennessee.

Meeting with President Abraham Lincoln
In a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward, and General McClellan, W.B. Carter presents his plan. Federal officials wholeheartedly approve the proposal. The Secretary of State gives Carter $2,500 to cover whatever expenses he might have. Carter also proposes that, after they destroy the bridges, the Union army will swoop down from Kentucky, liberate the Unionists, and run the Confederate forces out of their homeland. General McClellan promises to aid in the movement by sending an army into East Tennessee as soon as they burn the bridges.

W.B. Carter returns to East Tennessee
Carter returns to his home in Elizabethton, Carter County, Northeast Tennessee in mid-October to organize the Unionists who will destroy the railway bridges. He is accompanied by two Union officers who have been assigned to help execute the plan—Captains William Cross from Scott County and David Fry of nearby Greene County. Carter sets up a command post in Kingston, Tennessee, southwest of Knoxville.

22 OCTOBER 1861
Sherman directs Thomas to proceed
In a consultation between Generals Sherman and Thomas, Sherman directs Thomas to proceed with his expedition into East Tennessee. Thomas leaves Camp Dick Robinson with his little army on or about 22 October 1861.

22 OCTOBER 1861
You need not fear to trust these people.
SIR: I reached here at 2 P. M. to-day. I am within six miles of a company of rebel cavalry. I find our Union people in this part of the State firm and unwavering in their devotion to the Government and anxious to have an opportunity to assist in saving it. The rebels continue to arrest and imprison our people. You will please furnish the bearers with as much lead, rifle powder. and as many caps as they can bring for Scott and Morgan counties. You need not fear to trust these people. They will open the war for you by routing these small bodies of marauding cavalry.
I am obliged to send this note unsealed.
In haste, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

General George H. Thomas
Photographer: Mathew Brady

27 OCTOBER 1861
Men and women weep for joy …
October 27, 1861. (Received November 4.)
[Shows how slowly messages can travel in the mountains]
SIR: I am now within a few miles of our railroad, but I have not yet had time to obtain all the information I must have before I decide on the course best for me to adopt. If I can get half a dozen brave men to ” take the bull by the horns,” we can whip them completely and save the railroad. If I cannot get such leaders, we will make a desperate attempt to destroy all the bridges, and I firmly believe I will be successful.
There are 1,400 rebel troops at Knoxville, some poorly armed, some not armed, and many of them sick. There are 160 at the Loudon Bridge. I know of no other troops in East Tennessee except the 300 about whom I wrote to you from Montgomery. They have gone to Wolf River. Zollicoffer has 6,000 men all told; 1,000 of these are sick; 600 or 800 are not armed ; 1,600 of the 6,000 are at Cumberland Gap; the balance beyond the gap.
Our enemies here are very uneasy for the safety of Zollicoffer, and have been calling on [Confederate President] Davis for help; but, as I am informed, Davis says he is so pressed on the Potomac that he can spare none of the Virginia troops. I can gain no reliable information from Kentucky by way of Nashville. I hear of no troops passing over our railroad. We hear, by way of Knoxville, that [General Kenner] Garrard has driven Zollicoffer back 6 miles. I suppose it is true, as secessionists tell it.
This whole country is in a wretched condition; a perfect despotism reigns here. The Union men of East Tennessee are longing and praying for the hour when they can break their fetters. The loyalty of our people increases with the oppressions they have to bear. Men and women weep for joy when I merely hint to them that the day of our deliverance is at hand. I have not seen a secession flag since I entered the State. I beg you to hasten on to our help, as we are about to create a great diversion in General McClellan’s favor. It seems to me, if you would ask it, he would spare you at once 5,000 or 10,000 well-drilled troops. Will you not ask for more help?
I know you will excuse a civilian for making suggestions to a military man, when you remember that I am risking my life and that I am about to ask my people to do the same. I find more deficiency in arms in this part of East Tennessee than I expected. You must bring some small-arms with you. I am satisfied that you will have to take the road by Monticello and Jamestown, unless you come by Cumberland Gap.
I can assure you that whoever is the leader of a successful expedition into East Tennessee will receive from these people a crown of glory of which any one might well be proud, and I know of no one on whom I would more cheerfully bestow that crown than on yourself.
I regret that I can give you no more information, but I will communicate with you as circumstances may require. Perhaps it would be well for you to let General McClellan know that I have reached East Tennessee, as I know he is very anxious for my success.
I write in great haste, but believe you may rely on all I have written.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier General Felix Kirk Zollicoffer CSA (1812-1862).
Tennessee Portrait Project

28 OCTOBER 1861
To advance into East Tennessee …
Brig. Gen. W. T. Sherman, Commanding Department of Cumberland, Louisville, Ky.     General : I have just returned from the Rockcastle Hills [KY]. Our troops have a decided victory, repulsing the enemy upon very nearly equal terms, and feel very much elated and are anxious for an advance. We are informed that [CSA General Felix] Zollicoffer has retired to his old position behind the Cumberland [Mountains], and intends to make a stand there. I am very sorry that we are not in a condition to march upon him at once, as I believe he could be easily driven out of Kentucky; but the men have no clothing, and we are scarce of forage. … 
To advance into Tennessee, I ought to have four more regiments from some other State than Kentucky to follow after us as a reserve, and money in the hands of the quartermaster and commissary to defray necessary expenses. By taking in a train along with the army, two months’ supply of sugar, coffee, and other small stores, I think we can get on without any very serious difficulties.   If you approve of my advance, let me know as soon as possible. I shall move in a day or two to Crab Orchard.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

29 OCTOBER 1861
Imminent danger to the railroads of East Tennessee
To: Tennessee Governor Isham G. Harris
From: C. WALLACE, President, East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad
Wallace advises Harris of the imminent danger to the railroads of East Tennessee from pro-Union elements:

I don’t like to meddle in things that are in keeping of men so much more vigilant and wiser than I am but I am constrained by the circumstances around me to believe that Zollicoffer and the railroads of East Tennessee are in a dangerous condition at present. I am well satisfied that there is today a larger Lincoln force well armed in East Tennessee than Zollicoffer has of Southern men under his command; that this force is in such a state of organization that they can and will be concentrated in Zollicoffer’s rear whenever they are advised of a sufficient force in his front.

31 OCTOBER 1861
Thomas is 40 miles from the Tennessee border
General George H. Thomas arrives at Crab Orchard, a supply depot in Southeast Kentucky, 40 miles from Cumberland Gap on the Tennessee border.

Meredith Anne Grant, “Internal Dissent: East Tennessee’s Civil War, 1849-1865,” 2008, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, East Tennessee State University, accessed 7 February 2021,
“Union insurrection in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0889, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,
“Union insurrection in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0890, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,


I am fully conscious of the difficulties
Headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Louisville, Ky.,
November 1, 1861. General George H. Thomas, Crab Orchard, Ky.:
Dear Sir: Yours of yesterday is received. I am fully conscious of the difficulties you describe as to the Kentucky regiments. The telegraph is now completed to Nicholasville. Please have some trusty persons there to telegraph me news from yourself and Somerset. There are several regiments at Cincinnati, but I deem it wise to hold them in reserve till the development of the game, whether they go to Nelson, yourself, or McCook. From all I can learn, no large force can come in by the Gap this season, but the case is different towards Somerset and Nashville. I trust you have got clothing for your men, and that you have well secured the bridge over the Kentucky.
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier- General, Commanding.

General William Tecumseh Sherman
Photographer: Mathew Brady

Our Camp Calvert Correspondence
New York Times article covers the time period when General Thomas was marching his army toward Northeast Tennessee.
CAMP CALVERT, Friday, Nov. 1, 1861.
After the plucky little fight at [the Battle of] Wild Cat [southeast KY, 21 OCTOBER 1861], “Your Own” concluded that things in the mountains were beginning to warm up, and that he had better be in to see the sport. Accordingly he started and reached Nicholasville [KY], the terminus of the Covington and Lexington Railroad without let or hindrance. But once there his troubles began, nor do they seem disposed to come to an end.
Mounted on the back of an old gray horse whose early education had been sadly neglected in the matter of gaits—the only step he learned being a cross-eyed trot, half pace and half canter, that sent “yours truly” bounding Heavenward like Sancho Panza in the blanket, he started in pursuit of the advancing army. At Camp Dick Robinson he found one regiment guarding stores that should have been forty miles on the advance. Twenty miles further on is Crab Orchard or Camp Frey, where two more regiments were rusticating in the comforts of good quarters, and enjoying themselves hugely on Uncle Samuel’s beef and crackers.
But from Crab Orchard to Wild Cat, twenty-four mortal miles, is the roughest country upon which the sun shines. It is up hill and down dale, over rocks and through bogs. Now muddy as Egypt after the Nile has overflowed, and then sandy as the Jersey Pines. It must have been the creation of some of nature’s journeymen, for surely the mother of all good things never made such an abortion.
I stood in the battle-field of Wild Cat, and looked from the brow of Hoosier Hill, where the gallant Thirty-third Indiana so nobly repulsed the hordes of [CSA General Felix] ZOLLICOFFER, with amazement. Up its steep and rugged sides the foes of our land essayed to climb, and well nigh did they succeed, for had not the Fourteenth Ohio and its battery arrived on a double quick, after a forced march of thirty-five miles, there would have been no Thirty-third Indiana and no Third Kentucky Regiments to-day. They would have been slaughtered beyond salvation, and have poured out their blood a rich libation to the demon of procrastination’ who has so long presided in the councils of our nation. Beyond Wild Cat the country improves; though still rugged and mountainous, it is no longer sterile and inhospitable. Though $5 per acre would buy the best farm in the land, and thousand of square acres can be bought for a silver quarter each, still the country is self-supporting, and might even supply our army with much of its stores, if we had the ready money to pay for them.
Gen. SCHOEPF, the commander of the army in the Cumberland Mountains, (I said commander, which I believe is untrue, for he dares not to move a peg until he has the sign manual of Gen. THOMAS, who stays back at Crab Orchard or Dick Robinson,) is a Hungarian, well qualified, so far as I can judge after a week’s acquaintance, for the command. But he is stopped, checkmated, fretted, worried, tormented and annoyed every hour by the necessity of asking the consent of Gen. THOMAS to do this, that or the other thing. He hardly dares to post a picket or send out a scout without the permission of the Crab Orchard General first had and obtained. Then again, the Quartermaster sends up his stores by the mouthful. At no one time since the army advanced have we had three days provisions in camp.
If Gen. SCHOEPF is worth a row of pins, he surely is worthy of being trusted with some discretion, and ought not to be compelled to keep an army of 5,000 men doing police duty while the golden moments in which the conquest of East Tennessee and Kentucky ought to be completed, are slipping unmarked and unnoticed like the sand in the glass. We have with us the Thirty-fifth Indiana, the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Ohio, the Third Kentucky, half a brigade of Tennessee Volunteers, two batteries, and two hundred cavalry, commanded by Major HELVERTIA, a fine officer. The enemy has, perhaps, a few more men, say 6,000, at Cumberland Ford, 40 miles distant, strongly intrenched, but unequipped, ununiformed, poorly armed and badly demoralized. We have a road by which we can advance, pass to his rear and cut off his communication.
If this brigade were permitted to move and properly supplied with money to purchase stores, we would be in Knoxville, the home of Parson BROWNLOW, in less than a week. But we must possess our souls in patience while red tape and sealing-wax are blundering along. A messenger came in yesterday from Gen. THOMAS saying that the rebels were advancing against Somerset, a town 37 miles west of us.
Camp Calvert is at London, the county seat and about 14 miles beyond Wild Cat. They were represented as being 3,300 strong, while Col. HOSKINS has but 600 Kentuckians at Somerset. One regiment and a company of cavalry were started from Crab Orchard to reinforce him, and we sent out a courier, who has not yet returned. I think this movement means a reinforcement from [CSA GENERAL SIMON BOLIVAR] BUCKNER to ZOLLICOFFER.
We ought to be on the march to intercept them. When the history of the Kentucky campaign comes to be written there will be a sad day of reckoning for somebody. From its first inception to the present moment it has been a progressive series of blunders, or something; worse.
Camp Dick Robinson ought never to have been established, nor would it have been under any ordinary pressure. The history of its creation is this: DICK ROBINSON, a clever gentleman residing in Kentucky, ten miles from Nicholasville, sold $22,000 worth of mules to the South on time, mortgaging his estate to pay for them. The South repudiated, property depreciated, his creditors knew they could not make their money out of the land, so they, with their friends and his to the number of thirty-eight, procured the establishment of the camp. DICK ROBINSON has made from the rent of his land, his bar, and other incidental sources, the neat sum of $33,000. The location of this camp is on the middle of a turnpike, where teams must be unloaded and their burdens divided between four wagons, so that they can traverse the wild-cat country, while they might as well retain their original loads till they reach Crab Orchard, twenty miles beyond. Besides this, the Government owns a barracks, with plenty of land and buildings, at Harrodsburg, only 3 miles further from Nicholasville. Verily, there is something rotten in Denmark. There will certainly be a movement of some kind in a few days.
“The Campaign in Kentucky; Our Camp Calvert correspondence. A visit to the Battlefield of Wild Cat. The army in the Cumberland Mountains; How it is hampered. Movements of the Rebels,” The New York Times, reported 1 November 1861, published 9 November 1861, accessed 26 July 2021,

Judah P. Benjamin
Secretary of War CSA

A mistake to suppose East Tennesseans are submissive
Knoxville, Tenn., November 4, 1861.
CSA General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General
Sir: The dispatches from General Zollicoffer state that he has reason to believe that the enemy with a force of 9,000 is approaching by Jacksborough or Jamestown [Tennessee towns]. Information from Assistant Adjutant-General Mackall says that there are about 10,000 men between Camp Dick Robinson and Cincinnati. This information has been received by the Union men in East Tennessee, and they are openly preparing for rebellion. Men are arriving here daily from the adjoining counties, bringing information that the Unionists are talking exultingly of the approach of the Lincoln Army and their intention to join it. The state of the country here is evidently worse at this time than at any previous period. General Zollicoffer bas taken all the troops from here, except about 1OO infantry and one company of cavalry, and most of the latter are absent on special duty. The necessity for a larger force at this point is urgent. Our commissary and quartermaster’s stores are liable to be seized at any moment, as also the railroad.
The state of the country here is evidently worse at this time than at any previous period. General Zollicoffer has taken all the troops from here, except about 1OO infantry and one company of cavalry, and most of the latter are absent on special duty. The necessity for a larger force at this point is urgent. Our commissary and quartermaster’s stores are liable to be seized at any moment, as also the railroad.
The state of the country here is evidently worse at this time than at any previous period. General Zollicoffer has taken all tbe troops from here, except about 1OO infantry and one company of cavalry, and most of tbe latter are absent on special duty. The necessity for a larger force at this point is urgent. Our commissary and quartermaster’s stores are liable to be seized at any moment, as also the railroad.
It is a great mistake to suppose that the people of East Tennessee are submissive or willing to acquiesce. They have only been held quiet by the force which was at Knoxville, and now that it is gone, they are evidently preparing for a general uprising if the Lincoln Army should make any advance into Tennessee. I need at least a regiment at this place to give protection to the stores of the Government and preserve quiet. There are three companies of infantry here under the late call of the governor for 30,000, but they have no arms. I communicate directly to the Department, because I think the exigency admits of no delay, and have no doubt it will meet with the approval of General Zollicoffer, to whom I send a copy.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. WOOD, Colonel, Commanding Post.

Four regiments of disciplined men
GENERAL: I inclose copies of two communications from Mr. William B. Carter. If we could possibly get the arms and the four regiments of disciplined and reliable men we could seize the railroad yet. Cannot Gen. McClellan be induced to send me the regiments?
Very respectfully, your ob’dt servant,
Brig.-Gen. U. S. V., Commanding.

Thomas must be on the border
W.B. Carter’s East Tennessee bridge-burning plan calls for General Thomas to be on the Tennessee / Kentucky border by 8 November, the day Carter has set for the bridges to be burned. After that part of the operation is complete, Thomas is to make a quick march to Knoxville, seize control of the railroads, and protect the bridge burners from Confederate retaliation.

Sherman cancels the invasion …
With his little army of only a few regiments, General Thomas is on his way to East Tennessee. His superior, General William Tecumseh Sherman, is worried about the invasion to liberate the Unionists in that region. He comes to believe that sending unseasoned troops through the Cumberland Mountains with Confederate forces occupying Cumberland and Big Creek Gaps can come to no good end. Sherman cancels the invasion.
In a report issued in 1863, Union colonel Samuel Gilbert discusses the logistics required to move a 5,000-man army into East Tennessee, which sheds light on Sherman’s reluctance to continue the invasion. According to Gilbert, the nearest Union supply depot lies at Nicholasville, Kentucky and foragers have already picked the farms clean along the way. The invaders would have to transport food, ammunition, and other supplies via mule train over rough and mountainous roads. Gilbert estimates that they would need 924 wagons and 5,544 mules, traveling in sixteen-day circuits to move the small army to Cumberland Gap. And that is only the beginning.
Sherman might have been right to call off the invasion, but in the process, he creates a disaster for the Unionists who are expecting him to come to their rescue. They will suffer months and years of arrests, imprisonments, executions, and unimaginable hardships on the East Tennessee home front.

W.B. Carter launches the bridge burning operation
Carter selects Senator Andrew Johnson’s son-in-law, Daniel Stover, to burn the two bridges at the very northeast tip of Northeast Tennessee—the bridge across the Holston River at the town of Zollicoffer in Sullivan County and the bridge across the Watauga River at Carter’s Depot in Carter County.
On his way to Kingston [southwest of Knoxville], where he will oversee the entire operation, Carter chooses Union soldier Captain David Fry to burn the Lick Creek bridge in Greene County. Fry recruits father and son, Jacob and Henry Harmon, Matthew Jacob Hinshaw, Alex Haun, Harrison Self, and Hugh Self [no relation] as his assistants.
For the Strawberry Plains bridge, fifteen miles northeast of Knoxville, Carter recruits former Sevier County sheriff William Pickens. Pickens selects several fellow Sevier Countians, among them David Ray, James Montgomery, and Elijah Gamble.
By the time Sherman cancels the invasion, W.B. Carter and the bridge burners are deep in the Northeast Tennessee wilderness, ignorant of the change in plans.

Word spreads among the Unionists of Northeast Tennessee that the smoke from the burning bridges will be the signal for all loyalists to rise up in arms against the Confederate States of America.

I have done all in my power …
Crab Orchard, November 7, 1861.
Senator ANDREW JOHNSON, London, Ky.
DEAR SIR: I have done all in my power to get troops and transportation and means to advance into Tennessee. I believe General Sherman has done the same. Up to this time we have been unsuccessful. If the Tennesseans are not content and must go, then the risk of disaster will remain with them. Some of our troops are not yet clothed and it seems impossible to get clothing.
Very respectfully and truly yours,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.

7 NOVEMBER 1861:
I sympathize most deeply with the Tennesseans
Headquarters, Crab Orchard, Ky., November 7, 1861.
Brigadier-General [Albin Francisco] Schoepf, Commanding,
Camp Calvert, London, Ky.
General: It is time that discontented persons should be silenced both in and out of the service. I sympathize most deeply with the Tennesseans on account of their natural anxiety to relieve their friends and families from the terrible oppression which they are now suffering; but to make the attempt to rescue them when we are not half prepared is culpable, especially when our enemies are as anxious that we should make the move as the Tennesseans themselves; for it is well known by our commanding general that [CSA General Simon Bolivar] Buckner has an overwhelming force within striking distance whenever he can get us at a disadvantage. I hope you will therefore see the necessity of dealing decidedly with such people, and you have my authority and orders for doing so. We must learn to abide our time, or we shall never be successful.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.
[General Schoepf is a Polish military officer, trained in Europe, is fighting for the Union in the American Civil War.]

Lincoln’s “Beanpole and Cornstalk” Bridge over the Potomac Creek (Photographed in 1864)
Photograph: Francis Trevelyan Miller and Robert S. Lanier, eds., The Photographic History of the Civil War, 10 vols. (New York: Review of Reviews Co., 1911), 5:272.
Wooden trestle bridge similar to those in Northeast Tennessee.

Haynes letter to President Davis
Landon Carter Haynes was a lawyer and politician who served as a Confederate States Senator from 1862 to 1865. In the early 1840s, Landon Carter Haynes works as editor of the Jonesborough-based newspaper, Tennessee Sentinel. He became famous for his frequent clashes with Parson Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig. Haynes must have had a crystal ball when he sent this message to Jefferson Davis—on the very day the railroad bridges are burned.
His Excellency President DAVIS.
DEAR SIR: Many friends here have urged me to address your excellency this note. What I have to say is in regard to Gen. Zollicoffer’s perilous position at Cumberland Gap and the danger of invasion by the Lincoln forces of East Tennessee by way of Jamestown, Fentress County.
It is thought here, by all who are acquainted with things in East Tennessee, that re-enforcements, if practicable, ought to be sent forthwith. It is I fear a grand mistake to suppose the Union party in East Tennessee has lost its hostility to the Confederacy. At the election day before yesterday [election of state officials] with perfect unanimity that party refused to cast a vote for men who had been its late leaders because they were running for seats in the Confederate Congress; and if a force shall be thrown into East Tennessee or on the line which now seems probable and which General Zollicoffer is unable to defeat the flames of rebellion will flash throughout East Tennessee; the railroad will be destroyed, the bridges burned and other calamities not necessary to mention will follow. I regard the state of affairs from all the information I possess as perilous. Respectfully, your obedient servant,

All occurring on the night of the 8th or the morning of the 9th of November.

Alex Haun burns Lick Creek bridge
Daniel Stover burns Zollicoffer bridge

Captain David Fry
When Tennessee seceded from the Union, David Fry left his wife and children in Greeneville, Northeast Tennessee and joined the Union Army in Kentucky. He was subsequently elected Captain of Company F of the 2nd Tennessee Infantry. Fry and a group of Greene County men burn the Lick Creek railroad bridge at two o’clock in the morning of 9 November 1861. As soon as the destruction of the bridge is well under way, Fry allows the Confederate guards at the bridge to go free and orders his men to return to their nearby homes and act as if nothing has happened. Fry himself heads North, hoping to make his way back to Kentucky. He was told that a Union army invasion would begin immediately after the bridges were destroyed and would protect the men who burned the bridge and their families. That promise is broken, and the Unionist civilians are left to suffer the Confederate backlash alone.

Engraving in Barton’s A Hero In Homespun depicting the burning of a railroad bridge in East Tennessee on the night of November 8, 1861. Public domain.

Burning the Lick Creek Bridge
Captain David Fry, a Greene County farmer, led the group of Lick Creek bridge burners in the darkness of the early morning hours of 9 November 1861. Many of these Unionist men could hardly wait to do their part, to make life under Confederate control easier. They had no worries—General George H. Thomas and his little army were going to swoop down from Kentucky as soon as the bridges were destroyed. Their colleagues and their families would be protected. They could not have known that their plans would backfire so horribly. The families of these brave men were taught to be ashamed of their actions; their story was not told for many decades. The modern railroad bridge over Lick Creek stands on the original limestone pillars. When the creek’s water level drops, the remains of the blackened wooden posts of the Civil War Lick Creek Bridge become visible just above the water’s surface.

Lick Creek Bridge Burners in The New York Times
Captain David Fry reached Greene County two days before the burning of Lick Creek Bridge and spent some time with his wife before recruiting several Greene County men to assist him in destroying the bridge. Excerpts from the New York Times:

[David] FRY laid his plans before [DANIEL] SMITH, who agreed to act as a messenger from FRY to JACOB HARMON, to communicate to HARMON … that he had come to destroy the railroad, and that he wanted to see HARMON at SMITH’s house that morning. HARMON, who was a leading Union spirit in the neighborhood, repaired to SMITH’s house, where the plans were unfolded, and the plot and program agreed upon. HARMON was to go home, circulate the fact throughout the neighborhood, and gather the Unionists, assembling them at his house on that night, whilst FRY would remain at SMITH’s until nightfall, and then repair to HARMON’s house to consummate the conspiracy.

 The chief of the conspirators [FRY] immediately led the way to the bridge and was followed in eager haste by the willing crowd. The Confederate guard, consisting of five soldiers, watching the bridge, were immediately surrounded by the infuriated mob, and were held in close confinement, whilst FRY, still leading the way, and still followed by the boldest of his clan, hastened to the wooden structure, applied the torch, and the whole was consumed and burned to the ground in an hour. [The bridge over Lick Creek is not very long.] Upon returning to the guarded soldiers, FRY graciously extended to them their lives upon condition that they would take the oath of allegiance to the United States — saying that now “he had them under his thumb, and the d — d telegraph and railroad would tell upon them no longer.” This closed the scene — the party of traitors dispersed to their homes for the night — many of them to be captured on the morrow, and the remainder to flee to the woods and mountains, as outcasts from their homes.

 The foregoing are the leading facts as were developed in the trial of a number of the conspirators, and the leading spirits in the deed of destruction were David Fry, Jacob Harmon, C.A. Haun, Daniel Smith, Henry Harmon, Henry Fry, and twenty or thirty others, whose names it is not prudent to mention.

The New York Times

“The Bridge Burners; Interesting particulars regarding the movements of Unionists,” The New York Times, 2 March 1862, accessed 8/8/21,

The conspiracy went awry almost immediately
The two vulnerable railroads converging on Knoxville – the East Tennessee & Virginia and the East Tennessee & Georgia – served as the only reliable and efficient transportation and communication link between Richmond and the Deep South. … The [bridge burning] conspiracy went awry almost immediately. At Lick Creek, the conspirators let the captured guards go free after they took the oath of allegiance to the Union. It was a fatefully naïve move; the guards immediately notified Confederate authorities. Even worse, during the attack on the bridge one of the guerrillas had casually mentioned “Jacob Harmon’s gun” in front of the guards; he dutifully passed that piece of intelligence along. A few days later Confederate investigators went to the home of the ringleaders and arrested many of the participants (though some escaped to Kentucky). But the real failure came with a last-minute decision by General William T. Sherman to call off the federal invasion from Kentucky … too late to get word to the conspirators.
Aaron Astor, “The Conspiracy at Lick Creek,” The New York Times, 14 November 2011, accessed 11 August 2021,

Disaster at Strawberry Plains Bridge
The attempt at burning the bridge at Strawberry Plains fails. Spanning the Holston River 15 miles northeast of Knoxville—perhaps the most important railroad bridge in Northeast Tennessee—the 1600-foot-long Strawberry Plains Bridge is crucial to railroad transportation during the Civil War. W.B. Carter assigned former Sevier County sheriff William Pickens to handle this important task.
The lone guard at the bridge, James Keelan, fights off a group of men; he and some of the arsonists are severely wounded in the scuffle. When Pickens is shot, he drops their only box of matches, and it falls down below the bridge. With no chance of recovering the matches and being unwilling to ask for help from nearby houses for fear of being caught, the Sevier County would-be bridge-burners gathered their wounded and dispersed.

Confederate correspondence re the bridge burnings
BRISTOL, November 9, 1861
Honorable JOHN LETCHER. [governor of Virginia]
DEAR SIR: … I do hereby inform you that the bridge across the Holston was burned last night by about fifty Union men and that a Union force is now assembling near Watauga bridge reported to number about 500 for the purpose of attacking Captain McClellan’s troops now stationed at the bridge and burning the bridge, an as such we are unable to form any idea of the result of this; and furthermore state that all communication between this place and Nashville by railroad and telegraph is cut off and ask that you appeal to President Davis to call out the militia of East Tennessee to suppress rebellion.
Justice of the Peace, Washington County, Va. OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, p. 839

Northeast Tennessee Bridges Burned
Map showing bridges targeted and bridges destroyed on 8 November 1861.
Red squares show the Lick Creek and Zollicoffer [Union] bridges burned in Northeast Tennessee.
Black squares indicate the Watauga [Carter’s Depot] bridge and Strawberry Plains bridge, which were not burned.
Public domain

Steven Bradley Davis, “From Death, Life: An Economic and Demographic History of Civil War Era Knoxville and East Tennessee,” Masters thesis, 2006, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, accessed 20 April 2021, From Death, Life: An Economic and Demographic History of Civil War Era Knoxville and East Tennessee
“Union Rebellion in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0891, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021, War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0891 UNION REBELLION IN EAST TENNESSEE. | eHISTORY (

A worse state of feeling never prevailed in East Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, November 9, 1861. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War
DEAR SIR: I have just time to say that … the bridge at Charleston over Hiawassee River, on East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, was burned last night by the Lincolnites, and that the bridge at Strawberry Plains, on East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, over the Holston, was set on fire and the guard badly, if not mortally, wounded. It shows that there is a concerted movement among them to destroy the railroad bridges and cut off communication from one portion of the Southern Confederacy with the other. A worse state of feeling never prevailed in East Tennessee than at the present moment. The belief that the enemy are about to enter our borders has emboldened them to such an extent that there is no telling what damage they may do. I believe it important that you should have this information at once. On this account I have thus hastily given you such information as I have obtained.
Very respectfully,
R. G. FAIN, Brigade Commissary.

Burning Bridges: Cycle of Destruction
On the night of Friday, November 8, 1861, the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad bridge that stood on the piers in front of you erupted in flames. A group of Union sympathizers, who had been plotting secretly for weeks, burned this and four other bridges that night to disrupt the rail lines that the Confederacy needed to transport men and supplies.
The ringleader, the Rev. William Blount Carter, a Presbyterian minister, devised the plan and took it to Union generals George H. Thomas and William T. Sherman, and S.P. Carter, his brother. They sent the Rev. Carter with a letter of support to Washington, DC, where he met with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, as well as Gen. George B. McClellan. Lincoln approved the project and provided $2,500 for supplies. Carter placed Col. Daniel Stover, the son-in-law of future President Andrew Johnson, in charge of burning the Holston River bridge. At the last minute, however, Sherman called off the attack because he had decided it was impractical. The word did not reach Carter and his volunteers, who proceeded to burn this bridge and four others, out of the nine bridges targeted for destruction. Sherman’s meant that no Union forces were in position to capture Bluff City [Zollicoffer], called Middletown in that era. The Federals did not move into northeastern Tennessee until more than two years later.
The bridges were soon repaired, although some were burned again later. The Middletown bridge was later replaced.
In some mysterious way, one Saturday [sic] night about eleven o’clock, five bridges … were set fire to, and were in ashes by daylight. … This put the very devil in the Secessionists, although he had been in their midst all the while.
~ William G. ‘Parson’ Brownlow, 1862

Early in the Civil War, the fair grounds two miles west of Knoxville, were converted into a Confederate enlistment camp. On 26 July 1861, General Felix Zollicoffer arrived and assumed command of the Confederate forces in East Tennessee. Zollicoffer remained in Knoxville until September 1861, when he was ordered to march his troops to Cumberland Gap, leaving Col. W.B. Wood in charge of the camp at the fair grounds. This really is a mini bio, because there is little information about Col. Wood, but pay close attention to the following letters he sent and received during the bridge burnings and the Unionist uprising of November 1861. Some of his correspondence with CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin is chilling.

10 NOVEMBER 1861
Five of the Lick Creek incendiaries arrested
Dispatch from Confederate COLONEL W. B. WOOD in Knoxville to General Zollicoffer:
Five of the incendiaries who burned the Lick Creek Bridge have been arrested. I have sent up for them. Regretting as much as anyone this calamity, I feel that I did all that I could to prevent it and am glad that it is no worse. I had a company at Lick Creek, but the incendiaries deceived them, and getting possession of their guns, took them prisoners and accomplished their ends.

General Albert Sidney Johnston
Considered by Confederate States President Jefferson Davis to be the finest general officer in the Confederacy, Albert Sidney Johnston was appointed to the rank of full general on August 31, 1861. He was killed at the Battle of Shiloh on 6 April 1862. Davis believed the loss of General Johnston “was the turning point of our fate.”

10 NOVEMBER 1861
Col. Danville Leadbetter
RICHMOND, November 10, 1861.
Herewith you will receive an order to report to Tennessee, to keep up the line of communication by rail between Bristol and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Upon arriving in Tennessee you are authorized to call upon the railroad companies, and also upon communities in vicinity of railroad, for aid and material, employing both where necessary, giving certificates usual in such cases. While reconstructing bridges and repairing the roads you will give due care to the telegraph communication, re-establishing it where interfered with, exercising in this the authority granted with regard to the road. To enable you to carry out these instructions Stovall’s battalion, with a light battery, will be ordered to report to you at Bristol, and a regiment ordered from General Bragg at Chattanooga, to be so disposed of as may best secure successful accomplishment of your orders. You will report to General Albert Sidney [A. S.] Johnston by letter your arrival in Tennessee, the nature of your instructions, also advising General Zollicoffer to the same effect. Full and frequent reports are desired of your operations, respecting condition of the [rail]road, and disposition of the population adjacent thereto.
I am, sir, respectfully, &c.
Adjutant and Inspector General.

10 NOVEMBER 1861
Leadbetter will leave in the morning
Dispatch addressed to R. L. Owen, President Railroad, Lynchburg:
Colonel Leadbetter of Engineer Corps will leave in the morning with a battalion and battery of field pieces He is charged with the duty of restoring and guarding the communications. … Your earnest cooperation with him is relied on by the President.
J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.

Adjutant General and Inspector General of the
Confederate Army throughout the Civil War.

11 NOVEMBER 1861: SPECIAL ORDERS, Number 216.
Richmond, Va., November 11, 1861.
Colonel Danville Leadbetter, Provisional Army, is hereby assigned to the command of the troops to be stationed for the protection of the railroads between Bristol and Chattanooga, Tenn. He will reconstruct bridges, repair and keep open the line of communication between those points and will call upon railroad companies for such aid as he may require to carry out this order.
By command of the Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin
Assistant Adjutant-General.

11 NOVEMBER 1861
A general uprising in all the counties
KNOXVILLE, November 11, 1861.
Adjutant-Gen. [SAMUEL] COOPER:
Three bridges burned between Bristol and Chattanooga, two on Georgia road. Five hundred Union men now threatening Strawberry Plains; fifteen hundred assembling in Hamilton County; and a general uprising in all the counties.
I have about 1,000 men under my command.
W. B. WOOD, Col.

11 NOVEMBER 1861
The whole country is now in a state of rebellion
KNOXVILLE, November 11, 1861.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen.
SIR: My fears expressed to you by letters and dispatches of 4th and 5th instant have been realized by the destruction of no less than five railroad bridges—two on the East Tennessee and Virginia road. … The indications were apparent to me but I was powerless to avert it. The whole country is now in a state of rebellion. A thousand men are within six miles of Strawberry Plains bridge and an attack is contemplated to-morrow. I have sent Col. Powel there with 200 infantry, one company cavalry and about 100 citizens armed with shotguns and country rifles. Five hundred Unionists left Hamilton County today we suppose to attack Loudon bridge. I have Major Campbell there with 200 infantry and one company cavalry. I have about the same force at this point and a cavalry company at Watauga bridge.
An attack was made on Watauga yesterday. Our men succeeded in beating them off, but they are gathering in larger force and may renew it in a day or two. They are not yet fully organized and have no subsistence to enable them to hold out long. A few regiments and vigorous means would have a powerful effect in putting it down. A mild or conciliating policy will do no good; they must be punished; and some of the leaders ought to be punished to the extent of the law. Nothing short of this will give quiet, to the country. Gen. Zollicoffer at great inconvenience to himself has sent me Col. Powell’s regiment numbering about 600 effective men which I have disposed of as above stated.
I have arrested six of the men who were engaged in burning the Lick Creek bridge and I desire to have instruction from you as to the proper disposition of them. The slow course of civil law in punishing such incendiaries it seems to me will not have the salutary effect which is desirable. I learn from two gentlemen just arrived that another camp is being formed about ten miles from here in Sevier County and already 300 are in camp. They are being re-enforced from Blount, Roane, Johnson, Greene, Carter and other counties. I need not say that great alarm is felt by the few Southern men. They are finding places of safety for their families and would gladly enlist if we had arms to furnish them. …
Col., Commanding Post.
Sixteenth Alabama Regiment.
OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, pp. 840-841.

11 NOVEMBER 1861
I felt it to be my duty to place this City under martial law
KNOXVILLE, November 11, 1861.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen.
SIR: I have had all the arms in this City seized and authorized Maj. Campbell to impress all he can find in the hands of Union men who ought now to be regarded as avowed enemies for the use of the new companies. I felt it to be my duty to place this City under martial law as there was a large majority of the people sympathizing with the enemy and communicating with them by the unfrequented mountain paths, and to prevent surprise and the destruction of the commissary and quartermaster’s stores.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. WOOD, Col., Commanding Post.

11 NOVEMBER 1861
They threaten to burn Watauga Bridge to-night
BRISTOL, November 11, 1861.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War|
I have just returned from the burned bridge. We have at the next bridge, 10 miles beyond, about 250 men, under Capt. McClellan. They have two cannon, which they found on the cars … The camp of the enemy is at N. G. Taylor’s, 5 miles distant, with about 400 men. Another camp, at Elizabethtown, 2 miles farther, is said to contain 500 men. The two may be confounded. There is no doubt but that re-enforcements are every moment reaching them from Watauga County, North Carolina, and Johnson, Carter, and Washington Counties, Tennessee. These counties can furnish about 2,000 Lincolnites, and each fresh occasion emboldens them. They threaten to burn Watauga Bridge to-night. Should they be successful, it will bring forward hundreds now quiet. It is all important they should be disposed of before they unite their different forces, now ranging from 50 to 500. A fight occurred last night [10th] between 22 of our scouts and the main camp of the enemy. We captured 2, killed 9, and lost none. I have given orders for all trains to give way to the troop trains now coming forward. They will reach here to-morrow morning.
Can I do anything for you?
President Virginia and Tennessee [V&T] Railroad
[The V&T extends westward from Lynchburg, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee, a total distance of 204 miles.]
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 4, pp. 235-236.

Movements in East Tennessee. The Destruction of the Rebel Communications. GREAT ALARM IN RICHMOND. THE BRIDGE-BURNING IN TENNESSEE. THE STRUCTURES DESTROYED.
[Parts of this article were first published in the Knoxville Register and Memphis Appeal, both Pro-Confederate newspapers, which explains the Confederate slant.]
The Lick Creek bridge was guarded by several soldiers attached to Capt. MCLINN’s company, encamped near Midway. They were approached by a gang of ruffians, who first engaged them in friendly conversation and then suddenly overpowered them, and executed their hellish incendiarism.
They carried the captured sentinels, we are told, to a house at some distance, and after forcing them to take an oath to support the LINCOLN Government, released them. They hurried to their camp and gave such information as led to the immediate arrest of six of the incendiaries, who were yesterday brought to this city [Knoxville] and safely lodged in jail. We learn that they have made confessions which will probably lead to the capture of all engaged in this extensive conspiracy.
This diabolical plot does not seem to have been participated in by the great body of the East Tennessee Union men, but seems to have been confined to a number of desperate and reckless traitors, who confidently believed that before they could be brought to justice, the Lincoln forces from Kentucky would have forced their way through the mountains to their rescue, They have again experienced how little dependence is to be placed upon the boasts and promises of MAYNARD and JOHNSON [JOHNSTON].
The cowards who were reported to be approaching Jamestown and Big Creek Gap, have retreated back into Kentucky, to escape from HARDEE and his brave forces, leaving their duped and misguided co-laborers here to their fate. There is no earthly probability that any of LINCOLN’s troops will ever be able to force their way into East Tennessee, and all such attempts as the late incendiary one, must only result in bringing a terrible retribution upon the heads of the foolish depredators. …
It is rumored that large numbers of Union men are arming and mustering in Blount and Sevier Counties; for the purpose of protecting the incendiaries who attempted to fire the Strawberry Plains bridge, all of whom, numbering some sixteen, were from Sevier County. …
The damage to the railroads in East Tennessee by the incendiarism of last week, is estimated at $50,000.
In an extra issued on Nov. 15, the Memphis Avalanche says:
“A most reliable gentleman from East Tennessee arrived here this morning, and reports that Chickamauga Creek, the Charleston, Lick Creek, and Upper Holston [Zollicoffer] bridges were burned at precisely 1 o’clock on Friday night. Other bridges were fired at the same time, but were extinguished. The telegraphic wires were destroyed at the same time. A thorough organization exists among the Unionists in East Tennessee. … “
From the Memphis Appeal.
Great excitement prevails along the route. The people were thoroughly aroused, and flocking into every Station, determined to exterminate the traitors between Bristol and Chattanooga, where the principal damage was done. Bristol and Chattanooga are situated at the extremes of the Railroad system of East Tennessee, 241 miles apart. Gen. CLARKE of Mississippi was at Bristol, among the detained passengers; and being advised that there was a force of 500 Unionists at Uniontown [Zollicoffer], where the bridge had been burned, he mustered a force of about forty, principally returning soldiers, and marched against them. A conflict took place at night, but the traitors fled early … leaving indications that some of them are hurt. …
From the Memphis Appeal, Nov. 16.
We apprehend nothing serious from the recent outbreak in East Tennessee, but regard it, on the contrary, at least in point of time, as one of the most fortunate incidents of the crisis. It was evidently one act in a carefully arranged program of the enemy, all of whose parts were to have been executed simultaneously, but which has eventuated in a miserable abortion. We have long been aware that there was a deeply disaffected element in this section of the State, and have repeatedly pressed upon our authorities—State and Federal—the necessity of exercising a proper espionage over their movements. …
It was a stroke of policy merely that induced the abandonment of the Greeneville Convention and the ostensible acknowledgment of the Confederate Government by the arch conspirators who were encouraging this scheme. In fact, it was a most dangerous part of their conspiracy, inasmuch as it disarmed our authorities, and the adherents of our cause in that section, of all vigilance. They thought that the refractory spirit of the rebellion that at first showed its head had been permanently quelled, and looked for no further manifestation of it.
This insurrection, however, … gives evidence of a deep-laid plot among a few of the most reckless traitors of that region to resist the sovereign voice of the people of the State by force of arms, so soon as they have hope of assistance from the Lincoln despotism. It is fortunate that it has occurred at the present time, when we are fully able to put a lasting quietus upon it, from which no appliances of future Federal aid will ever be able to resuscitate it. We now have an open foe to conquer, who is rendered impotent by the very disclosure of his hostility—and not less so by his isolation. …
“FROM THE REBEL STATES, “The New York Times, accessed 20 March 2021,

Another view of a bridge very similar to the Lick Creek Bridge.

12 NOVEMBER 1861: S.P. Carter’s East Tennessee Brigade
Camp Calvert, November 12, 1861.
Brigadier General GEORGE H. THOMAS, U. S. Army.
DEAR GENERAL: Yesterday I sent forty-five pounds rifle powder, fifty pounds lead and twenty boxes rifle caps into East Tennessee for the Union men. I borrowed the whole from Colonel Garrard. Will you have the kindness to have rifle powder forwarded to me not only to return that borrowed but also for further distribution among the mountain men? The ammunition sent yesterday was to be delivered to the men mentioned by my brother in his letter to you. Lead and caps are also needed.
We thank you, general, for your assurance that as soon as you can you will move toward East Tennessee. Our men and officers have entire confidence in you and shall be most happy to see you in our midst. If the reports made to me to-day are true—and they seem to be reliable—we might get possession of the mountain passes without loss or even opposition. Do you not think so?
I am persuaded you will do what is right and proper.
With respect,
Acting Brigadier-General. comdg.
East Tennessee Brigade.
Because the Confederates are still occupying Northeast Tennessee, S. P. Carter chooses Camp Calvert in Laurel County, southeast Kentucky as his recruitment camp. Since his enlistees are mostly refugees from Northeast Tennessee, he calls his unit the East Tennessee Brigade.

12 NOVEMBER 1861: 500 Tories threaten movement on Strawberry Plains
JACKSBOROUGH, November 12, 1861. Gen. S. Cooper:
Col. Wood, Knoxville, writes that 500 tories threaten movement on Strawberry Plains, and 1,500 from Hamilton County moving towards Loudon Bridge. Col. Churchwell, Cumberland Gap, has information indicating a strong force along from 6 miles beyond Barboursville to Rockcastle Camp, fortifying as they advance. I will have the pass blocked in two days. Gen. Carroll has one armed regiment, but has not forwarded it. Please cause Churchwell’s requisition of 22d October for ammunition and implements for three 8-inch howitzers to be filled and expressed to him.

12 NOVEMBER 1861
JONESBOROUGH, TENN., November 12, 1861.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, President, &amp;c.
SIR: Civil war has broken out at length in East Tennessee. In the late election scarcely a so-called Union man voted. Neither Mr. [Thomas A. R.] Nelson nor any of the released men who had been sworn to be faithful to the Southern Confederacy voted upon the occasion and there appeared a simultaneous assault upon our line of railroads from Virginia to the Georgia line.
In this county (Washington) the secession strength is about equal to the Union force but our force is much wakened by five volunteer companies now in the service. In Carter and Johnson Counties, northeast of this, the Union strength is not only as formidable but it is as violent as that of any of the Northwestern Virginia counties.
Had they the power not a secessionist would live in this region. The hostile element in those counties and also in Greene is so strong that I give it as my firm conviction that it will neither abate nor be conciliated.
They look confidently for the re-establishment of the Federal authority in the South and I feel quite sure when I assert it that no event or circumstance can change or modify their hopes. In this state of affairs this part and indeed all of East Tennessee will be subjected during the war to apprehensions of internal revolt more or less remote as the tide of war turns in this direction.
The recent bridge-burning in this section was occasioned by the hope that the Federal troops would be here in a few days from Kentucky to second their efforts. We will rush out the rebellion here in a week or ten days but to prevent its recurrence should be a matter of anxious consideration. Upon this subject I have the honor of making the following suggestions to your excellency:

The expatriation requiring alien enemies to dispose of their effects … and leave with their families should be enforced. Should they not do so voluntarily on proof being submitted that they were in arms or hostile to the Government they should be forced to leave on due notice with their families. A man with his family with him in the North will do us no great harm. He will not enlist there for he will have to support his family.
By removing the hostile element from our counties we have peace and the Southern men can then enter the army because they know that their families are safe at home. By leaving this hostile element here we will never have peace but be subject to constant alarm, these men rising up at every turn of events to harass us. I submit this suggestion to your excellency’s careful attention.
There are now camped in and about Elizabethton in Carter County some 1,200 or 1,500 men armed with a motley assortment of guns in open defiance of the Confederate States of America and who are awaiting a movement of the Federal troops from Kentucky to march forward and take possession of the railroad. These men are gathered up from three or five counties in this region and comprise the hostile Union element of this section and never will be appeased, conciliated or quieted in a Southern Confederacy.

I make this assertion positively and you may take it for what it is worth. We can and will in a few days disperse them but when will they break out again! I am satisfied the only hope for our quiet and repose and our cooperation without hindrance in the present revolution is the expatriation voluntarily or by force of this hostile element.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

A wooden trestle bridge similar to the one at Lick Creek, this one at Bull Run in Virginia

12 NOVEMBER 1861: Governor Harris requests aid from His Excellency
NASHVILLE, November 12, 1861.
The burning of railroad bridges in East Tennessee shows a deep-seated spirit of rebellion in that section. Union men are organizing. This rebellion must be crushed out instantly, the leaders arrested, and summarily punished. I shall send immediately about 10,000 men to that section; cannot arm larger force at present. If you can possibly send from Western Virginia a number of Tennessee regiments to East Tennessee, we can at once repair the bridges and crush out the rebellion. I hope to be able very soon to collect a large number of sporting  guns in the State to arm our volunteers, and will co-operate with the Government to the fullest extent of my ability in all respects. If a part only of the Tennessee troops in Western Virginia shall be sent, I would prefer Anderson’s brigade.

13 NOVEMBER 1861: The Lincolnites are encamping at Elizabethton
JONESBOROUGH, TENN., November 13, 1861.
J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War:
The Lincolnites are forming an encampment at Elizabethton [Carter County]; now have from 1,000 to 1,300 men, and more coming, within 6 miles of our railroad, at Watauga Bridge. They also have from 600 to 1,000 men near Strawberry Plains Bridge, the most important and expensive bridge on our road, and still collecting in greater numbers, and threatening to take and burn the bridge and take possession of the [rail]road. If these two bridges are burned our road stops. The demonstrations are such in East Tennessee that a much larger force is necessary. They are cutting the telegraph wires as fast as we put them up.
President East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad.

13 NOVEMBER 1861: Troops moving to crush the traitors
JOHN R. BRANNER, President R. R. Co.,
Jonesborough, Tenn.:
Troops are now moving to East Tennessee to crush the traitors.
You shall be amply protected.
J. P. BENJAMIN Acting Secretary of War.

Col. Danville Leadbetter CSA

13 NOVEMBER 1861: A force of Unionists some 1,000 strong
BRISTOL, TENN., November 13, 1861.
Gen. A. S. JOHNSTON, C. S. Army, Bowling Green, Ky.
SIR: Agreeable to instructions from the Adjutant-Gen.’s Office, I have the honor to report that I have been assigned by the War Department (Special Orders, No. 216) to the command of troops to be stationed for the protection of the railroad from this point to Chattanooga, rebuilding bridges, and keeping open the communication. Stovall’s battalion Georgia Volunteers is hourly expected from Richmond, and a regiment from Gen. Bragg’s command is ordered to report at Chattanooga as the force for this service.
The country traversed by the [rail]road is represented as being in a very disturbed condition. Two bridges have been burned between this and Knoxville … The telegraph wire is down. It is currently reported that Andrew Johnson was expected at Greeneville, his place of residence, on Sunday, the 10th, and that his country friends assembled to greet him. They were disappointed. A force of Unionists, some 1,000 strong, is known to be assembled at Elizabethton, on the Watauga [River], about twenty-five miles from this place, and I propose to move against them at the earliest possible moment. Another force is known to be encamped at Strawberry Plains, well on toward Knoxville. Passengers continue to traverse the road, the only difficulty being detention from the destruction of bridges at the points named.
Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
D. LEADBETTER, Col., Provisional Army C. S.

14 NOVEMBER 1861: I have sent 4,500 rifles
RICHMOND, November 14, 1861.
Gen. L. P. WALKER, Huntsville, Ala.:
I have sent to Gen. A. S. Johnston 4,500 rifles, being half of all that we have received.
J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.

14 NOVEMBER 1861: Disarm Union men and seize leaders
Jacksborough, (Via Knoxville 15th.)
General COOPER, Adjutant-General: I have ordered all posts and detachments to disarm Union men and seize leaders. Have made dispositions to cut off and crush tories of Rhea, Hamilton and Sevier [Counties]. Blockade here nearly complete. One regiment marches for Wartburg to-day.

“Civil War in Knox County,” Rootsweb: Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, accessed 24 July 2021,
“FROM THE REBEL STATES,” The New York Times, published 23 November 1861, accessed 20 March 2021,
War of the Rebellion, Serial 114 Page 0841, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 March 2021,
War of the Rebellion, Serial 114, Page 0844, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 March 2021,
War of the Rebellion, Serial 114 Page 0892, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 March 2021,
War of the Rebellion, Serial 114 Page 0892 & 0893, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 March 2021,

16 NOVEMBER 1861: W.B. Carter returns to Kentucky
U. S. Army, Cmdg., &c., Crab Orchard, Ky.
GEN.: My brother William has just arrived from East Tennessee and the news he brings I think of so much importance that I will dispatch a special messenger to convey it to you. My brother left Roane County near Kingston on Monday night last. He reports that on Friday night, 8th instant, of last week he succeeded in having burned at least six and perhaps eight bridges on the railroad, viz.,: Union bridge in Sullivan County, near the Virginia line; Lick Creek bridge in Greene County; Strawberry Plains in Jefferson County, fifteen miles east of Knoxville, partially destroyed; …
The consternation among the secessionists of East Tennessee is very great. The Union men are waiting with longing and anxiety for the appearance of Federal forces on the Cumberland Mountains and are all ready to rise up in defense of the Federal Government. … Gen., if it be possible do urge the commanding general to give us some additional force and let us advance into East Tennessee; now is the time, and such a people as are those who live in East Tennessee deserve and should be relieved and protected. You know the importance of this move and will I hope use all your influence to effect it. Our men will go forward with a shout to relieve their native land. The brigade commissary has not yet handed in his report of the amount of provisions on hand; but I think we have already nearly if not quite a month’s supply on hand.
With much respect, I am, dear general, yours, very truly,
S. P. CARTER, Acting Brig.-Gen.,
Cmdg. East Tennessee Brigade.

MINI BIO: Samuel Powhatan Carter USA
Samuel Carter was a member of the prestigious Carter family of Carter County, Northeast Tennessee, and brother of W.B. Carter and James P.T. Carter. On 10 October 1861, Lieutenant Samuel P. Carter, U. S. Navy, was assigned as acting brigadier general to the 1st and 2nd East Tennessee Regiments. He was ordered to enlist Unionists for the Union Army within his native Northeast Tennessee. The Confederates had occupied the region in July 1861, so Carter raised a brigade of infantry at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky, from among the hundreds of his neighbors who were fleeing to Kentucky. When corresponding with Unionists who remained behind Confederate lines, he adopted the code name Powhatan. On 6 December 1861, Carter’s Brigade was designated as the 12th Brigade of General George H. Thomas’ 1st Division. The brigade served at London, Kentucky, in front of Cumberland Gap, and along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. In April 1862, the regiment was assigned to Brigadier General S. P. Carter’s 24th Brigade of General George W. Morgan’s 7th Division of the Army of the Ohio.
The New York Times described Carter’s Raid:
It appears that Gen. CARTER, with a thousand cavalrymen, left … Richmond, Ky., on the 21st of December; that he marched through Southeastern Kentucky and through the southwest corner of Virginia into East Tennessee, and fell upon the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad where it crosses the Holston River [Zollicoffer] … and burned the wooden trestle … bridge there, and also that over the Watauga River [Carter’s Depot]; that he fought two brisk skirmishes, and killed, wounded and captured over 500 rebels, beside capturing 700 stand of arms and a large amount of rebel stores; and that, after thus doing his work, and chastising the rebels, he returned to Kentucky [on 2 January 1863] with a loss of but ten men. The distance traversed by these bold riders, from the point of starting in Kentucky to the point of action in Tennessee, was over two hundred miles, through a mountainous country, affording few passable roads and only the most scanty supplies. 
Plans to follow the raid with an invasion and occupation of East Tennessee were canceled when S.P. Carter reported the route impracticable for a large force. In July 1863, Carter was placed in command of the XXIII Corps cavalry division and continued campaigning across Tennessee throughout the year.
On August 6, 1863, in a reorganization of the XXIII Corps, the 1st and 2nd Tennessee Regiments were separated, and the 1st Tennessee placed in the 1st Brigade of Brigadier General S. P. Carter’s 4th Division (Cavalry). The regiment, now described as the 1st East Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Infantry, was ordered to concentrate at Stanford, Kentucky. On 3 September 1863, the Union finally invaded East Tennessee with a large force commanded by General Ambrose Burnside. Carter’s brigade participated in Burnside’s East Tennessee Campaign during the balance of the year. While Carter was serving in the Union Army, the U.S. Navy promoted him to lieutenant commander in 1863, then to commander in 1865.
“1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment,” Tennessee & the Civil War, accessed 28 July 2021,
“Carter’s Raid and its Results,” The New York Times, 8 January 1863, accessed 29 July 2021,

General Samuel Powhatan Carter USA
Commander of the East Tennessee Brigade
Camp Calvert, Laurel County, Kentucky
Library of Congress

17 NOVEMBER 1861: Thoughts about the war by a Madison County farmer

We cannot tell what a day may bring forth. Providence alone knows the end and what the end will be. Numbers, resources, a powerful navy &c are against the South but under a Just God with a good cause, she is determined to conquer or die. The country may be laid to waste, her cities burned, her people butchered, a merciless [slave] insurrection aroused, & there is no doubt as to arms, is a deplorable state of affairs, but the invader of our soil must be driven back, NO MATTER what comes. To be overcome and reduced to worse than dependents will never do. Affairs are fast approaching a crisis or perhaps a turning point. Winter will soon stop all movements by land & the rebels will be no nearer conquered next spring than last spring.

~ Robert H. Cartmell Diary

17 NOVEMBER 1861: Affairs are not so bad as reported
SIR: In obedience to orders two regiments moved to this point. Affairs are not so bad as reported. Suppose that Col. S. A. M. Wood has reported to the War Department a full account of his expedition against Clift and the breaking up of his camp. Five prisoners taken with arms. To-night I send a reconnoitering force to North Chickamauga Creek where the citizens are mostly disloyal and a good many in open rebellion. As soon as sufficient information can be obtained a larger force will be sent to capture Clift and his troops. So soon as they return I will move to join Gen. Zollicoffer at Jacksborough.
I inclose you a copy of oath and bond I have taken from Union prisoners taken before my arrival.
Very respectfully,
W. H. CARROLL, Brig.-Gen.

We,___and___, acknowledge ourselves indebted to the Confederate States of America jointly and severally in the sum of $10,000, but to be void if—shall faithfully and honestly support the Constitution and laws of the Confederate States of America and if he shall faithfully and honestly render true allegiance to said Confederate States in all things; and if he shall not directly or indirectly by writing, talking or otherwise seditiously or rebelliously attempt to excite prejudice in the mind of any person or persons against the existence, perpetuity or prosperity of said Confederate States; and if he shall not in any manner directly or indirectly aid, assist, encourage or advise the United States or any officer, agent or adherent thereof in the present war against the Confederate States. Witness our hands and seals this___November, 1861.

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and honestly support the Constitution and laws of the Confederate States of America and I will faithfully and honestly render true allegiance to said Confederate States in all things and in every particular; and I further swear that I will not directly or indirectly by talking, writing or otherwise seditiously or rebelliously attempt to excite prejudice in the mind of any person or persons against the existence, perpetuity or prosperity of said Confederate States; nor will I in any manner directly or indirectly aid, assist, encourage or advise the United States or any officer, agent or adherent thereof in the present war against the Confederate States. Witness our hands and seals this___November, 1861.

19 NOVEMBER 1861: Leadbetter asks Benjamin what to do with prisoners he took at Doe River Cove
JOHNSON STATION (Via Jonesborough.)
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN: Yesterday we dispersed the insurgents, 300 strong, at Doe River [Daniel Stover and his men]. Took thirty prisoners in the neighborhood; none very prominent. What shall be done with them? Are those not known as criminals to be released on their oath of allegiance? Those known to have been insurgents I recommend be sent to Richmond and kept there. Please telegraph to Jonesborough, Tenn.

Unionists escaping across Northeast Tennessee mountains
Sketched by A. W. Warren

20 NOVEMBER 1861: A high degree of Confederate anxiety
This letter from Madison T. Peoples from Union County, Northeast Tennessee, indicates a high degree of anxiety in regard to the Unionist rebellion.
OKOLONA, TENN., November 20, 1861.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: In my judgment there is not a Union man in Carter County who was not involved to some extent in the rebellion. Many of them were drawn into it by wicked leaders and some have heartily repented but many others will seek the first favorable opportunity to repeat the experiment. Under these circumstances what can be done to hold them in check in the future? If a northern army invades the State at any future day a majority of our population will undoubtedly tear up the railroad, burn the bridges and destroy the lives and property of Southern men. If the military commander at this point could have a discretionary power which would enable him to inquire into the character of the rebels and give certain ones the option to join the Confederate service during the war or be sent on for trial for treason I have no doubt the ends of justice would be attained and much annoyance to the Government avoided. This perhaps would be rather a highhanded movement, but the disease is a desperate one and requires severe and energetic treatment.
Every Union man in the county either took up arms or was fully advised of the intention of his party to do so, so they are all principals or accessories before the fact. If they are all prosecuted every citizen of East Tennessee must be arraigned before the court or brought up as witnesses. Nearly every rebel in my county could be convicted if all the Southern-rights citizens were brought up as witnesses; but this perhaps would look too much like political prosecutions.
Martial law ought to be enforced in every county in East Tennessee to hold these bad men in proper restraint but our President is very averse to such a policy. But be assured if the Northern despotism succeeds in throwing a strong military force in here we shall have much worse than martial law. Even now our most quiet and law-abiding citizens have been shot down in cold blood from behind coverts by the tories and the proof can be made that Unionists have been tampering with the slaves.
The mass of the Union party religiously believed that a Northern army of at least 100,000 men was in East Tennessee before they began this rebellious demonstration. The Southern men have all been disarmed and the tories have apparently disbanded in most of the counties but really gone home to await the approach of an invading army. If we are invaded, every Southern man will be taken a prisoner or else murdered in the night time. Our very existence depends on Mr. Lincoln’s ability to invade the state.
Asking your pardon for my boldness and the hasty manner of writing this letter,
I am, very respectfully,

20 NOVEMBER 1861: Recruits are arriving almost every day
Commanding, Crab Orchard.
GENERAL: Recruits are arriving almost every day from East Tennessee. We have no arms to put into their hands. The Union men coming to us represent the people in East Tennessee as waiting with the utmost anxiety the arrival of the Federal forces. They are all ready to join them and do their part toward the deliverance of their native land. Union camps are already forming in some of the counties and unless help soon reaches them as they have but little ammunition they will be scattered or destroyed.
With the hope of soon seeing you here, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Acting Brigadier-General, Commanding.

20 NOVEMBER 1861: I respectfully request that instructions be forwarded
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.
SIR: The rebellion in East Tennessee has been put down in some of the counties and will be effectually suppressed in less than two weeks in all the counties. Their camps in Sevier and Hamilton Counties have been broken up and a large number of them made prisoners. Some are confined in jail at this place and others sent to Nashville.
In a former communication I inquired of the Department what I should do with them. It is a mere farce to arrest them and turn them over to the courts. Instead of having the effect to intimidate it really gives encouragement and emboldens them in their traitorous conduct.
We have now in custody some of their leaders—Judge [David T. ] Patterson, the son-in-law of Andrew Johnson; Col. [Samuel] Pickens, the senator in the legislature from Sevier and other counties, and several members of the legislature, besides others of influence and some distinction in their counties. These men have encouraged this rebellion but have so managed as not to be found in arms. Nevertheless all their actions and words have been unfriendly to the Government of the Confederate States. The influence of their wealth, position and connections has been exerted in favor of the Lincoln Government and they are the parties most to blame for the troubles in East Tennessee. They really deserve the gallows and if consistent with the laws ought speedily to receive their deserts; but there is such a gentle spirit of conciliation in the South and especially here that I have no idea that one of them will receive such a sentence at the hands of any jury impaneled to try them.
I have been here at this station for three months, half the time in command of the post, and I have had a good opportunity of learning the feeling pervading this country. It is hostile to the Confederate Government. They will take the oath of allegiance with no intention to observe it. They are the followers and slaves of Johnson and Maynard and never intend to be otherwise. When arrested they suddenly become very submissive and declare they are for peace and not supporters of the Lincoln Government but yet they claim to be Union men. At one time whilst our forces were at Knoxville they gave it out that great changes were taking place in East Tennessee and the people were becoming reconciled and loyal. At the withdrawal of the army from here to the Gap and the first intimation that the Lincoln army was like to penetrate the State they were in arms, and scarcely a man with only a few honorable exceptions but what was ready to join them and make war upon us.
The prisoners we have tell us that they had every assurance that the army was already in the State and would join them in a very few days; that the property of Southern men was to be confiscated and divided amongst those who would take up arms for Lincoln. I have to request at least that the prisoners I have taken be held if not as traitors as prisoners of war. To release them is ruinous; to convict them before a court at this time next to an impossibility; but if they are kept in prison for six months it will have a good effect. The bridge-burners and spies ought to be tried at once and I respectfully request that instructions be forwarded at as early a day as practicable as it needs prompt action to dispose of these cases.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. WOOD, Col., Cmdg. Post.

21 NOVEMBER 1861: … to drive the rebels from their country
Camp Calvert, near London, Ky., November 21, 1861.
DEAR SIR: The copy of Evening Star received this evening assures me you have not forgotten me. Our men are most anxious to return to East Tennessee, not so much to see their families as to drive the rebels from their country. We are all inclined to think that help will be deferred until it is too late to save our people. This ought not to be so. Two or three batteries and 10,000 men provided even with powder and lead for the people could save East Tennessee at this time. Will help never come? Can you not get those in power to give us a few more men and permission to make at least an effort to save our people? do try. They are even now in arms and must be crushed unless assistance soon reaches them.
With respect, yours, truly.

MINI BIO: Horace Maynard
Horace Maynard (1814–1882) was an American attorney, politician, and ardent Union supporter in the Civil War era. He was elected to the House of Representatives from Tennessee on 4 March 1857. He spent much of his first two terms in Congress fighting to preserve the Union. Along with fellow Unionists Andrew Johnson, T. A. R. Nelson, and William G. Brownlow, Maynard worked feverishly to keep Tennessee in the Union during the secession crisis of 1860 and 1861. In the weeks leading up to the state’s referendum on secession on 8 June 1861, Maynard travelled across East Tennessee and made dozens of pro-Union speeches.
After Tennessee seceded from the Union, Maynard headed for Washington, D.C. to take his seat in the U.S. Congress. When Confederate forces occupied East Tennessee on 26 July 1861, Maynard pleaded with President Abraham Lincoln to send troops to free the region, warning that East Tennesseans’ “tears and blood will be a blot on your administration that time can never efface.” With the help of Senator Andrew Johnson, Congressman Maynard kept the pressure on President Lincoln to rescue the Unionists, but it was more than two years before Union troops entered Knoxville. 
Congressman Maynard won a third term in 1861 on the Unionist Party ticket, becoming one of the few Southern congressmen to maintain his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Civil War. In December 1861, he blasted Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas for balking at an invasion of East Tennessee after Unionists burned railroad bridges there, calling his efforts ‘disgraceful.’ Maynard was obviously unaware that General Sherman had called off the invasion and ordered Thomas to return to camp. In 1863 Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee, appointed Horace Maynard attorney general of the state. Like many other Unionists, Horace Maynard’s property had been confiscated by the Confederates, and he was unable to return to his home in Knoxville after the war. However, he was again elected to Congress and represented Tennessee’s Second District until 1875.

Tennessee Congressman Horace Maynard
Public domain

24 NOVEMBER 1861: We have arrivals every day from East Tennessee
Camp Calvert, November 24, 1861.
Brigadier General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Commanding, Danville, Ky.
GENERAL: We have arrivals every day from East Tennessee. The condition of affairs there is sad beyond description and if the loyal people who love and cling to the Government are not soon relieved they will be lost.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Acting Brigadier-General, Commanding.

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Instructions relative to the fate of East Tennessee Unionist prisoners
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond
Col. W. B. WOOD, Knoxville, Tenn.
First. All such as can be identified as having been engaged in bridge-burning are to be tried summarily by drum-head court-martial and if found guilty executed on the spot by hanging. It would be well to leave their bodies hanging in the vicinity of the burned bridges.
Second. All such as have not been so engaged are to be treated as prisoners of war and sent with an armed guard to Tuscaloosa, Ala., there to be kept imprisoned at the depot selected by the Government for prisoners of war. Wherever you can discover that arms are concealed by these traitors you will send out detachments, search for and seize the arms. In no case is one of the men known to have been up in arms against the Government to be released on any pledge or oath of allegiance. The time for such measures is past. They are all to be held as prisoners of war and held in jail till the end of the war. Such as come in voluntarily, take the oath of allegiance and surrender their arms are alone to be treated with leniency.
Your vigilant execution of these orders is earnestly urged by the Government.
Your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.
P.S. Judge [David T.] Patterson, Colonel [SAMUEL] Pickens and other ringleaders of the same class must be sent at once to Tuscaloosa to jail as prisoners of war.
A drumhead court-martial is held in the field to hear urgent charges of offenses committed in action. The term comes from previous times of war when the regimental drum was used as a writing surface.

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Those who voluntarily surrender themselves and their arms
Captain DAVID McCLELLAN, Elizabethton, Tenn.
DEAR SIR: On the first page I had you copy an order from the War Department and call your especial attention to it. You will send all prisoners under the first and second clause [Benjamin’s letter above], except such as surrender voluntarily themselves and arms to me to be sent to headquarters at Greeneville with the necessary witnesses to establish the charges against them. Those who voluntarily surrender themselves and their arms and have had no complicity with bridge-burning nor have been in arms you will please follow the order from the War Department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. J. WHITE, Captain.

25 NOVEMBER 1861: A general court-martial is hereby appointed
A general court-martial is hereby appointed to meet at Knoxville on the 28th of November or as soon thereafter as practicable for the trial of such prisoners as may be brought before it.

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Trial by court-martial
KNOXVILLE, TENN., November 25, 1861.
Hon J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
The military authorities in command at this post have determined to try the bridge-burners and other men charged with treason by a court-martial.
What shall I do?
CSA District Attorney.

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Benjamin hopes they hang every bridge-burner
RICHMOND, November 25, 1861.
J. C. RAMSEY, District Attorney, Knoxville:
I am very glad to hear of the action of the military authorities, and hope to hear they have hanged every bridge-burner at the end of the burned bridge.
J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Re-establish the Government of the Union
Washington, D. C., November 25, 1861.
Brigadier General D. C. BUELL,
Commanding Department of the Ohio.
GENERAL: I am still convinced that political and strategical considerations render a prompt movement in force on East Tennessee imperative. The object to be gained is to cut the communication between the Mississippi Valley and Eastern Virginia; to protect our Union friends in Tennessee and re-establish the Government of the Union in the eastern portion of that State. Of course Louisville must be defended but I think you will be able to do that while you move into Eastern Tennessee. If there are causes which render this course impossible we must submit to the necessity but I still feel sure that a movement on Knoxville is absolutely necessary if it is possible to effect it. Please write to me very fully.
Very truly yours,

25 NOVEMBER 1861: Many of them have been lying out in the woods
Camp Calvert, November 25, 1861.
Brigadier General GEORGE H. THOMAS, U. S. Army,
Commanding, Danville, Ky.
GENERAL: The rebel force at Cumberland Gap is from the best information I can obtain so small that I think we will meet with but little opposition in case it is determined to advance by that pass. Our desires are to get to East Tennessee as soon as possible in order that our loyal friends there may be relieved. Many of them have been lying out in the woods to escape their enemies but as the season advances they will be driven to their houses and be forced into the rebel ranks or carried to prison. Let us up and help them now when it will require so little to accomplish this desirable and necessary end.
I am, general, respectfully and truly, yours,
Acting Brigadier-General, Commanding.

27 NOVEMBER 1861: Fulfill the commitment made to the bridge burners
Brigadier General D. C. BUELL.
GENERAL: What is the reason for concentration of troops at Louisville? I urge movement at once on East Tennessee unless it is impossible. No letter from you for several days. Reply. I still trust to your judgment though urging my own views.
Major-General, Commanding.

MINI BIO: General Don Carlos Buell USA
West Point graduate General Don Carlos Buell succeeded General William Tecumseh Sherman at Louisville, Kentucky, as the commander of the Army of the Ohio on 15 November 1861. Although the Lincoln administration immediately began pressuring him to occupy East Tennessee, Buell dragged his feet. His excuse was that the bridges of the ET&VA railroad were still being rebuilt, and he would have to rely on wagons for supplies that would surely be attacked by Confederate cavalry. 
Buell led Union armies in two great Civil War battles—Shiloh and Perryville—and did not perform particularly well at either. The military and the Union citizenry greatly criticized him for his failure to pursue and defeat a much smaller Confederate force after the Battle of Perryville [8 October 1862]. His failure to invade and stabilize East Tennessee did not win him any laurels, either.
Prior to leaving Louisville on 1 October 1862, Buell had received orders from Washington relieving him of command, to be replaced by General George H. Thomas, his second in command. However, Thomas refused to accept the position while the army was in the middle of a campaign, and Buell remained in charge.
After the battle ended, President Lincoln urged an immediate pursuit of the Confederates. Buell told him that the route south of Perryville would entail traveling through East Tennessee where the rough, wooded country with few roads would be too difficult to maneuver through. Again refusing the President’s direct request to enter East Tennessee.
On 24 October 1862, Buell was relieved from command of the Army of the Ohio and replaced by Maj. Gen William Rosecrans. A military committee investigated Buell’s conduct during and after Perryville, but came to no conclusions, and Buell considered his reputation vindicated. He was ordered to Indianapolis to await future assignments, but none came. When General Ulysses S. Grant was appointed general-in-chief of the army in March 1864, he offered Buell a possible assignment but Buell refused to serve under either Sherman or George H. Thomas because he outranked both of them.

28 NOVEMBER 1861: At present they seem indisposed to fight …
HDQRS., Greeneville, East Tenn., November 28, 1861.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen., Richmond.
SIR: I think that we have effected something—have done some good; but whenever a foreign force enters this country be it soon or late three-fourths of this people will rise in arms to join them. At present they seem indisposed to fight and the great difficulty is to reach them. Scattering in the mountain paths they can scarcely be caught; and as their arms are hidden when not in use, it is almost impossible to disarm the Cavalry, though a bad force for fighting them in case they would fight is yet the only force which can reach them. It is adequate too to disperse and capture them in their present state of morale. I am confident that a mounted regiment with two very light guns would do more to quiet this tier of counties than five times the number on foot. Twenty-two prisoners have been sent to Nashville from Carter County and we have now in confinement some five or six known to have been in arms and who will be sent to Tuscaloosa under the order of the War Department dated the 25th instant.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
D. LEADBETTER, Col., Provisional Army, C. S., Cmdg.

29 NOVEMBER 1861: Those who do not support the Government should remove from its limits
GEN. ORDERS, No. 4. HDQRS., Knoxville.
The Government of the Confederate States has not nor will it interfere with individuals on account of their political opinions. The President of the Confederate States issued a proclamation, stating that all those who did not fully recognize their allegiance to the Government should dispose of or remove from its limits, with their effects, before October 1861. Those persons who remained tacitly recognized the Government and are amenable to the laws. The commanding general at this post will endeavor to fully carry out the policy of the Government. While he will afford ample protection to all citizens who peaceably pursue their ordinary occupations, he will order the arrest of all who may take up arms against the Government or who in any manner may aid or abet its enemies or incite rebellion, in order that they may be tried by military law.
By order of Brig. Gen. W. H. Carroll, commanding post

The danger of punishment by Confederate authorities lasted for nearly two years.

29 NOVEMBER 1861: Keep up the hearts of the Tennesseans
WASHINGTON, Monday night.
Brigadier General D. C. BUELL, Louisville.
MY DEAR BUELL: Keep up the hearts of the Tennesseans. Make them feel that far from any intention of deserting them all will be done to sustain them. Be sure to maintain their ardor for it will avail you much in the future. I am not as a general rule at all disposed to scatter troops. I believe in attacks by concentrated masses but it seems to me with the little local knowledge I possess that you might attempt two movements—one on Eastern Tennessee say with 15,000 men, and a strong attack on Nashville as you propose with say 50,000 men.
I think we owe it to our Union friends in Eastern Tennessee to protect them at all hazards. First secure that; then if you possess the means carry Nashville.
In haste, truly, yours,

29 NOVEMBER 1861: I permitted to take the oath of allegiance
Knoxville, November 29, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond.
SIR: I am just in receipt of yours of 25th. Your instructions shall be strictly obeyed. I have not heretofore released any against whom there was proof that they had been engaged in any rebellious movements. It was only those who were arrested upon mere suspicion that I permitted to take the oath of allegiance. I telegraphed you to-day that Judge Humphreys had issued writs of habeas corpus in the cases of several prisoners who are beyond doubt guilty of burning the railroad bridges predicated as I understand upon the affidavits of Baxter and other lawyers. Your instructions are fully understood and I shall not allow any interference in their execution.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

29 NOVEMBER 1861: Arrest all who may take up arms against the Government
Knoxville, November 29, 1861.
The Government of the Confederate States has not nor will it interfere with individuals on account of their political opinions. The President of the Confederate States issued a proclamation stating that all those who did not fully recognize their allegiance to the Government should dispose of or remove from its limits with their effects before October 1861. Those persons who remained tacitly recognized the Government and are amenable to the laws.
The commanding general at this post will endeavor to fully carry out the policy of the Government. While he will afford ample protection to all citizens who peaceably pursue their ordinary occupations, he will order the arrest of all who may take up arms against the Government or who in any manner may aid or abet its enemies or incite rebellion in order that they may be tried by military law.
By order of Brig. General W. H. Carroll, commanding post
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.

29 NOVEMBER 1861: Tories recently captured with arms in their hands against the Government
KNOXVILLE, November 29, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
General W. H. Carroll, commanding this post, has ordered a general court-martial for the trial by the military authorities of persons charged with burning the bridges in East Tennessee and of the tories who have been recently captured with arms in their hands against the Government. The question as to the jurisdiction of courts-martial in such cases has been raised in the court and it is insisted that the civil authorities have some jurisdiction of the persons in such offenses. Please instruct what course to pursue. A court martial will be much more effective in ferreting out the offenders. Please answer at as early a moment as possible as it is very desirable to put these matters through rapidly. Writs of habeas corpus have been and will be issued.
Colonel and President of Court.

30 NOVEMBER 1861: Let not one of these treacherous murderers escape.
RICHMOND, November 30, 1861.
Colonel R. F. LOONEY, Knoxville:
Courts of justice have no power to take prisoners of war out of the hands of the military nor to interfere with the disposal of such prisoners by the military. An answer to a writ of habeas corpus that the prisoner was captured in arms against the Government and is held as a prisoner of war is a good and complete answer to the writ. Send this dispatch to General Carroll and let him send at once all the prisoners to jail at Tuscaloosa as prisoners of war except those found guilty of bridge burning and murdering the guards placed at the bridges. Let not one of these treacherous murderers escape.
Secretary of War.

30 NOVEMBER 1861: The importance of dealing justly and generously with the Union element
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
MY DEAR SIR: The object of the interview which I sought on yesterday and which was so readily accorded to me by the President [Jefferson Davis] and yourself in reference to affairs in East Tennessee was to impress your minds with the importance of dealing justly and generously with the Union element of that section as the best means of securing their affections and loyalty to this [Confederate] Government. The causes which have induced such obstinate adhesion to the Federal Government on the part of so many were frankly stated in our conversation. Until they are made to feel that they will be recognized as citizens entitled to the same consideration and protection vouchsafed to those entertaining opposite views they will not yield a willing allegiance or active and efficient support to the Confederate Government.
Whilst the Government therefore with a steady purpose inflicts just punishment on actual offenders by due course of law it is essential that the Union men should be made to feel that they in common with the adherents of this Government are the object of solicitude on the part of this Government and that they will be protected against arrests for opinion merely and against lawless exactions and unauthorized impressment of their private property by the soldiery stationed among them. This can be most successfully done by placing the civil and military power of that department in the hands of discreet men with enlarged, liberal and just views who are capable of rising above the influence and demands of local combinations and cliques, with instructions to proceed at once and discharge such prisoners as are now held without sufficient cause (for in my opinion there are quite a number of this character) and to redress the wrongs of citizens whose property has been seized or improperly taken from them by the soldiery.
This policy will tend to repress violence and conciliate favor. By degrees their strong and deeply-seated hostility to this Government can be overcome. Followed by proper efforts they can be induced to volunteer for active service and so strongly committed and identified with the South as to render them useful and effective in achieving our independence and preventing the possibility of civil war in the event a Federal force should be able to force its way into East Tennessee. If there is no good reason of public policy to the contrary I would be pleased to carry back a passport for Brownlow to leave the country as well as a copy of the instructions under which the military and civil authorities are required to act, because it is believed that if the spirit of the Government as manifested by its executive officer was better understood by the people of East Tennessee it would exert a salutary influence and remove some of the apprehensions which are now driving them to desperation and to violence. It is my purpose to leave in the morning and with your permission I will call at 2 o’clock to learn your pleasure in the premises.
John Baxter is an attorney in Knoxville and a delegate to the East Tennessee Convention. He takes the Oath of Allegiance to the Confederacy in order to provide legal defense for Unionists who have been charged in Confederate courts. The letter above shows his loyalty to the Confederacy. Baxter defended several members of the bridge-burning conspiracy. By mid-1862, he once again supports the Union.

30 NOVEMBER 1861: Confederate Proclamation to the people of East Tennessee
HDQRS., Greeneville, East Tenn.
So long as the question of Union or disunion was debatable so long as you did well to debate it and vote on it, you had a clear right to vote for the Union but when secession was established by the voice of the people you did ill to distract the country by angry words and insurrectionary tumult. In doing this you commit the highest crime known to the laws. Out of the Southern Confederacy no people possess such elements of prosperity and happiness as those of East Tennessee. The Southern market which you have hitherto enjoyed only in competition with a host of eager Northern rivals will now be shared with a few States of the Confederacy equally fortunate politically and geographically. Every product of your agriculture and workshops will now find a prompt sale at high prices and so long as cotton grows on Confederate soil so long will the money which it brings flow from the South through all your channels of trade.
At this moment you might be at war with the United States or any foreign nation and yet not suffer a tenth part of the evils which pursue you in this domestic strife. No man’s life or property is safe, no woman or child can sleep in quiet. You are deluded by selfish demagogues who take care for their own personal safety. You are citizens of Tennessee and your State one of the Confederate States.
So long as you are up in arms against these States can you look for anything but the invasion of your homes and the wasting of your substance. This condition of things must be ended. The Government commands the peace and sends troops to enforce the order. I proclaim that every man who comes in promptly and delivers up his arms will be pardoned on taking the oath of allegiance. All men taken in arms against the Government will be transported to the military prison at Tuscaloosa and be confined there during the war.
Bridge-burners and destroyers of railroad tracks are excepted from among those pardonable.
D. LEADBETTER, Col., Cmdg.

30 NOVEMBER 1861: East Tennessee men take the oath
Twenty-one of the prisoners lately brought here—Nashville—from East Tennessee, yesterday appeared in the Confederate Court, acknowledged the error of their ways, took the oath of loyalty to the Southern Confederacy, and attached themselves to a company being raised in Nashville.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

30 NOVEMBER 1861: Executed the same day by hanging
[Written 8 December 1861]
HDQRS., Greenville, Tenn.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen.
SIR: At the date of my last letter [30 NOVEMBER 1861] a part of the force under my command was engaged in the pursuit of a party of insurgents moving from their camp, in the northern part of Greene, towards Cocke County. As usual, their force was dispersed and only some stragglers could be picked up. Among these prisoners were three who had been of the party that burned the Lick Creek Bridge.
They were Henry Fry, Jacob M. Hinshaw, and Hugh A. Self. All confessed their own and testified to the others’ guilt, and also gave, as correctly as they could remember, the names of the whole party engaged in that crime. Fry and Hinshaw were tried by drumhead court-martial on the 30th ultimo and executed the same day by hanging. I have thought it my duty to ask of the Department that the punishment of Hugh A. Self be commuted to imprisonment. He is only sixteen years old, not very intelligent, and was led away on that occasion by his father and elder brother, both of whom I learn have now been captured by Gen. Carroll’s troops. …
At the farm houses along the more open valleys no men were to be seen, and it is believed that nearly the whole male population of the country were lurking in the hills on account of disaffection of fear. The women in some cases were greatly alarmed, throwing themselves on the ground and wailing like savages. Indeed, the population is savage. …
The whole country is given to understand that this course will be pursued until quiet shall be restored to these distracted counties, and they can rely upon it that no prisoner will be pardoned so long as any Union men shall remain in arms. … It is believed that we are making progress towards pacification. The Union men are taking the oath in pretty large numbers and arms are beginning to be brought in. Capt. McClellan, of the Tennessee cavalry, stationed by me at Elizabethton, reports that Carter County is becoming very quiet, and that, with the aid of a company of infantry, he will enter Johnson County and disarm the people there. I shall send the company without delay.
The execution of the bridge burners is producing the happiest effect. This, coupled with great kindness towards the inhabitants generally, inclines them to quietude. Insurgents will continue for yet a while in the mountains, but I trust that we have secured the outward obedience of the people.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. LEADBETTER, Col., Cmdg.

Execution of Henry Fry and Jacob Madison Hinshaw
From Parson Brownlow’s book, Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession with a Narrative of Personal Adventures Among the Rebels

30 NOVEMBER 1861: Hanging of Fry and Hinshaw
Henry Fry and Jacob Madison Hinshaw are hanged from a tree near the railroad station at Greeneville on 30 November 1861 for the role they played in the burning of the Lick Creek Bridge. Fry’s 17-year-old son watches the execution. According to family lore, Henry Fry was told at the hanging that he would be spared if he would pledge allegiance to the Confederacy. His last words are said to have been: “When there ceases to be fleas in a hog pen and rebels in hell is when I will pledge allegiance to the Confederacy.”
Henry Fry left his wife and five children, and Jacob Madison Hinshaw left a wife and a young son less than two years old.

30 NOVEMBER 1861: Henry Fry and Jacob Madison Hinshaw
A correspondent of the Richmond Examiner writes from Greeneville, Tenn., the particulars of the hanging of two of the bridge-burners of East Tennessee by the Confederates:
The two culprits were not aware of their doom until a few moments before the hour, (4 o’clock p.m.) and, short as the time was, they busied themselves in speaking, on oath, their full confession of guilt before the court-martial. FRY confessed that he poured the turpentine on the bridge, and afterwards set fire to this combustible material; carried the sentinel off some half mile, and made him swear never to reveal the names of the offenders. They came in sight of the gallows—a temporary affair erected on the hill-side, in full view of the town—and a large oak limb was substituted as the cross-beam for this novel engine of death, and a shudder passed over them which was perceptible to all. They then knew that in a few moments they must die the death of a felon.
The whole battalion under arms was drawn up around the ground, and the ropes were adjusted by Corporal MCVAY, of our company. The caps were drawn over their pale faces, the ladder was taken from the tree; the stillness of death pervaded the whole throng; the minute-hand was within a few seconds of 4 o’clock; the watch still went tick, tick; their knees shook visibly; the whole frame was ready to give way to nature’s spirit. Hark, it is 4 o’clock! The trigger is touched, and lo! dangling at the rope’s end, between heaven and earth, are seen two strangling human beings! The struggles of one were short; the other seemed a little loath to give up the spirit from his tenement of clay, but in a few short moments they were both dead.

Fry and Hinshaw were hanged near the Greeneville Railroad Depot, seen here.
Dave Ross Photography


Henry Fry                      Hanged at Greeneville
Jacob M. Hinshaw        Hanged at Greeneville
C. A. ‘Alex’ Haun           Hanged at Knoxville
Jacob Harmon               Hanged at Knoxville
Henry Harmon              Hanged at Knoxville
Harrison Self                 Pardoned by Jeff. Davis
Hugh A. Self                  16 years old, imprisoned

2 DECEMBER 1861: Crittenden arrives at Knoxville to command in East Tennessee

MINI BIO: George B. Crittenden
George Crittenden’s father was a U.S. Senator from Kentucky. George attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1832 in the middle of his class. His father and brother sided with the North, but George’s loyalty lay with the South. During the secession crisis of early 1861, George accepted a commission as colonel in the Confederate States Army. Confederate officials commissioned him as a brigadier general in the Provisional Confederate Army on August 15, 1861. 
Crittenden accepted a promotion to major general on 9 November 1861 when he replaced Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer as commander of the District of East Tennessee, headquartered in Knoxville. Maj. Gen. George Crittenden arrived at Knoxville on 2 December 1861 to take command of the Confederate forces in East Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.
On 19 January 1862, USA Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas defeated Confederate forces under Crittenden and Zollicoffer at the Battle of Mill Springs, breaking the Confederate hold on eastern Kentucky. Zollicoffer was killed in action in that battle.
Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee had Crittenden arrested on 1 April 1862 on charges of drunkenness; he was restored to command on 18 April 1862. General Braxton Bragg ordered a court of inquiry in July, and busted Crittenden down to the rank of colonel in October 1862. To his credit, Crittenden served the Confederacy in the Trans-Allegheny Department during the next two years.

2 DECEMBER 1861: President of ET&VA protests disruption of his railroad’s schedule
MORRISTOWN, December 2, 1861.
J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
I must inform you that in several instances the military authorities who are in command of troops and volunteers along the line of our [rail]road have taken possession of our road and trains and forced our engines and cars out of the face of regular schedules. This I will not submit to. I have been doing all any man can do to promote the interests of the Government and favor the speedy transportation of troops and army stores along our line. If this course is persisted in by the military authorities any more, I shall on my part stop all of our engines and cars immediately, and then if the Government wishes to take possession of our road and control it, I shall not object in any way whatever. I think it is my duty to inform you of the facts. If we are permitted to manage and control our road, I think I can do so better than any other parties. Please answer.
President East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad.

3 DECEMBER 1861: I must still urge the occupation of East Tennessee
WASHINGTON, December 3, 1861.
Brigadier General D. C. BUELL, Louisville.
Please send then with the least possible delay troops enough to protect these men. I still feel sure that the best strategical move in this case will be that dictated by the simple feelings of humanity. We must preserve these noble fellows from harm; everything urges us to do that—faith, interest and loyalty. For the sake of these East Tennesseans who have taken part with us I would gladly sacrifice mere military advantages; they deserve our protection and at all hazards they must have it. I know that your nature is noble enough to forget any slurs they may cast upon you. Protect the true men and you have everything to look forward to. In no event allow them to be crushed out. You may fully rely on my full support in the movement I have so much at heart—the liberation of East Tennessee.
Write to me often fully and confidentially. If you gain and retain possession of East Tennessee you will have won brighter laurels than any I hope to gain.
With the utmost confidence and firmest friendship, I am, truly, yours,
Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

4 DECEMBER 1861: Lick Creek bridge repair
The Lick Creek bridge is so far repaired that it can be crossed by the cars to-morrow or Monday. The repairs have been made of a temporary trestle-work, which will answer every purpose. The upper Holston bridge is in progress of repair, but will not be ready for five or six weeks, we presume.
~ Richmond Dispatch.

Modern-day view of Lick Creek Bridge

4 DECEMBER 1861: Railroad officials threaten to cease railroad traffic in East Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, EAST TENN., Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN Secretary of War, Richmond
DEAR SIR: With great respect for you individually, and an earnest desire to serve the Confederate States to the extent of our ability with our lives and our property, we notify you that unless certain unbearable evils are at once corrected we shall cease to run any trains on the roads of which we are the presidents on and after the 15th instant. We are forced to this position from considerations entirely unavoidable on our part. The military, influenced by no more patriotism than ourselves, have for days past, and without the least necessity for so doing taken possession of the running of our trains, ordering them out in the face of incoming trains, thereby endangering the lives of all on board and hazarding the property of individuals and the company. Moreover, the Quartermaster-Gen. has assumed to dictate tariffs for Government freights at such ruinous rates as will in a short time break down every railroad company in the south. Without boring you with a detail of the multitude of good and sufficient reasons for the course we adopt, we will just say that while we are held responsible for the lives and property in our charge in the management of these roads, the movements of the trains and the control of the finances of the company are ordered by men incompetent, irresponsible, and reckless-maybe very good military men, but certainly very bad railroad managers. We are unwilling longer to assume such responsibilities or to sacrifice whatever reputation we may have by continuing identified with roads so controlled. For eight months now we have labored night and day (with the halter of the Lincolnites around our necks and our lives and property in jeopardy) as good, true, and loyal citizens for the Confederate States, and do not consider that we are any the less loyal now in placing these responsibilities in your hands. The burnt bridges are in a very forward state of rebuilding, and will give others you may send here to take our places but little trouble to complete. We also advise you to send here good engine runners and machinists. Our men cannot be kept here much longer in present condition of things, feeling that their lives are constantly in the hands of an inconsiderate and reckless soldiery.
Respectfully yours,
C. WALLACE, President East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad Company.
JNO. [JOHN] R. BRANNER, President East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company.

4 DECEMBER 1861: Scott County Confederate prisoners-of-war
CAMP CALVERT, KY., December 4, 1861.
Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, Cmdg., &c., Lebanon, Ky.
GEN.: We have some rebels in camp from Scott County, East Tenn. They were brought in yesterday by some Tennesseans and Kentuckians. They have been noted for the bitterness of their enmity to the union cause and the unrelenting manner in which they have persecuted loyal men. Four of them are said to be members of a rebel company of rangers one of whom is a sergeant.
What shall be done with them?
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. P. CARTER, Acting Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

5 DECEMBER 1861: Tories have made a stand.
KNOXVILLE, December 5, 1861.
The following dispatch received this morning dated from Bird’s Point: Capt. Cocke just in with two bridge burners and other prisoners. Have no news from Col. Leadbetter. Col. Powel reports by special messenger that he has seen no gathering. Will hold his position. Will throw my forces over the river in the morning and report.
Dispatch from Morristown says courier in from [Capt.] Monsarrat.
Cannonading and musketry at 8 o’clock. Tories have made a stand.
WM. H. Carroll,
Brig.-Gen., C. S. Army.

7 DECEMBER 1861: Captured thirty ringleaders
KNOXVILLE, December 7, 1861.
Capt. Monsarrat has dispersed the Tories in Cocke County and captured thirty of the ringleaders.
WM. H. Carroll, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

7 DECEMBER 1861: Our people are pursued as beasts of the forest
WASHINGTON, December 7, 1861.
General D. C. BUELL:
We have just had interviews with the President and General McClellan and find they concur fully with us in respect to the East Tennessee expedition. Our people are oppressed and pursued as beasts of the forest. The Government must come to their relief. We are looking to you with anxious solicitude to move in that direction.

8 DECEMBER 1861: Rescuing our loyal friends
Honorable Mr. MAYNARD and Governor JOHNSON of Tennessee:
I have received your dispatch. I assure you I recognize no more imperative duty and crave no higher honor than that of rescuing our loyal friends in Tennessee whose sufferings and heroism I think I can appreciate. I have seen Colonel Carter and hope he is satisfied of this.
Brigadier-General, Commanding.
I hope you aren’t getting too sick of reading these messages to General Don Carlos Buell. I find it hard to believe the assurances he gave to his superiors and others—while he sat on his behind in Louisville.

8 DECEMBER 1861: I should be ashamed to look them in the face
WASHINGTON, December 8, 1861.
GENERAL: You are still farther from East Tennessee than when I left you nearly six weeks ago. There is shameful wrong somewhere; I have not yet satisfied myself where. That movement so far has been disgraceful to the country and to all concerned. I feel a sense of personal degradation from my own connection with it greater than from any other part of my public actions. My heart bleeds for these Tennessee troops. I learn they have not yet been paid and are left without either cavalry or artillery at London [Kentucky] and not permitted to do what is their daily longing—go to the relief of their friends at home. With Nelson and the measles and blue grass and nakedness and hunger and poverty and home-sickness the poor fellows have had a bitter experience since they left their homes to serve a Government which as yet has hardly given them a word of kindly recognition. The soldiers of all the other States have a home government to look after them. These have not and but for Carter who has been like a father to them they would have suffered still more severely. That they at times get discouraged and out of heart I do not wonder. My assurances to them have failed so often that I should be ashamed to look them in the face.
With renewed assurance of confidence and sympathy,
I am very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Pottertown Bridge Burners: Unionists Pay the Ultimate Price
When Tennessee left the Union in June 1861, Greene County was a hotbed of divided loyalties. Several Unionists, who crafted multi-colored earthenware pottery which is still highly valued, were among the occupants of the nearby community named “Pottertown.” That autumn, celebrated antebellum potter Christopher Alexander Haun conspired with other residents to cripple the Confederate-controlled rail system by burning railroad bridges. The Rev. William Blount Carter, a local minister and Unionist, devised the plan. President Abraham Lincoln approved and promised Federal forces would protect the bridge burners’ families.
Capt. David Fry, Co. F, 2nd Tennessee Infantry (U.S.) came from Kentucky with orders to burn the bridges. With his help, Carter finalized the plan to burn all major railroad bridges in East Tennessee in one night. On November 8, 1861, local Unionists arrived at the home of Jacob Harmon, Jr, another local potter, and were sworn into Fry’s command.
About sixty men then went to the Lick Creek railroad bridge, where they captured Confederate pickets. After burning the bridge, they released the Confederates, a decision they soon regretted. Although the president had promised military protection, Confederates later captured several men associated with the bridge burning and hanged Haun, Henry Fry, Jacob Harmon Jr., Henry Harmon and Matt Hinshaw. Confederate President Jefferson Davis commuted Harrison Self’s sentence.
The Harmons are buried here in the family cemetery. Haun’s pottery kiln stood a few hundred feet up Pottertown Road to the right, and the Bridge-Burner Memorial marker and flagpole are on the left.
“I am very glad to hear of the action of the military authorities and hope to hear they have hung every bridge-burner at the end of the burned bridge.” —Confederated Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin
Jar made by Christopher A. Haun —Courtesy Donahue Bible Collection, Mohawk, Tenn.
Capt. David Fry (left) and Sgt. John McCoy —Courtesy Donahue Bible Collection, Mohawk, Tenn.
“Execution of Jacob Harmon and His Son, Henry,” from Parson Brownlow’s Book (1862)
 Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker is in Mosheim, Tennessee, in Greene County.
Marker can be reached from the intersection of Pottertown Road and Gravel Woods Road.

10 DECEMBER 1861: I have no fear of their being crushed
LOUISVILLE, KY., December 10, 1861
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding U. S. Army.
MY DEAR FRIEND: As I informed you by telegraph I received your letters of the 3rd and 5th. I have by no means been unmindful of your wishes in regard to East Tennessee and I think I can both appreciate and unite in your sympathy for a people who have shown so much constancy. That constancy will still sustain them until the hour of deliverance. I have no fear of their being crushed. The allegiance of such people to hated rulers even if it could be enforced for the moment will only make them the more determined and ready to resist when the hour of rescue comes. The organization of the division at Lebanon has been with special reference to the object which you have so much at heart though fortunately it is one which suits any contingencies that can arise. I shall hasten its preparation with all the energy and industry I can bring to bear. The plans which I have in view embrace that fully.
Truly yours,

Captain David Fry, on the left

10 DECEMBER 1861: Hang every bridge burner you can catch
RICHMOND, December 10, 1861.
General W. H. CARROLL, Knoxville:
Execute the sentence of your court-martial on the bridge burners. The law does not require any approval by the President, but he entirely approves my order to hang every bridge-burner you can catch and convict.
Secretary of War

10 DECEMBER 1861: Alex Haun condemned to death in Knoxville
KNOXVILLE, December 10, 1861
The court-martial has sentenced C. A. [Christopher Alexander] Alex Haun, bridge-burner, to be hanged. Sentence approved. Ordered to be executed at 12 o’clock to-morrow.
WM. H. CARROLL, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

11 DECEMBER 1861: Execution of a bridge burner in Knoxville
Bridge Burner [Alex Haun] to be Hanged.
One of the bridge-burners, convicted by the Court Marshal, now in session here, will be hanged today near Camp Sneed, on the railroad, just west of the Marble Works. Considerable curiosity was manifested by the public yesterday at the sight of the gallows which was being erected. A number of people visited the place in the afternoon, under the impression that the execution would take place yesterday.
~ Knoxville Register

11 DECEMBER 1861: Alex Haun executed by hanging
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: In pursuance of your instructions by telegraph of yesterday, the sentence of death pronounced by court-martial upon C. A. Haun, the bridge-burner, was executed by hanging at 12 o’clock to-day. The court-martial is still in session engaged in the trial of a number of others charged with complicity in the same crime. …
The traitorous conspiracy recently so extensive and formidable in East Tennessee is I think well nigh broken up as there is at present but little or no indication of another outbreak. I have small detachments of my force out in every direction suppressing any rebellious spirit that may be manifested and arresting those who are known to have been in arms against the Government. I am daily receiving the most encouraging evidences that the people are beginning to return to a sense of duty and patriotism as many of those who were heretofore unfriendly toward us are coming forward and giving every assurance of future fealty.
I have the honor to be, yours respectfully,
WM. H. CARROLL, Brig.-Gen.

11 DECEMBER 1861: Carroll declares martial law
Knoxville, Tenn., December 11, 1861.
The exigencies of the time requiring as is believed the adoption of the sternest measures of military policy the commanding general feels called upon to suspend for a time the functions of the civil tribunals. … Now therefore be it known that I, William H. Carroll, brigadier-general in the Confederate Army and commander of the post at Knoxville, do hereby proclaim martial law to exist in the city of Knoxville and the surrounding country to the distance of one mile from the corporate limits of said city.
By order of Brig. Gen. William H. Carroll:
H. C. YOUNG, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

11 DECEMBER 1861: No honest man can endorse what these East Tennessee fools have done
Letter from John F. Hays to Mrs. Benj.
Cleveland, Tenn., Dec. 11, 1861
Dear Mrs. Benj:
My family are all well and getting along in the same old way. … Elizabeth sends her love to you and says she would like to see you very much. Since the [Confederate] Military Authority have taken charge of East Tennessee they have arrested a great many men, and from appearances are not near done yet. Day before yesterday about twenty left for Tuscaloosa, Ala., to be held as prisoners of war until peace is made … They had no trial, but were arrested as prisoners of war and taken off. They are liable to be exchanged for Southern prisoners in the North, but we can’t think such will be the [case].
I have been told several times that I do not believe I am to be arrested, because as I understand, nobody but such as burned the bridges, took up arms or encouraged the taking up of arms against the Confederate States are to be arrested, and make some false statement against me to the military commanders I shall not be lugged into this thing. I am innocent to any charges against me concerning this bridge burning rebellion. I have been a Union man, but not such as that, and no honest man can endorse what these East Tennessee fools have done. I am sorry for the ignorant who have been duped into it.
Give my respect to the Judge and all his family,
John F. Hayes
[I don’t know either of these people, but the letter is priceless.]

13 DECEMBER 1861: Predatory bands in Northeast Tennessee counties
Knoxville, Tenn., December 13, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: Your order to me of the 10th instant to join General Zollicoffer immediately with all my armed force reached me last night. I immediately set about making the necessary arrangements to carry the same into effect as indeed I had been doing for some days previous under instructions from General Zollicoffer himself. A portion if not all of my command would now have been on the march for General Zollicoffer’s present position but for the unsettled condition of affairs in East Tennessee … The indications of an extensive outbreak in East Tennessee at that time were so alarming that I deemed it unsafe to move my command through that country wholly unarmed. I therefore made application in every direction for guns of any description to serve me until my own should be ready for use. …
When I reached here I found a general feeling of alarm and uneasiness prevailing throughout the surrounding country. Information every day reached me from all points that recreant [cowardly] Tennesseans with a few miscreants [villains] from other States were organizing themselves into predatory bands in the counties of Blount, Sevier, Cocke, Hancock, Scott, Campbell and other counties bordering on the North Carolina and Kentucky line. I immediately sent out scouting parties of cavalry together with such small detachments of infantry as I could arm to protect and assist the loyal citizens of these counties in driving these base ingrates from their midst.
These various parties have succeeded in arresting many of the rebellious and disaffected and bringing them to this place for trial. Out of the number thus arrested I have sent and will send about 100 as prisoners of war to Tuscaloosa. I have for some days past been receiving information from sources entitled to much credit that a considerable force of the enemy were threatening a descent from the Kentucky border upon the counties of Campbell and Scott by way of a small pass in the mountains above Cumberland Gap.
I have the honor to be, yours, respectfully,

15 DECEMBER 1861: A Change of Sentiment in East Tennessee
A correspondent of the Knoxville Register, writing from Bradley County under date of the 11th inst. informs that paper that since the Message of Lincoln [?] has reached that county, Scarcely a Union man can be found—all declare themselves for the South. One or two hundred of them have joined the Southern army in the last forty eight hours. There is a much better feeling than has ever prevailed in the community before. The people say they have been misled by their leaders in regard to the policy of the Northern government. … Bradley county is going to furnish a regiment for the Confederate army. Dr. Thompson will go into the regiment, and many more prominent Union men … have declared themselves strongly for the South. Wm. Hancock, formerly a Union man, is now raising a company for the Bradley Regiment. The other companies in progress are Capt. W. H. Camp’s (a Southern Rights man.) Capt. Frank Triplett’s (late Union,) and Joe Perrine’s (late Union). Our correspondent’s account of the good work says the Register that is going on in Bradley will carry joy to every true Southern heart in the State. May we not hope to hear similar accounts from every county in East Tennessee. God grant that we may yet be a band of brothers in defense of rights against the encroachments of Northern despotism and abolition fanaticism.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

17 DECEMBER 1861: Testimony of the Confederate Guards at Lick Creek Bridge Burning
ISAAC N. HACKER, corporal in Captain M. Live’s company cavalry, C. S. Army, aged about twenty-four years, a witness in behalf of the Confederate States was sworn and testified as follows:
On the night the Lick Creek bridge of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad was burned in the early part of November 1861, I with six others was detailed from Captain M. Live’s company as guard at said bridge. Between 2 and 3 o’clock whilst five of us were in a tent near the bridge we were surrounded by a band of from forty to sixty men armed the most part of them with guns who, we in the tents being almost wholly unarmed, took us prisoners. The band was led by a man who called himself [Colonel] Captain Fry.
After taking us prisoners they placed a guard around us in the tent and all but the guard went to the bridge and in less than five minutes the bridge was in flames. After the bridge was burned the band or a large part of them came to the tent, gave us of the guard our choice either to take an oath not to take up arms against the Government or to die right then and there, to be killed immediately. We took the oath. They took the names of the guards down. During the time Fry cursed and abused us of the guard; he said, “That night three months ago you men or men of your sentiments ran me from Greene County, but now I have you under my thumb and will do with you as I please.” He also said he had within the past week been all over the railroad from Chattanooga to Bristol, and that all the bridges between these places would be burned that night; that Jeff Davis and South Carolina had had possession of it long enough; that they were now going to take it and use it themselves.
They represented that they had a whole regiment besides cavalry near at hand. Some one of the crowd said the damned wire was done telling on them now. A telegraph wire runs along the line of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. Some one of attacking party asked, “Where is Henry Harmon’s gun.” Some one else of the party replied, “I’ve got it.”
JOHN W. McDANIELS, witness on behalf of the Confederate States, aged nineteen years, sworn and testified as follows:
On the evening preceding the night on which the Lick Creek bridge was burned I was pulling corn in a field. Jacob Harmon and Jonathan Morgan came to the side of the field next to the public road when Harmon said he wanted us to come to his house that night and bring our arms. I told him I had no arms. He said he wanted me to come anyhow. Said he had seen Colonel Fry from Kentucky and that they were to burn the bridge that night. I went to Jacob Harmon’s house that night in company with James McDaniels, Hugh A. Self, Andrew Self, Cannon Hann and Harrison McDaniels, all of whom are young men unmarried but Cannon Hann. We got to Harmon’s at about 9 o’clock, the time appointed by Harmon. I saw there on that night (in addition to those who went there with me as above stated), viz, Henderson Lady, John Lady, William Housewright, Jacob Myers, Jonathan Morgan, Harrison Self(the present defendant), Alex [Hann] Haun, Arthur Hann, Henry Wampler, Matt. Hincher, William Hincher (drinking), Thomas Harmon, Henry Harmon and Jacob Harmon. David Fry he was there when I got there. Defendant came there after I got there.
There were several present whose names I did not know. We staid till about 12 at night. David Fry administered an oath. I think he administered it to nearly all who were there. Oath was taken by putting hand on a U. S. flag; swore to support the Stars and Stripes and not to reveal anything of what was done that night and to do anything pressed upon us that night to do. Harrison Self, I think, was in the room when some of them took the oath. I think he himself took the oath. After the oath was administered to the party the party went to Lick Creek bridge, took the guard in tents prisoners and then they burned the bridge. Crowd then dispersed. Harrison Self went with the party from Harmon’s to the bridge. I saw him between the bridge and Harmon’s after the bridge was burned. Harmon I first referred to when I was in the field passed up toward the house of the defendant. I think Harrison Self’s gun was there that night. Do not remember to have seen it in his house.”
THOMAS HARMON [son of Jacob Harmon also testified], witness on behalf of the Confederate States, sworn and testified as follows:
On the day preceding the night on which the Lick Creek bridge was burned Daniel Smith came to my father’s house. My father was not present. Smith said that he had particular business with my father, Jacob Harmon. Said that Fry was to be there that night at my father’s and he was going to tear up the railroad. Said Fry wanted father to come over to his (Daniel Smith’s) house; the [rail]road was to be torn up that night. Father came back and I told him what Smith had said. Father went in the direction of Smith’s. Said he was going there. I was slightly acquainted with Daniel Smith; have seen him since in the jail in Knoxville.
That night at about 8 o’clock a crowd commenced assembling at my father’s house. There came the following persons, to wit, John McDaniels, Harrison Self (the defendant)—he came in late—Andrew Self, Hugh Self, James McDaniels, Cannon Hann, Arthur Hann, Matt. Hincher, Henry Fry, Jacob Myers, William Willoughby, Granville Willoughby, Lazarus Rednens, another Rednens whose Christian name I do not know, James Guthrie, Elijah Willoughby and several others who were strangers to me. Jonathan Morgan was there; my father was there.
ALEXANDER LOWE, first witness for defense, private in Captain Fry’s company, C. S. Army, who being first sworn testified as follows:
I resided on the defendant’s farm at the time the Lick Creek bridge was burned in Greene County, Tenn. Before the burning of the bridge on the evening previous to its being burned defendant said it was a bad thing to burn the bridge. On the evening before the burning of the bridge Jacob Harmon came by the field where I was pulling corn with John McDaniels and told us to come down to his house that night; that the bridge was to be burned that night. In the evening in question I went past the house of the defendant. Saw him; asked him if anything had been said to him about the bridge-burning; told him what had been told me. Defendant said he had heard about the same thing. Defendant said it was a bad thing. I asked defendant if he was going. Said he did not know whether he was going down to Harmon’s or not. He did not as I recollect say to me for me to stay at home and that he would go down to Harmon’s and prevent it.
Something was said about my wife being sick but nothing about his going down for the purpose of preventing it that I now recollect. Defendant lives about three or four miles from the bridge. He said he thought it was a bad thing. Don’t know that he said it ought or ought not to be done. I was not at his house. I passed on by. Saw him at the hog-pen. Went on home. Saw him about dark. Defendant has been strong Union man. Not been a fool about it. Never acted harshly or made any threats to my knowledge. Not hostile to soldiers of Confederate States. Sold them supplies once-some salt. Never heard of his refusing to sell supplies. He lives a little over one mile from Jacob Harmon’s. He said it was a bad thing. Those are the only words of condemnation of the bridge-burning that I recollect of his using. I was not giving the conversation particular attention. I did not think the thing would be done at all.
I have taken this testimony of the Confederate soldiers who guarded the Lick Creek Bridge from the court-martial of Harrison Self on 16 December 1861. It gives us a general idea of what happened that night.

17 DECEMBER 1861
Court-martial and execution of Jacob and Henry Harmon
In the autumn of 1861 Jacob Harmon Jr. and his son Henry joined their Unionist neighbors in a daring plan to stop the flow of Confederate soldiers and supplies through East Tennessee. They would accomplish this by burning the wooden trestles that held up the railroad bridges on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. On 7 November, Jacob Harmon visited neighbors who were Union supporters and asked for their assistance.
On the evening of 8 November 1861, dozens of men gathered at Harmon’s house, where they took an oath of secrecy. After midnight, they traveled to the edge of Harmon’s farm where the railroad bridge crossed Lick Creek. There they found several Confederate guards camping under the bridge and arrested them. After destroying the bridge, the Unionists released the guards.
The burning of the railway bridge caused great alarm among Confederate authorities; they sent more troops into East Tennessee to guard the railroad bridges. Hundreds of Unionists were arrested for the crime of treason for bridge burning or taking up arms against the Confederate government.
Col. W.B. Wood, in command at Knoxville, received these orders from CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin: All such as can be identified as having been engaged in bridge burning are to be tried summarily by drumhead court-martial and executed on the spot by hanging. All such as have not been so engaged are to be treated as prisoners of war and sent with an armed guard to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and held in jail there until the end of the war. Such as come in voluntarily, take the oath of allegiance, and surrender their arms, are alone to be treated with leniency.”
War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Civil War has no entries for the trial of Jacob and Henry Harmon. We only know that they were tried, sentenced, and hanged on the same day, 17 December 1861. Jacob Harmon’s son Thomas died later in the Knoxville jail.

Execution of Jacob Harmon and his son Henry.

23 DECEMBER 1861: I fear that he has been captured by the rebels
Somerset, December 23, 1861
Brigadier General GORGE H. THOMAS,
Commanding First Division, Lebanon, Ky.
GENERAL: Captain [David] Fry, Company F, 2nd Regiment East Tennessee Volunteers, was detailed for special service in October last by your orders and left for Tennessee in company with my brother, Rev. W.B. Carter. I fear that he has been captured by the rebels, and if not that he is so environed by them as to leave but little hope of his being able to return to his regiment. …
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Acting Brigadier-General, Commanding Twelfth Brigade.

26 DECEMBER 1861: East Tennessee prisoners not considered safe in Tuscaloosa
RICHMOND, December 26, 1861.
General WITHERS, Mobile:
Have you the means of receiving and guarding in Mobile about 100 or 150 prisoners taken among the traitors of East Tennessee? They are not considered safe in Tuscaloosa.
Secretary of War.

28 DECEMBER 1861: Bring back to their families all innocent men
President DAVIS:
SIR: At the request of many of our most reliable friends in East Tennessee I have come to Richmond to lay before you a faithful account of East Tennessee matters. It is the opinion of the best informed and most reliable men in East Tennessee that all the Confederate troops now employed in guarding the railroads and suppressing rebellion in East Tennessee except … might be safely sent to other points where troops are really needed, and that if proper measures were immediately adopted to bring back to their families all innocent men who have been carried or frightened away from their homes it would restore peace and a sense of security to the people and put an end to all appearances of disloyalty to the Confederate Government in East Tennessee; and I believe that the wrongs they have suffered if properly explained and promptly relieved will afford an occasion for a striking display of the justice, wisdom and power of the Confederate Government which will do more to insure the fidelity of the people of East Tennessee than all the severity of punishment advised by the violent partisans of that section who have provoked the prejudices of the people against themselves and consequently against the Government of which they were supposed to be the true exponents.

29 DECEMBER 1861: Advisable to get arms and troops into East Tennessee at a very early day
Washington, D. C., December 29, 1861
Brigadier General D. C. BUELL, Louisville:
Johnson, Maynard, &c, are again becoming frantic and have President Lincoln’s sympathy excited. Political considerations would make it advisable to get the arms and troops into East Tennessee at a very early day; you are, however, the best judge. Can you tell me about when and in what force you will be in East Tennessee? Is Schoepf competent? Do you wish any promotions made from your colonels? Better get the East Tennessee arms and clothing into position for distribution as soon as possible. I will write you fully as soon as I am well enough. Please answer by telegraph.
Major-General, U. S. Army.

31 DECEMBER 1861: Mr. President, you are murdering your country by inches
On the last day of 1861, the president [Lincoln] held a meeting with his Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Ohio senator Benjamin Wade was blunt: “Mr. President, you are murdering your country by inches in consequence of the inactivity of the military and the want of a distinct policy in regard to slavery.”
That night, Attorney General Edward Bates wrote in his diary: “The Prest. is an excellent man, and in the main, wise; but he lacks will and purpose, and I greatly fear he has not the power to command.”
David Zax, “Frozen in Place: December 1861,” Smithsonian Magazine, published December 2011, accessed 14 July 2021,

“Civil War Harmon Executions,”, accessed 15 August 2021,
Matt Lakin, “Civil War history found in details,” Knox News Archives, posted 25 November 2008, accessed 15 August 2021,
“Execution of Jacob Harmon and His Son Henry,” Shades of Gray and Blue, Middle Tennessee State University Walker Library, accessed 15 August 2021,
“The importance of the Railroads in East Tennessee during the Civil War years of 1861-1862,” accessed 14 May 2021,
“Testimony about the burning of the Lick Creek Bridge,” The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Civil War, Serial 114 Page 0862-0864, accessed 15 August 2021,

Alex Haun burns Lick Creek bridge

Burning the bridge at Lick Creek
In November 1861, a talented potter [one who makes pottery by hand] named Christopher Alexander Haun—most often called ‘Alex’—lives in a part of Greene County known as Pottertown, a Unionist enclave in the Confederate State of Tennessee. Several other potters have their homes there as well, and they all use excellent clay found near Lick Creek to make their wares. These are rural potters who run businesses selling their clay creations, often as a supplement to farming. Their finely crafted earthenware is still highly prized today. Alex Haun and the other potters staunchly support the Union.

On the eve of the bridge burning, Jacob Harmon, also a local potter, visits his Unionist neighbors and asks for their help in burning the bridge. When Harmon knocks at Alex Haun’s door, he agrees to assist in burning the Lick Creek bridge the following night.

On 8 November 1861, forty to sixty men, including Alex Haun, arrive at Jacob Harmon’s home and are immediately sworn into Company F of the Second Tennessee Voluntary Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. They then travel to the edge of Harmon’s farm, where the railroad bridge crosses Lick Creek.

The Unionists find several Confederate soldiers camping under the bridge and immediately take them into custody. The burners make quick work of firing the bridge, while others bridge burners force the guards to swear an oath to the Union and promise not to tell what they have witnessed that night, then releases them. They do not keep their word.

Confederate authorities are livid at this guerrilla action from the Unionists of Northeast Tennessee, and they quickly strike back. Within hours of the bridge burning, the Rebels capture several bridge burners, including Alex Haun, aged 40, Jacob Harmon, 43, and his son Henry Harmon, 22, and throw them into the jail at Knoxville.

Elizabeth Cobble Haun

10 DECEMBER 1861
A Confederate court-martial at Knoxville finds Haun guilty of treason for participating in the burning of the Lick Creek Bridge. From the jail, Alex Haun corresponds with his wife, Elizabeth Cobble Haun, trying desperately to prepare her for life without him and how to support herself and their children.

Knoxville, Tenn., 10 December 1861

Dear Elizabeth Haun, children, mother, brother, and sisters, neighbors, and friends:

I have had my trial, but I have not heard my sentence. I fear it will be bad. They may take my life and they may not … When I hear my sentence I will write again. If I should not reach home soon I want you all to do the very best you can. Betsy, take care of your corn for bread. There are going to be hard times about bread. And have that ware [his pottery] finished off, and get shoes and clothing and something to go on … Children, be good to your mother and serve God. …

C.A. Haun

11 DECEMBER 1861
Alex Haun’s sentence is death. By hanging. On the day of his execution, he writes again to his wife. His thoughts are with her and their children, whom he knows he will never see again.

Dear Elizabeth:

I want you to move where we used to live on Arthur’s place, where he can see to you and the children, and work for  him instead of working to and fro among strangers; and make the children read the Testament every Sabbath they are not at preaching … keep them away from all bad company. Do not suffer them to use bad words or quarrel with one another, and learn them manners; it will be for their benefit.

If any one comes to you hungry turn them not away empty if you have it … Let Arthur or some one relate your situation and cause of my death to the government authorities, and the government will surely do pretty liberally for you and the children in the way of support and education … Have Bohanan Henshaw or Sam to finish off that ware, and do the best you can with it for your support … Dear friends one and all, farewell for a little season.

C.A. Haun

Haun then writes to Colonel Baxter, an officer at the Knoxville jail:

I have to die today at twelve o’clock. I beg of you to have my body sent to Midway P.O. [a small town near their home in Greene County] directed to Elizabeth Haun. This much I beg of you to do.

C.A. Haun

And again to Elizabeth:

Dear Elizabeth:

I have the promise this morning that my body shall be sent home to you. Oh! live for heaven. Oh! my bosom friend and children, live for Heaven. Meet me in heaven, I pray. My time is almost out. Dear friends, farewell in this world. Farewell earth and earthly troubles.

C.A. Haun

11 DECEMBER 1861: Execution of a bridge burner in Knoxville
One of the bridge-burners, convicted by the Court Marshal (sic), now in session here, will be hung today near Camp Sneed, on the railroad, just west of the Marble Works. Considerable curiosity was manifested by the public yesterday at the sight of the gallows which was being erected. A number of people visited the place in the afternoon, under the impression that the execution would take place yesterday.
~ Knoxville Register.

11 DECEMBER 1861: Executed by hanging at 12 o’clock to-day
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: In pursuance of your instructions by telegraph of yesterday the sentence of death pronounced by court-martial upon [C. A.] Alex Haun, the bridge-burner, was executed by hanging at 12 o’clock to-day. The court-martial is still in session engaged in the trial of a number of others charged with complicity in the same crime. I am not advised of the nature or extent of the proof that can be brought against them but should it be sufficient and the court find them guilty the sentence whatever it may be will be promptly executed unless otherwise directed by you.

Alex Haun leaves a pregnant wife and four young children.

Paula Gammell, Christopher Alexander Haun,” accessed 15 May 2021,

Sarah Elizabeth Hickman, Christopher Alexander Haun,” Tennessee Encyclopedia, Tennessee Historical Society, 8 October 2017, accessed 15 May 2021,

Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain Diary

Confederate Diarist of Northeast Tennessee
Eliza Rhea Anderson was born 1 August 1816 at Blountville, Northeast Tennessee. Her father died when she was still a toddler. After losing financial support with the death of their husbands, women of the antebellum era moved in with their closest male relative. Mrs. Anderson’s lived with her brother for many years.

Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain’s diary published in 2004,
edited by a distant relative, John N. Fain

In 1832, Eliza’s mother marries Nicholas Fain, a merchant, banker, and president of the Rogersville and Jefferson Railroad. On 17 December 1833, sixteen-year-old Eliza marries Nicholas Fain’s son and her step-brother, Richard Gammon Fain. Richard owns a two-hundred-acre farm east of Rogersville, Hawkins County, Northeast Tennessee, where Eliza raises chickens [probably] and thirteen children!

Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain is not the mistress of a large plantation. She is of the wealthy class, but not nearly as rich as a plantation mistress. Her hometown of Rogersville is in the valley of Crockett Creek, a southwest-flowing tributary of the Holston River—not an ideal place for a plantation.

American Civil War
As the Civil War approaches, sentiments in Rogersville is divided between the North and the South. Many of its citizens are Unionists who support the twenty-six East Tennessee counties whose leaders tried to secede from the state of Tennessee and remain in the United States of America. The Tennessee General Assembly denied their request.

The Fains strongly support secession and slavery. They own eight slaves when the Civil War begins; four are under the age of twelve. Eliza’s views of slavery are sometimes offensive, and I will not be sharing those entries with you. Some of her religious expressions are also a bit much. However, hers is the only diary I know of that chronicles life in Northeast Tennessee so well.

Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain keeps an excellent diary from the age of 19 until her death at age 75—from shortly after her marriage to Richard Gammon Fain in 1833 until her death in 1892. During the Civil War years, she records her daily activities and the impact the war has on her home and family—as it unfolds in and around Rogersville and the Fain farm two miles away. Confederate troops occupy Rogersville for most of the war, but Union forces occasionally take control as the conflict progresses.

Eliza’s Diary
January—May 1861

Monday, 14 January 1861
I have been reading tonight from the New York Observer, the Sentinel of the Country. All as yet seems to be hostile with no concession on the part of the North and no giving way in the South.

Thursday morning, 24 January 1861
Gloomy this morning with a mist falling. Yesterday quite a cold day and sleeting the greater part of the day. I at home so happy with the loved of this precious place. Our political world still wears the aspect of hostility and want of love and patriotism. … We as a people of the South have shown to the North the most unmistakable evidences of love and forbearance. What have we not done to conciliate and now the blow has been struck which forever seals our destiny in the election of a sectional President who takes into his hands the reins of our Federal government. He will appoint a cabinet of his own selection which the South cannot approve of. …

I love my country, I love her constitution. I love everything connected with her whole history, but the disposition I see in one portion of her to usurp entire control. I cannot find it in my heart to say I submit. … Treat us as brethren or let us go so that we may treat each other as brethren of the same parentage.

4 March 1861
Today is the inauguration of President Lincoln. The struggle has come …

16 April 1861
Days are dark in the extreme in the history of our country. All overtures of peace from the South have been rejected. … Fort Sumter was attacked by the Confederate troops under the command of G. Beauregard on Friday morning at 4. Gen. Anderson it is said has surrendered.

18 April 1861
Never before in our country’s history have we been called to witness such dark foreboding hours. … Fort Sumter has been taken without any serious loss of life. … On Friday morning 4 o’clock Ft. Sumter was attacked—surrendered on Saturday at 1. … The horrors of battlefield scenes has been deeply impressed in my mind during the last 10 days. … The South have sued for peace upon all terms; consistent with the maintenance of her dignity of character; as a part of a free self governed people; how has she been treated – with duplicity, intrigues and cunning which her high toned peace loving men were not able to detect. Now what alternative has she left? Nothing but to defend herself …

29 April 1861
Peace is still a stranger in our beautiful land. Of all places of the earth none seems to have been so lavishly decorated as our own fair, yea fairest Republic but I fear the desolating hand of civil war.

12 May 1861
I have bid my sons farewell a few minutes since. I do feel I have given my sons [?] not to make war upon an enemy but to act in self defense to resist the invasion of a foe to civil liberty … The name traitor rebel, and other odious epithets are heaped upon us and for what—because we have dared to resist an oppression threatening the extinction of the whole Southern population. …

Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain’s sons Nicholas “Nick” Fain (1840-1900) Samuel A. “Sam” Fain (1842-1874) and her nephew Samuel “Sam” Rhea Gammon join the 19th Tennessee Infantry Regiment CSA in May 1861. They receive training at Knoxville and serve in a unit called the “Hawkins County Boys.”

18 May 1861
Yesterday morning I bid my beloved husband [Richard Gammon Fain] farewell. How hard to part from those so dear at all times, but how peculiarly trying at this time, when everything in our political world wears an aspect of such gloom and darkness. … My dear loved one has gone to act as Commissary General for Tennessee troops. … I feel much worn down, have been passing through scenes of such excitement for several days … My garden and other domestic cares press heavily. Had my sheep sheared yesterday—today in my garden.

MINI BIO: Richard Gammon Fain
Before the American Civil War, Richard Gammon Fain (1811-1878), husband of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, was a merchant and bank officer in Rogersville and president of the Rogersville and Jefferson Railroad. He also served in several civic positions, including postmaster of Rogersville for several years in the 1840s.

An 1832 graduate of West Point, Richard accepts the rank of major in the Confederate ArmyHe serves as Commissary General for the Provisional Army of Tennessee in Knoxville from 14 October 1861 until June 1862After the Provisional Army of Tennessee is absorbed into the Confederate Army, Fain becomes Assistant Commissary of Subsistence on the staff of General Felix K. Zollicoffer, still in Knoxville. 

In June 1862, Fain is assigned to organize the CSA 63rdTennessee Infantry Regiment, with himself as colonel. The Fain boys, who were old enough to serve in the Confederate Army, eventually joined their father’s regiment.

Because of ill health, Richard Fain writes his letter of resignation from the Confederate Army from Missionary Ridge while serving with the Army of Tennessee in the Chattanooga Campaign. The letter, now in the National Archives, includes a statement from an army surgeon about Richard’s health:

“I certify that I have carefully examined Col. R. G. Fain, 63rd Tennessee Regiment, and find him unable to perform the duties of the office because of chronic disease of the liver and peculiar irritability of the system which prostrates him on the least exposure. I therefore recommend his discharge from service.”

As you will see in her diary entries, Eliza is very unhappy with Richard leaving his army post. She does not take his health issues too seriously. She is mortified when he takes the oath of allegiance to the United States and applies for a pardon, which President Andrew Johnson grants in October 1865. Eliza wonders why “a God of truth, of love, should permit such a people to overcome us.”

Richard Gammon Fain dies on 11 September 1878 at Mossy Creek (Jefferson County, Tennessee) and is buried in the cemetery at Rogersville Presbyterian Church.

Eliza’s diary
June 1861

2 June 1861, Sabbath
Darkness, darkness, all is dark as yet so far as our difficulties with each other are concerned. The troops from the North are still advancing. Troops are moving in from the South to meet and repel this attack … My soul is troubled to its greatest depth. My husband, my sons are gone. The sacredness of the home circle has been invaded—perhaps never again to be as it has been.

On last Friday morning before day I was awakened from my sleep with a feeling of indescribable grief. I rose early, my purpose fixed to write to a friend who was throwing his influence on the side of the North. I sat down and addressed to him a few lines which I do trust may lead him to think …

6 June 1861
Troubles are still thickening around us. This evening received from my loved husband the lengthiest letter I have yet received dated 4 June. I have been thinking all day of the pleasures I should feel in welcoming him home but his letter has rather driven the hope from me. They are expecting orders every day to march to Virginia.

I received this evening a printed letter from the editor of the Mothers Magazine soliciting so earnestly for remittance from his southern patrons saying he has never felt like taking sides against the South, has ever felt they knew better how to manage their affairs than they of the North could do it for us. …

16 June 1861
At home sweet home although so sadly broken up. My helpless little darling daughters lying around me on the floor giving vent to the girlish impulses of t he heart not knowing or comprehending the deep sources of grief which disturbs my peace on this calm, beautiful Sabbath morning. My husband has been permitted to revisit his home. … He came Saturday the 8th and remained until Tuesday morning the 11th a 6:00 o’clock when I set out with him to Knoxville. We arrived at Knoxville around 11 having had a comfortable ride.

Put up at Lamar House and after dinner went out in omnibus to fairgrounds to visit my dear, darling boys [her sons]. Never will I forget the feeling I had when I came in sight of and entered the gates leading to tents. I had often imagined to myself the look of the tented field but never until that day had any realization of its appearance and never, while I live, can I forget the expression of gladness beaming from the sunburnt face of that band of noble volunteers. … I feel there are many connected with nineteenth regiment East Tennessee who are good young men. … My heart rises in gratitude and love to God for giving to Southern homes husbands, sons, and brothers who go forth so cheerfully, so nobly for the maintenance of civil and religious freedom. …

Eliza’s diary
July 1861

10 July 1861
Had a letter from Nick [her son, Nicholas Fain] yesterday. He says Capt. Heiskell did not seem displeased with him for staying over his time—spoke jokingly of putting him on extra duty. He went back 1st of July, Monday. They are not encamped on Cumberland Mountain. As they stand sentinel upon the fastness of the mountain may their thoughts be turned by thy Holy Spirit … My dear Sam [son Samuel A. Fain] seems to have forgotten he has ever known a mother’s love or a mother’s care.

Eliza is fortunate that her husband and sons are stationed nearby in Knoxville, which allows all of them to visit back and forth.

11 July 1861
On the 2nd of this month—Tuesday night—I saw for the first time the comet … which appeared during the reign of Charles the fifth and caused the abdication of throne by him. I was so struck by the grandeur and beauty of the sight—was walking through my yard listening for the return of Powell [son George Powell Fain] and Gus [son John Lynn Fain] when my attention was directed towards the heavens and what a beautiful sight struck my view. …

23 July 1861
I have said farewell again this morning to my best, my dearest earthly friend. my loved Richard [her husband Richard Gammon Fain] more precious than any other living being on earth. Heart doubly sad this morning—husband gone—hours of darkness rapidly approaching. The news from Virginia calculated to elate the heart in one point of view but in another to make it feel so sick of the wickedness of man. The news was received yesterday of a great battle [First Bull Run] between the Southern and Northern troops. …

The dark and lowering clouds of civil discord seem to threaten the destruction of our loved East Tennessee. A man came to brother Hiram [Eliza’s brother-in-law, who also kept a Civil War diary] Sunday night saying a difficulty was likely to occur at Sneedville—that the Union men were or had taken H. Roses’s company of volunteers prisoner. …

There are errors in Eliza’s diary, particularly when it comes to news of the war. Not only does information travel slowly through the mountains, but the inaccuracies are often outrageous, causing Eliza to worry over information that is totally false or highly adulterated. News of the First Battle of Bull Run, fought on July 21, didn’t reach her until July 23, and she believed the battle was still being fought on the 23rd. It’s like the game where people whisper a certain message to each other, and by the time it reaches the last person, the entire meaning has changed.

28 July 1861
My Sabbaths are days now of such intense feeling and I cannot keep from asking questions concerning the well being of those who have left all in our Southern homes to go forth for what I feel is civil and religious liberty. This morning brother George got back from Knoxville having gone down on Wednesday to make some arrangements about their company. … on that day he travelled with some who were going back from Virginia who had been spectators of the deadly conflict this day week [a week ago today] (21st) ever memorable to one who was on that train with the remains of a darling son who had fallen to rise no more … I asked George if he thought his father seemed much distressed He said he seemed so much elated at the success of our armies [in the First Battle of Bull Run—a Confederate victory] he did not seem to feel the death of his child much. I have always felt to the truly patriotic heart there is no cause where we could lose our sons which would carry with it an alleviation of sorrow so much as the thought of Liberty, Liberty.

Eliza’s Diary
Autumn 1861

Sabbath, 18 August 1861
I do so feel this morning crushed at the thought of the great desecration of my holy day. … O the baneful influences of military life over the soul. It is this I dread more than all things else. I dread that the hearts of my sons will be estranged for all that is good. Sam is home today but cannot remain long in one place … seems to be so reckless.

The scenes of the 21st fighting [First Battle of Bull Run] are vividly impressed upon the minds who now travel upon our trains. Fain has again been down the country, saw on the trains several wounded. One who had both hands taken off. O how many how many poor soldiers have been crippled for life, how deplorable the results of war. … Our Southern people have many of the Northern wounded to care for. …

September 1861
[Account of a trip to Nashville]
We got on comfortably to the river in Col. Walker’s hack, crossed the river, were soon seated in our comfortable train. Moved on quite pleasantly to Gap [?], waited a short time when the train which was to bear us from our home to the west came up. What a sorrowful sight I was called to witness as I entered the car. Our noble soldiers returning wounded and sick and maimed for life. My heart was sad indeed at the sight. … We traveled nicely but crowded until we reached the collision which had taken place that morning between a freight and gravel train. … About 2 o’clock on Thursday 5th of Sept., with him [her husband] who is dearer to me than all else, left Knoxville for Nashville. … We travelled over that long and dangerous road [railroad] between Chattanooga and Nashville [the C&N]. … After supper Richard went out into another car to smoke, staid so long I felt uneasy. I did not know what to do. I imagined many things and amongst others felt afraid that someone had knocked him the head but after a while he came and I was relieved. Took breakfast at Murfreesboro and arrived at Nashville about 7 o’clock and in a short time was surrounded by the loved friends of Nashville.

13 October 1861
On Wednesday 25th Sept, Sam [Samuel A. Fain] came home from camp sick. I felt so glad to have him at home. My heart would have been so distressed at the thought of a son sick in camp. He is now well for which I do trust and feel so thankful.

27 October 1861
This day week [a week ago] I was surrounded by the sight of home, husband, sons, friends. … On Tuesday morning Abram Gammon, Nick Fain, Sam Fain and J. K. P. Gammon left us for their Kentucky camp. I felt so sad at parting from them for ought we know it is the last look we may ever have on their loved faces.

10 November 1861
This morning finds heart , soul and body in a state of great excitement from the rumor of burnt bridges and strong apprehensions of a rebellious movement on the part of the Union desperados of East Tennessee. I fear at a late hour men of standing who have aided and abetted that feeling may find themselves as well as the rest of us involved in irretrievable ruin.

14 November 1861
Last Sabbath evening my beloved husband returned having been so strongly solicited by Mr. McFarland and others to come and see what could be furnished for the reconstruction of the burnt bridges from our timbers at the river. He went back on Monday and got to Knoxville at 9 o’clock p.m. When shall my home be home again, when will the loved be restored. On last Tuesday morning about 5 a.m. messengers from town came requiring sons Sam and Ike to go immediately and make preparation for a trip to railroad to succor troops stationed at Watauga Bridge. Before going a great distance they ascertained they had been fired upon whilst out on a scout from Mr. N. Taylor’s barn. Some were slightly wounded but no lives lost I understand. How deplorable is such a state of affairs.

Isaac “Ike” Anderson Fain (1844-1917)
The Fains’ fourth son, Isaac “Ike” Anderson Fain was 17 when the Civil War began. Records are unclear as to when he enlisted in the Confederate Army. He joined his father’s regiment, the 63rd, with the rank of sergeant but was demoted to private in December 1862. He then served as an orderly for his father, but in June 1863 he was appointed forage master, a low-level position. He did not accompany the Sixty-Third to Virginia in spring 1864 and was removed from the regimental roll. Ike then joined a local cavalry unit and served near Rogersville for the remainder of the war.

Sabbath, 24 November 1861
Gloom Gloom impenetrable gloom hangs over me this morning. My son Ike left home this morning with gun strapped on his back and his provisions in a bag to go to Bays Mountain where it is said a number of our poor deluded and infatuated Union men have collected for resistance to the law and to work wickedly.

Eliza’s Diary
Winter 1861

26 December 1861
Since listing the above, all things have been made to succumb to military rule. The rebellion has been suppressed and many of the members of it have been arrested. Some have paid the high price of life for life. Old Mr. Bird an old man of 60 years was one of the ringleaders … He was shot on a high spur of that mountain region … I have felt troubled when I thought of his death and feel upon the leading Union men of East Tennessee rests the blood of these poor deluded victims. Two more men by the name of Harmon [Jacob and Henry] have been hung in Knoxville; implicated in that atrocious and diabolical deed of bridge burning. … Buck [a slave ?] and Ike made a narrow escape. Ike told me that he never felt so frightened in his life with bullets flying by him and he could see no one. A merciful God preserved the life of my child.

Eliza’s Diary
New Year’s morning, 1 January 1862
My sons have left me to go forth to combat the world again—Nick, Samuel Gammon and Ike. Sam and Ike to go to Knoxville and Nick to Cumberland Gap. Samuel Gammon has promised me to drink no more until the war closes but of that I have many doubts and fears.

13 January 1862
Fearful night—poor soldiers how my heart feels for you this dreary night. Sleet is falling until the ground is white and I am alone. Lizzie, Powell, and Fan at their aunt Nancy’s for a supper and dance. My heart is weary of Christmasing. … Life is too precious to be squandered. …
Where are my soldier sons this night? My heart is so grieved when I think of our poor soldiers who have to face the storm of rain, wind, and sleet, with but little to protect them from its chilling effects.

19 February 1862
One month today since the Battle of Fishing Creek where our boys were defeated. … I was completely bewildered I scarcely knew what to do with myself. Had it not been for a visit to my husband in Knoxville I would have felt much like giving up …

17 March 1862
My beloved husband left this morning for Knoxville. I always feel so sad when he goes away. How long is this separation to continue?

18 March 1862
How sad I feel this morning. Tears are falling as I write. The thought has been upon me what if in the Providence of God the North shall be successful. We cannot dwell together for the breach is greater than it ever has been. …

21 March 1862
Our days are growing darker—foes within and foes without. … How humiliating to me is the thought of our Capital in the hands of enemies who will I fear destroy it. …

“60th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War,” Hawkins County Genealogy & History, accessed 25 May 2021,

Carolyn Medine Jones, “Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee,” Civil War Book Review, accessed 4 January 2021,

“Confederate Commissary General,” State of Tennessee, Tennessee State Library and Archives, accessed 5 January 2021,

Fain Diaries,” Angelfire, accessed 4 January 2021,

Holly Young, “John H. Crawford Papers: Letters from the Civil War,” (2011). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 15, accessed 25 May 2021,

John N. Fain, editor, Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 2004

28 July 1861
My Sabbaths are days now of such intense feeling and I cannot keep from asking questions concerning the well being of those who have left all in our Southern homes to go forth for what I feel is civil and religious liberty. This morning brother George got back from Knoxville having gone down on Wednesday to make some arrangements about their company. … on that day he travelled with some who were going back from Virginia who had been spectators of the deadly conflict this day week [a week ago today] [First Battle of Bull Run] ever memorable to one who was on that train with the remains of a darling son who had fallen to rise no more … I asked George if he thought his father seemed much distressed. He said he seemed so much elated at the success of our armies [in the First Battle of Bull Run—a Confederate victory] he did not seem to feel the death of his child much. I have always felt to the truly patriotic heart there is no cause where we could lose our sons which would carry with it an alleviation of sorrow so much as the thought of Liberty, Liberty. I feel glad that I am not where these scenes of excitement would be before my eyes; I feel I can hardly bear it when I am just to hear of it.

Daniel Stover burns Zollicoffer Bridge

Daniel was born on 14 November 1826 in Elizabethton, Carter County, Northeast Tennessee, to William Ward Stover and Sarah Murray Drake. In 1852 Daniel bought five tracts of land from his father for $1, with the understanding that his parents will continue to live there for the rest of their lives. Daniel’s dollar also buys him the farmhouse, the barns, and other outbuildings on the land. Luckily, the property is adjacent to the Watauga River just outside the town of Elizabethton. 

In he vicinity of Elizabethton, Northeast Tennessee

Isaac Lincoln is born on 5 March 1750 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, son of John Lincoln and Rebecca Flowers, who migrated to the Watauga area of Northeast Tennessee in 1773 or 1774. Isaac is the great uncle of Abraham Lincoln—yes, the Lincoln who would become president—who was born on 12 February 1809. Isaac married Mary Ward in Carter County on 29 August 1780. They had only one child, a son, and he died.

Indeed the Lincolns welcomed two orphan children among their extended family into their home and raised them: William Ward Stover, son of Mary Ward Lincoln’s sister, and Phoebe Williams, daughter of Mordecai Williams [died 1848] and Elizabeth Stover [died 1851]. Isaac and Mary Lincoln raised William and Phoebe as their own children. Mary Ward Lincoln left the bulk of her estate to Daniel’s father William Ward Stover when she passed in 1834.

I did not expect to find members of the Lincoln family in Northeast Tennessee. It is a distant link, true. But if you think about Daniel’s father and Mary’s nephew, William Ward Stover, and his relationship with Isaac and Mary Ward Lincoln—that makes Daniel related to Mary by blood. Then think about how Daniel’s father-in-law, Andrew Johnson, became Abraham Lincoln’s running mate in 1864 and advanced to the presidency when Booth assassinated Lincoln a few months later—well, my head is spinning right now.

Daniel Stover meets Mary Johnson while she is studying to become a teacher. She is the daughter of Andrew Johnson of nearby Greeneville, who will eventually become president. Daniel and Mary marry on 27 April 1852, and they live on Daniel’s land in Carter County. They have three children, Andrew, Eliza, and Sarah. An article in the Watauga Democrat states, “Their home was the scene of many brilliant parties and many prominent people were entertained in its walls.”

Carter County native W.B. Carter comes up with a plan to hinder Confederate operations by burning four railroad bridges in Northeast Tennessee. He places great trust in Daniel Stover when he assigns him to destroy two of the four railroad bridges. Stover swears to keep the operation secret until the day set for burning the bridges, 8 November 1861. On that day, Stover selects about thirty men to be his assistants and explains their mission.

Stover tells his men that in addition to doing a great service for their country, they will receive a small payment from the Federal government. He assures them that they should not fear any repercussions against them by the enemy. USA General George H. Thomas and his army are waiting on the Tennessee/Kentucky border, ready to move in quickly and protect the bridge burners from Confederate retaliation.

Colonel Daniel Stover

The little town in Sullivan County where the ET&VA railroad bridge crosses the Holston River has had several name changes. It was called ‘Middletown’ when it was platted, but after the East Tennessee and Virginia [ET&VA] railroad was completed in the late 1850s, the town adopted the name ‘Union.’ That’s confusing because of everything else we call ‘Union.’ The residents took back the name ‘Union’ after the Civil War, but it became ‘Bluff City’ on 1 July 1887 and still has that name today. But I’ve decided to use ‘Zollicoffer’ as the town’s name because it was the most used during the war. It comes from CSA General Felix Zollicoffer, a native of Middle Tennessee who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs on 19 January 1862. Yes, you heard me right, a town in Northeast Tennessee was named after a Confederate general. But this is Sullivan County; they had a strong Confederate following there. I know, the town wasn’t called Zollicoffer when the bridge was actually burned—just bear with me.

Daniel Stover and his men mount their horses and begin the journey to Carter’s Depot, to destroy the bridge over the Watauga River there. Upon their arrival, they discover that a regiment of Confederate cavalry under the command of Capt. David McClellan is guarding the Watauga bridge. Stover quickly abandons that operation; he and his small band of Unionists would be no match for those well-trained soldiers on horseback.

The bridge burners leave immediately for the town of Zollicoffer, where the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad runs straight through the little village and crosses the Holston River. Only two guards are keeping watch at the Zollicoffer bridge that night, and they are quickly subdued. The men immediately work on setting fire to the bridge, and it is soon ablaze.

Now Daniel has to decide what to do with the guards. They beg pitifully for their lives and promise not to say anything about the men who burned the Zollicoffer bridge. A man named Jenkins is particularly vocal. Keen, a bridge burner, has been Jenkins’s neighbor for some time and does not believe the man would ever betray him. On his word, Jenkins’s life is spared. On his word, they spare Jenkins’s life. However, as soon as he is free, the man reports Keen and others he recognized to Confederate authorities. 

I am giving you several different accounts of the burning of the bridge at Zollicoffer, which will give you a better understanding of these events. Nobody tells the whole truth, and even their version of the truth is filtered through their own life experiences during these traumatic events.

J.G. BURCHFIELD’S VERSION: Burning the Zollicoffer Bridge
Although he is only 15 years old, Burchfield actively participates in burning the bridge across the Holston River at Zollicoffer. He wrote:

We all rode to the [railroad] station, dismounted, and rushed to the bridge. It would be impossible to describe the haste with which each man did his part. A guard was captured at the bridge, and in five minutes from the time we reach it, the flames were driven from the south end to the north end of the bridge. All re-mounted and returned by the way we came.” He slept that night and “felt that death would be visited upon any of the men who participated in that night’s fearful work.

DANIEL ELLIS’S RENDITION: Burning the Zollicoffer Bridge
This is Daniel Ellis’s version of burning the bridge—he calls the town Union. In this excerpt from his book, The Thrilling True Adventures of Daniel Ellis, he makes perhaps the most insightful statement about the bridge burnings. In this short passage, he mentions twice that Federal troops would soon be arriving in Northeast Tennessee—emphasizing how much these men are relying on the Union Army to aid and protect them.

In the month of November 1861, the troubles of the Union people in the upper portion of East Tennessee began in earnest. Orders had been received from the government of the United States to burn all the bridges … It was to be done at night, secretly, and every true-hearted Union man that was advised of this design readily engaged in a combination to assist in this contemplated work of destruction. It was generally believed by all who had been advised of the project, that if this destruction could be accomplished there would then be nothing in the way to prevent the Federal troops from coming to East Tennessee to stay; and consequently, we all joined heart and hand in the business.

Being a citizen of Carter County, I united with the company which had been selected to burn the bridge over the Holston River at the town of Union in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The bridge over the Watauga River at Carter[‘s] Depot, six miles from Elizabethton … escaped destruction, owing to the fact that a company of Rebel soldiers were stationed there.

The bridge at Union not being thus guarded, was destroyed without any trouble as the few guards who were stationed there were suddenly captured, and their lives spared as they avowed most solemnly that they would never reveal the names of any of the party concerned in burning the bridge. But their solemn asseverations [declarations of the truth of a statement] soon proved to be “as false as dicers oaths”* for so soon as they met with their partners in rebellion, they immediately disclosed the name of every man with whom they were acquainted, and guessed remarkably well in regard to those with whom they were not personally acquainted. This was not very hard for them to do, for up to this time there were not very many who had disclaimed their principles, but … openly declared themselves as firm and steadfast friends of the Union.

The injury which was thus done so enraged the Rebels, that the Union citizens, in order to insure their self-protection, assembled together in a body of some several hundred men, and armed themselves as best they could, believing all the time that the Federal forces would soon visit this portion of East Tennessee, and relieve them from the dangers which surrounded them.

Daniel Ellis, The Thrilling True Adventures of Daniel Ellis: 1861~1865, (Independently published (November 5, 2016), 13-20

“as false as dicers oaths”*
(See quotation above.) The most popular game among dice-players was liar’s dice. In this game, each player rolls the die, but only they can see what they’ve rolled. Then they lie about their roll so other players will guess incorrectly and the best liar wins.

9 NOVEMBER 1861: First bridge burner arrested
S. H. Hendrix of Carter’s Depot, who actively participated in burning the Zollicoffer bridge, is the first man arrested, and the first to tell Keen and others that Jenkins has betrayed them. Hendrix writes this letter:

On Saturday morning when the excitement was at its highest I was arrested and carried to the headquarters of Capt. McClellan and ordered placed in the guard house with six guards over me. I was the first man arrested for bridge burning, but proved such a conclusive alibi by Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Brown (my uncle and aunt) and Miss Bettie Bishop, daughter of James Bishop, that I was sent home under guard, and under promise to remain inside the Confederate lines and report to headquarters twice a day.

 Through my anxiety to get with the Union forces so as to inform Lafayette Cameron, Jonas H. Keen and Landon Carter that they had been betrayed and reported by Jenkins and were in great danger, I made my escape on Monday and went up the river through the pines and brush to the bend of the river below Buck’s Rock, crossed the river at what was then called the “Devil’s Stairs,” and made my way to Elizabethton and told Cameron, Carter and Keen what I had learned while a prisoner at Carter’s Depot.”

 General George H. Thomas’s troops do not arrive to protect the people of Northeast Tennessee; the men who risked their lives to burn the bridges are left on their own. Realizing there may be no protection from the Union army, the Unionists are overwhelmed. They create a small regiment and elect Daniel Stover its colonel. Knowing that heavy Confederate reinforcements are on their way, the bridge burners retreat to Elizabethton, near Stover’s home, but they feel very exposed there and move farther south.

In the valleys of the mountains along the Doe River in Carter County there are fertile coves—a cove in the Appalachian mountains is defined as a small valley between two ridges that is closed at one or both ends. Six miles south of Elizabethton, the bridge burners encamp at Doe River Cove—now the town of Hampton. Unionist farmers in the neighborhood furnish the men with cattle, sheep, flour and cornmeal and feed for their horses.

This excerpt about Daniel Stover is from a biography of Eliza McCardle Johnson, his mother-in-law:

On November 8, 1861 Daniel led the burning of the Holston River [bridge]. For this he was hunted down, and targeted for capture by Confederate troops. This forced Daniel and his men to seek refuge in the caves [coves] of the nearby mountains during the subsequent winter months and that is where he contracted tuberculosis. Most of the other men were among the working poor with families unable to provide their own sustenance. Daniel’s wife Mary [daughter of Eliza McCardle Johnson]directed that her farm’s livestock be slaughtered to keep the poor families fed. Not wanting to tip off the Confederates searching for the militia in the mountains, however, often inhibited her from smuggling the food baskets she and her mother prepared for them. Many often starved or froze to death in the mountains, a fact which weighed heavily on Mary.

Miller’s Cove

Stansberry, Brian. Miller’s Cove in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee [Similar to Doe River Cove]. User:BrineStans, 3 September 2007. GNU Free Documentation License,

Colonel Danville Leadbetter arrives at Johnson City, Northeast Tennessee, with a large Confederate force and moves out on the Taylorsville road towards the Union camp. The Confederates have sent Leadbetter to arrest the bridge burners and rebuild the bridges. Constant rumors about the enemy circulate through Stover’s camp, and the men expect them to appear at any time.

16 NOVEMBER 1861
Realizing the hopelessness of taking on Leadbetter’s force, the bridge burners disband their little army and leave Doe River Cove on 16 November 1861. Many of these men are caught and sent to prison, where they endure all kinds of abuse. Most of Stover’s men hide in the mountains until Daniel Ellis feels it is safe enough to lead them across the mountains to Camp Dick Robinson in southeastern Kentucky, where many enlist in the Union Army. Still others remain in the mountains for almost two years—until September 1863—when General Ambrose Burnside marches his Federal army into Northeast Tennessee and takes Knoxville.

CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin and Col. Danville Leadbetter correspond about the bridge burners:
19 NOVEMBER 1861
JOHNSON STATION, November 19, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN:
“Yesterday we dispersed the insurgents, 300 strong, at Doe River. Took thirty prisoners in the neighborhood; none very prominent. What shall be done with them! Are those not known as criminals to be released on their oath of allegiance! Those known to have been insurgents I recommend be sent to Richmond and kept there. Please telegraph to Jonesborough, Tenn.”

19 NOVEMBER 1861
RICHMOND, November 19, 1861.
Colonel D. LEADBETTER Jonesborough, Tenn.:
“Send all the prisoners known to be criminals or to have born arms against the Government to Nashville to be tried for high treason. Discharge the others on their taking oath of allegiance. I have ordered a regiment from North Carolina to report to you at Jonesborough.”
J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.

A month later, Col. Danville Leadbetter, commanding Confederate forces in the Northeast Tennessee area, reports to Adjutant Gen. Samuel Cooper in Richmond:
“Capt. McClellan, of the Tennessee cavalry, stationed by me at Elizabethton, reports that Carter County is becoming very quiet, and that, with the aid of a company of infantry, he will enter Johnson County and disarm the people there. The execution of the bridge burners is producing the happiest effect. This, coupled with great kindness towards the inhabitants generally inclines them to quietude. Insurgents will continue for yet a while in the mountains, but I trust that we have secured the outward obedience of the people.”

All that remains of the Zollicoffer bridge are the brick piers that once held the trestles.

On 27 February 1862 Edwin M. Stanton, Union Secretary of War, offers Daniel Stover a commission as a Colonel in the 4th East Tennessee Infantry USA for three years or the term of the war. The official certificate bears Stanton’s signature but states that the President of the United States appointed him. As part of his commission, the government authorizes Daniel to raise a regiment of volunteers from Tennessee. Many of the men who were with him during the previous months join his unit. Stover accepted the commission on December 3, 1862.

MAY 1863
In May 1863, Stover submitted a letter describing the progress in assembling a regiment of men. He concludes the letter by noting that since May 1862, more recruits have come into camps. The 4th is composed wholly of exiles from East Tennessee, who were brought out of the Confederate lines by officers and pilots sent in for that purpose. On May 29, 1863, Stover’s unit left Louisville and was mustered into service in June. They remained in upper East Tennessee until July when ordered to Nashville to be mustered out. Col. Stover saw no service in the field.

JULY 1863
Daniel’s service records show that he is frequently absent due to tuberculosis. The record states, “his lungs are very debilitated by frequent pneumonia, he is very dehydrated … and he is unfit to resume duty and won’t be for the next 30 days … he contracted a severe cold which affected very seriously his lungs …”

A letter written to Col. T.S. George in Nashville describes Daniel’s condition:
“I desire to call your attention to the case of Colonel Daniel Stover of the 4th East Tennessee Infantry. He has been for several months seriously indisposed – at times confined to his bed – and unable to perform the duties incidental to field service. As you are aware, this Regiment was recently captured at McMinnville and the other officers are now engaged in its reorganization. I therefore respectfully ask that leave of absence may be extended to Col. Stover until he shall be restored to health as to be able to take the command of his Regiment.”

R. Knoffe, Surgeon with the 10th Tennessee Regiment, reports that Daniel suffers from tuberculosis or what was referred to at that time as consumption. Knoffe adds, “he will never be fit for any service.”

1 AUGUST 1864
Service Records for Daniel for the remainder of 1863 and into 1864 show similar reports of illness. On August 1, 1864 Daniel submitted his letter of resignation:

I have the honor to tender my resignation as Colonel of the Fourth Tennessee Infantry. Exposure whilst lying out in the mountains of East Tennessee, to avoid the confederates who were seeking my destination, added to what I have undergone since my entry into the U.S. Service, and has destroyed a once vigorous constitution and rendered me totally unfit for service. I enclose the certificate of Surgeon Knoffe who has been my attending surgeon for many months.

18 DECEMBER 1864
Colonel Daniel Stover dies in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 18, 1864. The army returns his body to Carter County, where his family buries him next to his parents. After the war ends, Daniel’s widow Mary Johnson Stover returns to their farm near Elizabethton and finds the buildings destroyed and the food reserves depleted. She and her three children live with her parents in Nashville.


“Bridge Burning: Names of Men Who Burned the Bridge at Zollicoffer, “History of the 13th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry, USA, Chapter VII, accessed 20 February 2021,

“Burning of the Railway Bridges, “War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0844, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,

“Burning of the Railway Bridges, “War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0845, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,

“Daniel Stover: My 2nd Great Granduncle on my Father’s Side Part 1,” accessed 25 April 2021, 

“Daniel Stover: My 2nd Great Granduncle on my Father’s Side Part 2,” accessed 25 April 2021,

“Daniel Stover: My 2nd Great Granduncle on my Father’s Side Part 3,” accessed 25 April 2021,

“East Tennessee and the Civil War, “Oliver P. Temple, 1899, Chapter XVII, Burning the Bridges, Pages 366—387, accessed 15 February 2021,

“First Lady Biography: Eliza Johnson,” National First Ladies’ Library, accessed 25 April 2021,

“Heros and Heroines of Carter and Johnson Counties in the Civil War,” History of the 13th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry, USA, Chapter XXVIII, accessed 20 February 2021,

Samuel Scott and Samuel Angel, History of the 13th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry, USA, Alpha Editions, July 1, 2019,

“Isaac Lincoln,” Findagrave, accessed 25 April 2021,

“John Burchfield (Company G),” 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry USA Wiki, accessed 29 April 2021,

“Lincoln Family,” An American Family History,      accessed 25 April 2021,

Daniel Ellis, The Thrilling True Adventures of Daniel Ellis: 1861~1865, (Independently published (November 5, 2016), 13-20

Secession Crisis in Northeast Tennessee

1858 – 1865
Grand Divisions of Tennessee
The State of Tennessee comprises three Grand Divisions: West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee. There are even further divisions within East Tennessee—Southeast Tennessee, Knox County, and Northeast Tennessee—demonstrating how strongly each subdivision is attached to either the Union or the Confederacy.
With new markets provided by the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad—completed in 1858—Southeast Tennessee sells increased quantities of cash crops to the South and identifies more with the Confederacy. Knox County, once strongly Unionist, relates more with the Confederacy after Southern troops occupy Knoxville in July 1861. Northeast Tennessee remains primarily Unionist from the entrance of the railroad in 1858 until the close of the Civil War in 1865.

A view of Knoxville in 1859
Knoxville looking southeast towards the Old Courthouse.
McClung Historical Collection.


20 JANUARY 1860: Is secession the answer?
The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge writes an open letter to his relative—Vice President John C. Breckinridge—calling for moderation in resolving the differences between North and South. This is an excerpt:

Wholly unable to comprehend how it can be to the interest of any State to secede from the Union—or how the right to secede can be considered anything else but purely revolutionary; and sees nothing in the past conduct of the Federal Government to justify secession if it were a constitutional remedy; nothing in the aspect of the times promising anything but disaster to the country, to every seceding State, and most especially to herself, from the application of any such remedy, whether by war, by revolution, by the formation of new confederacies, or by the secession of individual States.

~ Rev. Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge

William Brickly Stokes

1 MARCH 1860
A Unionist speaks out
More than nine months before South Carolina secedes from the Union, a U.S. congressman speaks his mind at a political convention. Stokes is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from DeKalb County, Tennessee (4 March 1859—4 March 1861). On 1 March 1860, Stokes expresses his opinion of secession at the Opposition Party’s State Convention:

It may be mischievous to lull the people into security by proclaiming that the Union cannot be dissolved; … that the ties of kindred blood, of a common lineage and language will prevent it; … and that, if nothing else should avail, the magnitude of material interest dependent upon the preservation of the Union will prevent its dismemberment. The Union cannot be saved by such teaching. It should be remembered that the ties of blood and natural affection are often broken by repeated wrongs; that a family quarrel, of all others, when entered upon, is the most bitter and relentless … No! The safety of the Union depends upon the united action and energies of all good men, North and South, and with the blessing of the God of our fathers upon their efforts, the Union can and will be preserved.

~ William Brickly Stokes

Anti-secession campaign
Leaders in East Tennessee begin an anti-secession campaign and spend much of the latter part of 1860 holding meetings and speaking at rallies in counties throughout the region.
Men such as Senator Andrew Johnson, Congressman Emerson Etheridge, Congressman Thomas A.R. Nelson, newspaper editor Parson Brownlow, and Horace Maynard—one of the few Southern congressmen to maintain his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Civil War.
This strong Unionist leadership early in the secession crisis is essential in keeping East Tennesseans loyal to the Union.

Tennessee Governor Harris is working behind the scenes
During the presidential campaign of 1860, Tennessee Governor Isham Harris, a secessionist from West Tennessee, warns that the state must be ready to consider secession if the “reckless fanatics of the north” should gain control of the federal government. After Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States on 6 November 1860, Harris begins his own campaign to sever Tennessee’s ties with the United States. Southern Democrats, convinced that Lincoln would abolish slavery, begin calling for secession.

20 DECEMBER 1860
Why can’t everyone live free?
When Abraham Lincoln, a known opponent of slavery, is elected president in November 1860, the South Carolina legislature call a state convention. On 20 December 1860 the delegates vote 169 to 0 to leave the United States of America. This is the culmination of decades of debate between the North and the South about slavery and extending slavery into new Federal territories.

25 DECEMBER 1860
Is the Union lost?
During the secession crisis in Tennessee, most people in the state are not much interested in leaving the Union. However, as secession fever reaches the Unionist counties in Northeast Tennessee, more and more people sense impending conflict. As far away as the state capital of Nashville, a lawyer writes on Christmas Day 1860:

I am of the opinion that our beloved Union is drawing to an ignominious end. Lincoln has been elected President & the whole South is shaken from center to circumference—God grant that we may be preserved from civil war & a servile insurrection.

~ William L. B. Lawrence Diary


The South secedes
South Carolina seceded in December 1860. During the months of January and February 1861, six more states secede: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Leaders in these states believe that, despite his promises, Abraham Lincoln will abolish slavery.
After a long pause, four more states leave the Union in April and May 1861: Virginia, Arkansas, and North Carolina, with Tennessee being the last to secede on 8 June 1861. These eleven states form the Confederate States of America.

Isham Harris, Governor of Tennessee


Governor calls for a secession convention
Tennessee Governor Isham Harris, a secessionist from West Tennessee, convenes a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly on 7 January 1861.
Harris asks the lawmakers to approve a convention to consider the state’s position on secession.
The legislators do not believe they have the authority to call a State Convention without a vote of the people. They call for a referendum in which all Tennessee voters will decide whether or not a secession convention should be held, setting the date for 9 February 1861.

An introduction to Parson Brownlow
Pro-Union newspapers in Tennessee accuse Governor Harris of treason for suggesting a secession convention. William G. ‘Parson’ Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig, attacks Harris almost daily in the pages of his newspaper.
As a minister in a previous life, Brownlow acquired the nickname ‘Parson.’
He became well known in the late 1830s and early 1840s as editor and publisher of the Knoxville Whig and several other short-lived newspapers.
Brownlow believes strongly in his principles and personally attacks his political opponents, sometimes to the point of bodily harm. He also staunchly opposes secession.
By 1861, the Knoxville Whig has 14,000 loyal subscribers, and some secessionists accuse Brownlow of being the root cause of the stubborn Unionist sentiment in East Tennessee.
Knoxville Democrats try to counter Brownlow’s editorials by supporting the Knoxville Register, East Tennessee’s dominant newspaper. Radical secessionist Jacob Austin Sperry edits the Register, but he flees when USA General Ambrose Burnside takes possession of Knoxville in September 1863.

Shall Tennessee submit?
In the House of Representatives yesterday, Mr. [William H.] Wisener of Bedford [County], presented a series of resolutions declaring against the policy of holding a State Convention, as proposed by Governor Harris …
We must confess that we were not prepared to expect such broad indications towards submission, from any member of the Tennessee Legislature. But for charity sake we take it for granted Mr. Wisener has not lately paid much attention to the political events of the day, and is especially ignorant as to what has been lately transpiring in Congress.
For we cannot see how any Southern man, who is at all familiar with the history of the times, can in his capacity as the Representative of a Southern constituency, in a Southern Legislature solemnly declare it inexpedient for the people of his State to hold a convention and determine whether they will resist or submit to the Abolition rule now about to be inaugurated [Abraham Lincoln]. … No event of the future can be put down as more certain than that Tennessee will resist … [Tennessee will resist the actions of the Federal government.]
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

On the 19th of January a bill was passed calling for an election to be held on the 9th of February to determine whether or not the convention should be held and to select the necessary delegates.

The state of New York offers men and money to the Federal Government “to be used in coercing certain sovereign States of the South into obedience to the Federal Government.” The Tennessee House responds by saying:

It is the opinion of this General Assembly, that whenever the authorities of that State shall send armed forces to the South for the purpose indicated in said resolutions, the people of Tennessee, uniting with their brethren of the South, will welcome them with bloody hands to hospitable graves.

Map of the United States 1859-1860

From a letter written by W.W. Fergusson of Riddleton, Tennessee:
Yes, we are all for fighting. Everybody is willing—even the ladies. … I think there is enough patriotism & bravery in this state to sustain the Southern confederacy against the United States troops and all the Yankees who dare accompany them. … The South will never unite with the North again—never.”
~ January 24, 1861


We can never live in a Southern Confederacy and be made hewers of wood and drawers of water for a set of aristocrats, and over-bearing tyrants. We are candid in urging East Tennessee to withdraw from Middle and West Tennessee, if they shall be so reckless as to consent to go out of the Union.

The people of East Tennessee are with us in this, and will demand it, sooner than be oppressed with direct taxes and forced loans. We have no interests in common with the Cotton States. We are a grain-growing and stock-raising people, and we can conduct a cheap Government …

The vile and wicked leaders who have precipitated the revolution, will do none of the fighting, but will manage to hold civil and military offices, with large salaries, to pay for which, money will be wrung from the masses by a system of direct taxes. And these common people will themselves have to shoulder their knapsacks and muskets, and do the fighting.

~ Parson Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig newspaper


The Seceded States Create a Government
At a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from the seven seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to establish a government, which they name the Confederate States of America. They also adopt a document similar to the United States Constitution, but with greater emphasis on the rights of each state. On 8 February, those states elect Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as the Confederacy’s first president.

Newspaper article urging a pro-secession vote
On Saturday next Tennesseans are to decide at the ballot-box the destiny of the State—to say whether they will go with their friends of the South or their enemies of the North. If you would have your State continue her connection with her Southern sisters—a connection of political equality, of interests, of sympathy, of affection—have upon your ticket the word “Convention” and the names of the Southern Rights candidate.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

The voting tomorrow, although not at all decisive of the fate of this State, is of such importance to it, that the native Tennessean will do well to permit nothing but his own knowledge of the situation of the State, its requirements, and its honor to influence his vote. Sit down, Tennessean, to-night, reflect coolly and calmly on the lessons and teachings of your life; forget parties, sects and everything but your wife and little ones. Consider their needs and those of the business by [which] you feed, clothe and lodge them; be guided wholly and solely by your own judgment.
~ Memphis Daily Argus

Convention or no Convention.
To-day the people of Tennessee are deciding whether the State convention shall be held, and who are their choices for delegates to that body. Although at this time nothing definite is known regarding the voice of the State, we have no doubt that the majority in favor of the convention will be very large. The next question which will come up is, whether or not the action of that convention shall be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection; whether the convention, composed as it will be of delegates of every shade of opinion, will be allowed the final disposition of a question involving the destiny of Tennessee, or whether the people after having been furnished with the action of that body, shall be permitted to either approve or disapprove those actions at the ballot box.
~ Memphis Daily Argus

The vote against secession
In the election on February 9, old Vox Populi [the opinion of the majority] spoke emphatically. In regard to the calling of a Convention, the movement is rejected by a vote of 69,675 to 57,798—not a wide margin. The decision by the people is a significant one, in that the action of both Governor Harris and the General Assembly are rebuked. West Tennessee supports the convention; Middle Tennessee is almost equally divided; East Tennessee rejects it overwhelmingly.
~ Messages of the Governors of Tennessee

In the weeks following the February 9 vote against holding a secession convention, both secessionists and Unionists launch intensive public speaking campaigns in East Tennessee. The threat of violence underscored many of the rallies, and both sides were warned not to enter certain areas where their opponents held a strong majority.

The Result
The people of Tennessee yesterday had an opportunity of saying through the ballot-box whether or not they desired the assembling of a State Convention… The indications are that a large majority voted for “No Convention.”
However much we might have desired a different result, we feel fully satisfied that the proposition to hold a Convention has been defeated. The people have spoken, and we have naught to say against their decree. It may bring no harm, or it may remit evil only—which of the two will be known before the expiration of many days.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

Jefferson Davis inaugurated
Jefferson Davis is inaugurated President of the Southern Confederacy during a ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama. In his address he quotes from the U.S. Constitution and makes many references to armed conflict, primarily in regard to defense of Southern lands.

The U.S. House of Representatives passes a measure supported by President-elect Abraham Lincoln, which prohibits the federal government from interfering with slavery in states where it exists.

MARCH 1861

Lincoln’s inauguration
At his inauguration, the new president says he has no plans to end slavery in those states where it already exists. He also says that secession is illegal and he hopes to resolve the national crisis without warfare.

President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in Washington DC, 4 March 1861

Confederate States adopt a Constitution
The Confederate States of America—at this time consisting of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas—adopt a Constitution. Most of those states do not submit the acceptance of the Constitution to a popular vote; in every state where secession has been submitted to a popular vote, it has been voted down. The Confederate Congress quickly passes a military bill establishing and organizing its army: 50,000 men will soon be ready to take the field.

Canvassing East Tennessee
Throughout the Spring of 1861, Parson Brownlow and other Unionist leaders—including Oliver Perry Temple, Thomas A. R. Nelson, and Horace Maynard—canvass Northeast Tennessee, giving speeches in support of the Union.

Parson Brownlow giving a speech for the Union.
Sevierville, Tennessee.

Thomas A. R. Nelson meets with President Abraham Lincoln.
U.S. Congressman from East Tennessee, Thomas A. R. Nelson, reports on a meeting with Lincoln: “[I] had it from his own lips … that he was for peace, and would use every exertion in his power to maintain it. … He expressed a strong hope that, after a little time is allowed for reflection, [the Confederate states] will secede from the position they have taken. … [I was] well pleased with the President’s frankness.”

APRIL 1861

Attack on Fort Sumter.
Before President Lincoln sends supplies to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, he alerts the state of South Carolina, in an attempt to avoid hostilities. However, state authorities think it is a trick. The Confederates ask the commander of the fort, Major Robert Anderson, to surrender immediately.
Anderson offers to surrender, but only after he has exhausted his supplies. His offer is rejected. Just before sunrise on 12 April 1861, a Confederate shell explodes over Fort Sumter, the first shot fired in the American Civil War.

Fort Sumter Bombarded by Confederate artillery.
Lithograph by Currier and Ives.
Library of Congress.

President Lincoln calls for a 75,000-man militia.
Lincoln orders Tennessee Governor Isham Harris and governors of the other Southern states to furnish a total of 75,000 soldiers for the suppression of the rebellion. Lincoln’s declaration reads:

WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law.
Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

Lincoln’s Confederates
After President Abraham Lincoln’s April 15 call for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion in the seceded states, public sentiment turned dramatically against the Union.
Unionists of all descriptions, both those who became Confederates and those who did not, consider the proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand troops disastrous.
Having consulted personally with Lincoln in March, Tennessee Congressman Horace Maynard, the unconditional Unionist, felt assured that the administration would pursue a peaceful policy.
Soon after April 15, a dismayed Maynard reports that the President’s extraordinary proclamation has unleashed a tornado of excitement that seems likely to sweep us all away.
Men who had heretofore been cool, firm and Union loving had become perfectly wild and were aroused to a frenzy of passion.
For what purpose, they asked, could such an army be wanted but to invade, overrun and subjugate the Southern states.
The growing war spirit in the North further convinced southerners that they would have to fight for their hearthstones and the security of home. 
~ Daniel W. Crofts, Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (1989).

President Abraham Lincoln [His parents did not give him a middle name.]

U. S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron sends this message to the governors of unseceded states:
Sir: … I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your state, the quota designated in the table below to serve as infantry or riflemen for three months, or sooner …
Your Excellency will please communicate to me the time about which your quota will be expected at its rendezvous, as it will be met as soon as possible by an officer or officers to muster it into the service and pay of the United States; at the same time the oath of fidelity to the United States will be administrated to every officer and man. …
The quota of each state is as follows:
1 regiment each:
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
2 regiments each:
Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
4 regiments each:
New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri.
6 regiments each:
Illinois and Indiana.
13 regiments:
15 regiments:
17 regiments:
New York.

Governor Harris replies to President Lincoln’s request for Tennessee militia to support the Union:

Sir: Your dispatch of the 15th Inst. informing me that Tennessee is called upon for two Regiments of Militia for immediate service is received. Tennessee will not furnish a single man for purposes of coercion, but 50,000 if necessary for the defense of our rights and those of our southern brothers.
Isham G. Harris,
Governor of Tennessee

Unionists become Rebels
With the situation at Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s request for troops to put down the rebellion, many Northeast Tennessee Unionists change their minds and support the Confederacy. Many of those who had been staunch Unionists in February could not abide the use of force against fellow Southerners.

A letter to a newspaper editor from “Ladies of Memphis” vows:

Though we cannot bear arms, yet our hearts are with you, and our hands are at your service to make clothing, flags, or anything that a patriotic woman can do for the Southern men & Southern independence.


The war has begun. Argument has been exhausted. It is now man to man, and steel to steel. Let no true man talk of neutrality. Either he must support LINCOLN in his usurpation and war upon the South, or he must resist him with arms. The Southern man that declares himself neutral, when LINCOLN is invading the South and desecrating its soil with hostile tread, intends to betray the South, the Black Republican power. He that is not for us is against us. He that declares for neutrality now is our worst foe. In the language of PATRICK HENRY, “we must fight, I repeat it, sir, we must fight.

~ Nashville Union and American

Tennessee pro-secession representative sent to Montgomery, Alabama, to discuss the Volunteer State abandoning the Union.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:
SIR: My friend Hon. W. C. Whitthorne, whom you remember as the speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, visits Montgomery at my instance, for the purpose of conferring with President Davis and yourself. He is fully advised and will make known to you the state of parties in our State, as well as our prospects, hopes, and apprehensions. … and we confidently hope to stand with you under the Confederate flag very soon. …
Very respectfully,
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, p. 57.

The Richmond Dispatch reports on the rude treatment of Andrew Johnson by a large crowd in Lynchburg, Virginia, as he passes through on his way from Washington to Tennessee:
A large crowd assembled and groaned him [let out annoying moans at him], and offered every indignity he deserved, including pulling his nose. The conductor and others intervene, and Johnson is eventually able to continue on his way.

Harris addresses another special session of the state legislature.
He states that the Union has been destroyed by the “bloody and tyrannical policies of the Presidential usurper,” and calls for an end to the state’s ties to the United States. 

MAY 1861

Legislature authorizes Governor Harris to appoint commissioners to enter into an alliance with the Confederacy:
Joint Resolution of Tennessee General Assembly
Resolution of Tennessee General Assembly resolve to explore joining the Confederate States in a military league.
JOINT RESOLUTION to appoint commissioners from the State of Tennessee to confer with the authorities of the Confederate States in regard to entering into a military league. Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That the Governor be, and he is hereby, authorized and requested to appoint three commissioners on the part of Tennessee to enter into a military league with the authorities of the Confederate States and with the authorities of such other slaveholding States as may wish to enter into it, having in view the protection and defense of the entire South against the war that is now being carried on against it.
Adopted May 1, 1861.
Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, pp. 83-84.

Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Thoughts on the secession crisis from the diary of Amanda McDowell.
Little though have I had that I should ever live to see civil war in this, our goodly land, but so it is!
The Southerners are so hot they can stand it no longer, and have already made the break.
There will be many a divided family in this once happy Union.
There are thousand who will rush into the fury with blind enthusiasm, never stopping to question whether it be right or wrong, who, if they only understood it properly, would stay at home with their families and let those who started it fight it out. …
But the ignorant mass are so easily excited than an enthusiast who can make mountains out of mole-hills and raise a bussie about nothing can so stir them up and excite that they will run headlong into almost anything that is proposed to them. …
Why Christian men who live here in peace and plenty with nothing to interrupt their happiness should prefer to leave their peaceful home and all the ties which bind them to their families …
and rush into a fight in which they cannot possibly gain anything and in which they may lose their lives, is more than I can see. …
I know they will not go into it until they are convinced that it is their duty, and when they are convinced that it is their duty to fight for their country,
… it becomes me not to interfere with them about it or grieve at their so doing, for I love my country … as well as any who live in it could love it.

Andrew Johnson threatened.
In a speech at Cleveland, TN, Andrew Johnson claims to be ready for a fight. He is threatened by members of the audience after telling them, among other things, that Jefferson Davis ought to be hanged.

The Great Seal of Tennessee

Dissolving relations between the State of Tennessee and the United States of America. 
First. We, the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform, or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper, do ordain and declare that all the laws and ordinances by which the State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America are hereby abrogated and annulled, and that all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws and ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the United States, and to absolve ourselves from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred thereto; and do hereby henceforth become a free, sovereign, and independent State. 
Second. We furthermore declare and ordain that article 10, sections 1 and 2, of the constitution of the State of Tennessee, which requires members of the General Assembly and all officers, civil and military, to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same are hereby, abrogated and annulled, and all parts of the constitution of the State of Tennessee making citizenship of the United States a qualification for office and recognizing the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of this State are in like manner abrogated and annulled. 
Third. We furthermore ordain and declare that all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof, or under any laws of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.
Sent to referendum 6 May 1861 by the legislature. 

Tennessee Commissioners enter into a Military League with the Confederacy, which is ratified by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Thereby, Tennessee becomes a part of the Confederate States of America—without the consent of the voters.

An Ordinance for the Adoption of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

We, the people of Tennessee, solemnly impressed by the perils which surround us, do hereby adopt and ratify the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, ordained and established at Montgomery, Alabama, on the eighth day of February, 1861 …

The governor soon begins recruiting soldiers for the Provisional Army of Tennessee, which will become the Army of Tennessee, CSA.

Tennessee has been taken out of the Union.
No voice of the people could have changed the result.
These events make little impression on the firm stand taken by a large majority of the people of Northeast Tennessee, except to strengthen their devotion to the Union.
Leaders of the Union element have not been idle. 
They are wise enough to see that they will not be able to stem the tide of secession and disloyalty … unless they should receive aid from the Federal Government, which is not probable at this time.
They openly defy what they conceive to be the unlawful procedure of the State Government.
Most prominent Union leaders of Northeast Tennessee:
Andrew Johnson
Thomas A. R. Nelson
William B. Carter
Connally F. Trigg
Nathaniel G. Taylor
Oliver P. Temple
R. R. Butler
William G. Brownlow
John Baxter
Andrew J. Fletcher

Home of R. R. Butler, aka Roderick R. Butler
In Mountain City, Northeast Tennessee
Union leader in Johnson County

East Tennesseans complain that the General Assembly does not represent the will of the people and threatens to secede from the state.

15 MAY
Secession Meeting at Elizabethton
A platform is erected in the southwest corner of the court house yard.
Thousands of people are present from Carter and adjoining counties.
When the speakers arrive they are driven through the town in carriages and welcomed with cheers.
Hon. Joseph B. Heiskell of Rogersville and Hon. William Cocke of Knoxville are billed to speak in support of secession.
A committee is appointed consisting of D. P. Wilcox and Daniel Stover [bridge burner] to ask these men to divide time with two Unionist citizens in the discussion.
They refuse at first, but being informed that no speeches would be allowed unless both sides of the question are represented, they agree.
Rev. Wm. B. Carter and Rev. N. G. Taylor are selected as champions of the Union cause, and accepted, though they had been given very short notice and had no time for preparation.
They meet in the Court House and in arranging the preliminaries one of the secessionists makes some reflection upon Mr. Carter’s color (he is said to have descended from the Indian chief Powhatan), and said he did not care to debate with him.
This insult is promptly resented by Carter in a scathing rebuke.

Carter County Court House, built 1852
Elizabethton, Northeast Tennessee

15 MAY
The Tennessee General Assembly passes a Military law;
which authorizes the Governor to call up 25,000 men into immediate service, with a reserve corps of 30,000, and to issue $5,000,000 in state bonds.
The Nashville Union says:

We understand that the Banks of the State will take all of the bonds … However, if we go into the Southern Confederacy, of which there is no doubt, the Confederate States assume and pay all the indebtedness of the war.

16 MAY
Tennessee is formally admitted into the Confederacy.
To justify their actions, the Tennessee General Assembly calls for another vote by the people on 8 June 1861.

20 MAY
The Memphis Military Board authorizes monthly subsistence payments to the families of volunteer soldiers.
This aid to suffering families will be sporadic and inconsistent.

22 MAY
Mrs. McEwin’s Old Glory
In Nashville, while secession banners wave from every other building, both public and private, one heroic lady (Mrs. McEwin) has placed the National Flag on her house, and says she will shoot whoever attempts to tear down the glorious old Stars and Stripes.
Let her name be engraved on the hearts of all loyal Americans.
~ Louisville Journal, May 22, 1861.

25 MAY
Congressman Thomas A. R. Nelson reports on a meeting with Lincoln:
I had it from his own lips … that he was for peace, and would use every exertion in his power to maintain it …
He expressed a strong hope that, after a little time is allowed for reflection, [the Confederate states] will secede from the position they have taken …
I was well pleased with the President’s frankness.
~ New York Times

27 MAY
Union supporters cheer anti-Confederate speeches.
At an assembly in Elizabethton, Northeast Tennessee, ardent Union supporters enthusiastically cheer anti-Confederate speeches by Senator Andrew Johnson and Congressman Thomas A. R. Nelson.
~ Louisville Journal

Congressman T. A. R. Nelson, President of the East Tennessee Convention.

30 MAY
East Tennessee Convention meets at Knoxville.
A large number of delegates, representing nearly every county in East Tennessee, meet at Temperance Hall in Knoxville and appoint a committee from each county to draft resolutions and report to the convention.
Resolutions of the East Tennessee Unionist Convention.
On May 30th the committee submitted the following report to the convention:
We, therefore, the delegates here assembled, … as we verily believe, the opinions and wishes of a large majority of the people of East Tennessee do resolve and declare:
That the evils which now afflict our beloved country in our opinion is the legitimate result of the ruinous and heretical doctrine of secession; that the people of East Tennessee have ever been, and we believe are still opposed to it by a very large majority.
That while the country is upon the threshold of a most ruinous and desolating civil war, it may with truth be said, and we protest before God that the people (so far as we can see) have done nothing to produce it.
That the people of Tennessee, when the question was submitted to them in February last, decided by an overwhelming majority that the relations of the State toward the Federal Government should not be changed; thereby expressing their preference for the Union and Constitution …
That in view of so decided an expression of the will of the people in whom “all power is inherent and, on whose authority, all free governments are founded,” and in the honest conviction that nothing has transpired since that time which should change that deliberate judgment of the people …
That the Legislative Assembly is but the creature of the constitution of the State and has no power to pass any law … believing as we do that in their recent legislation the Gen. Assembly have disregarded the rights of the people … and we invoke the people throughout the State to visit that … unconstitutional legislation with a decided rebuke by voting on the 8th day of next month against both the act of secession and of union with the Confederate States.
That the Legislature of the State … had no authority to enter into a military league with the Confederate States … and by so doing put the State of Tennessee in hostile array against the government of which it then was, and still is, a member. Such legislation … was an act of usurpation, and should be visited with the severest condemnation of the people.
That the forming of such military league … has afforded the pretext for raising, arming and equipping a large military force, the expense of which must be enormous, and will have to be paid by the people. …
That the General Assembly by passing a law authorizing the volunteers [soldiers] to vote wherever they may be on the day of the election … together with other acts, have exercised powers and stretched their authority to an extent not within their constitutional limits. …
That the government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
That the position which the people of our sister State of Kentucky have assumed in this momentous crisis commands our highest admiration. Their interests are our interests. Their policy is the true policy, as we believe, of Tennessee and all the border States.
And in the spirit of freemen … we appeal to the people of Tennessee, while it is yet in their power, to come up in the majesty of their strength and restore Tennessee to her true position.
We shall await with the utmost anxiety the decision of the people of Tennessee on the 8th day of June, and sincerely trust that wiser councils will pervade the great fountain of freedom (the people).
For the promotion of the peace and harmony of the people of East Tennessee it is deemed expedient that this convention should again assemble, therefore,
Resolved, That when this convention adjourns, it adjourns to meet again at such time and place as the president … may determine and publish.
T. A. R. NELSON, President.
JNO. M. FLEMING, Secretary.
East Tennessee Convention
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 153-156.

JUNE 1861

Four Slave States Remain in the Union.
Despite their acceptance of slavery, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri did not join the Confederacy.


East Tennessee Secession Vote.
Map showing votes for or against the 1861 Ordinance of Secession in East Tennessee.
Counties shaded in maroon: Scott, Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Blount, Sevier, Carter, Hawkins, and Johnson in Northeast Tennessee—voted against secession by an 80% or greater margin; as did Morgan County.

Counties in red:
Knox, Hancock, Cocke, Jefferson, Greene, Washington, and Grainger counties in Northeast Tennessee—voted against secession by a margin falling between 51% and 79%.
Hamilton, McMinn, Roane, Bledsoe, and Marion Counties—voted against secession by a margin falling between 51% and 79%.
Counties in gray:
Sullivan County in Northeast Tennessee voted for secession; as did
Monroe, Polk, Meigs, Rhea, and Sequatchie Counties.
Counties in white:
Three of the five counties in white—Unicoi, Hamblen, and Loudon—were not established until after the American Civil War.
There is insufficient data to categorize results from two of the five counties in white—Union and Cumberland.
Public domain map courtesy of The General Libraries

The Tennessee Secession Vote
All Tennesseans vote in favor of secession—104,913 to 47,238.
East Tennessee votes against secession—32,923 to 14,780.

Tennessee secedes from the Union
Despite the great efforts of the Unionists, the state secedes, taking East Tennessee with them.

Brownlow aids Unionists
In the following weeks, Parson Brownlow uses his newspaper, the Knoxville Whig, to defend Unionists who are accused of treasonous acts by Confederate authorities.

Scott County secedes from Tennessee
This remote county is located on the Cumberland Plateau, part of the Appalachian Mountains. On 8 June, Scott County votes against secession—521 to 19 (96%). After the state joins the Confederacy, Scott County secedes from Tennessee.

Unionists and Secessionists continue to struggle
Tennessee’s secession does not end the struggle between Unionists and Secessionists.

Welcome to my blog!

Hi there, I’m Maggie MacLean, author of the Northeast Tennessee Civil War blog. I’m just getting started after months of research and trying to find the perfect theme, which is not easy for a history blog.

I’m not a historian, nor do I write like one. I am an avid reader and researcher of Civil War history since childhood. I have a more casual style of writing, and I will try to explain situations that are not always clear in the history books. I came to prefer a timeline format for this blog because it forces me to write concise entries without a lot of interpretation.

For the purposes of this blog, I will be writing about the 18 counties of Northeast Tennessee: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Scott, Sevier, Sullivan, Union, and Washington.

If you see errors on this blog or have something to say, please leave a comment.

FYI, I have an autoimmune disease, which makes writing a perfect activity for me.

If you have even half as much fun reading this blog as I am having writing it, Google should send me lots of traffic.