Monday, July 30, 2012


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
August 2, 1862
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
The Hero of the Murfreesboro dash.
          The public will be glad to learn something of Gen. Bedford Forrest, the man who captured Murfreesboro' and two regiments of Yankee troops with a small force. The Atlanta Confederacy says:
           General Forrest is about 45 years old, is six feet two inches in altitude, weighs 175 pounds, is erect, well-proportioned, and moves with great ease. But few men are his equal in muscle power. He has a dark complexion, black hair, and thin black beard. He has a full and expansive forehead, black, piercing eyes, deep set, heavy black eyebrows, and a stern but not unpleasant face. Firmness and courage are stamped in every lineament of his features, which are greatly set off by the most perfect and beautiful set of teeth we ever saw. He is a native of Tennessee. His father was a Kentuckian, and the son of an emigrant from Holland, who accompanied Dan'l Boone to the wilderness of Kentucky in ancient days.
           Bedford was brought up on a farm, and is familiar with the use of the axe, the knife, and the rifle. He first commenced horse trading on a small scale. Then he got hold of a fast quarter nag, and in one year made $4,000 out of a trip through Mississippi and Louisiana. Stopping at Hernando, Miss., at the summer races, he won a good pile of currency, and finally, at the close of the week, took a deed to the landlord's premises, and opened up a hotel in Hernando, in North Mississippi. Here he "kept a hotel" and dealt in horses for several years. In the meantime he married a beautiful and accomplished lady, by whom he has an only son — a sprightly lad of 15 years.
           When Memphis began to look up, owing to her railroad and river facilities, and the prospect of it rapidly becoming a great city, Col. Forrest sold out, moved to Memphis, where in a few years, by his energy, probity, and fine judgment, he amassed a large fortune. He has frequently been Alderman of the city. He always took an active and decided part upon every public measure, and generally carried his point in everything calculated to enhance the interest of the city. He ably advocated every public improvement, and soon stood at the head of the able financial business men of that fast and flourishing city.
                He had retired from trade, and was spending his time mostly on his plantation when the war broke out. After Tennessee seceded, and the blockade was established, he went in person to Cincinnati and St. Louis, and bought horses, arms and accouterments for a cavalry regiment, which he had raised, and brought them all through safely to Memphis, since which time he has been engaged in a number of brilliant skirmishes and fights.
          He was at Fort Donelson, is one of the men who refused to be surrendered, and is the man who cut his way through the enemy's lines with his command, sustaining but little loss. At Shiloh he was in the thickest of the fight, rendering the most important services, where he received a severe wound. But, thank Heaven, he is again himself and in his stirrups.
His late dashing exploits about Chattanooga, and especially his brilliant achievement at Murfreesboro, and the capture of Lebanon, are fresh in the minds of all our readers. Gen. Forrest is not an educated man, but he reads men correctly at a glance. He seems to know everything about him by intuition. We have spent months with him, and partaken of his elegant hospitalities, and unhesitatingly pronounce him the most gifted man by nature we ever met with. He has that conversational powers, agreeable manners, and wins the confidence and respect of everybody around him. One more sign of a kind heart is, the ladies and little children take to him wherever he goes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

150-years-ago - CSS Arkansas blasts its way into Vicksburg.

CSS Arkansas blasts USS Carondelet while  running the gauntlet of
Federal gunboats to reach Vicksburg, Miss. on July 15, 1862.
(U.S. Navy Naval Historical Center)
The Richmond Daily  Dispatch
July 26, 1862

Cairo, July 21
          The dispatch boat, which arrived at Memphis on Saturday, brings the following:
The reported escape of the rebel plated battery Arkansas is correct. The affair took place on the morning of the 15th. That morning, in consequence of reports brought by refugees that the Arkansas was about to attempt to run by the Union fleet, the ship gunboats Carondelet and Tyler and ship ram Lancaster started up the Yazoo to reconnoitre.--When eight miles from the month they came suddenly upon the Arkansas, lying under the bank.
         As our boats rounded the bend she opened upon them with sixty-eight-pounders. Our gunboats returned the fire, and for a short time a fierce engagement ensued. Finding that the channel of the river prevented successful maneuvering, they gradually dropped downward toward the mouth. The Arkansas followed closely. Just as the latter was passing over the bar, the Carondelet: closed with her, intending to board. She succeeded in throwing a grapple aboard and getting out a plank, when the Arkansas opened her steam pipe, throwing hot water across the plank. The Carondelet replied in the same manner.
            While thus engaged both vessels grounded, and the shock separated them. The Arkansas succeeded in getting off, and the Carondelet remained faster nearly an hour. The Arkansas immediately passed down the river, the Taylor proceeding her, and maintaining a running fight with her greatly superior adversary.
           None of our gunboats with the fleet had steam up, and the entire fleet was so scattered that few could fire at the Arkansas as she passed without danger of hitting our own boats. As she approached, such boats as could safely do so opened upon her, but her plating resisted most of the shots. A solid shot from Farragut's gunboat No. 6 struck her larboard bow, passing through and under her plating, ripping it off for a considerable distance. What further damage was done is not ascertained.
           The injuries to our fleet are light. The Benton received a shot near the edge of the after part of the larboard sid, killing one man. The Tyler, which engaged the Arkansas nearly an hour and a half, had seven killed and nine wounded. Among the latter were the pilots Messrs. Sebastian and Hiner, and Engineer Davis. The
ship ram
          Lancaster received a shot under her boilers, causing an escape of hot water, scalding six men, three of them fatally.
          The entire Union loss is twelve killed and fifteen wounded, five or six of whom will die. The rebel loss is not known, but believed to be considerable, as the hot water streams of the Carondelet, at the time they attempted to board, were thrown directly into her.

Lt. Isaac Newton Brown
(U.S. Navy/Naval Historical Center)
U.S. Navy
Naval Historical Center

           Isaac Newton Brown was born in Caldwell County, Kentucky, on 27 May 1817. He became a Midshipmen in the U.S. Navy in March 1834 and attained the rank of Lieutenant in 1846. Leaving the service on the outbreak of the Civil War, he accepted an appointment as a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy in June 1861 and served in the Mississippi River region during the next two years. In May 1862, he was assigned to the incomplete ironclad CSS Arkansas, finishing her outfitting and serving as commanding officer during her dramatic breakout through the Federal fleet to Vicksburg on 15 July 1862. He was promoted in August 1862 in recognition of this bold action. In 1863-65, Commander Brown was captain of the ironclad CSS Charleston, which operated in defense of Charleston, South Carolina. After the end of the Civil War, he farmed in Mississippi and later moved to Texas. Commander Isaac Newton Brown died at Corsicana, Texas, on 1 September 1889.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

150-years-ago -- Forrest liberates Murfreesboro July 13, 1862

Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
(Library of Congress)
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 28, 1862
The capture of Murfreesboro'--the women in battle.
          The Bristol (Tenn.)Advocates gives some interesting particulars of the capture of Murfreesboro' by Col. Forrest. It says:
           From thirty to forty of our men were killed, and from forty to fifty wounded. This was done principally by the battery, and from the court-house, in which large numbers of the enemy had taken shelter. Our men broke a hole in the court house, and were about burning it with its contents, when they learned that the Yankees had a number of the citizens of Murfreesboro' under arrest in a large upper room, in order to try them for treason against the Lincoln dynasty.
          Never were soldiers hailed with more enthusiastic expressions of gratitude and exultation than were the Confederate soldiers hailed by the citizens of the town. Numbers of them, including not a few ladies, joined in the bloody conflict, and with pistols and everything else with which they could fight, assisted in dealing dismay and death upon the hated invaders of their homes and their rights.
It was yet early in the morning when our forces commenced the attack, and many of the ladies of the place could not be restrained from rushing into the streets, with disheveled hair and in their sleeping attire, cheering our soldiers; and when any would fail, or were wounded, they would clasp them in their arms, assisting in bearing them to their houses and ministering to them as to delivering angels, and when our officers would remonstrate, telling them that they were in danger from the shots of the enemy, they would reply that the Lord would defend them, and that it was no greater peril than that to which their gallant defenders were all exposed.
A Confederate cavalryman
(Library of Congress/Liljenquist Family Collection)
         We failed to mention, in the proper connection, that Col. Wharton--the brave Confederate in arms of Col. Forrest--was wounded. As he was able, however, to superintend the guard which brought the Yankee prisoners through the mountains, it is hoped he will soon recover.
In the jail at Murfreesboro' were several of the staring band of Colonel Jack Morgan, who had been taken prisoners some time ago, when that bold ranger met with his reverse at Lebanon. Our soldiers released them from prison early in the action, and they fought like Spartans till the affair was ended. None enjoyed the victory with a better relish than did these liberated heroes.
          Among the prisoners we saw was Brig. Gen. T. A. Crittenden, of Indiana. He was a sour, beefy, crest-fallen looking fellow, with no marks of manliness and but few of intelligence about his face. We had a short conversation with him at Kingston, where they staid on Fridaynight. He was evidently an inferior man to some of his Colonels and other officers. The humbugging Government must have put him in position because his name was Crittenden, acting upon the principle that the name makes the rose smell sweetly.

           The Knoxville Register also contains some particulars of the fight. It says:
As Colonel Forrest's command were marching through Cannon county, on their way to Murfreesboro', the citizens crowded the thoroughfares, cheering our gallant men with every demonstration of joy. The ladies everywhere were particularly enthusiastic. Some of the citizens of Cannon had been arrested and were confined in prison at Murfreesboro'. The ladies besought our men, with tears in their eyes, to rescue their husbands and fathers from the hands of the tyrant. One little girl run up to that old patriot and soldier, Captain Haney, of the 1st Georgia cavalry, and wringing her hands, implored him to bring her father back to her again. The old man turned to her, with his whole soul beaming in his face, and exclaimed, while the manly tear started to his eye, "I will, my daughter! I will! " The result proved the truth of his words. The Captain was the first to enter the court-house, where the prisoners were confined-- and that child's heart has been made glad by the safe return of the father to the household roof.
          As our little army went dashing into Murfreesboro', awaking the echoes by the rattling of their horses hoofs "o'er the stony streets," the whole population were aroused from their slumbers, and rushed to their windows, balconies, and verandas, with every demonstration of delight. Ladies could be seen kneeling in postures of thank fulness to Heaven for the day of their deliverance. As the morning advanced and as the fight thickened, the same fair ones were in the streets in spite of the whistling of balls and rain of lead, administering to the wants of our soldiers, filling their canteens with water and their haversacks with an abundance of provisions. Unheeding the shots, from the enemy's guns, they thought only of the comfort of their gallant champions. One lady received a ball through her dress, whilst another had her parasol shot from her hand, the ball passing within two inches of her jeweled fingers. Such heroism has never been known in the annals, of war, and will illuminate to the remotest generation the history of our glorious land. * * * *
           A company of Federals were in possession of the court-house, and were shooting our soldiers in directions from the windows above. Col. Morrison, (1st Georgia) dismounted three of his companies, and ordered them to charge the building, which they did in most gallant style, rushing through the public square to the very doors of the edifice, under a most galling fire of musketry. Conscious that the loss of life to our men would be terrible by attempting to pass up the stairway, the building was immediately set on fire, when the Yankees above bawled out lustily for quarters. The fire was extinguished, the whole company surrendered, and our imprisoned fellow-citizens were happily released. Old Capt. Haney was the first man to enter the court-house and to receive in his arms the liberated captives.
            Late in the day Col. Morrison was surprised to see the old hero rushing towards him frantic with joy; and exclaiming "Colonel, I'll be d — d if I haven't taken Gen. Crittenden and all his staff!""You don't say so Captain," answered the Colonel. "If I havn't there's no h — Ii!" exclaimed the old man, and passed on to new deeds of heroism and of story.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Two Confederates
(Sixth Plate Ambrotype, Blog author's Collection)
July 3, 1862


           [Natchitoches, Louisiana] The ensanguined battle field of Shiloh will be memorable in the annals of Natchitoches parish, from the fact that it has been stained by the blood and illustrated by the chivalric daring and gallantry of her sons. The name will ever hang about the portals of her heart and be sweet yet mournful music to her soul; and when the truthful historian shall come with appointed pen, to weave the strands of its stirring incidents into the enduring chord of history, the laurel and the cypress will be closely blended. Alas! that military fame should be baptised in the blood of the brave! Alas! that the shouts of victory and the noble exultations which stir generous minds to praise and admiration of manly actions and heroic deeds should be mingled with the wail of bereaved hearts over their loved ones lost! The bloody, but glittering record hangs at every door, and names as "familiar as household words" in our community are engraved upon it deathless characters. Martyrs and heroes stand side by side.
Wood, Reed, Sers, Goodman, Harrison, Kile, Oliver, Procella, Ray, (dead) Anty, Brosset, Hertzog, Cloutier, Payne, Rachal [Company C, Natchitoches Rebels, 18th Louisiana Infantry] and others (wounded) the dead and living representatives of the patriotic chivalry of Natchitoches perish,
"And no slab of pallid marble
Rears its white and ghastly head,
Telling wanderers in the valley
Of the virtues of the dead,
The green grass bends above them
And a dew drop pure and bright
Is the epitaph an angel wrote
In the stillness of the night."
Less than one short year ago, Natchitoches parish sent her patriotic "Rebels" to the battle field numbering some seventy odd men, to-day she mourns over the graves of near half their number! It is painful to contemplate death in any attitude: when a child dies, when it yields up its gentle spirit, like the last fragrance of the crushed and dying rose, we weep that so much innocence should be carried to the cold earth—when a maiden, in the spring time of her existence, perishes in the midst of her gentleness and beauty, we weep that so much loveliness, seemingly destined for life and light should be carried to darkness and the grave; when a young man dies, we weep for him, that he should have been taken from us in the hey-day of a buoyant existence; but when a soldier dies, when he comes to breathe out his mighty spirit upon the battle field of his country, tho' the tears which bedew his turf be not so fresh, so warm and plenteous as those which flow for the untimely passing away of youth and beauty, who perish in the presence of family and friends, yet, thank God! a nation mourns, and history, as it pays its last tribute to his memory, sighs around the melancholy page, and leaves a garland of immortal homage lingering about the record of his death!
"Ah! never shall the land forget
How gushed the life blood of her brave,
Gushed warm wit hope and courage yet
On Shiloh's soil, they fought to save."
But do those brave men who sleep on Shiloh's plain, the very chivalry of our parish, need the pen of the eulogist? No; their achievements on the ever memorable 6th of April will soon be woven by the fingers of genius into the enduring songs and anthems of their countrymen, for beauty will breathe their praises, music will measure their career, history and poetry will apotheosise [sic] their names, and each heart of a redeemed and disenthralled country will be a throbbing monument of their chivalry and daring.
The doom of death will never shade
Or cast their names away,
Of those who fought and bravely fell
On Shiloh's bloody day.
In penning these lines, the writer is but performing a pleasing but melancholy duty. He would not, if he could, individualize—that would be invidious—for the dead patriots sleep in the same "narrow home," upon the same bloody field of their glorious achievements. Would you snatch them from the cradling arms of fame? There, upon the battle field which they fell defending, sleep the martyrs of liberty and over their sainted heads rang the solemn requiem of the cannonade. May the God of battles avenge them! To the friends, wives and parents who freely gave their husbands and sons to their country, and who now, in their hour of desolation, must feel proud of the glory they have won and the blood bought chaplet that wreathe their brows, we would in earnest heartfelt sympathy, say, mourn not for the dead patriots, for they belong to the nation. Your grief is the people's grief, and a grateful country will wear each name upon heart, will avenge their death and hold their names sacred. The sweet songstress of England, the honey-tongued L. E. L., has sung à propos to the occasion:
I am too proud by far to weep
Tho' death had nought so dear
As was the soldier youth to me
Now sleeping on that bier
It were a stain upon his fame
Would do his laurel crown a shame
To shed one single tear
It was a blessed thing to die
In battle and for liberty"
But let us pause a moment and drop a tear for the dead soldier, tho' it fall not upon the new made grave, yet read as if it were weeping blood for the sainted dead beneath it. Yes; a single tear for the patriot soldier who sunk beneath the deep, dark ocean of Eternity on the ever to be remembered 6th of April.
How difficult it is to realize the death of a soldier! How many electric chords of love and thought must be snapped asunder! How many links of patriotic association must be broken up forever! But shall the Promethean sparke [sic] never again be re-kindled? Yes, Yes, the genius of patriotism never dies! The breath of the eternal God is in it! Roll back, Ye dark shadows from the tomb! Though the hollow chambers of death breaks the light of immortality! We hear a voice crying, Shiloh! Shiloh! If ever the slumbering dead should start to life upon the rock of Salamis or the breath of Leionidas wake the Spartan three hundred, and Marathon re-kindle her fires around the Persians tent—if through the gloom of dead empires, and vanished glory the star of Liberty should rise and light up the shores of the Mediterranean or blaze upon the hill of the Acropolis—from the re-awakened earth, reeling beneath the red tide of battle mingled with the cries of bleeding martyrs and shouts of struggling patriots shall be heard a voice crying Shiloh, Shiloh, Shiloh! ! !
Go to the Louisianians, husbands, wives, widows, orphans, go, tread Shiloh sacred plain, and gaze upon all above, around, beneath, and your patriotic souls will be filled with a mournful and awful sublimity, for tho' there are no proud monuments of her sainted dead, like the fabled Memnon stated, that responsive to the Kiss of the awakening sunbeam in vocal songs speak forth their praise, yet you have but to turn your gaze to your country and you "read their history in a nations eyes."
Cloutierville June 1st 1862.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Private Edwin Francis Jemison of the 2nd
Louisiana Infantry was among the Confederate
dead in the Battle of  Malvern Hill. He was just
17-years-old at the time of his death. His photo
has become one of the most famous Confederate
images of the war. (Library of Congress)
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 3, 1862
Tuesday's operations.
          During the forenoon of Tuesday [July 1, 1862] there was no regular engagement, but much desultory firing along the whole extent of the retreating and advancing lines. In the afternoon, about 2½ o'clock, a brisk fight was commenced on the right of the left wing of our army, Jackson's corps, then situated convenient to Dr. Poindexter's farm, on the Williamsburg road, and directly opposite Turkey Island creek. The character of the country here is slightly undulating, the intervening ground between the belligerent parties consisting of open, cultivated fields, whilst the extremes are dense woods of heavy timber and thick undergrowth. From the situation occupied by our troops, the enemy was discovered in large force deploying their troops, and placing their artillery in position. Bodies of skirmishers were thrown out from our column with a view to test the disposition of the enemy. This required but a short time to accomplishes as a brisk fire was soon opened upon them. Our artillery then opened fire upon the batteries of the enemy which had the effect to produce another "artillery duel," lasting for one hour and a half, both parties serving their pieces with decided skill and alacrity.
          Heavy bodies of infantry were advanced to the support of our artillery, and a general fight ensued, which resulted in the repulse and temporary withdrawal of the enemy; but, ultimately rallying and bringing to their aid a battery on their-right, they opened a fierce oblique fire on the left flank of our forces then in action. This fire, which was excessively severe, was continued without intermission, and responded to with spirit by our own artillery until 6 o'clock P. M.
           An intermission of some half hour then occurred, during which time, according to the representation of prisoners subsequently captured, the enemy at this point were heavily reinforced, when the fight was again renewed, our centre and right of line becoming engaged. For three successive hours there was kept up one unbroken roar of artillery and musketry, which, for fierce intensity, exceeded anything that has occurred in the whole series of bloody battles around Richmond. The very earth trembled beneath the deafening and incessant peals. Notwithstanding the fatigue and well night exhausted condition of our men, from their almost superhuman labors of the previous six days, they entered this fight with an ardor and readiness, plainly indicating their unchangeable determination to conquer of die. About 9½ or 10 o'clock, our artillery ceased firing, having effectually silenced the batteries of the enemy. This, however, it is due to say, was the only perceptible advantage gained by this wing of the army in the afternoon's operations. The loss sustained by both contending parties was heavy. Now many on either side it is impossible to state, or even give an approximate estimate.
          Whilst these operations were going on the left wing of our army, a scarcely less severe fight was progressing on the right, where the division of Gen. Huger was engaged. The brigades of Mahone and Armistead had been exerting themselves against a largely overwhelming force of the enemy, but being compelled to fall back in order to rest their men. Gen. Ransom's brigade was ordered forward. It consisted of five regiments, viz: 24th, Col. Clark; 25th, Col. Kutledge, 26th, Col. Vance; 35th, Col. Ransom, and 49th, Col. Ramseur, all North Carolina troops. They were ordered to charge two heavy batteries, that were supported by not less than five Federal brigades, and all the while they were marching up to make the charge were under three fires. They did not falter, however, but went forward into the very teeth of the enemy without so much as the slightest indication of hesitation. It was, beyond question, one of the hardest fights, and one of the most desperate charges, that has been made during the whole war. This one brigade engaged the main body of the enemy's army at this point, and when compelled to withdraw did so in the most perfect order, and with the most undaunted spirit. Gen. Ranson fearlessly and intrepidly led his brigade on horseback, and was during the whole continuance of the fight, exposed to the leaden hall of the enemy.
Col. Matt W. Ransam, 35th N. C., seen in
 a post-war photo. (Library of  Congress)
          Col. M. W. Ransom, of the 35th regiment, was wounded in the early part of the fight by a Minnie ball in the arm, but remained at the head of his regiment, rallying and cheering his men, till struck by a piece of shell in the side and prostrated. Lieut. Col. Pettway then took command of the regiment, but was almost immediately killed. Colonel Ramseur, of the 49th, was wounded, and the casualties are very large throughout the entire brigade. We held our ground, and Gen. Ranson and his men slept upon the field they had formerly occupied, and but for the pelting rain would have renewed the fight yesterday morning.
          There were, doubtless, other divisions and brigades engaged at different points along the line, who acquitted themselves with the same heroic and determined courage as that of the gallant Ransom; but being unapprised of their particular participation in this grand struggle for the defence of liberty, we are not prepared to notice them specially.