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.

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