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Forrest fights at Parker’s Crossroads/Red Mound trying to break through a Federal line after successful raids on Grant’s supply lines and communications. As he begins to drive the Union troops back, he is attacked from behind by Gen. Jeremiah Sullivan. Surrounded, Forrest fights his way out and escapes, but loses nearly 300 men.

Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) begins. Bragg’s army pushes Federals back to the Nashville Turnpike. Skirmish at Overall’s Creek.

“This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro…. About 1 P.M. it was less frequent and seemed fainter—could it be that our [gallant] fellows were driving the Vandal before them?… Darlin’ [her pet name for her husband John] went into town [McMinnville] 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!” [Lucy Virginia French, journal]

 

1863

Skirmishes on Manchester Pike; at Monterey; at and near Murfreesboro.

“Battle of Murfreesboro—Far as the eye could reach stood the two vast armies, silent and motionless, and it almost seemed, instead of foes drawn up for battle, to be some brilliant holiday parade, but at length a volley of musketry from the extreme left told too plainly that the work of death had in reality begun….” [Murfreesboro Daily Rebel Banner]

1863

C.S. General Breckinridge attacks the Federal position at Stones River late in the day. Although initially successful, he is eventually repulsed & withdraws. With 23,000 casualties,

Federal abandoned cannon at Stone's River.

Murfreesboro/Stones River is the second bloodiest battle fought west of the Appalachians during the Civil War. Rosecrans’ victory goes a long way toward restoring Union morale: Lincoln later writes: “I can never forget … you gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.” [http://www.nps.gov/stri/]

Fort Donelson: skirmish near Bloods.

1864

Skirmish at LaGrange. Nashville is in the grip of a smallpox epidemic, which will carry off a large number of soldiers, contraband workers, and city residents. It will be late March before it runs its course.

1862

January 1st

“Every preparation is being made to fasten the yoke of bondage upon the beautiful & chivalrous Southern country, but our people are determined to be forever free & independent of the Northern fanatics & tho the war may be long & bloody we will never submit.” [William L.B. Lawrence Diary]

1863
Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) begins. Bragg’s army pushes Federals back to the Nashville Turnpike. Skirmish at Overall’s Creek.

“This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro…. About 1 P.M. it was less frequent and seemed fainter—could it be that our [gallant] fellows were driving the Vandal before them?… Darlin’ [her pet name for her husband John] went into town [McMinnville] 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!” [Lucy Virginia French, journal]

December 31-Jan 2

Battle of Stones River (also known as the Second Battle of Murfreesboro). Of the major battles, Stones River has the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although there is no clear victor, the Union Army’s defense against two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal gives a much-needed boost to Union morale after their loss at Fredericksburg, and dashes Confederate hopes for control of Middle Tennessee.

Jan 1st
President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. It frees all slaves in regions under Confederate control and authorizes the enlistment of black soldiers. Note that it does not outlaw slavery in all areas of the country. Tennessee, which is under Union control (and whose constitution will be among the first to ban slavery); Southern Louisiana, which has remained loyal to the Union; and the border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri are exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation, even though slavery exists in its cruelest forms in all six states. [See September 5, 1864]

Lucy Virginia French of McMinnville writes in her journal: “A New Year commenced today—heaven grant that ere it ends peace may reign among us once more…. I rose with new thanksgivings for the victory of yesterday [Stones River]….Old Abe is said to have revoked his Emancipation Proclamation—his message is a ‘funny’ document—the butt and laughing stock of all Europe—in it he recommends ‘gradual’ emancipation.”

Skirmishes near Clifton as Nathan Bedford Forrest crosses the Tennessee River there, On his way out of West Tennessee; skirmishes at and near LaVergne and at Stewart’s Creek.

1864
Skirmish at Dandridge.

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.” [Lucy Virginia French journal]

Letter > “…I feel that the thanks of every Union loving heart, are due to you this bright New Year’s morning, that the ‘Stars & Stripes’ now float over Tennessee, instead of the piratical banner of Secession. I have never felt deeper interest in our cause, nor greater confidence that a triumph more signal, and glorious even than that before Nashville will soon crown the Union arms, and redeem our beloved South from the filthy pool of Secession in which she has been so long plunging – and clad in clean Union garments she will soon forget the stained and dishonored rags which her leaders for a time have compelled her sons to wear! War is a…terrible school in which we all share – all suffer – the innocent and the guilt but with you Gen’l to wield our armies I shall look soon for a peace – a conquered peace….” – John A. Jackson letter to Gen George Thomas.

1862

Forrest fights at Parker’s Crossroads/Red Mound trying to break through a Federal line after successful raids on Grant’s supply lines and communications. As he begins to drive the Union troops back, he is attacked from behind by Gen. Jeremiah Sullivan. Surrounded, Forrest fights his way out and escapes, but loses nearly 300 men.

> The Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Association

Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) begins. Bragg’s army pushes Federals back to the Nashville Turnpike. Skirmish at Overall’s Creek.

“This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro…. About 1 P.M. it was less frequent and seemed fainter—could it be that our [gallant] fellows were driving the Vandal before them?… Darlin’ [her pet name for her husband John] went into town [McMinnville] 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!” [Lucy Virginia French, journal]

December 31-Jan 2

Battle of Stones River (also known as the Second Battle of Murfreesboro). Of the major battles, Stones River has the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although there is no clear victor, the Union Army’s defense against two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal gives a much-needed boost to Union morale after their loss at Fredericksburg, and dashes Confederate hopes for control of Middle Tennessee.

Original wooden marker for Lt. Nix, 24th WI

1863

At the end of the year the Richmond Enquirer carries these stories: the Con- federate army in East Tennessee has gone into winter quarters; Longstreet’s men are said to be without shoes, despite the fact that the weather is extremely cold and the mountains are covered with snow; 300 cases of smallpox are reported among the Yankee prisoners at Danville.

> The Atlanta Intelligencer comments: “Our losses [in] East Tennessee … are incalculable. We are not only deprived of the vast flour mills of that country, which previously supplied the whole army, but also of vast machine shops and depots, which we had extensively organized at Knoxville. Beside this, we are now entirely cut off from the coal, iron and copper mines of that region, which were worth millions to us. The copper rolling mills at Cleveland … which were burnt by the enemy, formerly turned out 6,000 pounds of copper per day. Over three millions of pounds had been delivered to the Government. This was the only copper rolling mill in the country, and which kept us supplied in copper for caps and cannon. This is among our losses by the battle of Chattanooga, which are spoken of as merely resulting in a few thousand men and 38 cannon.”

End of December 1864

Grant has launched a series of attacks on the Confederate lines in front of Petersburg throughout the fall and winter. Although he makes no substantial gains, little by little he chips away at Lee’s dwindling army until it becomes clear that, by the time spring comes, Lee’s thin lines will not be able to endure an attack of any great scale. The public, which has been impatient with the lack of movement in this theater of the war, is encouraged – as they were by the twin victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863 – by the triumphs of Sherman in Georgia and Thomas in Tennessee.

[in camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee 10 January 1863]

…the great battle at Murfreesboro which lasted five days we lost five in killed and six severely wounded and six slightly wounded [a list of the casualties follows] our boys fought like tigers and ha[ve] gained the highest praise I went to see Columbus Morgan he was under the influence of morphine and so could not speak to me I was then on my way to Nashville as guard to a wagon train when I got back they did not know any thing about him. I then went down in the cellar where the dead were and hunted amoung them till I found the poor fellow wrapped up in his overcoat. I knew him as soon as I saw him. His side was all torn up by a piece of shell…” A resident of Stark County, Illinois, Ervin mustered into service on 17 June 1861 and was wounded in action at Dalton, Georgia on 27 Feburary 1864.

Nate D. Sanders

A 3 January 1863 letter to his father, from Murfreesboro, just days before his death, discussing other cavalrymen who were killed: “…I write you these few lines to let you know that the big fight which has been expected here has been fought. It was on the last day of /62. We drove the Yanks back six miles with a heavy loss on both sides. Our loss in killed, wounded and missing is reckoned at five thousand, the enemy’s much greater. McCown’s Division sustained a very heavy loss perhaps greater than any other as there were more men wounded in proportion to the number killed than I ever heard of in my life. There were about 100 wounded in the 11th Tex. while there were from 10-fifteen to twenty killed. The wounded in our company are as follows: Lt. Burks, flesh wound between the knee and ankle joint, Lt. Murrell, flesh wound in the thigh, I. Yoakum, flesh wound in the thigh also with a spent ball in the shoulder, Ed Ashford with a small ball in the nose between the eyes, Alf. Hart wounded slightly in the cheek, Wm. Johnson…flesh wound in the shoulder, N. Gile…slight wound in the back with a piece of a shell, Latimer…very slightly wounded in the arm, E.E. Caveness was slightly wounded by some of our own men running over him. I do not know of any that were killed. I do not know whether we can hold this place or not for the Federals can reinforce as fast as they please. If I find that we are going to evacuate this place I am going to get on the cares and go to Chattanooga. I was not wounded till the very last of the fight and then I was wounded each time within ten minutes of each other. When I was wounded the first time it was when we were falling back from a battery…breast works that we tried to take and did not succeed. It knocked me down and I thought my leg was broken, but I soon found that it was not for I could work my feet. So I pulled off my knapsack, haversack, cartridge box and blanket and thought I would try to get away from the bullets. Bombshells, grape shot and canister shot were falling around me as thick apparently as you would sow wheat. I got up and struck a turkey-trop for the Cedar brake which was about forty yards, but I did not go more than twenty yards before a minie ball struck me on the shoulder blade. I do not know how far it knocked me for I did not go back to see, but as soon as I recovered a little I crawled to the Cedar brake and made my escape. When I get a little better I will write you a long letter. I think I will soon be well enough to report to my company. In the fight we took forty pieces of artillery and a great many other things too numerous to mention now…You must not be uneasy about me for I will be well taken care of…

_____________________

14 Civil War Confederate 11th Texas Cavalry Company F autograph letters signed. Written by Issac M. Yoakum, during a time period from 1862-1863 from Texas to Camp locations in Mississippi and on throughout Tennessee.

Nate D. Sanders

August 2017
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