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“We are much obliged to the Tennessee [River} which has favored us most opportunely, for I am never easy with a railroad which takes a whole army to guard, each foot of rail is essential to the whole; whereas, they can’t stop the Tennessee, and each boat can makes its own game.”

General William Tecumseh Sherman, “Sinews of War”

1860's Train Wreck near Clinton, Iowa
attributed to J. Blackhall


OCTOBER 18 and 21, 1864. - Raids on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, Tenn.

Report of Lieutenant William L. Clark, Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry, Assistant Inspector Railroad Defenses.



Eastern Section Nashville and N. W. Railroad, Section 20,

October 25, 1864.

SIR: In compliance with instructions received yesterday from your office, dated October 22, I have the honor to report the following particulars of the attack upon trains at section 36, Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, on the morning of the 18th instant; also, on the afternoon of the 21st instant:

The track repairers at section 36 were taken prisoners by McNary's gang (variously estimated at from 15 to 40 men, while some place the number at exactly 23) on the night of the 17th, about 12 o'clock, and held till late on the following morning, and made by McNary to draw the spikes from a rail and remove the fastenings at its end so as to be loose. The gang then drew back from observation, and in this condition of affairs the first a. m. train passed safely by them, except that a shower of bullets was poured in, which wounded a surgeon, Hogle, Engineer E. Andrews, and killed a boy, who was cook and brakeman, dead on the bunk, where he happened to by lying. The second a. m. train came to the loose rail and ran off; the engineer and fireman were wounded. Everybody was stripped of whatever money, watches, or valuables they had which pleased the fancy of the robbers. The locomotive was upset and slightly injured by cutting places with axes. One box-car was burned, but their efforts to burn the flat-cars loaded with iron, which composed the balance of the train, were not successful, and these were slightly injured. The THIRD train, loaded with sawed timber from Ayres' saw-mill at section 29, ran up and was fired into. All hands jumped off and were robbed, except Engineer W. H. Stevens, who ran the train back to section 32, White Bluffs, in safety. Mean time the first train, Civil Conductor Charles White, arrived at Sneedville, and Colonel Murphy, who was on board, had the telegrapher, G. W. Leedon, send a dispatch to Lieutenant Orr, at White Bluff's, to come on with his cavalry. the dispatch was promptly obeyed, and Lieutenant Orr arrived with twenty-five men twenty minutes after the gang had taken their departure, and pursued them a short distance unsuccessfully, and his horses being tired and inferior he returned. A wrecking train was dispatched with hands from Gillem's Station, section 51, to clear the road, and Lieutenant Cox, with a detachment of Company B, One hundredth U. S. Colored Infantry, and Captain Frost, with a detachment from companies of the Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry from Sullivan's Branch, were sent to section 36, and the road made clear on the following morning, 19th instant.

Again on the 21st instant, as the p. m. train for Johnsonville was passing section 36, it was signaled by the section foreman, whose cook had informed him she had seen men tearing up the track. Captain O. B. Simmons, military conductor, had the train stopped, and with his large train guard pursued the bushwhackers, whose numbers could not be ascertained, for a considerable distance, but as they were mounted the pursuit was unavailing. Civil Conductor Charles White fastened down the rail and the train passed on. Afterward the gang returned and burned the house and commissary of the section foreman, who lay in the bushes in sight. They also burned nearly all the negro and other dwelling along the railroad for two miles. Piles of wood at sections 38 and 39 were burned, and various estimates placed the loss in wood at from 3,000 to 15,000 cords. The wood being in several ranks close to the road many ties were burned at the ends, and the rails warped by the intense heat, so that the 3 o'clock train for Nashville could not pass. The telegraph operator at Sneedville called operator at White Bluffs, section 32, and while calling the line was cut before getting and answer. Captain J. W. Dickins, at Sneedville, went to the burning wood with part of this company, and arrived in time to hear the retreating bushwhackers laughing and talking, but was not able at that time (11 o'clock nighto Sneedville. On the 22nd Military Conductor Captain Van Skike, from Nashville, found out the condition of the road at sections 38 and 39, and took a detail up from White Bluffs and repaired the road as soon as possible so that trains ran through on the 23rd of October.

I have made no delay in gathering the materials from authentic sources for this report, and hope it may prove acceptable.


First Lieutenant, Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry,

DIVISION Inspector Eastern Section Nashville and Northwestern R. R.


First U. S. Vet. Vol. Engrs., and Chief Insp. Railroad Defenses.








KY., SW.VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N.GA. Chapter VII.

Volume: XLV Page 986

Nashville, November 22, 1864-10.30 a.m.

Brigadier-General RUGER,

White Bluffs:

How soon can you get here? I wish to see you on your arrival, but keep your troops on the cars, so as to start for Columbia as soon as I have seen you. Will order another train in place of the one burned.


Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

WHITE BLUFFS, TENN., November 22, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

I except to be in Nashville about 4 p.m. I will report on arrival.



WHITE BLUFFS, November 22, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

The leading section of train to take brigade from Johnsonville was run off and burned and track injured, about 10 o'clock yesterday morning, thirty-seven miles from Nashville. I started with 300 on morning train from Johnsonville; reached wreck 12.30; sent back to next station for tools to repair track, also to have arrangements for having the road repaired. Two of the trains are still at this point waiting to go to Johnsonville. One more train is needed to take place of one burned. Only the 300 men have left Johnsonville.





KY., SW.VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N.GA. Chapter VII.

Volume: XLV Page 984

NASHVILLE, TENN., November 22, 1864-10.30 p.m.

Major T. T. ECKERT:

Position nearly the same as at date of the last report. Weather suddenly cold and clear. Trains captured, and railroad and telegraph destroyed near White Bluffs, on the Northwestern railroad, yesterday. Road and line now repaired and working.



ume: XLV Page 988

Nashville, Tenn., November 22, 1864.


Commanding Fourth U. S. Cavalry:

LIEUTENANT: You will proceed with your command to White Bluffs on the line of the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad; examine the country closely in the vicinity of the summit; break any organized band of guerrillas you may encounter. Seize all the inhabitants suspected as being engaged in the destruction of the railroad train on the 20th November. Take every precaution you may deem necessary for the safety of your command, and arrest and bring to Nashville any parties who cannot give a satisfactory account of themselves and their loyalty. Having accomplished this duty, you will return to Nashville and report the result of your expedition to these headquarters. The expedition will be gone five or six days at the utmost.

By comand of Brevet Major-General Wilson:


Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.



KY., SW.VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LVII.

Volume: XLV Page 70


Saturday, November 5. - Started for Johnsonville, Tenn., at 5 p. m.; reached Gillem's Station, fifty-one miles, at daybreak of the next day.

Sunday, November 6. - Left Gillem's Station in afternoon and reached Johnsonville about 7 p. m.

Monday, November 7. - Left Johnsonville about noon and reached Nashville about 11 p. m. In Nashville until Sunday, 13th November.



Volume: XXXIX Page 673

GILLEM'S, November 6, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

Colonel Gallup says Forrest is reported by citizens to have reported his whole force above Johnsonville, but he does not credit the report. The force which made the demonstration last night has disappeared and Colonel Gallup has sent scouts to get information. Three hundred mounted men of Second Tennessee have arrived at Johnsonville. I will wait here until some of my troops get up, and then be guided by the information I shall obtain. Please have the operator sent to Waverly.



NASHVILLE, November 6, 1864.


Your dispatch of this a. m. received. Captain Van Duzer, manager military telegraph, informs me that there are two operators at Waverly and two also at Johnsonville. Ascertain as well as possible the truth of the reported movement of the enemy as soon as you can and let me know the result of your investigation.



GILLEM'S, November 6, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

I have nothing further of the enemy. Two train loads of troops will probably be here soon. Do you think it advisable to concentrate my force here or go on to Johnsonville?



Nashville, Tenn., November 6, 1864-3 p. m.

Major-General SCHOFIELD,

Gillem's Station, Tenn.:

I advised you to concentrate at Gillem's upon the receipt of General Thompson's report that the enemy was within one mile of the railroad on south side, but as we have heard nothing more of the enemy I wish you to go on to Johnsonville and see for yourself the state of affairs and report to me immediately how much force you think should be left there. I would rather have you and the greater part of your force at Pulaski, as I want you to take personal charge of the troops there, as my attention may be called frequently to other points.


Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.

GILLEM'S, November 6, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS:

Your dispatch is received. I will run down to Johnsonville this evening and report to you at once.



Nashville, Tenn., November 6, 1864-6 p. m.

Major-General SCHOFIELD,

Johnsonville, Tenn.:

Colonel Moore has just received here with his brigade. I send him on to Johnsonville direct. Telegraph him at Gillem's if you wish him to go to Johnsonville.


Major-General, U. S. Volunteers.

JOHNSONVILLE, November 6, 1864-7 p. m.

Major-General THOMAS:

I have just arrived at this place. Colonel Gallup's scouts have returned and report only a small cavalry force of enemy this side of the river; there also appears only to be a very small force and no artillery opposite this place. I think Colonel Gallup's brigade will be quite sufficient for this place, but I will examine the ground early in the morning and report definitely. I think it well to detain all troops at Nashville, except those which belong to Colonel Gallup's brigade.



NASHVILLE, November 6, 1864.


Seventeen car-loads of your troops have just reached Nashville from Chattanooga. Will start them for Johnsonville at once. Will keep you advised.





Volume: XXXIX Page 121

JOHNSONVILLE, October 6, 1864.

Major B. H. POLK,

Assistant Adjutant - General, District of Tennessee:

MAJOR: The following dispatch has been received from Major Collin Ford, commanding One hundredth U. S. Colored Infantry:

GILLEM'S, October 6, 1864.



About 150 of Forrest's men crossed railroad one mile WEST of Gillem's Station this morning at dayLight, toward Cumberland River, cutting telegraph in two places.


Major, &c.



Colonel, &c.                                


T. J. Johnson, Princeton, Ky.: “On September 6, 1864, near Section 36 on the Northwestern railroad, in Middle Tennessee, about forty miles from Nashville a large detail from Gen. John S. Williams’ Brigade was started into Kentucky to get recruits, clothing, horses, etc., when four of us were captured and put in the penitentiary at Nashville, We had stopped to feed our horses about four o’clock.  The boys had scattered in search of feed for their horses and something for themselves, when we were surprised by the enemy and in quarters too close for hope of escape.  There was a full regiment, and I soon found that from colonel down they were deserters from the Confederate army.  After searching us for ‘private property’, they took us to their camp and kept us that night, but before going to camp they took us to a blacksmith’s house near by and made his wife get supper for us four and some of the officers.  After supper we were on a long from porch and the officers at one end of it.  I was walking back and forth cutting tobacco from a twist for my pipe.  Just when my pipe was ready for lighting I looked up. Thinking of how I could light it, when I saw a young lady standing in a door near the other end of the porch from where the officers sat.  I asked her for a match.  She said “Yes, sir; walk in.”  She stepped back, and back again, holding out her hand with matches in it until she got to a window on the back side of the room, and then put her hand out the window for me to get the matches, which I did.  Then I saw that a piece of timber had been put up there for me to get out on and away, but just then I saw two of the officers standing looking at us.  I had to go to their camp with them.  That night I sat up with the colonel until after midnight.  Next day we were sent to Nashville, and the next day we four  and a young doctor were started to Louisville.  After night it was arranged for Jesse Allensworth to watch for an opportunity to escape from the train, and to notify us.  To get the sentinel off his guard all of us went to bed except Jesse.  He remained on guard and pretended to be drunk.  The doctor and I went to bed together, and sure enough we went to sleep, and when Jesse got the opportunity to escape he did it without giving us any warning whatever, for it would have made his escape more hazardous.  About daylight the train stopped, and the whole regiment was walking all around the train cursing in Dutch and threatening to hang us and do many bad things, but they did not.  When the guard woke up he missed Jesse and gave the alarm, and it was a terrible alarm to us.  For a while it looked as thought nothing would satisfy them but our blood.  They finally came to the conclusion that we had nothing to do with Jesse’s escape, and they gave us to understand that they would spare our lives if we did not attempt to escape, and we did not.  If the doctor is living, I would be delighted to hear from him.”

Confederate Veteran 1897 Vol. V Pg 622

20-24, Expedition from Nashville to Pine Wood

Report of Capt. Gilbert H. Clemens, Assistant Quartermaster, U. S. Army.


CAPT.: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 20th information was brought to me that Duval McNary, the guerrilla chief that captured the mules on the 20th instant, was encamped on the Harpeth River, about fifteen miles from town. Mr. George Melville, the master of transportation, immediately conferred with you, and on your recommendation organized a force, mostly watchmen in this department and formerly soldiers. I at once took command and immediately started in pursuit of the raiders. We left here at 2 a. m. of the 21st instant, arriving at Camp Irvin about 4 a. m., where I received some more volunteers. My force now consisted of about sixty men, mostly watchmen, with several wagon-masters and two of my clerks. On arriving at Camp Irvin I found it was a mistake that the enemy were encamped on the Harpeth. We waited a few hours and then started in pursuit. At a place a few miles from Ellison's Mills, on the Harpeth, we captured one of McNary's men, named Kearns. We tracked the enemy all that day by the harness along the road, he having twenty hours the start. After riding seventy-three miles, at night-fall we encamped at a place called Pine Wood, in Hickman County, at which place the enemy had been in the morning. Here we learned he had struck direct for the Tennessee River. I then came to the conclusion that it would be folly to pursue him farther, as both man and beast were terribly jaded. Therefore, after encamping for the night, on the morning of the 22d I immediately started for the nearest point on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. After riding for fifteen miles through a drenching rain, we arrived at a place called Sneedville, from which point I telegraphed you for a special train. Here the horses staid for twenty-four hours without any forage and completely broken down. We left this point in the train sent by you for Nashville at 3 p. m. of the 23d. After proceeding for a couple of hours, we came to Kingston Springs, when we were informed that the bridges between that point and Nashville were destroyed. After feeding and staying here for the night, we took up the line of march for Nashville on the morning of the 24th. After a ride of thirty miles, fording the South Harpeth eight times, we arrived here about 4 p. m. of the same day. I would state, in connection with this, that the trip has accomplished two objects: First. It has shown McNary that he cannot capture our trains with impunity, and that we have an available force to pursue him. Second. It has developed the capability of using our employes in protecting Government property from guerrillas. If we had started in pursuit of the guerrillas immediately on the receipt of the news of the capture, we would in all probability have recaptured the mules. But as it is, if at any future time they repeat the operations, we can start on pursuit on a moment's warning.

Since writing the foregoing, the teamsters that were captured with the mules have returned and inform me that we were but fifteen miles from McNary when we were compelled to return on account of exhausted stock. His rendezvous was a large cave, where he had the prisoners guarded, with capacity of secreting 150 men. The wagon-master states that McNary was in Nashville on Saturday and that he boasts as soon as I have another train ready he will pay it a visit. In case he should, a force should be prepared to pursue him without delay. The wagon-master also states that they were robbed by McNary of their money and clothes, he stating that it was essential for them to have clothing, and that that was the only means they had of drawing it. Below is a copy of a pass given by A. D. McNary to the prisoners after releasing them:

HDQRS. SCOUTS, February 23, 1865.


Pass free from molestation John Vorees, wagon-master, and twelve laborers. These are my prisoners, and any interference with them will be punished as it deserves.
A. D. MCNARY, Capt., Cmdg. Scouts.


You will try and give the twelve men accommodations to-night, and give them directions to the nearest point on the railroad.


I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. H. CLEMENS, Capt. and Assistant Quartermaster.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 49, pt. I, pp. 54-56


SELMA, November 12, 1864.


General BRAGG:


Following received, dated near Johnsonville, 5th:


My forces under Generals Chalmers and Buford attacked Johnsonville yesterday evening from side of river, destroying the town and burning 3 gun-boats, 11 steamers, and 15 barges, a portion of the latter laden with quartermaster and commissary stores, also burnt most of the stores on the landing and in warehouses. The expedition thus far has resulted in a loss to the enemy of 4 gun-boats, 8 guns each, 14 steam-boats, and 17 barges, and quartermaster's stores estimated at from 75,000 to 120,000 tons. The quantity burned on the wharf and in buildings was immense.   Fire still raging.
















Verona, Miss., January 12, 1864.


COLONEL: Continued active service in the field for two months has prevented me from reporting at an earlier day the action of my troops on the expedition along the Tennessee River. I avail myself, however, of the first leisure moment, and have the honor of submitting the following report:


On the 16th of October I ordered Colonel Bell to move with his brigade from Corinth and to form a camp at Lavinia. On the 18th Brigadier-General Buford was ordered to move with the Kentucky brigade to Lexington for the purpose of watching General Hatch, who was reported to be in that direction. I moved from Corinth on the morning of the 19th, with my escort and Rucker's brigade, to Jackson, Tenn. At this place I was joined by Brigadier-General Chalmers with about 250 men of McCulloch's brigade and 300 of Mabry's brigade, which, with Rucker's brigade, constituted his DIVISION. On the 29th I ordered him to proceed to the Tennessee River and there co-operate with Brigadier-General Buford, who was blockading the river at Fort Heiman and Paris Landing. On arriving at the river I found it most, effectually blockaded by a judicious disposition of the troops and batteries sent for this purpose.


On the morning of the 29th, the steamer Mazeppa, with two barges in tow, made here appearance. As she passed the battery at Fort Heiman, supported by Brigadier-General Lyon, she was fired upon by one section of Morton's battery and two 20-pounder Parrott guns. Every shot must have taken effect, as she made for the shore after the THIRD fire and reached the opposite bank in a disabled condition, where she was abandoned by the crew and passengers, who fled to the woods. A hawser was erected on this side of the river and she was towed over, and on being boarded she was found to be heavily loaded with blankets, shoes, clothing, hard bread, &c. While her cargo was being removed to the shore three gun-boats made their appearance, and commenced shelling the men who were engaged in unloading the Mazeppa. They were forced to retire, and fearing the boat might be captured Brigadier-General Buford ordered her to be burned.


On the 30th the steamer Anna came down the river and succeeded in passing both the upper and lower batteries, but was so disabled that she sunk before she reached Paducah. The Anna was followed by two transports (J. W. Cheeseman, the Venus) and two barges under convoy of gun-boat Undine. In attempting to pass my batteries all the boats were disabled. They landed on the opposite side of the river and were abandoned by the crews, who left their dead and wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Kelley, with two companies of his regiment, was thrown across the river and soon returned to Paris Landing with the boats. The steamer J. W. Cheeseman was so disabled that she was ordered, with the two barges, to be burned; the gun- boat was also burned while moving up the river to Johnsonville. The Venus was recaptured by the enemy on [November 2,] but was destroyed the next day [November 4] at Johnsonville by my batteries.


On the 1st of November I ordered my command to move in the direction of Johnsonville, which place I reached on the 3d. At this point Colonel Mabry joined Colonel Chalmers with Thrall's battery. The wharf at Johnsonville was lined with transports and gun-boats. An immense warehouses presented itself and was represented as being stored with the most valuable supplies, while several acres of the shore were covered with every description of army stores. The fort was situated on a high hill and in a commanding position, and defended by strong works.


All my troops having arrived, I commenced disposing of them with a view of bombarding the enemy. As he commanded the position I designed to occupy, I was necessarily compelled to act with great caution. I planted most of my guns during the night, and while completing the work the next morning my men worked behind ambuscades, which obscured everything from the enemy. Thrall's battery of howitzers was placed in position above Johnsonville, while Morton's and Hudson's batteries were placed nearly opposite and just below town.


I ordered a simultaneous assault to commence at 3 o'clock. All my movements for twenty-four hours had been so secretive the enemy seemed to think I had retired, and for the purpose of making a reconnaissance two gun-boats were lashed together and pushed out just before the attack opened. The bombardment commenced by the section of Morton's battery commanded by Lieutenant Brown. The other batteries joined promptly in the assault. The enemy returned the fire from twenty-eight guns on their gun-boats and fourteen guns on the hill. About FIFTY guns were thus engaged at the same time, and the firing was terrific. The gun-boats, in fifteen minutes after the engagement commenced, were set on fire, and made rapidly for the shore, where they were both consumed. My batteries next opened upon the transports, and in a short time they were in flames. The immense amount of stores were also set in fire, together with the huge warehouse above the landing. By night the wharf for nearly one mile up and down the river presented one solid sheet of flame. The enemy continued a furious cannonading on my batteries.


Having completed the work designed by the expedition, I moved my command six miles during the night by the light of the enemy's a burning property. The roads were almost impassable, and the march to Corinth was slow and toilsome, but I reached there on November 10, after an absence of over two weeks, during which time I captured and destroyed 4 gun-boats, 14 transports, 20 barges, 26 pieces of artillery, $6,700,000 worth of property, and 150 prisoners. Brigadier-General Buford, after supplying his own command, turned over to my chief quartermaster about 9,000 pairs of shoes and 1,000 blankets.


My loss during the entire trip was 2 killed and 9 wounded; that of the enemy will probably reach 500 killed, wounded, and prisoners.


On this expedition my DIVISION commanders, Brigadier-Generals Chalmers and Buford, displayed the same prompt observance in obeying orders, the same kill, coolness, and undaunted courage which they have heretofore exhibited, and for which I thank them.


My brigade commanders, Colonels Bell, Rucker, Crossland, and Mabry, are deserving of the highest commendation for their conduct on this as on all former occasions.


Brigadier-General Lyon, who had been assigned to another department, reported to me on this expedition and rendered much valuable service at Johnsonville and Fort Heiman.


To Captain John W. Morton, acting chief of artillery, and the brave troops under his command, my thanks are especially due for their efficiency and gallantry on this expedition. They fired with a rapidity and accuracy which extorted the commendation of even the enemy. The rammers were shot from the hands of the cannoneers, some of whom were nearly buried amid the dirt which was thrown upon them by the storm of shell which rained upon them by the enemy's batteries.


All of which is respectfully submitted.






Colonel E. SURGET,


Assistant Adjutant-General, Meridian, Miss.









Numbers 10. Report of Brigadier General James R. Chalmers, C. S. Army, commanding cavalry DIVISION.




Perryville, Tenn., November 8, 1864.


MAJOR: In obedience to orders from Major-General Forrest, commanding, &c., I moved on the morning of the 30th of October from Paris, Tenn., with Rucker's brigade, my escort battalion, and four pieces of rifled artillery (one section of Rice's and one of Hudson's battery), to Paris Landing, on the Tennessee River, where I arrived about 11 a. m. on the same day. I found Colonel Bell at the landing with his brigade, of Buford's DIVISION, and a section of Morton's battery. He reported to me that a short time before my arrival a gun-boat and two transports had passed his position, going down the river, and that in obedience to orders from General Buford he had reserved his fire until they had passed, and had then opened upon them, and he thought had done them some damage. One of the transports succeeded, as I was afterward informed, in passing Fort Heiman, where General Buford was stationed with the Kentucky brigade of his DIVISION, a section of Morton's battery, and the two 20-pounder Parrott guns of Hudson's battery, but was badly crippled in the attempt. The other transport (the Venus) and the gun-boat (the U. S. steamer Undine, Numbers 55) were are a bend of the river about midway between the positions of Colonel Bell and General Buford, and out of the range of the guns of either. After consultation with Colonel Bell, I directed him to move his artillery down the river to a point as nearly as possible opposite to the boats, and to drive them from their position. He rode off to reconnoiter, and on returning reported that the order could not be executed on account of the ground to be passed over. My artillery having arrived was placed in position on the bank of the river above that held by Colonel Bell, with an interval of several hundred yards between the sections.


Colonel Rucker, coming upon the field, suggested that guns should be moved down the river to attack the boats, and on being told that Colonel Bell had reported the ground impracticable for artillery, he proposed that he and I should re-examine it. We accordingly rode down the river, Colonel Bell accompanying us, but before we had found a suitable position a courier reported another transport coming down, and Colonel Bell and I returned to the batteries, leaving Colonel Rucker with orders to continue his reconnaissance. The transport proved to be the J. W. Cheeseman, a stern-wheel steamer. She was allowed to pass the upper battery (Rice's) unmolested, but as soon as she came opposite to the middle battery (Hudson's) the guns of both opened upon her, and her steam pipe was cut and other parts of her machinery disabled. As she was passing Hudson's battery Colonel Bell's battery also opened upon her, and a heavy fire of small-arms being poured into her by troops stationed along the bank of the river, she was soon compelled to surrender. Soon after this Colonel Bell moved his brigade to Fort Heiman, in obedience to orders from General Buford, who I had directed to consolidate his DIVISION at that point.


Colonel Rucker having reported that he had found a practicable route and a good position for attacking the boats below the landing, I directed him to move down to it with the section of Hudson's battery (two 10-pounder Parrott guns), the Fifteenth Regiment, and Twenty-sixth Battalion Tennessee Cavalry, of his brigade, and attack them, which he did with such vigor and success that after a severe artillery duel between his battery and the gun- boat, the latter was disabled and driven to the opposite bank, where all of her officers and crew, who were able to do so, abandoned her and escaped, leaving only the dead and wounded behind.


At the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Kelley, commanding Twenty-sixth Battalion Tennessee Cavalry, attacked the transport Venus, which was defended by a small detachment of U. S. infantry, so sharply that she surrendered to him, and the gallant colonel, going on board of her with two companies of his battalion, crossed the river, took possession of the gun-boat, and brought both safely to the landing.


While this fight was going on another gun-boat (the Numbers 29) appeared above us, and coming to anchor about a mile and a half above our batteries, began to shell them. The upper battery (Rice's) returned a few shots, but finding that the distance was too great for effective firing, I directed it to move up nearer to the boat and ordered a portion of my escort battalion and the cadet company of the Seventh Alabama Cavalry to support the battery and act as sharpshooters. After a brief and spirited engagement the gun-boat weighed anchor and withdrew up the river. The Cheeseman was so badly injured that it was impossible to repair her with the means at our command, and she was afterward burned by order of the major-general commanding, as were also the three barges captured on the same day. The transport Venus and the gun-boat Undine being only slightly injured, were soon put in repair, by his order. These boats being bound down stream, after having delivered their cargoes of freight for the U. S. Government at Johnsonville, contained no stores beyond the usual supplies for their own use and a small quantity of private freight of but little value for army use. The Undine belonged to the class of gun-boats known as "tin-clads," and was one of the largest boats of her class on the river. she carried eight 24-pounder brass howitzers, and when captured had all of her armament and equipment on board of her. An attempt had been made to spike two of the guns and to disable one by placing a shell in its muzzle, but these were soon removed.


I have been more minute than may seem to be necessary in giving all the particulars of the capture of these boats, because I am aware that some dispute has arisen as to what troops are entitled to the honor of their capture. I do not regard this as a matter of much importance, since all that was done was but the execution of the plans of the major-general commanding, and whatever of honor may arise therefrom is due first to him who conceived and then to those who executed them.



All of the troops, so far as I am informed, acquitted themselves well, but I feel it is but to those who took the most prominent part in the execution of those plans that they should receive the greater share of that honor which is the dearest reward of the soldier. I repeat, therefore, that when the Cheeseman was captured there were six guns playing upon her, of which two (of Morton's battery) belonged to Colonel Bell's command, and four (two of Rice's and two of Hudson's battery) belonged to my command. They were placed on the bank of the river, Rice's being the upper, Hudson's the center, and Morton's the lower battery, and the boat was disabled before she had passed the center battery by one of the first shots fired at her.


The gun-boat Undine and the transport Venus were captured after Colonel Bell had withdrawn his brigade, including his artillery, and when there were no troops present excepting those belonging to this DIVISION. The troops immediately engaged in the capture were the Fifteenth Regiment and the Twenty-sixth Battalion Tennessee Cavalry and one section of Hudson's battery. It has been said, however, that these boats were badly crippled by Colonel Bell as they passed his position in the morning and before any part of this DIVISION had arrived, but in reply to this I would respectfully say that the Venus was not materially injured when she was captured, as is shown by the fact that she was used immediately afterward to tow the gun-boat to the landing. The shot which struck her injured her cabin and upper works, but had not damaged either her machinery or her hull. Colonel Bell stated to me that, in obedience to orders, he did not fire at either of the boats until they had passed his position. This exposed their sterns and larboard sides to his fire, but the shot which disabled the Undine struck her in front and on the starboard side, and could not have come from Colonel Bell's battery. In addition to this, the boat was manageable, and maintained a sharp fight for some time after Colonel Bell had withdrawn his brigade. In view of these circumstances I think it evident that the greater share of the honor of capturing these boats belongs to those troops to whom they were actually surrendered.


Our loss in this affair was 1 man of Rucker's brigade severely wounded; that of the enemy, so far as we have been able to ascertain it, was 5 killed and 6 wounded on the Venus; 3 killed and 4 wounded on the Undine, and 1 wounded on the Cheeseman; total, 8 killed and 11 wounded. We also captured 43 prisoners, among whom was 1 officer and 10 men of the U. S. Infantry. The others belonged to the different boats.


On the morning of November 1 moved my command up the river as far as Danville, where we encamped, placing our guns in position on the river-bank so as to protect our boats (the Undine and Venus), which had been ordered to move up the river, keeping in rear of our batteries.


On the following morning I moved toward Reynoldsburg, in accordance with previous instructions, but was afterward orders, by the major- general commanding, to halt near Davidson's Ferry, and to place my guns in position at that place, which was done. Our boats having ventured too far beyond the protection of our batteries, were attacked by two of the enemy's gun-boats, and the Venus was recaptured by them.


On the 3rd instant we moved up the river opposite to Reynoldsburg and Johnsonville, and had frequent skirmishes during the day with the enemy's gun-boats, of which there were three at the latter place, but without any decisive results. Here we were joined by Colonel Mabry's brigade of cavalry and Thrall's battery of 12- pounder howitzers, attached to this DIVISION, which had been left at Paris, and had moved directly from that place and take position a short distance above Johnsonville.


On the 4th instant, General Buford having come up with his DIVISION and Morton's battery, the latter was ordered to the position occupied by Colonel Rucker, and my DIVISION was formed as follows: Colonel Mabry, with his brigade and Thrall's battery, on the right immediately above and opposite to Johnsonville; Colonel Rucker, with Morton's battery and the Seventh Alabama Cavalry, immediately below and opposite to that place; Lieutenant-Colonel Kelley, with the Twenty-sixth Tennessee Battalion and two guns of Rice's battery, opposite to Reynoldsburg, and Lieutenant-Colonel Logwood, of the Fifteenth Tennessee Cavalry, with his regiment and a section of Hudson's battery, at Clark's house, still farther down the river and about two miles below Johnsonville.


The enemy had at Johnsonville three gun-boats and a number of transports and barges - variously estimated at from eight to ten of the former and from twelve to fifteen of the latter, some of them laden - together with an immense quantity of Government stores, a part of which was contained in a large warehouse, and the remainder piled upon the bank, covering about an acre of ground. The town was defended by a strong earth-work, well garrisoned and supplied with artillery, and they possessed an additional advantage in the fact that the bank of the river on that side is much higher than that on which we were.


At 2 p. m. the bombardment began, and in a short time one of the gun-boats was set on fire. One after another the others followed, and before night-fall all of the gun-boats, transports, and barges, the warehouse, and the greater part of the stores on the shore, were set on fire and consumed. The enemy kept up a heavy fire from their gun-boats and land batteries until the former were disabled, but without inflicting any serious injury upon us or forcing any part of our troops to abandon their positions. During the engagement five gun-boats came up the river, evidently with the intention of re-enforcing the town, but they retired after a sharp cannonading with the artillery under Colonel Logwood's command.


Our loss in this engagement was very small, but as the official reports have not been received it cannot now be stated with accuracy.


All the officers and men under my command deserve honorable mention for the very creditable manner in which they have borne themselves during the entire expedition, and I do not desire to detract in the slightest degree from the honor due to the others in calling especial attention to the gallant conduct of the Seventh Alabama Cavalry in this their first engagement, and to the very effective service rendered by Thrall's battery in setting fire to the enemy's boats and stores.


My thanks are due to the officers of my staff and to Captain Lawler, Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, and Lieutenant D. F. Holland, aide-de-camp to Major General D. H. Maury, who were temporarily on staff duty with me, for their efficient services.


I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,






Major J. P. STRANGE,


Assistant Adjutant-General, Forrest's Cavalry.



Tennessee Civil War Railroad