Saturday, March 21, 2015

Michigan Seventeenth Infantry in East Tennessee

Photo Credit xray10  Some rights reserved

August: From Kentucky arriving at Crab Orchard August 24th, 1863. Marching from Crab Orchard, it engaged in the movements made by the army of the Ohio into East Tennessee in September and October. With its division it moved from Knoxville to Blue Springs, but did not participate in the engagement at that place. Returning to Knoxville on the 14th of October, it marched from thence on the 20th, and proceeded via Loudon to Lenoir. Like the 2nd, 8th and 20th Infantry, which were in the same corps, the 17th had traveled over 2,100 miles during the year. The regiment in command of Lieutenant Colonel Comstock, and then attached to the 3d brigade, of the 1st division. 9th army corps, remained at Lenoir Station, East Tennessee, until the morning of the 14th of November 1863, when it marched to the Tennessee river, below Loudon, to oppose the advance of the rebels under Longstreet, then moving on Knoxville. It lay under arms during the night and on the following morning commenced falling back, closely followed by the rebel forces. It continued to retreat on the 16th, with its corps, its brigade, moving in the rear of the army, and the regiment acting as the rear guard. While crossing Turkey Creek, near Campbell's Station, the enemy attacked in force, and a severe engagement ensued. In this action the loss of the regiment was 7 killed, 19 wounded, and 10 missing. From a report of Captain FW Swift: On the 16th, we marched for Knoxville. Our regiment being detached as rear guard was attacked by the enemy's advance guard about 9 30 AM, near Campbell's Station, and after severe fighting through the day, we retired during the night to Knoxville. Lieutenant Alonzo P Stevens was mortally wounded. During the night of the 16th, the 17th moved with the army to Knoxville, assisting actively in the defense of that town, while besieged by the enemy. On the night of the 20th, the regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Comstock, was ordered to burn a house occupied by the enemy's sharpshooters. This was done successfully, but while returning to camp a shell from one of the enemy's guns killed instantly Lieutenant Josiah Billingsley. A correspondent of the New York Tribune, under date of November 20th, 1863, writes Brilliant Sortie of the 17th Michigan:

At 8.30 PM rapid cannonading was heard on our west frontier Fort Saunders which aroused the town from its temporary repose. Now it was supposed the expected night attack had begun. The advance it seems was by our side and not from that of the enemy. The rebel pickets, during the day, had got into James Armstrong's house, just under the hill, and had very much annoyed our men. General Ferrero, accordingly, ordered the 17th Michigan to make a sortie and drive them out. The work was handsomely accomplished and the house was set on fire. They then fell back but as the light of the burning buildings burst forth, it revealed the position of our men as they were deploying into the road, and the enemy swept their ranks by discharges of shell and solid shot. One lieutenant was killed and three men wounded. Our batteries replied as fast as possible, covering our men as they retreated. The object was accomplished though after sacrifice of valuable men and the Michigan boys deserve much praise for the handsome manner in which they executed their task.

On the 25th a musket ball, from the enemy's skirmish line, struck Lieutenant Colonel Comstock, wounding him so severely that he died the same evening. Following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Comstock, Captain Swift assumed command of the 17th. On the night of the 28th of November, the skirmish line of the regiment was driven in, and 16 men were captured by the rebels. On the 29th it was engaged in the defense of Fort Saunders. During the retreat to Knoxville, and during the siege, the men suffered greatly, especially while besieged from the want of proper and sufficient rations. On the 7th of December, the 17th, in command of Lieutenant Colonel Swift, who bad been commissioned to rank from November 26th moved from Knoxville, in pursuit of the enemy, who had abandoned the siege and were retreating up the valley toward Morristown. Advancing to Rutledge, the regiment remained there until the 15th, and thence fell back to Blain's Cross Roads. It encamped here until the 16th of January 1864, suffering much from want of supplies. Early in March the regiment moved up the valley as far as Morristown. On the 17th, the 9th corps, having received orders to report at Annapolis Maryland, the regiment proceeded to Knoxville where it arrived on the 20th and on the 22nd, it commenced its march over the Cumberland mountains to Nicholasville Kentucky.

Troop Action Summery
Blue Spring Tenn October 10, 1863
Loudon Tenn November 14, 1863
Lenoire Station Tenn November 15, 1863
Campbell's Station Tenn November 16, 1863
siege of Knoxville Tenn November 17 to December 5 1863
Thurley's Ford Tenn December 15, 1863
Fort Saunders Tenn November 29, 1863
Strawberry Plains Tenn January 22, 1864

(Source: Michigan in the War, Michigan. Adjutant-General's Department, State Printers, 1882)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Michigan Second Regiment Infantry in the Knoxville area 1863-1864

Photo Credit xray10  Some rights reserved

Michigan Second Regiment Infantry

November 24, 1863

The regiment is mentioned in connection with the operations at Knoxville on the 24th in the "Rebellion Record" as follows: 
November 24th Skirmishing commenced early and briskly on our left front this morning. The rebels had gained a hill and thrown up rifle pits near the round house during the night. The 48th Pennsylvania and 21st Massachusetts, during the morning, charged the pits and driving the rebels out at the point of the bayonet, covered the trenches and returned to their own with a loss of two killed and four wounded. On our left, for some hours, the fire of the sharp shooters was quite hot from a house above the rebel trenches. The 2d Michigan charged there also in the most gallant manner and drove the rebels back. A fierce and bloody engagement ensued with great loss on both sides, our boys remaining in possession of the works which they obliterated, and fell back.

From the New York Tribune:

"About 8 o clock AM, November 24th, General Ferrero, acting under orders, sent forward the 2d Michigan to charge the enemy's rifle pits and drive them out. The regiment was sustained by our batteries as long as it was safe to fire over the heads of our men. They went down the long slope ,over the fallen trees, and through the debris in front, upon the double quick, attacking, driving out the rebels from their pits and occupying them for about half an hour, fighting hand to hand with the rebels over the impalement. They met, however, a whole brigade, and being overpowered sent back for reinforcements. Meantime Adjutant Noble and Lieutenant Galpin were killed, and Major Byington was badly wounded, Lieutenant Zoellner mortally besides a large number of men. The Major, seeing that the effort to hold the place was fruitless. ordered his men to retire. He was immediately made a prisoner."
The extreme suffering from cold and hunger of Burnside's army at Knoxville was without a parallel in the whole war. Following is a memorandum of an inspection of one brigade which unquestionably represented the condition of Burnside's entire army at that time: 


Regiments in the brigade: Second Michigan Infantry, One Hundredth Pennsylvania, Tewentieth Michigan Infantry, Seventh Michigan Infantry, Provost Guard

Without undlothing: 374
No shoes: 386
No blankets: 65
No overcoat: 471
No tents: 218
No socks: 657
No pantaloons: 295
No coats: 186


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Looking beyond the shaking leaf

When I first started looking for the parents of John FM Bails, I got several hints and all of them listed Caleb Bails as his father.  In 1850,  Caleb was listed on the 1850 Greene County census with a son named John who was born in 1846. Everything about this looked good enough on paper, but something about this did not seem right. For one thing, there was not a single person in my family named Caleb. I rationalized by saying that they could have had a son named Caleb who died at a young age, but I still had serious doubts.

Next I found John's death certificate on an index and ordered a copy. The death certificate said unknown. This was really disappointing! 

So, I ordered John's complete Civil War file from NARA. It cost about a sixty dollars and contained more than 100 pages. Reading through the depositions, I found one by Dr. John Blair White, who stated that he was John FM's uncle. That was very interesting because my G Grandfather had a cousin who visited him named White. First guess would have been that this was his wife's cousin because my G Grandfather married a woman with White as a last name. However, one on my Aunt's was sure that it was my Great Grandfather's cousin.

So, I began to search for Beals, Bales, Bails or Bailes who married a woman with the last name White. I found Thomas Beals and Martha Emeline White. They were married on September 10, 1840 in Greene County. Martha Emeline White's parents were well documented (Frederick Tillman White and Deborah McNeese) and she had a brother named John Blair White who was the doctor in John F M's Civil War pension file!

So, I began to search for this family. On the 1850 census, John is listed as Francis M Beals. On the 1860 census, he is listed as John FM Bayless. I believed that I had found the right family! Later, I found additional court records to confirm this.

When I found Thomas Beals, this was the first time that I had seen the name spelled this way. In the years since this first discovery, I have been able to document this family back to John Beals and Mary Clayton, who were married in 1682 at Chester Monthly Meeting in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Destruction of the Saltwoks

Photo credit: DM Some rights reserved

From the 11th Michigan Cavalry

"A correspondent wrote:
Thinking that a detailed account of the late great raid of Generals Stoneman and Burbridge into East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia might not be uninteresting to your numerous readers, especially as a regiment of the 'Soldier Citizens' of Michigan participated in the fatigues, hardships and honors of the same to a conspicuous extent, I am persuaded to communicate the same to your columns in as brief space a possible, as the leading features. In the matter have doubtless been furnished you by the regular telegraphic dispatches some days in advance of this."

Photo credit: Left: DM, Left: Sisterbeer Some rights reserved,Right:


"At early day break Colonel Brown, at the head of his brigade, marched upon Saltville and found the place evacuated, the 'Johnnies' having left for the mountains during the night. At 8 o'clock all the troops had entered the town and commenced the work of destroying the salt works which the enemy have defended for the past four years with great energy, as it is the only place in the Confederacy where salt is obtained: consequently they were almost of inestimable value to the rebels. All day and night of the 21st, and until 2 o'clock PM of the 22d, the whole force was engaged in breaking kettles, burning buildings, sheds, etc., destroying wells, in fact. In the complete destruction of everything pertaining to the works. We destroyed over 2,000 kettles capable of manufacturing 25,000 bushels of salt per day when run to their full extent. We also destroyed three forts, two arsenals filled with ammunition, 13 cannon and caissons, five locomotives, and about 80 cars depot, and three store houses and other buildings belonging to the railroad. The salt wells, which were drilled through rock 280 feet deep and four in number, we destroyed by filling with solid shot and railroad iron. It will be impossible to remove these obstructions, and the rebs will have to drill new wells, to say nothing of getting kettles, building furnaces, etc., before they can have any more salt in Dixie."(Source: Michigan in the War Michigan. Adjutant-General's Department, John Robertson, 1882, pp. 733-734)

Photo credit: Left: DM, Right: Left: Sisterbeer Some rights reserved

All photos from Flickr Creative Commons
Saltville During the Civil War

Friday, March 6, 2015

Remember the Alamo!

Photo Credit: Bambi Chicque of BamPu Legacies
The next day Crockett simply writes, "March 5th Pop, pop, pop! Bom, bom, bom throughout the day. No time for memorandums now, Go ahead! Liberty and Independence forever." Before daybreak on the 6th of March the citadel of the Alamo was assaulted by the whole Mexican army, then numbering about three thousand men. Santa Anna in person commanded. The assailants swarmed over the works and into the fortress. The battle was fought with the utmost desperation until daylight. Six only of the garrison then remained alive. (Source: David Crockett, John Stevens Cabot Abbott, Laura Mead, 1902,p.349)  Learn more here

David Crockett Museum in downtown Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
David Crockett moved to Lawrence County around 1817 and served as a justice of the peace, a colonel of the militia and as a state representative. 

Look at my arms you will find no party hand cuff on them. Look at my neck you will not find there any collar with the engraving: MY DOG ANDREW JACKSON." But you will find me standing up to my rack as the people's faithful representative and the public's most obedient very humble servant. DAVID CROCKETT (Source: A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee, Davy Crockett, Thomas Chilton, Carey, Hart & CO, Baltimore, 1834, p.211) 

Crockett Tavern in East Tennessee
Photo Credit:
More information: Here

I leave this rule for others when I am dead. Be always sure you're right, then go ahead! The Author (David Crocket: A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee, Davy Crockett, Thomas Chilton, Carey, Hart & CO, Baltimore, 1834)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thoughts of Spring

Tennessee Florist Convention in Knoxville 1912

Knox Nurseries

Ollie Bean Blackberries
AJ Nelson Strawberries
Rosecliff Nursery CJ McClung III Strawberries
CW Wise Strawberries

Empire Nursery Co Hodge & Deal Fruit

Fountain City
Charles Baum Grccnhouse Ornamentals
Fountain City Fruit Farm Strawberries
OH Tindell Nursery Co OH Tindell Fruit and Ornamentals

Lone Oak Nursery Co AJ McClain Fruit

GW Callahan Greenhouse
CW Crouch Greenhouse
AH Dailey Greenhouse
East Tenn & Miss Orchard Co CO Fowler Fruit
CM Emory Greenhouse
JRH Hilton Strawberries
Howell Nurseries Bruce Howell 10 Ornamentals
Wm A Jenkins
MW Kirby Strawberries
Knoxville Nursery Co NW Hale & Co Fruit and Ornamentals
Marble City Nursery Co AA Newson Fruit and Ornamentals
Benjamin Maynard Violets
AJ McNutt Violets
A Pope Privet

Thos C Schnicke Fruit and Strawberries

Powell Station
James N Hendrix Fruit and Strawberries
RH Hendrix Strawberries
Home Nursery Co S Dougherty Fruit
WJ McElroy Fruit
Standard Nursery Co RC Bell & Co Fruit

Source: Economic Entomology: Pamphlets, Volume 78, p. 25-26, 1912)