Monday, April 27, 2015

On this Day- the sinking of the Sultana April 27, 1865

Sultana on fire, from Harpers Weekly
           "Sultana Disaster". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - Link

A maritime disaster where over One thousand Five Hundred human Beings were lost, most of them being exchanged prisoners of war on their way home after privation and suffering from one to twenty-three months in Cahaba and Andersonville prisons.

The steamer Sultana was built at Cincinnati, Ohio, January, 1863, and was registered, as near as I can learn, at 1,719 tons. She was a regular St Louis and New Orleans packet, and left the latter port on her fatal trip April 21, 1865, arriving at Vicksburg, Miss with about two hundred passengers and crew on board. She remained here little more than one day; among other things repairing one of her boilers, at the same time receiving on board 1,965 federal soldiers and 35 oflicers just released from the rebel prisons at Cahaba, Ala, Macon and Andersonville, Ga, and belonging to the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Besides these there were two companies of infantry under arms, making a grand total of 2,300 souls on board.

Sometime in the evening, probably well towards midnight, the boat steamed across the river to the coal bins or barges, and after taking on her supply of coal started on up the river for Cairo, Ill. All was quiet and peaceful, many of the soldiers, no doubt, after their long, unwilling fast in southern prisons, were dreaming of home and the good things in store for them there, but alas! those beautiful visions were dissipated by a terrific explosion, for about two o'clock in the morning of the 27th, as the boat was passing through a group of islands known as the 'Old Hen and Chickens,' and while about opposite of Tagleman's Landing had burst one of her boilers and almost immediately caught fire, for the fragments of the boiler had cut the cabin and the hurricane deck in two, and the splintered pieces had fallen, many of them back upon the burning coal fires that were now left exposed.

The light dry wood of the cabins burned like tinder, and it was but a short time ere the boat was wrapped in flames, burning to the water's edge and sinking. Hundreds were forced into the water and drowned in huge squads, those who could swim being unable to get away from those who could not and consequently perishing with them.

(Source: Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors: History of a Disaster ...
 By Chester D. Berry, D.D. Thorp, printer, 1892, Link)

Sultana Memorial at the Mount Olive Baptist Church Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee  

Sultana Memorial at the Mount Olive Baptist Church Cemetery
Sultana Memorial at the Mount Olive Baptist Church Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Campbell Station

"On the 13th of November it was ascertained that the enemy had constructed a pontoon bridge at Hutf's Ferry, near Loudon, and were crossing in force to the northern bank of the Tennessee. At the same time General Wheeler, with nearly the whole of his four brigades of cavalry, made a rapid night march and crossed the Little Tennessee with a view to cutting off Sanders's command, and occupying the heights opposite Knoxville, or as stated by Longstreet, 'failing in this to threaten the enemy at Knoxville so as to prevent his concentrating against us before we reached Knoxville.' Wheeler was foiled in this attempt and soon withdrew to the north bank of the river, which he crossed at Louisville. He rejoined Longstreet on the 17th of November, after the latter had fought the battle of Campbell's Station.

Upon learning of Longstreet's movement, General Burnside took personal command of the troops available to oppose him. The operations of our forces during the next few days had for their object to delay the advance of the enemy to enable us to get our trains into Knoxville, and to forward the defensive works at that place, where it had been determined to make a stand Longstreet advanced from Loudon in two columns. McLaws's division taking the left road, leading to Campbell's Station, and Hood's division (commanded by Jenkins), the one to the right, following the line of the railroad to Lenoir's. The latter soon came in contact with the Federal skirmishers and drove them slowly back but failed to reach Lenoir's that day. Every effort was made during the night to ascertain Burnside's movements, but his bold and vigilant rear guard succeeded in completely concealing them. By daybreak the whole force was on the road, and when the Confederates advanced they found Lenoir's deserted.

The road upon which Burnside was moving, followed by Jenkins, intersects that along which McLaws was advancing, about a mile south west of Campbell's Station. It was therefore essential to the safety of his train, if not of his entire command, that Burnside should reach the junction before McLaws. Just before daylight on the 16th of November, Hartranft's division took the advance of Burnside's column from Lenoir's and pushed forward as rapidly as the roads permitted, followed by the trains and by the other troops. McLaws, with full knowledge of the importance of seizing the intersection of the roads, was making every endeavor to get possession before the arrival of Burnside. He was opposed by a small force, but his march like Hartranft's, was impeded by the mud resulting from heavy rains. It thus became a race for the position. Hartranft won by perhaps half an hour, and turning west on the Kingston road, quickly deployed his division in such manner as to confront McLaws, and at the same time cover the London road along which our trains were moving.

During the movement from Lenoir's, Burnside's rear guard, composed of Colonel William Humphrey's brigade, had several sharp encounters with Jenkins's advance, in which Humphrey handled his forces so well as to excite the admiration of both friends and foes, always standing long enough, but never too long.

Scarcely had Hartranft's dispositions been made when McLaws appeared and attacked, but Hartrauft steadfastly held his ground until the remainder of our troops and all our trains had safely passed. The trains continued on the road to Knoxville, while the troops were formed in line of battle about half a mile beyond the junction, with Ferrero's division on the right, and White's in prolongation to the left, whereupon Hartranft withdrew from his advanced position and took his place in line on the left of White. A small cavalry force scouted the roads on each flank of the line. About noon Longstreet unsuccessfully attacked our right, and afterward our left center. Later, taking advantage of a wooded ridge to conceal the march, he attempted to turn our left flank with three brigades of Jenkins's division, but our scouts soon discovered and reported the movement. Burnside had determined to retire to a new position about two thirds of a mile to his rear, and this development but slightly hastened his withdrawal from the first line. The difficult and hazardous undertaking was successfully accomplished in the face of the enemy. All who saw it say that the troops moved with the greatest coolness, deliberation, and precision under a heavy and continuous fire.
McLaws's division promptly advanced to attack the new position, while Jenkins continued his turning movement, but the difliculties of the ground delayed him until nightfall and stopped his further progress. McLaws attacked and failed to make an impression, and at the close of the action Burnside remained in possession of his own ground until after dark, and then continued his movement to Knoxville, the head of his column appearing there about daybreak next morning November 17th. He had gained his object and therefore was fairly entitled to claim a victory."
Burnside placed his whole loss in this important affair of Campbell's Station at about 300, Jenkins reported his as 174. It is probable that the losses on both sides, including McLaws's, were about equal.
(Source: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Being for the Most ..., Volume 3, Part 2, edited by Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Michigan Cavalry in East Tennessee 1863-64

Photo credit: dishfunctional Some rights reserved

8th Cavalry

The regiment then in the 1st Brigade 2d Cavalry Corps and still in command of Colonel Wormer had entered upon the East Tennessee campaign having met the enemy at Kingston September 1st and on the 18th at Cleveland. A correspondent writing to the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune says of the affair at Cleveland:

'From Kingston we were ordered to Post Oak Springs a distance of nine miles. Here we remained over night. The next morning we received orders to go to Athens, the county seat of McMinn county, 35 miles south of Kingston on the line of the East Tennessee and Georgia railroad. At Kingston we had to cross the Tennessee river in a small ferry boat, the rebels having burned all the boats of any size on the river at this point, and above as far as Knoxville. It required one day and two nights to ferry the command the 1st brigade across the river. We were heartily glad when the work was accomplished. We then moved on that day some twenty miles and encamped on Prigmore's farm. Prigmore proved to be a rebel of the deepest dye, and owned a very large plantation, which was under a high state of cultivation. We found an abundance of forage for our horses and mules and quite a large quantity of bacon which the old man had buried in a smoke house to prevent the 'dreaded Yankees' from getting it. After two days sojourn we left for Athens. The 8th Michigan cavalry took the advance and we entered the town amidst the waving of flags the shouts of the people and a shower of bouquets from the hands of the loyal ladies. Such a demonstration was unexpected. We little dreamed that such a strong Union feeling existed in this section. We had heard it said that there were many loyal people in East Tennessee, but had somewhat been led to believe that it was overrated. We were indeed happily disappointed. Crowds of people gathered around Colonel Byrd and expressed their gratitude for being delivered from the oppressive yoke of the bogus confederacy. A large crowd of men and women gathered together and listened eagerly and attentively to the speeches made by Colonel Byrd, Lieutenant Colonel Wormer, 8th Michigan cavalry and Colonel Henderson of the 112th Illinois mounted infantry. Their speeches were received with bursts of applause and every one seemed pleased with the policy of our government as explained by the speakers. We remained at Athens a week or more during which time Captain Samuel Wells of the 8th Michigan cavalry, Acting Provost Marshal on Colonel Byrd's staff administered the oath to over 1,500 rebel soldiers and a large number of citizens. The captain, by the way, is a very efficient officer and attends to the duties of provost marshal in a manner satisfactory to all. While at Athens, Major Edgerly of the 8th Michigan cavalry with one company from the 112th Illinois, one company from the 1st Tennessee and companies G and I of the 8th Michigan cavalry, were sent down to Cleveland 25 miles from Athens on the East Tennessee and Georgia railroad to take possession of the town and hold it if he could. The second day after taking possession he was suddenly attacked by a largo force of the enemy estimated at 1,500, the Major's force numbering 150 and was compelled to beat a hasty retreat. The rebs had laid their plans to gobble up the major and his entire command, but they found that it was not so easily done as they supposed. Although they drove our pickets in, rather unceremoniously the Major was prepared to give them a warm reception. In the skirmish, Captain Dickinson of Company B of the 112th Illinois was killed and 24 of his men taken prisoners. The captain exhibited great courage and would not fall back, nor allow his men to retreat. Major Edgerly fell back in good order, occasionally making a stand and giving the rebels a taste of bullets. Companies G and I covered the retreat and their Spencer rifles told with fearful effect on the advancing enemy. A few volleys from their rifles would always check the rebels and they would hesitate some time before advancing. Arriving at Charleston, on the Hiawasse river, the major made a stand, but the enemy did not think proper to pursue them farther. A number of men belonging to Company G 8th Michigan were cut off and taken prisoners. A great many narrow escapes were made, several horses were shot under their riders, but no one was wounded or killed on our side. Lieutenant McDonald of Company I received a shot through his hat and another through his holster on the saddle. The officers and men praise Major Edgerly for the coolness and bravery he exhibited and the skill he displayed in keeping the enemy from capturing the whole command. But few they state could have managed the retreat so well against so large a force."

The regiment was in engagements with the enemy at:
Triplett Bridge Ky June 19 1863
Lebanon Ky July 5 1863
Sal visa Ky July 7 1803
Cumniings Ferry Ky July 9 1863
Bufriington's Island Ohio July 19 1803
Saliueville Ohio July 26 1863
Loudon Tenn September 2 1863
Cumberland Gap Tenn September 9 1863
Carter's Station Tenn September 21 1863
Zollicoffer Tenn September 25 1863
Leesburg Tenn September 29 1863
Blue Springs Tenn October 5 and 10 1863
Rheatown Tenn October 11 1863
siege of Knoxville Tenn December 5 1863
Morristown Tenn December 10 1863
Russellville Tenu December 12 1863
Bean's Station Tenn December 14 1863
Rutledge Tenn December 15 1863
Dandridge Tenn December 25 1863
Mossy Creek Tenn December 26 1863
Kinsboro's X Roads January 16 1864
Dandridge Tenn January 17 1864
Fair Garden Tenn January 24 1864
Sevier ville Tenn January 27 1864
Strawberry Plains Tenn January 1864
Morristown Tenn March 19 1864
Charles X Roads Tenn March 20 1864
Cynthiana Tenn June 12 1864 

9th Cavalry
The regiment having again been united at Covington, proceeded to Hickman's Bridge and participated in the expedition of General Burnside into East Tennessee, arriving at Knoxville September 3rd, having skirmished at Loudon on the 2nd. From Knoxville it proceeded to Cumberland Gap. On the 7th, a detachment of the regiment drove in the rebel pickets, entered the Gap, and burned a large mill, on which the enemy depended, to a great extent, for subsistence. Loss of the regiment one killed and one wounded.

Loudon Tenn September 2 1863
Cumberland Gap Tenn September 9 1863
Carter's Station Tenn September 21 1863
Zollicoffer Tenn September 25 1863
Leesburg Tenn September 29 1863
Blue Springs Tenn October 5 and 10 1863
Rheatown Tenn October 11 1863
siege of Knoxville Tenn December 5 1863
Morristown Tenn December 10 1863
Russellville Tenn December 12 1863
Bean's Station Tenn December 14 1863
Rutledge Tenn December 15 1863
Dandridge Tenn December 25 1863
Mossy Creek Tenn December 26 1863
Kinsboro's X Roads January 16 1864
Dandridge Tenn January 17 1864
Fair Garden Tenn January 24 1864
Sevierville Tenn January 27 1864
Strawberry Plains Tenn January 1864
Morristown Tenn March 19 1864
Charles X Roads Tenn March 20 1864
Cynthiana Tenn June 12 1864

10th Cavalry
Engagements and skirmishes of the regiment were:
House Mountain Tenn January 1864
Bean's Gap Tenn March 26 1864
Rheatown Tenn April 24 1864
Jonesboro Tenn April 25 1864
Johnsonville Tenn April 25 1864
Watauga Tenn April 25 1864
Powder Spring Gap Tenn April 28 1864
Dandridge Tenn May 19 1864
Greenville Tenn May 30 1864
White Horn Tenn May 31 1864
Morristown Teun Jane 2 1864
Bean's Station Tenn June 16 1864
Rogersville Tenn June 17 1864
Kiugsport Tenn June 18 1864
Cany Branch Tenn June 20 1864
New Market Tenn June 21 1864
Moseburg Tenn June 23 1864
Williams Ford Tenn June 25 1864
Dutch Bottom Tenn June 28 1864
Sevierville (725)Tenn July 5 1864
Newport Tenn July 8 3864
Morristown Tenn August 3 1804
Greenville Tenn August 4 1864
Mossy Greek Tenn  August 18 1864
Bull's Gap Tenn August 21 1864
Blue Spring Tenn August 23 1864
Greenville Tenn August 23 1864
Strawberry Plains Tenn August 24 1864
Flat Greek Bridge Tenn August 24 1864
Rogersville Tenn August 27 1864
Bull's Gap Tenn August 29 1864
Greeneville Tenn September 4 1804
Sweetwater Tenn September 10 1864
Thorn Hill Tenn September 10 1864
Sevierville Tenn September 8 1864
Jonesboro Tenn September 30 1864
Johnson Station Tenn October 1 1864
Watauga Bridge Tenn October 1 and 2 1864
Chucky Bend Tenn October 10 1854
Newport Tenn October 18 1864
Irish Bottoms Tenn October 25 1804
Madisonville Tenn October 30 1864
Morristown Tenn November 20 18G4
Strawberry Plains Tenn November 23 and 24 1864
Kingsport Tenn December 12 1864
Bristol Tenn December 14 1834
Saliville Va November 20 1864
Chucky Bend Tenn January 10 3865
Brabson's Mills Tenn March 25 1865

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Where was your family when Lee's Surrendered to Grant?



Hartsell Good: 4th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, died before Lee surrendered to Grant.  He is buried in the National Cemetery in Nashville

William Elbert Milburn: Chaplin Tennessee 8th Calvary, was in Knoxville, Tennessee


John Francis M Bails: Tennessee 8th Calvary, was in Knoxville, Tennessee

Wiley Bailey: 7th Regiment, Tennessee Mounted Infantry, was in Athens, Tennessee

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Michigan Twentieth Regiment Infantry in East Tennessee

Photo Credit xray10  Some rights reserved

Twentieth Regiment Infantry
The 10th of September, 1863, participated in the movement on Knoxville Tennessee marching via Cumberland Gap October 10th, the regiment took part in the engagement at Blue Springs with a loss of one killed and two wounded. The 20th was, on the 1st of November, 1863, at Lenoir Station, East Tennessee, where it remained until the 14th. The enemy making, at this time, their advance toward Knoxville, the regiment was ordered to Hough's Ferry, with other forces to check their advance, but on the 15th, fell back to Lenoir Station, the regiment covering the retreat, and holding the Loudon Road during the night. On the 16th, the army continuing the retreat to Knoxville, the 20th with the 2nd, and 17th Michigan Infantry, were constituted the rear guard. The enemy followed them up with great vigor and at times pressed them very heavily. At Turkey Creek, near Campbell's Station, the rear was attacked by the enemy in force, but successfully sustained the attack for over two hours, when they were reinforced. The loss of the 20th during this action was 33 in killed and wounded. Among the former was its commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Smith. The commanding officer's report says:

"On the 16th November, our army commenced moving back on Knoxville and the 20th 2d and 17th Michigan regiments were constituted rear guard to army a post of great honor and responsibility as the enemy were pressing us very heavily. When we reached Turkey Creek, McLaw's rebel division attacked us with vigor and we became heavily engaged. Among the first who fell was Lieutenant W Huntington Smith, who had commanded the regiment several months. He was brave and efficient officer and his loss is deeply felt by the regiment.

On the morning of the 17th, the regiment, in command of Major Cutcheon, arrived at Knoxville, having marched all night over bad roads, it being the third night that it had been without rest. The enemy made their appearance before Knoxville on the 17th, and commenced the siege, which continued until the 5th of December. On the 29th of November, it assisted in repelling the desperate assault made on Fort Saunders, losing two killed and eight seriously wounded. Thirteen of the regiment on picket at the time were reported missing. From commanding officer's report is taken the following: At Knoxville the regiment occupied a position on the most exposed part of the line and lost heavily in the trenches. Captain WD Wiltsie who fell during the siege was an officer of great ability zeal and courage. He was mortally wounded on the 25th of November and died on the 27th of the same month.

Troop Action Summary
Blue Springs Tenn October 10, 1863

Loudon Teun November 14, 1863
Lenoir Station Tenn November 15, 1863
Campbell's Station Tenn November 16, 1863
siege Knoxville Tenn November 17 to December 5, 1863
Fort Saunders Tenn November 29, 1863
Thurley's (Turley's) Ford Tenn December 15 1863
Plains Tenn January 22, 1864
Chucky Bend Tenn March 14, 1864