Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nashville Correspondence

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 16

EDITOR GAZETTE:– After an absence of one month, I find myself again in Nashville, and observe some of the changes in the appearance of the city brought about by the continued occupancy by the Federal forces, and the approach of summer. The citizens have found out that the Yankees won’t bite or otherwise hurt them, if not molested, and now walk the streets with less of the noted hang-dog look which ever characterizes them when first coerced. The feeling of bitter hostility to the northern troops has abated but little; they grind their teeth in silence, and mark, for the possible future vengeance, every person that acquiesces in the new order of things. Incidents to fill a volume might be gathered here, all illustrating the continued bitterness in feeling of a large portion of the native population against the Federal Government. They have been too tenderly cared for by our Generals; they have no thanks to offer for continued freedom of person and possession of property, and are untiring in their efforts to aid the rebels. Their communications with the southern army are regular and certain, and had we been defeated in the battle at Pittsburg Landing, the citizens here would have risen against our remaining guards, and if possible have destroyed the bridges in our line of retreat and murdered and plundered every Union man in the country. I will illustrate this condition in the affairs of this region with one or two accounts of events that have recently transpired. A few days since two soldiers left the city late at night to join their regiment, encamped some miles out. When several miles from the city they stopped to rest, took off their equipments and laid them on the ground. One of the men was behind a hedge and invisible to a man who rode up to the other soldier and with an oath said he had wanted to kill one of them. The soldier was defenceless and would evidently have been shot had not his unseen comrade shot the rebel as he was drawing his revolver. The body of the dead man was taken by some of the people living in the vicinity, without revealing his name, and the horse he rode was brought to this city. The race of chivalrous knights that prefer to attack unarmed men, is evidently not extinct yet.

The people here have a “clothes line” telegraph, so-called, that brings daily, for the delectation of the faithful, great accounts of Southern victories, which are received far more confidently than what the abhorred Lincolnites permit to come in the usual way. Two days since Buell had been defeated and the Southern cause freed from the stain of the battle at Pittsburg, Beauregard was within forty miles of Nashville, and what else I know not. Two of the rebel citizens were overheard talking up the merits of the case. They thought that Morgan, a noted guerilla of this region, with a large increase to his band, was not far off, and they gave each other assurances of the way in which they would use certain muskets secreted on their premises. In a word, no one thanks our rulers for their leniency, and the people here are as determined now as ever to do their utmost to promote the rebellion.

Within a few days there as been considerable fluttering among the secesh in this vicinity. Gov. Johnson realizing the necessity for more vigorous action, has had arrested several ex-officials and sympathizers with the rebels. The State prison must be quite full of them, though there has been liberal shipments to the North. The good work goes on; may it continue until the Union is restored and respected.

Cars are running some fifty miles from here toward Corinth, on the Tennessee and Alabama RR., and also to Murfreesboro. This permits the legitimate trade of quite a large district of country to be carried on as of old, but the people hold back. Nashville is very dull, and has a prospect of continuing so. The season here is advanced, and the weather delightful, orchards in blossom, wheat has grown high enough to wave in the wind, and the forest trees are half leaved, and looking almost as green as ever.

I have been traveling some days in Kentucky since my last letter, and have sought to gain a correct idea of the political feelings prevailing there. The southern part of the State is woefully secesh; like the Tennesseeans [sic], they glory in their crime, and hope to perpetuate the forlorn enterprise in which they are engaged. Should the attempt to organize guerilla bands in this State succeed, the field of operations is certain to embrace the southern part of Kentucky. In all parts of that State the rebel cause has ample representation, and everything done by our Administration is if possible distorted so as to be used as an argument in favor of disunion. Our victories are diminished, our defeats magnified, and every vague rumor against us spread with the utmost pertinacity. They deny the most obvious inferences in relation to the conduct of the government officials, and lug into discussion with the utmost complacency things ridiculously improbable. It is good as a farce to hear some of them talk, and yet they have their influence, which is ever against us; sometimes social position makes it potent for evil.

In some, a very few, towns of the State, the feeling is so much in our favor that men from the rebel army, who formerly took offensively active parts, will not be allowed to return to their old homes to live. The Union men in such localities have too much feeling to yield the same leniency toward the offenders as the government does; and before the close of our troubles there will be many a terrible recounter between these determined Kentuckians. May God prosper the right.

I find small detachments of soldiers at most points guarding interests valuable to the government. With the army has gone the evidences of active life that accompanies it. An occasional wagon after stores rattles through the streets to-day, where a month since they came by hundreds. There is no dashing of couriers through the streets, no throng of officers at the hotels; convalescent soldiers struggle around the city, and a strong provost guard keeps perfect order. As things are, Nashville must be a pleasant city to live in.

D. Torrey

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday Morning, April 23, 1862, p. 2

No comments: