CLARKSVILLE, Feb. 23. – A flag of truce arrived from Nashville yesterday, with 12 Surgeons who came down to take care of the wounded, whom the rebels left here in their recent hasty retreat. They say that Nashville is deserted by the rebel troops, and that the citizens are leaving the city very fast.
The enemy will make a stand at Murfreesboro’, which is 40 miles back in the country from Nashville. They are afraid of the mortars, and want to get away from the river out of their range.
Clarksville is a place of five thousand inhabitants, about one-half of whom are gone. The remainder are badly frightened.
I made a visit to Hon. Cave Johnson yesterday; he resides at Clarksville. Mr. Johnson was a powerful advocate of the Union until the war commenced, but is now as powerful on the other side. He says the only effect of our success will be to drive the people of Tennessee into the mountains and render them desperate.
There is not a spark of Union feeling here, and nobody pretends to disguise the fact that the people of Clarksville glory in secession, but at the same time are trembling least the town be burned.
The rebel leaders shipped 1,000 negroes away last week from Clarksville. What there are left are wide awake to the probable results of the campaign.
There was a full regiment from Clarksville at Ft. Donelson, all of whom are prisoners. – Most of them owned slaves, and there are lots of negroes here without masters. The inhabitants fear an insurrection, and some of the most intelligent say that it is inevitable.
People here had not the remotest idea that Fort Donelson would be taken. They had a grand jubilee the day the gun-boats were repulsed. A few hours later they scattered and ran. These who left think the surrender was rather a cowardly affair.
Floyd destroyed the splendid river bridge over the Cumberland at Nashville, and burned the Railroad bridge. Great indignation is felt by the citizens of Nashville at this vandalism.
They are entirely out of coal, and suffer for many articles.
Nashville was evacuated on Sunday; the stores were all closed and the citizens were leaving fast for Memphis and other points. The surgeons say that very little if any Union sentiment was there. The sympathy was all the other way.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 1, 1862, p. 3