Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rumors in Nashville -- Rebel Credulity -- Brave Officers and Toadies

Correspondence of the Cincinnati Gazette

Nashville, Tenn., March 6.

The sympathizers with treason in this vicinity are consoling themselves with the idea that the retreat of the rebel generals and their forces was designed as a strategic movement, for the purpose of getting Gen. Buell on the south side of the Cumberland, so that whenever they desired so to do, they could easily gobble up him and his entire army.

Whether the men who profess to believe this are sincere or not, it is certain that this is only one of the many absurdities with which they daily undertake to console themselves or to deceive the ignorant.

And the nonsense which they circulate has not merely reference to the operations of our troops in portions of the country distant from here, but to what is transpiring in the immediate vicinity of Nashville.

As examples, let me record a few of the rumors which I heard in a single day.  I was crossing the river in a steamboat yesterday morning, when my attention was  attracted to a conversation which was going on between a Lieutenant of our army and a fat, bluffy gentleman, who, himself a bitter Secessionist, was performing the role of a Union man intensely alarmed for the safety of the Federal Army.

“I know your troops are brave,” said he to the Lieutenant, “but bravery has no chance against desperation, and the men in the Southern army are becoming very desperate, indeed.”

“Do you mean,” replied the Lieutenant, “that they so despair of their cause that they will always run, and thus give no opportunity to our brave boys to engage them?  Against such desperation I admit that bravery is of little avail.”

“Yes,” said the concealed Secesher, “they are in retreat now, but when they do make a stand, I know what sort of men they are, and I very much fear the result.”

“I know what sort of men they are, too,” rejoined the Lieutenant; “they are just the sort that attempted to stand against us at Mill Springs, and fled like frightened sheep at the first charge of the bayonet.”

“Well, well,” said they hypocrite, “you mustn’t count too much upon the battle of Mill Springs.  I am sure no one wishes better success to your cause than I; but we all perfectly understand, down here, that the reason why you gained that fight was that Gen. Crittenden was drunk, and after the death of Zollicoffer, was unable to command the army.”

“Then answered the Lieutenant, “the desperate courage of the rebel soldiers must be of little avail, if it can be turned into arrant cowardice by the drunkenness of one man.”

This seemed rather to puzzle the pretender; but when the Lieutenant proceeded to ask him if Gen. Tilghman was drunk at Fort Henry, and if Pillow, Floyd, et al., were drunk at Fort Donelson, he was unable longer to hid his cloven foot, and spitefully declared: “You’ll see how they thing will turn out!  Only last night there were seventy two of your pickets killed, and two pieces of your cannon taken by a small party of cavalry, not more than twenty in number!”

At this a loud [hoarse] laugh broke from a number of Union soldiers, who had gathered round, and so hearty was it, that even the Secession sympathizers in the crowd were constrained to join in, although they would fain have believed that the old rebel’s story was true.

The Lieutenant said not another word, but after bestowing one smile of contempt and scorn upon the unveiled traitor, rose up calmly and went away.  I should like very much to give you his name, but no one on board seemed to know it.  One thing I considered certain – that in his case, the emblems of military authority had been placed upon the solders of the right man.

And this reminds us of another instance of deserved rebuke to a secessionist, but one of our officers.

A very haughty looking scion of aristocracy stepped up to a group standing not far from the City Hotel.  A captain of one of the Ohio regiments was in the company, and was just re[marking that he considered the rebellion pretty] well played out.  “And isn’t it possible,” said the gent, who had come up a minute previous, “is it possible that you expect to crush the Southern people by force of arms?”

“Did you ever know of such a movement being put down by the bayonet?”

“O, yes! we had an instance in our country, when the whisky insurrection, in Pennsylvania was suppressed, during the administration of Washington.”

“You don’t pretend to compare this ware with the whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania?” said the nabob, with much apparent horror.

“Not in all respects,” replied the Captain, “for I consider this rebellion, stirred up by the devilish passions of a few disappointed politicians in the South, as infinitely more abominable than any outbreak which could be excited by bad whiskey, in Pennsylvania, or elsewhere.”

An old veteran, a resident of Nashville, who was listening, grasped the Captain by the hand: “God bless you!” said he, “that’s right! Don’t hesitate to tell them the truth.”  The secesh gent suddenly remembered, as the saying is, an engagement an another part of the town.

I record these instances of manly bearing with the more pleasure, because I have seen some disgusting exhibitions of toadyism on the part of certain officers in our army, toward the advocates of this wicked and bloody treason. – It exists generally in a latent form, but is pretty certain to show itself in the supporter of disloyalty happens to live in an elegant mansion, to have a hundred or so “niggers” around him and to sport a gold headed cane.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 15, 1862, p. 2

No comments: