Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Thursday, May 28, 1863

I arrived at Chattanooga (Tennessee) at 4.30 Am., and fell in with Captain Brown again; his negro recognised me, and immediately rushed up to shake hands.

After breakfasting at Chattanooga, I started again at 7.30, by train, for Shelbyville, General Bragg's headquarters. This train was crammed to repletion with soldiers rejoining their regiments, so I was constrained to sit in the aisle on the floor of one of the cars. I thought myself lucky even then, for so great was the number of military, that all “citizens were ordered out to make way for the soldiers; but my grey shooting-jacket and youthful appearance saved me from the imputation of being a “citizen.” Two hours later, the passport officer, seeing who I was, procured me a similar situation in the ladies’ car, where I was a little better off. After leaving Chattanooga the railroad winds alongside of the Tennessee river, the banks of which are high, and beautifully covered with trees — the river itself is wide, and very pretty; but from my position in the tobacco-juice I was unable to do justice to the scenery. I saw stockades at intervals all along the railroad, which were constructed by the Federals, who occupied all this country last year.

On arriving at Wartrace at 4 P.M., I determined to remain there, and ask for hospitality from General Hardee, as I saw no prospect of reaching Shelbyville in decent time. Leaving my baggage with the provost marshal at Wartrace, I walked on to General Hardee's headquarters, which were distant about two miles from the railroad . They were situated in a beautiful country, green, undulating, full of magnificent trees, principally beeches, and the scenery was by far the finest I had seen in America as yet.

When I arrived I found that General Hardee was in company with General Polk and Bishop Elliott of Georgia, and also with Mr Vallandigham. The latter (called the Apostle of Liberty) is a good-looking man, apparently not much over forty, and had been turned out of the North three days before. Rosecrans had wished to hand him over to Bragg by flag of truce; but as the latter declined to receive him in that manner, he was, as General Hardee expressed it, dumped down in the neutral ground between the lines, and left there. He then received hospitality from the Confederates in the capacity of a destitute stranger. They do not in any way receive him officially, and it does not suit the policy of either party to be identified with one another. He is now living at a private house in Shelbyville, and had come over for the day, with General Polk, on a visit to Hardee. He told the generals, that if Grant was severely beaten in Mississippi by Johnston, he did not think the war could be continued on its present great scale.

When I presented my letters of introduction, General Hardee received me with the unvarying kindness and hospitality which I had experienced from all other Confederate officers. He is a fine soldierlike man, broad-shouldered and tall. He looks rather like a French officer, and is a Georgian by birth. He bears the reputation of, being a thoroughly good soldier, and he is the author of the drill-book still in use by both armies. Until quite lately he was commanding officer of the military college at West Point. He distinguished himself at the battles of Corinth and Murfreesborough, and now commands the 2d corps d’armée of Bragg's army. He is a widower, and has the character of being a great admirer of the fair sex. During the Kentucky campaign last year he was in the habit of availing himself of the privilege of his rank and years, and insisted upon kissing the wives and daughters of all the Kentuckian farmers. And although he is supposed to have converted many of the ladies to the Southern cause, yet in many instances their male relatives remained either neutral or undecided. On one occasion General Hardee had conferred the “accolade” upon a very pretty Kentuckian, to their mutual satisfaction, when, to his intense disgust, the proprietor produced two very ugly old females, saying, “Now, then, general, if you kiss any you must kiss them all round,” which the discomfited general was forced to do, to the great amusement of his officers, who often allude to this contretemps.

Another rebuff which he received, and about which he is often chaffed by General Polk, was when an old lady told him he ought really to “leave off fighting at his age. “Indeed, madam,” replied Hardee, “and how old do you take me for?” “Why, about the same age as myself — seventy-five.” The chagrin of the stalwart and gallant general, at having twenty years added to his age, may be imagined.

Lieutenant-General Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana, who commands the other corps d'armée, is a goodlooking, gentlemanlike man, with all the manners and affability of a “grand seigneur.” He is fifty-seven years of age — tall, upright, and looks much more the soldier than the clergyman. He is very rich; and I am told he owns seven hundred negroes. He is much beloved by the soldiers on account of his great personal courage and agreeable manners. I had already heard no end of anecdotes of him told me by my travelling companions, who always alluded to him with affection and admiration. In his clerical capacity I had always heard him spoken of with the greatest respect. When I was introduced to him he immediately invited me to come and stay at his headquarters at Shelbyville. He told me that he was educated at West Point, and was at that institution with the President, the two Johnstons, Lee, Magruder, &c, and that, after serving a short time in the artillery, he had entered the church.

Bishop Elliott, of Georgia, is a nice old man of venerable appearance and very courteous manners. He is here at the request of General Polk, for the purpose of confirming some officers and soldiers. He speaks English exactly like an English gentleman, and so, in fact, does General Polk, and all the well-bred Southerners, much more so than the ladies, whose American accent can always be detected. General Polk and Mr Vallandigham returned to Shelbyville in an ambulance at 6.30 P.”. General Hardee's headquarters were on the estate of Mrs –––, a very hospitable lady. The two daughters of the General were staying with her, and also a Mrs –––, who is a very pretty woman. These ladies are more violent against the Yankees than it is possible for a European to conceive; they beat their male relations hollow in their denunciations and hopes of vengeance. It was quite depressing to hear their innumerable stories of Yankee brutality, and I was much relieved when, at a later period of the evening, they subsided into music. After Bishop Elliott had read prayers, I slept in the same room with General Hardee.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 136-41

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