previous next

“ [212] surrounded, and must surrender. They are not made of steel. Our soldiers have fought as bravely as ever soldiers did; but they cannot hold out day after day, against fresh forces and such odds. I cannot make men. Stay at home. Tell all your friends from me to stay at home. I cannot make a fight before Nashville, and, for the good of the city, shall retire. I know Gen. Buell well. He is a gentleman, and will not suffer any violence to peaceable citizens, or disturb private property.”

It might have been well if the General had issued a proclamation. He and staff crossed the bridge that night at eleven o'clock. Gen. Breckinridge followed, and your correspondent followed soon after.

The question has often been asked: “Why didn't the people of Nashville make a stand? What! give up their city without striking a blow?”

The people were astonished and indignant at the way they were handed over to the enemy's mercy and occupation. But what could they do? When generals, and armed and drilled soldiers, give up and retire, what can unarmed and undisciplined citizens do before a foe advancing by land and water?

“Throw brickbats at them,” said one. Indeed! that would be well enough, if the enemy would deal in the same missiles.

The bones of Gen. Jackson, the defender of New-Orleans, must have turned in his grave, at the Hermitage, a few miles away, at such a surrender.

A few months before, on urgent call, every man who had a rifle or double-barrel gun, had brought it forward and given it up for army service. Not fifty serviceable guns could our citizens have mustered. No, not even pikes, though they had just enrolled themselves and resolved to have them made, and if Gen. Johnston made a stand before the city, they were resolved to stand with him. Such of them as were not willing to be surrendered to the uncovenanted mercies of Lincolndom, with the prospect of having the oath tendered them or the bastile, followed the retiring army.

After taking my family as far as Decatur, I returned to Nashville on Wednesday. The stores were closed and bolted; the streets deserted, save by a guard here and there, and a press-gang taking up every man they could find, and sending him to load government pork into barges, upon which it was being taken up the river, and put out of the enemy's way. Had a stand been made before the city, or even a feint of a stand, no doubt all the government stores could have been removed safely. As it is, vast amounts have been thrown away, wasted, given out, both from the quartermaster's and commissary's departments. At one time the doors were thrown open to whomsoever would, under the impression that they had better let the poor have these provisions than the enemy, who was expected instantly. A friend said he saw quantities of meat lying on the roadside, where persons, having overloaded their carts, had thrown it out. Barrels of flour, sacks of coffee, tierces of lard and meat, were rolled into private houses and back-yards, with hundreds of boxes of candles, belts of cloth, etc. Afterwards this order was countermanded, as the enemy was not exactly at the door, and a guard placed over the stores, and an effort made to get them off by railroad and boat. Private carriages, hacks and carts, were stopped in the street and pressed into service, and some of my friends had to get their baggage to the station in wheel-barrows. Advantage was taken of the confusion and dismay of the hour for private injustice and irresponsible oppression. The selfishness developed in such a crisis is humiliating.

. . . . . .

The opinion prevails there that Nashville will be burnt, first or last — if not when we leave it, then when we drive the enemy out of it. For Tennesseeans are resolved that the enemy shall not rest on their soil. Gen. Floyd and staff left Thursday morning, and it was understood that Capt. John H. Morgan, with his company, would retire slowly, as the enemy in force entered. The Louisiana cavalry, Col. Scott, were near Franklin, on their way to the vicinity of Nashville, where they will act as scouts and hold the enemy closely in bounds.

As far out as Brentwood, Franklin and Columbia, some people are leaving their homes and sending off their slaves. Others, deeply-committed Southerners, stand and risk the consequences. They look for inconveniences and heavy losses, staying or going.

In reply to the question often asked, whether any Union element has been developed by these events: There was always some of this element in Nashville, but in very inconsiderable proportion to the population. Let Unionists show their hands and heads now; it is hoped they will. We have friends enough left to watch them; and when the tide of war rolls back, the country will finally be purged of them, for they will have to leave with the Lincoln army.

The great mass of Tennesseeans, especially Middle and West, are sound to the core, and thoroughly aroused for the first time. They chafe under the humiliation and disgrace of the surrender of their capital. Those that can will move their families out of the reach of immediate harm, and return to face the foe on a hundred fields. The great battles of the war are to be fought in the West. This is but the beginning. The people realize now what is at stake, and they will measure out wealth and blood without stint.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Unionists (1)
Julian A. Scott (1)
John H. Morgan (1)
A. S. Johnston (1)
C. F. Jackson (1)
Franklin (1)
John B. Floyd (1)
D. C. Buell (1)
Joseph C. Breckinridge (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: