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CHAP. IV. rebel General Zollicoffer's earliest duty had been to
overawe the Union sentiment of East Tennessee and protect the important railroad line connecting distant parts of the Confederacy, the possession of which was indispensable to its military operations. Despite his vigilance, Union arms and ammunition were smuggled in and secret combinations begun. Between rigorous military repression on one side and chronic Union uprising on the other, a desperate condition of affairs grew up, still further embittered by the gradual development of a malignant persecution of bolder Unionists in the civil tribunals of the State-an evil of which Jefferson Davis himself felt obliged to take notice.
All summer long President Lincoln heard with sympathy, from Andrew Johnson and others, the reports of the patriotism and sufferings of their people. It will be remembered that in the memorandum made by him after Bull Run, he suggested a military movement from Cincinnati on East Tennessee. Since the culmination of affairs in Ken
1 Robertson Topp writing to to poison the minds of the people Robert Josselyn under date of against the Government, and if October 26, 1861, says:
tolerated and persisted in, the “More than one hundred per- people of that end of the State sons have been arrested in East at a critical moment will rise up Tennessee, without warrants in enemies instead of friends. You some cases, marched great dis- ask me who makes these arrests. tances, and carried into court on As far as I can learn they are no other charge than that they instigated by a few malicious, were Union men.
troublesome men in and about “I have spent much time this Knoxville. . ." summer and fall in trying to con
(Indorsement.] ciliate the people of East Ten "Referred to the Secretary of nessee. I thought I had succeeded. War, that such inquiry may be Just as the people were quieting made and action taken as will down, getting reconciled, raising prevent, as far as we may, such volunteers, etc., they commenced proceedings as are herein dethese arrests, which have gone far scribed.
tucky, with the prospect of early active operations, Chap. IV. such a project had acquired a new importance. Late in September he went to the War Department and made the following memorandum, which, though not in the form of an express order, was nevertheless intended as a substantial direction of military affairs :
On or about the 5th of October (the exact day to be determined hereafter) I wish a movement made to seize and hold a point on the railroad connecting Virginia and Tennessee, near the mountain pass called Cumberland Gap. That point is now guarded against us by Zollicoffer, with six or eight thousand rebels, at Barboursville, Kentucky, say twenty-five miles from the Gap towards Lexington. We have a force of five or six thousand, under General Thomas, at Camp Dick Robinson, about twenty-five miles from Lexington and seventy-five from Zollicoffer's camp, on the road between the two. There is not a railroad anywhere between Lexington and the point to be seized, and along the whole length of which the Union sentiment among the people largely predominates. We have military possession of the railroad from Cincinnati to Lexington and from Louisville to Lexington, and some Home Guards, under General Crittenden, are on the latter line. We have possession of the railroad from Louisville to Nashville, Tennessee, so far as Muldraugh's Hill, about forty miles, and the rebels have possession of that road all south of there. At the Hill we have a force of eight thousand, under General Sherman, and about an equal force of rebels is a very short distance south, under General Buckner.
We have a large force at Paducah, and a smaller at Fort Holt, both on the Kentucky side, with some at Bird's Point, Cairo, Mound City, Evansville, and New Albany, all on the other side; and all which, with the gunboats on the river, are perhaps sufficient to guard the Ohio from Louisville to its mouth.
About supplies of troops my general idea is, that all from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and
CHAP. IV. Kansas. Aot now elsewhere, be left to Frémont. All from
Indians and Michigan, not now elsewhere, be sent to An. derson at Louisville. All from Ohio needed in Western Virginia be sent there, and any remainder be sent to Mitchel, at Cincinnati, for Anderson. All east of the mountains be appropriated to McClellan and to the coast.
As to movements my idea is, that the one for the coast and that on Cumberland Gap be simultaneous, and that in the mean time preparation, vigilant watching, and the defensive only be acted upon, this, however, not to apply to Frémont's operations in Northern and Middle Missouri. That before these movements Thomas and Sherman shall respectively watch but not attack Zollicoffer and Buckner. That when the coast and Gap movements shall be ready Sherman is merely to stand fast, while all at Cincinnati and all at Louisville, with all on the line, concentrate rapidly at Lexington, and thence to Thomas's camp, joining him, and the whole thence upon the Gap. It is for the military men to decide whether they can find a pass through the mountains at or near the Gap which cannot be defended by the enemy with a greatly inferior force, and what is to be done in regard to this.
The coast and Gap movements made, Generals Mc
Clellan and Frémont, in their respective departments, Series III., will avail themselves of any advantages the diversions pp. 465, 466. may present.
Notwithstanding President Lincoln's earnest interest in this project, and the almost express order above quoted, one obstacle after another arose to prevent its being carried out. The special attention of General Thomas was also upon it. A brigade of East Tennesseeans was being enlisted at Camp Dick Robinson, who came there because they could not with safety be organized in their own homes, under the eyes of Zollicoffer. From them, and more especially from Lieutenant Carter, Th mas obtained such current information as made him
Oct. 4, 1861.
W. R. Vol. IV.,
Oct. 13, 1861.
W. R. Vol. IV.,
anxious to lead an expedition through Cumberland Chap. IV. Gap. He several times recommended the movement; asking General Anderson (October 4) for four good regiments, with transportation and ammunition, and adding: “I believe if I could get such a force here, and be ready to march in ten days from this time, that I could seize on the rail- Thomas to road at Knoxville and cut off all communication between Memphis and Virginia." The Washington authorities meanwhile, probably uninformed of General Thomas's spirit and confidence, designated General O. M. Mitchel for the duty. This apparent slight touched General Thomas's pride, and he Oct. 11, 1861. asked to be relieved. Sherman, however, interfered, IV., p. 303. informing him that Mitchel was subject to his Sherman to command, and intimating that he (Thomas) would not be robbed of his opportunity. While the Secretary of War was visiting Sherman, as already mentioned, he also urged upon the general his personal desire “ that the Cumberland Ford and Gap should be seized, and the East Tennessee and Thomas to Virginia Railroad taken possession of, and the Oct. 21, 1861. artery that supplied the rebellion cut.” We have IV., p. 314. seen that Sherman was in no mood for the enterprise; that on the contrary he wanted large reënforcements for defense. And though Thomas once more (November 5) earnestly suggested that with four more good regiments “we could seize the railroad yet”; and again,
“ With my headquarters at Somerset I can easily seize the most favor- Thomas to able time for invading East Tennessee, which ought to be done this winter,” Sherman expressed pp. 338, 339. his belief that they would have enough to do in Kentucky, and directed Thomas simply to hold
Nov. 5, 1861. W. R.
Nov. 5, 1861.
Nov. 6, 1861.
W. R. Vol. IV.,
CHAP. IV. Zollicoffer in check and await events. Indeed, Thomas, from this time forward, Sherman grew more and
more apprehensive, till at length he could scarcely
endure his great responsibility. “Our forces too "Memoirs" small to do good and too large to sacrifice," he re
ported on November 3. “The future looks dark
as possible,” he again wrote to Washington NovemShermanto ber 6th ; “it would be better if some more sanguine
mind were here, for I am forced to order according to my convictions."
Sherman has himself recorded that a certain degree of public clamor had arisen about his military
administration in Kentucky, and particularly that Sherman,, he was charged in unfriendly newspapers with
being insane; when, therefore, he was soon after relieved from command, he attributed it to this cause. This belief was altogether incorrect. The fact that he had asked to be relieved, and had no faith in his own ability to perform the service required with the means furnished, sufficiently accounts for the change. But there exists in addition positive evidence that the President was in no wise influenced by the newspaper slander. Upon a letter from Mr. Guthrie, indicating that the Union
1 “I find many of the Union his policy of a line of assault and men of the State are anxious defense required more troops than that General Sherman should re- could be spared without intermain and lead our advance. They fering with other plans adopted do not see the difficulty as it pre- or cherished by the Commandersents itself to me. I suppose in-Chief and higher councils at that although General Sherman Washington. In my judgment has been superseded at his own there is but one way for the Govrequest that it was all the more ernment to have the services of readily done because the line of General Sherman in Kentucky, policy for the army assembled in and that is to make General Kentucky pressed from Washing- Buell a major-general and reton was different from that his quest General Sherman to report judgment dictated, and because to him.