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The Civil War Experience as Seen Through the Eyes of the Female Experience in Williamson County, Tennessee

The Civil War Experience as Seen Through the Eyes of the Female Experience in Williamson County, Tennessee

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Published by Kraig McNutt
This presentation (and it's images) is copyrighted 2008, The Williamson County Historical Society. I created the Powerpoint for the society. The Civil War Experience as Seen Through the Eyes of the Female Experience in Williamson County, Tennessee
This presentation (and it's images) is copyrighted 2008, The Williamson County Historical Society. I created the Powerpoint for the society. The Civil War Experience as Seen Through the Eyes of the Female Experience in Williamson County, Tennessee

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Published by: Kraig McNutt on Jun 20, 2011
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1878 Franklin Map

Sallie Florence McEwen: Sunday February 16, 1862. ―Fort Donelson has fallen. We are defeated. A great number of prisoners have been taken, among them a great number of our acquaintances. There is great panic in Nashville, the people are fleeing from there is in great numbers.‖

―The 18th of May, 1861, was the day set for the Williamson Greys, as they were called, to depart for Camp Cheatham, to be drilled for actual service, a never-to-be-forgotten day with the mothers, sweethearts and friends.

Early in the day, the Company was drawn up in front of the Presbyterian Church. After a prayer by the Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Morey, the soldiers were presented with a pocket testament. The thoughtless fellows, many of them, threw them in the mud puddles by the road side on their way to the station, others carried them through the war, and one was sent back from Atlanta, stained with the life blood of our young relative [Kit Ridley] who proved himself the ‗noblest Roman of them all‘. Three young men sacrificed their blood on their country‘s altar, Richard Irvin, Henry Walker, and Kit Ridley.‖

―My father [John B. McEwen] realizing that we were in range of the guns from both armies told us to run down into the cellar. We hastily threw a change of clothing into a bundle and obeyed at once. My mother [Cynthia Graham McEwen], who never knew what fear meant in her life, was a little reluctant to go and leave the upper part of the house to the tender mercies of soldiers, but she finally joined us in the basement. A few minutes later there was a crash and down came a deluge of dust and gravel. The usually placid face of our old black mammy, now thoroughly frightened, appeared on the scene. She said a cannon ball had torn a hole in the side of the meat house and broken her wash kettle to pieces. She left the supper on the stove and fled precipitately into the cellar.‖

Fannie Courtney: ―There were forty-four hospitals in total— three for the Federal wounded and the rest for the Confederates. Red flags were waving from unoccupied dwelling, the seminaries, churches, and every business house in town.‖

―My Mother and I took charge of a hundred and twenty wounded men, who occupied the Presbyterian Church, it being the largest Federal hospital, and with what we could spare assisted at another which was in a house owned by my mother and near our own home. When we first went to the hospital, the wounded men told us they had nothing to eat for two days. We first furnished them with bread, meat and tea, and coffee, every little luxury we could prepare, for several days. Then they drew scanty rations form the Rebels, flour the color of ashes and a little poor beef not suitable for well men, much less for wounded. All the cooking was done, and in truth, everything eatable furnished, at our house.‖

Sallie Hines McNutt: Events after the fall of Nashville- 1862 ―An army of 20,000 men under Gen. Buell took possession of Franklin, Tenn. on March 1st, 1862. Early one Sunday morning, the advance guard of Cavalry approached the town, broke ranks and the men scattered over the town, prying into every outhouse and back yard in search of concealed Confederates. Four of the most disreputable men in town suddenly became violent advocates of the Union and piloted these soldiers to our homes, and in many instances aided in the search. That day, Sunday, the Infantry and Artillery came into the town at 1 o‘clock p.m. They were the whole afternoon and late in the night passing. They encamped in Col. John McGavock‘s woodland, a half mile beyond our home on the Lewisburg Pike. Gen. Buell and Staff came out a few days later. Gen. Buell‘s army was under the strictest discipline. The rights of citizens was guarded; no soldier allowed to trespass on the property of anyone; nothing touched; not even a flower plucked. Through the week they were so orderly, so circumspect and quiet, all feeling of the intense dread that possessed everyone at the very sight of their presence, seemed to be quieted. Many of us felt that War was not such a terror after all. Alas! how deluded we were!‖

―The Methodist College, across the street from our front gate, was used as a hospital. As soon as the Army was located in the town, the hospital was filled with sick and wounded. They sent up two men right at once and carried our negro boys and men there to wait on the sick. They did not half feed them and worked them early and late. The soldiers that were employed to ‗press‘ help for the hospital, were expert thieves. The day they came for the negro men, one of the thieves turned back and ran up in the back gallery. I had just left the door open for a minute, heard someone come in, thought it was Reuben, looked around just in time to see him jerk up a handful of silver spoons and forks and run out. Of course, I was powerless. He went down to the hospital and showed the nurses in the presence of the negroes he had just carried down, what he got by going upon ―the hill.‖

―(Our house back in Franklin) It was so good for barracks for the troops for the morning we were banished, we had barely left the house before every blind was taken from the windows to the Fort [Granger] for tents. Soldiers moved in, but a short time elapsed before negroes from Ala. and Georgia were crowding in and they moved. The soldiers went back to the Fort leaving our house to the renegade negroes. We were compelled to leave my mother‘s piano and some very nice heavy bedsteads and other things in the house. It was very hard to find storage for a great many valuables. My piano had been moved from place to place many times before I saw it again. Ladies told me of going to the house to hire negroes and in my room my former cook, Ussie (known then in fashionable Yankee society as Mrs. Puryear) was cooking her dinner. On the andirons was a part of one of the square posts to one of my bedsteads and a piano leg, one end in the fire and the other out on the hearth, with the brass ornaments and roller burned black. The first negro school in Tennessee was in my house, known as The McNutt High School.‖

Mary Pearre: Sunday Night Feby, 9th, 1863 ―Have been visiting all day ought to make it a day lost. A Federal force is at Franklin, Cavalry scouting foraging and pressing horses and capturing ‗secesh‘ soldiers. I am fearful that Robert will be taken prisoner, not a dog barks but I imagine the yankees are coming. Oh when will it end, I told Mag to night I felt as I would go crazy, Oh that we could conquer a peace. I almost doubt the efficiency of a Republican form of government, ours has not yet seen a century. It is humiliating to reflect upon our glorious past and then compare it with the present, Oh! For a Washington, a Jefferson, a Hamilton or a Jackson or some such mighty spirits to guide us right and bring this devastating war to an end. At times I fondly imagine that Jefferson Davis our talented and farseeing president is the man. God grant that he may be.‖

Betty Baugh Ryman: ―Mother took all of us to the McGavock farm for safety. They began to bring in the wounded. Mrs. McGavock had a new bolt of domestic, which she gladly used for bandages. After this was exhausted, they used all of the bed linen. By and by the beds were full of wounded, and the floors and even in the yard. I waited on the wounded all night. A campfire was built at the feet of each wounded soldier for warmth. So many terrible things happened that I could write volumes on the subject.‖

Martha Cunningham Harrison: ―Oh, I should say so; he was mean as he could be. He had an overseer that went ‗round and whipped the niggers every morning, and they hadn‘t done a thing. He went to my father one morning and said,‘Bob, I‘m gonna whip you this morning.‘ Daddy said, ‗ain‘t done nothing,‘ and he said, ‗I know it, I‘m gonna whip you to keep from doing nothing,‘ and he hit him with that cowhide–you know it would cut the blood out of you with every lick if they hit you hard–and daddy was chopping cotton, so he just took up his hoe and chopped right down on that man‘s head and knocked his brains out. Yes‘m, it killed him, but they didn‘t put colored folks in jail then, so when old Charlie Merrill, the nigger trader, come along they sold my daddy to him, and he carried him way down in Mississippi. Old Merrill would buy all the time, buy and sell niggers just like hogs. They sold him Aunt Phoebe‘s little baby that was just toddling long, and Uncle Dick– that was my mammy‘s brother.‖

―My name is Bessie Royce. I am an exile with my mother and sister from my dear sweet home in Franklin, Middle Tennessee. I was ordered out of the Federal lines the 16th day of April, 1863, by General Granger. Four days before we received our orders, the Federals and Confederates fought around our house for three hours, but we were not alarmed in the least. On the contrary, my mother captured four guns and a lot of ammunition, and I captured a fine revolver by climbing over a fence seven feet high. We were left on the battlefield that night with the dead. The Feds refused to move them until the next day. They then buried the Confederates close by the side of us, but the precious Yankees were conveyed to the cemetery. As I said above, we received orders four days after, to leave their lines in three days. They then put guards around us so we could save nothing except our clothes.‖

America Cattles Carter: ―My friends are still in the South & my whole heart is with them, yet I must say that I am sick of this War & would to Heaven all would lay down their arms & go home.‖

Mary Alice McPhail Nichol: ―As evening came on the neighbors began to come in. Mr. and Mrs. Sykes and two children, Aunt Fannie, Aunt Dollie, my mother, Aunt Sallie McKinney Carter, Grandpa and all the neighbors [Albert Lotz family] began to go down in the cellar. Grandpa had already put rolls of rope in the windows. Of course, I did not realize what it all meant, but I soon found out it was to keep the bullets out. The Negroes crouched down in the dining room, and all the children and grandchildren and neighbors in the hall and cellar, and Grandpa walked back and forth and watching out the window. To the north he could see the Yankee soldiers all around the house, how I remember the first sound of the firing and the booming of the cannons. We children all sat around our mother and cried and every charge they made we could hear the Yankees running into the house to catch on fire. The Yankees ran down the cellar steps and hid and tried to get into the cellar and I remember the only way we had to fasten the door was to put a plank under it. Grandpa talked pretty rough to them. When we came out of the cellar, and they were all on the steps. Grandpa had to push them out so we could come up the steps. It was between one and two o‘clock in the morning and such a sight we saw I can never forget. The house was full of soldiers, the parlor carpet was wet with blood. Most of the wounded had been taken away and the whole house was open and the soldiers coming and going all over the house. I remember seeing a lot of soldiers in Yankee uniform coming down the stairs with a confederate officer, he had captured them in the upstairs room over the parlor. There were thirty of them and they had never fired a gun, but hid in the house during the Battle.‖

Sallie Ewing Carter: ―On one occasion, Mrs. T. Handy, who was a very timid and quiet lady, was out on the street and stopped on the corner where the Arlington Hotel now stands [First Tennessee Bank in 2007] and spoke to a lady friend. While they were talking, a precession passed taking a soldier to bury. Just as they passed Mrs. Handy laughed at something her friend said. An officer saw her right then and as soon as the burial was over he had her arrested, saying she was laughing at his dead. And he said if it were ever repeated that she would be sent through the lines. Mrs. Handy never laughed on the street again during the war. Not long after this Mr. and Mrs. Handy were sent through the lines and their house taken for headquarters.‖

Ex-Confederate Resolution: ― . . . We, citizens and ex-Confederate soldiers of Williamson County, have heard with deep regret of the untimely death of our fellowcitizen, Gen. James P. Brownlow. He came to us during the war a stranger and an enemy, holding the rank of Colonel in the Federal army. Even while occupying this relation he won the admiration of our soldiers for his valor, and the kindness and justice to noncombatants. He was thoroughly imbued with the courage and chivalry of the Tennessean. He lived long enough with us after the war to change our esteem and respect into affection; therefore, Resolved, that we deplore his early death, which has taken from us one of the noblest and truest of men, and blighted our hopes, which looked towards his future usefulness as a man and a citizen.‖

C.B. Ruggles, Relief Agent U.S. Sanitary Commission: ―Too much cannot be said in regard to the untiring exertions of the ladies of Franklin—nearly every family have labored as their inclinations led them, either for Union men or Confederates. I am pleased to mention those whom I know to have done all in their power for our own men; Mrs. [Elizabeth] Hoffman (a widow lady with two or three children and dependent on her own exertions for support), and Mrs. [Perkins] Priest, aided by Mrs. [Henry] Eelbeck, were the first to visit our wounded. They carried every day pails of soup and coffee, and also biscuits prepared by their own hands to the battlefield, and fed our boys till they were removed to hospitals, which was not accomplished for four days.‖

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