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daunted by the dar L fate that threatened him. Nor were theso anticipations groundless, for during his stay there, many a brave man left that prison to mee£ a violent death, and he had no reason to expect a happier destiny.
During the closing months of the summer and fall the hopes of the people -were excited by promises of aid from the government. Loud and earnest appeals were made for help, and with the energy of despair the people clung to their principles, through every species of persecution, robbery, arson, and imprisonment. Hundreds were hung or assassinated, and the records of Tennessee are among the most heart-rending that this war for the Union will leave to posterity.
The position of the rebel armies in western Tennessee was at that time very strong, but the importance of keeping their lines of communication open with the Atlantic States was great, and thoroughly understood by the loyalists. To cut these lines was to the Federals a work of pressing necessity; and in view of the probable redemption of East Tennessee, the loyalists organized, and on the night of November 8 they destroyed several bridges, and broke the lines. Two of these were on the Georgia State road, two on Chickainanye Creek, Hamilton county, and one on the East Tennessee and Georgia railroad, on Hiawassee river, Bradley county. Besides these, two bridges on the East Tennessee and Georgia railroad on Lick Creek, Green County, and another on Holstein river, were also burned. The rebels were thrown into consternation by these events, and their leaders took the most active measures to arrest and punish the perpetrators. A correspondence between some of the prominent men ensued, and a large portion of the letters was discovered among other papers and effects captured after the battle of Mill Spring, which took place on the 19th of January, 1862. This correspondence, in which the names Colonel William B. Wood und General F. K. Zollicoffer appear, prove that the majority of the people were unalterably for the Union, and that they could only be restrained by the most oppressive and cruel measures. Colonel Wood wrote to J. P. Benjamin, the Secretary of War, asking what disposition should be made of the bridge-burners, to which Mr. Benjamin replied— "All such as can be identified as having been engaged in bridge-burning are to be tried summarily by drum-head court-martial, and if found guilty, executed on the spot by hanging. It would be well to leave their bodies hanging in the vicinity of the burnt bridges."
The loyalists were encouraged in their cause by the devotion of Hon. Andrew Johnson, U. S. Senator, and Hon. Horace Maynard, M. C, for Tennessee, whose eloquent and powerful appeals, and confident assurances of aid, cheered the hearts of the people.
Thousands of East Tennesseeans escaped by night, wandering along unfrequented roads, until they reached Kentucky, where they organized regiments, under the direction of the Federal commanders. Their cherished desire was to return to their own State, witfc a powerful army, and redeem their soil. The atrocity of the rebel guerrillas drove them almost to a passion of revenge, and when disappointed at the announcement that their time had not come, and that they must await a more favorable condition of the army, hundreds of them, when ordered to retreat from the border lines of their State, strayed from the ranks, despairing and heart-sick, and falling down by the way, wept bitterly. Several of them, exhausted by hard labor and forced marches, never rose again, but were afterwards found dead on»the road to Mount Vernon.
On the 26th of November the house of a gentleman named Bell was attacked by an armed party of the enemy and set on tire. The inmates, a large family of nine persons, were consigned to the flames. Two alone of the whole household escaped this horrible fate.
On the 29th a band of twenty-one Union prisoners at Nashville were compelled to take the oath of allegiance, and enter a company in the rebel army.
Leadbetter, the secession commander in East Tennessee, had his headquarters at Greenville, and on the 30th of November issued a proclamation promising protection and pardon to all who would lay down their arms and submit to the Confederate government. From this clemency he excepted bridge-burners and destroyers of railroad tracks. He closed his proclamation with the assurance that "they will be tried by drumhead court-martial, and be hung on the spot." This terrible order was put into execution a few days afterward. Jacob M. Ilemslier and Henry Fry, two Unionists, being tried and pronounced guilty of these offences, were hung.
The days of hope for the Unionists were weary and prolonged, but deliverance was drawing nigh. The loyal men of the western part of the State organized to oppose the measures of the leaders, and early in January a bold resistance was made in Carroll, Weakly, McNairy, and other counties, against the conscription act. Rebel troops were sent into these counties to compel submission, and enforce obedience.
The defeat and death of Zollicoffer, the breaking up of his army, and the destruction of his stronghold, at last gave a brilliant promise to these persecuted people that their deliverance was drawing nigh. This event, succeeded in a few weeks by the capture of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, the evacuation of Bowling Green and Columbus, and the occupation of Nashville, filled every true heart with rejoicing, and the good old flag onco more swept its folds freely over the houses of East Tennessee.
The appointment of Hon. Andrew Johnson as military governor of
Tennessee was greeted with enthusiasm by the people. His'reputation and conservative principles were a guarantee for the character of his administration, and he soon began to rally to his support the wavering and timid of the people who were still apprehensive that the Confederates would return and restore their rule.
Parson Brownlow, after having borne a long and severe confinement in prison, in which his health suffered terribly, was released, and sent beyond the military lines of the Confederates. His reception by the Federal guards was enthusiastic and joyous' in the extreme. As soon as his health permitted he visited several cities in the West, where he was greeted with overwhelming demonstrations of popular admiration and respect. On his arrival at New York, May 17th, he was honored with a public reception at the Academy of Music, which was densely filled with a brilliant audience, eager to welcome him.
OAPTUBE 0F POET HENEY, TENN.
Febkuary 6, 1862.
The brilliant victory obtained by General Thomas' army over the Confederate forces at Mill Spring, on the 19th of January, laid open the rebel lines to the successful advance of the Federal arms, and served to stimulate the commanders of the land and naval forces to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded.
Previous to the battle of Mill Spring, General Grant, with a large force, had left Cairo and marched toward Columbus, for the purpose of reconnoitering the country, and to prevent rebel reinforcements moving from that point to the assistance of General Buckner, at Bowling Green, Ky., who was then threatened by the approach of General Buell's army. Upon the return of General Grant's division to Cairo, a combined movement of the land and naval forces was determined on for the purpose of capturing Fort Henry, on the Tennessee river, in Henry county, Tenn., just beyond the Kentucky State line.
Fort Henry and its approaches were reconnoitered on the 21st January by the United States gunboat Lexington, with a view to ascertain its strength and the position of the rebels. She went within two miles of the fort, and flung a number of shells into it without eliciting any reply. At first it was thought the rebels had evacuated the work, but on approaching it still nearer pickets were discovered at various points. The heavy guns on the work were seen distinctly; also a number of fieldpieces. In addition to the fort proper, numerous earthworks had been thrown up on a high bluff above the fort, on the west bank of the river. This additional work, named Fort Hieman, commanded Fort Henry.