New York Times, more headlines, December 25, 1864

THE WAR IN TENNESSEE.; AFFAIRS BEFORE THE BATTLE. General Aspect of the Situation The Gunboats Depredations by the Rebels Miscellaneous.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Saturday, Dec. 10, 1864. THE REBEL SITUATION. The great Austrian Field-Marshal Prince DELIGNE, was an extensive letter writer. In his correspondence with the Emperor JOSEPH, in 1789, at one time, he wrote: “Here we are in this bulwark of the east, the gates of which we have not opened with rosy fingers, like Aurora, but with flaming fingers. The boldness and promptitude with which he crossed the Sare, the rapidity of his march to occupy the lines of Prince EUGENE, his audaciousness [The publication of the following letter, relating to the situation in Tennesse before the recent battle, has been deterred in consequence of the pressure upon our columns. But they have lost none of their interest.] — ED. TIMES. in reconnoitering as far as the palisades, and all this performed in a fortnight, are exploits worthy of the most splendid epoch in Marshal LANDON’s life.” In a short time after, DE LIONE wrote as follows: “If we had provisions, we should march; if we had balls and bombs, we should fight.” Now, it strikes me that Hoop is in pretty much the same embarrassing situation in 1864, near the Cumberland River, that DE LIGNE was in 1789, on the banks of the Sare. HOOD’s army has made a tremendous march; and, after surmounting innumerable barriers and minor obstacles, is thundering at the very outskirts of this city. But that his supply of food and ammunition is exceedingly small, no one attempts to question. It is universally conceded that in the latter particular, HOOD stands in great need. He fell upon our columns at Franklin four lines deep with unbounded vehemence and fury, and made our sturdy men waver, right in the face of the most galling and disastrous artillery demonstrations imaginable. Had HOOD been provided with sufficient cannon and a plenty of ammunition of the grape and canister order, with the grace of God, there might have been a slight difference in the situation. HOOD, at Franklin, worked under advantages and disadvantages, which will over give him historic mention. He had nearly three times our number of men, but we had artillery and position, the former of which we used to some purpose. The country in which the rebel army is located, and its rear, is quite rich, and will subsist HOOD’s men and animals for some time. A large amount of grain of all kinds was raised in Giles, Bedford, Maury, Williamson, Rutherford and Davidson Counties, while nearly all the planters and farmers are wealthy. Horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs a bound in Middle Tennessee, and considerable attention had been paid to the raising of stock this season on account of the fabulously high prices paid for everything in the shape of provisions and grain by our Government. Large portions of Middle Tennessee, however, were put to cotton this year, the plantations, as a general thing, having been leased and run by northern men. Many crops were baled, and awaiting transportation, which, for some unknown and unkind reason, the Government has persistently refused to permit. It is feared that millions of dollars worth of this precious article will be destroyed. You will perceive that in the way of food there is no danger of HOOD’s army starving yet awhile. This is due, in a measure, to the magnanimity of our Government, which has treated, from the occupation of Nashville, nearly three years ago, Tennesseeans with unwarlike considerations. Had our agents and quartermasters taken from these disloyal Tennesseeans all but the necessaries of life, HOOD’s army could not have existed in a stationary position this long. He has to wagon his ammunition, and that portion of his supplies which he cannot pick up south of Nashville, from Florence. The Tennessee and Alabama Railroad is almost a complete wreck; but even if it were not, our forces removed all the rolling stock. If HOOD intends to attack this city, his delay must be occasioned by his lack of ammunition. He cannot certainly be expecting reinforcements, as there are none for him there are a multiplicity of rumors afloat, in regard to BEECKINRIDGE “coming up,” but we don’t happen to see it in that light, yet a while, in the least. If he does “come up,” he must take a mighty circuitous route — BRECKINRIDGE’s army cannot move through East Tennessee now. The rebel army in our front maintains about the same position that it did just one week ago, with the exception that HOOD has extended his line upon his left, and moved up portions of his centre a few hundred feet. Back of the rebel front whole forests are disappearing with astonishing rapidity. For firewood, alone, the enemy consumes an awful amount, while it is known that he is building strong lines of works some four miles south of the city. THE FEDERAL SITUATION. The Federal situation, since my last, remains materially unchanged. During the existing calm our breastworks and rifle-pits have been strengthened, and all of the hilts and detached mountainous spurs south and west have been converted into elaborate forts. The destruction of the country south of this city, including the very suburbs of Nashville, is almost complete. Whole forests have been leveled, beautiful groves which existed a week ago are no more, while all the farms and plantations about have been made desolate by the devastating genii of war. Horses and negroes, and wagons of every description, have been pressed into the service; cattle and hogs are among the things that were, most of which fell into the hands of “private” foraging parties; houses, outhouses; fences, &c., have been destroyed, either through accident, vandalism, or military necessity. The only consoling thought accompanying this state of affairs is the fact that there are very few Union people to suffer. Very few of the wealthy residents of Nashville, or Davidson County, are, or ever have been loyal. Many of them have taken oaths of allegiance until they know them by heart; but that didn’t make them loyal. I tell you what it is, you can tell a Secessionist just as quick as you look at one, if you only know how. Not merely because he hates ANDREW JOHNSON and reads the Cincinnati Enquirer, but because his complaint is chronic, and he shows it in his face. INCIDENTS. The gunboats have had several fights in the past three days, every engagement resulting successfully to our iron-clads. Twice since the fight which I informed you of in my last, have the rebels tried to block up the Cumberland River, and twice have their batteries been dismounted by Commodore FITCH. The fight on Thursday was quite an earnest and exciting affair, but not of a sanguinary nature. For three hours four of our iron-clads hammered away at eighteen guns which the enemy had mounted some thirteen miles down the river. At the expiration of that time eight of the guns were dismounted and ten hauled off. Our boats Here not injured, and we lost no men. Very few on our side have been injured during the past four days — probably twenty exceeds our loss in killed and wounded. Their sharpshooters occasionally crawl up close enough to shoot some gunner dead. Two men of the Sixth Ohio Battery, which has been in constant use for nine days, were killed Friday morning. Two of our batteries have been firing day and night. They are located near Mrs. ACKLIN’s residence, and have destroyed quite a number of superb mansions. All of the fine houses south of here are full of rebels, who have been constantly annoyed by the above-named batteries. Fort Negley fires an occasional shell, which generally goes upon an important mission, and generally performs it, too. It has the honor of smashing up the residences of Mrs. BUCKLEY, Mr. FELIX RAINS, the latter being killed, and Mrs. AARON V. BROWN’s fine buildings at Melrose Park, The destruction of property by our artillery stone during the past week, approximates a million of dollars. Many buildings within the rebel lines have been burned during the week, although no cause can be given but accident. All houses upon the enemy’s side are protections for sharpshooters, and, of course, their preservation, not their destruction, is requisite. It has all along been feared that HOOD, while boldly performing in our immediate front, might suddenly turn, throw his entire force upon Murfreesboro, pass through and burn the bridge at Bridgeport, and settle at Chattanooga and Knoxville, Now, maybe, this was his programme, for he sent a portion of CHEATHAM’s corps to Murfreesboro, when ROUSSEAU, who is in command, sent out two brigades under MILROY, who attacked the rebels under Gen. BATE, of this city, six miles from our fortifications, and after a fair field fight, drove the enemy off with a loss of three hundred prisoners and six pieces of artillery. MILROY subsequently went back to his fort, carrying with him his captives and cannon. At one time it was reported that Gen. GRANGER’s brigade had been captured, and as no news could be had from the South we were at a loss to know what had become of Gen, GRANGER and his brigade, which had been ordered to Stevenson as soon as the evacuation of Huntsville should be made complete. In fact, what had become of Knoxville, Chattanooga, Bridgeport, Stevenson and Murfreesboro, was not known outside of those places, until Friday, when the telegraph was reestablished via Cumberland Gap. and immediately Gen. THOMAS received the good news that all of the above named places, including ROUSSEAU’s command at Murfreesboro, GRANGER’s at Stevenson, MEAGHER’s at Chattanooga and STONEMAN’s at Knoxville, were safe. The dispatch also gave the cheering intelligence of MILROY’s victory over BATE, and of STONEMAN’s advance in East Tennessee. COOPER’s brigade, which was given up as lost, made its appearance at Clarksville a few days ago, and is on its way here. It marched from Centreville to within ten miles of Nashville, where HOOD had prepared a trap to gobble the command. Some patriot informed COOPER of the situation, when he turned his command toward Clarksville and marched it twenty miles at night, making fifty-one miles in twenty-four hours. This is the best march of the war. Up to the present time no doubt exists as to the rebel army being in our front in great force. Yesterday was a frightful day, a violent storm of sleet, hail, rain and snow raging from morning till night. There was less picket-firing than on any other day during the week. Cannonading upon our side was kept up as usual from the Sixth Ohio Battery. All day long the rebels were engaged in throwing up a huge work near the Franklin pike, and another near the Granny white pike. It is believed that they intend to mount some artillery. From these points a shell could be thrown into the centre of the city. On Thursday a portion of the Fourth corps made a heavy reconnoissance out upon the Murfreesboro’ pike, but were driven in by the enemy, who showed themselves in great force. On the same day a portion of A.J. SMITH’s command made a reconnoissance out upon the Charlotte pike, the enemy falling back as we advanced and following us up as we retired at night. Few deserters come in at present. Probably not over thirty have come in during the week. Those who have come in don’t appear to know much. It is believed that if HOOD falls back large numbers of Tennesseeans will desert. From all reports our out-of-town folks are entertaining the rebel officers in great style. HOOD has his headquarters, it is said, at the house of Gen. HARDING, on the Harding pike. HARDING sent in word here yesterday that all of his stock had been taken, and that his own and neighbors’ carpets had all been taken and cut up for blankets. The loss of the rebels in the late fight at Franklin is acknowledged to be large. Rebel citizens from that neighborhood say that it will not fall below seven thousand in killed, wounded and missing. Our own loss exceeds one thousand. Gen. STANLEY will report again for duty in twenty days. The bone in Gen. BRADLEY’s arm was not touched, and his recovery is looked for in a few days. The formation of Quartermasters’ brigades, some three months ago, proves to have been a foresight. CRANE’s and LEVIN’s brigades, nearly nine thousand strong, have been in the trenches for nine days, doing the work of soldiers. They have built a very fine work, which has been called Fort Peterson. Everybody connected with the Government in any capacity have, during this excitement, shown themselves to be true patriots. We experience quite a loss in the abandonment and destruction of our block-houses along the lines of railroads which have fallen into the enemy’s possession. Some of them were artidery-proof, but not sufficiently provisioned to stand a siege. Orders which were given for the general evacuation of these miniature forts, failed to reach some of the blockhouses, and two or three cases are recorded where some excellent fighting took place. Johnsonville has been evacuated. The last party which left there, arrived here via Clarksville this morning. All the rolling stock had been removed to Nashville nearly two weeks ago, at HOOD threatened the road when marching his army through Waynesboro. All the buildings, some of which are five hundred feet long, were left standing, as the most the enemy can do is to destroy them. About ten thousand dollars worth of Quartermaster’s stores were destroyed. The rebels have attempted to cross the river north and south of here, but have been unsuccessful in all their attempts. Our gunboats patrol the river from Carthage to Clarksville, while at least half of our cavalry are on the other side of the river. The excitement among the people has died away to some extent, and things are more quiet in the city than during the former part of the week. Yet, like Micawber, every one is anxiously “waiting for something to turn up.” BENJAMIN C. TRUMAN.

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