Moving an Army through 1860s Tennessee.

Will Carry

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Location
The Tar Heel State.
I prefer studying the western theater of the civil war because I am familiar with the terrain and my great grandfather fought there. Moving an army through Tennessee in the 1860s must have been a logistical nightmare. One generation before the war Tennessee was, for the most part, wilderness. I have read accounts of Confederate troops nearly starving moving through middle and east Tennessee. Poor soil, few farms and little food was the norm. Has anyone ever studied how the terrain affected the war in the western theater? .
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The best book I know of about logistics from Louisville to Nashville to Chattanooga is The Supply For Tomorrow Must Not Fail by Lenette Taylor. There was a position called an Army Quartermaster. It was held the Army of the Cumberland by a civilian named Perkins with the rank of captain. He answered directly to the QM in Cincinnati, not to Rosecrans as commander of the Department of the Cumberland. There was no possibility of advancement, it was strictly a temporary app’t.

He was in charge of Rosecrans’ HQ at Stones River. Perkins ran both the depots at Murfreesboro & Nashville during the Tullahoma Campaign. In 1864, when he returned to civilian life, he was supposed to destroy his records after passing review. He didn’t.

When the records were discovered in the attic of his family home, the documents were still neatly tied up with official red tape. Taylor was a grad student called on to archive the material. What she found was unique. Her book documents the day by day nuts & bolts warts & all narrative of how supplies were kept moving in Middle Tennessee.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
To directly answer your question, during the Tullahoma Campaign, June 23-July 4, 1863, rebuilding the Nashville & Chattanooga RR was a prime goal. As the RR came into operation, it was used exclusively for hauling forage southward & broken down animals northward. Ammunition & rations were carried by wagons. There was no direct river component. The return of the empty burlap bags used to carry the forage was an essential, but unheard of aspect of CW logistics.
 

Will Carry

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Location
The Tar Heel State.
Thank you for the responses. I think I will like your book recommendation. Some books that people think are dry and monotonous. I think are meaty! Filled with information! I know it's important, in order to understand the American Civil War, that we know what general went where and what units attacked there but I always enjoy looking at the war from a soldiers perspective. I have an uncle who was a marine at Iwo Jima. My mother always said "If you want to know about Iwo Jima, you need to ask your Uncle Jack. He was there." So when I met uncle Jack I asked him. His reply was "Son, if you want to know what happened on Iwo you need to read a history book. I had my head buried in the sand most of the time and didn't know what the heck was going on." Yet that is exactly what I wanted to know about. The same thing with the soldiers who fought inn 1961-65. I want to know things like: Where did you go to take a dump? People in the movies never do that. Who washed your clothes, mended your shoes, cooked you grub....Ok I'm starting the ramble but you get my point. :smile:

I was educated in Nashville Tn. I lived just a few blocks from where my Great Grandfather fought at rebout #4. I love Tennessee. I left my heart there. That picture of me under the waterfall was taken at Lamance Falls on Crooked Fork Creek right outside of Wartburg.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
I prefer studying the western theater of the civil war because I am familiar with the terrain and my great grandfather fought there. Moving an army through Tennessee in the 1860s must have been a logistical nightmare. One generation before the war Tennessee was, for the most part, wilderness. I have read accounts of Confederate troops nearly starving moving through middle and east Tennessee. Poor soil, few farms and little food was the norm. Has anyone ever studied how the terrain affected the war in the western theater? .

The mountainous terrain of East Tennessee kept the Union high command from making the early invasion of the area desired by President Lincoln.
 

Pat Answer

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Location
“...somewhere between NY and PA”
The mountainous terrain of East Tennessee kept the Union high command from making the early invasion of the area desired by President Lincoln.
Something Buell couldn’t get Lincoln to understand. Funny to me how Halleck the field commander understood supply problems perfectly - while Halleck the Washington administrator often seemed to forget...
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I have been thinking on this. Powell & Wittenberg’s recent book on the Tullahoma Campaign would be an excellent source. The June 23rd 1863 kickoff was the start of a 500 year weather event. Torrential rain hammered down for 30 days. If you lived in Nashville during the great flood fifteen (?) years ago, you do not have to imagine what the Army of the Cumberland faced. The challenge of moving an army under those conditions was immense. A combination of Taylor’s & Powell/Wittenberg’s books will give you a very good idea of how the logistical challenges in Tennessee were met.
 

TnFed

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
The mountainous terrain of East Tennessee kept the Union high command from making the early invasion of the area desired by President Lincoln.
Rough terrain indeed. I had unionist ancestors that ran regular Confederate forces ragged there. That is until the Confederates used some of my reb ancestors in Thomas Legion to look for them. Heck, in modern times every federal law enforcement agent in the country could not find the Atlanta bomber in the Nantahala and Unaka Mountains, with all their technology. Finally caught by a town deputy in Murphy NC, while going through a dumpster!
 

Will Carry

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Location
The Tar Heel State.
One of the things I like to do when whitewater kayaking these little wildcat streams in East Tennessee is to stop at old cemeteries. Along the Emory River north west of Wartburg is the Shannon family cemetery. There are several union soldiers graves there with American flags on them. This is way, way up in them hills.
 
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TnFed

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
One of the things I like to do when whitewater kayaking these little wildcat streams in East Tennessee is to stop at old cemeteries. Along the Emory River north west of Wartburg is the Shannon family cemetery. There are several union soldiers there with American flags on them. This is way, way up in them hills.
Have you done the Ocoee River?
 

TnFed

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Since there was more East TN white union soldiers than there was from Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island, that's not all that unusual there.
 

Trevfo

Private
Joined
May 6, 2020
Location
Texas
The recent book "Civil War Supply & Strategy: Feeding Men & Moving Armies" by Earl Hess touches on the things you have mentioned. He covers the entire war, campaign by campaign, and details the terrain, railroads, steam ships etc. in trying to feed & supply an army. I am currently reading it and highly recommend it.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The recent book "Civil War Supply & Strategy: Feeding Men & Moving Armies" by Earl Hess touches on the things you have mentioned. He covers the entire war, campaign by campaign, and details the terrain, railroads, steam ships etc. in trying to feed & supply an army. I am currently reading it and highly recommend it.
Thanks for the referral.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
From my readings on the war in Tennessee, my observation is that the nature of the mountainous terrain in Middle Tennessee and the treacherous road conditions presented unique and difficult circumstances for the 2 main combatant armies: Union Cumberland and Confederate Tennessee. This resulted in magnifying supply problems, particularly for the AotC, as it lengthened its lines southward from its bases at Nashville and Murfreesboro. The near starvation of the AotC at Chattanooga, and the opening of the Cracker Line appear to be a classic example of how terrain and environment impacted the campaign in that region. By way of contrast, the warfare in the Shenandoah Valley did not present the same difficulties to the fighting armies.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
The mountainous terrain of East Tennessee kept the Union high command from making the early invasion of the area desired by President Lincoln.
Im impressed by the terrain in Middle Tennessee when I drive I-40 west from Nashville. I dont think there were any campaigns in this area but a march would be difficult. (Note: I have not read the new book on the Tullahoma Campaign).
What really shocked me was to find out the size of a supply train(as in wagon train) was required to support an Army. I forget the number of wagons or the length of the train. I think I was told one wagon train took 5 days to pass thru a town.
Now throw in hilly terrain, bad weather and poor forage, the march could be extremely difficult.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Raphael Moses was Longstreets Commissary officer
His work in E TN in 1863-1864 in the mountains and the winter supplying Longstreets men was extraordinary.
 
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