Monday, July 16, 2012

As the War Turns

On July 16th, 1862, the Seventeenth Kentucky bids farewell to Nelson's Fourth Division in the Army of the Ohio, having marched from Shiloh to nearby Pulaski, Tennessee in just three months and having spent this time rebuilding roads, bridges and railways in the hot southern summer.

The 17th's duty in Nelson's Fourth Division (light blue dots) included "Seige of Corinth" and "Pursuit to Booneville", Iuka and Bear Creek Bridge, M&C Railroad duty to Tuscumbia, on to Athens, Alabama and then to Pulaski, Tennessee- a march of nearly 250 miles in three months. After Booneville, their division was participating in "Buell's Operations in Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee."
Original map courtesy of son of the south

Captain Cox believes they are finally getting that sorely needed rest as he writes today's entry in his diary.

Up this morning at 2 o'clock and to our great surprise, we were informed that the regiment would be left to garrison the town, and the 23rd Kentucky to take place in the 4th Division, to which we heartily concurred for we are actually worn out and need a good rest.  We came up town this morning as the troops passed through, and immediately looked over our respective quarters.  We are now situated, or at least camped, in the buildings around the public square.  My company is in the Pulaski Hotel.  This is a beautiful place, but like all other towns in the South, shows the effects of the war.*

The Captain once again expresses his empathy for the Southern citizens, just as his home state is beginning to suffer similar "effects of the war." Buell's policy, though not always enforced by some of his commanders, is the practice of "conciliatory warfare" in which civilians and their property rights are to be respected.  The Seventeenth seems to embrace this policy as well, and the captain frequently laments the vulgar actions of some Union regiments.  There is no formal government policy regarding the treatment of civilians at this time but the debate is raging among northern editorialists and politicians.

As evidenced by this abrasive letter to the Commissary at Louisville from Buell's Chief of Staff, maintaing the supply routes is not the same as maintaining access to even routine supplies.


Huntsville, July 16, 1862.

Captain SYMONDS,
Commissary of Subsistence, Louisville:

What do you mean by not seeing your way clear if we use hard bread and salt meat? Can't you get these or can't you ship them? I see no difficulty in either case. We only eat about 75 tons a day. The railroad can send for Government 300 tons a day if it is properly presented. It would doubtless relieve your department very much if we furnish our own four and did not use salt meat; but the commissary department cannot be relieved from furnishing bread and meat. The country here cannot supply the flour, nor is there any necessity for our depending on the country if it could. The railroad from Louisville, the Cumberland River, and Green River to Bowling Green are all open to us, and if we don't get supplies it can only be our own fault. Three should be twenty days' supply ahead in Nashville, whereas there are none there and have been none for six or seven days.

Chief of Staff.

* Cox, Samuel K., Civil War Diary 1862-1865 of Captain Samuel Kennedy Cox, courtesy of Daviess County Public Library, Kentucky Room archives, p.20.

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