Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 17, 1863 (Saturday): Mutiny in Tennessee

Secretary of War STanton

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, D. C., January 17, 1863.
Brigadier-General MITCHELL, Nashville:
    Information has reached this Department that the members of the Anderson Cavalry who are under arrest in Nashville are treated in a cruel and improper manner, and that you have uttered threats against them, and expressed a desire and determination to have some of them shot. You will report immediately the names of the persons imprisoned, and the manner of their treatment, and are directed to treat them in a humane manner, cause them to be imprisoned in a proper place, and properly supplied and cared for.

    Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES, Nashville, Tenn., January 17, 1863. (Sent January 20.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
    I am in receipt of your dispatch of this date, informing me of my inhumanity toward the Anderson Cavalry. In reply, I have only to say they have been treated as all other soldiers are treated placed in confinement for high crimes. A portion of them are confined in city work-house; the other portion in the county jail yard, with proper covering, and have received a soldier's fare. I have said to them that mutiny in the face of an enemy was punishable by death, and unless they reconsidered their action some of them would be made examples of. I have further said to them and their friends that their course was cowardly in the extreme, a disgrace to themselves and their State. I have refused to allow them to board at first-class hotels, and have also refused admittance of persons from the city of Philadelphia, who have been publicly encouraging them in their course, and promising to sustain them at home and at the capital. One of the persons so refused avowed to me that half a million dollars should be spent before they should yield the position they had taken. I have no desire to persecute any man. The only object I had in the premises was to enforce proper discipline. If these men are sustained in their present course, we might just as well abandon the cause for which we are fighting. Other men will take advantage of any clemency shown to them. My action has been governed whole by instructions from my department commander, and by my judgment of what was necessary to stop an open, dangerous, and shameful mutiny. A court-martial assembled to-day for the trial of these men, by order of Major-General Rosecrans. To the gallant dead, and those members of the regiment who did not take occasion to refuse to obey orders when obedience would take them face to face with the enemy, I pay all due honor and consideration, and I bear cheerful witness to the brave conduct of those who went to the front and met the enemy. I state, in addition, that the Government will be the loser of not less than $25,000 or $30,000 by the neglect of the mutineers properly to care for the horses and other Government property.
     January 20, 1863.-I had written the foregoing in reply to your first dispatch, received on 17th instant, and waited your directions as to sending it by telegraph. In answer to your inquiry in your second dispatch, I have the honor to say that the number of prisoners confined is 350-96 in the jail-yard, 254 in the work-house. The court-martial for their trial is in session (January 20, 1863). The other inquiries, I think, are all answered in the first part of this dispatch.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 20, Part 2, Pages 373-374.

The Anderson Cavalry of Philadelphia were very much enamored of themselves.  They were raised, according to their accounts, to serve as a body guard to General Don Carlos Buell and doing other special service.  Buell having been removed from his command they became a body guard without portfolio and latched onto the idea of serving in that capacity to General Rosecrans, who declined their offer.  They did not have sufficient officers but did have barracks lawyers in abundance and refused orders to move to the front until their grievances were addressed.  A few hundred men answered the call to come to the battle of Stones River, but the rest who did not were arrested.  They used political connections to bring Secretary of War Stanton into the case in their behalf.  The troop was mustered out of service in March of 1863.

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