Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Tennessee State Capital In The Civil War

  When Nashville fell to Union Forces in February 1862 Andrew Johnson was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee in March. He moved into a house across the street on Charlotte Avenue which had been the home of Lizinka Campbell Brown, a die hard rebel who would become the wife of Confederate General Richard S. Ewell. Johnson would eventually arrest and imprison many of Nashville's most prominent citizens such as pastors, newspaper editors, politicians, and businessmen. Just before the Union Army marched into Nashville there was a huge panic reminiscent of the famous panic scene in the movie "Gone With The Wind" when the Confederate Army was evacuating Atlanta. As the Confederate Army passed through Nashville headed South they evacuated as much ordinance, food and supplies as they could and destroyed the rest. One of the last things they did was destroy the suspension and railroad bridge. The flames lit up the city as if it were daylight. General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry was the rear guard. He had to use fire hoses to control the mobs of people trying to loot the city. This may have been the first time in history that fire hoses were used for riot control. As early as February 23, Union Cavalry began showing up across the river in Edgefield and the City was formally surrendered on February 25 by Mayor Cheatham to General Don Carlos Buell. When Johnson became Governor he not only fortified the city but fortified the Capital. It became known as Fort Johnson. He would panic himself on those  occasions when few Union troops were on hand to fight Confederate partisans and cavalry units. Such as Forrest and Wheeler when they threatened the city. The greatest threat to the city was in December 1864 when General John Bell Hood's Army attempted to capture the city but was destroyed in the decisive battle of Nashville.

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