March 24, 2012

Settling In South of Nashville: Camp Andy Johnson

Location: Nashville, TN, USA
Lithograph of the First Union Dress Parade in Nashville, March 4, 1862 (Library of Congress)
After marching through Nashville on March 7, 1862, the 79th Pennsylvania and the rest of McCook's division spent the next couple weeks positioned a couple miles south of the city at Camp Andrew Johnson.  Here they spent time on an active picket line guarding against Rebels threatening from the direction of Franklin, Tennessee.  On March 9, the 1st Wisconsin--another regiment in the 79th PA's brigade--was attacked and suffered a few casualties including one killed. 

Their interactions with Southern civilians continued.  Sergt. William T. Clark of Company B recorded in his diary entry of March 12:
Two men came up in a carriage who had escaped from Memphis where the Rebels are drafting men for their Army. A black man came who wanted to go to his master who lived in Nashville & who had hired him to the Tennessee & Alabama R.R.Co. His wife lived with her master 27 miles from Nashville & near where he had been working. At Franklin he saw 100 Rebel Calvary who said they would attack us tonight.
(As an aside, see this excellent post  by William G. Thomas for a discussion of the role of slaves as railroad laborers in the South.)

View of the Capitol, Nashville
(Library of Congress)
Opportunities also arose for the men of the 79th Pennsylvania to go back and explore the city of Nashville.  According to Sergt. Clark, four men from each company could receive a pass to visit the city each day.  On Sunday, March 23, Clark took his turn to attend worship at First Presbyterian Church and visit the impressive Capitol building as well as the City Cemetery, where several notables including Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer were buried.  Clark remarked, "In this cemetery, side by side lays all that remains of what was once Loyal & Rebel soldiers."

Pvt. Flavius J. Bender of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, and Company C, 77th Pennsylvania--also in McCook's division--similarly experienced Nashville and recorded his thoughts in two letters published in the Church Advocate, a religious newspaper based in Lancaster. 

From the March 27, 1862, Church Advocate: (alternate link)

From the April 17, 1862, Church Advocate: (alternate link)

Finally, I add a letter discussing the same subjects--with a little more editorializing--by Jacob Cassell, Quartermaster of the 77th Pennsylvania. From the March 26, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

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