Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
OPERATIONS IN NORTH ALABAMA
THE instructions * which I left behind for the regulation of affairs in Tennessee, when I started from Nashville for Savannah prior to the battle of Shiloh, constituted an important part in the plan of campaign, but could not be made absolute With reference to military operations which depended so much on undetermined conditions. For East Tennessee, General George W. Morgan, the officer assigned to the command of a column operating in that direction from Kentucky, was instructed, as a first step, to take Cumberland Gap if practicable, or to hold the enemy in check on that Line if his force should prove insufficient to advance. The force left in Middle Tennessee was to preserve internal order there, keep open the communications of the army, repel invasion, and occupy the Memphis and Charleston railroad when the opportunity offered. The two latter objects were chiefly intrusted to General O. M. Mitchel. Only the instructions to him, ** and his action under them, can here be remarked upon.
These instructions placed General Mitchel, in the beginning, mainly at Fayetteville, Tennessee, twenty-eight miles north of Huntsville, Alabama, and Explained to him how his position was to be used according to circumstances; among other things to concentrate his force at Huntsville or Decatur-- the occupation of the Memphis and Charleston railroad through those points having been all the time distinctly understood as a standing object, and discussed in the conversations referred to in the instructions. *** One division, With three field-batteries (18 pieces) of artillery, a regiment of cavalry, and two companies of engineer troops, in all about 8000 effective men, constituted his command; and he was told that in case of necessity the remainder of the force in Middle Tennessee would be placed under his orders. The general dispositions included a few regiments for the immediate protection of Nashville, under the command of General Ebenezer Dumont, who besides was charged With the communicationn certain respects. A regiment was also designated as a provost-guard for Nashville, With orders to answer the demands of the military governor, Andrew Johnson' for the enforcement of his authority. The fine regiment (51st Ohio) of Colonel Stanley Matthews, now a justice of the United States Supreme Court, was selected for that position, on account of the efficient and judicious character of its commander. governor Johnson was not pleased with the limited power thus arranged for himself. He wanted a much larger force under his control, and the records exhibit earnest protests from him to the President and Secretary of War against the defenseless condition in which he considered that I had left him.
Under the instructions given to Mitchel, that officer, after hearing of the victory at Shiloh (April 7th, 1862), marched from Fayetteville at noon on the 10th of April, and reached Huntsville at 6 A. M. on the 11th, capturing, as he reports, about 200 prisoners, 15 locomotives, and other rolling-stock and
** Page 71.
*** Pages 37 and 60.