In April, 1862, Alvin Hovey was colonel of the 24th Indiana Infantry at Shiloh, a unit involved in the battle on the second day as they pursued the retreating confederates from the union right flank. He was promoted to brigadier general, and served in the siege of Corinth. As this dispatch shows, he was in Memphis by July 1862.
Grant ordered families of rebel soldiers who were suspected of espionage to be expelled from the city of Memphis. “The Missouri Swamp Fox,” M. Jeff Thompson, wrote a letter chiding Grant on his harshness to the women and children of the city, and requesting more time for them to find transport. The next day General Hovey responded rather acerbically on Grant’s behalf.
From the Official Record:
MEMPHIS, TENN., July 15, 1862.
Brigadier General M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
C. S. Army, Senatobia:
I have yours of the 14th instant in relation to Special Orders, Number 14*, heretofore issued by Major-General Grant.
I herewith sent you Special Orders, Number 15*, which considerably modifies the order to which you allude. You will permit me to say that your sympathies are entirely out of place, as truth and history must record the fact that the Southern people residing in localities where both of our armies have been camped prefer the continuity of the “Northern invaders” to have protection of the Southern chivalry.
You are too well versed in the science of war to be ignorant of the fact that these orders are far more mild than could have been expected after the treatment that helpless Union families have received at the after the rebels in this city. Add to this the fact a large part of all the information received by you can be traced directly through the families excluded by these orders, and your application for sympathy in their behalf is somewhat amusing.
The great error that the Federal officers have committed during this war has been their over kindness to a vindictive and insulting foe.
Your threats and intimations of personal danger to General Grant are in bad taste, and should be carefully revised before publication; whether he “cannot guard his own lines” the history of the battles of Shiloh and Donelson will fully show.
Should any families embraced within the orders above alluded to be obstinate and refuse to comply with Orders, Number 15, they shall be escorted to the distance of 10 miles from this city to such points as they may request.
ALVIN P. HOVEY,