April 2, 1864: Desolation in Tennessee

Shiloh - Cloud Field

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reprints an account of the effects of war on Tennessee.


The desolation in Tennessee.

–A correspondent of the Boston Advertiser, who has been on a tour in Tennessee of an extensive and somewhat dangerous character, on his return to Murfreesbore, writes, under date of January 30, as follows.

In years gone, and not long ago, Tennessee was a paradise. Peace and plenty smiled law and order reigned. How is it now?. After a week’s journey, I sit me down to point you a picture of what I have seen. To the East and to the West, to the North and the South, the sights are saddening, sickening. Government mules and horses are occupying the homes — aye, the palaces — in which her chivalric sons so often slumbered.

The monuments of her last; the evidences of her skill, the characteristics of her people, are being blotted from existence. Her churches are being turned into houses of prostitution, her seminaries shatter the sick and sore, whose griefs and grounds reverberate where once the flower of our youth were won’t to breathe the poetic passion and dance to the music of their summer’s sun. Her cities, her towns, and her villages are draped in mourning. Even the country, ever and always so much nearer God and Nature than these wears the black pall. Go from Memphis to Chattanooga, and it is like the march from Moscow in olden time.
The State Capitol, like the Kremlin, alone remains of her former glory and greatness. Let this point (Murfreesboro’) be the centre, and then make a circumference of thirty miles with me, and we will stay a week in the womb of desolation.”–Whether you go on the Selma, the Shelbyville, the Manchester, or any other pike, for a distance of thirty miles either way, what do we behold? One wide, wild, and treaty waste, so to speak.

The fences are all burned down; the apple, the pear, and the plum trees burned in ashes long ago; the torch applied to thousands of splendid mansions, the walls of which alone remain, and even this is seldom so, and where it is, their smooth plaster is covered with vulgar epithets and immoral diatribes. John Smith and Joe Doe, Federate and Confederate warriors, have left jack knife stereotyping on the doors and casings, where these, in their fewness, are perceived. The rickets and the railings — where are they?

Where are the rosebushes and the violets? But above all, and beyond all, and dearer and more than all else, where, oh were, are the once happy and contented people fled who lived and breathed and had their being here? Where are the rosy checked cherubs and blue eyed maidens gone? Where are the gallant young men? Where are all — where are any of them?

But where are they gone — this once happy and contented people? The young men are sleeping in their graves at Shiloh, at Corinth, at Fort Donelson, and other fields of so called glory. The young women have died of grief or are broken hearted; the children are orphans. Poor little things, I pity them from my heart as I look at them — black and white — for they seem to have shared a common fate, and like dying in a common destiny.

Their lives — I mean the master and slave, and their offspring — seem to have been inseparably blended, In many cases I found two or three white children, whose parents were dead, left to the mercies of the faithful slave; and again, I have seen a large number of little negro children, whose parents were likewise dead, nestled in the bosom of some while families who, by a miracle, were saved from the vandalism of war.

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