Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
					Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

SEPTEMBER 16---OCTOBER 10

SEPTEMBER 16---OCTOBER 10, 1864

Forrest's raid into Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee.
Report of Col. Wallace Campbell, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry.


SAINT LOUIS, MO., November 24, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report relative to the surrender of the fort and forces at Athens, Ala., on the 24th day of September, 1864, to Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, C. S. Army:

On the 23d day of September, 1864, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, was informed by ----- Burley, railroad employ´┐Że that he had been down the railroad some four miles toward Decatur, Ala., and discovered a body of the enemy, as he supposed, some 200 or 300 strong, tearing up and destroying the track. I immediately ordered 100 men to report at the railroad depot, expecting every moment the evening train from Nashville. As soon as the train arrived, at 4 o'clock, placed my men on a car and started down the road, went four miles from town, found enemy on track, deployed skirmishers, and drove them. They had set fire to a small trestle. I pushed forward and extinguished the fire and crossed with the  train. About a mile farther discovered the enemy were on the track in my rear. I learned at this time, from citizens, that the enemy were in force, commanded by Col. Jesse Forrest. I immediately ordered the train back to town and drove them from the track as I returned. Found the track obstructed in several places. As I reached the outskirts of the town was attacked by enemy, some 1,000 strong; threw men off the train; ordered conductor to run train back under protection of blockhouse; engaged the enemy for one hour and fifteen minutes, losing 3 men killed and 4 wounded, when, discovering I could not drive them from town, fell back to the fort. I found, on reaching the fort, they had been engaging a large force on the south and southwest part of town. The quartermaster's and commissary stores being in town, about one-quarter of a mile from the fort, I took twenty men and went in town. At this time, as it was impossible to remove them, the quartermaster's stores were set on fire. I now put my men in commissary buildings, determined to hold them if possible. About 9 p.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser, commanding Second Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry, with 500 men, reached the town. I ordered Colonel Prosser to charge down public square and drive enemy from depot. He declined to obey, saying he could not sacrifice his horses. I finally dismounted some thirty of the cavalry and, together with twenty colored infantry, charged down public square and drove them from the depot and extinguished the fire. I captured Surgeon Lauderdale, Fifteenth Tennessee (rebel) Regiment, and a private soldier of the same regiment. I learned from this private soldier that General Forrest, with his entire force, had invested the place, his force being estimated at from 10,000 to 12,000, with nine pieces of artillery. I now ordered all forces in town to the fort, burning all Government property. I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser to remain at or near the fort. He refused to obey, saying he did not think with his force the fort could be held. He was then ordered by Lieutenant Kneeland, acting assistant adjutant-general of General Granger's staff, to return to Decatur. I sent, by Colonel Prosset, word to General Granger what forces were investing the place. I also started two couriers with dispatches to General Starkweather, informing him of my condition. The one bearing the dispatches was murdered on the outskirts of town, shot after capture. The other escaped with wound through shoulder and returned to the fort. During the night was occasionally annoyed by sharpshooters firing, and could hear their artillery being brought into position.

Just after daylight on the morning of September 24, they opened on the fort with artillery from three different sides, casting almost every shell inside the works. I could not reach them with my 12-pounder howitzers, they being perfectly useless. The firing now ceased, 8 a.m., and I received the following communication from General Forrest:

HEADQUARTERS FORREST'S CAVALRY,
In the Field, September 24, 1864.

OFFICER COMMANDING U.S. FORCES,
Athens, Ala.:

I demand an immediate and unconditional surrender of the entire force and all Government stores and property at this post. I have a sufficient force to storm and take your works, and if I am forced to do so the responsibility of the consequences must rest with you. Should you, however, accept the terms, all white soldiers shall be treated as prisoners of war and the negroes returned to their masters. A reply is requested immediately.

Respectfully,

N. B. FORREST,

Major-General, C. S. Army.

 

I replied to him as follows:

HEADQUARTERS U.S. FENCES,
Athens, Ala., September 24,1864.

Maj. Gen. N. B. FORREST,
Commanding Besieging Forces, Athens, Ala.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to decline your demand of this date.

WALLACE CAMPBELL,

 Colonel One hundred and tenth U. S. Colored Infantry, Commanding.


I sent Lieut. Col. J. A. Dewey, One hundred and eleventh Regiment U. S. Colored Infantry, and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General William T. Lewis, to receive flag of truce. They met Major Strange, General Forrest's chief of staff, and Colonel Galloway, aide-de-camp, and held conversation with them. They said from conversation held with General Forrest they knew he was determined to take the fort, and if he was compelled to storm it no lives would be spared. I refused to comply with last demand as with first, when General Forrest sent in request for a personal interview, reading as follows:

ATHENS, September 24, 1864.

COLONEL: I desire an interview with you outside of the fort, at any place you may designate, provided it meets with your views. My only object is to stop the effusion of blood that must follow the storming of the place.

N. B. FORREST,

Major-General.


I immediately met General Forrest, accompanied by Lieut. Col. J.A. Dewey. General Forrest told me he was determined to take the place; that his force was sufficiently large, and have it he would, and if he was compelled to storm the works it would result in the massacre of the entire garrison. He told me what his force was, and said myself and one officer could have the privilege of reviewing his force. I returned to the fort, when, after consultation with the commanders of various detachments in the fort, it was decided that [if] after reviewing the force of General Forrest I found he had 8,000 or 10,000 troops, it would be worse than murder to attempt to hold the works. I then took Capt. B. M. Callender, First Missouri Light Artillery, and rode round his entire line, thereby satisfying myself and the captain accompanying me that there were at least 10,000 men and nine pieces of artillery. It was now 11 a.m. I had been "dilly-dallying" with General Forrest since 8 a.m. expecting re-enforcements would be sent from Decatur. Believing they could not reach me, I ordered the surrender of the fort. After the surrender I learned that a force of 350 men, composed of the Eighteenth Michigan Infantry and One hundred and second Ohio Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Elliott, of the One hundred and second Ohio, had been surrounded and captured below the town.

The following are the terms of capitulation:

Agreement entered into at Athens, Ala., on the 24th day of September, 1864, by Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, of the C. S. Army, and Col. Wallace Campbell, One hundred and tenth Regiment U. S. Colored Infantry.

We, on the part of our respective Governments, stipulate and agree that the following articles shall be faithfully executed and maintained:

On the part of the U.S. Government, by Col. Wallace Campbell, that the fort and United States and public Government property at this point be, and the same hereby are, surrendered to Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, of the C. S. Army.

On the part of the C. S. Government, by Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, that all commissioned officers surrendered or surrendering as above, be, and hereby are, permitted to go to Meridian or some other point in Mississippi, and the said officers shall, so soon as Major-General Forrest can communicate with Major-General Washburn, U.S.  Volunteers, be sent to Major-General Washburn or other commanding officer at Memphis, Tenn., to be retained on their paroles of honor not to act in opposition to the forces of the Confederate States until they are duly exchanged by Generals Washburn and Forrest, which exchange shall occur as speedily as possible. The exchange is to be conducted by an exchange of officers for officers of same rank, and man for man.

Again, said commissioned officers shall and hereby are permitted to retain and keep all their personal property, including horses, saddles, side-arms, and clothing. All this permanently.

Again, the enlisted men (soldiers) of Col. Wallace Campbell's command shall be kindly and humanely treated and turned over to the C. S. Government as prisoners of war, to be disposed of as the War Department of the Confederate States shall direct.

N. B. FORREST,

 Major-General, Commanding, C. S. Army.

WALLACE CAMPBELL,

 Colonel 110th U.S. Colored Infantry, Commanding.


About 2 p.m. we were marched south by Florence road. It is the opinion of officers in my command from conversations held with General Forrest and his officers that had the fort been stormed no lives would have been spared.

On the 21st day of September I sent Lieut. Col. J. B. Minnis, commanding Third Tennessee Cavalry, to scout in the direction of Florence, Ala., with instructions to send me courier in case of meeting the enemy or gathering any information, which he failed to do after having met the enemy at or near Rogersville, thereby leaving me perfectly ignorant and unprepared for the approach of such a force.

My force consisted of detachments from the following regiments: One hundred and sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Infantry, 105 men and 4 officers; One hundred and tenth Regiment U.S. Colored Infantry, 233 men and 17 officers; One hundred and eleventh Regiment U.S. Colored Infantry, 80 men and 8 officers; Third Regiment Tennessee Cavalry, 120 men and 4 officers. Total, 538 men 33 officers. Number of men unarmed, 140; number of muskets, 398.

I have the honor to be, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 WALLACE CAMPBELL,

 Colonel 110th U.S. Colored Infantry.

 Lieut. J. D. HAZZARD,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., U.S. Forces, Pulaski, Tenn.

ADDENDA.

ENTERPRISE, MISS., October 17, 1864.

We, the undersigned officers in the U.S. service, who were surrendered to Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, at Athens, Ala., on the 24th day of September, 1864, by Col. W. Campbell, commanding the post, feel it incumbent upon us to make known to the public the precise situation of affairs in the fort at the time, in order that the responsibility of the surrender may rest upon the proper persons, and also to place upon record our judgment as to the necessity of the surrender.

The fort was a strong one, well built, 1,350 feet in circumference, 17 feet from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the parapet, and encircled by both a palisade and an abatis of felled trees. It was considered by inspecting officers to be the strongest work between Nashville and Decatur.

The garrison at the time of surrender consisted of detachments from the One hundred and sixth, One hundred and tenth, and One hundred and eleventh Regiments U.S. Colored Infantry, numbering in the aggregate 469 efficient men. In addition to the colored troops there were 150 men belonging to the Third Tennessee Cavalry, and two 12-pounder howitzers. On the night of the 23d and 24th the colonel commanding caused nearly, if not quite, all the commissary stores at the post to be moved into the fortifications. These stores were thought ample for a siege of ten days. A well in the fort afforded a sufficient supply of water. As for the ammunition, there was at the time about 70,000 rounds elongated ball cartridges, and an ample supply for the carbines of the cavalrymen. For the howitzers there were 120 rounds each.

Our pickets were driven in at 5.30 p.m. of the 23d, and from that time until long past dark there was a good deal of skirmishing. The night was passed in making preparations to receive the enemy and getting provisions into the fort.

On the morning of the 24th, about 7 o'clock, the enemy opened fire on the fort, throwing solid shot and shell from a battery planted on the Buck Island road. Shortly after they opened on us another battery from the Brown's Ferry road. From these two batteries the enemy threw fifty-five or sixty shots. Of this number of shots twenty-four struck in the fort or buildings in the fort, causing the death of 1 man only, a non-combatant, and wounding 1 soldier. At 9 a.m. the enemy sent in a flag of truce demanding the surrender of the place; this was refused by Colonel Campbell. General Forrest then again demanded the surrender of the place, stating that he had ample force to take it and offering to show his force to Colonel Campbell. Colonel Campbell then called a council of officers commanding detachments, in which council, we are informed, but two officers voted in favor of a surrender, neither of whom had a command in the fort. Of the forty-five officers present in the fort at the time this council was held but eight were consulted, and of these eight there were several who had no command present with them in the fort, whilst officers who had the largest number of men under their charge were excluded. Colonel Campbell, after reviewing the forces of the enemy returned to the fort, saying, "The jig is up; pull down the flag," thus surrendering the best fortification on the line of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad.

We also feel it our duty to make mention of the bearing and disposition of the soldiers in the fort, both white and black. It was everything that any officer could wish of any set of men. So far from there being any disposition on the part of the men to surrender or to avoid a fight, it was just the reverse. Officers had to exert all their authority, even to threatening to shoot their own men, to restrain them from exposing themselves. The soldiers were anxious to try conclusions with General Forrest, believing that in such a work they could not be taken by ten times their number. When told that the fort had been surrendered, and that they were prisoners, they could scarcely believe themselves, but with tears demanded that the fight should go on, preferring to die in the fort they had made to being transferred to the tender mercies of General Forrest and his men. Another thing should be taken into consideration, which is that we were on the point of receiving re-enforcements.

While the truce was in operation and during the time occupied by Colonel Campbell in viewing the enemy's force, firing was heard on the Nashville and Decatur Railroad. This came from a force of our troops sent to our relief from Decatur, consisting of detachments from the Eighteenth Michigan and One hundred and second Ohio Infantry, numbering 360 men, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Elliott, of the One hundred and second Ohio, who was severely wounded. These brave men had forced their way through three lines of the enemy, were within musket-range of the fort when our flag was lowered. The surrender of the fort allowed General Forrest to throw a portion of his force between the fort and them, thus compelling them to surrender after a hard fight of three hours' duration, during which they lost one-third of their number in killed and wounded, and after they had arrived almost at the very gates of our fort.

In conclusion we do not hesitate to say over our signatures that the surrender was uncalled for by the circumstances, was against our wishes, and ought not to have been made.

(Signed) S. W. Pickens, major Third Tennessee Cavalry; Lafayette Coile, captain Company I, Third Tennessee Cavalry; J. A. Goddard, captain Company H, Third Tennessee Cavalry; W. V. Cumming, first lieutenant Company K, Third Tennessee Cavalry; J. T. Homer, first lieutenant Company E, Third Tennessee Cavalry; J. J. Wade, first lieutenant Company B, Third Tennessee Cavalry; A. B. McTeer, lieutenant and regimental quartermaster, Third Tennessee Cavalry; Alfred C. Derrick, first lieutenant Company F, Third Tennessee Cavalry; C. L. Norvell, second lieutenant Company F, Third Tennessee Cavalry; Zene Harlan, captain, One hundred and sixth U.S. Colored Infantry; Benj. Beeson, first lieutenant, One hundred and sixth U.S. Colored Infantry; J. W. Sidwell, first lieutenant and regimental quartermaster, One hundred and sixth Infantry; Ben. F. Woods-second lieutenant, One hundred and sixth U.S. Colored Infantry; Edward H. Chase, captain Company D, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Norton W. Campbell, captain Company F, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Zac. C. Wilson, captain Company H, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry: Rich'd Atkin, first lieutenant Company K, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Robt. McMillan, first lieutenant Company D, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; H. M. Sprague, first lieutenant Company I, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; H. E. Blinn, first lieutenant Company F, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Chas. M. Linn, second lieutenant Company D, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Jas. M. Mills, second lieutenant Company F, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; J. H. Lauchly, second lieutenant Company H, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Win. A. Duck-worth, second lieutenant Company K, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; Thad. Donohue, surgeon, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; William King, chaplain, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry; W. H. Scroggs, captain, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry; A. W. Forbes, captain, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry; Wm. J. Harrod, first lieutenant, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry; F. M. Crosson, first lieutenant, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry; James H. Lunn, first lieutenant, One hundred and eleventh U. S. Colored Infantry; O. O. Poppleton, second lieutenant, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry.

We also respectfully request that a thorough and immediate investigation of the above statements be made, that our names may not be placed in the list of cowards in the general summing up of our nation's history.

Very respectfully, &c.,

 OFFICERS THAT WERE SURRENDERED.

We would also respectfully request that permission be granted us to publish the original statement, of which [this is a] verbatim copy.

Very respectfully,

 ROBERT McMILLAN,

First Lieut., 110th U. S. Colored Infantry, Parole Camp,
Benton Barracks, Saint Louis, Mo.

If permission should be granted please forward papers to the above-named officer.

 ADJUTANT-GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,

Nashville, Tenn.

[First indorsement.]

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Louisville, Ky., December 15, 1864.

Respectfully forwarded to headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi.

 JNO. H. MONROE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(In the absence of the major-general commanding.)

[Second indorsement.]

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., January 7, 1865.

Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. G. H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland.

By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman:

 R. M. SAWYER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

--------------------------------------

HDQRS. COMMR. ORGANIZATION U.S. COLORED TROOPS,
Nashville, Tenn., November 10, 1864.

 Bvt. Col. C. W. FOSTER,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Chief of Colored Bureau,
Washington City, D.C.:

COLONEL: I have the honor to forward herewith a copy of a letter addressed by me to Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger, commanding the District of Northern Alabama, relative to the surrender of the One hundred and sixth, One hundred and tenth, One hundred and eleventh U.S. Colored Infantry at Athens, Ala., and of his indorsement thereon.

I have the honor, colonel, to be, very respectfully, your servant,

 R. D. MUSSEY,

Colonel 100th U.S. Colored Infantry,
Commissioner Organization U. S. Colored Troops.

 

[First indorsement.]

WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
November 22, 1864.

Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, Nashville, Tenn., for his recommendation.

Colonel Campbell belongs to the One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry.

By order of the Secretary of War:

 C. W. FOSTER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Volunteers.

[Second indorsement.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Nashville, Tenn., November 28, 1864.

Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. L. H. Rousseau, commanding District of Tennessee, for report of the circumstances attending the surrender of the within mentioned regiments.

By command of Major-General Thomas:

 HENRY M. CIST,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Third indorsement.]

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE,
Nashville, January 20, 1865.

Respectfully returned with required report.(*)

 LOVELL H. ROUSSEAU,

Major-General, Commanding.

 B. H. POLK,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

(In the absence of the general.)

[Inclosure.]

HDQRS. COMMR. ORGANIZATION U.S. COLORED TROOPS,
Nashville, Tenn., October 25, 1864.

 Brig. Gen. R. S. GRANGER,
Commanding District of Northern Alabama:

GENERAL: I have the honor to state that I have some blanks, &c., designed for the One hundred and sixth, One hundred and tenth, and One hundred and eleventh U. S. Colored Infantry. I have heard through the papers that these regiments were all captured by Forrest or surrendered to him by Colonel Campbell. Will you do me the favor to inform me of the facts in this case, and if they were surrendered whether the colonel's action has been approved and where the men now are.

I have the honor, general, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 R. D. MUSSEY,

Colonel 100th U.S. Colored Infantry,
Commissioner Organization U.S. Colored Troops.

 

[Indorsement.]

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF NORTHERN ALABAMA,
Huntsville, November 2, 1864.

Respectfully returned.

These three regiments were captured, or parts of them. The conduct of Colonel Campbell is disapproved by every one, and disgraceful in the extreme.

By order of R. S. Granger, brigadier-general commanding:

 DE LOSS C. LE BARON,

Lieutenant, Eighteenth Michigan, and Acting Aide-de-Camp.

---------------------------------------------

SAINT LOUIS, MO., November 23, 1864.

 Brig. Gen. WlLLIAM D. WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: I would very respectfully request that a court of inquiry be summoned to convene at once to inquire into and report on my conduct in surrendering Athens, Ala., to Major-General Forrest, of the so-called Confederate Army, on the 24th day of September, 1864.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

 WALLACE CAMPBELL,

Colonel 110th U.S. Colored Infantry, Paroled Prisoner.

[Indorsement.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Nashville, Tenn., December 1, 1864.

Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. L. H. Rousseau, commanding District of Tennessee, with orders to convene a board of inquiry as soon as practicable.

By command of Major-General Thomas:

 HENRY M. CIST,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

----------------------------------------

HDQRS. U.S. COLORED TROOPS IN THE STATE OF TENN.,
Memphis, January 2, 1865.

 Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Louisville, Ky.:

GENERAL: Herewith I send you application of Col. Wallace Campbell, One hundred and tenth U.S. Colored Infantry, for a court of inquiry. I respectfully invite your attention to the following facts: Colonel Campbell has been exchanged and ordered to report to his command at Savannah, Ga. He will leave New York on the 18th instant. He desires, if compatible with the interests of the service, to be brought before a court of inquiry before going to his command. Two months ago he made application to Maj. Gen. G. H. Thomas for a court of inquiry. This was before he knew that his case had been referred to you by the War Department for investigation. Nothing has been heard from it. Colonel C. will be in Chicago until the 14th instant. His address is Chicago, Box 3535.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

 A. L. CHETLAIN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

 

[Inclosure.]

PAROLED CAMP,
Benton Barracks, Mo., December 15, 1864.

 Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

GENERAL: I most respectfully request that a court of inquiry be convened as soon as practicable to inquire into the circumstances attending the surrender of U.S. forces at Athens, Ala., on September 24, 1864, by myself, to Maj. Gen. N. B. Forrest, of C. S. Army.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 WALLACE CAMPBELL,

Colonel 110th U. S. Colored Infantry,
Late Commanding U. S. Forces, Athens, Ala,

[First indorsement.]

HDQRS. U.S. COLORED TROOPS IN STATE OF TENNESSEE,
Memphis, January 2, 1864 [1865].

Respectfully forwarded.

 A. L. CHETLAIN,

Brigadier-General.

[Second indorsement.]

LOUISVILLE, KY., January 10, 1865.

Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. G. H. Thomas.

I have received no instructions to investigate this matter.

Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Reports - Union | Tags: Mississippi , Tennessee , Alabama , Washington , Michigan , Missouri
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