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EAST TENNESSEE. .
THE DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO.
FTER an interval of rest for a few weeks in Providence,
Department of the Ohio, which comprised the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Eastern Kentucky, with the prospective addition of East Tennessee. Headquarters were at Cincinnati. General Burnside was assigned on the 16th of March, 1863, reached Cincinnati on the 23d, and on the 25th, assumed command,* relieving Major General Horatio G. Wright. Affairs were not in a particularly flourishing condition in that quarter. Rebel raids were devastating portions of the State of Kentucky, and causing considerable alarm and anxiety
* To the officers of the commissioned staff of the corps, there were several additions at the time that General Burnside was appointed to the command of the Department of the Ohio. Among these are especially to be mentioned Mr. Daniel R. Larned, appointed March 13th, 1863, Assistant Adjutant General, with the rank of Captain, and Mr. W. Harrison French, who was appointed Commissary of Subsistence, with the rank of Captain, February 19th, 1863. Captain Larned had been General Burnside's private secretary from the beginning of the North Carolina expedition, and continued to act in that capacity until the end of the war, when he retired with the brevet of Lieutenant Colonel: Captain French had been assistant secretary.
among the inhabitants. Considerable disaffection, amounting in some cases to actual disloyalty, existed in certain parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Large numbers of rebel prisoners were confined in camps and barracks on Johnson's Island, and in the immediate neighborhood of the city of Chicago, and it was known that rebel sympathizers, outside the prison walls, were ready to afford aid and comfort to the prisoners. The Governors of the States were disposed to yield all needed assistance to the military authorities, but, as martial law had not been proclaimed in the Department, except in Kentucky, freedom of speech and of the press was exercised to an extent but a little removed from license. Such extreme liberty, in case of a civil war, becomes absolutely dangerous and injurious to the welfare of the country. The management of affairs required the utmost tact and ability on the part of the officer commanding the Department.
General Burnside, immediately upon his appointment, saw the necessity of a larger military force than was then in the Department, for the purpose of restoring the peace of Kentucky, of impressing the disaffected among the people of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois with a wholesome sense of the presence of military authority, and of accomplishing the deliverance of East Tennessee. He requested and obtained permission for the transfer of the two divisions of the Ninth Corps, then in camp at Newport News, under Generals Willcox and Sturgis, to his new command. Upon the departure of the corps, General Sturgis was relieved of his command, and General Robert B. Potter assigned to the position.* This reënforcement was rendered especially necessary at that time, as the rebel General Pegram, with a force of three thousand men, was devastating central Kentucky almost without opposition, had plundered much from the residents along his line of march, had captured and occupied several towns, had penetrated as far as Danville, and was even threatening Louisville with capture, and Indiana
* Colonel Potter, of the 51st New York, was promoted to Brigadier General on the 13th of March, 1863.
with invasion. General Burnside, upon his arrival at the scene of operations, immediately took measures to check the advance of the bold partisan. The two divisions of the Ninth Corps were hurried westward, and the small number of troops then scattered through Central Kentucky were hastily concentrated at Lebanon and Hickman's Bridge, under command of Generals Gillmore and Boyle. General Burnside proceeded to Louisville and ordered a simultaneous attack to be made on Pegram at Danville, on the 28th. The order was quickly obeyed, the enemy retreating southward as our force advanced. On the 30th, General Gillmore, with his cavalry, overtook the enemy at Somerset, and, after a smart engagement of five hours' duration, completely routed him, and drove him in confusion across the Cumberland river, with a loss of five hundred killed, wounded and prisoners. Our troops also recaptured a large portion of the plunder that had been seized.
Early in April, the two divisions of the Ninth Corps began to arrive in the Department. Their presence gave assurance of security to the harassed people of Kentucky. But it is simply declaring a matter of familiar knowledge to state, that the New England troops in the Ninth Corps, when they first entered Kentucky, were not cordially received. prejudice against “the Yankees”—particularly the Massachusetts Yankees-existed among the people. Some of the regiments were even treated with
half-concealed dislike. Kentucky did not want these abolitionists among her communities, said the people. But no long time was required to dispossess the inhabitants of their unjust and unworthy prejudices. In cases where the regiments of the corps were engaged as garrisons in the towns, the troops, by their thorough discipline, the intelligence and gentlemanly demeanor of their officers, and their general good conduct, fairly conquered the popular feeling and turned its direction. They won their way into the respect and even affection of those who were at first disposed to regard them with complete aversion. One noteworthy instance is given in the case of the 21st Massachu
setts. It was sent down to Mount Sterling, on the 5th of April, to hold the place and, with other troops, to secure the neighborhood against the occurrence of rebel raids, to which that section was peculiarly open. The regiment was very coldly received. It remained at this post for three months, and during that brief period, coldness was changed to cordiality, contempt to unwonted esteem, aversion to hospitality and kind
When the regiment was to be ordered away, the inhabitants of the town actually petitioned the commanding general to allow the troops to remain for their protection. Two loyal cavalry regiments raised in the vicinity had been stationed near the town, and were still to hold the position. But the citizens were even more ready to trust themselves to the care of the Yankees than to the keeping of their own neighbors. The same result ensued wherever the Eastern troops were stationed, and Kentucky thus learned to respect New England.
With the force which was now at his disposal, General Burnside could more effectually provide for the protection of the people entrusted to his care. His line of defence was necessarily long, and had its weak points. But his officers were vigilant and his men were trustworthy. His line extended from the mouth of the Big Sandy river to that of the Cumberland, running through Louisa Court House, Irvine, Somerset, Franklin and Hopkinsville. The State of Kentucky was at the time divided into three military districts. The Western was under the command of Brigadier General J. T. Boyle, with headquarters at Louisville: the Central under Brigadier General Q. A. Gillmore, with headquarters at Lexington; the Eastern under Brigadier General Julius White, with headquarters at Louisa.. Immediately upon the arrival of the troops of the Ninth Corps, they were ordered to the front. General Gillmore, who had applied for leave of absence after his defeat of Pegram, was relieved by General Willcox, and did not return to the Department. The troops were posted at London, Somerset, Liberty, Glasgow, Louisa, and near Tompkinsville. Fortifications were thrown up along the lines of railroads leading to the extreme