The Civil War Diary of Henderson George
Diary 1863


  NOVEMBER 1863  
Sabbath Nov. 1st.
Move forward with cattle about six A.M. Meet some of our Scouts and cavalrymen. Pass the scene of the raid where the rebels yesterday destroyed some of our wagons. Made a narrow escape from being fired upon by our own men through mistake; arrive in camp just before sun-down and turn cattle over to the subsistance department.
Monday Nov. 2nd.
All apparently quiet. During the day issued fifty head of cattle to the Brigades received from the subsistance department.
Tuesday Nov. 3d.
All quiet. Issued rations to Brigades. Captain Winnegar was down from Knoxville on a visit.
Wednesday Nov. 4th.
All generally quiet. Was up at Concord to get an estimate of how much flour that post could furnish. Return about eight P.M.
Thursday Nov. 5th.
All quiet. Raining all after-noon. Went to Knoxville with a detail of men by rail for cattle. Arrive in Knoxville about seven P.M. Sleep on the floor of the R.R. station.
Friday Nov. 6th.
Arose before daylight and go to the Bell House for breakfast; got shaved; obtain necessary papers from the head quarters of the ninth corps Commissary. With men go out three miles from city on foot for cattle; drive back through Knoxville and corral cattle on pasture for the night.
Saturday Nov. 7th.
Start with cattle for the front early. Met Clark of our Regiment on his way to Knoxville; he informed me that our Brigade had left camp on board cars. Rest an hour at noon; ate a Johney-cake dinner with a collored woman. Corral at two P.M. at Campbells Station.
Sabbath Nov. 8th.
Left men in charge of cattle last night and reported to the first Division, ninth Corps head quarters; remained in camp for the night; in the morning received orders to bring in cattle and issue to Brigades.
Monday Nov. 9th.
Generally quiet. Third Brigade returned to camp by after-noon train. Shipment of salt arrived after dark which I had to see unloaded.
Tuesday Nov. 10th.
Nothing unusual transpiring in our military situation. Busy issueing rations to Brigades.
Wednesday Nov. 11th.
Lieut. Justice left by rail for Knoxville to procure ten days rations for the 1st. Division 9th. Army Corps. Troops ordered into line for action before daylight. Laying pon-bridge across the river.
Thursday Nov. 12th.
All seems quiet this morning although I feel impressed that something is in the air. Lieut. Justice returned from Knoxville but was unsuccessful in obtaining ten days rations for our Division. This indicates scarcity; it is possible that our line of transportation has been cut between Knoxville and Crab Orchard; if so it is serious. The assistant Secretary of War, Mr. Dana, arrived in camp for a visit.
Friday Nov. 13th.
Apprehensive of a shortness of rations for our troops I was sent into the surrounding country to find out what prospect there was for procuring beef cattle, flour, molasses, &c. Returned in the evening with a rather unfavourable report. Dr. Taylor was sent to Knoxville to find out what he could with reference to future commissary supplies. The situation is not favourable.
Saturday Nov. 14th.
Raining; ordered to retreat; wagon trains to the rear; government property is being destroyed by our own men to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. General Burnside has arrived. Troops in retreat ordered to halt and face the enemy. Heavy rebel force said to have crossed the river. Union Troops falling back toward Knoxville. Skirmishing; roads very bad on account of rains.
Sabbath Nov. 15th.
Retreat continued. Arrive within ten miles of Knoxville. Met Dr. Taylor and Lieut. Morrison going back to meet wagon trains. Troops continue falling back. Orders last night to be in line early to-day. Report that two thousand of the enemy have been captured; this report must be premature.
Monday Nov. 16th.
Wagon trains move at five A.M. arrive in Knoxville about noon. This is our goal; it seems to be a race who can get to Knoxville first, the rebels or us. The enemy can be seen on the opposite side of the river. Hear cannonading and see smoke of guns. Our troops continue to fall back and are now this side of Lenoir Station. Bivouac for the night.
Tuesday Nov. 17th.
Our troops reached Campbells Station first where a stand is made. There was a lively fight at the Station yesterday. Heavy force of the enemy advancing which we do not seem strong enough to meet successfully. The fight yesterday was without result except to check the enemy for a time. Our troops to-day fall back on Knoxville; here we make our final stand and must "do or die." Every thing is being put in readiness for a strenuous resistance. Skirmishing continuously on our front. Remove wagon trains to what we consider a safer position.
Wednesday Nov. 18th.
Fort Saunders in Knoxville is our main reliance. Benjamins Battery of our Division is posted in Fort Saunders. This is a splendid battery of six rifled guns twenty hour pounders. Fort Saunders is our strong point, we must hold it by every means in our power. Our troops are now throwing up lines of entrenchments. Heavy fighting and skirmishing all day; one cannot see that the enemy is gaining; he is not so aggressive, he has become cautious. The enemy is extending his lines on our right. Our men seem confident of being able to make a successful resistance.
Thursday Nov. 19th.
It has been rather quiet on our lines to-day. The enemy made some demonstration on our right by opening fire from a battery, but it was soon silenced. This P.M. we move our head quarters to a better locality.
Friday Nov. 20th.
This is the third day since we fell back on Knoxville. Comparatively quiet; little cannonading but some sharp skirmishing. Was on the firing line with the Regiment on a visit; brother Samuel was out on the skirmish line and did not see him. While I was there Lieut. Reed of company D. was brought in wounded. The fine residence of Col. Saunders that stood between our line and the enemy was burned last night by our men; it was used by the rebel sharpshooters as a cover; later several other fine residences between the lines were burned. This was the fine residence district of the city.
Saturday Nov. 21st.
Raining all of last night and all of to-day; troops compelled to leave rifle pits because they became flooded with water. John Connelly of Co. G. wounded to-day, leg amputated. Comparative quiet in the lines.
Sabbath Nov. 22nd.
Fifth day of the siege. We are beginning to run short of Commissary Supplies. To-day issued to Brigades the last of the coffee at this post. The enemy gave us a mild shelling on our right this evening.
Monday Nov. 23d.
Sixth day of the siege. General situation unchanged. The eighth Michigan Cavalry who are outside our lines on scout service, suffered a loss through the capture of thirteen of their men and eight wagons. Ominously quiet.
Tuesday Nov. 24th.
Seventh day. The enemy has appeared on the opposite side of Clinch River. A charge was made this morning by the 2nd. Michigan Regiment in which they were repulsed, with the loss of several men. They attempted to drive the enemy from a certain position and failed. Our troops burned several houses in front of our lines last night. Weather cloudy and raw with occasional rain; troops suffer physically from weather conditions. On account of the campaign in east Tenn. we have been cut off from much needed clothing, shoes, and blankets. Also commissary stores. Issued to Brigades.
Wednesday Nov. 25th.
Sharp engagement across the river; several men killed and wounded within our fortifications. The situation appears to be practically unchanged. This is the eighth day of the siege. The rebels seem to have settled down to starving us into surrender; it is supposed they are informed by spies that we are short of rations. There is a report that a relief force is on the way from Chattanooga for our relief. Our subsistence stores are getting low.
Thursday Nov. 26th.
Ninth day of the siege. So far as can be judged from observation the situation remains unchanged.
Friday Nov. 27th.
Tenth day. In a general way the situation at the front remains unchanged; some skirmishing. Rumors that the enemy are crossing the river below the city. Troops are now on short rations of chopped corn and molasses. Our supply of molasses was found in a warehouse in the city, and confiscated.
Saturday Nov. 28th.
Eleventh day of the siege. Raining and cold; troops suffer. Artillery fight this evening with no apparent result. No casualties reported. The rebels displayed numerous campfires across the river last night. It is probably intended to deceive us into the belief that a strong rebel force is over there.
Sabbath Nov. 29th.
Twelfth day. Cannonading and skirmishing all last night. At six o'clock this morning the whole rebel force under the rebel General Longstreet, made a general charge on Fort Saunders and our breast works. After about an hours fighting they were repulsed with the loss of more than a thousand in wounded and killed. This was a signal victory for our troops. Our men expected a charge to be made eventually and were well prepared. As an entanglement, our troops during the course of the siege, crawled out at night and wove telegraph wire around the stumps and trees of which there were many, forming a sort of net work; the enemy charging over this wire entanglement were thrown into inextricable confusion, at the same time were swept by drape and canister, and by our rifle fire, and easily repulsed. Our loss was only seven in killed and wounded.
Monday Nov. 30th.
Thirteenth day of the siege. Weather clear and cold. Troops in good heart since the fight yesterday, although subsisting on chopped corn and molasses. No coffee; coffee is a great stand by in the army and our men miss it greatly. The victory yesterday was a great inspiration. In addition to short rations the men are much in need of clothing and shoes, especially at the inclement season of the year.