157 Years Ago – November, 1863

Significant November Dates in Knoxville Civil War History – 157 Years Ago:
November 17: Siege of Knoxville begins by CSA General James Longstreet

November 18: General William P. Sanders is mortally wounded at the present site of the Second Presbyterian Church

November 19: General Sanders dies in the bridal suite of the Lamar House (now the Bijou Theatre)

November 29: Battle of Fort Sanders begins at dawn and lasts approximately 30 minutes resulting in an overwhelming Union victory. Union casualties number 13; Confederate casualties number over 800.

A Timely November Story:

Completing the Story of Mary Love, Grant’s Special Courier

By Dennis D. Urban, Former President, Knoxville Civil War Roundtable

The story of Mary Love, a volunteer courier who carried an important message partway from General Ulysses Grant, who was at Chattanooga, to General Ambrose Burnside at Knoxville on a route from Kingston TN to Louisville TN during the Knoxville campaign, has been partially summarized in several books. However, the complete story has not been fully documented in one compilation until this effort. The daring exploit of Mary Love was well known to General Grant and later detailed in the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant.

The Messages:

General Burnside was on his own and isolated in East Tennessee at Knoxville since early September 1863 when he took Knoxville without a fight. The Confederate troops left the city during late August, massing in north Georgia near Chattanooga for what was to be the battle of Chickamauga. Grant was concerned about Burnside’s isolation and wanted to send him some relief before Confederate General James Longstreet would attempt to retake Knoxville and its important three intersecting rail lines. To that end, Grant sent the same written message by several couriers to Burnside on November 29, 1863. The Battle of Fort Sanders was fought in the early morning daylight on that date, but Grant was not yet aware of the Union victory when his messages were written and sent on their way. The cunning and forward-thinking Grant clearly wanted to make known to Longstreet that significant reinforcements were on the way and thus force the hand of Longstreet to make a choice. As Grant wrote in his 1885 memoir, “I put the information of what was being done for the relief of Knoxville into writing, and directed that in some way or other it must be secretly managed so as to have a copy of this fall into the hands of General Longstreet.”[1] Longstreet’s choices were to regroup and attack the city a second time, retreat, or risk being caught between two Union armies.

The following is the message Grant wrote to Burnside at Knoxville on November 29, 1863 from Chattanooga:

CHATTANOOGA,November29, 1863.

 Maj. Gen. A. E. BURNSIDE, Knoxville, Tenn.:

I congratulate you on the tenacity with which you have thus far held out against vastly superior forces. Do not be forced into a surrender by short rations. Take all the citizens have to enable you to hold out yet a few days longer. As soon as you are relieved from the presence of the enemy, you can replace to them everything taken from them.

Within a few days you will be relieved. There are now three columns in motion for your relief–one from here moving up the south bank of the river under Sherman, one from Decherd under Elliott, and one from Cumberland Gap under Foster.

These three columns will be able to crush Longstreet’s forces or drive them from the valley, and must all of them be within twenty-four hours’ march of you by the time this reaches you, supposing you to get it on Tuesday, the 1st instant.

 U. S. GRANT, Major-General.[2]

Longstreet had no way of knowing the location of the reinforcements or how long it would take them to get to Knoxville. However, the message would force Longstreet to take immediate action of some kind. Interestingly, the information contained in Grant’s message relative to the troop movements was entirely accurate. Two copies of this message were written in Chattanooga, one in Grant’s handwriting and a copy written in another hand. One was sent by a courier with instructions to let the message be intercepted by the Confederates at some point along the way to Knoxville. The other message was sent with a note written by Grant’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier General John A. Rawlings. This message was sent via Colonel J.H. Wilson and Lincoln’s advisor Charles A. Dana, both of whom were in Chattanooga to get updated information for Lincoln. The dispatch was addressed to Colonel Robert K. Byrd, commanding the Union garrison at Kingston. That message read:

CHATTANOOGA, November 29, 1863.

 Col. R. K. BYRD, Commanding Post, Kingston, Tenn.:

Inclosed please find dispatch in duplicate for Major-General Burnside, commanding at Knoxville. The one in General Grant’s own handwriting, and marked A, you will send by some one whom you can trust, with instructions to let it fall into the hands of the enemy without fail. The other, marked B, and not in the general’s handwriting, though signed by him, you must get to General Burnside at all hazards and at the earliest possible moment.

By order of Major-General Grant:


Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.[3]


The Couriers:

Wilson and Dana made the trip through Union controlled territory from Chattanooga to Kingston. Upon receipt of both messages, Colonel Byrd made five copies of the Grant message to Burnside and recruited five different couriers so as to ensure at least one message would get into the hands of Longstreet.

At this point, Mary Love enters the story. Mary was a 39-year-old unmarried woman, who had family in Louisville, TN and lived at the Lawnville community near Kingston in Roane County. Mary was a Unionist but she had a brother serving in the Confederate forces. For this reason Byrd thought Mary would be “less exposed to suspicion by the confederate guards.” The adventurous Mary volunteered to carry one of the messages. Two members of the 9th Michigan Cavalry, Sgt. Cornelius M. Hadley, Company F, and Sgt. William B. Rowe also volunteered to carry the message. They may have traveled together.  The identity of the other couriers remains unknown. One courier, possibly Sgt. Rowe, was captured on December 1, providing Longstreet the intended information. Longstreet issued orders to lift the siege of Knoxville the following day. He moved his forces away from Knoxville and farther to the east. Rowe or a different captured courier was sent to a Confederate prison where he died. Another courier was reportedly killed along the way.

Mary Love chose to take a “long and circuitous” route from Kingston to Louisville where she had both a brother, Dr. John Lewis, and a brother-in-law, Horace Foster. Foster was a Unionist. Dr. Lewis had been a Confederate surgeon stationed at Knoxville. Mary had a companion, Reverend Thomas F. Carter, traveling with her part of the way to Louisville. Mary was stopped at least once along her route and taken to a local Confederate provost marshal, Philo B. Shepherd, 6th Georgia Cavalry, for questioning. Mary stated that she was on her way to minister to her sick sister by assisting her brother, Dr. Lewis. Interestingly, Shepherd knew Dr. Lewis, thus lending credence to Mary’s tale. In those times, a woman traveling unescorted would arouse suspicion.  Few details are known of Mary’s travels but she used her brother’s fleet horse and in a few hours traveled roughly 26 miles by horseback and partially at night before crossing the river into her native Louisville. Completely exhausted, Mary was not to carry the dispatch beyond Louisville. Perhaps she wanted to avoid further suspicion by travelling to Knoxville or perhaps she felt the chances of the note reaching would have greater success with an alternate carrier. In Louisville, Mrs. Elizabeth Brown volunteered her son, 13-year-old John T. Brown, to carry the note on the final eleven mile leg to General Burnside. The adventurous young John Brown agreed to the task. To hide the note and ensure its delivery, Mary sewed the message into the lining of Brown’s jacket. Elizabeth Brown accompanied her son for the first two miles until they passed beyond the pickets of Confederate General Joseph Wheeler who held Louisville.  On December 2, John Brown successfully delivered the dispatch to General Burnside who was relieved to know that reinforcements were on the way.[4] In writing of the receipt of the message on September 14, 1869, Burnside acknowledged that he had received the message “in duplicate.” Two couriers had made it through to Burnside. The second was Sgt. Hadley.  

Based on the intercepted information, Longstreet made a half-hearted feint back towards Knoxville from where he had moved miles to the east. Knoxville was never again threatened during the war.

The Aftermath:

In the years after the Civil War, the daring escapade of Mary Love was almost forgotten.

On January 16, 1873, the U.S. Congress awarded Mary $2,000 “for services in carrying despatches (sic)…through confederate lines.”[5] Subsequent attempts by Congress to make awards to Carter and Brown did not pass. Mary’s award was very substantial for 1873. In today’s dollars, the award would be approximately $44,000. Such an amount would represent the average 1873 earning covering fifteen to twenty years or more.

Sgt. Cornelius Hadley was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on April 5, 1898 for carrying the message to Burnside. His citation read in part, “with one companion, voluntarily carried through the enemy’s lines important dispatches” from Grant to Burnside “and brought back replies, his comrade’s horse being killed and the man taken prisoner.”[6]   

Mary Love lived out her life in obscurity for another 14 years after 1873. She continued to reside in the Lawnville area of Roane County before quietly passing away on February 24, 1887. She never married. Today, Mary Love lies buried with her parents and three brothers in the Love family cemetery on a quiet wooded hilltop behind a private home in Lawnville. There is no mention of her Civil War service to General Grant. Her story lives on in the Official Records and the post-war writings of General Ulysses S. Grant.

The Related and Long Extinct Loveville Community:

Several years ago, from a member of the KCWRT, I learned about the Loveville community that was located near the intersection of Kingston Pike and the current Lovell Road. The gentleman had personal knowledge of the community and sent me a photo of a historic marker which noted a short history of the community. The marker reads, “Robertus Love, a companion of Gen. James White, who founded Knoxville, established the village in this area in 1797 where he built a fulling mill in 1792. Several of the early buildings still exist a short distance from the highway. The name of the village has been corrupted to Lovell.” Today, the heavily traveled Lovell Road which crosses Kingston Pike and extends for several miles in each direction takes it’s name from the historic community.

The marker and the buildings are long gone and my friend was unable to find out what became of the sign. Upon enlargement, several items of interest are seen in the above photo. The Oak Ridge sign in the left background appears to be a mileage or directional marker to the town. So the sign dates to after the town Oak Ridge town became common knowledge. Also, the car to the left of the sign appears to be late 1940s or early 1950s vintage; so the sign may date from the early 1950s. Loveville is also seen just east of Campbell’s Station along the Kingston Road on an 1850 map. This long-gone Loveville community must certainly have some relation to the Mary Love family of Lawnville and Louisville. That relationship has not been researched by this author.

Mr. Urban is a Past President of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable (2013 – 2016) and remains an active member. Urban’s book, The Making of a Civilian Soldier in the Civil War, The First Diary of Private William J. McLean Along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Affair at Edwards Ferry was published in late 2019 by New Academia Publishing.   

[1] Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Volume II, page 455

[2] The War of Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XXXI, Part 3, page 273

[3] The War of Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XXXI, Part 3, page 273

[4] Temple, Oliver Perry, East Tennessee and the Civil War, 1899, page 522-523

[5] The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, 1988, Volume 9, page 466

[6] The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, 1988, Volume 9, page 466

Battle of Shepherdstown, VA  Letter

               Amaziah J. Barber

Company H, 11th U.S. Infantry

The Battle of Shepherdstown, VA (now West Virginia) was fought two days after Antietam as the Confederate troops retreated back into Virginia. Union troops followed and attacked the rearguard of the CSA army on September 19 and 20, 1862. The Confederate troops crossed the Potomac River at a ford and on a low 10’ wide stone and wood dam close to one another about a mile below the town. Confusing both sides was the fact that the ford carried four different names; Blackford’s, Boteler’s, Pack Horse, and Shepherdstown Ford. The covered wooden bridge which previously spanned the Potomac at Shepherdstown was burned by Stonewall Jackson in 1861. The stone piers remain in the river to this day. This bridge destruction virtually stopped all commerce across the river and brought the growing town to a standstill. Farmers and merchants relied on the bridge to cross the river and gain access to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which ran parallel and close to the river on the Maryland side. The canal allowed the transport of farm produce and material goods to and from Harper’s Ferry, Georgetown, and Washington as well as points in between. The canal, however, was previously breached in this area and was now virtually dry.

This little known and less studied engagement did not have to happen and served no purpose other than to satisfy Major General George B. McClellan that he made an effort to pursue the Confederate troops back into Virginia. Those killed and mortally wounded on both sides were light; 99 Union and 63 Confederate. However, for the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry (The Corn Exchange Regiment), this was their baptism of fire after being mustered into Federal service on August 30 in Philadelphia. Held in reserve and not used on September 17, this new, green, and untested regiment suffered 63 killed outright, 101 wounded, and 105 missing or captured. The loss of 269 soldiers of their strength of 737 men amounted to 36% of the regiment lost in their very first engagement. 

Amaziah J. Barber was originally from upstate New York. His family moved to Medina, Ohio and then to Burlington, Iowa. Amaziah was not a career military soldier. He originally enlisted in Company I of the 7th Iowa Infantry on August 2, 1861 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He resigned six weeks later while in camp near Falmouth, VA. Then, on January 8, 1862, he mustered into the U.S. Army, 11th Infantry as a Corporal. He rose through the ranks and had several promotions. He was probably a Sergeant Major in September 1862. The 11th Infantry was on the front line at Shepherdstown but due to their position on the field against the attacking Confederates, they only suffered three wounded before retreating back across the river. They were, however, in position to witness the carnage wreaked upon the 118th Pennsylvania. Barber survived unscathed but he was to meet his fate 10 months later at Gettysburg. He was severely wounded in the left leg on July 2, 1863. Amaziah lingered in the Fifth Corps hospital in Gettysburg until his death on July 26. Today he lies under a marked headstone in Evergreen Cemetery. Barber’s letter regarding Shepherdstown has been lightly edited with punctuation for easier reading. His spelling errors were left intact.

In the Field

        Camp near Sharpsburgh, Md 

            Sep’t. 28th 1862

My Dear Father and Mother

And Brother Ed

It has been some time since you have heard from me, which was while we were on the West side of the Potomac oposite the City of Washington; the City that we were then defending from the Enemy that had just whiped us at Bulls Runn. We have since passed through another heavy Battle in which, thank God, we were victorious. At least we drove the Enemy across the Potomac and we, Sykes Division, are here guarding the fords below Shephardstown  which we shall probably continue to do until high Water. Then we shall probably go into Winter Quarters at some town or City – I hope Washington or Baltimore.

Well about the Fight, I cannot tell you much as we were the Reserve and therefore was not engaged but our Batalion was supporting a Battery during the fight and therefor should say that we were in. But as the officials say not, I suppose that we was not.  The Batalion only had one man Wounded during the Battle of the 17th and none killed – the one that was wounded was sitting within two feet of myself when a ball from a case shot struck him on the head. We were eating our dinner at the time he was not wounded very bad.

However, the next day the enemy asked for a cesation of hostilaties to enable them to pick up the dead and wounded. But instead of doing that, they used the time in retreating across the Potomac which we did not discover untill the next morning at which time the Reserve (Porter’s Corps which was in the center) was ordered to the front which was done with Sykes Division in the front. We advanced to within two miles of the Potomac when a halt was ordered and Skirmishers advanced  (from) the ford to the Bluffs overlooking the Potomac when they were fired into by the enemys  Rear guard both Infantry and Artilery. Then a couple of our Batteries of Artilery went to the front and soon put a quietus on their guns but there was an accasional shot fired during the whole day and part of the night but we did not advance any farther until the next morning when there was no enemy in sight.  Sykes Division was ordered to cross to River. The 3rd Brigade, 5th & 10th N.Y.,  Col. Warren comdg taking the lead and to the left after crossing.  The 2nd Brigade next with the 1st Batl, 11th Infty on the advance. We took the center after crossing and advanced up a deep ravine about one mile when we came out on the high ground with a corn field in front and on the right and left of the road with a wood in the rear of the field. At this time the Major says that he thought he saw a horseman cross the Road beyond the corn field he halted the column and sent out skirmishers on the left in front through a wooded opening. The balance of the 2nd Brigade filed left into the wood in four lines, each Batallion forming a line. We then rested for about half an hour when word came back that the enemy were advancing in force. We then fell back to the Bluff overlooking the River under a sharp fire from the enemys Skirmishers suported by a heavy force. At this time our Light Artillery opened on them from the Maryland side of the river and kept them in check for about an hour; our Skirmishers and theirs keeping up a continual fire. At this time we were ordered to recross the River which was done in pretty good order considering. But here is the place that the enemy could have Slaughtered the regular Army of the east but they was affraid of our Artilery and kept back which gave us a chance to regain the Maryland shore in safety.  But if they had opened their Musketry and Artilery on us while crossing we would all have been killed or drowned. And another thing, if they had let us gone a half a mile farther into Virginia they could have taken us all prisoners as they had force enough to have surrounded us.  We are now encamped within sight of the river in the edge of a piece of Woods.

My health is first rate better than usual and I am glad to hear that Ed is improving so rapidly and I hope that he will entirely recover and not be a criple for life. (Note: Edward Barber, brother of Amaziah, was severely wounded in the hip on April 6, 1862 at Shiloh and survived until June 13, 1863.) I recieved your (Fathers) letter dated Chicago yesterday also one from Patt and Frank which I have answered to day.  They are all well except the “Pig.” When you write give them my love.

I should have written sooner but as soon as the Excitement of the Battle was over, the Major ordered the pay Rolls made up and I have been busy on them for the past week. Yesterday I got them passed and signed by the Major – and so they are off my mind for the next two months by which time I hope that the 1st Sergt. will be well and back to his company and relieve me.

I will try and write as often as I can after this – hoping to hear from you soon.

                                                                I remain your

                                                                                affectionate Son


P.S. I will write to Washington to keep that Box until farther orders when I shall be able to get it is more than I can say.

Say to Lieut. Harbach that I recd his letter and will answer soon maybe tomorrow – also that Sergt. John

Reid was only Wounded but pretty badly the Ball passing through his body – he has not been heard from

since we left Centerville, Va


Write soon. Direct the same as usual Co. “H” 1st Batl.

11th U.S. Infantry Washington D.C.


Suggested Reading: Thomas A. McGrath, Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign September 19 – 20, 1862, 2007, Schroeder Publications

KCWRT April meeting, Chickamauga field trip canceled

Effective today our next meeting at the Bearden Banquet Hall scheduled for April 14th is canceled per the latest CDC recommendations. Also canceled is this Saturday’s (March 21st) Chickamauga field trip with Jim Ogden.

An attempt will be made to reschedule both the field trip and the talk by Harper’s Ferry Chief Historian Ret. Dennis Frye at a later date.

No decision has been made as yet regarding our scheduled May 12th meeting with author/historian Timothy Smith. We will follow the news and CDC recommendations and hope for the best.

Tammie Burroughs & Jim Doncaster

Scout’s Report – February 2020

2-2020 Scout’s Report

Scout’s Report – January 2020



Scout’s Report – December 2019


Scout’s Report – November 2019

November 2019 Scout’s Report


KCWRT November meeting: Bite the Bullet: The Myths and Realities of Civil War Medicine

Much has changed in the century and a half since the Civil War. Technological advances have changed the face of battle and concomitantly the way we treat the casualties of war. But has the field of medicine changed as much as we like to think? Were the sawbones of yesteryear simply butchers? Are the skilled surgeons of today, armed with knowledge undreamed of by their 19th century predecessors, miracle workers in comparison?

Dr. Anthony Hodges has spent decades studying Civil War medicine. His “Bite the Bullet” is an overview of the techniques used by the military physicians of the 19th century to treat battlefield wounds and disease during the War Between the States. Original Civil War medical instruments will be shown to illustrate the medical and surgical treatments used by the Union and Confederate military, the results of those treatments, and how they contrast with the techniques of the modern military medical system.

Come join us Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, for a walk back in time as we examine medical procedures and outcomes then and now.

Dr. Anthony Hodges graduated from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences with a D.D.S. degree in 1981.  He is married to a dental school classmate, Dr. Jill Prichard Hodges, and they have three grown children. They reside on Elder Mountain, just outside of Chattanooga.  Anthony recently retired from dentistry after 33 years of practice.

He became interested in early American and Civil War history as a young child due to oral family history passed down to him by elderly relatives.  He began to collect Civil War artifacts as a young boy and items from his collection have been displayed in national parks and museums across the South.   He served as a National Park Service living history interpreter for nearly forty years.

Anthony began to study Civil War medicine in dental school and has lectured on the topic for over forty years.  He assisted Dr. Bud Robertson of Virginia Tech in the re-printing of the U.S. Army’s official twelve-volume medical account of the Civil War, The Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War, and wrote numerous Civil War historical articles for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press during the war’s sesquicentennial.

Anthony completed his fourth term as President of the Friends of Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Park in 2017 and now serves on the Advisory Board of the National Park Partners (the recently combined Friends of the Park and Friends of Moccasin Bend). He also serves as President of the board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association.


He is a longtime board member of the East Tennessee Historical Society and Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville and serves on the Board of the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga. He is a past Commander of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, as well as the Order of the Southern Cross. Anthony is a “Color Bearer” in the Civil War Trust, a member of the Sons of the Revolution, the Society of Civil War Surgeons, and the Company of Military Historians.

Fort Dickerson Living History Weekend, Oct. 26-27, 2019