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1864 November 19: The Second Battle of Newtonia, the Battle of Johnsonville, and Other News

November 22, 2014

The following news items are from The Prescott Journal of November 19, 1864.

The Second Battle of Newtonia–the second item–was fought on October 28, 1864, part of Price’s Missouri Expedition.  Confederate General Sterling Price’s cavalry force was in full retreat following its expedition into Missouri, when, on October 28, 1864, it stopped to rest about two miles south of Newtonia.  About 3:00 in the afternoon, Union General James G. Blunt’s cavalrymen spotted the rear of Price’s supply train entering the woods south of town.

The Battle of Johnsonville–third item–was fought November 4-5, 1864, part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.  Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest culminated a 23-day raid through western Tennessee by attacking the Union supply base at Johnsonville.  Forrest’s attack destroyed numerous boats in the Tennessee River and millions of dollars of supplies, disrupting the logistical operations of Union General George H. Thomas in Nashville.  As a result, Thomas’s army was hampered in its plan to defeat Confederate General John Bell Hood’s invasion of Tennessee.

News Items.

The bark Speedwell, Capt. Dixon, reports being boarded by the pirate Chickamauga on the 2d inst., in latitude 40 degrees 30 minutes, longitude 69 degrees 10 minutes.  Having a lady and child on board as passengers, the Speedwell was bonded for $18,000 to be paid in gold.  She was then allowed to proceed, after taking on board Capt. Thompson and crew of the schooner Ottercok, from Bangor for Georgetown, since reported abandoned.  The schooner, Godspeed, reported destroyed by the Tallahassee, was destroyed by the Chickamauga.  The bark Victoria, from Miragoane, reports that on the 31st ult., in latitude 35 degrees 22 minutes, longitude 73 degrees 3 minutes, she saw a vessel on fire, burnt to the water’s edge, supposed to be of 300 tons burthen.¹

A dispatch from Gen. Blunt, dated Neosho, Mo., Oct. 30th, says on the 28th he came up with Price at Newtonia, and after a severe fight of three or four hours, drove the enemy from the field in confusion with a loss of over 200, including two colonels.  Our total loss was about 120.  The Federal troops consisted of Ford’s² and Dennison’s [sic: Charles R. Jennison] brigades of Blunt’s division.  The enemy were fully 10,000 strong.  Price is retreating towards Cassville and will be vigorously pursued.  He is reported still to have a large train and about 10,000 unarmed conscripts, but this is quite doubtful.

The Democrat’s Cairo special says information from Paducah states that on Tuesday last Forrest, with a large force, placed batteries on the Tennessee river, within a mile and a half of Johnsonville, where three gunboats and eight transports were lying.  Early Friday morning Forrest moved his batteries up and opened on the transports, which were fired by shells, and the gunboats fell into the hands of the enemy after being disabled.  The crews and officers of the fleet were all taken prisoners.  A large amount of government stores and considerable artillery is reported captured.  It is also supposed that the supplies at Johnsonville were all taken.

The Herald’s Martinsburg correspondent says Gen. Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan], accompanied by Colonel Comstock [Cyrus B. Comstock], of Gen. Grant’s staff [Ulysses S. Grant], Capt. J. W. Moore and others, while on a visit to Winchester, were suddenly taken with symptoms of poisoning from corrosive sublimate.  The most ready antidotes were administered, and at last accounts were doing well, though their cases were at one time almost hopeless.  The poison is supposed to have been contained in some cheese, of which all had partaken freely.

The Richmond Enquirer of the 3d announces the capture of Plymouth by our gunboats, after three hours’ fighting.  The forts were passed and all their guns dismounted, when the rebels escaped under a severe sheling [sic].

1.  Builder’s Old Measurement (BOM or bm) was the method used in England from approximately 1650 to 1849 for calculating the cargo capacity of a ship.  It was expressed in tons burden or burthen.
2.  James “Jim” Hobart Ford (1829-1867), colonel of the 2nd Colorado Volunteer Infantry. During Price’s Missouri Raid, Ford was put in command of Blunt’s 4th Brigade. In December 1864, Ford was brevetted a brigadier general of Volunteers. He commanded the District of the Upper Arkansas for the remainder of the War. He was discharged in July 1865 and returned to Ohio where he died two years later.

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