Does anything in this news article from 150 years ago sound familiar? I'm almost embarrassed to write anything about the weather because we've been very lucky in Memphis so far this year: NO SNOW! But our temperatures, like elsewhere, have been unusually low. We dealt with a frozen pipe after a 9-degree night a week or so ago, but nothing like what the Commercial Appeal reported in 1864!
In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, “Civil War-Era
Memories” features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years
ago. The Appeal is publishing from Atlanta. Perspective from our staff
is in italics.
Jan. 20, 1864
We have frequently heard of our troops “charging the Yankees,” but
they have invariably been fortified with muskets and fixed bayonets. It
remained for (Gen. Nathan Bedford) Forrest to inaugurate charging an
enemy without a weapon of any description. In his recent retreat from
Jackson, Tennessee, he was attacked by the Yankees near the line of the
Memphis and Charleston railroad, and his armed forces being small, he
ordered the new recruits, two thousand in number, who had not received
arms, to charge the enemy. They immediately rushed forward, and the
Yankees, astounded at the force coming toward them, fled in all
directions, leaving Forrest a clear road to Oxford.
An account from Jan. 23 describes the charge in more detail:
(Forrest) divided his men into two columns, one of which he sent, under
Col. Faulkner, across the railroad, within five miles of Memphis. The
other he commanded in person, taking the Bolivar route, and crossing the
railroad near Collierville. Near Bolivar, he met Col. Hatch’s Yankee
cavalry, and though they largely outnumbered his force, he charged them
with a yell, causing them to scatter in every direction ... Not more
than a third of Gen. Forrest’s men were armed, but he mixed up the armed
with the unarmed men, and ordered the whole to charge at once. His men
were nearly all raw recruits, while the Federals had, from their own
accounts, not less than twenty thousand disciplined men after him.
Jan. 22, 1864
Letter from Mississippi (Grenada) — The weather continues intensely
cold. The managers of the hospitals are taking advantage of the heaviest
ice ever known in Mississippi to lay in a supply for next summer.
Travel and mails have been much interrupted by water and mud freezing
over the railroad tracks.
Memphis Intelligence — The cold was severe in Memphis — 10 below zero
... On President’s Island about eighty negroes perished. A detachment
of ten soldiers from Fort Pillow, chasing after deserters, were frozen,
as were also five on a sandbar in the river ... At Cairo the mercury
stood at 15 degrees below zero, at St. Louis 25 below.