Entry #1 in her diary follows.
Monday Morning February 16th ’63
Again I have commenced a journal. I used to keep one but two years ago when the war broke out, I ceased to write in it just when I ought to have continued. Yes! Our country was then perfectly distracted; To arms! To arms! was echoed from every side; volunteer companies were being gotten up all over the country to fly to her rescue; and of course Clarksville did her part, one regiment was immediately enlisted and sent forth. The 14th Ten. regiment. Oh! What a glorious name it has made upon the 10th of July – I think it was they left – dear old Ten. and went to Virginia to protect her soil. The war cry was still heard and in the autumn of the same year (’61) another regiment was sent from this place-the 49th Ten. My oldest brother enlisted in the former one and anon my youngest and last went to share his fate with the 49th. They were immediately ordered to Fort Donelson, Ah! There they went and there they stayed for sometime. Upon the 5th of the following Feb. Fort Henry fell into the hands of the Federals. F. H. was only a few miles from F. D. consequently a fight there was inevitable. On the following Sunday the 9th a volunteer company went out under command of Maj. Brandon Jonnerly a Maj. In the 14th Regt. but being in bad health came home to recruit. Scouting our boys were met-and overpowered, some made their escape and a few were taken prisoners. Pillar (probably Gen Pillow) and staff passed through here to take command of the two regiments at F. D. and the command from Hopkinsville which afterwards went down with Colonel Quarles regiment. Gen. Floyd went down with some of his men. I saw old Gen. Floyd. He looked like an old war horse. Gen Buckner with part of his command went down from Bowling Green, while all this was going on, Gen A. S. Johnson was moving back from Bowling Green. Skirmishing was going on all Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday the fight began. Thursday it raged. Friday was still more furious and Saturday evening was the worst of the battle up to that time, we had whipped them, driven them back, killed, slaughtered, whipped them as dogs were never beaten before. There was from 10,000 to 12,000 of our men, fighting against from 25,000 to 30,000 of their land forces, besides their innumerable gun boats which were contending with us Sunday morning. Ah what terrible news did we hear! That Fort Donelson had surrendered. Would to God that such a great misfortune had not befallen our young republic but I write as if I was complaining against heaven; As after all it may have been for our good, we had been victorious so far and were becoming too sanguine, now we were awakened from lethargy, but it was an awful stroke, our soldiers were worn out fighting and fasting and freezing and after whipping the Yankee devils they were surrendered prisoners of war; today just one year ago this horrible disaster took place; and my dear brother was among the number who was to be sent and incarcerated in a northern bastille where he languished and died.
The sixteenth of February; this is a very pleasant day, it is more like spring than winter, it is so different from this time last year. It snowed nearly every day during the fight at F. D. It came like a winding sheet for the dead. The fallen brave. I have said it was Sunday the news came, such panic stricken people were never before seen. The wounded were being brought up, they were to be attended to. A great many died on their way up here, who were to be buried. The citizens were running. There was already two hospitals here which were filled with the sick and they poor fellows were crawling out from every place walking, going on horse back, in wagons, indeed they went any way to get out of reach of the Yankees for it was not known at what moment that the vandals would be here, but fortunately they did not come until all the soldiers had left.
One of their gun boats came up with a flag of truce on Tuesday. Of course a white flag was raised over the town for we had no one to try to hold the place. On Wednesday they came Gen. Smith, Colonels Cook and McArther, they behaved very well. Afterwards Colonels Banne and Wright the latter was a black hearted abolitionist then Colonel James who was a perfect gentleman and after him we had a Colonel Mason. The citizens thought as much of him as could of an enemy. Then one day in August I have forgotten the date but I think it was either the 14th or 16th, our men under Woodward and Johnson came dashing into Clarksville. The Yanks surrendered without any hesitation. We took some three or four hundred prisoners, one or two cannon, a great deal of ammunition, many guns, horses, about one hundred and fifty wagons and one ambulance. I was as wild that day with delight as I was with grief on the day of the fall of Fort Donelson. Six months since I had seen a confederate. They came dashing in on their old poor horses, dirty clothes and all sorts of arms, they had no band at all not even a bugle or a flag to show to whom they belonged but their old dirty “grey” but “fight was in um”, and they “tuck” the place and the “Feds” with all their blue broad cloth and brass buttons. They stayed with us until the 7th of September. They left and the Jay Hawkers came from Fort Donelson on a thieving expedition, they took off a great many negroes and horses, and among the latter was my beautiful “gallant grey” “Stonewall Jackson,” he was a present to me from Pa. I thought a great deal of him because he was all my own. I do wish I had made Woodward a present of him. Just to think that my beautiful horse should fall into the hands of those —–, I don’t know what to call them. I neglected to say that our men heard that these yanks were coming and went to meet them, but as they were in a large force with infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Our men did not attack them but after the Yankees shelled the woods awhile our men retired. A certain Colonel Lowe was in command of these hungry wolves. His report of their visit up here, which was made after they went back was a base lie from beginning to end. They reported seventeen killed which was a story for there was only one little boy who was killed by the bursting of a bomb-shell, a great many prisoners, which was not so for they only arrested two of the citizens and took them off to that loathsome place, and the capture of several hundred horses, which was the biggest ____ of all for I know they stole nearly all they took away with them for mine like the rest was taken at the expense of a broken lock. I have since heard that he was sent to Mrs. Colonel Lowe as a present from the soldiers. Soldiers? On that is not the right title, unless they were soldiers of the d__l certainly not of their country for, if it had been patriotism that caused them to join the army, they would not have acted so much like demons. However, a description of their stay here was written and sent to Jeff Davis upon the effect of which he issued a proclamation declaring that if the said Lowe or any of his men were taken they should be treated as “felons”. After they left, our men came back, then the Yankees, and so on until Christmas day. Sometimes the two parties would meet near here and have little skirmishes; sometimes they would catch one or two of our men here. They (the Yanks) came in once and sent one of their men on ahead dressed as a butter-nut of course he was thought to be one of our men, he came in and found out where several of our men were, and of course caused them to be taken prisoners. This was done several times until the rascal began to be known so one day in came the “butternut”, up rode one of our men and ordered him to “halt”. He obeyed orders and the rebel crossed him over the river, but he not having a horse (I made a mistake the seecsh walked up to him) and being so closely pursued, he made the scamp take the southern oath, alighted him off of his horse, mounted him (the horse) himself and rode off. After he came back they burnt the ferry boat and made the young man’s father take the oath of allegiance to the U. S. which was not very palatable I don’t suppose. That is the last we heard of the butter-nut except that he proved to be a deserter from the Southern Army and a Yankee spy.
Well upon Christmas day Colonel Bruce with his “whiskey jug” and several regiments took possession of this place and here they have been ever since. And here I am too still writing in my journal and about those detestable blue coats for whom I have such a disgust. Well I am glad I have at last commenced my diary for I have been wishing too for so long, but have not been able to get a book, now have got one, I feel like I can come here, as to an old friend, and lay my heart open. Sometimes I feel like writing when I can not talk for, unfortunately, I have but one intimate friend and she is far from me. How I long to see her. My darling Jessie.
I said I had but one intimate friend, yes I have several such friends as come to see me and tell me their secrets. In short, make one their confident but I have but one bosom friend my own dear friend who I hope loves me like I love her!
“Procrastination is the thief of time”.
Phyllis Smith is the board president of Fort Defiance. Her work on transcribing the Nannie Haskins Diary will be presented here on the Fort Defiance web site. If you have any comments or questions regarding the diary, please email Ms. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org