Letter written by Confederate Captain Walter A. Goodman, Assistant Adjutant General, to his father, from Perryville TN. Goodman is staff to Brigadier General James Chalmers, in Forrest’s Cavalry Corps. This letter was written two days after Forrest’s raid of Johnsonville, TN. Goodman writes of the Confederate victory along the Tennessee River, which he claims was won with a small cavalry and limited artillery. He says General Buford “commenced the ball” by capturing a government transport barge. He goes into great detail about the engagement, mentioning that Confederate fire on the warehouses at Johnsonville completely destroyed Union stores. They are preparing to cross the river to join General Beauregard, who is supposedly travelling to Columbia, TN. He hopes to “strike a successful blow on [William T.] Sherman’s rear.”
Hdqr Perryville Tenn
Nov 6 – 1864
My Dear Father
Before this reaches you the papers will have told you of what we have done along the Tenn River. Our success has certainly been very great with a force of cavalry not by any means large & with fourteen pieces of artillery – all of which were never in action at the same time. We have destroyed four of the enemy’s gunboats, two or three of which mounted eight guns each – twelve or fourteen steamboats – eighteen or twenty barges & a very large quantity of freight of various kinds principally belonging to the [U.S.] government- besides securing some blankets, shoes & other articles which we were greatly in need of. And all this with the loss of two or three men killed & six or eight wounded & two of our cannon which had been placed on board of one of the captured steamers which was afterward recaptured by the enemy.
Genl. Buford commenced the ball on the 29th [October] by capturing a transport & barge loaded with government items on their way up – and in the next day we went to the river at Paris Landing nearly opposite Paris and captured a gunboat, two transports & four barges. Gen. B. burned his boat & barge – & one of our boats was so badly
damaged that we burned it & the barges. The remaining transport & the gunboat were so little damaged that they were soon put in running order & we hoped to be able to make use of them in crossing the river. We put two pieces of artillery & some of the captured stores on the transport & moved up the river toward Johnsonville – other two boats running in company as closely as possible. On the evening before we reached Johnsonville however our boats got too far in advance & were chased by two Yankee gunboats which captured the transport after it had been disabled by the treachery of some of the crew who cut the tiller ropes. On the next day we got a part of our artillery in position & had several skirmishes with the enemy’s gunboats & their artillery in the town. On the fourth having brought up more artillery we opened fire upon the boats and in a short time set fire to and destroyed all of them including three gunboats – 8 or 10 steamboats & 12 or 14 barges some of the loaded and an immense pile of freight on the shore & one or two warehouses.
Johnsonville is the terminus of a R.R. from Nashville to the Tenn. river which is much used in transporting army supplies – which accounts for the collection of freight there. It is protected by a fort & was strongly garrisoned – but tho’ they did all they
could & sent their shot & shell in showers around us they could not save their boats and property. We left them standing in line of battle & looking at the ruins. Three of their gunboats moved up the river & forced us to heave over & then when reinforced to five or six came up and took a look at the ruins – but ran away before we could put our plans to capture them into execution.
We moved from Johnsonville yesterday & reached here today. We are now preparing to cross the river in order to join Beauregard – who is said to be on his way from Florence [AL] to Columbia, Tennessee. It is impossible to say when we will go or what we will do, but I hope we may be able to strike a successful blow on Sherman’s rear.
I am quite well – we have had some bad weather & I fear we will have more.
I could not see Lamar as I passed Oxford as you requested. I saw Col. Neely at Bolivar and he promised to be at Grenada at the appointed time. I did not have time to see Mr. Wood. I gave the papers you handed to me for Mr. Walton to him. Write to me at Corinth – care of Maj. Gen’l Forrest – and the letters will be forwarded. I forwarded the papers in regard to the exchange of Mr. Frost and Otto to Gen F[orrest] and have heard nothing from them since.
Walter A. Goodman, was originally the adjutant of the 17th MS Infantr. He served as the acting assistant adjutant general on Brigadier General James A. Chalmers’ staff from June 29, 1862 to July 19, 1862. He was promoted to A.A.G. on Chalmers’ staff, remaining as such until Dec. 22, 1864.