OCTOBER 18 and 21, 1864.--Raids on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, Tenn.
Report of Lieut. William L. Clark, Twelfth U. S.
Colored Infantry, Assistant Inspector Railroad Defenses.
OFFICER ASST. INSPECTOR RAILROAD DEFENSES, DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Eastern Section Nashville and N. W.
Railroad, Section 20, October 25, 1864.
SIR: In compliance with instructions received yesterday from your office, dated October 22, I have the honor to report the following particulars of the attack upon trains at section 36, Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, on the morning of the 18th instant; also, on the afternoon of the 21st instant:
The track repairers at section 36 were taken prisoners by McNary's gang (variously estimated at from 15 to 40 men,
while some place the number at exactly 23) on the night of the 17th, about 12 o'clock, and held till late on the following
morning, and made by McNary to draw the spikes from a rail and remove the fastenings at its end so as to be loose. The
gang then drew back from observation, and in this condition of affairs the first a. m. train passed safely by them,
except that a shower of bullets was poured in, which wounded a surgeon, Hogle, Engineer E. Andrews, and killed a boy,
who was cook and brakeman, dead on the bunk, where he happened to by lying. The second a. m. train came to the loose
rail and ran off; the engineer and fireman were wounded. Everybody was stripped of whatever money, watches, or
valuables they had which pleased the fancy of the robbers. The locomotive was upset and slightly injured by cutting
places with axes. One box-car was burned, but their efforts to burn the flat-cars loaded with iron, which composed
the balance of the train, were not successful, and these were slightly injured. The third train, loaded with sawed
timber from Ayres' saw-mill at section 29, ran up and was fired into. All hands jumped off and were robbed, except
Engineer W. H. Stevens, who ran the train back to section 32, White Bluffs, in safety. Mean time the first train,
Civil Conductor Charles White, arrived at Sneedville, and Col. Murphy, who was on board, had the telegrapher, G.
W. Leedon, send a dispatch to Lieut.Orr, at White Bluff's, to come on with his cavalry.
The dispatch was promptly obeyed, and Lieut. Orr arrived with twenty-five men twenty minutes
after the gang had taken their departure, and pursued them a short distance unsuccessfully, and
his horses being tired and inferior he returned. A wrecking train was dispatched with hands from
Gillem's Station, section 51, to clear the road, and Lieut. Cox, with a detachment of Company B,
One hundredth U. S. Colored Infantry, and Capt. Frost, with a detachment from companies of the Twelfth
U. S. Colored Infantry from Sullivan's Branch,
were sent to section 36, and the road made clear on the following morning, 19th instant.
Again on the 21st instant, as the p. m. train for Johnsonville was passing section 36, it was signaled by the section foreman,
whose cook had informed him she had seen men tearing up the track. Capt. O. B.
Simmons, military conductor, had the train stopped, and with his large train guard pursued the bushwhackers, whose numbers
could not be ascertained, for a considerable distance, but as they were mounted the pursuit was unavailing. Civil Conductor
Charles White fastened down the rail and the train passed on.
Afterward the gang returned and burned the house and commissary of the section foreman, who lay in the bushes in
sight. They also burned nearly all the negro and other dwelling along the railroad for two miles.
Piles of wood at sections 38 and 39 were burned, and various estimates placed the loss in wood at from 3,000 to 15,000
cords. The wood being in several ranks close to the road many ties were burned at the ends, and the rails warped by the intense heat, so that the
3 o'clock train for Nashville could not pass. The telegraph operator at Sneedville called operator at White Bluffs,
section 32, and while calling the line was cut before getting and answer. Capt. J. W.
Dickins, at Sneedville, went to the burning wood with part of this company, and arrived in time to hear the retreating
bushwhackers laughing and talking, but was not able at that time (11 o'clock night) to do anything, and returned to
Sneedville. On the 22d Military Conductor Capt. Van Skike, from Nashville, found out the condition of the road at sections
38 and 39, and took a detail up from White Bluffs and repaired the road as soon as possible so that trains ran through on the 23d of October.
I have made no delay in gathering the materials from authentic sources for this report, and hope it may prove acceptable.
WILLIAM L. CLARK, First Lieut., Twelfth U. S. Colored Infantry, Division Inspector Eastern Section Nashville and Northwestern R. R.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 39, pt. I, pp. 877-879.
FYI: Grade 36 is now known as Burns (Station) & Sneedville is
the former name for Dickson. All this happened on the backside of Montgomery
Bell State Park & the area is still identified on park maps as "McNairy's
Cut". For a pic of McNairy & more on the N&NWRR: Nashville
& NW RR History
This information was sent to us by a compatriot of Camp 260 and was taken from
www.southernhistory.net at southernhistroy.net