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One hundred fifty years ago, on November 30, 1861, U. S. secret agent, Anna Ella Carroll, submitted a war memorandum to Asst. Secty. of War Thomas A. Scott that recommended the abandonment of the then-planned Mississippi River military expedition, and instead, advocated an advance up the Tennessee River valley by a combined army-naval force, ultimately commanded by BG Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote. Via this line of invasion, Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, respectively, would be captured. By proceeding farther south, the Confederate through east-west link, the Memphis-Charleston Railroad, could be cut which would dissect the Confederacy and flank positions north of Memphis on the Mississippi River.
The Lincoln administration adopted Carroll’s strategic plan and Edwin M. Stanton was appointed secretary of war to execute it, as later testified to in Congress by Carroll; Sen. Benjamin F. Wade (R-Oh.), chairman of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War; Assistant Secretary Scott; and former Texas Chief Justice Lemuel D. Evans, State Department secret agent for Texas and Mexico, with whom Carroll worked in St. Louis.
Following is a portion of Carroll’s strategic vision:
"The civil and military authorities seem to be laboring under a great mistake in regard to the true key of the war in the Southwest. It is not the Mississippi but the Tennessee river. All the military preparations made in the West indicate that the Mississippi river is the point to which the authorities are directing their attention. On that river many battles must be fought and heavy risks incurred before any impression can be made on the enemy, all of which would be avoided by using the Tennessee river."
To date, most historians have failed to fully include Carroll, Lincoln, Stanton, Scott, Wade, MG Henry W. Halleck, and Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote in the narrative of the Tennessee River campaign. My research concludes that both Lincoln and Halleck were planning the Tennessee River advance, Lincoln based on Carroll’s submission. As the 1881 House of Representatives report (46/3, no. 386) of Rep. Gen. E. S. Bragg’s committee found: “Again, in the Forty-fourth Congress, the Military Committee of the House favorably considered this claim, and General A. S. Williams was prepared to report, and being prevented by want of time, placed on record that this claim is incontestably established [capitals mine], and that the country owes to Miss Carroll a large and honest compensation, both in money and honors, for her services in the national crisis.”
In 2004, I published _Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894_ that includes reprints of the political/legal pamphlets Carroll wrote on behalf of the Lincoln administration. With the commencement of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, The Friends of Anna Ella Carroll, chaired by Frank Bittner, of Cambridge, Maryland have brought more notice to Carroll’s wartime services. However, as in the past, comments by scholars continue to ignore the voluminous congressional evidence that supports Carroll’s case and/or misstate or fail to bring to light other facts.
It is my opinion that Anna Ella Carroll was the most important political woman of the nineteenth century, excepting the suffragette leadership (who also supported Carroll). In response I have developed a “Reply” defense to some of the myths and misrepresentations pertaining to Carroll. Those interested in receiving a copy of this defense that includes reprints of primary source documents may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use subject line: “Carroll “Reply” defense”
My complete Tennessee River campaign chapter can also be read online at http://www.nymas.org – right sidebar.
Thanking you all in advance for your interest,
C. Kay Larson, MBA, independent scholar