By Mr. GRIMES:
Question. Where do you reside?
Answer. I reside in Greeneville, Greene county, East Tennessee.
Question. State, if you please, so far as you may know, the condition of the public sentiment in Tennessee so far as regards the whole of the State, as well as the different sections of it; the condition of the Union people and the freedmen in those different sections; and what you know in regard to the changed condition of the industrial pursuits of the freedmen.
Answer. I can speak from my own personal knowledge of the condition of the loyal people of East Tennessee. In regard to the condition of loyal people in Middle and in Western Tennessee, I can only speak from information derived from correspondence and conversations with people who live there. In Eastern Tennessee the loyal people have an overwhelming majority; they are the dominant party now. But during the war they were subjected to the bitterest persecution; they were driven from their homes; they were conscripted and sent into the rebel armies; they were persecuted like wild beasts by the rebel authorities, and hunted down in the mountains; they were hanged on the gallows, shot down and robbed; every imaginable wrong was inflicted upon them. From 20,000 to 25,000 loyal men of East Tennessee left their homes, went through the mountains into Kentucky, there joined the federal forces, and fought their way back home under General Burnside in 1863. Perhaps no people on the face of the earth were ever more persecuted than were the loyal people of East Tennessee in 1862 and 1863; the persecution commenced just after the burning of bridges in 1861. The first conscript law passed by the rebel congress, I believe, was passed in April, 1862, and as soon as they got their machinery at work they commenced attempting to conscript the Union men of East Tennessee. As soon as they organized their bureaus of conscription and appointed their enrolling officers, a great many Union men in East Tennessee escaped from the country, while others concealed themselves in the mountains and in houses.
At the June election in 1861, on the question of separation from the Union and representation in the rebel congress, we had in East Tennessee a majority of about 20,000 against those issues. Both questions were presented together. Those who opposed them voted "no separation", "no representation;" those who were in favor voted "separation," "representation."
Upon the occupation of East Tennessee by General Burnside, in September, 1863, the rebels themselves, those who had made themselves obnoxious, fled from East Tennessee, and but few have returned. We have now but few rebels in East Tennessee. The Union men, when they were enabled to return, were not very amiable, and they resorted to retaliation, and executed a great many rebels - paid them back in the some sort of coin they had received at their hands. The Union men were guilty of a great many excesses, and can only be excused upon the ground that they had themselves been made to suffer terribly by those rebels.
Really, so far as East Tennessee is concerned, we have now very few rebels there. We have nothing to fear from rebel votes or from rebel influence in my section of the State. I doubt very much whether there are more than three counties in Eastern Tennessee where a rebel would present himself for any office of any character. East Tennessee can take care of itself. The trouble is in Middle Tennessee and in Western Tennessee.
Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Tennessee, pages 115-116.