Saving Tennessee’s Civil War Battlefields

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The Third Battle of Chattanooga was fought November 23–25, 1863.

Preservationists continue to save Civil War hallowed ground. Recent victories have occurred at Parker’s Crossroads and Franklin.

As the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War continues to commemorate battles and related events through highly-attended forums, reenactments and living history programs, many Americans are becoming more aware of the national, state and local efforts to preserve the country’s hallowed ground.

Tennessee witnessed its share of warfare, but the years following the Civil War were not kind to the bloodied fields in certain portions of the state. Development quickly obliterated some of the battlefields. A few years ago, the state started to reclaim and save its remaining historic acres.

Parker’s Crossroads Gets Addition

At the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads, 52 acres of land recently were added to the preserved battlefield property. The acquisition cost $1.3 million in State of Tennessee federal transportation grants and funds from the Civil War Trust.

Since 2001, 298 other acres of hallowed ground had been saved at the battle site. The City of Parker’s Crossroads manages the park but the property is owned by the state. The new acquisition is parallel to Interstate 40, an attractive parcel that could have fallen to commercial development.

The cavalry fight that took place on the land pitted Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s command against elements of Union Brigadier General Jeremiah Sullivan’s troops. When Forrest was surrounded, he made his famous “charge ‘em both ways command” and escaped.

Confederate artillery occupied the newly purchased property during the height of the fighting. In keeping with historic interpretation, much of the ground will be planted in cotton to recreate the wartime appearance. The cotton will generate revenue and reduce mowing costs. An addition to the park’s walking trail will allow visitors to access the new portion of the battlefield. Interpretive markers will be added.

Franklin Battlefield Adds Five Acres

With the help of homeowners, five acres of Franklin battleground now will receive protection.

The residents whose homes border the land originally wanted to preserve the open space to prevent future development. They formed a limited liability corporation to protect the nearby lots. Now, they have sold the land to Save the Franklin Battlefield (STFB), the nonprofit organization that has raised awareness of battlefield preservation in the city.

The tract is buffered by residential yards on three sides with a rail line on the fourth side. The Civil War Trust and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program have joined STFB to raise the funds for the site, which is near the Cotton Gin that was at the epicenter of the battle. The actual cost for the land was not released, but the total will be more than $200,000.

The battle that waged through Franklin occurred on November 30, 1864. Some of the heaviest fighting took place on the purchased land, which is estimated to be about 300 yards from the main Federal lines.

The landscape is considered pristine, having hardly been touched since the war. The parcel is the far right flank of the Confederate charge under General William Loring. Confederate Brigadier General John Adams is believed to have crossed the property while he headed west with his brigade. He and his horse were killed by Federal fire.