The Tennessee Historical Commission and Tennessee Wars Commission announced that they have awarded nearly $2.5 million in grant funding to the American Battlefield Trust to preserve more than 180 acres of critical Civil War battlefield land in five counties through the Tennessee Civil War Sites Preservation Fund (TCWSPF).
This represents both the largest amount of grant funding for Civil War battlefield preservation and the largest amount of acreage preserved in the history of the TCWSPF.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for historic preservation in Tennessee that will also protect open space, farms, and wildlife habitats,” noted Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Funding will match American Battlefield Protection Program funding and will help preserve land associated with the battles of Stones River, Jackson, Chattanooga, Franklin and Shiloh.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO THE PEOPLE IN OUR REGION?
Several men from Sullivan, Hawkins and Washington counties fought and died on these battlefields. Some fought for the Confederacy and some for the Union.
PRESERVATION AT STONES RIVER
$1,827,502 has been set aside for the purchase of 42 acres of the Stones River Battlefield, formerly the O’Reilly AutoParts distribution center, which represents one of the largest land acquisitions at the site since the National Battlefield was designated in 1960.
Both the 19th Tennessee and the 26th Tennessee Infantry Regiments with their Sullivan County companies fought at the Battle of Stones River, or the Battle of Murfreesboro, as the Confederates called it.
The 19th Tennessee played a key role in the first day’s battle when the Army of Tennessee pushed back the lines of the Federal army until they formed the shape of a V.
The 26th Tennessee’s role came on the second day’s battle. Gen. Braxton Bragg’s moves were figured out by Union Gen.William S. Rosecrans and the 26th with its Company K from Sullivan County had to fight off disaster when the section of the Confederate line they were sent to reinforce collapsed before they got there.
Nine men in the 19th from Sullivan County died at the Battle of Stones River, in addition to four from Washington County’s Company B and four more from Hawkins County’s Company K.
PRESERVATION AT CHATTANOOGA
$231,737 will preserve a nine-acre portion of the 1863 Wauhatchie battlefield in Chattanooga.
The 19th fought both at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga as well as helped cover the Confederate retreat as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant drove the rebels from the hills.
During the battles themselves, Sullivan County’s companies suffered five wounded and two captured, Washington County’s Company B suffered one wounded and one captured and Hawkins County’s Company K suffered one wounded. And these numbers do not include the losses suffered during the weeks spent laying siege to Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga or in the fighting retreat to Dalton, Georgia.
PRESERVATION AT SHILOH AND FRANKLIN
Two additional projects will add to areas previously preserved at the Shiloh and Franklin battlefields, including $40,000 for a 1.5-acre tract along Lewisburg Pike in Franklin adjacent to the historic Collins Farm and $23,260 for an 8-acre tract at the southern portion of the core battlefield at Shiloh.
The 19th with its men from Sullivan, Washington and Hawkins counties played key roles in both the battles of Shiloh and Franklin.
At Shiloh the 19th took part in three bayonet charges the afternoon of the first day and helped capture the “Hornet’s Nest.” After the two day battle was over, only 37 of 110 men of Sullivan County’s Company G were left to answer the roll. Hawkins County’s Company K suffered at least eight dead, four on the battlefield and four later in the hospital.
At the Battle of Franklin, the 19th took part in the breakthrough of the Union center at the Carter House. It was there they clashed with the 8th Tennessee U.S.A. when the Federal forces counterattacked.
It was here, on one of the bloodiest days of the Civil War, that neighbors and former friends from Washington, Hawkins and Sullivan counties fought each other.
So you see, even though these battlefields are not in our backyard, they still have meaning to the people in this area.
“The battlefield lands acquired by these grant funds will be crucial for interpreting the story of the Civil War for generations to come,” stated Tennessee Wars Commission Director of Programs Tim Hyder.
Ned Jilton II is a page designer and photographer for the Times News as well as the writer of the “Marching with the 19th” Civil War series. You can contact him at [email protected] timesnews.net .