Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 6 - the Hat Day

28 May 2009
Lebanon TN through Shelbyville TN

Trail markers, interpretive signs, state marker, and CSA Monument on Town Square. Sadly the Cedar Grove Cemetery’s gate was locked well after the 7 a.m. (to 4 p.m.) time indicated for opening and the UDC monument inside was missed. Trespassing at a cemetery even after its opening hours just isn’t on my list of acceptable behavior. Maybe someone from the area will read this and forward digital pictures of the UDC monument in the Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Keep in mind that Murfreesboro is in the Central time zone. I had visited before but didn’t get to the Courthouse where there are several Civil War signs, an Old Bedford plaque, and a CSA monument. Also, the Oaklands tour is quite enjoyable. They have a unique adult invalid cradle circa 1850 on display.

Obviously, the Stones River National Battlefield Park is the key to the area. NPS personnel were especially helpful on my questions pertaining to the 39th Indiana Infantry involvement. They pointed out research materials, made page copies, and gave me an idea of which housing development is now burying their position on Day One during the Confederate flank attack that rolled them and the right flank up.
While significant areas of the battle are preserved, the area of the 39th Indiana on the right flank and closer in toward the center of the Union Lines felt more like Salem Church/Chancellorsville, as it is covered with shopping malls (Sam’s Club), restaurants, and interstate highway.
The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County has a nice CW display with amazingly thorough, helpful, friendly folk. They have travel information and brochures available and can help you with anything in the Murfreesboro area.
Tullahoma Driving Tour
Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery has voice box interpretation, signage, restrooms, and is literally right off Interstate 24. A fine jumping off point for the Driving Tour.
Seems like all the towns on the driving tour are quaint, historical and clean. Outside of Wartrace, north on route 269 before you get to Bell Buckle, is a wonderful Civil War Sutlery store. I found a replica slouch hat, a few CW flag license plates, and other items. They also had inventory on all needs for the reenactor. The folks are refreshingly friendly, helped me speak “southern,” and told me they have more than 25,000 customers in more than 20 countries. They offer Tullahoma Campaign driving tours at their website Their historical display includes Frankford Arsenal timed fuses, brogans, and other items from the period.
  • Uncle Buds Catfish and Such on US 41 Alt (2011 N. Jackson St.) is a standard catfish restaurant for these parts with a unique ambiance of more than 1,000 baseball caps stapled to the ceiling -- now including my orange MESCO hat! Service was fast friendly and the food was more than good.
  • Maple Grove Cemetery is well honored and the grouping of monuments/historical markers just north of the intersection of North Jackson Street (Route 41 Alt) and Wilson Avenue (Routes 55/130) are very informative.
  • Stayed at Tim’s Ford State Park. What a wonderful experience. Two bathhouses, trails, camp office with long hours, lake with walking bridge. Campers, don’t miss this campground if you are in the area.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 5

26 May 2009
A day of many miles traversing the Great Smoky Mountains, but fewer Civil War moments

Blountville TN – One of the most pleasant stops of the entire week was the battle of Blountville. Beautiful city, well marked, and well interpreted.

Asheville NC – Zebulon Vance Birthplace is a very pleasant surprise as a remote site. Scenic and well presented by Tammy Walsh and Wayne. More than worth jumping off I-26 anytime. There are 14 new CW Trails signs that were opened on 22 May this year of 2009 in the immediate Asheville NC area. I never knew it was seriously considered for the capital of the Confederacy after Richmond fell.

Cherokee NC – Museum of the Cherokee. There is a small Civil War display to the Thomas Legion, who sided with the Confederacy like the western tribes. An absolutely top flight video presentation and museum for anyone interested in Native American history. There is a monument to the William Holland Thomas of the CSA Thomas Legion on Route 441 Bypass right at the entrance to the Campground Cemetery. This is about one-half mile north of the Mormon Church.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Stop at every overlook. The views are spectacular.

Lenoir City TN – CW Trails signage for Lenoir Station is north of 206 Depot St, down the hill and to the left about one block. There are brick remains of old Lenoir Cotton Mill at the CW Trails site.

Niota TN – The Niota Train Station is one of those sites we are so lucky to have still available. The train car out front adds to the visual enjoyment of the station.

Next: Hat Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Tennessee Civil War Trails Sites

More than a dozen new sites are now listed on the Tennessee Civil War Trails program. New sites in Greeneville, Charleston, Cleveland, Gallatin, Jackson, Denmark, Granville, Summerton, Five Points and Nashville were added to today.

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 4

25 May 2009
Northeastern Tennessee

La Follette TN - The Civil War Trails Marker for Big Creek Gap in La Follette is at a Cumberland Trails access parking lot known as La Follette Access or Tank Springs one block north of Utilities Building indicated on
The choices for breakfast in Harrogate TN are limited, but the buffet at Shoney’s is hot and abundant with very friendly service.

Cumberland Gap National Park - There are two Civil War sites on the Pinnacle Road inside the Park at Cumberland Gap. Fort Lyon is at the peak and Fort McCook (CSA name Fort Rains) is about 0.8 miles down the hill from Fort Lyon. Both have cannon and interpretive markers. The Pinnacle lookout is incredible at Fort Lyon and provides clear views of the strategic importance of Cumberland Gap. There are two Civil War displays in the Cumberland Gap Visitor center, one of which is a diorama.

Harrogate TN – Lincoln Museum. I found the movie informative and displays thorough. The cane he used at Ford’s Theatre is chilling.

Greenville TN – The courthouse has one of the few Union Monuments I’ve seen in Tennessee or south of the Mason-Dixon Line for that matter. The same courthouse yard has a monument recognizing General John Morgan’s death in town. Extensive information in town on our 17th president, Andrew Johnson. The tour of Morgan’s death house, the Dickson-Williams Mansion, is very informative.

Morristown TN area
Bridge to Bridge Driving Tour Notes
My only recommendation for the nicely done driving tour is for more CW Trail signs like the Battle of Blountville be installed.

Jarnagrin Cemetery (Stop G) – The Sam Davis Chapter UDC unknown soldier monument is at the south end of the cemetery after entering the beautiful stone pillars. These pillars are not made for oversize vehicles. My full-size pickup truck squeezed through.

Bethesda Church (Stop M) – One of the haunting hallowed sites full of unknown graves and very nicely honored even by the only disabled veterans tribute monument I’ve seen.

Bent Creek Cemetery (Stop R) - Across from 7801 Stage Coach Road.

Harmon Cemetery - About 0.5 mile south of Gravel Woods Road on Pottertown Road. The Pottertstown Road sign is currently down, but Pottertown Road runs beside the Wal-Mart Distribution Center south to the cemetery and monument. There is a unique six-sided monument to the men who burned the VA-TN Railroad bridge at Lick Creek in 1861 just to the north of the cemetery. This would be an excellent place for a CW Trails Interpretive marker. Two Harmon graves have Civil War markers at their bases and were decorated for Memorial Day. These markers are on the far northern edge of the cemetery nearest the locked gate.

Bull’s Gap Museum (Stop S) in City Hall (Archie Campbell Museum also) - It is open only Monday-Friday 9 am-4 pm and not open on the weekends.

Lick Creek Bridge Crossing (Stop U) - Difficult to see around June 1. Most likely best view would be without foliage in the winter.

Next: Traversing the Great Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Podcast: Antietam - The Final Attack

Following the capture of Burnside Bridge over the Antietam Creek Sept. 17, 1862, the Union 9th Corps still had its work cut out. This new audio tour covers the final Federal attack that day and the dramatic Confederate counterattack that saved the day for Lee's army.

9-stop walking tour, about 90 minutes. Narration: Keith Snyder, NPS historian/ranger. Introduction: Marc Ramsey (Owens and Ramsey Books). Music: Wayne Erbsen (Native Ground Music). Production: and Antietam National Battlefield.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 3

24 May 2009
Eastern Kentucky

Louisa KY - There is a state marker on the courthouse square for Garfield’s organizing a supply point. Fort Bishop / Fort Gallup / Fort Hill state marker is on Route 32 between Route 3 and Route 23.

Prestonsburg KY - Middle Creek Battlefield outside of town has markers about 5 miles north of the battlefield on Route 23 South. The battlefield entrance is on Route 114 just before Route 404 intersection. Note three bridges (two on Route 114 and also on Route 404) are named after the commanders or the battle. The battlefield is a nice private battlefield well mown, well marked, good signage, and maps. Very enjoyable.

Prestonsburg KY - Samuel May House was closed the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, but looks like a good restoration by the city of Prestonsburg.

Ivy Mountain Monument - Between Prestonsburg and Pikesville on west side of Route 23. Small tasteful memorial to battle here.

Pikeville, KY - is a beautiful city with signage for Garfield’s promotion to brigadier general and rise to the presidency in the City Park. One block south of the terminus of Second Street on Huffman Avenue.

The Pound Gap Battle state marker is at the top of Pound Gap on the state line of Kentucky and Virginia on Route 23.

I stayed at May Springs Campground outside of Morristown TN. The location of Cherokee Lake was beautiful.... (However,) I will never stay there again.... The Cumberland Gap National Park campsites are fabulous. Stay there if possible instead.

Next: Northeastern Tennessee and the Bridge to Bridge Driving Tour

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 2

23 May 2009
Fredericksburg VA

Breakfast at the Battlefield Restaurant across the street from the National Cemetery and Fredericksburg BNP Visitor Center. Menu like a shiny diner, but a Cheers TV show atmosphere where everybody knows your name. Grill food comes out quick and hot. Standard breakfast menu with scrapple and grits also. Biscuits almost as big as baseballs. Sign at the door says it best: "If you are unhappy, irritable or hassle the staff there will be an additional ten dollar charge."

First stop is the Civil War Preservation Trust’s new trail on the Day One Chancellorsville Battlefield on Route 3 West at the local community center. The eastern two-thirds of the field's trails has gravel paths and interpretation markers. The western third has gravel on partial paths. The southern path on the western leg has gravel that extends to Mott’s Run (now known as Lick’s Run) and onto a neighboring field, which I believe would be trespassing.

Follow the gravel until it comes to a curving mown path going up hill just past the overhead power lines and follow the trail up to the Union retreat marker. Follow the grass path to the northern leg of the path and see the Union Spies Marker.

One striking memory is the overhead power lines. You clearly hear the ohms dancing on the aluminum transmission lines. This is certainly what could become of Sharpsburg MD, South Mountain MD and other battlefields if plans for upgraded electrical grid transmission lines go through. As one of the rangers at Chancellorsville said later in the day, battlefields are the paths of least resistance for the power grid upgrade. I know our country needs to be able to improve our national power grid, but not at the expense of history preservation.

I did see the local farmer on the eastern most point of the trail working near the white barn there. Not overly friendly, but allowing us to visit the land is more than enough for me to honor his decision.

I spent the rest of day hiking the about 14 miles of trails (Chancellorsville Historic, McLaws, Hazel Grove, plus the Wilderness trails of Gordon’s Flank Attack, Higgerson’s farm and Widow Tapp). All were well mown and interpreted.

I closed out the evening with my first visit ever to the Fredericksburg Luminaries. Words can’t describe the beauty, patriotism, and heart rendering moments. A huge thank you to the Boy Scouts, all the volunteers, the Rangers, and the musician playing Taps every 30 minutes. I can only say to anyone considering this event, go to this presentation some year very soon. Only the National POW Memorial in Andersonville GA has stirred me more than this presentation.

Next post: Eastern Kentucky

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tennessee/Kentucky: Jeff King, Day 1

When we heard Jeff King of Emigsville PA was planning to travel, hike and camp along the route of the mountain war in eastern Tennessee and Kentucky this spring, we asked for a travelogue. Here is his first-day installment. We'll be posting additional notes from Jeff every day or so plus a few of his 1,000 pictures. Thanks, Jeff!

22 May 2009
York PA to Bowling Green VA

Is there a good way to travel to Fredericksburg from South PA? I’ve tried Interstate 95 South and it is always a parking lot near Baltimore, and Washington, DC. It only gets worse in Northern Virginia. I tried Route 301 South today and it is also terrible. A normal three-hour drive at 4 a.m. turns into a five-and-half-hour test of wills at 1 p.m. on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It seems only Route 15 to Route 17 in Virginia offers a viable alternative. So much for traffic whining.

I am staying at the Hidden Acres Campground 3 miles south of Bowling Green VA. A cozy spot that is mostly wooded. No wireless Internet, but electricity at your campsite (or the one next door in this case) and a wonderful central location for Fredericksburg / Spotsylvania. The campground is about 40 miles from Richmond. The pool is open and being used. There will be a BBQ tomorrow night at the volleyball court offered by the friendly staff and owners for $6 including cole slaw and other goodies. (I know from a past visit the pizza joint at the west end of Bowling Green leaves a bit to be desired.)

Tomorrow: Fredericksburg