The farthest I ever traveled away from home before the age of 14 was Fort Knox Kentucky near Louisville. I went there with my parents and siblings to visit my sister Carolyn. Her husband was stationed at Ft. Knox in the late 1950's. After 14 I traveled to Florida several times with my Aunt Didi, her boyfriend Gigs, my brother and cousins before I married and joined the Air Force in 1968. I loved history and always wanted to tour Civil War battlefields but I could never get anyone to take me. After I was discharged from the Air Force in 1972 I began hunting Civil War relics. Over the years I have acquired a pretty decent collection. In 1977 I joined the Tennessee Air National Guard and between the regular Air Force and the Guard I have been blessed to have the opportunity to see much of the world. In addition I have taken numerous trips and vacations as a civilian that has allowed me to see historical sites that I could only dream about as a child. The following Civil war sites that I have visited are not in the chronological order that I was there. I have tried to list them in the order that they were relevant to the Civil War chronology.
Harper's Ferry West Virginia
Many have argued that the Civil War can be traced to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry that occurred between October 16th and 18th 1859. Others might argue that it can be traced to "Bloody Kansas" and incidents like John Brown's massacre of a pro slavery family on Pottawatomie Creek Kansas. Brown was on the right side of the moral issue of his time, slavery. Just like I am on the right side of the abortion issue. In my view abortion is a moral evil and should be stopped. However if I go out and kill an abortion doctor or bomb an abortion clinic it can be argued that I would be no better than the abortionist. This is how I see John Brown. Taking the law into his own hands and trying to start a slave rebellion was probably not the right way to go. Brown suffered the consequences of his actions by being captured and hung. I found out when I visited Harper's Ferry that many still look at Brown as a hero. Harper's Ferry has another distinction. Because of it's location and terrain Harper's Ferry was virtually indefensible during the Civil War. However it is a beautiful town and well worth the visit. I felt like I was taking a trip back in time.
|Civil War Harper's Ferry|
During the 1980's and 90's my wife Debbie's brother Ronnie Phillips and his family lived in Montgomery Alabama. We were able to visit on several occasions over the years. Jefferson Davis was inaugurated president of the Confederacy on February 18, 1861. It always seemed ironic to me that Montgomery is cradle of the Confederacy and also the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights movement. You can stand in front of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where Martin Luther King began his ministry and helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott. If you turn to the left you can look directly on the spot where Jefferson Davis took the oath of office. In my view Montgomery was a better choice for the capital of the Confederacy than Richmond. It was more strategically located and could have been defended easier. At least the logistics of capturing Montgomery would have been harder for Federal forces. The Confederacy moved it's capital to Richmond mostly for political reasons after Virginia seceded. Virginia was the most populated of all of the Confederate states. It had much political clout and industries like the Tredegar Iron Works. Richmond became a highly prized target for Federal forces and much Confederate blood and treasure was wasted defending it. In my view the major strategic goals were achieved in the west.
|The inauguration of Jefferson Davis|
|Confederate capital in Montgomery|
Ft. Sumter - April 12-14, 1861
For a student of history like myself Charleston South Carolina is a dream come true. It is one of my favorite cities. I have been there several times and my Air National Guard unit deployed there for a two week camp in 1989. For two weeks I walked the streets and explored the surrounding area. Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, Boone Hall Plantation where the mini series North and South was filmed, the Battery, Meeting street, the Joseph Manigault house and the USS Yorktown, just to name a few. My son Robbie was stationed at Charleston Navy base in 1989 and was assigned to a guided missile cruiser named the USS Wainwright. Charleston was where the Civil War began. The Confederates fired on Ft. Sumter on the morning of April 12, 1861. In my view the attack on Ft. Sumter was a terrible mistake. It had the same effect on the North as the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor had on the United States. It united two otherwise divided nations. The South had much support and sympathy in the North but it lost most of that when the Confederacy fired on the flag. The day before Pearl Harbor the vast majority of Americans did not want to go to war. There were few isolationists left on December 8, 1941 however. If the Confederacy had merely seceded and waited for Lincoln to make the first aggressive moves he would have been in a terrible dilemma. The south might have won it's independence by default.
|A dud shell lodged in the wall of Ft. Sumter|
The Battle of 1st Bull Run - July 21st 1861 - Manassas Virginia
I was able to visit the 1st & 2nd Bull Run battlefields only briefly in 2003 on our way home from Gettysburg. We were there only long enough to get a few pictures of Henry House Hill. Probably my two favorite Confederate generals were Nathan Bedford Forrest and Stonewall Jackson. Stonewall Jackson acquired his famous nickname here at Henry House Hill after Confederate general Bernard E. Bee pointed at Jackson and said "There stands Jackson like a stone wall," These were Bee's last words just before he fell dead leading his men in a charge. Many believe that Bee meant this as an insult but I believe that he meant it as a compliment and was trying to inspire his men. Jackson was the Souths best hope for ultimate victory and it's best strategist. It was his planning that was responsible for Lee's greatest victory at Chancellorsville. Jackson and Forrest were modern soldiers. Years ahead of their time. I have wondered many times what a Confederate Army could have accomplished led by Jackson and protected by Forrest's cavalry. Of the Unions 28,400 men, 480 were killed, 1,000 wounded, and 1,200 missing, for a total loss of 2,680 casualties . The Confederates had 30,800 men. Out of these 390 were killed, 1,600 wounded, and about a dozen missing, a total of approximately 2,000.
|Henry House Hill|
|The remains of the Henry House|
In March 1988 my family and I took a trip up to Dover Tennessee to tour Ft. Donelson. This battle turned out to be a fiasco for the South. First of all it's defense was based upon a flawed Southern strategy. The Confederates were trying to protect all Southern territory. Ft. Donelson was part of a Confederate defense line that originally extended from Columbus Kentucky to Cumberland Gap. The army that would eventually come to be known as the Army of Tennessee was trying to defend an area the size of Western Europe. Or what could be called the Heartland of the Confederacy. Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and northern Mississippi. The Confederate Army was not big enough to realistically protect such a vast amount of territory. In my view they would have been better off developing a strategy similar to Washington's in the American Revolution. Instead of wasting valuable men and resources protecting territory and cities, they should have focused on protecting the Confederate Army. As long as the Confederate Army existed the Confederacy existed.Their strategy should have been fighting not to lose rather than fighting to win. As in the American Revolution Washington realized that he could not hope to militarily defeat the strongest army and navy in the world in a head to head fight. The Confederacy, which was primarily an agricultural society of five million white people and four million slaves could not realistically expect to defeat a primarily industrial nation with a population of twenty two million in a head to head fight. On a tactical level Johnston left the defense of Ft. Donelson in the hands of three Generals. John B. Floyd, Gideon Pillow, and Simon B. Buckner. Floyd and Pillow were total incompetents. Command would eventually fall on Simon B. Buckner who was more competent but Ft. Donelson was not his finest hour. Buckner would eventually surrender the Fort to his pre war friend Ulysses S. Grant.who himself had earlier faced a critical moment in the battle. The Confederates tried to break out of the fort and nearly defeated the encircling Federal troops. Inexplicably however they broke off the attack at the point of victory and withdrew back into the fort. A defeat for Grant at Ft. Donelson could have been the end of his career. His reputation was very low at this point and a defeat would have been disastrous. Instead he became a national hero at a time when the North was desperately needing heroes. This was because of his famous answer to General Simon Bolivar Buckner in response to a request for surrender terms.“Sir, Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointment of Commissioners, to settle terms of Capitulation is just received. No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.” He became known as Unconditional Surrender Grant. Nathan Bedford Forrest wasn't about to surrender. He escaped with 4,000 Confederate troops and cavalry from Ft. Donelson. Federal losses were 2,691 (507 killed, 1,976 wounded, 208 captured/missing), Confederate casualties were 13,846 (327 killed, 1,127 wounded, 12,392 captured and/missing).
|A contemporary cartoon depicting the Confederacy's dilemma of trying to protect all it's territory|
|Attack on the Ft. Donelson trenches|
|Misty And Courtney|
|Explosion aboard the USS Carondelet at Ft. Donelson|
|Nathan Bedford Forrest|
|Nathan Bedford Forrest leading his men out of Ft. Donelson|
The Fall of Nashville and Federal Occupation - February 25, 1862
After Fort Donelson fell on February 16, 1862 it became evident pretty quickly to the people of Nashville that the city was going to fall to Federal troops. Albert Sydney Johnston planned to protect Nashville by defending Ft. Donelson. Rivers, from a military perspective, were barriers to invading Federal troops in Virginia and the Eastern theater. They ran east to west. In Tennessee and the western theater they were not barriers to an invading army but highways into the deep South. They ran north to south The Confederates had Ft. Henry on the Tennessee River and twelve miles east of that was Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland River. When Ft. Henry fell to the Union Navy it opened the length of the Tennessee River to Union gunboats. The Tennessee River flows down into northern Alabama and winds back up toward Knoxville. The Cumberland flows from the Ohio through Nashville and back up into Eastern Kentucky. Plan A for defending Nashville was Ft. Donelson. The Confederates had no plan B. Panic overtook the city as the Confederate Army streamed South. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his Cavalry restored order and tried to salvage as much military supplies that his cavalry could carry. He burned the rest. On February 25th Nashville was formally surrendered to Federal General Don Carlos Buell. It was the first large city that was captured by Federal forces. It was also one of the most strategic losses to the Confederacy. There were railroads and highways that entered Nashville from every direction like the spokes in a wheel. It became the major supply, transportation and health center for the Western Federal armies moving South. Next to Washington D.C. Nashville became the most fortified city on the North American continent and possibly the most photographed.
|Tennessee State Capital|
|Looking toward North Nashville from the capital|
|Lizinka Campbell Brown Ewell|
|Looking toward where Lizinka Brown's house was. Later taken over by Andrew Johnson|
|7th Avenue where the State Supreme Court Building and Tennessee Archives are today|
|Civilians watching the battle of Nashville where 7th Avenue is today|
|The Federal Army's first dress parade in Nashville|
|Site of the first dress parade|
|Site of the first dress parade|
|The Railroad Bridge over the Cumberland in Nashville|
|The railroad bridge during the Civil War|
|Downtown Presbyterian Church during the Civil War|
|The Davidson County Court House during the Civil War|
|Nashville train yard during the Civil War|
|Western Military Institute|
|Looking toward Ft. Negley during the Civil War|
|The Maxwell House during the Civil War|
|A Civil War hospital in Nashville|
I have been to Shiloh several times over the years but apparently I didn't take a lot of pictures. However I have a few from the 1980's when my family was young. My great great grandfather Isaac Mayfield survived the second day at Shiloh as a Union soldier. Isaac was a 42 year old private in the 13th Kentucky Infantry regiment. He would contract pneumonia during the siege of Corinth and die in a Louisville military hospital on February 13, 1862. Isaac would leave a wife and 10 children without a husband and father. Including two year old twin girls. One of which was my great grandmother Mattie Mayfield Frogge. Shiloh was a turning point in the Civil War. Both sides went to war thinking it would be short. West Point taught the decisive battle concept of war. Generals were always looking for that decisive battle that would force their enemy to the peace table. This was what Lee was looking for when he drove into Maryland hoping to force a decisive battle that would possibly influence the British or French into an alliance with the Confederacy. He did get his decisive battle at Antietam but the results were not what he was looking for. His defeat there convinced the British and French that the Confederacy was not worth the risk. Lee was also looking for the decisive battle at Gettysburg. He was always looking to fight the decisive battle that would win the war. This is why his casualty counts were so high and why the Confederacy was ultimately defeated. After Grant's easy victory at Ft. Donelson, the capture of a large army and the fall of Nashville, even Grant was fooled into believing that maybe one more decisive victory would be enough to win the war. This is one reason Grant was so unprepared at Shiloh. Another reason was that he didn't care what the enemy was doing. He was more interested in what his own army was doing. Grant thought that he had his enemy on the ropes. Unexpectedly he found out the hard way that the Confederate Army had plenty of fight left in them. More Americans were killed and wounded at Shiloh than all the wars that America had fought put together to that point. Shiloh convinced Grant that the Civil War would be long and bloody. The Confederacy would have to be conquered because it's people were prepared to fight to the bitter end. It was Grant's view of war that would win it in the end. Lee was yesterdays general. Shiloh schooled Grant in the concept of modern warfare. There were 23,000 casualties at Shiloh. Thirteen thousand Federal troops were killed and wounded along with ten thousand Confederates.
|The Hornets Nest|
|My family at a burial trench|
|A Shiloh burial trench|
|Tree under which Albert Sydney Johnston|
|Fighting at Shiloh|
|The Hornets Nest|
|The Hornets Nest|
|My great great grandmother Susanna Mayfield|
|Susanna's pension from Isaac|
|My great grandmother Mattie Mayfield Frogge and her sister Elizabeth|
|Isaac Mayfield's grave in Cave Hill cemetery, Louisville Kentucky|
Fort Pulaski - April 10 -11-1862
In 1979 my Air National Guard Unit deployed to Savannah Georgia for our two week summer camp. We were acting as patients in a medical evacuation exercise. I brought my wife Debbie and my two year old daughter Melanie with me. It was a great vacation. We toured Savannah, Tybee Island, and were able to take a one day trip up to Charleston. I loved Savannah. While there we toured Ft. Pulaski. In America's early years there was a debate between the Army and Navy as to the best way to defend America. The Army wanted to build a string of masonry forts along our coasts. The Navy wanted to build more and better warships. The Navy felt that America could be defended best from foreign shores than from our own shores. Both services would eventually get there way. A string of masonry forts were built before the Civil War along our coasts and bigger and better warships were built. Some of the most famous forts were Fort Monroe, Fort McHenry, Fort Sumter, Fort Pulaski, Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas, and Fort Morgan just to name a few. A young U.S. Army engineer named Robert E. Lee helped build Fort Pulaski. Between April 10, 11, 1862 Union forces firing rifled artillery from Tybee Island forced the Confederates to surrender Ft. Pulaski. This was after a 30 hour bombardment. Shells had breached the walls and the powder magazine in the rear of the fort was vulnerable. A huge lesson had been learned. Rifled artillery had just made masonry forts obsolete. In the same way that the ironclads Monitor and Merrimack made wooden warships obsolete overnight. After Fort Pulaski forts were made out of earth and sand. Forts like Fort Wagner in Charleston which was made out of logs and sand. Or Fort Rosecran's in Murfreesboro which was the largest earthern fort built during the Civil War. Casualties at Ft. Pulaski were light. One Confederate was killed outright and several were mortally wounded. Three hundred and sixty three Confederates were captured.
Forrest's Murfreesboro Raid Or the 1st Battle of Murfreesboro- July 13, 1862
After Corinth Mississippi fell on May 29th 1862 Henry Halleck sent General Don Carlos Buells Army of the Ohio, later to become the Army of the Cumberland, eastward to capture Chattanooga. Buell, who was very cautious, was taking his own sweet time getting there. Abraham Lincoln earnestly wanted to liberate East Tennessee which was for the most part loyal to the Union. Chattanooga was not only the gateway to East Tennessee but to the deep South. The situation was dire for the Confederacy. The Confederate government sent Forrest to Chattanooga to organize. a cavalry brigade. On July 9th he left Chattanooga with two regiments and eventually gathered 1400 men before he reached the Murfreesboro area. This was part of a plan by General Braxton Bragg to move from Chattanooga up through Middle Tennessee into Kentucky. Major General E. Kirby Smith forces would cooperate with him and eventually they would unite near the Ohio River. This would draw Buells army away from Chattanooga. Forrest would play a huge part in this plan by disrupting Buell's supply line and communications from Nashville. Murfreesboro had a population of about 4,000 and was an important supply and railroad center on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Eleven major roads radiated from Murfreesboro and some were macadamized ( compressed stone binded by tar). In 1860 there were 14,743 whites living in Rutherford County. One hundred and ninety were free persons of color, and 12,980 slaves belonging to 1,316 owners. In 1810 Rutherford County had 10,265 people. 7,527 were free whites and 2,701 were slaves.These slaves belonged to 412 owners. Most of whom owned fewer than 5 slaves. This was pretty common across the whole South. About seven percent of the white population owned slaves, and held the political power. The majority of them owned on average about five slaves. Whites who owned slaves in the hundreds and thousands were much rarer and very wealthy. Between 1810 and 1860 the white population grew by 100% as opposed to the black population which grew by more than 400%. A new Union General named T.T. Crittenden took command on July 12, 1862 and his command was dangerously spread throughout town, He commanded 1,200 troops. The Union Army had captured Nashville on February 25th 1862 and Murfreesboro was occupied in late Spring. On July 11th Forrest's forces arrived at Mud Creek near McMinnville. There they received reinforcements bringing his forces up to 1,400. One of the amazing things about Forrest military genius was that he was able to accomplish so much with virtually raw recruits. This happened over and over again during the war. He would receive raw recruits and then he would train and equip them. Usually with his own money or captured weapons and supplies. After a hard campaign these men would become battle tested veterans and good soldiers under Forrest's leadership. Then some Confederate general that outranked him, primarily Bragg, would take his men and force Forrest to begin all over again from scratch. Usually just before an important campaign. This didn't stop Forrest from consistently winning battles. Before the war Forrest had a combined worth of about 1.5 million dollars. This was a lot of money in those days. By the end of the war he was broke. This was from having to outfit his men in order to get them battle ready. The Union suffered 890 casualties out of a force of 900. The Confederates had 150 casualties out of a force of 1400. Casualties consisted of killed wounded and captured. The Union Army was mostly captured.
|Nathan Bedford Forrest|
|Union soldiers camped on the square|
|The south side of the square|
|The west side of the square|
|The south side of the square|
|Oaklands mansion where Forrest attacked Michigan and Pennsylvania troops in the yard|
|The Maney family lived here. Their children watched the battle from an upstairs window|
Antietam - September 17, 1862
Many historians believe that Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War. I disagree. There were many turning points. The fall of Nashville, Vicksburg, Atlanta and the promotion of general Grant as the commander of all Union Armies. Antietam was the most important turning point of the war for two reasons. It ended any chance, if there ever was a real chance, for Britain or France to enter into a military alliance with the Confederacy. Although Antietam was a tactical draw it was a strategic victory for the North. The battle turned back Lee's raid into Northern territory and was the victory that Lincoln was looking for. He needed a victory in order to enact the Emancipation Proclamation. Prior to the Emancipation Proclamation the aristocracy in England and France sympathized more with the Confederate cause than they did with the North. Cotton played a big part in this. English and French textile mills depended on Southern cotton. The South made an error of judgement early on by imposing an embargo on their cotton in the hopes of compelling England and France to side with them. The embargo backfired on the Confederacy. For one thing it deprived the Southern states of needed revenue before the Northern naval blockade could become effective. This would have helped the South buy needed weapons and supplies in order to fight the war. Secondly it forced England and France to look elsewhere for cotton. They began buying Egyptian cotton instead. The Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant move on the part of Lincoln. By not ending slavery in the loyal slave states like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri he did not alienate loyal slave owners. Slaves were of military value to the Confederacy. They freed up Southern white men to fight in the Confederate Army rather than labor on Southern farms. Slaves built fortifications, earthworks, and provided manual labor in rear areas while white men fought in the army. Once the Emancipation Proclamation was issued these slaves left the farms and rear areas flocking to the protection of the Union armies as they moved south. White soldiers began to desert because their families back home were starving. There were fewer and fewer slaves working the farms. When enlistments in the North fell off among white men the newly freed slaves enlisted helping to fill Northern ranks. Last but not least the Civil War suddenly became a war not only to preserve the Union but a fight for human freedom. This had great appeal in Europe among the common man who was also fighting to improve his own socioeconomic and political power in European society. The Proclamation made English and French military intervention an improbability. By the time of Gettysburg Southern hopes for European intervention were pretty much a pipe dream. Antietam, aside from Gettysburg, was one of the most photographed battles of the Civil War. An assistant of Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner took pictures of the battlefield while most of the Confederate dead was still there. Gardner's pictures were displayed at Brady's studio in New York which drew large crowds. The display was called "The Dead of Antietam". This was the first time that American's had seen the carnage of war without actually experiencing it firsthand. One reporter wrote, “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it.”
|Dead Confederates next to Farmer Millers Cornfield|
|The Mumma House during the Civil War|
|Same view of Bloody Lane|
|Same view as above|
The Battle Of Fredricksburg - February 13, 1862
The Fredricksburg battlefield was pretty much the way I had always imagined it. Especially Maryes Heights. This battle was a one sided battle in favor of the Confederate Army Aside from the sheer slaughter of Union troops it was unique for a Civil War battle in that there was an amphibious crossing of the Rappahannock River under fire and urban house to house fighting. The historic city was devastated by fighting and occupation by Union troops. Fredricksburg was a very low point for the North and Lincoln. Even though Fredricksburg was a great tactical victory for Lee it was of no great strategic value. All he really gained was a few months of time and the battle lowered Union morale. My great-great grandfather Private Isaac Mayfield, a Union soldier in the 13th Kentucky Infantry, died on this day in a Louisville Hospital. The Union Army suffered 13,000 casualties as opposed to the Confederates 5,000.
The Battle of Stones River Or The 2nd Battle Of Murfreesboro - December 31, 1863 Through January 2, 1863
Since 1979 I have lived five miles from Stones River battlefield. So I have taken more pictures there than anywhere else over the years. The battle Stones River is listed as either the seventh or eighth bloodiest battle of the Civil War, depending on what list you read. When you consider the number of men engaged, Stones River was the bloodiest battle of the war for the Union. Gettysburg was the bloodiest for the Confederates. Shiloh produced 23,741 casualties of which 13,047 were Union and 10,694 were Confederate. The Confederate forces engaged were 40,335 and Union forces engaged were 62,682. Stones River on the other hand produced 24,645 casualties of which 12,906 were Union and 11,739 were Confederate. There were 37,739 Confederate forces engaged as opposed 41,400 for the Union. At Shiloh the Union had 21, 282 more troops engaged than at Stones River but virtually the same casualty count. There were only 141 more Union soldiers killed at Shiloh than at Stones River. Stones River was also bloody for the Confederate Army. More Confederates fought at Shiloh. The Confederates had 2,596 less troops at Stones River but suffered 1,045 more casualties than at Shiloh. The ten costliest battles of the Civil War were Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Antietam, the Wilderness, Second Bull Run, Stones River, Shiloh and Ft. Donelson. Fort Donelson was costly because of the large amount of Confederate soldiers that were captured. If you go into a book store or into a library and pick up a history of the Civil War, at least two thirds of the books you will find will talk about every battle but Stones River. It is usually left out altogether or if you are lucky you might find a passing reference Stones River. Even Ken Burns famous documentary on the Civil War left it out. For some reason it is the most ignored major battle of the Civil War. The battle was a tactical draw but a strategic victory for the Union. Stones River was very important to Lincoln however. Probably the lowest point of the Civil War from Lincoln's perspective was the period between Fredricksburg and Gettysburg. Fredricksburg was a bloodbath for Union forces and Chancellorsville was Lee's greatest victory. He decisively defeated a Union force that outnumbered him almost 3 to 1. Stones River was the only shard of light for Lincoln in an otherwise very dark period.
|Civil War Murfreesboro|
|John Hunt Morgan married Martha Ready days before the battle of Stones River|
|Union soldiers run in panic during the opening stage of the battle|
|Union soldiers defend the Slaughter Pen|
|Russell Qualls in the Slaughter Pen|
|Russell Qualls in the Slaughter Pen|
|Russell Qualls in the Slaughter Pen|
|Russell Qualls at Stones River|
|Thomas defends the Nashville Pike - Artillery is where the present day Stones River National Cemetery is|
|Artist depiction of Garasche's death|
|Hells Half Acre or The Round Forrest|
|Confederate attack on the Round Forrest|
|Artist rendition of Union counter attack across McFadden's Ford|
|Union troops who fought at Stones River|
|A Union Artillery brigade in occupied Murfreesboro|
|A Confederate reunion near the Confederate monument on the square|