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Tennessee FlagTENNESSEE LEGENDS

Civil War Battles of Tennessee

Civil War History Collections

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Tennessee Civil War Battles

Cloud Field, Shiloh National BattlefieldFort Henry (February 6, 1862)

Fort Donelson (February 11-16, 1862)

Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862)

Plum Run Bend (May 10, 1862)

Memphis (June 6, 1862)

Chattanooga (August 21, 1863)

Murfreesborough (July 13, 1862)

Hatchie's Bridge (October 5, 1862)

Hartsville (December 7, 1862)

Stones River (Dec 31, 1862-Jan 2, 1863)

Lexington (December 18, 1862)

Jackson (December 19, 1862)

Trenton (December 20, 1862)

Parker's Cross Roads (December 31, 1862)

Dover (February 3, 1863)

Thompson's Station (March 5, 1863)

Vaught's Hill (March 20, 1863)

Brentwood (March 25, 1863)

Franklin (April 10, 1863)

Hoover's Gap (June 24-26, 1863)

Chattanooga (August 21, 1863)

Blountsville (September 22, 1863)
 

 

Wheeler's Raid (October 1-9, 1863)

Blue Springs (October 10, 1863)

Wauhatchie (October 28-29, 1863)

Collierville (October 11, 1863)

Collierville (November 3, 1863)

Orchard Knob (November 23, 1863)

Lookout Mountain (November 24, 1863)

Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863)

Campbell's Station (November 16, 1863)

Siege of Knoxville (November 17-December 4, 1863)

Fort Sanders (November 29, 1863)

Bean's Station (December 14, 1863)

Mossy Creek (December 29, 1863)

Dandridge (January 17, 1864)

Fair Garden (January 27, 1864)

Fort Pillow (April 12, 1864)

Memphis (August 21, 1864)

Johnsonville (November 4-5, 1864)

Columbia (November 24-29, 1864)

Spring Hill (November 29, 1864)

Franklin (November 30, 1864)

Murfreesborough (December 5-7, 1864)

Nashville (December 15-16, 1864)

Bull's Gap (November 11-13, 1864)

 

Much of the Civil War was fought in cities and farms of Tennessee; only Virginia saw more battles. Geography dictated a central role for Tennessee. As a border state with its rivers being  key arteries to the Deep South, it was a major target for the Federals. From the early days of the war, Union efforts focused on securing control of those transportation routes, as well as major roads and mountain passes such as the Cumberland Gap.

 

Tennessee was one of the border states that sent large numbers of men to fight on both sides of the Civil War. A sizeable part of the male population -- 187,000 Confederate and 51,000 Federal soldiers -- mustered in from Tennessee.

 

A large number of important battles occurred in Tennessee, including the vicious fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, which was the deadliest battle in American History at the time. Other large battles included Stones River Chattanooga, Nashville, and Franklin. Making matters worse for the Tennessee Confederates, were pockets of strong pro-Union sentiments, which remained throughout the war, particularly in the mountains in East Tennessee.

 

The Vice President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was a loyalist, as were a number of congressmen and state politicians. On the Confederate side, significant leaders included noted cavalryman Nathan B. Forrest and Corps Commanders Leonidas Polk and Benjamin F. Cheatham, as well as Governor Isham Harris.

 

When the war was over, Tennessee would see more than its share of devastation resulting from years of warring armies traveling through the state.

 

Tennessee Battles:

 

Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers Campaign (February - June, 1862) - Also called the "Mississippi River Campaign" and the "Fort Henry and Fort Donelson Campaign," this force by the Union began on February 6, 1862 as a strategy to allow the North invasion routes by land and by water, as well as cutting of supplies to Confederate Forces. General Ulysses S. Grant moved swiftly moving his troops down the Tennessee River toward Fort Henry on river transports on February 2nd and coordinating with  United States Navy Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote. The campaign ended with the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi in May, 1862.

 

Fort Henry (February 6, 1862) - Taking place on February 6, 1862 in Stewart and and Henry Counties of Tennessee, and Calloway County in Kentucky, this battle resulted in a Union victory. By the time of the attack, Fort Henry, a Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River with outdated guns, was partially inundated and the river threatened to flood the rest. On February 4-5, Union General Ulysses S. Grant landed his divisions in two different locations, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the garrison’s escape and the other to occupy the high ground on the Kentucky side which would insure the fort’s fall. At the same time, Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote’s seven gunboats began bombarding the fort. Commanding Fort Henry's garrison, Confederate Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman quickly realized that it was only a matter of time before Fort Henry fell. While leaving artillery in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, he escorted the rest of his force out of the area and sent them safely off on the route to Fort Donelson, some ten miles away. Tilghman then returned to the fort and, soon afterwards, surrendered to the fleet, which had engaged the fort and closed within 400 yards. Fort Henry’s fall opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far as Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After the fall of Fort Donelson, ten days later, the two major water transportation routes in the Confederate west, bounded by the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, became Union highways for movement of troops and material. The conflict resulted in estimated casualties of 40 Union. and 79 Confederate.

 

Fort Donelson (February 11-16, 1862) - After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862,  General Ulysses S. Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. On February 12-13, the Union made several small probing attacks and on February 14th, U.S. Navy gunboats under Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote attempted to reduce the fort with naval gunfire. However, they were forced to withdraw after sustaining heavy damage from Donelson's water batteries. The next day, the fort was surrounded by Union troops and the Confederates, commanded by Brigadier General John B. Floyd, launched a surprise attack against Grant's army, attempting to open an avenue of escape.

 

Grant, who was away from the battlefield at the start of the attack, arrived to rally his men and counterattack. Despite achieving a partial success, Floyd lost his nerve and recalled his men to their entrenchments.

 

On the morning of February 16th, Floyd and his second-in-command, Brigadier General Gideon J. Pillow, both turned over their command to Brigadier  General Simon Bolivar Buckner, who agreed to unconditional surrender terms from Grant. Estimated casualties of the battle were 2,331 U.S. and 15,067 Confederate. This was a major victory for General Grant and a catastrophe for the South. It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Grant received a promotion to major general for his victory and attained stature in the Western Theater.

 

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Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) - Also called the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, this battle took place in Hardin County, Tennessee. As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi, a major transportation center, as the staging area for an offensive against General Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee before the Army of the Ohio, under Major General Don Carlos Buell, could join it. The Confederate retrenchment was a surprise, although a pleasant one, to the Union forces, and it took Grant, with about 40,000 men, some time to mount a southern offensive, along the Tennessee River, toward Pittsburg Landing. Grant received orders to await Buell's Army of the Ohio at Pittsburg Landing.

 

Grant did not choose to fortify his position; rather, he set about drilling his men many of which were raw recruits. Johnston originally planned to attack Grant on April 4th, but delays postponed it until the 6th.

 

Battle of Shiloh

Battle of Shiloh occurred on April 6-7, 1862, by J.H. Bufford

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!  

 

Attacking the Union troops on the morning of the 6th, the Confederates surprised them, routing many of them. However, a number of other Federals made determined stands and by afternoon, they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the Hornets' Nest. Repeated Rebel attacks failed to carry the Hornets' Nest, but massed artillery helped to turn the tide as Confederates surrounded the Union troops and captured, killed, or wounded most of them. Johnston had been mortally wounded earlier and his second in command, General P.G.T. Beauregard, took over. The Union troops established another line covering Pittsburg Landing, anchored with artillery and were augmented by Buell's men who began to arrive and take up positions. Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held. By the next morning, the combined Federal forces were some 40,000 strong, outnumbering Beauregard's army of less than 30,000. Beauregard was unaware of the arrival of Buell's army and launched a counterattack in response to a two-mile advance by General William Nelson's division of Buell's army at 6:00 am, which was, at first, successful. Union troops stiffened and began forcing the Confederates back. Beauregard ordered a counterattack, which stopped the Union advance but did not break its battle line. At this point, Beauregard realized that he could not win and, having suffered too many casualties, he retired from the field and headed back to Corinth, Mississippi. Resulting in a Union victory, the estimated casualties were 13,047 Union and 10,699 ConfederateMore ...

The Union troops would continue into Corinth, Mississippi, where opposing forces would battle between April 29-June 10, 1862. When General P.G.T Beauregard evacuated the town, the Union had  consolidated their position, ending the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers Campaign.

 

 

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