Tennessee, and particularly Middle Tennessee, was central to many Civil War events from 1861 – 1865. Like Virginia, Tennessee was a battleground state, trapped between the Union states and the original Confederate states. Knowing that their lands would be where the primary battles would be fought, Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union on 8 June 1861. The decision to secede was favored by West Tennessee, opposed by East Tennessee, leaving Middle Tennessee as the final swing vote.
Tennessee would see military battles within a year. Fort Donelson (and Fort Henry in Kentucky) fell in February 1862, with the city of Clarksville and Fort Defiance surrendering within days. Nashville would also surrender as Confederate troops abandoned the city and moved further south. These early events led to the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.
Fort Negley would be established to hold Nashville in 1862. It did not see action until the Battle of Nashville in 1864.
Stones River (Murfreesboro, TN) would first see military action July 1862, with the Second Battle of Stones River occurring over New Years 1862. The battlefield would become the home of the oldest Civil War monument (Hazen’s Brigade monument) erected 6 months after the battle at Hell’s Half Acre.
Action would continue in Tennessee throughout the war. Nathan Bedford Forrest would continually raid throughout the area. A final push by the Confederate Army north brought action to Fort Granger during the Battle of Franklin, and would proceed no further than Nashville with the Battle of Nashville where Fort Negley saw service.
Why Civil War Hikes?
With a rich Civil War History, arguably as extensive as Virginia, Middle Tennessee is often overlooked. Similar hikes exist to explore the Battle of Shiloh in southwestern TN, and the Battle of Chickamauga in Chattanooga. While there are other hikes , trails, audio tours, none were collected into one grouping and rarely provided a commemorative item to show the completion of the hike and knowledge gained.
This is an Eagle Scout Project which identified Civil War Trails across the Middle Tennessee area. The intent of my project was to help educate and highlight the important role that Middle Tennessee played in the Civil War. There are maps, question and answer sheets, and directions for each of the five hikes. After completing the Q&A you can buy the patch that was created to depict important features seen on the hike.
Thank you for visiting! Good Luck on your Hikes!
Click the tabs above to see specific hikes and their details!