Tullahoma sets Civil War campaign commemoration

Tullahoma sets Civil War campaign commemoration

June 3rd, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

The Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery in northern Coffee County, Tenn., is where some soldiers from the opening battle of the Tullahoma Campaign are buried. Tullahoma officials and organizers are planning a two-day celebration in late June to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Tullahoma Campaign during the Civil War.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Illustration by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Dr. Michael Campbell, chairman of the Tullahoma Civil War sesquicentennial celebration, talks about the hundreds of Confederate soldiers buried in a mass grave at the Maplewood Confederate Cemetery.

Dr. Michael Campbell, chairman of the Tullahoma Civil...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Names of hundreds of Confederate soldiers buried in a mass grave at the Maplewood Confederate Cemetery are displayed on plaques. The names of soldiers buried here were found in old hospital records, and the plaques were added in recent years.

Names of hundreds of Confederate soldiers buried in...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.


Events planned at the South Jackson Civic Center and Warren Auditorium in Tullahoma. All times are CDT.

June 28

5:20 p.m.: Dedication of South Carolina and Kentucky monuments and a lantern tour of the Maplewood Confederate Cemetery, Maplewood Avenue

June 29

9 a.m.: Flag raised at South Jackson Civic Center on the front lawn; re-enactment camp and headquarters and medical tents will open on south lawn along with a campaign map display, craft demonstrations and concession stands. Artifacts display opens in the front reception room and the "Trains of Time" display opens in the Mitchell Museum, Warren Auditorium

9:30 a.m.: Infantry drill, south lawn

10 a.m.: Artillery demonstration, south lawn

10:30 a.m.: "Soldier, Come Home" one-hour play begins, Warren Auditorium

11 a.m.: Dance demonstration, front lawn

12 noon: Infantry drill, south lawn

12:30 p.m.: UDC Fashion Show, Warren Auditorium

2 p.m.: Artillery demonstration, south lawn

2:30 p.m.: Dance demonstration, front lawn; "Soldier, Come Home," Warren Auditorium

4 p.m.: Skirmish, south lawn

5 p.m.: Flag lowered at South Jackson, front lawn

5:30 p.m.: Concert by the Tennessee Fiddle Orchestra, Warren Auditorium

Source: Tullahoma Campaign Sesquicentennial Commemoration committee

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. - Tullahoma's military tradition spans the Civil War to today as home to a U.S. air base and the Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

But this month, the town's earliest military history will be memorialized with the Tullahoma Campaign Sesquicentennial Commemoration on June 28-29.

The Tullahoma Campaign was a turning point in the Civil War, but it was overshadowed by other pivotal events happening at the same time.

Engagements during the same months at Gettysburg and at Vicksburg draw some Civil War history buffs' attention away from the Union push into Middle Tennessee.

But the face-off between Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and Confederate Lt. Gen. Braxton Bragg in the Barrens of Tullahoma doesn't escape history's eye, said Michael R. Bradley, chairman of the commemoration committee. A Civil War historian, he is a descendant of Andrew Jackson Bradley, a Confederate soldier in the 1st Tennessee Infantry.

Armed with newly acquired Spencer repeating rifles, Rosecrans' victory over 11 days in a driving Tennessee rain demonstrated his brilliant strategy. Some hailed it as his greatest achievement, said Bradley, although Rosecrans' accomplishments initially escaped notice in Washington, D.C.

Even Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman confessed to a journalist a few days after the campaign that he knew nothing of what had happened in Tennessee.

And Edwin Stanton, then the federal secretary of war, queried Rosecrans, "You and your nobel army now have the chance to give the finishing blow to the rebellion. Will you neglect the chance?"

Rosecrans replied, "You do not appear to observe the fact that this nobel army has driven the rebels from Middle Tennessee. ... Do not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood."

Tullahoma was the least bloody campaign of the war, according to Bradley's book, "Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign for the Control of Middle Tennessee."

Now 150 years later, the ghosts of the Tullahoma Campaign will rise for the first time in living memory in commemoration of those who gave their lives to defend their homeland or preserve the Union.

Bradley and Tullahoma Community Coordinator Winston Brooks said it will be an event to remember.

Starting the evening of June 28, re-enactors in period dress will give a lantern tour of the Confederate Cemetery at Maplewood Cemetery. Events are scheduled all day on June 29 at the South Jackson Civic Center with the opening of a re-enactment camp, headquarters and medical tents.

Brooks said a walk-through display that includes descriptive, historical maps will be assembled to give visitors an idea of the theater of action in the campaign before Tullahoma grew up over it. Children can see some of the games and toys of the day, he said.

A period fashion show is planned after lunch, and the award-winning one-hour play "Soldier, Come Home" will be presented twice during the afternoon, officials said.

Closing events include a re-enactor skirmish, followed by a flag-lowering ceremony and a concert by the Tennessee Fiddle Orchestra.

Brown and Brooks said people attendimg the free commemorative events can park in spaces around the Civic Center and along nearby streets. Visitors should dress for warm weather and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.