Decatur is located on the banks of the Tennessee River. During the Civil War, it was a key transportation point, because both the Memphis and Charleston railroads crossed the Tennessee River in Decatur. Decatur also had a national road (US Highway 31) that went through the city.
The Confederates were determined to stop the Union Army from taking the city. They knew without Decatur it would be extremely difficult for the Union to get supplies, artillery, and reinforcements to their troops.
The Confederate Army fought fiercely for four days with General Hood in command. General Hood was confident that Decatur would not fall to the Union Army. He said, Decatur was a “hard nut to crack.” General Hood employed the use of mounted troops, gunboats, and a vast number of infantrymen.
General Robert Granger was in command of the Union troops, which included the 14th United States Colored Troops (USCT) led by Colonel Thomas Morgan. The USCT was able to drive back the Confederate troops and take control of the city.
Most of Decatur was destroyed during the war and only five buildings remained. Four of those buildings are still standing today: the Old State Bank, the Dancy-Polk House, the Todd House, and the McEntire Home.
Source: Decatur Convention and Visitors Bureau
Cornwall Furnace was built between 1862 and 1863. It was a cold blast furnace used to produce pig iron for the civil war. It was small, but a major assist to the confederate states in the production of cannons and other types of military equipment.
However, its glory was short lived. General Sherman occupied the area and had the furnace destroyed in 1864. It was rebuilt after the war, but was only operational for seven years.
Saturday, we went to Nashville, Tennessee. While we were there we visited the Travelers Rest Museum.
The Overton family home was named Travelers Rest and was owned by Judge John Overton. The plantation played a vital role during the Battle of Nashville, since battles were fought on the grounds.
After the war, the Overtones provided services for disabled Confederate veterans and founded the Confederate Soldiers’ Home.
The Overtone house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now a museum.
I know it sounds nerdy, but my favorite part of the museum was the old school house.
The most interesting chapter in this book was about the role of woman in the Civil War.
Women in the North had a history of participating in social and political activities. They were also more likely to be educated and allowed freedoms women in the South were denied.
In the South, women were subservient to men. They were seen as beings that needed to be controlled. They were less educated and had no experience with social or political activism.
During the war, Northern women worked in hospitals and with their help soldiers were less likely to die from infections. They also prepared food and delivered it to the soldiers. The aid given by women in the North played a role in the Armies ability to fight and win the war.
Fort Gaines was established in the 1800’s and played a pivotal role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. It was also used during the Spanish American War.
The fort has been well preserved and now functions as a museum. Visitors can learn about the battles fought at the fort and how French culture influenced the area.
I throughly enjoyed my visit to the Weeden House Museum. There are a lot of interesting things to see and the tour guide did a fabulous job.
The Weeden House was built in 1819, by H.C. Bradford. The intricate woodwork and the federal architectural style is stunning. The Weeden family owned the home from 1845 to 1956.
Maria Howard Weeden (1846-1905) lived in this house her entire life. She was a poet and an artist. Maira was particularly interested in the lives of the black people she encountered on a regular basis. She was bothered by the way they were treated and wanted to give them a voice in the world.
Maria Howard Weeden painted realistic portraits of the black people, instead of the cartoonish images that were popular during the Reconstruction period.
Maria also spent hours talking to the black people she painted, so she could learn their life stories.
Maria used poetry to expose the horrible circumstances of their lives. The rhythm and cadence reflected the positive personalities of the people, in spite of their lifelong suffering.
Maria Howard Weeden was truly a woman ahead of her time.
There is a monument at the Oakwood Historic Slave Cemetery in honor of the slaves buried on the property.
The slaves were viewed as sub-human, so they were placed in graves with no headstones or makers of any kind. There is no way to know who is buried here or even the exact number of people buried on this land.
We all know about the horrible existence of many slaves. They were traded like cattle, beaten by their owners, and had less rights than my dogs do today.
I like to go to the cemetery from time to time. It helps me remember the past and what can happen when we start judging people based on their race, religion, ethnic group, sexual orientation, or anything else that may make that person different from us.