“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Charleston in Bradley County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Charleston on the Hiwassee

A Strategic Crossing

Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 28, 2013
1. Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker
Inscription. Charleston, formerly Fort Cass during the “Trail of Tears” (Indian removal of 1838), was strategically important in the military struggle for East Tennessee. The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad bridge here, the line’s only crossing on the Hiwassee River, made it a tempting target. Union loyalists burned it on November 8, 1861, and Union and Confederate forces later damaged it numerous times after it was rebuilt. The 1861 bridge burnings prompted Confederate authorities to tighten their military control over East Tennessee. When retreating Confederate troops damaged the bridge in November 1863, Union Gen. William T. Sherman was compelled to spend the evening of November 30 in Charleston. Here he received orders from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to take command of a column marching to relieve Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside during the Siege of Knoxville.

The Hiwassee Bridge crossing was not only significant as the connection between Chattanooga and Knoxville, but also played a role in defending Charleston. Desperate for supplies in the aftermath of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, two of Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry divisions raided a Union wagon train of Col. Bernard Laibold on December 28, 1863. The 300 wagons were crossing the Hiwassee en route from Chattanooga to Knoxville. As Laibold’s infantry defended the
Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 28, 2013
2. Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker
train, Union Col. Eli Long’s cavalry brigade crossed the river and charged the Confederates. Routed, the Confederates retreated to Dalton, Georgia. The Charleston Cumberland Presbyterian Church was used as a hospital to treat the wounded. The Union army occupied Charleston for the rest of the war and built two blockhouses on each side of the river to protect the bridge.

“I have given the rebel General (Joseph) Wheeler a sound thrashing this morning.” —Col. Bernard Laibold, 2nd Missouri Infantry

Civil War Atlas, 1891
Col. Eli Long Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Joseph Wheeler Courtesy Library of Congress
Civil War Atlas, 1891
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 17.006′ N, 84° 45.469′ W. Marker is in Charleston, Tennessee, in Bradley County. Marker is at the intersection of Worth Street Northeast and Market Street Northeast, on the left when traveling east on Worth Street Northeast. Click for map. The marker is located in the Charleston City Park. Marker is in this post office area: Charleston TN 37310, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Henegar House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Joseph McMinn (approx. 1.1 miles away); "Chief Jack" Walker (approx. 7.6 miles away); Nancy Ward (approx. 9.4 miles away); Lee College (approx. 10.3 miles away); Oak Grove Male Academy (approx. 10.8 miles away); Road to Chattanooga (approx. 10.8 miles away); Cleveland During the Civil War (approx. 10.9 miles away).
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 424 times since then and 105 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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