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

War Comes to Germantown

Guarding the Railroad

War Comes to Germantown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 20, 2014
1. War Comes to Germantown Marker
Inscription. In 1861, Germantown was divided between secessionists and unionists until the news of Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers tilted the balance in favor of secession. Germantown women announced on April 26, “We…offer to the (Confederate) soldiers of Germantown all the assistance in our power with our needles, and promise also to aid in the care and sustenance of their families during their absence. And should the war approach our own homes, we will watch over the sick and wounded (though strangers) as our own brothers or fathers.” Local men and other county residents formed the 4th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A., which trained briefly at Germantown and later fought in such important battles as Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Nashville.

Federal troops entered Germantown in June 1862 and occupied houses, churches, and other buildings. Residents suffered as the soldiers confiscated crops and livestock, while many dwellings and businesses were dismantled or burned. The Presbyterian church became a Federal hospital and headquarters. The Masonic Hall, also used as a hospital, survived because both the Union commander and the Presbyterian minister were Masons.

The Memphis & Charleston Railroad depot became the focal point of the Federal garrison. The men built an earthen redoubt and stockade just
War Comes to Germantown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 20, 2014
2. War Comes to Germantown Marker
east of town. Confederate cavalry and Union troops fought at least eleven engagements around this rail line in the Germantown area.

By war’s end, Germantown’s population had been reduced by more than half. It would be many years before Germantown recovered and again became a thriving community.

(lower left) Masonic Hall, which served as a Union hospital (demolished 1985)
(upper center) Germantown Presbyterian Church, constructed 1851 (bell tower added 1867)
(upper right) Germantown railroad depot, constructed 1858 (replaced 1948
(lower right) Fort Germantown, built June 1863 to guard the railroad (burned and abandoned October 1863)
All images courtesy Germantown Community Library
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 5.214′ N, 89° 48.666′ W. Marker is in Germantown, Tennessee, in Shelby County. Marker is at the intersection of South Germantown Road and 2nd Street, on the right when traveling south on South Germantown Road. Click for map. The marker is located on the grounds of the Germantown Visitor Center and former depot. Marker is in this post office area: Germantown TN 38138, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Germantown, Tennessee (within shouting distance of this marker); Germantown Baptist Church (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Germantown Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oaklawn Garden (approx. 0.7 miles away); John Gray Historic House (approx. 0.9 miles away); Fort Germantown (approx. 2.2 miles away); Shelby County / Memphis (approx. 2.6 miles away); Memphis University School (approx. 2.8 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Germantown.
Categories. Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 287 times since then and 65 times this year. Last updated on , by J. Makali Bruton of San Salvador, El Salvador. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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