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Spencer in Van Buren County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

War on the Plateau

Raids in Van Buren County

 
 
War on the Plateau Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 26, 2020
1. War on the Plateau Marker
Inscription.  The Civil War first touched Van Buren County in 1861 when Confederates under James Randals began mining Big Bone Cave's saltpeter deposits. By 1863, 4,017 pounds of nitre—essential to the manufacture of gunpowder—had been produced.

During Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's Kentucky campaign in September 1862, 2nd Lt. Carrol H. Clark and Sgt. Darius Clark of the 16th Tennessee Infantry wrote in their diaries for Sept. 1: "We marched all night and on the second day we struck Cane Creek near the mouth in Van Burian (Buren) County and camped at the Bija Crane Place. The distance we marched that night was 20 miles." Later that month, Confederate Col. Joseph Wheeler reported a "slight skirmish" at the farm of Mrs. John Fleming, a widow, where the Spencer-to-Dunlap road crossed Harrison Road.

Union occupation brought new challenges. In November 1863, a member of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry reported about a firefight with Confederate Capt. George Carter's partisans: "On arriving at a point a fourth of a mile from [Spencer at 1 a.m.] we put our horses to a full gallop and charged into and thro the town and all around
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it but without finding the enemy as expected. One of our guides, whose brother was murdered by Carter, smashed the door of [Carter's] house, ordered out his wife and set the house on fire, but Capt [Adam] Kramer had the fire extinguished, an action of our men did not approve."

In August 1864, Union commanders allowed Spencer's Burritt College to reopen for two sessions but then closed it to use the main building as barracks and the dormitories as stables.

(Captions)
Left: Leaching pit used in saltpeter mining - Courtesy Mick Offield
Center: Burritt College during the Civil War - Courtesy Hoyte Cook
Right: Detail, map, C. Meister, "Chattanooga, Tennessee to Sparta, Tennessee, August 1862" - Courtesy Duke University Library
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 35° 44.792′ N, 85° 27.787′ W. Marker is in Spencer, Tennessee, in Van Buren County. Marker is on College Street (State Highway 30) west of Webster Street, on the right when traveling west
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. Marker is located at the Burritt Memorial Library. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 427 College Street, Spencer TN 38585, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Burritt College (within shouting distance of this marker); Bragg’s March to Kentucky (approx. 4½ miles away); Gilbert Gaul, Civil War Painter (approx. 7.7 miles away); The Old Kentucky Road (approx. 8.8 miles away); Rodgers' Tavern (approx. 9 miles away); Camp Forrest (approx. 11 miles away); Trail of Tears (approx. 11 miles away); George Gibbs Dibrell (approx. 12.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spencer.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 51 times since then and 2 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on July 28, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Wide shot of marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?
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Feb. 25, 2021