“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Beechgrove in Coffee County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Tullahoma Campaign

June 24-July 4, 1863


The New Weapons of War

Tullahoma Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 13, 2021
1. Tullahoma Campaign Marker
Spencer Repeating Rifle
The Civil War occurred during a period of technological revolution. In the 1850s, the US Army replaced its smoothbore weapons with the long-range rifle musket Then, just before the war, Christopher Spencer, a Connecticut inventor, perfected a repeater rifle. Unlike the musket, which had to be reloaded after each firing, a repeater held several cartridges at once, and could fire in quick succession. In early 1863, when Spencer showed the rifle to Wilder, the Colonel and his men were impressed enough to purchase the weapons themselves/

The Spencer was highly effective. One Union veteran remembered that "when we drew the Spencer rifle, the confidence imparted by it enabled us to march in single rank, and never afterwards did we face the enemy in two ranks. As the war progressed, we always went into battle in single rank, and deployed so wide apart often as much as five paces that it took the closest shooting every time on the part of the enemy to hit one of us.”

A Long War
For one blue …
Benjamin Franklin McGee was a sergeant in the
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72nd Indiana. He and his brother enlisted in 1862, and Benjamin was part of the regiment when it fought here at Hoover's Gap. His most poignant memory of the engagement was the death of Sergeant Pike, mortally wounded in the face by a shell. “To see him lying in the mud and rain, clawing the mud with his hands and ever and anon picking at the shreds of flesh and shattered bones of his face was horribly distressing,” McGee recalled, “Death soon came to the brave man's relief...The poor fellow muttered 'O mother, poor mother! What will she do?” (Pike's mother was a widow, the sergeant her sole support). He spoke no more and soon expired.”

And one grey
William McMurray was bon in Williamson County, TN in 1842. When the war came, William remembered that his father had often spoken of the Inevitability of war between North and South, so he enlisted in the 20th Tennessee. In 1864 he lost his left arm during the siege of Atlanta. McMurray remembered the presentation of a special regimental flag made by the wife of the division commander, Major General John C. Breckenridge. The flag, completed just before the Tullahoma Campaign, was to be given “to the most gallant regiment in the division.” Breckenridge, a Kentuckian, chose the 20th Tennessee. At Hoover's Gap, McMurray recalled that the flag “had its staff
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shot in two and the eagle shot off the top.”

Left: Spencer Rifle with endload cartridge
Right: Thomas M. Hawk, Company C, 92nd Illinois with his Spencer

Erected by Tennessee's Backroads Heritage.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 35° 37.557′ N, 86° 14.493′ W. Marker is in Beechgrove, Tennessee, in Coffee County. Marker can be reached from Confederate Cemetery Road. Marker is in Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery, located near the junction of Beech Grove Road/TN-64 and Interstate 24. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 140 Confederate Cemetery Road, Beechgrove TN 37018, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Tullahoma Campaign (here, next to this marker); Confederate 1st/3rd Kentucky Calvalry (here, next to this marker); 20th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry (a few steps from this marker); Confederate Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Pledge to the South (within shouting distance of this marker); 18th Indiana Battery (within shouting distance of this marker); General A. P. Stewart's Division (within shouting distance of this marker); General Forrest's Farewell Order Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Beechgrove.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 14, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on February 14, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 4, 2021