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

Manchester Powder Mill

Powering the Confederate War Machine

 
 
Manchester Powder Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 13, 2021
1. Manchester Powder Mill Marker
Inscription.  During the nineteenth century, the Duck River was a valuable power source for factories and mills along its banks. With the outbreak of war in 1861, the Confederacy quickly established gunpowder mills to support the Southern war effort. The combination of abundant water power and access to the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad (including a spur line from nearby Tullahoma through Manchester to McMinnville) made this an ideal powder-mill site.

The Tennessee Military and Finance Board contracted with Nashville businessman William S. Whiteman to build the mill, advancing him $15,000. By the fall of 1861, the Manchester Powder Mill (located in what is now the park) was producing 1,500 pounds of powder a day. Only a handful of Confederate powder mills existed besides this one, in Nashville; Augusta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; and Petersburg, Virginia. This mill provided a desperately needed resource while the Augusta facility was under construction and produced 125,000 pounds of gunpowder during its brief existence.

On March 26, 1862, Federal troops arrived in Manchester and immediately took steps to cripple
Manchester Powder Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 13, 2021
2. Manchester Powder Mill Marker
the Confederate war machine by burning the mill to the ground. Union Col. John Kennett, 4th Ohio Cavalry, reported, “Capt. Robie … [reached] Manchester at the hour designated. Finding the powder-mill burned, he continued his march to Tullahoma, reaching there at 5 P.M. on the 27th.” After this expedition into Manchester, the Union army soon left the area but returned and occupied the town on June 23, 1863. The powder mill never operated again.

Here at the forks of the Duck River, Native Americans built a series of walls within the boundaries of today's Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park. Although their exact use is a mystery, the walls are oriented to within one degree of sunrise at the summer solstice.

Captions:
Top left: Powder mill, 19th century Courtesy Library of Congress
Bottom left: Duck River Falls Courtesy Library of Congress
Top right: Ruins with town in distance - Courtesy Library of Congress
Bottom right: Manchester and vicinity, from Official Military Atlas of the Civil War (1891-1895)
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWar, US Civil.
 
Location.
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35° 29.193′ N, 86° 6.118′ W. Marker is near Manchester, Tennessee, in Coffee County. Marker is on Stone Fort Drive, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 732 Stone Fort Drive, Manchester TN 37355, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Old Stone Fort (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Old Stone Fort (approx. half a mile away); Experiment in Armor (approx. 0.6 miles away); Tullahoma Campaign (approx. ¾ mile away); a different marker also named Tullahoma Campaign (approx. ¾ mile away); Vietnam War Memorial (approx. 0.8 miles away); Coffee County UDC Memorial (approx. 0.8 miles away); Corporal Brian James Schoff (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Manchester.
 
Also see . . .  Where did Confederate Gunpowder come from?. July 7, 2018 Facebook post by Shiloh National Military Park with more details on the Confederate gunpowder operations. (Submitted on February 15, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 15, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 50 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 15, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 7, 2021