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

Clarksville in the Civil War

Changing Hands

Clarksville in the Civil War Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 31, 2015
1. Clarksville in the Civil War Marker
Inscription.  Clarksville, a communication and transportation center was strategically significant because of the Cumberland River and the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. The area’s rich agricultural produce—grain, livestock, tobacco, and corn—and the products of its iron industry reached the nation and world via these transportation assets.

Three forts on the Cumberland River, Forts Donelson, Defiance, and Clark protected this pro-Confederate town and many of Clarksville’s residents rushed to join Southern military units. After the surrender of Fort Donelson in February 1862, however, Union gunboats and troops from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s army occupied Clarksville.

Federal control proved tenuous. The Confederates briefly reclaimed the town in August 1862; it returned temporarily to Union control in September 1862. The Federals occupied Clarksville permanently in December 1862 when Col. Sanders Bruce’s brigade took charge of the town and Fort Defiance, which was renamed Fort Bruce.

Clarksville became a gathering place for white Unionists and escaped slaves who were housed in tobacco warehouses along
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the river and near Fort Bruce. Eventually more than 3,000 refugees converged on the town, outnumbering local residents.

In 1863, after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federals began to recruit free blacks and former slaves for military service. Some 1,800 joined the Federal army and were inducted into the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 101st U.S. Colored Troops in ceremonies on Clarksville’s public square.

Col. Sanders Bruce Courtesy Howard Winn
New York Herald, February 24, 1862 — Courtesy Howard Winn
Clarksville, 1876 bird’s-eye view — Courtesy Montgomery County Archives
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1862.
Location. 36° 31.683′ N, 87° 21.694′ W. Marker is in Clarksville, Tennessee, in Montgomery County. Marker is at the intersection of Public Square and Main Street, in the median on Public Square. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 128 Public Square, Clarksville TN 37040, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Court House (a few steps from this marker); Freedom Light
Clarksville in the Civil War Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, July 24, 2013
2. Clarksville in the Civil War Marker
(within shouting distance of this marker); John Montgomery Statue (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Frank Spencer Sutton (about 500 feet away); Whitfield, Bradley & Co. (about 700 feet away); Town Spring (about 700 feet away); Kennedy & Glenn's Bank (about 700 feet away); Clarksville's Slave Market (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clarksville.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2018. It was originally submitted on September 13, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 827 times since then and 81 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on September 4, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.   2. submitted on September 13, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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May. 27, 2023