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

Charleston on the Hiwassee

A Strategic Crossing

Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, July 28, 2013
1. Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker
Inscription.  Charleston, formerly Fort Cass during the “Trail of Tears” (Indian removal of 1838), was strategically important in the military struggle for East Tennessee. The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad bridge here, the line’s only crossing on the Hiwassee River, made it a tempting target. Union loyalists burned it on November 8, 1861, and Union and Confederate forces later damaged it numerous times after it was rebuilt. The 1861 bridge burnings prompted Confederate authorities to tighten their military control over East Tennessee. When retreating Confederate troops damaged the bridge in November 1863, Union Gen. William T. Sherman was compelled to spend the evening of November 30 in Charleston. Here he received orders from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to take command of a column marching to relieve Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside during the Siege of Knoxville.

The Hiwassee Bridge crossing was not only significant as the connection between Chattanooga and Knoxville, but also played a role in defending Charleston. Desperate for supplies in the aftermath of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, two of Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry divisions
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raided a Union wagon train of Col. Bernard Laibold on December 28, 1863. The 300 wagons were crossing the Hiwassee en route from Chattanooga to Knoxville. As Laibold’s infantry defended the train, Union Col. Eli Long’s cavalry brigade crossed the river and charged the Confederates. Routed, the Confederates retreated to Dalton, Georgia. The Charleston Cumberland Presbyterian Church was used as a hospital to treat the wounded. The Union army occupied Charleston for the rest of the war and built two blockhouses on each side of the river to protect the bridge.

“I have given the rebel General (Joseph) Wheeler a sound thrashing this morning.” —Col. Bernard Laibold, 2nd Missouri Infantry

Civil War Atlas, 1891
Col. Eli Long Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Joseph Wheeler Courtesy Library of Congress
Civil War Atlas, 1891
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. A significant historical month for this entry is November 1861.
Location. 35° 17.006′ N, 84° 45.469′ W. Marker is in Charleston, Tennessee, in Bradley County. Marker is at the intersection
Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, July 28, 2013
2. Charleston on the Hiwassee Marker
of Worth Street Northeast and Market Street Northeast, on the left when traveling east on Worth Street Northeast. The marker is located in the Charleston City Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Charleston TN 37310, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Voices from the Past (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); A New Home (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named A New Home (about 700 feet away); Sickness in the Camps (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named Sickness in the Camps (about 800 feet away); Prisoners (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Prisoners (approx. 0.2 miles away); Preparing for Removal (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charleston.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 14, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,081 times since then and 192 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 14, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 3, 2023