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

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

Tullahoma Campaign

June 24-July 4, 1863


— From Contraband to United States Colored Troops —

Tullahoma Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 24, 2014
1. Tullahoma Campaign Marker
Inscription.  No sooner did the North begin its invasion than slaves fled to Union lines seeking freedom. This presented problems for military commanders and President Lincoln. The political aims of the war did not initially include emancipation. Before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect in January of 1863, slaves belonging to Union supporters were actually returned to their masters.

But enslaved African Americans would not be denied the opportunity the war presented. Refugee camps quickly sprang up and “contraband” the label given to slaves during the war, went to work performing the worst jobs, like latrine and mess duty, or acting as personal servants. Others labored building railroads and fortifications.

In April of 1863 President Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson as military governor of Tennessee, giving his authority over all contraband. Johnson worked with General Rosecrans to organize work details. In Tennessee, major contraband camps grew in Nashville, Gallatin, Clarksville, and in Decatur and Huntsville, Alabama. Most worked for food, some for wages. By 1865, 470,000 formerly enslaved African Americans
Tullahoma Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 24, 2014
2. Tullahoma Campaign Marker
had contributed to the Northern war effort, including in infantry regiments. Though undertrained and ill-prepared for combat, the United States Colored Troops were a decisive influence on the war’s outcome.

The Provost Marshall - A Record of Violence
The occupying Union army established a Provost Marshal’s office here at Tullahoma, to carry out the nearly impossible job of establishing order in a hostile environment. Some Union soldiers took advantage of the situation, administering a crude form of frontier justice that included lynching. In response, local “bushwhackers” attacked both the enemy and the civilian population with controlled violence. One Union soldier remembers they were after “whomsoever falls in their way.” For many Union officers charged with occupying and subduing the South, the only possible response was a war of terror. David Stanley, Rosecrans’ cavalry commander referring to his stay in Alabama, stated, “I scared Jackson County, I think, by my savage threats.”

(top) First United States Colored Infantry (courtesy United States Army Military Institute)
(lower right) This Provost Marshal office could draw quite a crowd (courtesy United States Army Military Institute)
Erected by Tennessee's
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Backroads Heritage.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series lists.
Location. 35° 21.409′ N, 86° 12.442′ W. Marker is in Tullahoma, Tennessee, in Coffee County. Marker is at the intersection of South Jackson Street (U.S. 41A) and West Volney Street, on the right when traveling south on South Jackson Street. The marker is on the grounds of the Jackson Civic Center. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tullahoma TN 37388, 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); a different marker also named Tullahoma Campaign (here, next to this marker); Confederate Cemetery (here, next to this marker); Army of Tennessee (here, next to this marker); Isham G. Harris (a few steps from this marker); Camp Forrest (a few steps from this marker); Baillet Sisters (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Red Caboose (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tullahoma.
Also see . . .  Tennessee's Backroads. (Submitted on July 13, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 13, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 480 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 13, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 24, 2021