Editorial: Civil War marker unveiled today to note site of historic Civil War incident

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:26 PM

Today is a special day in Sevier County for all who enjoy and study the Civil War. While Sevier County’s role in that historic War Between the States doesn’t rise to the level and significance of other sites, it does contribute to the overall picture.

A new Civil War Marker commemorating the Battle of Fair Garden will be unveiled at 1 p.m. today on the campus of Walters State in Sevierville. The marker will feature historic photographs, a map and written information about the skirmish, which took place east of Sevierville in January 1864.

The marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails program which is part of a five-state trails system that invites the public to explore sites associated with the Civil War.

Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, will be joined by local dignitaries to unveil the marker, as part of the annual Sevierville Arbor Day Celebration. Union Gen. Samuel Sturgis will be pictured on the marker, along with Confederate Gen. James Longstreet and Capt. Eli Lilly, who founded the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly & Co. in 1876. A photograph of Stewart Dickey’s house will also be shown. Federal troops used the Dickey house as their headquarters, installing a telegraph line from there to their main base in Knoxville.

A map pointing out sites such as Rose Glen Plantation, home of Hodsden, Stewart Dickey’s house, the confederate camp and McNutt’s Bridge (which has since been replaced with the Harrisburg Covered Bridge) will direct visitors to other places in the area associated with the Battle of Fair Garden. Over a period of three days, the battle covered an area of eight miles stretching from Dandridge to the Little Pigeon River. Standing in front of the marker, the reader may observe the spot, on a hillside across the street, where initial combat occurred on Jan. 27, 1864. The marker will also include a brief history of the Battle of Fair Garden.

History buffs, Civil War buffs and others who care about the past and its shaping of our present should attend the ceremony. And thanks to Carroll McMahan of the Chamber of Commerce who, as usual, was at the forefront of a local recognition of historical significance.