Archive for February, 2013

Memphis And The Civil War

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Nitegator

MemphisCivilWarWhen the State of Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796 as the sixteenth state, its status was that of being in the “far west” of the land. This was a very strategic outpost as our infant nation expanded slowly to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean in the 19th century. Through the first half of the 19th century, the founders and developers were able to steer all settlement and development towards their first planned community west of the Allegheny Mountains – a 1,300-acre tract known as “Memphis.” This tract had 362 lots laid out for sale including four public squares (Court, Market, Exchange and Auction)

Memphis was out on the frontier and was a very lawless town. Order was finally established in 1842 when the local mayor with Memphis militia quelled the lawlessness of the flatboatmen on the wharf. By 1844, the federal government had built a shipyard in Memphis to be closer to the materials needed for building vessels and to establish further military presence in the area. Two Confederate vessels (the Tennessee and the Arkansas) were later built at another shipyard further south on the bluffs, Ft. Pickering Boat Yard. By the 1850s, Memphis had outlasted all other competition from other river ports in the area to be “capital” of the mid-south. In 1860, the city’s population was 22,243 and Memphis was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. In 1861 South Carolina was the first state to begin the Confederate States of America. Tennessee was the eleventh and final state to join the Confederacy on June 8, 1861. By that time, the citizens of Memphis were largely pro-Confederacy. Upon the completion of the Civil War, Tennessee was the first Confederate state to re-enter the Union.

The Union had captured Nashville in February, 1862 and the state capitol and archives were moved to Memphis for one month (February 20 – March 20, 1862) in a building at the northeast intersection of Second Street and Madison Avenue.

The Battle of Memphis occurred in the early morning hours of June 6, 1862 as a naval skirmish just off shore from today’s Confederate Park location. Confederate Park opened in 1908 and is the site of the Jefferson Davis statue which was erected in 1964. On the west side of the park is a granite bench dedicated to the 154th Tennessee Infantry of the Confederate army. On the north side of the park are two State of Tennessee historical markers commemorating the contributions of Virginia Moon and Elizabeth (more…)