Memphis Civil War Sites



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State battlefield








The Battles-

(June 6th, 1862)

(August 21st, 1864)


        The first battle of Memphis was strictly a naval battle, fought after the fall of Island # 10 to the Federals in April 1862, when the Union fleet made it's way south to open up the Mississippi River to the Union.  After the evacuation of Corinth, Mississippi, troops stationed in Memphis were ordered to leave.  On June 6th, five ironclads and eight river rams were dispatched to take out the last remaining opposition in Memphis and capture the important city.  The Federal flotilla met the Confederate ships, and after and hour and a half of fighting, all but one of the Confederate ships had been sunk, and the city of Memphis surrendered to the Union ships.

        The second battle of Memphis was actually a raid, orchestrated by General Nathan Bedford Forrest on August 21st, 1864.  Forrest's mission was to capture the three Union Generals stationed there and rescue Confederate prisoners held in the city.  At dawn, Forrest and 2,000 soldiers surprised the Union soldiers garrisoned at Memphis, and managed to take almost 400 soldiers as prisoners without suffering too many casualties.  All three of the Union Generals, including General Washburn, managed to escape from the soldiers just in the nick of time, and although Forrest did not manage to free any Confederate prisoners, he did managed to force Union soldiers stationed in northern Mississippi to withdraw into Tennessee and scare the wits out of all the major Mid-west cities from St. Louis to Chicago.       


The Battlefield-


Confederate Park, where Confederate batteries fired on Union ships during the first battle of Memphis, is located on Front Street, just off the Mississippi River, in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.  Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, where General Forrest and his wife are buried, is located a few minutes from Confederate Park, on Union Avenue, in downtown Memphis.  Other Civil War sites include Elmwood Cemetery, where 12 Civil War Generals are buried, and General Washburn's Escape Alley, right in the center of downtown Memphis.

       Memphis, Tennessee, located on the mighty Mississippi River, between the cities of St. Louis and Vicksburg, is rich with history.  From Early Native Americans to Elvis and Martin Luther King Jr., historic sites abound in this modern city.  Most of the Civil War sites associated with the two battles fought here during the Civil War are not well known places, however, and you would not normally find anyone but history buffs, picnickers, and the homeless wandering around Confederate Park or Forrest Park.  
        Confederate Park is a small, fairly well-kept park in downtown Memphis, next to the courthouse, which not only commemorates the Confederate soldiers who died in the 1st Battle of Memphis, but also Southerners who fought in the World Wars.  In the center of the park is a statue of Jefferson Davis, who is also commemorated in another park, further down on the Mississippi River.  Apart from the large statue, there are a few non-Civil War era cannons, an explanatory marker, and another Civil War-era monument, a bust to Captain Mathes, who apparently fought here.     
        The other major Civil War site in Memphis is the Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, located on Union Avenue, north of Confederate Park.  This park contains a controversial statue of the famous Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, which marks the burial site of both the general and his wife.  Forrest led the attack on Memphis during the 2nd Battle of Memphis, but was also responsible for founding the Klu Klux Klan after the war, the main point for most of the controversy. Politics aside, the park is very beautiful, and is an excellent resting place for one of the only military geniuses to come out of the Civil War.
        Besides these two main points of interest, there is also General Washburn's Escape Alley, right in the middle of downtown Memphis, where U.S. General Washburn was said to have fled down in his nightgown when Forrest and his brothers came looking for him during the 2nd Battle.  Further into the town itself, in Midtown, is Elmwood Cemetery, the most historic cemetery in the Mid-South and the resting place of 12 Civil War Generals.  All of these sites combined would make an excellent day tour of the Home of Rock and Roll's Civil War sites.  


Picture Gallery-


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