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Tennessee Wars Commission Forges Ahead

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Plus Battlefield Acquisitions and Projects Supported by The Tennessee Wars Commission in 2020 

By Nina Scall

In 1994, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted legislation to create the Tennessee Wars Commission (TWC) as a part of the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC.) Through the administration of two grant funds, TWC has helped acquire and permanently protect over 7000 acres of historic properties and support over one hundred projects that preserve, protect, and interpret Tennessee’s military heritage from the French and Indian War (1754-1763), American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), War of 1812 (1812-1815), Mexican-American War (1846-1848) through the American Civil War (1861-1865) as well as Underground Railroad sites. 

The nation’s first National Park Service (NPS) Foundation Document for an affiliated area debuted in January 2021, as a result of the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding formed between the Tennessee Historical Commission’s TWC, the National Park Service, Parkers Crossroads Battlefield, and Shiloh National Military Park.  

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Nina Scall, Tennessee Wars Commission’s Director of Programs, speaks at the October 2020 sculpture unveiling ceremony at Camp Blount Memorial Park  

In 2020, five projects were supported by the Wars Commission Grant Fund:

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Davidson Countyawarded $5,000.00 for interpretation of Tennessee’s African American participation in the Civil War.  The project will update reference materials, establish a K-12 traveling trunk program, and support African American living history interpreters.

Camp Blount Historic Site Association, Lincoln Countyawarded $25,000.00 to complete Phase II fabrication, transportation, and installation of the Tennessee Volunteer statue.  TWC awarded $40,000 for Phase I of the project in 2018.

Historic Cragfont, Sumner Countyawarded $5,000.00 to research and present the home front story of Castalian Springs during the Civil War.  The project focused on the interpretation of the enslaved communities as well as the Bates, Wynne, and Winchester families.

Johnsonville State Historic Park, Humphreys Countyawarded $11,500.00 to purchase a reproduction 1861 Springfield Musket and a 10-pound Parrot artillery piece for demonstrating the Federal defense of Johnsonville during the Civil War.

Parkers Crossroads, Henderson Countyawarded $48,180.00 to purchase a reproduction field limber with ammunitions chest and limber pole, plus a caisson with ammunition chests and spare wheel, to demonstrate the role of field artillery in battlefield strategy at Parkers Crossroads.

Five tracts of land were acquired with Civil War Sites Preservation Fund support and help from the American Battlefield Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program:

The Chapin Tract at the Chattanooga and Wauhatchie Battlefields in Chattanooga, Hamilton Countyan approximately 9-acre tract that contains Brown’s Tavern, a log structure associated with the 1838 Cherokee Removal along the Trail of Tears and the Civil War.  In 2020 TWC granted $15,708.37 in matching funds to combine with $231,737.63 awarded in 2019 in order to complete this purchase.     

The Cotner Tract at the Shiloh Battlefield in Michie, Hardin Countya 53-acre tract adjacent to the Shiloh National Military Park where 40,000 Confederate soldiers attacked Union divisions in a decisive battle of the Civil War.  $51,000 of TWC matching funds supported this purchase.   

The Olive Tract at the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield, Henderson Countya 0.55-acre tract where Union Brig. Gen. Jeremiah Sullivan, with the brigades of Col. Cyrus Dunham and Col. John Fuller, attempted to prevent Confederate troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest from withdrawing across the Tennessee River. $125,000 of TWC matching funds supported this purchase.  

The O’Reilly Tract at the Stones River Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County—the 42-acre parcel adjacent to the Stone’s River National Battlefield, a National Park Service-owned site, where George Wagner’s troop was position during the Battle of Stone’s River. A grant award of $170,530.63 in 2020 brought TWC matching contributions to $1,998,033.01 for this purchase.

The Van Cleve Tract at the Stones River Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Rutherford Countya 6-acre parcel adjacent to the National Military Park’s boundaries where the final day of fighting occurred on January 2, 1863.  $540,000 of TWC matching funds supported this purchase.

THC Executive Director, Patrick McIntyre, serves as the Executive Director of the TWC and Nina Scall serves as the Director of Programs and sole staff member of the TWC.

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Camp Blount Memorial Park’s new Tennessee Volunteer statue by sculptor Wayne Hyde