The series will be played out on or as close to the anniversaries of key dates in history involving both Confederate and Union forces.
On April 25, 1861, Unionists erected a “Liberty Pole” at the Bradley County Courthouse a few days after the fall of Fort Sumter (in South Carolina) April 12-13, 1861. Union supporters in Cleveland raised a 90-foot hickory pole in the courthouse yard and hoisted a handmade 33-star American flag presented by Sally Shields.
The effort was funded by William Cate. In the summer, when Confederate soldiers moved through the area toward Virginia by rail, soldiers shot at the flag from the tracks. A Louisiana (or possibly Mississippi) regiment passing through Cleveland demanded the flag come down. After negotiations between Unionists and Confederate authorities, the pole was taken down in July 1861. However, the same flag was raised again over the city on Feb. 10, 1864, after Union troops occupied Cleveland.
“This is a state initiative,” said Melissa Woody of the commemoration of such occurrences, which will take place across the Volunteer State. Woody is vice president of the Bradley-Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The initiative is a part of the Civil War Trails program and is also a multistate project.
Two Civil War Trails markers currently exist in Bradley County.
One is located at the Museum Center at Five Points and the other in Charleston Park, on the grounds where Civil War encampments were located and history was made.
Woody said the Civil War was played out in almost everybody’s yard.
Tennessee developed a website surrounding history as well as some of the planned events which will cover the period.
“Tennessee’s Civil War history is rich and complex, with the staggering effects of total war felt in every part of the state,” according to the tncivilwar.com site.
Events have already begun to unfold regarding how the war “evolved throughout the state and changed life for everyone.”
Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen kicked off the commemoration in November.
The flagpole raising is one of many upcoming events to be re-created and/or remembered in Bradley County.
In 1861, the nation divided and the state of Tennessee did as well.
Union sentiment as well as a strong Confederate presence in the South also divided Bradley County somewhat, but the county as well as most of Eastern Tennessee remained loyal to the Union.
Other key dates to remember during the next five years of Civil War remembrance are:
- Saturday, June 11, 2011
Rededication of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument on its 100th Anniversary.
- Sunday, July 24, 2011, 7 p.m., Courthouse Plaza
24 July 1861 — Confederate Supporters Illuminate the Town
To celebrate a Confederate victory at Bull Run (July 21, 1861), Confederate supporters lit their businesses and homes with lanterns the night of Wednesday, July 24, 1861. A list of the properties that participated is found in Hurlbert’s “History of the Rebellion in Bradley County” and a map in Murray’s “Bradley Divided” shows each location. A few Confederate supporters spoke at the courthouse that evening, where a bonfire was set. The flag on the liberty pole came down around this time.
- Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 — Living history in Charleston; Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 – Bridge burning in Charleston; Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 – Lantern Cemetery Tour at Fort Hill
n November-December 1861 — Terror Strikes Bradley County
Union supporters were slated to burn the bridge over the Hiwassee at Charleston as part of a Union army invasion of East Tennessee. Plans were changed and troops were rerouted to Kentucky. Word of the change did not make it to Bradley County and the destruction of the bridge took place as planned. Alfred M. Cate, son of William Cate, set the fire on Nov. 8, 1861, and escaped to Kentucky. Others suspected of knowledge and/or involvement were arrested and sent to Knoxville and later imprisoned in Tuscaloosa, Ala. A petition was drafted by Union men and secreted to leading Confederates who were sympathetic to their release. Thomas Callaway posted $2,500 bail and negotiated the release of the entire group.
The group included Thomas L. Cate, Maj. James Bradford, Levi Trewhitt, Esq., Capt. C.D. Champion, Col. Stephen Beard, Samuel Richmond, Dr. John G. Brown, Dr. William Hunt, John T Kincheloe, S.B. Wise, John Boon, Jesse Taylor, Jackson Spurgeon, John Beene, Esq., George Marler and Allen Marler. One arestee not included in Hurlbert’s book was William Low, according to reports from that time.
Confederate control of Cleveland/Bradley County — 1862-1863.
- Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012
Fort Hill Cemetery Tour to Focus on Confederates Only
Bradley County Historical Society Annual Fort Hill Cemetery Tour. The tour will focus only on those associated with the Confederacy since Bradley County in 1862 was dominated by Confederates.
- April-May 2013 (TBA)
Exhibit at Museum Center at Five Points
The museum will host a special exhibit featuring artifacts, stories and memorabilia of the Civil War in Bradley County — Cleveland and Charleston. Lectures and special programs and activities will be scheduled throughout the exhibit.
- Friday/Saturday/Sunday, Sept. 27-29, 2013
a) 25-26 Sept. 1863 — Union army first arrives in Bradley County and skirmishes in Cleveland/Charleston (Attack by Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general and cavalryman).
Confederates attack Union army for the first time in Bradley County/Cleveland Sept. 18. Union Army retreated across the Hiwassee to Riceville. Forrest reached Cleveland on Sept. 25 and advanced to Charleston on the morning of the 26th. Confederates in Charleston (8,000-15,000 men) attack Union army in Calhoun on Sept. 26 and Union army pursued to Philadelphia, Tenn.
b) 26-27 Nov. 1863 – Union Raid on Cleveland (Ohio Brigade of Col. Eli Long)
This raid happened after the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Soldiers encamped around the Masonic Female Institute. Army was attacked and forced to retreat back toward Chattanooga via Harrison. Although Union army routed, the raid was viewed as a success (destruction of railroad lines, copper mill). After Missionary Ridge the Union army returned and secured occupation of Cleveland and the county.
- Battle of Chickamauga, Sept. 19-20; Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19-20, 2013; Battle of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge — Nov. 24 and 25. Event: Thanksgiving-Nov. 28, 2013)
- Sunday, October 27, 2013
Annual Fort Hill Cemetery Tour
Organized by Bradley County Historical Society, this tour will again focus on personalities associated with the Civil War.
- Friday/Saturday/Sunday, Dec. 13-15, 2013
a) 29 Nov. 1863 and 14 Dec. 1863 — Gen. William T. Sherman Visits
Sherman in his march to aid Gen. Burnside in Longstreet’s siege of Knoxville, stopped to camp his troops in and around Charleston. Sherman stayed at the Henegar House while his troops camped in Walker Valley at the present-day Irwin Home.
b) 28 Dec. 1863 – Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s Attack on Charleston (The Battle of Charleston)
- Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
10 Feb. 1864 — Liberty Pole Raised Again
The handmade flag with the 90 Fort pole was raised again over the city after Union troops occupied Cleveland. Ceremony held with Union officers Col. William Grose (36th Indiana) and Col. Louis H. Waters (84th Illinois) delivering speeches.
- Friday/Saturday/Sunday, May 2-4, 2014
Winter encampment December-May 1864, and Advance May 2, 1864
An entire Army — tens of thousands of troops – encamped for the winter in southern Bradley County communities. Scouts or other groups can set up community encampments in South Bradley County for a weekend picked out of the time the army was there. The Bradley County Historical Society Tour of Homes is in April and could branch to the South to include properties such as the Blackburn Farm, Flint Springs and/or Blue Springs.
- Saturday/Sunday, Aug. 16 -17, 2014; 17 and 19 August, 1864 — Confederates raid Cleveland and Charleston. Confederate troops commanded by Joseph Wheeler attacked Cleveland and the town was ordered by Col. Horatio Gibson (Second Ohio Heavy Artillery) to evacuate. They fled from the city center to outlying farm homes such as the Keith Hines home (Johnson House) and the Jackson home (Reeder House) at Harrison Pike and Blythewood (Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014).
- Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014
Annual Fort Hill Cemetery Tour — Organized by Bradley County Historical Society, this tour will again focus on personalities associated with the Civil War.
- Saturday in October 2015 (TBA)
- October 1865 — BBQ Picnic Celebrating the Union
Union supporters held a town barbecue to celebrate the return of Union soldiers in the Civil War and survival of United States of America. The event was held at Union commander Col. Stephen Beard’s farm. The barbecue cost a total of $77.
Woody said there could be additions to the list of events as planning continues.
“Bryan Reed has worked hard gathering information about the Civil War in Bradley County. He has discovered interesting stories and personalities as well as significant military action in our communities,” said Woody. “This ambitious slate of events is a community effort. Many volunteers from Cleveland and Charleston are working on the details of these events to make them happen. This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize our county’s role in this most studied era of American History.”
Reed is president of the Bradley County Historical & Genealogical Society and History Department Chair at Cleveland State Community College.
To learn more, visit www.civilwar150.org or www.civilwartrails.org.