As the commemoration of the Civil War continues, historical accounts describe another flag-raising on the courthouse square.
A replica of the 33-star U.S. flag was raised over the Courthouse Square in downtown Cleveland on April 25, 2011.
According to history, the event occurred 150 years prior to that date as well.
The 33-star American flag was again hoisted over Cleveland after more than two years of Confederate occupation. Union forces gained control over the town and a ceremony was planned.
“An event commemorating the ceremony will be held 150 years to the day after the flag was actually raised again,” according to Melissa Woody, of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The flag will be raised Monday at 4 p.m. on the Courthouse Square.
Two Union officers will address the crowd and describe the relief and pleasure of the gathered supporters to be back under Union occupation, according to Woody.
Historically, Bradley County leaned heavily to the side of the Union cause.
Just days after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, local Union supporters raised a tall hickory pole on the courthouse square and hoisted an American flag, which at the time displayed 33 stars and was sewn quickly by a group of young girls. About a month later, Confederate soldiers passed through on a train and fired at the flag, which stood as the tallest object in town, easily viewed from the railroad.
Historical accounts indicate this same flag was hidden away during Confederate occupation and was brought out to be hoisted again on the courthouse square. The flag was initially presented by teen Sally Shields 153 years ago at the first raising. The current flag was sewn for the kickoff event in April 2011, by Sarah Beaty, who was then a Walker Valley High School student.
The Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce has been working with local historians, who have identified more than a dozen significant events that happened in Bradley County during the Civil War and months beyond, according to Woody.
Bryan Reed, president of the Bradley County Historical and Genealogical Society and social sciences chair at Cleveland State Community College, approached Woody at the CVB three years ago with the list of significant events and the idea to commemorate them during the span of the war.
“Recognizing these bookmarks in history is our community’s opportunity to be a part of the sesquicentennial commemoration as events are being planned all across Tennessee and many other affected states,” said Woody.
“Civil War history is huge draw for heritage tourists as well as residents interested in their community’s place in history.”
Cleveland and Charleston were pivotal locations in Civil War strategy. Gen. William T. Sherman spent two nights in Charleston’s historic Henegar House on his way to and from Knoxville.
Other events during the past three years have included battles in Charleston and Cleveland, a bridge burning on the Hiwassee, illuminating downtown businesses with lanterns in support of a victory several states away and the encampment of an entire Army — 10,000 in numbers.
“I appreciate Bryan Reed for all the research he has done and continues to do regarding the Civil War in Bradley County,” Woody said.
“I also appreciate all the Civil War enthusiasts in our community who have stepped forward and helped bring these events to life.”
Future events in 2014, in the planning include:
n Saturday/Sunday, Aug. 16 and 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.
n 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.
n Saturday in October 2015 (TBA) — October 1865 – Barbecue Picnic Celebrating the Union.
Union supporters held a town barbecue to celebrate the return of Union soldiers in the Civil War and survival of the United States of America. The event was held at Col. Stephen Beard’s farm, a Union commander. The barbecue cost $77.
Details of certain events during the course of the Sesquicentennial are still being worked out.
To learn more, visit www.civilwar150.org or www.civilwartrails.org.
For a full slate and description of the commemoration events in Bradley County, visit the “history” section of www.VisitClevelandTN.com.