New Preservation Efforts: Parker’s Crossroads and Franklin

Last week Civil War Trust announced two new preservation efforts in Tennessee to acquire ground at the Tennessee battlefields of Parker’s Crossroads and Franklin.  These efforts target 52 acres at Parker’s Crossroads and 5 acres at Franklin.

Thus far, efforts of the Trust, The Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Association, and other groups have preserved about 300 acres of ground at Parker’s.  But preservationists have long eyed a tract of open ground in the middle of the battlefield.  The 52 acre plot is between Interstate 40, Bluegrass Lane, and Tennessee Highway 22.

battlefield overview
Looking North across I-40

As seen in the photo, Interstate 40 bisects the battlefield.  Gas stations and convenience stores service customers along Tennessee 22 off the highway exit.  Many years back there was talk of a truck stop in close proximity to the exit.  There’s no doubt in my mind the property in the view below was considered.

Vacation 903
Looking South from the Site of the Parker House

Jim Lighthizer explained the significance of this Tennessee field:

I’m sure you recall the colorful history of this desperate fight. After a day-long battle on this ground, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest sought the surrender of the battered Union troops in his front. Suddenly, he found himself being unexpectedly attacked by a new Union force from the rear of his lines.

According to the legend, a staff officer cried, “General Forrest, what shall we do? What shall we do?”

Forrest’s famous reply: “Charge ’em both ways!”

While I can’t say for certain whether or not a surprised General Forrest barked out that celebrated command at Parker’s Cross Roads, Tennessee, on December 31, 1862…

…I can tell you for certain that, today, you can have a hand in completing the battlefield he was fighting on when he issued the orders that resulted in his men “charging both ways!”

Whether you fancy the legends and lore that surround N.B. Forrest or not, you must admit that tract of land has an important interpretive story to tell. Grants from the state of Tenneesse cover $1,120,000 of the $1,300,000 purchase price.

At Franklin, the Trust has in mind a five acre plot of undeveloped land on the east (right side) of the Confederate advance.  The property, bordered by a residential area on one side and a railroad on the other, may not be the scene of bitter fighting, but it is among the last open plots on the field not preserved today.  So the goal is to add five more acres to the 170 already preserved through the efforts of the Trust, Save the Franklin Battlefield (STFB), state and local officials, and other organizations. The Trust plans to match $50,000 with a grant from the Federal battlefield fund and donations from STFB.  (And if Franklin is just “one of those western battles” to you, please click over to Kraig McNutt’s blog and immerse yourself in the story of that battle.)

As always, Mr. Lighthizer puts those large dollar figures in a perspective easier to understand:

What if I told you that, for these two urgent transactions (landowners want to close as soon as possible, no later than November), I could turn every $1.00 you donate today into $7.22 and $4.00, respectively?

A little can go a long way.