Experience the Civil War Walking Tour in Memphis

Memphis Civil War Map

Memphis Civil War Walking Tour Map

Memphis was founded in 1819 by three land speculators that never lived in Memphis, but rather in the Nashville area: Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester. These three founders owned a 5,000-acre piece of land situated on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, which is the highest elevation on the east bank of the Mississippi River. It is situated between the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at Cairo, Illinois to the north and Natchez, Mississippi to the south. Because the bluff was protected from the devastating personality of Ole Man River, it soon became the center of commerce for explorers both on land and by the waterway.

When the State of Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796 as the sixteenth state, its status was that of being in the “far west” of the land. This was a very strategic outpost as our infant nation expanded slowly to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean in the 19th century. Through the first half of the 19th century, the founders and developers were able to steer all settlement and development towards their first planned community west of the Allegheny Mountains - a 1,300-acre tract known as “Memphis.” This tract had 362 lots laid out for sale including four public squares (Court, Market, Exchange and Auction) plus a 14-acre Promenade for perpetual public use. These were key elements in attracting settlers and industry.

Through its first 20 years of growth, Memphis was a lawless town. Order was finally established in 1842 when the local mayor with Memphis militia quelled the lawlessness of the flatboatmen on the wharf. By 1844, the federal government had built a shipyard in Memphis to be closer to the materials needed for building vessels and to establish further military presence in the area. Two Confederate vessels (the Tennessee and the Arkansas) were later built at another shipyard further south on the bluffs, Ft. Pickering Boat Yard. By the 1850s, Memphis had outlasted all other competition from other river ports in the area to be “capital” of the mid-south.


On January 1, 1850, Memphis expanded its boundaries for the first time when it annexed the town of South Memphis, with Beale Street as its primary thoroughfare. The city’s population was 8,851. In 1852, Memphis began improving its riverfront with the laying of cobblestones along the wharf to accommodate the blossoming steamboat industry. During the next 40 years, Memphis would complete a six-block-long stretch of hard surface materials in 19 different work sessions to encourage the river industry. Today, it is the largest original cobblestone wharf remaining in America with over one million cobbles. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cotton was becoming “King” and Memphis was the leading port in the “west” and the fastest growing city in the nation. In 1857, the first railroad to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River was completed. The Memphis & Charleston Railroad celebrated the “Wedding of the Waters” by pouring water from the Atlantic into the Mississippi and then pouring Mississippi River water into the Atlantic Ocean during a two-day festival in May.


In late 1859, a bust of Andrew Jackson was placed outdoors in Court Square to honor the first President of the Union from the State of Tennessee. Jackson was a war hero and one of three founders of Memphis. Sculpted by John Frazee in 1834, it is the first bust sculpted of a sitting American President. On the pedestal supporting the bust was the inscription “Our Federal Union, It Must and Shall Be Preserved”. After the capture of Memphis by Union forces in 1862, a southern sympathizer defaced this statement and the bust was removed from public display until finding a final home on the south lobby of the Shelby County Courthouse in 1921 (A). It is on free public display during the weekday hours of operation of the Courthouse building.

In 1860, the city’s population was 22,243 and Memphis was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. In 1861 South Carolina was the first state to begin the Confederate States of America. Tennessee was the eleventh and final state to join the Confederacy on June 8, 1861. By that time, the citizens of Memphis were largely pro-Confederacy. Upon the completion of the Civil War, Tennessee was the first Confederate state to re-enter the Union.

With roads and railroads being vastly undependable as secure means to travel and move troops, control of the Mississippi River on the western edge of the United States became a main focal point for the Union military strategy. Systematically, the Union Fleet made its way down the lower Mississippi River past Island #10 (near New Madrid, Missouri), Fort Pillow and Randolph, Tennessee. 

On June 5, 1961, The Memphis Appeal newspaper  - after declaring that it would sink its presses at the bottom of the Mississippi River rather than surrender - loaded its equipment on boxcars (B). For three years The Memphis Appeal published as a refugee newspaper moving five times to escape capture by the Union army. It was finally seized on April 16, 1865 in Columbus, Georgia. After the war, the newspaper was repatriated by its editors in Memphis after retrieving its press from hiding in Macon, Georgia and purchasing new type in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Union had captured Nashville in February, 1862 and the state capitol and archives were moved to Memphis for one month (February 20 - March 20, 1862) (C) in a building at the northeast intersection of Second Street and Madison Avenue.

The Battle of Memphis occurred in the early morning hours of June 6, 1862 as a naval skirmish just off shore from today’s Confederate Park location (D) . Confederate Park opened in 1908 and is the site of the Jefferson Davis statue which was erected in 1964. On the west side of the park is a granite bench dedicated to the 154th Tennessee Infantry of the Confederate army. On the north side of the park are two State of Tennessee historical markers commemorating the contributions of Virginia Moon and Elizabeth Meriwether of the Confederacy. In the south you can see a bust of Confederate Captain J. Harvey Mathes. On the south side of the park is a large 100-year-old plaque commemorating the 1862 Battle of Memphis, Forrest’s 1864 Raid and the 1865 Sultana tragedy.

On June 6, 1862, the anticipation by the citizens was high as tens of thousands of Memphians lined the bluffs to watch the naval Battle of Memphis. The Union Fleet was well stocked with 80 guns on 18 ironclad gunboats and ram boats while the cotton clad Confederate Fleet had only 8 gunboats and 18 guns. The Union Fleet also had the advantage of the river current while approaching the battle scene from the north. The battle began at 5:30 a.m. and lasted only 90 minutes with the Confederate Fleet being destroyed except for one vessel. Oddly, the lone casualty of the Union was Col. Charles Ellet, Jr., developer of the ram boat concept. Col. Ellet was wounded in the knee, weakened and died 15 days after the battle. A detachment of Union soldiers in a rowboat brought a Union Flag to shore and raised it over the Post Office building at the southeast intersection of Third Street and Adams Avenue (E).

The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery. The Union established Fort Pickering on the South Bluffs stretching from Vance Avenue and more than a mile south to DeSoto Park (now Chickasaw Heritage Park) (F). Union Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant were stationed in Memphis while planning and beginning further military pursuits. Sherman planned his “March to the Sea” and Grant the “Battle of Vicksburg” in the quarters of the Hunt-Phelan Home (G).  While serving as a hospital town, Memphis also became a center of contraband for both sides of the conflict, thus the infrastructure of Memphis buildings received no damage from land battles, cannon fire or looting. At the close of the war in 1865, Memphis was able to prosper more rapidly than other Southern communities that had been ravaged by war.

The Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) and the establishing of control of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad through West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi occupied most of the next two years. Near Shiloh, the railroad junction in Corinth, Mississippi was the second most important junction in the country at the time. The (north to south) Mobile & Ohio Railroad intersected with the (east to west) Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest continuously disrupted the Union’s stable control of the rail lines and its safe use.

In September, 1862 Union General Sherman ordered the burning of the last remaining buildings of Randolph, Tennessee, Fort Wright (40 miles to the north), and the City of Hopefield, Arkansas (directly across the river from Memphis). Confederate sympathizers, nighttime vandals and snipers were causing too much irritation to the safe passage of Union vessels on the river and to the protected outposts of the Union in the area. 

Forrest’s Raid

On the night of August 21, 1864, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest sent a telegram to the Oxford telegraph office stating that “Forrest Had Captured Memphis in Surprise Raid” as Union forces were approaching the town. His intent was to divert the Union troops from the imminent destruction of Oxford thus diverting Union troops back to Memphis - while at the same time - kidnapping three Union generals (Washburn, Blackburn, and Hurlburt), releasing Confederate prisoners-of-war in the Irving Block prison and capturing over 600 horses from the Union. The three generals were alerted in time to escape capture. An alley in Downtown Memphis has been named “Gen. Washburn’s Escape Alley” (H). Forrest did capture Washburn’s uniform and returned it to him the next day after it was cleaned and pressed. The chivalry and officer respect was returned by Washburn to Forrest. Since Memphis was the center of contraband for the western war, Washburn was able to find Forrest’s tailor and have a Confederate gray uniform sent back to Forrest. Washburn also was ridiculed by some fellow officers about his inability to keep Gen. Forrest out of his bedroom! Memphis was under martial law through 1865. Gen. Forrest and his wife were buried originally in Elmwood Cemetery and then relocated to Forrest Park 1904 (I)

War Ends

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 and President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14. The uppermost thought on all Union officers, soldiers and released prisoners-of-war was to return “home” up north as soon as possible. Large steamboats were sent south to the ports of Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana to pick up released P.O.W.s. Captains of these vessels were given incentives of $5 per enlisted man and $10 per officer for loading and returning Union soldiers to northern ports. One such vessel, the Sultana, was overzealous in its loading and became the largest maritime tragedy in the United States.

  Sultana Titantic
Date April 27, 1865 April 15, 1912
Location Mississippi River Atlantic Ocean
Mission Returning POWs Pleasure Cruise
Captain J.C. Mason Edward J. Smith
Length 260' 882'
Capacity 376 3,547
Lifeboats 2 for 76 20 for 1,178
Passengers 2,300 est. 2,229
Loss 1,700 est.  1,157

The Sultana

Capt. J. Cass Mason was the part-owner captain and master of the Sultana, a vessel 260 feet long and certified for 376 passengers. It had two lifeboats with a total capacity of 76. The Sultana sailed downriver to New Orleans carrying the news of President Lincoln’s assassination. On its return trip northbound, the Sultana picked up passengers in Natchez, Vicksburg as well as Helena, Arkansas. Faulty boilers had been patched in Vicksburg and by the time the Sultana had arrived in Memphis, she had more than 2,300 passengers on board - six times the legal limit. Regulations had been relaxed in an effort to get more troops home faster, but this amount was excessive.

Leaving the Memphis cobblestone wharf (J) at midnight on April 26, 1865, the Sultana briefly stopped across the river at Hopefield, Arkansas to take on additional coal for its boilers. Seven miles north of Memphis at about 3 a.m., the boilers blew and passengers were thrown into the cold waters of the spring flood season. The river had swollen out of its banks several miles to the west over some cotton fields in Arkansas. Passengers died by being scalded, impaled, by hypothermia and drowning. Bodies floated by Memphis for days. The loss of life was over 1,700 passengers, more than the Titanic tragedy in 1912. The Mississippi River ran red. 


Many victims of the Civil War are buried in (K) Elmwood Cemetery. It has 1,000 Confederate soldiers buried at a section known as Confederate Soldiers Rest. Many victims (Union soldiers) of the Sultana tragedy were originally buried here, but when the Memphis National Cemetery was established in 1868, these soldiers were re-interred there. Unfortunately, the wooden caskets were identified by chalk but upon their removal that identification was lost due to a rain in route to the cemetery. Thus, the Memphis National Cemetery has the second largest population of Unknown Soldiers in America, second to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. 

After the War

Since Memphis did not suffer the destruction of a land battle, all buildings were basically intact and Memphis was poised for growth at the end of the war. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis and even Thomas Edison lived in Memphis after the war. The city’s population had grown to 40,246  by 1870. Memphis had also committed its third annexation in 1868 acquiring the community to the south known as Fort Pickering. Memphis was thriving as the South’s center of agriculture, shipping, railroads, society and commerce. Immigration from Europe, in-migration from the delta and the westward expansion of America made Memphis a melting pot for all peoples and all things. 

Yellow Fever Epidemic

Unfortunately, one of the visitors brought a destruction to Memphis that the Civil War could not - the mosquito. Small yellow fever epidemics had hit Memphis in 1873 and 1877, but it was the 1878 epidemic that brought Memphis to its knees. At the start of the summer, Memphis had 40,000 in population and roughly 25,000 fled the city in fright. Of the 15,000 left behind, 5,000 more died leaving the city with less than 10,000 in population - a drop of 75% in three months. The city government went into bankruptcy and lost its charter to the State of Tennessee from 1879 to 1893, thus becoming a taxing district of the State of Tennessee General ASsembly in Nashville. But as the Phoenix rises from the ashes, Memphis recovered by discovering its vast artesian wells in 1887. Memphis developed a sanitary sewer system that became a model for the country and then began building one of the leading hospital communities in the nation.

Local Civil War Areas of Note (see map)

(L) Jefferson Davis Park on Riverside Drive. Developed in 1930 and named for the President of the Confederate States of America and Memphis citizen for several years following the end of the Civil War.

(M) Woolen Building at 47 Union Avenue. The present home office of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau and the oldest (circa 1848) commercial building standing in use in present day Memphis. Formerly in a section of buildings called Howard’s Row, the basement was used as a Union hospital ward during the Civil War.

(N) Ft. Pickering Boat Yard was located at the foot of Illinois Avenue below Ft. Pickering on the high bluff above. A private yard was established in 1861 at the ferry landing. It was under contract for constructing Ironclads for the Confederate Navy (the C.S.S. Arkansas and the C.S.S. Tennessee). In April, 1862 the Arkansas was ordered removed to Greenwood, Mississippi on the Yazoo River for completion and was in service at Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. The uncompleted Tennessee was burned on the stocks when the city fell in the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862.

(O) Gayoso House at Front Street and Peabody Place was built in 1844 and was the grand hotel of the community known as South Memphis. Many Union generals and command stayed here during the occupation by the Union forces. On August 21, 1864, Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest led a daring raid into Memphis with the purposes of slowing down Gen. Sherman’s march on Oxford, Mississippi. Forrest wanted to capture three Union generals stationed here (Washburn, Blackburn, and Hurlburt). He also wanted to successfully free Confederate prisoners-of-war from the Irving Block and capture hundreds of Union horses. Forrest did cause Gen. Sherman to delay, but did not kidnap any of the Union generals. It is said that the brother of Gen. N.B. Forrest rode his horse into the lobby of the Gayoso House in search of Union Gen. Hurlburt. The original Gayoso House burned in 1899 and the current apartment building named the Gayoso House was re-built as a fine hotel in 1902 and commanded a magnificent view of the Mississippi River from the high bluff since there were no buildings erected west of Front Street at the time.

(P) Court Square is bounded by North and South Court Avenues, Main Street and Second Street. The largest of the four public squares laid out in the original town plan of 1819, Court Square has been a central meeting place for almost two centuries. In 1859, the sculpted bust of President Andrew Jackson was placed on display prior to the existing Hebe Fountain in the center of the park. You can see the bust (A) today in the Shelby County Courthouse. Afternoon concerts by the Union band during its occupation from 1862 - 1865 were so popular that a permanent band shell was erected on the north side of the park at the close of the Civil War. After several renovations it remains a fixture in the park today. Upon the death of Robert E. Lee in 1870, a mock funeral procession was held in his honor by Confederate veterans. Witnessed by tens of thousands of citizens, the procession route was from Market Square to Court Square with a 21-gun salute and the empty casket being buried temporarily in Court Square.

(Q) Thomas Edison Historical Marker is located at North Court Avenue between Main and Second Streets. Memphis was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation before and after the Civil War, and many young entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison were attracted here. In 1865 - 1866, Edison worked at the Military Telegraph Company and developed the telegraph relay while in Memphis. He was fired by his boss out of jealousy. Edison resided at a building at 372 Court Avenue four blocks east of the market at Danny Thomas Boulevard. That residence no longer exists and is now the eastern grounds of the Downtown Elementary School.

(R) Jefferson Davis Home was located on the north side of Court Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets. For seven years after the Civil War ended, Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived in a residence here while being president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company beginning in 1869.

(R) Nathan Bedford Forrest Early Historical Home is on the south side of Christopher Columbus Park at the southwest corner of Adams Avenue and Third Street. 

(T) The First Railroad in West Tennessee - The LaGrange and Memphis Railroad Historical Marker is located at 495 Union Avenue in front of The Commercial Appeal building. “Short line” local railroads were springing up all over the country in the middle of the 19th century. This is also the same route of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad which in 1857 was the first railroad to connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Mississippi River. It was one of the most strategic railway arteries in the nation at the time of the Civil War.

(U) Nathan Bedford Forrest Home Historical Marker is at 685 Union Avenue marks the location where Nathan Bedford Forrest died in 1877. It is located across from the present day Sun Studio. Forrest and his wife were buried in Elmwood Cemetery but were exhumed in 1904 and reburied in Forrest Park (see (I)). A new Memphis parked was named in his honor two blocks east of this site. 

(V) The Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island River Park houses five galleries of exhibits about the importance of the battles on the Mississippi River during the Civil War. A simulated battle between a Confederate river battery and a replica Union Ironclad gunboat is a feature of the galleries. Various boat models, uniforms, weapons and medical supplies from both Union and Confederate sources are on display. 

Directions to Nearby Sites not on the Downtown Map

Please pick up a free Memphis Travel Guide. It is available online and at the three Memphis Visitor Centers. Refer to the City Map on pages 58-59 for these places:

[D-3] Memphis National Cemetery - 3568 Townes at Jackson Avenue. Opened in 1867, Memphis National Cemetery is 44 acres with 42,000+ interments and is a United States National Cemetery. Several Civil War cemeteries were transferred to National Cemetery after the Civil War ended. Victims of the Battle of Fort Pillow and victims of the Sultana tragedy (transferred from Elmwood Cemetery) are located here. There are several monuments on the grounds: the Minnesota monument dedicated in 1916 and the Illinois monument dedicated in 1929. The Memphis National Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

[B-5] Forrest’s Artillery Positions Historical Marker - Mississippi Boulevard & Trigg Avenue. This is the highest location in Memphis and the site of Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest’s artillery in his raid into Memphis in 1864. A section ( 2 guns) of Forrest’s artillery was emplaced under Lt. Sale supporting his raid. Fire was directed against Federals in buildings on the State Female College (about 700 yards northeast) until it was learned that women and children were in the building.

[H-7] Battle of Collierville and the Wigfall Grays 4th Tennessee Infantry, Company C Historical Markers - Town Square at Towlett Street in Collierville, Tennessee located about 30 miles from downtown Memphis on the eastern end of Shelby County. The significance of the Battle of Collierville is that Union troops were protecting the key railway line (Memphis & Charleston Railroad) leading to Corinth and northern Alabama. They were surprised by Confederate troops attempting to disrupt the rail service on October 11, 1863. The Confederate troops expected and received light resistance but did not press the attack expecting the arrival of Union reinforcements. However, a Union troop train did arrive carrying Union Gen. Sherman who directed the Union forces. It was the closest that Gen. Sherman ever came to being killed or captured in a Civil War battle. His horse, Dolly, was slain and the train burned. It was the most significant land battle of the Civil War in Shelby County as over 200 soldiers perished. From hence, Gen. Sherman decided on his policy of living off the land in his “March to the Sea” through northern Alabama and central Georgia.

[B-4]  The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange – Cotton was king and the important factor was that the currency of the South was backed with cotton not gold or silver. It was guaranteed by the English who wanted the cotton for their mills. The destruction of the Cotton in the South ended the South’s ability to fight - no money. When the cotton fields of the South were destroyed along with the slave trade,  the total economy of the United States and England suffered. 

During the war, cotton production fell to 4% pre-war levels. After the war, England threatened to do all their business with India and Pakistan which grew a shorter staple cotton. Although, that was not what England really wanted. This culminated in the birth of a regulated cotton economy. The New York Cotton Exchange was born in 1870 and the Memphis Cotton Exchange in 1873. Visit www.memphiscottonmuseum.org.

[D-5]  Memphis Pink Palace Museum - During the Civil War, Memphis was one of the first major southern cities to fall into the hands of the Union. Memphis became an important “hospital town” for the Union and over 5,000 wounded Union soldiers were housed in hotels and warehouses throughout Memphis for treatment. With the western terminus of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, Memphis was also an important supply depot for the Union, a reservoir for troops and planning, as well as a center for contraband activities of smuggling food, clothing, medical supplies, weapons and ammunition. Exhibits at the Pink Palace will display these features of the Civil War. Visit www.memphismuseums.org.

[G-3] Davies Manor Plantation - Davies Manor is an example of Civil War survival. Soldiers visited the house and plantation from both sides of the Civil War. Logan and Frances Davies maintained over 1,200 acres of cotton, corn, and wheat and also raised livestock throughout the war. James Davies joined the 38th Tennessee Infantry in 1862. Both of his sons became physicians following the war. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Visit www.daviesmanorplantation.org.

[G-6] Fort Germantown - It was built in April, 1863 by the Illinois 49th Infantry Regiment. Fort Germantown is now represented by replicas of Howitzer cannons. Here 250 Union troops built an earthwork redoubt as part of a series of forts guarding the Memphis and Charleston Railroad during the Civil War. Fort Germantown, abandoned and burned in October, 1863, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nearby Civil War Places of Interest Outside of Shelby County

Tennessee (not on map):

Randolph Bluff in Tipton County – The town of Randolph rivaled Memphis in the early 1800s as it was located north of Memphis on the Second Chickasaw Bluff. It was an earlier stop for explorers and settlers moving into the area as they traversed the country westward via the Mississippi River. However, Randolph’s importance diminished as the Mississippi River changed the course of her channel away from Randolph and developers from Nashville forced all services (postal, telegraph, stagecoach, etc.) towards Memphis and away from Randolph. 

Randolph was the site of Ft. Wright where the State of Tennessee built training camps for the Provisional Army as a part of the states’ new military alliance with the Confederate States of America. Over 2,000 enlistees trained to become soldiers in the Confederate army. Troops built earthworks and a brick-lined powder magazine. Nine eventual Confederate generals trained at Ft. Wright. Amongst them was future Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. In September, 1862, a small band of Confederate guerillas fired upon a docked Union vessel, and Union Gen. Sherman ordered the fort burned to the ground. The powder magazine is the only remaining in Tennessee Confederate-built magazine, but is located on private property.

Directions to Randolph:  Drive north on Highway 51 from Memphis to Wilkinsville Road, just north of Millington.  Follow Wilkinsville Road to Randolph Bluff - approximately 20 miles further north.

Fort Pillow State Historic Park - The 1,642-acre park features a Civil War battle site, a museum and interpretive center. It is located about 60 miles north of Memphis on the first Chickasaw Bluff which strategically overlooked the Mississippi River. In 1861, the Confederate army built extensive fortifications here and named the site for Gen. Gideon J. Pillow of nearby Maury County. Because of its strategic location, the fort was taken by the Union Army who controlled it during most of the war. Remains of the earthworks are well preserved.

Directions to Fort Pillow: Drive north on Highway 51 from Memphis to Henning. Turn west on Highway 87 and travel west about 17 miles. Turn right on State Highway 207 East onto Park Road.

Shiloh National Military Park – The Battle of Shiloh was the first major battle in the Western Campaign during the American Civil War.  Located on the upper Tennessee River, Confederate Forts Donelson and Henry fell early in 1862. The South would make a stand near Corinth, Mississippi.  However on April 6-7, 1862, in nearby  Pittsburg Landing, over 23,000 soldiers lost their lives in a major victory for the Union forces. It was led by Gen. Sherman, Grant, McClernand, Wallace, Prentiss and Buell. Confederate forces were led by Gen. Johnston and Beauregard.  

Shiloh National Military Park contains a wide array of historic sites. In addition to the battlefield of Shiloh itself, the park contains a separate unit at Corinth, Mississippi, that preserves and interprets the Siege and Battle of Corinth. Located within the boundaries of Shiloh park is also a United States National Cemetery which contains around 4,000 soldiers and their family members. A National Historic Landmark in its own right, the Shiloh Indian Mounds are also located within the park boundaries. Visit www.nps.gov.shil.

Directions to Shiloh: Drive east on Poplar Avenue which eventually becomes Highway 72 East to Corinth, Mississippi. From the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, take Highway 22 North to the Shiloh Battlefield. 

Mississippi (not on map):

Corinth – After the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, there was the Siege of Corinth (April 29 - June 10) and later the Battle of Corinth (October 3-4).  At Corinth lay the second most important railroad crossing in the nation, the Mobile & Ohio Railroad (north/south) and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (east/west).  It took a little more than a month that spring for Union forces to reach Corinth from Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing only to find that the Confederate army had evacuated to Tupelo.

In the autumn, Gen. William Rosencrans led Union forces in guarding the important strategic telegraph lines and railroad crossing of Corinth. Gen. Earl Van Dorn led Confederate troops from Iuka towards Corinth. After two days of fighting, Union forces repelled the Confederate army and Corinth remained under Union control. 


[B-4]  Hopefield - On February 17, 1863, a group of Confederate guerrillas attacked the USS Hercules. The local Union command quickly learned of this attack and ordered retaliation against the attack on the Hercules. A detachment was sent out and arrived at Hopefield. All of the townspeople were ordered out of the town and the detachment then proceeded to burn the town to the ground. 

On April 26, 1865, the Sultana left Memphis loaded with over 2,300 passengers, mostly released Union P.O.W.s.  The Sultana took on a load of coal at a stop at Hopefield. It would be her final stop before faulty boilers exploded that night. The Sultana was in high spring floodwaters over Arkansas farmland. It became the largest maritime disaster in American history with a loss of over 1,700 passengers. The small village of Hopefield was completely washed away in the Flood of 1912.

[A-2]  Sultana Resting Site - Located approximately six miles northwest of Memphis on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River. In a privately owned soybean field, the final resting site of the Sultana remains basically forgotten and unmarked. An archaeological dig in the 1980s produced some evidence to support local lore.  Generations of families and land owners talked about the island spot on the river side of the levee known as Paddy’s Hens & Chickens. Access is via I-40 West from Memphis to Exit 281 North. Travel to Mound Bayou Road then to Gannon Road. Access onto the private property is difficult to obtain.

Tennessee Civil War Trails

The Tennessee Civil War Trails program is part of a five-state trails system that explores the well-known and less-familiar sites associated with the Civil War. For more information, visit www.civilwartrails.org or www.tnvacation.com, visit any Tennessee State Welcome Center or Memphis Visitor Center for a detailed Tennessee Civil War Trails map. 

There are/will be eight Tennessee Civil War Trails markers placed in Shelby County to include the following listings:

[B-4]  Confederate Park – Reunions and Memorials
[B-4]  Hunt-Phelan Home – Wartime Headquarters
[B-5]  Ft. Pickering – Protecting Memphis
[C-5]  Elmwood Cemetery – Notable Inhabitants 
[G-3]  Davies Manor – Survivor of War
[H-2]  Memphis Gateway – Shelby County Visitor Center
[H-7]  The Battle of Collierville – An Unexpected Guest
[H-7]  Chalmers’ Collierville Raid - “…break the railroad behind him.”

These locations are listed as “Sites” on the Tennessee Civil War Trails program: 

[B-4]  Forrest Park
[D-4]  Memphis National Cemetery
[F-6]  Germantown Fort

These locations are listed as “Parks” on the Tennessee Civil War Trails program:

[B-4]  Mississippi River Museum
[C-5]  Historic Elmwood Cemetery