I watched the movie Lincoln earlier this year and although I knew the outcome, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the vote on the 13th amendment that abolished slavery. Hollywood’s interpretation and reenactment of that fateful time in our nation’s history felt incredibly real.
The Civil War had a devastating impact in what was then the little backwoods, podunk town of LaVergne. It may have been a country town, but the people who lived here were stubborn and strong. While the Confederate Army gathered its forces in Murfreesboro for the famous Stones River Battle – the battle that had the highest numbers of casualties on both sides – little LaVergne jumped in to slow the Union Army as they approached the fight. Here’s an account of the LaVergne battle from the city web page,
General Crittenden commanded one of the Union Corps making its way to Murfreesboro by way of LaVergne. On December 26, 1862, the corps was one mile north of LaVergne, a small community with few stores and a railroad depot sitting in the center of town. Gaining the depot was an important part of the Union Army plan to conquest the Confederate soldiers of General Braxton Bragg because the Union would be able to move supplies and men closer to Murfreesboro.
Crossing through thick tangles of cedar in the Hurricane Creek, the Union soldiers moved closer and closer, but 2500 men and a battery of artillery were waiting for major engagement. With more and more soldiers coming to both sides, the skirmish became house to house combat with Confederate soldiers firing from windows and doorways.
When the Confederate soldiers eventually retreated, their losses were minor and it was considered a victory because it gave the forces more time to prepare for the Battle of Stones River, that followed a few days later.
On January 23, 1938, the following was (possibly) printed in a newspaper called the Appeal, “75 years ago. The little village of LaVergne, half way between Nashville and Murfreesboro on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, which has been the scene of many skirmishes between the Confederacy and the Federals, has at last been destroyed. Not a single building remains.”
This important part of our history is being observed this week as the Library observes the Sesquicentennial (or 150th anniversary) of the Civil War. There are all kinds of activities planned during this week of remembrance. Click here to go to see the schedule.
Interestingly, one of the greatest spies of the Confederacy was from LaVergne – Mary Kate Patterson. She smuggled morphine and quinine to the Confederate troops by hiding them under her roomy clothes. She also hid supplies like boots and cavalry blankets, bridles, and spurs in the false bottom of her buggy. She was a flirt, that Mary Kate, flirting with Union soldiers to let her pass. Mary Kate eventually married John Davis, brother of Sam Davis. She was the first woman buried in the Confederate Circle in Mt. Olivet Cemetery of Nashville. Her home still stands on Fergus Drive off of Old Nashville Highway.
Try to take some time to visit the library this week to learn more about our Civil War History, including a chance to trace your genealogy soldiers serving in either the Union or Confederate armies!