Sumner TN Civil War Trails
As a gateway to the South, Tennessee was vital to both the Union and Confederacy. In Sumner County, the railroad and river were such important transportation routes that the Union Army occupied the county seat of Gallatin throughout the war. Daily life quickly changed as the area was drained of resources to support the army, and morale sank as charges of treason ran rampant between former neighbors.
Sumner County participates in the Civil War Trails, a program that connects visitors with the great campaigns and lesser-known sites of the Civil War; their signature signs and distinctive red bugle icon guides visitors as they follow in the footsteps of the generals, soldiers, citizens, and the enslaved who found themselves in the midst of this great struggle.
Sumner County's Civil War Trails Markers
Click on pictures below to learn more about each individual site and operating hours.
William Brimage Bate was born here in 1826, and during the Civil War he rose to the rank of major general. He left home at the age of sixteen to be a clerk on a steamboat. During the Mexican War, he served as a lieutenant, then became a journalist, a lawyer, and a state legislator.
This was the home of Confederate Maj. George W. Winchester (1822–1878), his mother Susan Winchester, his wife Malvina H. Gaines, and their children. Their surviving letters and diaries describe life during Union occupation. George Winchester remained at Cragfont after the war began. When his son, Pvt. Napoleon B. Winchester, 2nd Tennessee Infantry (CSA), was wounded at Shiloh in April 1862, Winchester visited him and decided to join the army.
Col. Alfred Royal Wynne (1800–1893) was a trader and merchant in Castalian Springs. In 1828, he built this stagecoach inn along the Knoxville road. Although Wynne was a slaveholder and a Democrat, he also was a staunch Unionist and strongly opposed secession. When Tennessee left the Union, however, Wynne ended his former allegiance and supported the Confederacy.
This is the home of four brothers who served in the Confederate army, as did many of Sumner County’s young men. Their father, William F. Clark, a Protestant minister, died in 1847 at the age of forty-one, leaving his wife, Emma Douglass Clark, to rear the boys. Emma Clark, the daughter of Reuben and Elizabeth (Edwards) Douglass, was the granddaughter of Col. Edward and Sarah George Douglass who came to Sumner County in the late 1700s. Three of the sons, Reuben, David, and Edward, died in service between 1862-1864.
Early in 1861, Gallatin and Sumner County were divided over secession, but after the fall of Fort Sumter, residents voted almost ten to one in favor. Support of the Confederacy never wavered, as Capt. Benjamin S. Nicklin, 13th Battery, Indiana Light Artillery, wrote in 1864, “This County has not even the germ of loyalty in it.”
Rose Mont, a Greek Revival-style mansion completed in the 1840s, was the home of Judge Josephus Conn Guild, a state senator and representative who also served as a Lt. Col. in the 2nd Tennessee Mounted Volunteers during the Seminole War. He hosted such notables as James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson here at his plantation, famous for horse-breeding and racing. The Civil War changed that world forever. Guild resisted secession but became an ardent Confederate once the war began.
This was the home of William Trousdale (1790-1872), governor of Tennessee (1849-1851), and U.S. minister to Brazil (1853-1857). During the Union army’s occupation of Gallatin from 1862 to 1870, its commanders highly regarded former Governor Trousdale, the county’s elder statesman, despite his strong support for the Confederacy. Both the army and local citizens turned to him for assistance in dealing with each other.
The important Louisville & Nashville Railroad ran close to the creek here and, beginning in 1862, was protected by several companies of Union troops. Confederate Col. John Hunt Morgan attacked Union cavalrymen here Aug. 20, 1862, trying to free men and boys arrested in Gallatin. He succeeded in freeing the captives, but Union soldiers retaliated a month later and shot up a nearby Confederate camp.
Rock Castle was a large and prosperous plantation worked by 98 slaves when the Civil War broke out. Changes came rapidly when Union soldiers occupied the area in early 1862. Over the years, slaves left for freedom under the protection of the Union army; after the war, Harry Smith, returned to his home at Rock Castle to rebuild the farm with the help of newly freed tenants.
This was the home of Confederate General Daniel Smith Donelson, who was the nephew of President Andrew Jackson and grandson of Daniel Smith of Rock Castle located in Hendersonville. Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River is named for General Daniel S. Donelson. After fighting in Virginia and Tennessee, Donelson died of natural causes in 1863. Hazel Path became a contraband camp following the Battle of Nashville in 1864. The property was returned to the family in 1886.
This antebellum home, known during the war as “Liberty Hall,” served as a hospital for wounded soldiers on both sides. Union soldiers occupied the area after Nashville’s fall in early 1862. Many soldiers were detailed to protect the nearby Louisville & Nashville Railroad, an important Federal supply line that was the subject of frequent deadly raids.
In May 1861, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation to raise and equip the Provisional Army of Tennessee and train the units at camps throughout the state. Camp Trousdale was established–initially at Richland (present-day Portland)–as the main concentration point for companies formed in Middle Tennessee.
White House & Tyree Springs
Thousands of soldiers with their wagons, livestock, and equipment travelled on the Louisville and Nashville Turnpike (present-day U.S. Hwy. 31W) during the Civil War. Early in 1862, Union Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio used this major north-south transportation route when it marched from Kentucky to Nashville. Confederate cavalry under Gen. John Hunt Morgan ambushed the leading division at Tyree Springs and continuously harassed Union forces along their line of march. The Stage Coach Inn, or The White House, for which the town is named, stood north of here. South of here, Tyree Springs occupied the halfway point between the Kentucky state line and Nashville. Located at 105 College Street, White House, TN 37188