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Clarksville-Montgomery County to Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Town’s Surrender to Union Naval Forces

Clarksville Montgomery County Civil War - CW150 CommissionMontgomery County, TN – The Clarksville Montgomery County Civil War Sesquicentennial or CW150 Commission is preparing for the 150th anniversary of the “Surrender of Clarksville.”

To commemorate this historic event, the CW150 Commission will host a ceremony marking the date on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 at 2:00pm at Fort Defiance Civil War Park.

Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center
Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center

The ceremony will include a 20-minute re-enactment of events pertaining to the surrender. Re-enactors will portray historical figures such as US Grant, Andrew H. Foote, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Serepta Jordan and Nannie Haskins. The re-enactment presentation was written by Richard Gildrie, a retired Austin Peay State University history professor.


A reception with light refreshments will follow inside the Interpretive Center with Civil War period music provided by Red River Breeze.

Fort Defiance Civil War Park is located at 120 Duncan Street. The event is free and open to the public.

About the Clarksville’s Civil War Involvement

Union General U.S. Grant as portrayed by Dr. E.C. Fields
Union General U.S. Grant as portrayed by Dr. E.C. Fields

Clarksville, a communication and transportation center, was strategically significant because of the Cumberland River and the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. The area’s rich agricultural produce—grain, livestock, tobacco, and corn—and the products of its iron industry reached the nation and world via these transportation assets. Three forts, including Forts Donelson and Defiance on the Cumberland River, protected this pro-Confederate town and many of Clarksville’s residents rushed to join Southern military units.

After the surrender of Fort Donelson in February 1862, however, Union gunboats and troops from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s army occupied Clarksville. Federal control proved tenuous. The Confederates briefly reclaimed the town in August 1862; it returned temporarily to Union control in September 1862. The Federals occupied Clarksville permanently in December 1862 when Col. Sanders Bruce’s brigade took charge of the town and Fort Defiance, which was renamed Fort Bruce.

Clarksville became a gathering place for white Unionists and escaped slaves who were housed in tobacco warehouses along the river and near Fort Bruce. Eventually more than 3,000 refugees converged on the town, outnumbering local residents.

In 1863, after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federals began to recruit free blacks and former slaves for military service. Some 1,800 joined the Federal army and were inducted into the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, and 101st U.S. Colored Troops in ceremonies on the Clarksville public square.

– Taken from “Clarksville in the Civil War,” Civil War Trails Marker


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