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When the Civil War began, Tennessee was a state of sharply divided loyalties, just like the United States itself. Indeed, it is likely that Tennessee provided more troops to the Union Army than any other state in the Confederacy. Geographically, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers made “The Volunteer State” a site of immense strategic importance and, withink its borders, brother truly fought against brother. More Civil War battles were fought in Tennessee than in any other state, save Virginia.

Now you have the chance to help us save 63 acres at two of Tennessee’s most famous battlefields: Fort Donelson and Parker’s Crossroads.

On February 16, 1862, at Fort Donelson, Ulysses S. Grant demanded (and received) the “unconditional surrender” of a Confederate army of more than 12,000 men. The North erupted in celebration. According to one newspaper, the news created a “perfect furor of patriotic jubilation.” Another described scenes of “indescribable excitement” and “intense delight.” It was the first of three occasions on which Grant would capture an entire rebel army, and it was also the beginning of a meteoric rise that would take him to Vicksburg, Appomattox and, ultimately, the White House.

Only one Southern unit escaped Grant at Donelson: the cavalry brigade of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who would go on to become a constant thorn in the side of Union forces in the Western Theater. Among his many victories was the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads, fought on December 31, 1862. Forrest, finding himself outnumbered and threatened in front and rear, ordered his men to “charge ‘em both ways.” The “Wizard of the Saddle’s” daring strategy paid off, saving his force from annihilation and adding to his reputation as one of the most audacious officers of the war.


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