Historic Markers Across Alabama

Yankees in Cahawba

Marker ID:  
Location: in the Cahawba Archaeological Park (nominal fee required), 9518 Cahaba Rd, Orrville, AL
County: Dallas
Coordinates: N 32° 19.152    W 087° 5.7
  32.3192    -87.095
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Yankees in Cahawba

A New York merchant, Richard Conner Crocheron, built a magnificant mansion on this spot. The adjacent photograph captured the decayed splendor of this home before it burned. Look closely at the photograph. Try to identify the columns that survived the fire.

Mr:. Crocheron arrived in town about 1837 to help run a family business. He traveled North for his Philadelphia bride in 1843 after building this brick home. The front porch had a grand view of two rivers. The back wall adjoined a brick store that his uncles had built twenty years earlier.

The Crocherons also invested in a line of ocean-going steamships. So Richard's family was able to escape the Southern heat by returning North each summer to "take the waters" at Saratoga, New York.

When his wife died in 1850, Richard was heart-broken. He sold his Cahawba property, freed his slaves, and returned to New York with his three little children.

In the Midst of War, Opposing Generals Share a Bountiful Dinner
During the Civil War, shortly after the Battle of Selma, Union General James Harrison Wilson traveled to Cahawba under a flag of truce to discuss a prisoner exchange with his opponent Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Thomas W. Matthews lived in the Crocheron mansion at the time, and he offered his home to the generals. Matthews, although a slaveholder and a rich planter, had never given up his allegiance to the Union.

On April 8th, 1865, Wilson arrived at 11 am. Forrest appeared at 1 pm. The two generals shared a "bountiful Southern dinner" with their host, then they withdrew to the parlor for a long but guarded conversation. After sizing up one another, the two congenial dinner companions parted ways. They rode away from Cahawba ready to resume the bloody war that pitted them against one another. The following day, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

If you are a persistent explorer you will find some authentic "penciling" on one of the columns. In the 19th century, brick masons would often paint a thick white line over their mortar joints to make handmade bricks look more uniform. This is a clue that machine made bricks were not yet available in Cahawba.

2015 by the Alabama Historical Commission.

Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org

End of Yankees in Cahawba