Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Henegar House

Marker ID:  
Location: 468 Market St NE, Charleston, TN
County: Bradley
Coordinates: N 35° 17.219    W 084° 45.285
  35.28698333    -84.75475
Waymark: None


The Henegar House
"A bird can't live here!"

During the war, Henegar House’s occupants, as in many other Tennessee homes, were divided in their loyalties. Henry Benton Henegar, the owner, was a Unionist while his wife, Margaret Lea Henegar, was a secessionist. Whenever Confederates occupied Charleston, Benton Henegar left, but Margaret Henegar stayed no matter which army occupied the town. She later stated that “she never met with anything but courteous treatment from either side.”

At various times, the house served as headquarters for Union Gens. William T. Sherman and Oliver O. Howard and Confederate Gens. Marcus J. Wright and Simon Bolivar Buckner. On November 30, 1863, Charles A. Dana, assistant U.S. Secretary of War, met in the parlor with Sherman and Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson, the Army of the Cumberland’s chief engineer. Dana handed Sherman an order from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to take command of the force en route to relieve Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s army in Knoxville, besieged by Confederate Gen. James Longstreet.

According to family tradition, Sherman advised Benton Henegar to take the family north for safety. The next morning on the back porch, Margaret Henegar asked Sherman: “We have braved the dangers and endured the hardships of the war so far, why should we leave now?” He is said to have replied, “Madam, when I get through with the Southland a bird can’t live here!.”

This two-story Federal-style house was begun about 1849 on the site of Gen. Winfield Scott’s headquarters at Fort Cass during the Trail of Tears (the forced removal of the Cherokee in the 1830s) . In the same year, Henry Benton Henegar married Margaret Lea, daughter of Tennessee Representative (1833-1837) and Tennessee Secretary of State (1837-1839) Luke Lea. The house was completed in 1852 upon the Henegars’ return from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where they lived with Luke Lea during Lea’s service as Indian agent (1850-1851).

Tennessee Civil War Trails.