Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Cleveland During the Civil War

Marker ID:  
Location: 200 Inman Street East, Cleveland, TN
County: Bradley
Coordinates: N 35° 9.47    W 084° 52.426
  35.15783333    -84.87376666
Waymark: None


Cleveland During the Civil War
Struggle for Control

When the Civil War began, Cleveland was a divided community with most residents being sympathetic to the Union. Confederate troops occupied the area in 1861 to control the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad and to protect the vitally important Hiwassee River bridge. President Abraham Lincoln worried about the future of the railroad junction at Cleveland, but the town remained under Confederate occupation until 1863.

The first engagements between Confederate and Union troops in Bradley County occurred in the autumn of 1863 as part of the struggle for Chattanooga. The most destructive took place November 24-26 when Union Col. Eli Long’s brigade cut communications and transportation lines to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s position at Missionary Ridge. Long severed railroad lines connecting Chattanooga to Knoxville and Dalton, destroyed the only copper-rolling mill in the South at Cleveland, and forced the Confederates to withdraw from the town. Long’s troops camped at the Cleveland Masonic Female Institute until they were attacked and withdrew to Chattanooga.

The Union victory at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, resulted in Federal troops controlling Bradley County for the rest of the war. From May to October 1864, a Union artillery unit was stationed in downtown. Cleveland, with the officers establishing headquarter at the Raht house overlooking the railroad depot and the town. Union troops built Fort McPherson and Fort Sedgwick on the highest points here and successfully repelled Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s August 17, 1864, raid. The fortifications were located at Hilcrest Memorial Gardens on South Ocoee Street and Ft. Hill Cemetery on Worth Street.

“To take and hold the railroad at or east of Cleveland, Tennessee, I think is as fully as important as the taking and holding of Richmond.”
Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1862

Tennessee Civil War Trails