Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Affair at Cumberland Mountain

Marker ID:  
Location: on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum, is at the intersection of East Main Street and Mayland Road, Pleasant Hill, TN
County: Cumberland
Coordinates: N 35° 58.582    W 085° 11.658
  35.97636666    -85.1943
Waymark: None


Affair at Cumberland Mountain
A Brief Fight

Less than half a mile west of here, on the Lewis Whitaker farm, the only engagement of the war in Cumberland County between regular Union and Confederate troops took place on December 9, 1863. Several companies of Col. Thomas J. Jordan’s 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry bivouacked there after Confederate forces dislodged them from Sparta. Ascending the Cumberland Plateau on the road to Crossville earlier that day, Jordan intended to cross the mountains and join forces with Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside near Knoxville.

In the evening, Capt. Champ Ferguson’s guerrillas and a detachment of Col. John M. Hughes’s 25th Tennessee Infantry (totaling 450 men) attacked the Federals. Hughes was in the area under orders from Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg to round up stragglers, recruit new soldiers, and harass Union forces on both sides of the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

The Federals suffered eight casualties in the engagement. Union Capt. Thomas McCahan wrote in his diary that Confederate “Maj. Reagan” was killed and a handful of Confederates were captured. The 9th Pennsylvania’s sutler also died in the firefight, and the Confederates looted the Union supply wagons before withdrawing. The Federals did not pursue them but marched to Post Oak Springs in Roane County.

Fifty years later, this site of combat became a place of healing. Dr. May Wharton, the “Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands,” moved here and began ministering to the health needs of Cumberland Plateau residents.

2009 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.