Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Elkton Bridge ~ A Strategic Crossing

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of Elkton Pike (U.S. 31) and Dixon Town Road, 110 Dixon Town Road, Elkton, TN
County: Giles
Coordinates: N 35° 2.774    W 086° 53.244
  35.04623333    -86.8874
Waymark: None


The Elk River crossing here on the Columbia, Pulaski, Elkton, and Alabama Turnpike (earlier called the Bumpass Trail) was the narrowest part that could be bridged between Fayetteville, Tennessee, and Florence, Alabama. During the Civil War, a wooden bridge stood here, vital to the movement of both Federal and Confederate troops.

The town of Elkton is up the hill and to your left. On November 6-7, 1863, Union Gen. William T. Sherman and his army marched through the town en route from Memphis to Chattanooga, He stopped overnight and, according to local tradition, made his headquarters in the Reason's Inn, Cabinet & Coffin Manufacturing (no longer standing) at the corner of Main and Market Streets. He wrote to Gen. George Crook that the Elk River was a major obstacle: "Even as high up as Elkton where your officer passed it is nearly swimming to a horse."

The Old U.S. Highway 31 intersection to your right includes an earlier turnpike. On September 26, 1864, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his troops rode by after a successful attack at Athens, Alabama. "With the horses captured at Athens and Sulphur Springs trestle," he wrote, "I was not enabled to mount the troops that had been marching with my command on foot and to supply others whose horses had given out. I ordered Gen. Buford to move along the dirt road parallel with the railroad [through Prospect, west of Elkton]. With the balance of my command I moved to Elkton. From Elkton I directed my course toward a Government corral at Brown's plantation, toward Pulaski [3 miles north of here]."

2010 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.