Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Occupied Chattanooga - The Waterfront

Marker ID:  
Location: on River Street west of Tremont Street, Chattanooga, TN
County: Hamilton
Coordinates: N 35° 3.607    W 085° 18.556
  35.06011666    -85.30926666
Waymark: None


Occupied Chattanooga
The Waterfront

Chattanooga's Tennessee River waterfront underwent major changes during the Civil War. The Confederate troops who occupied the town in the spring of 1862 constructed forts and batteries near the river. When Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans army shelled Chattanooga in August 1863, three forts lined the riverfront from near the present-day Hunter Museum of Art on your left to Cameron Hill on your right across the river.

During the Union army's occupation of Chattanooga (Sept. 9, 1863 - Summer 1865), the appearance of the riverfront again changed dramatically. Extensive logging operations stripped trees from the hills along the riverbank. A large sawmill at the base of Cameron Hill turned the felled timber into planks and framing for warehouses and other military structures that were built throughout the town. The army constructed a naval yard st Ross's Landing to repair and maintain the boats that ferried supplies into Chattanooga. Soldiers also built a wooden bridge - the first to span the Tennessee River at Chattanooga (it washed away in a massive flood in 1867).

Escaped slaves lived near the river at Camp Contraband, as it was called. They provided labor for the Union construction projects, and many of the adult men joined the U.S. Colored Troops. On November 26, 1864, a camp census counted 3,893 residents. Col. J.E. MacGowan supervised the camp; after the war, he served as editor of the Chattanooga Times.

Erected by the Tennessee Civil War Trails.