Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Grand Junction

Marker ID:  
Location: on Tippah Street south of Tennessee Highway 57, Grand Junction, TN
County: Hardeman
Coordinates: N 35° 2.986    W 089° 11.224
  35.04976666    -89.18706666
Waymark: None


Grand Junction
Crossroads of Conflict

Grand Junction is named for its location, where the Memphis and Charleston and Mississippi Central Railroads intersect, and was strategically important to both Confederate and Union forces. After defeats at Shiloh and Corinth, Confederates tore up the tracks, hoping to delay the Federal pursuit. Union Gen. William T. Sherman oversaw much of the repair work in mid-1862. Later Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant made this place a staging ground for his Vicksburg campaign, storing "100,000 rations" and basing 40,000 U.S. soldiers here.

On December 22, 1862, Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn's cavalry struck the Union garrison here two days after his devastating raid on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi. Col. John McDermontt, 15th Michigan Infantry, counterattacked Van Dorn's force and wired Grant: "We are skirmishing with the enemy and will hold them ... moving on ... we are after them." Van Dorn escaped, and the town remained firmly under Union control.

Thousands of refugee slaves ("contrabands") poured into Grand Junction for protection and provisions. They became a hindrance to Union military activities, but Grant noted that "orders of the government prohibited [their expulsion] from the protection of the army. Humanity forbade allowing them to starve [and] men, women, and children could be employed in saving food] crops. To do this work with contrabands ... organization under a competent chief was necessary." Grant appointed Chaplain John Eaton of the 27th Ohio Infantry to create contraband camps and head the humanitarian effort, using army provisions and tents. Eaton's plans for the camps later influenced the Freedman's Bureau approach to caring for contrabands. A master of organization, Eaton continued his work after the war.

Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.