Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Battle of Big Creek

Marker ID:  
Location: on West Bear Hallow Rd north of Burem Pike (TN 347), Rogersville, TN
County: Hardin
Coordinates: N 36° 25.103    W 082° 57.132
  36.41838333    -82.9522
Waymark: None


The Battle of Big Creek
“Utter Destruction of Property & Life”

Along Big Creek the 2nd Illinois Artillery spent an uncomfortable night as a cold rain fell in the early morning hours of November 6, 1863. Nearby, under orders to strike the Union camp that morning, two Confederate brigades were crossing the Holston River. Confederate Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones pushed his troopers hard, splitting them into two columns. The first Confederate brigade approached from Rogersville (behind you) and struck the 7th Ohio Cavalry and the Union wagon train. A few moments later the second Confederate brigade under Col. Henry L. Giltner approached this intersection, overrunning the Illinoisans and capturing their two cannon. Splashing across the creek to your right, Giltner's men closed off the Union escape route. Union Maj. Daniel A. Carpenter recalled, "They (the rebels) raised a yell and commenced advancing from every direction." Within minutes, many of the men in Carpenter's 2nd Tennessee Infantry surrendered.

Union Col. Israel Garrard, who barely escaped, reported later that day, "I was attacked this a.m. and totally defeated." Jones reported that he captured 775 Federal prisoners and countless wagons, horses, and supplies. Kentuckian Edward Guerrant wrote, "I want to see no more battlefields. The utter destruction of property & life. All kinds of clothing & camp equipage; scattered in profusion over the ground. Horses shot dead at their hitching post, or rolling in the agonies of death - and the dead & wounded men neglected lying there alone-alone-alone." Rogersville, astride the turnpike between Knoxville and Virginia, remained in Confederate hands for the rest of the war.

"The men all went forward with the greatest enthusiasm, making no halt for balls, shells or bullets."—Confederate Col. Henry L. Giltner, 4th Kentucky Cavalry.

Andrew Owen was born in Fentress County, where he worked as a farmer. He enlisted in Co. D, 2nd Tennessee Infantry (US), by December 15, 1861. He was captured at Big Creek (aka Rogersville) on November 6, 1863, and incarcerated at Andersonville, where he died of diarrhea on June 9, 1864. Aged 29, he left a widow and two daughters. He is buried in the Andersonville National Cemetery.
Pvt. Andrew Owen - Courtesy Owen descendant Sgt. Darren W. Smith, USA, Ret.

Erected 2017 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

Pictures of this marker can be found on HMDB.org