Historic Markers Across Tennessee



Fighting in Hawkins County



Marker ID:  
Location: Long Bend Rd 0.1 miles south of Main St (TN Route 346), Surgoinsville, TN
County: Hawkins
Coordinates: N 36° 28.1    W 082° 51.083
  36.46833333    -82.85138333
Waymark: None
 



Text:

Fighting in Hawkins County
Surgoinsville and the War


Land, timber, and commercial opportunities drew settlers here to the banks of the Holston River. As the Civil War approached, the river's importance in the Tennessee Valley made it a contested transportation route. Hawkins County residents mostly voted against secession, but pockets of Confederate support existed.

The nearby Lyons store and post office, the commercial hub of Surgoinsville, became a focus of activity for Confederate supporters. On May 21, 1862, Clinton G. Lyons and Frank L. Phipps organized Co. A. 12th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, there. Phipps was elected captain while Lyons, son of the store's Pennsylvania born owner Williams Lyons, was first elected lieutenant and later captain. The next month, when Confederate Gen. Kirby Smith planned to invade Kentucky, he wrote, "I think I shall order Colonel (James W.) Starnes to Rogersville to scout in Hawkins and Hancock (Counties). …If Captain Phipps's Company from Hawkins County can be found, …they could act as guides for him."

The war drew close to Surgoinsville in 1863, when an engagement occurred a few miles south at Big Creek on November 6. Confederate Gen. William E. Jones and his cavalry brigade surprised the regiments of Union Col. Israel Garrard, 7th Ohio Cavalry, and Maj. Daniel Carpenter, 2nd East Tennessee Mounted Infantry, and soundly defeated them.

Clinton Lyons survived the war and returned home to a county that remained divided for many years thereafter. He and his wife reared six children.

2016 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.