Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Martin Cheairs Home

Marker ID:  
Location: 5350 Main Street, Spring Hill, TN
County: Maury
Coordinates: N 35° 44.941    W 086° 55.929
  35.74901666    -86.93215
Waymark: None


Martin Cheairs Home
Headquarters of Confederate General Earl Van Dorn
— April-May, 1863 —

In Spring 1863, Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn established the headquarters of his cavalry command of the Army of the Mississippi at Spring Hill. On March 5, 1863 Van Dorn had commanded his cavalry in a fight at Thompson’s Station, which resulted in the overwhelming defeat of a Federal brigade. Van Dorn, a veteran of the Mexican War and several engagements with Indians on the frontier, was a successful cavalry commander, but also had the reputation (deserved or underserved) as a “lady’s man.”

Van Dorn originally established his headquarters as the residence of Dr. Aaron White on modern Duplex Road. Officially because of crowded conditions, but according to local tradition because of improper social activities, Van Dorn moved his headquarters to the larger Martin Cheairs Home in late April.

On May 7, 1864, Dr. George B. Peters, a prominent Spring Hill physician and politician, visited Van Dorn to discuss allegations that Van Dorn had been having an affair with his wife, and possibly with his oldest daughter. Sometime during their interview, Dr. Peters shot Van Dorn in the back of his head with a pistol. Van Dorn died within hours without regaining consciousness, and Dr. Peters was never prosecuted for his actions.

After the war, the Cheairs residence became the Branham-Hughes Military
Academy, and is today part of the Tennessee Childrens Home. The home is not currently open to the public.