Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Incident at Waynesboro ~ A Case of Friendly Fire

Marker ID:  
Location: 100 Public Square, Waynesboro, TN
County: Wayne
Coordinates: N 35° 19.176    W 087° 45.757
  35.3196    -87.76261666
Waymark: None


In November 1863, military governor Andrew Johnson ordered Union Maj. John Murphy, 5th Tennessee Cavalry, to take charges of two companies of Union Guards in Nashville. These 200 newly mustered men were from Wayne County and vicinity and were not yet organized into a regular regiment. Johnson told Murphy to proceed with them to Waynesboro and open a recruiting office. As they traveled along the old Natchez Trace, the Federals had several minor engagements with small parties of Confederate partisans and soon learned to be wary of guerrilla tricks, disguises and ambushes.

As Murphy’s column made its way here, the veteran 7th Illinois Mounted Infantry was returning from duty at Hamburg Landing on the Tennessee River, heading for Pulaski. As they marched along the Pinbook- Waynesboro road, they halted about two miles outside the county seat to eat and feed their mounts. After dinner, the Illinois soldiers galloped into Waynesboro, not suspecting what was about to happen.

A Waynesboro citizen who saw the Illinois men riding hard toward town thought that they were Confederates. As he fled in the opposite direction, he ran directly into Murphy’s column. When asked if he had seen any guerrillas, the citizen pointed toward the Illinois regiment’s advance guard, and the fighting began. Bullets flew several minutes, wounding three, until respective commanders determined that they were on the same side. Afterward, the 5th Tennessee occupied Waynesboro while the 7th Illinois marched to camp at the Pointer Brothers’ iron furnace five miles east of town.

"The Fifth Tennessee having been deceived so often by guerillas dressed in federal uniforms, they have in consequence become very vigilant."
Sgt. D. Leib Ambrose, 7th Illinois Mounted Infantry

Erected 2012 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.