Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Seawell Hill Camp - Wheeler's 1864 Raid

Marker ID:  
Location: intersection of North Castle Heights Ave and Hill St, Lebanon, TN
County: Wilson
Coordinates: N 36° 12.783    W 086° 18.383
  36.21305    -86.30638333
Waymark: None


Seawell Hill Camp
A deathlike stillness in Lebanon
Wheeler's 1864 Raid

You are standing on Seawell Hill, where Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s cavalrymen camped during their raid through Tennessee. They had destroyed parts of the railroad to Chattanooga then moved north up the Tennessee River Valley, damaging the railroad and then riding east and then north around Knoxville. Crossing the Cumberland Mountains, Wheeler’s men passed through Crossville, Sparta, Smithville, and Lebanon. The small garrison of Union troops in Lebanon hurriedly fled to Nashville but burned their barracks and headquarters at Cumberland College before they left town.

Trying to join Wheeler here, Confederate Lt. George B. Guild approached the town. “A deathlike stillness prevailed” in Lebanon, Guild recalled. “I could see neither individuals nor lights about the streets or houses. The numerous white houses glistened in the moonlight like a whitened cemetery.” He called at the house of Capt. John McGregor, where McGregor’s wife, Dolly, told him that confederates were camped about a mile west of town. As Guild approached Seawell Hill, 4th Georgia Cavalry Battalion pickets stopped him. The pickets did not know Guild and did not allow him to enter the camp. The next morning, Guild joined Col. George G. Dibrell of Sparta as he rode into Lebanon with his cavalrymen. When Dibrell moved to join Wheeler, he soon found there were Union infantrymen separating the two commands. Dibrell left Tennessee by riding through East Tennessee, while Wheeler led his men out into northern Alabama, where he crossed the Tennessee River.

(Side bar at the top left)
On August 10, 1864, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, defending Atlanta, Georgia against Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s army, sent Gen. Joseph Wheeler and 4,000 cavalrymen to cut Sherman’s lines of communication. Wheeler destroyed railroad track in Georgia before Union infantry forced him into East Tennessee. He and his men turned west, destroyed track south of Nashville, and then fled into Alabama. Union crews quickly repaired the damaged track, rendering the raid, which ended on September 10, largely ineffective.

Tennessee Civil War Trails