Civil War History

Clarksville & Montgomery County Tennessee Civil War Journey - Crossroads of Change 1861-1865  

The Civil War Trails program has installed more than 1,000 interpretive markers at Civil War sites in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Driving tours following major campaigns have been created, and a series of regional brochures is available. Learn more and see major Civil War events at

Clarksville in the Civil War
Trails sign at 1 Public Square, Clarksville TN 37040

Trails sign at 1 Public Square

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Military struggles over this important Cumberland River transportation and communication center continued almost until the end of the war. Union control of the town and its forts fell to the Union after nearby Fort Donelson’s fall. But Federal control remained tenuous until late 1864. The town also was flooded with refugees and became a recruiting station for United States Colored Troops.


Surrender of Clarksvilleback to top
Trails sign in McGregor Park, 305 Riverside Drive, Clarksville TN 37040


(click image for full-size PDF)

Troops on Union gunboats seized Confederate river forts near here Feb. 19, 1862, following the Federal capture of Fort Donelson. Union Flag Officer Andrew Foote, landing near here, met with local officials and negotiated the town’s surrender.


Recapture of Clarksvilleback to top
Trails sign at 524 College St., Clarksville TN 37040


(click image for full-size PDF)

The February 1862 Union capture of Clarksville was short-lived. The area remained pro-Southern and a hotbed of Confederate guerilla activity. Confederate partisans eventually joined by local citizens, approached the town on August 18, 1862, aiming to recapture it. Federals hurried to this area to repulse the attack but ended up surrendering to the combined Confederate force.


Battle of Riggins Hill back to top
Trails sign at 590 Magnolia Drive, Clarksville TN 37042

Battle of Riggins Hill

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After Confederates recaptured Clarksville in August 1862, a Union detachment was sent to reclaim the town. Confederates defended this area but were soon pushed back through town by the larger Union force. Clashes continued in this area continued until late 1864.


Whitefield, Bradley & Co.back to top
Trails sign at 135 Commerce St, Clarksville TN 37040

Whitefield, Bradley & Co.

(click image for full-size PDF)

One of the few ironworks in the Confederacy at the start of the war, this facility quickly shifted from household goods to cannon, shot and shell for the Southern war effort. Whitefield, Bradley was shut down when Clarksville was occupied by Union troops in February 1862.


Fort Defiance back to top
Trails sign at 120 A St, Clarksville TN 37040

Fort Defiance

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This was the site of one of the Confederate fortifications constructed (largely by slave labor) on the Cumberland River at the outset of the war. The fort was abandoned following the Union victory at Fort Donelson early in 1862. The fort was spared destruction and was occupied by Union troops the rest of the war.

Learn more about Fort Defiance Interpretive Center. Located at 120 Duncan Street / 931-472-3351. 

Civil War

Even more resources and information available:

(back to top)

Clarksville History Trails -- Three walkable trails ranging from 1 - 5 miles designed from by the Montgomery County GIS Department and local historian Carolyn Ferrell.

Tennessee Historical Commission - The Tennessee Historical Commission is the State Historic Preservation Office for Tennessee and has multiple programs related to historic preservation and history

Civil War Traveler - Civil War battlefields & sites in 30 states.

Clarksville Foundry Inc. - Clarksville Foundry has been owned and operated by a member of the Foust family since 1912 and has a historical connection to the Civil War by manufacturing weaponry throughout the conflict. 

Tennessee Civil War Heritage - Learn about the people, places, and events that take place in Tennessee that involve the Civil War. 

Vintage Interactive Map of Clarksville-Montgomery County

Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area - The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area tells the whole story of America's greatest challenge, 1860-1875: the powerful stories of vicious warfare, the demands of the home-front and occupation, the freedom of emancipation, and the enduring legacies of Reconstruction.