52 Acres Added At Parker’s Crossroads
By Gregory L. Wade
(November 2011 Civil War News)
PARKERS CROSSROADS, Tenn. — “Acquiring this land is the keystone to everything we have done,” is how battlefield preservation advocate Steve McDaniel describes the recent purchase of 52 core acres of the Dec. 31, 1862, Battle of Parker’s Crossroads.
The mostly cavalry fight between Confederate Gen. Nathan Forrest’s command and elements of Union Brig. Gen. Jeremiah Sullivan’s troops was where the surrounded Forrest made his famous “charge ‘em both ways command” and escaped.
The property cost $1.3 million with State of Tennessee federal transportation grants totaling $1,120,000 and the Civil War Trust raising the remaining $180,000. McDaniel, a Tennessee legislator and long time proponent of preserving Tennessee’s battlegrounds, said this last major acquisition was critical to interpreting the battle because it was directly in the center of the fighting.
Previously, Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association (PCBA), the Civil War Trust and the state had saved about 298 acres since 2001. The City of Parker’s Crossroads manages the park which the state owns.
The new 52-acre tract is parallel to Interstate 40. Confederate artillery positions were placed there during the height of the fighting. With its location next to a major highway exchange, there was concern that the tract would be purchased for commercial development.
That would have ruined the interpretative value of the land and diminished interpretation of the entire park, according to McDaniel.
Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer said, “There is no other big, central part of the battlefield that is considered ‘must-have’ ground like this 52-acre parcel.”
In keeping with its wartime appearance when the land was mostly cotton fields, much of the ground will be planted in cotton to help generate revenue and reduce mowing costs, McDaniel noted.
Some 3,800 feet of new walking trail will be built, bringing the current amount of trails to about three miles with total length expected to approach four miles. Markers interpret a self-guided driving tour for which there is an audio CD.
The park is also pursuing an interpretative grant to help development the most recent purchase.
“We have spent most of our time and efforts on obtaining key ground and now will focus more on interpretation,” McDaniel said.
With the exception of some small plots that may become available, most of the land purchase process is compete.
In May a state-of-the-art visitor center opened, thanks to a $400,000 state grant used to renovate a former food store. (See July CWN)
Park visitation is up, said McDaniel. Noting the city’s sales tax revenue is growing, McDaniel believes it is no coincidence that as the park has become more visible more tourists are stopping off the Interstate for a visit as they travel between Nashville and Memphis.
The successful purchase does not mean an end to fundraising. There is more to do. Donations may be made at www.parkerscrossroads.com.