Welcome to Hartsville, Tennessee, the location of what many have called the ‘most successfully executed cavalry raid of the war between the states,’—The Battle of Hartsville. While the number of troops engaged in this battle was comparatively small, the Confederate victory was so complete and decisive in military tactic that news of the battle was reported across the country by nearly 70 newspapers. In fact, the Battle of Hartsville attracted the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, who sent a telegram to the commanding senior general stationed in Nashville asking, “Who was responsible for the disaster at Hartsville?” Due to the success of this battle, Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan, known as “the Thunderbolt of the Confederacy,” received his commission to brigadier general.
This driving tour includes buildings and homes used as hospitals, sites where Morgan quartered nearly 2,000 prisoners after the 75-minute battle, river crossings, rendezvous points, and a cemetery. We hope you enjoy your tour through Hartsville, Tennessee.

Tour Map:

Battle of Hartsville Stops        Battle of Hartsville Map Insert

Follow the tour via Google Maps

Driving Tour Stops

Note: Please respect private property along the tour route, as most of these stops are at private residences or farms.

From the Trousdale County Courthouse,
1. Travel south on Hwy. 141, 0.8 miles
2. Turn Right on Puryears Bend Road, 1 mile
3. Turn Left (still on Puryears Bend Road), 1.5 miles
4. Turn Right at the fork (still on Puryears Bend Road), 2 miles
5. Turn Right, 0.3 miles
6. Turn Left on Willow Lane
7. Go to the end of the road and follow the map to begin your tour.

Listen to History
Audio tour: Call 615-237-8180 and enter the stop number
Podcast: Open your favorite podcast listening app and search for The Battle of Hartsville Driving Tour

Stop 1: Puryears Ferry 
GPS: 36.3221790, -86.1846113
Colonel John Hunt Morgan and his troops arrived from Lebanon at Puryears Ferry in the dark of night at 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 6, 1862. With a plan to ford the Cumberland River in five hours, Morgan assembled his Artillery, Infantry, and a small part of the Cavalry on the south side of the river. He began the difficult task of moving horses, heavy cannon, and men across the icy Cumberland in two old leaking flat boats that had been arranged by his network of spies and supplied by a local sympathizer, 74-year-old Oliver Goldsmith “Ollie” Dickerson. The conditions were harsh, and the men being carried across by boat were forced to constantly bail water to keep from being swamped. The crossing took seven hours instead of the allotted five. Realizing early on the crossing was taking much longer than planned, Morgan directed Colonel Basil Duke and his Cavalry to continue on several miles further down-river to cross. The location was not ideal. A narrow bridle path provided the only access to the river. With each mount and man going down the slippery path, led by Col. John Dearing Bennet’s 9th Tennessee, the men plunged into the river from the four-foot ledge above the river. Most of the Confederate men became completely submerged in the freezing water. The first men across built fires to warm themselves, but 15 men were so badly frozen they had to be left behind. By 3:00 a.m. with fewer than half his men across the river, Duke realized he must hurry to meet Morgan at the rendezvous point. He was forced to leave the other half of his men on the south side of the river with orders to hurry on.

(Go back the way you came and stay to the right until you reach Stop #2)

Stop 2: Home of Colonel James Dearing Bennett (1816-1862)
GPS: 36.35416667, -86.193333

Down the winding path to your left, Colonel John Bennett’s homesite sits just out of view toward the back of the property. Colonel Bennett was the Commander of the 9th Tennessee Cavalry made up of local men from Hartsville, Coatstown (now called Westmorland), and Richland (now called Portland). It is believed that Bennett and Colonel Morgan stopped at Bennett’s homeplace for breakfast on their way to the pre-determined rendezvous point with the rest of Morgan’s troops. Known to be a fine commander respected by his men, Colonel Bennett died seven weeks following the Battle of Hartsville from typhoid-pneumonia on Morgan’s second Kentucky raid in Elizabethtown, Kentucky on January 23, 1863. His body was transported back to Hartsville by his faithful servant, Jeff, and buried here. Fourteen years later his widow, Martha (Hutchison), had his body reinterred in the Hartsville cemetery (stop 17). She also honored her husband’s promise to his servant Jeff and deeded 60 acres of land to him 

Stop 3: Hager's Shop
GPS: 36.3633839, -86.1880016
The blacksmith shop of Andrew Jackson “A. J.” Hager once stood in the empty field on the right. This was the planned rendezvous point for Morgan and his men. Traveling 30 minutes from Puryears Ferry, Morgan arrived about 5:30 a.m. with Colonel Thomas Hunt, Commander of the Infantry. Colonel Duke arrived at the rendezvous point only minutes after Morgan and Hunt due to the additional time it had taken him and his men to find a suitable ford to cross the Cumberland. At this spot, Colonels Morgan, Duke, and Hunt prepared their final plans for their attack on the Union camp, just two miles away to the east.

(Continue ahead and take the first right, Lytle Drive to the end)

Stop 4: The Widow Hallibuton
GPS: 36.3744418, -86.1864781
The home and burial site of Letty Halliburton (1796-1865)was on this hillside straight ahead. Letty Halliburton was instrumental in helping many of the wounded after the battle. A yellow flag flew above her home, identifying it as a refuge for the wounded. After the battle, Union troops loaded wagons with wounded soldiers and brought them to Halliburton’s home. She used her entire supply of bed linens as bandages for the wounded. Dr. John Orlando Scott, of the 2nd Kentucky, and the only Confederate surgeon left behind after the battle said, “It is a grand site to see the men in blue assisting his brother in gray in all kindness and affection.”

(Turn left on Boat Dock Road, 13 miles to old Hwy. 25, then turn right 0.2 miles for stop #5)

Stop 5: Final Approach
GPS: 36.3907149, -86.1852336
After leaving Hager’s Blacksmith Shop, Morgan detached part of Col. Bennett’s 9th Tennessee Cavalry to set up a roadblock on the Hartsville-Castalian Springs road and other points to cut off any escape Union troops might try to use. Bennett took the rest of his regiment to Hartsville one mile away. Morgan and the rest of his troops crossed here through the lowest point and made their initial approach toward their objective, still undetected by the Union troops.

(Go straight ahead into town)

Stop 6: Town of Hartsville
GPS: 36.3912503, -86.1675310
The remainder of Colonel Bennett’s Cavalry made their way into town. The 9th succeeded in capturing 450 Federals, including Co. A, 104th Illinois, who were posted here to guard the town. The Union soldiers had occupied many buildings in town including the Locke Hotel on the corner of Main St. and Broadway at the site of the old Bank of Hartsville building. Two buildings used as hospitals still stand today. At the corner of Church and West Main stands the Hager building (now Total Image), built in 1838. This building housed the bed patients. Behind the Hager building on Church Street stands the old Methodist Church, built in 1843, soldiers with less severe wounds were treated here.

(Get out and stretch your legs. Look around Historic Hartsville.
Next drive back out Hwy 141 S (River Street), 0.6 miles, turn right on Rom Lane to Stop 7.)

Stop 7: The Rebels Are Coming
GPS: 36.3839953, -86.1731958
As Morgan approached this hill from the valley between the two hills to the northwest, he sent a small force disguised as Union soldiers to capture the pickets stationed north and west of the Union’s Infantry camp. The reserve pickets observed this and fired the first alarm to the Union camp, as Morgan approached with his main task force and artillery from the northwest. Morgan dispatched Colonel Cluke’s and Colonel Chenault’s Cavalry units toward the camp while he accompanied Colonel Hunt and Cobb’s Battery southward to occupy a position to observe the Union camp and make adjustments to their artillery firing on the Union troops.

(Follow this drive to the end and turn left)

Stop 8: Morgan Pushes On
GPS: 36.3790028, -86.1749554
At this point Morgan’s Infantry and Cavalry spread out and deployed on a low ridge overlooking the Infantry camp. The Cavalry dismounted (Morgan’s Cavalry often fought as Infantry) and moved to the left to flank the Union troops. The Infantry pushed onward toward some 2,100 Union troops who had formed on a line of defense on the hill behind the Trousdale Highway Department Garage. The Union Artillery stationed on this hill was forced to move back to the bluff on the river. The fiercest part of the battle was fought here.

(Go to the river, 0.4mi.)

Stop 9: Cobb's Battery
GPS: 36.3631938, -86.1772406
Here across the ravine, high atop this hill behind the water plant, and to the right, Colonel Robert Cobb’s Battery set up for the Confederates’ Artillery assault on the Union camp upon the hill to your left. As Colonel Morgan stood there during the battle, one caisson was destroyed by a direct hit from the Union cannons, killing David Watt who was sitting upon it. Colonel Morgan’s young aide, William Craven Peyton, was mortally wounded. He was taken to the home of a Mrs. Lee, where he died of blood poisoning.

(Cross the river bridge)

Stop 10: Stoner's Battery
GPS: 36.3722044, -861761677
Here on the south side of the river on the elevated ground to the left, Confederate Major Robert G. Stoner set up his battery of two mountain howitzers. Knowing that these guns would not reach the Union camp, his job was to keep the Union troops wondering if they would. Afterwards, Stoner’s men forded the river several times, bringing a prisoner back across each trip. The back side of the bluff to the right was the camp of the Union Army. The ridge ahead and to the left is Stop 7.

(Back across the river 0.6 miles, turn right on Cemetery Road, and go 0.5 mi.)

Stop 11: Union Camp Site
GPS: 36.3774220, -861661041
This is the site of the Union troop’s camp. The Union garrison of the 39th Brigade, 12th Division, under the command of Colonel Joseph R. Scott, arrived here from Tompkinsville, Kentucky, via the Goose Creek Valley on November 28, 1862, to relieve Colonel John Marshall Harlan. Harlan, who later became an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, of the 10th Kentucky Infantry, commanding the Second Brigade, 1st Division, had been in Hartsville about two weeks.
Colonel Scott’s forces consisted of the 104th Illinois Infantry, 106th and 108th Ohio Infantry, 2nd Indiana Cavalry, Co. E. 11th Cavalry, totaling 2,400 men.
On December 2, Colonel Absalom B. Moore of the 104th Illinois, and ranking officer, was directed by the Union commander to relieve Colonel Scott who had been called to Nashville. Here at the Union camp site a large part of the fighting and surrender of the Union garrison took place, just 75 minutes after the battle began.

(Go to the end of the road)

Stop 12: The Cumberland River
GPS: 36.3765755, -86.1660826
Time was of the essence following the Union’s surrender. Aware of Union reinforcements advancing from Castalian Springs, Morgan and his men loaded as many empty wagons as they could manage with confiscated Union supplies. They discarded their Austrian rifles and muskets in favor of the Springfield rifles that had belonged to the Union troops. Morgan then directed his men and prisoners to cross the ford known then as Walker’s Landing, now known as Taylor’s Landing, while he directed the wagons and cannons to cross a half mile up the river at Hart’s Ferry (Stop 16). Imagine rushing from the battle field to cross this river for the second time in less than 12 hours—in chest-deep, icy water with a several inches snow on the ground, in the bitter cold, with two to three men on horseback. It was done with success.

(Turn around, go 0.3 miles and turn right on Herod Road)

Stop 13: The Battlefield and Retreat
GPS: 36.3778539, -86.1637115
In the far distance to your right, a clear view in winter, sits the Union camp and battlefield. Across these ravines, some 4,000 men, both Union and Confederate soldiers, were making quick time to leave this area before Colonel Harlan arrived with thousands of Union reinforcements from Castalian Springs some nine miles away.

(Continue on this road)

Stop 14: Averitt-Herod House
GPS:36.3744332, -861624777
Atop the hill to your left overlooking the battlefield, sits the beautiful home built by Peter Averitt, Sr., around 1834. During the battle, Peter’s son, Richard, and his family lived here. According to tradition, wounded Confederate soldiers were brought here to be cared for after the battle, and it was where Colonel John M. Harlan pardoned them. There is a large bloodstain resembling a man’s face in the floor on the east side of the house. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places..

(Continue on this road)

Stop 15: Union Cavalry Camp
GPS:36.3730251, -861626816
The Union’s 2nd Indiana and Co. E. 11th Kentucky Cavalry camped and were positioned in this area to guard Hart’s Ferry. The entire Union Cavalry force moved up to this location to support the Infantry but participated very little in the battle. They suffered only three casualties, and most escaped capture.

(Drive to the curve in the road)

Step 16: Hart's Ferry
GPS:36.3716947, -861628318
Located some 400 yards from here at the river, Hart’s Ferry was started in 1798 by James Hart (from whom Hartsville was named). From here, Colonel Morgan began his exit from Hartsville with all his captured goods, two pieces of artillery, ammunition, supplies, and wagons. Just as Morgan was getting the last of his men across the river, Union Colonel John M. Harland arrived from Castalian Springs and opened fire but did not pursue them. One of his cannon shots barely missed Morgan and his staff, hitting a tree limb above them. The Union reinforcements destroyed three wagons in the river as the Confederates made their exit from Hartsville. The Union losses were 58 killed, 204 wounded and 1,834 captured. The Confederate losses were 21 dead, 104 wounded and 14 missing in action. For his daring victory, John Hunt Morgan was promoted to brigadier general. The battle was considered Morgan’s greatest victory and is considered by many as the best executed and most successful cavalry raid of the Civil War.

(Go to the end of Herod Drive and turn around, go back to Cemetery Road, and turn right)

Stop 17: Hartsville Cemetery
GPS:36.3834943, -861678851
Finally, you have reached the Hartsville Cemetery, the final resting place for over 50 Confederate veterans. Among them is Colonel James Dearing Bennett, Commander of the famed 9th Tennessee Cavalry. After the battle, Winslow Hart (the son of James Hart) and other citizens buried both Union and Confederate casualties on a knoll at the rear of the cemetery. Some of the Union dead were later moved and returned to their homeland or reinterred at the National Cemetery in Nashville.

Tennessee's Cumberland Valley Civil War Sites Brochure:

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Click any of the above pictures to enlarge.