Brown’s Ferry Tavern

Loyal readers of Seeing the Scenic City, and family and friends know that I love Civil War history, or any type of U.S. history, really.

My parents visited a few weekends ago. My dad loves Civil War history as much as I do, so we always try to find time to check out a local site. This time we decided to see Brown’s Ferry Tavern.

Brown’s Ferry Tavern is the oldest standing structure in Chattanooga, constructed in 1803. It was established by John Brown, a prominent Cherokee businessman.

One of the Trail of Tears routes passed by the tavern. Brown and his family were removed from the site during the Trail of Tears. He returned to the site afterward.

The tavern was also witness to the Battle of Brown’s Ferry, which occurred on October 27, 1863. This Civil War battle ensured the opening of the “cracker line” or the supply line, for the Union troops.

To read about the Browns Ferry Federal Road hike on Moccasin Bend that visits the opposite end of this battle on the Tennessee River, click Here .

The property is preserved by the American Battlefield trust, but Brown’s Ferry Tavern is private property, so you are not able to walk up to the building and peer inside. We skirted around the edge of the property, and took various photographs from our vantage points.

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Three Civil War sites in one morning

On Thanksgiving morning, we visited three Civil War sites, one for each battle.

The Battles of Chattanooga lasted over three days, from Nov. 23-25. The first was the Battle of Orchard Knob. The second was the Battle of Lookout Mountain and the third was the Battle of Missionary Ridge.

Our first stop was Cravens House on Lookout Mountain. We have already been here once, starting a hike from this point. You can read more about it and see more pictures here.

The Battle of Lookout Mountain included fighting around the Cravens House. The house was used as headquarters for both the Confederates and Union.  

Then we went to Orchard Knob, which is a grassy hill that spans for two blocks, and is filled with monuments. On Nov. 25, General Grant stood on top of Orchard Knob, and watched the Battle of Missionary Ridge unfold. There is a great vantage point of the city from Orchard Knob.

I enjoyed this spot in particular, because by seeing Missionary Ridge, you can picture and understand what it was like for General Grant.

Our last spot was the Sherman Reservation, at the very north end of Missionary Ridge. This area preserves the spot where Sherman’s troops fought against Confederates at Tunnel Hill. The Sherman Reservation features a small walking trail through a wooded area to get to a grassy area with monuments and plaques.

There are still so many sites to see, particularly along Lookout Mountain, with more trails to hike, and more reservations along the length of Missionary Ridge. I am glad that we made the time to see some new sites, and tick some boxes off.

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The view from the Cravens House.
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Orchard Knob.
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Lookout Mountain as seen from Orchard Knob.
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Missionary Ridge as viewed from Orchard Knob.
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The front entrance of Sherman Reservation. It’s a short hike from here to get to the monuments.
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Point Park

One of the attractions on top of Lookout Mountain is Point Park. It is part of the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park.

The Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought November 24, 1863. It became known as the Battle Above the Clouds. It was a part of a larger few months long campaign to take over Chattanooga.

It was important that Union forces take control of Chattanooga because Chattanooga was the gateway to the deep south, and many railroads converged there.

History aside, Point Park has some beautiful observation points that overlook the mountains and downtown Chattanooga. There are some hiking trails on Lookout Mountain, but the paths that we saw seemed more difficult than we were willing to take on.

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The New York Peace Memorial
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This bend in the Tennessee River is known as Moccasin Bend.
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An enlarged painting of The Battle Above the Clouds in the visitor’s center.