Parker's Cross Roads Battlefield Grows Through Addition of the Original Intersection's Southwest Corner
Colleen Cheslak-Poulton, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Parkers Crossroads, Tenn.) — Students of history recently marked the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Parker’s Cross Roads, even as the American Battlefield Trust, the nation’s premier battlefield land preservation organization, declared the site scene of its latest victory. Over the course of 2020 and 2021, the Trust acquired two adjacent Parker’s Cross Roads properties with the support of the American Battlefield Protection Program, the City of Parkers Crossroads and the Tennessee Historical Commission’s Civil War Sites Preservation Fund (administered by the Tennessee Wars Commission). Totaling just under one acre, this land’s historic pedigree is valuable in the fact that it was the southwest corner of the original intersection during the December 31, 1862, battle. Beyond acquisition, the Trust restored the acreage and proceeded to transfer it to the State of Tennessee in December, shortly before the battle’s December 31 anniversary.
“Although small, this property is significant in the history it represents and the preservation story it advances, turning back commercial uses of battlefield land and extending a successful park,” said Trust President David Duncan. “Through our more than 20-year association with the Parker’s Cross Roads Battlefield, we’ve seen our local and state partners make enormous strides to grow this site — which today accounts for more than 370 acres of preserved core battlefield — and are happy to have played a role in helping them accomplish much of this work.”
The National Park Service-affiliated battlefield is owned by the State of Tennessee and operated by the City of Parkers Crossroads, with the two working in collaboration to enhance the site.
“The Tennessee Historical Commission and Tennessee Wars Commission have worked with the American Battlefield Trust and City of Parkers Crossroads for over two decades to save and interpret this important battlefield,” said Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission and the state historic preservation officer. “This acquisition represents the pivotal addition of another quarter of the namesake crossroads and another incredible preservation victory that has been accomplished in Tennessee through our continued partnership with the Trust.”
The southwest quadrant of the original intersection was far from a pristine field when it first came into Trust hands; a brick home stood on one portion of the land, while a combination grocery story-gas station was situated on another. But Steve McDaniel — former deputy speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, current city manager of Parkers Crossroads and longtime battlefield advocate — who was on-site to the demolition, cleanup and growth of new grass — is pleased with the restoration.
“Now, you can stand at the [southwest corner of the] intersection and look west to see the path the Federal troops under Col. Cyrus Dunham had used as they were pushed back” noted McDaniel. These troops were then repelled south of the crossroads by Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men but, later in the battle, Col. John Fuller’s Federal brigade came in behind Forrest to reinforce Dunham.
With the added southwest corner acreage, the Parker’s Cross Roads Battlefield will now be accessible via Tennessee Highway 22, with the battlefield located near the intersection of the state highway and Interstate 40. While cutting across the historic landscape, highway access has been beneficial to the number of visitors the battlefield park receives. As Memphis sits approximately 108 miles west, Nashville roughly 100 miles east and Shiloh National Military Park about 51 miles south of Parker’s Cross Roads, location has also aided in its popularity.
Following the December transfer of the game-changing land to the State of Tennessee, the city-managed park is looking forward to exploring interpretive opportunities that will welcome visitors to the newly preserved corner of the Parker’s Cross Roads Battlefield.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 55,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.