Saved: One Acre at the Southwest Corner of Parker's Cross Roads
After the American Battlefield Trust gained 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), it acquired two adjacent Parker’s Cross Roads properties totaling nearly one acre over the course of 2020 and 2021. But what the land lacks in size, it makes up for in historic pedigree: It was, in fact, the southwest corner of the original intersection during the December 31, 1862, battle.
The Trust took its time to see this land largely restored to its 1862 characteristics, removing a home and grocery store-gas station combination. The two structures and their accompanying concrete, asphalt, bricks, signs and more were cleared, and new grass was placed. Long-time Trust partner, former deputy speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and current city manager of Parkers Crossroads (the city having modernized its spelling since the battle) Steve McDaniel said, “I knew once the house came down it would give the whole intersection a different appearance.” While the National Park Service-affiliated battlefield is owned by the State of Tennessee, the battlefield is city-managed, and the two entities work in collaboration to enhance the site; McDaniel, an area native, has overseen the battlefield’s growth as both city manager and state representative.
“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 pushed back 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 southwest, northeast and southeast corners of THE crossroads preserved, the only corner unaccounted for is the northwest. Regardless, the new addition of the southwest corner has augmented access to the state highway, as the battlefield is located at the intersection of Tennessee Highway 22 and Interstate 40. This highway access, while cutting through the historic landscape, has allowed for both visitors who happen upon the battlefield and plan for their stop, typically before or after a trip to Shiloh National Military Park — 51 miles south of Parker’s Cross Roads.
Transferred to the State of Tennessee in December for incorporation into the battlefield park, the roughly one-acre of hallowed ground at Parker’s Cross Roads is sure to have a bright future beyond its recent restoration. McDaniel stated that the city-managed park is looking forward to exploring interpretive opportunities, of which would welcome visitors to the newly preserved corner of the Parker’s Cross Roads Battlefield.
More than 370 acres of core battlefield at Parker’s Cross Roads have been preserved thus far, with the Trust playing a role in saving a great majority of this acreage.