Those who enjoy Civil War history now have a more modern way of following Hartsville’s link to the War Between the States.
The Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce has created a podcast that those who take the Battle of Hartsville Driving Tour. Narrated by local author Jack McCall, the audio tour provides detailed information about the Battle of Hartsville, which took place on Dec. 7, 1862.
In the 75-minute battle, Confederate Col. John Hunt Morgan with 1,300 troops defeated a Union force numbering 2,400. Morgan, who also founded the Hartsville Vidette in 1862, captured nearly 2,000 Union soldiers and was promoted afterward to brigadier general.
“As I dug into the project, I was amazed at the daring of Col. Morgan and of the hardships his men were willing to endure in order to successfully carry out his brilliant surprise attack,” McCall said.
The driving tour consists of 17 stops in Trousdale County, including the battlefield site near Herod Lane, downtown buildings that served as makeshift hospitals and sites where Union and Confederate troops crossed the Cumberland River in freezing weather.
Creating the podcast was made possible through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Tourism that used money from the federal CARES Act, the COVID-19 relief bill passed early last year. Grants were given to each of Tennessee’s 95 counties based on a specific formula that took into account how much tourism took place in each county. Trousdale County received $25,000.
“The Civil War driving tour is the single most requested item I get calls for in the chamber. They’re Civil War buffs and want to see what happened in the Battle of Hartsville,” said chamber Director Natalie Knudsen. “We had two months to turn the whole project around. We used an agency to develop it. They put in a ton of work and we had county historian John Oliver, who has a lot of Civil War stories.”
“It’s interesting because none of our neighboring counties have a Civil War battlefield,” Oliver said. “That makes us unique. Even thought the battle was not strategically important, it is in the list of top 100 Civil War battles.
“We get a lot of people, especially Northerners, who come down to see where their great-great-grandfather was captured. I’m always getting phone calls or emails from people. We’re excited about it.”
Oliver credited previous Trousdale County historians, including the late Webb Ross, who did thorough research and recorded local histories of the battle in helping him compile information for the podcast.
The chamber also created brand new brochures describing the driving tour and each of its stops in detail, including GPS coordinates. There is also a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to enable Google Maps to pinpoint each stop.
“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,” the brochure states.
The brochure contains “beautiful photos” of some of the various stops, Knudsen said. The new brochures will also be placed in nearby interstate rest areas and Knudsen said she also hopes to develop a virtual tour that can be explored online.
The podcast can be found on Apple or Google apps by searching for “Battle of Hartsville.” In addition, the audio portion can be heard by phone by calling 615-237-8180 and entering any of the 17 prompt numbers.
“You can listen to the narration as you drive the tour or even call without driving,” Knudsen said. “It’s very modern and has all the bells and whistles, and did not cost the Chamber one penny.”