Recently, a new sign commemorating the Battle of Fair Garden was dedicated as part of Sevierville’s annual Arbor Day celebration. For many, the Battle of Fair Garden brings about puzzled looks and questions like, “What is the Battle of Fair Garden?”.
While the marker was placed for the Civil War Trails program, which promote awareness of Civil War sites with driving tours, the site is one of the more unknown battles in terms of popularity. A multi-state program, Civil War Trails highlights over 200 sites in Tennessee. If you’d like a list of these trail sites, maps can usually be found at the various welcome centers across the state.
“With interesting connections to nationally known figures such as Colonel Eli Lilly, who fought in battle and later formed the world renowned Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, and General Sturgis, for whom the town of Sturgis, S.D., was named, the Battle of Fair Garden Marker is sure to attract a large number of visitors,” said officials in attendance at the marker dedication.
As for the battle itself, it has become known primarily for being the largest skirmish between the Blue and the Grey in Sevier County. History tells us that Confederate Gen. James Longstreet commanded Gen. William Martin to drive the Union calvary from an area south of the French Broad River on Jan. 25, 1864. This was an area that stretched 8 miles from Dandridge to the Little Pigeon River and encompassed three Sevier County farms – Rose Glen, the Stuart Dickey Farm, and the McNutt Farm.
General Samuel Sturgis led the Union forces in advance of the approaching Confederate army at Rose Glen. Three days later, the Union had lost 65 lives and 100 Confederate soldiers had perished at the Battle of Fair Garden.
The Battle of Fair Garden will celebrate an anniversary in January, a 150th anniversary to be exact.
An interesting story about the times. Most Sevier Countians were Union sympathizers during the Civil War, living in a Confederate state. Then, no one really knew who to trust, many point to those issues as reasons the Battle of Fair Garden is just now being recognized after so many years.