Parkers Crossroads, TN
Yuma, TN - Events of Friday, July 13 to Tuesday, July 17, 2012
We only had a two-hour drive on Friday to our next destination in Parkers Crossroads, TN, so we took our time when we got up in the morning. Barbara and Dick stopped by, and we chatted a few minutes before saying our good-byes. We finished packing up and were on the road a little after 10:00.
When pulled into Parkers Crossroads RV Park (mailing address Yuma, TN) shortly after noon, we were escorted to our site.
We stayed at Parkers Crossroads RV for one night on our way south from our detour to Pittsburgh in May. Back then, we saw there were a couple of possibilities for sightseeing in the area, so we decided to stop for a week on our way back north.
Parkers Crossroads RV has all full-hookup sites, most of which are pull-throughs. We're not sure about the sites in other parts of the campground, but all the sites in the area we were in had 30/50-amp electric. There is also free cable and free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi seemed a little slower than our Verizon 3G, but we were able to use the campground Wi-Fi most of the time.
Parkers Crossroads also has a nice swimming pool and a fishing lake.
The roads and most of the pads at Parkers Crossroads RV are gravel, but there are 6 extra-long pull-throughs in the back section of the campground where we were that have concrete pads.
Three of the paved sites have a good bit of space between them, and the other three don't. The sites are angled which helps create some privacy. However, the angle is so severe that the three sites that are close together have their neighbor's driveway passing right through their living space. When we stopped at Parkers Crossroads on our way south, we had one of the more closely-spaced sites with little grass, so we requested one of the wider, grassy sites when we made our reservations for our return stop. Freeway still likes to eat anything - stones, pine cones, twigs, bugs - so we prefer not to have to put him outside on gravel. We got the site on the end on the left in the photo below, which not only has grass and more space, but also has an unobstructed view of the fishing lake and the valley beyond.
The campground itself was quiet, but there was a fair amount of traffic noise from the 4-lane road that runs past the campground. Fortunately, the traffic diminishes at night. The cloudy weather that moved into the area before we left Memphis brought cooler temperatures, but not that much cooler and not for long. The cloudy weather also brought high humidity. We ended up running the air conditioner all day and all night the whole time we were at Parkers Crossroads, and that helped cover up any outside noise.
The price at Parkers Crossroads RV of $28 a night isn't bad for full hookups, free cable and free Wi-Fi, especially if you can get one of the wider, paved, pull-through sites.
On Saturday evening, the weather started to clear, so we walked down to the fishing lake where we were treated to the first of several beautiful sunsets we experienced while at Parkers Crossroads.
We drove to Jackson, TN on Monday for some sightseeing. We'll tell you about that in our next post; but first, we want to tell you a little more about what we learned about Parkers Crossroads when we went out to explore the local area on Tuesday.
When we first arrived, we couldn't help but notice the big sign for the Parkers Crossroads Visitor Center and Civil War Battlefield as we got off the interstate. The visitor center is only a couple of miles south of the campground, so that's where we headed when we went out exploring on Tuesday.
The visitor center has a nice video on the Civil War battle that took place at Parkers Crossroads on December 31, 1862. It wasn't a big, important battle, but it is an interesting piece of Civil War history, and it's Parkers Crossroads' main claim to fame.
Steps to preserve the battlefield began in 1994. The battle took place over a fairly large area, much of which has now been developed. In fact, I-40 runs right through the middle of where the main battle took place. We'll have more on that a little later. The Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association has been able to preserve a number of small sites that are relevant to significant events that took place during the battle. Those sites have parking for a few cars and one or more informative plaques. There are also paved walking trails that traverse various parts of the battle area, and there are maps available at the visitor center for a well-marked driving tour.
The driving tour starts north of I-40 at the Parkers Crossroads City Park where you can see a row of trees that mark the edge of the original Lexington-Huntingdon Road that ran north and south through Parkers Crossroads. Lexington-Huntingdon Road has been replaced by State Route 22, which lies about 100 yards to the west (to the left of the photo).
The city park is also the start of the paved walking trail (shown to the right in the photo above) that is on the north side of I-40 and the location of several informational plaques and a couple of monuments like the one shown below commemorating Freeman's Battery of the Confederate artillery.
Parkers Crossroads was named for Reverend John Parker, a Baptist minister and doctor, who settled in the area around 1830. Reverend Parker's house was located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Lexington-Huntingdon Road that ran north and south and Wildersville Road that ran east and west. There is a stop on the driving tour at the location of the old crossroads.
By the latter part of 1862, Union forces had captured much of western Tennessee. The Confederacy was desperate to stop the Union advance toward Vicksburg because Vicksburg was one of the South's last strongholds along the Mississippi River. Confederate Brigadier-General Nathan Forrest and his 1,800-man cavalry were sent to interrupt the Union lines of supply and communication in western Tennessee.
On December 15, 1862, Forrest and his men crossed the Tennessee River south of Parkers Crossroads at Cliffton and conducted numerous raids as they marched north. Those raids destroyed railroad tracks and bridges and enabled the Confederates to capture Union arms and ammunition. Forrest ranged briefly into Kentucky before turning south again and heading back to Cliffton.
The Union dispatched Colonel Cyrus Dunham and Colonel John Fuller to trap the Confederate raiders. Colonel Dunham found out the Confederates were camped near Parkers Crossroads, and he headed there with his brigade of 1,500 men to cut them off. Dunham reached Parkers Crossroads ahead of the Confederates, and he set up an artillery line at a field about a mile northwest of Parkers Crossroads.
When the Confederates arrived, their artillery started pounding the Union position. Dunham was forced to pull back to the south of the Parker House and seek shelter behind a split rail fence. There is another stop on the driving tour on the south side of I-40 where there is a reconstruction of the split rail fence shown in the next photo behind the cannon.
The photo below is taken from in front of the split rail fence looking north across the highway toward Parkers Crossroads. Reverend Parker's house was located at the base of the trees in the distance just about in the center of the photo. The median of I-40 marks the approximate location of the Union artillery line.
Reverend Parker, who was a Union sympathizer, was angered at the Union artillery being set up so close to his house because of the likelihood of return fire aimed in his direction by the Confederates. The refusal of the Union battery officer to move the cannons caused Reverend Parker to switch his allegiance to the Confederacy. Reverend Parker's death-bed wish in 1864 was to be buried with his head to the south and his feet to the north so when Gabriel sounded his trumpet on the last day, he could rise and kick the Yankees back north. At nearby Jones Cemetery, which is another stop on the driving tour, all the graves run east and west except those of Reverend Parker and his wife, Rebecca, which run south to north.
The Confederates quickly flanked Colonel Dunham, and Brigadier-General Forrest sent a message to Dunham demanding unconditional surrender. Just as things seemed hopeless for Dunham, the Union brigade under the command of Colonel John Fuller arrived. Forrest, who was now caught between two Union brigades, charged both directions. His swift counter attack disrupted the Union attack enough to allow the Confederates to escape and head off to the Tennessee River ferry crossing at Cliffton.
The paved walking trail picks up again at the split rail fence on the south side of I-40 and passes by a dog trot cabin that was donated to the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association in 2006. The cabin was originally built by Robert and Parmelia McPeake near Rock Hill, TN in 1851 for their family of 13 children. The cabin was dismantled, moved to the battlefield and rebuilt.
As we said, the battle at Parkers Crossroads wasn't a huge battle. It lasted less than a day, and there wasn't a decisive victory for either side. However, if you had to pick a winner, it would be the Confederates, because they were able escape after conducting two weeks of successful raids that seriously disrupted Union supplies and communications. Even though Parkers Crossroads wasn't a well-known Civil War Battle like Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run or Shiloh, it was interesting to learn a little local history.
As we mentioned earlier, we also visited Jackson, TN to do a little sightseeing, and we'll tell you all about it in our next post.