Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial

The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is actively developing events, documentaries, educational materials, and heritage tourism opportunities for 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, 2011 - 2015. Heritage Area director Van West serves as the Sesquicentennial Commission's co-chair, along with Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker.

Join us in commemorating this incredible time in our nation's history! Tennessee's location, river and rail paths, industries, and farmlands all combined to make Tennessee a vitally important state as both sides fought for control of it. More than 1,462 battles across each of our 95 counties brought destruction to the landscape. Explore our rich history that tells of the division between Tennessee's Confederates adn Unionists that shaped our state's war experience.

For more information on how to experience the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Tennessee, please visit the Sesquicentennial website by clicking

Learn More About the Civil War through our Partners
Partnerships between the Heritage Area and organizations supports local people interested in developing their Civil War Heritage. You can learn about the Civil War in Tennessee just by connecting with these Tennessee organizations. For more information on partnership opportunities and funding, click here.

Tennessee Partnerships

Arts Center of Cannon County
The Civil War exhibit of the Arts Center of Cannon County, in Woodbury, recounts the county's occupation, skirmishes and troop movements. It includes unique home front stories and personal accounts of war describing some of the region's most dangerous guerilla fighting.

Belle Meade Plantation
A partnership with Belle Meade has created historic markers that share the plantation's Civil War story.

Cumberland County Military Memorial Museum
The Heritage Area researched and created an exhibit on the Civil War era in Cumberland County focusing occupation, the home front, and guerilla warfare for the Cumberland County Military Museum.

Doe Creek School and Cemetery
In cooperation with the Doe Creek Restoration Committee, the Heritage Area developed restoration guidelines for a Reconstruction-era church and school building. The committee has completely restored the building.

East Tennessee Historical Society

The Heritage Area funded the "Voices of Conflict" exhibit which illustrates and interprets the Civil War and Reconstruction section of "Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee," exhibit.

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable

The Knoxville Civil War Roundtable received Heritage Area funding for archeological surveys for the Third Creek Earthworks and Fort Higley.

Franklin's Charge, Inc.
Franklin's Charge has spearheaded the largest urban battlefield reclamation project in the U.S., and produces an annual educational symposium and quarterly educational newsletters.

Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County
The Battle of Franklin Driving Tour of prominent sites related to the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, is the result of a partnership between the Heritage Area, the Tennessee Wars Commission, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County and the Williamson County Convention Center and Visitors Bureau.

Historic Carnton Plantation
"Courage, Faith and Commitment: Franklin's African American Heritage Tour" expands Franklin’s existing Civil War and Reconstruction story to include African American contributions during and after the war. The educational tour includes stops at churches, neighborhoods, cemeteries, and manufacturing and retail establishments. The Heritage Area, Carnton, the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County, the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and others partnered on this project. 

Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association
The Heritage Area produced a feasibility study, furnishings plan and panel exhibits to guide the restoration of the house that served as Longstreet's headquarter during the winter of 1864 in Greenville, Tennessee. The General Longstreet Museum is now open to the public.  Please check their website for hours of operation.

Main Street Murfreesboro/Rutherford County
The Heritage Area manages the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, which contains exhibits on Murfreesboro during the Civil War and the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 1930s and provides tours of Murfreesboro's historic square. It is a partnership effort of the Heritage Area and Main Street Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Inc.
Matt Gardner Homestead Museum
The Matt Gardner Homestead in Elkton, Tennessee, is one of the few African American farms in Tennessee built on land acquired shortly after the Civil War. Early in the 1880s, Matt Gardner, a former slave, purchased 106 acres and began to develop a large farming operation. Heritage Area staff and students spent a hands on workday at the museum, helping restore 3 rooms to their original appearance.

Mississippi River Corridor - Tennessee
Working in partnership with the Corridor steering committee, the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, director Van West and manager Laura Holder edited and compiled the corridor's master plan, fulfilling grant requirements for both the Heritage Area and the McKnight Foundation. The master plan provides a decisive roadmap for the organization's future goals and projects in the six Tennessee counties along the Mississippi River.

Nashville Public Television
Nashville Public Television is partnering with the Heritage Area, the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and the Tennessee Department of Education to develop a series of six Civil War documentaries in preparation for the upcoming Sesquicentennial. Seven have already aired on WNPT with outstanding response and viewership.

Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Working with the Rutherford County CVB, the Heritage Area has developed twelve kiosks to be place in downtown Murfreesboro that interpret local history and text and images for the Civil War Trails.

Shades of Gray and Blue
Shades of Gray and Blue: Reflections of Life in Civil War Tennessee was designed to place images of works of art and material culture objects within easy reach of teachers and students of Tennessee history, but scholars at all levels will find the materials assembled here exciting and valuable. Images and information are presented in the context of themes and stories on this website, with teacher-designed lesson plans for each theme. The objects are housed permanently in MTSU's James E. Walker Library's Digital Collections where they are searchable online with complete catalog information that will lead scholars to additional resource collections.

This grant funded project was a partnership between Middle Tennessee State University's James E. Walker Library, the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU, and Vanderbilt University Libraries. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area provided major funding for the project's planning and implementation. Additional funding came from Anode, Inc., Vanderbilt University, and Middle Tennessee State University.

Southeast Tennessee Development District
A partnership between the SEDD and the Heritage Area created Fighting for the Rails: The Civil War in Southeast Tennessee, a driving tour brochure that leads travelers to wartime resources in the counties of Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie.

Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Director Van West (co-chair of the Commission with Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker) and Federal Liaison Laura Holder serve on the commission,  which directs the state's Civil War Sequicentennial events and activities.

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Heritage Area is assisting in the development of the Civil War Trails program. This is a multi-state marker and signage program identifies, interprets, and creates drivings tours of both the great campaigns and the lesser-known Civil War sites.

Tennessee Historical Society

A partnership with the Tennessee Historical Society developed free educational presentations and forums about key Civil War topics, and a new partnership is in development to create a series of books that include the best of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly's Civil War and Reconstruction articles.

Tennessee State Museum
"Hoofbeats in the Heartland," a partnership project between the Heritage Area and the Tennessee State Museum, made its debut at Traveller's Rest in Nashville. This exhibit, featuring the crucial role of the cavalry in the Civil War in Tennessee, incorporates many of the Tennessee State Museum's unique and intriguing artifacts, and will travel to communities across the state.

Travellers Rest Plantation
Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the Overton home and serving as a gateway for learners of all ages to explore and experience Nashville's historic past.

Tusculum College
On September 18, 2008, the Andrew Johnson Bicentennial Committee, Tusculum College, the Heritage Area, and others sponsored “Andrew Johnson: Heritage, Legacy and our Constitution.” Held at Tusculum College, it commemorated the bicentennial of Johnson’s birth and National Constitution Week. Speakers included Dr. Eric Foner, Dr. Paul Bergeron, Dr. Robert Orr, and Dr. Michael Kent Curtis.

National Partnerships

Alliance of National Heritage Areas
is an advocacy organization that serves National Heritage Areas across the nation. The alliance fosters sustainable heritage development and shares professional expertise through its Heritage Development Institute, its publications, and its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

National Park Service Southeast Regional Office
The National Park Service’s Southeast Regional Office, located in Atlanta, provides administrative support to the National Heritage Areas in the Southeast.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The NTHP provides leadership and resources for the protection of the nation’s historic places and the revitalization of its communities. The trust is a private, membership organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 6 regional offices and 29 historic sites across the country. The trust sponsors an annual conference and several publications. Dr. Van West, director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, serves on the trust’s Board of Advisors.

Stones River National Battlefield
The battlefield on Old Nashville Highway in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a unit of the National Park Service that has educated citizens about the Battle of Stones River (Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 2, 1863) since 1927. More than 80,000 troops fought in the battle, and the casualties came to almost 24,000, making the battle one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and Stones River National Battlefield partner every 18 months on a symposium related to the war and its aftermath.

Some of our most recent projects include:

Driving Tours

Heritage Education

Feasibility Studies