June 24-July 4, 1862
— The Confederate War Industry —
When Manchester was founded in the late 18th century, local lore has it that the town, named for Manchester, England, was destined to become an American version of this powerful industrial city. The Duck River falls, it was noted, would provide an excellent source of water power for milling.
When the war began it 1861 the South faced blockade and invasion. Already inferior to the North in manufacturing resources, the Confederacy nonetheless became self-sufficient in arms production by 1863. Prewar industrial centers like Richmond, Virginia expanded during the war, while a series of new factory towns sprang up, including Selma, Alabama and Macon, Georgia.
Intent on joining the war effort, Manchester native W.S. Whiteman built a powder mill near Old Stone Fort on the Barren Fork of the Duck River, joining other manufacturing facilities. Alexis Cope, a soldier with the 15th Ohio Infantry, noted that "near our camp were several large mills and factories, the power being furnished by the falls in the river, which were an interesting sight, and furnished excellent bathing facilities to the men." These manufacturing establishments were destroyed by the Federal army.
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Born and raised near Nashville, Benjamin Franklin Cheatham was one the western Confederacy best-loved generals. Active in Democratic politics, he was appointed Brigadier General of the Provisional Army of Tennessee by Governor Isham Harris before the state actually seceded in June of 1861. By the following year Cheatham had risen to the rank of Major General. A controversial soldier, he was a staunch opponent of the military tactics of Braxton Bragg and later John Bell Hood.
Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee, remembered Cheatham courage at Stones River, a battle where Bragg accused his corps commander of being drunk on the field. He "was leading the charge in person," said Watkins. "Then it was that I saw the power of one man, born to command, over a multitude of men than almost routed and demoralized. I saw and felt that he was not fighting for glory, but that he was fighting for his country?and he was willing to give his life for the country and the success of our cause."
After the war, Cheatham married and settled near Noah, just a few miles north of here. He became notable as an advocate of scientific farming, and experimented with different animal breeds and crops. In 1872, he ran for Congress (unsuccessfully). Before his death in 1886 he moved to Nashville where he served as state prison superintendent and Postmaster for the city.
(upper right) An unknown Southern munitions factory
(center) Captured Confederate cannons at Chattanooga made at Southern foundries.