Coker Creek

Coker Creek (HM1FC4)

Location: Tellico Plains, TN 37385 Monroe County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 15.496', W 84° 17.477'

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Caught in the Middle

Here in the shadow of the Unicoi Mountains, the Coker Creek community suffered the effects of the Civil War. The conflict closed the lucrative gold mines here and brought devastation and terror to the inhabitants. Both the Union and the Confederate armies foraged for supplies from long-suffering civilians, while violent vendettas between rival bushwhackers continued for years.

Both armies used the Unicoi Turnpike Trail behind you (present-day Joe Brown Highway and Tennessee State Route 68) to move soldiers and supplies. Early in December 1863, after Confederated Gen. James Longstreet abandoned his siege of Knoxville, Union Gen. William T. Sherman ordered Col. Eli Long to pursue a Confederate wagon train south along this turnpike into northern Georgia. Long captured only a few of the 300 wagons.

Although the battles that occurred along the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad did not happen here, deserters from both sides—"bushwhackers"—attacked civilians and soldiers from behind trees, rocks, and curves. Reminders of murderous brutality are evident in the Coker Creek Cemetery. Lt. James K. Morrow, 3rd Tennessee Mounted Infantry (US), was "Bushwhacked on Steer Creek Road While Cradling Oats," according to his tombstone, five years after the war ended.

The community slowly rebuilt itself. Gold mining resumed by 1869 but never attained antebellum production levels.

Civil War veterans are buried in the nearby Ironsburg and Coker Creek cemeteries. These graveyards, which also hold the remains of bushwhackers and their victims, are reminders of an era when war and suffering dominated these mountains.

"(In the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains) the warfare between scattering bodies of irregular troops is conducted on both sides without any regard whatever to the rules of civilized war or the dictates of humanity. The murder of prisoners and non-combatants in cold blood has ?become quite common (as well as) almost every other horror incident to brutal an unrestrained soldiery." — N.C. Gov. Zebulon B. Vance


(lower left) Col. Eli Long - Courtesy Library of Congress

(center) Reverse of James K. Morrow tombstone - Monroe County Archives

(upper right) "Union Bushwhackers Attacking Rebel Cavalry," Junius H. Browne, Four Years in Secessia (1866)
HM NumberHM1FC4
Series This marker is part of the Tennessee: Tennessee Civil War Trails series
Placed ByTennessee Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 4th, 2014 at 12:51pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 746426 N 3905048
Decimal Degrees35.25826667, -84.29128333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 15.496', W 84° 17.477'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 15' 29.76" N, 84° 17' 28.62" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)423
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 100-198 Forest Rd 40, Tellico Plains TN 37385, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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