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160 Years Ago: Battle Of Dug Hill At White/Putnam Line

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
160 Years Ago: Battle Of Dug Hill At White/Putnam Line

160 years later, the Battle of Dug Hill that left some 40 Yankee soldiers dead in the Calfkiller Valley remains one of the bloodiest skirmishes in the Upper Cumberland’s history.

The battle happened February 22, 1864 near the White/Putnam County line. Putnam County Historian Dale Welch said Yankee soldiers marched from Sparta to Putnam County looking to stop local “bushwhackers” from robbing and harassing families living in the area. Welch said instead, they were ambushed by Confederate soldiers, leading to one of the most memorable melees the region has ever seen.

“They weren’t from Michigan or Iowa, they were from Tennessee,” Welch said. “They were neighbors. They were from Putnam, Smith Counties. Van Buren County. Just like the people from around here, they were friends and neighbors.”

Welch said the battle is a testament to how ruthless people had to be during the time. He said though these men shared their Upper Cumberland home, Confederates used rocks to bash the heads of Yankee soldiers and ensure they were dead. He said though there is little recognition of the battle and no monument at the site, it is a vital piece of Upper Cumberland history with lessons that ring true well over a century later.

“It shows how ruthless people can be to their friends and neighbors,” Welch said. “You’re supposed to study things like that so you don’t repeat it.”

Welch said that after hearing that Union Colonel William B. Stokes had raised a black flag, indicating that they intended to leave behind no survivors and take no prisoners, the Confederates went on the offensive. He said they sent out two decoys and upon giving chase, the Union soldiers fell right into the trap. He said it is estimated that only one-third of the Union soldiers escaped and returned to Sparta.

“It was more of a skirmish than a battle, but the whole purpose of Colonel Stokes’ men being stationed in Sparta was to get rid of all of the guerillas and the regular Confederates in the area to return order to their people,” Welch said. “But they were just as ruthless as they were.”

Welch said the story is still discussed in Civil War history studies and groups like the Sons of Confederate Soldiers and their Sons of Union Soldiers counterparts.


The post 160 Years Ago: Battle Of Dug Hill At White/Putnam Line appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.