Germantown TN—After visiting with Harry and Becky Cloyes at Oaklawn Garden, I saddled up and rode a mile east back towards home, stopping at Fort Germantown park.
The park is nestled in the middle of a large neighborhood, adjacent to the same railway line that passes Oaklawn Garden.
The Memphis and Charleston Railroad line was once the only major link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. It was the most direct method to bring goods, including slaves, to the western edge of the nation and to the river that linked the Gulf Coast with the heartland.
Control of this line, was a critical factor in the early fall of Memphis and the western edge of the Confederate States during the Civil War. It was the reason for the particularly bloody battle at Corinth, where a major north-south rail line crossed this east-west line.
The small fort was built in June 1863 by Union forces to protect the railway, but abandoned less than five months later. Memphis was already occupied by Union troops in 1862, so I guess the railway didn't need much protection.
The little park is little-known, and I had never visited it before. The earthen redoubt still makes the fort's layout apparent, and a couple Civil War-era cannons lend an authentic touch.
It's a nice, quiet place in the middle of a neighborhood, other than the trains which pass about three times an hour on this still-busy rail line. The cannons have been silences, but the trains more than make up for the noise.
I'm amazed how many times I have passed this historic site, located less than a mile from where I've lived for nearly five years. The city treats it like a neighborhood park rather than a historical site, so there is no signage to direct travelers through the neighborhood to the fort.
I imagine that's how the people who live near this quiet little park prefer it.