Edmund Pettus, an Historical Figure of Both Selma and Chattanooga

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - by John Shearer
General Edmund Pettus
General Edmund Pettus

When students of American history hear the name Edmund Pettus, they might think of the bridge at Selma, Ala., named for him.

At that site in 1965, civil rights marchers were attacked by state troopers while beginning a walk to Montgomery to demand better voting rights for African-Americans. The event infamously became known as Bloody Sunday.

However, a century earlier, Edmund Pettus was on Lookout Mountain in another bloody event that also dealt with Americans trying to resolve disharmony – the Civil War.

Although his name is not often mentioned in Chattanooga as much as some of the more familiar commanding generals like Ulysses S. Grant or Braxton Bragg, he was still here as a Confederate brigadier general.

In fact, a historical marker at Point Park mentions his name.

Born in 1821 in Alabama, Edmund Winston Pettus attended Clinton College in Smith County, Tenn. A veteran of the Mexican-American War, he also served as a lawyer and judge.

When the Civil War broke out, the 40-year-old volunteered with the Confederacy. He served at Stones River and Vicksburg and was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the Army of Tennessee shortly before the battles in Chattanooga in November 1863.

On the day of the Battle of Lookout Mountain on Nov. 24, his brigade was said to have performed nobly, as it moved down from the top of the mountain and became engaged in conflict around the Cravens House.

The Confederates had held Chattanooga under siege since the Battle of Chickamauga two months earlier, and the Lookout Mountain battle was one of the beginning efforts by the Union to take control of Chattanooga.

Because of its railroads and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga was considered important logistically to control by the Union.

The battle of Lookout Mountain was fought under foggy conditions and Gen. Pettus remarked later of having trouble seeing.

However, what was clear, at least to historians later, was that the Confederates had little chance to beat the Union forces at Lookout Mountain.

Gen. Pettus and the others were said to have done a good job holding off the others as long as they did, despite the fact that the division commander, Brig. Gen. John Jackson, reportedly did not help adequately.

Gen. Pettus was sent later that day to the extreme Southern slope of Missionary Ridge and fought in equally futile action there on Nov. 25.

He also fought against Gen. Sherman around Atlanta.

By all accounts, he was a very brave and distinguished military leader.

In 1897, more than 30 years after the Civil War ended, he was elected as a U.S. senator from Alabama. He was said to be the last Confederate military commander to serve in Congress.

He continued as a senator until his death in 1907 while vacationing in Hot Springs, N.C., just across the state line from Newport, Tenn.

He was buried in Selma.

The bridge named for him was constructed in 1940.

It later helped carry civil rights marchers to the mountaintop, but in 1863, Gen. Edmund Pettus had literally enjoyed his own mountaintop experience fighting ably for the Confederacy on Lookout Mountain.


Jcshearer2@comcast.net


Books Available By John Wilson - Chattanooga's Story, Scenic, Historic Lookout Mountain, 2 Books On Hamilton County Families

John Wilson, former Hamilton County Historian, has written two volumes on the early families of Hamilton County and also books on Chattanooga and on Lookout Mountain. Chattanooga's Story is a 500-page complete history of Chattanooga. An updated edition was published in 2013. It is available for $35, plus $3 sales tax if a Tennessee resident. The paperback Scenic, Historic ... (click for more)

Tennessee Historical Commission Accepting Applications for Civil War Sites Grant Program

The Tennessee Historical Commission and Tennessee Wars Commission are requesting applications for projects to protect Civil War and Underground Railroad sites in Tennessee. The grants are funded through the Tennessee Civil War Sites Preservation Act, established in 2013. “This is a valuable source of funding to help conserve time-honored battlefield properties,” ... (click for more)

2 Missing Soddy Daisy Children Found Safe After Large Search

Two missing Soddy Daisy children were found Wednesday morning after a large search for the brother and sister, ages 4 and 7. Te children were located at 811 Sluder Road about two miles from their residence. According to the Soddy Daisy Police Department, the children are in good condition. Emergency medical assistance is not required. They had been reported as last seen ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Unsecured Creditors Committee Asks Trustee Be Appointed For Fort Oglethorpe Hospital; Asks Bankruptcy Not Be Dismissed

The Unsecured Creditors Committee of Hutcheson Medical Center is opposing a motion by U.S. Trustee Guy Gebhardt for a bankruptcy judge to dismiss the bankruptcy for the financially-ailing Fort Oglethorpe hospital.   Instead, the group is asking Judge Paul Bonapfel to appoint a trustee to oversee the Hutcheson finances. In a 16-page motion, the committee said if the bankruptcy ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Is Right On The Muslim Threat - And Response (2)

Sheriff Hammond is exactly correct on the Muslims in Tennessee.  He sees with clear eyes the problem with the Muslims in our state and country.  They do want to take over Tennessee.  Our politicians are selling us down the river and allowing the trouble makers to dig in like tics and suck out the life's blood of our Constitution and take us over.  They ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Barners Trounce Who?

There is a website known as Grammarly that just completed a profound study. An automated proof-reading company (who I hope never finds out about me) collected 100 comments that each included over 50 words from the comment blogs of the nation’s preseason Top 25 college football teams. Then they fed them into the company’s huge algorithm computer and checked each fan base for punctuation, ... (click for more)