by R. Smith Murray
Bragg, Sherman and the Duck Pond
By R. Smith Murray
The Duck Pond Cemetery was called the White Oak Cemetery until 1994
when it was officially named Chattanooga Memorial Park. It derives its
fame from being designated as Sherman's Hideout.
It has not always been the designated site of the hiding. In the 1960's
the Historic Marker for Sherman's Hideout was on Hixson Pike in the
In 1976, Roy Warren, a Red Bank businessman, made the argument that
the area of the "S" curves could not be the hideout because
the area around the "S" curves could be seen from Missionary
Ridge or from Confederate Pickets on the south side of the River and
since the hiding took place in late November, the foliage from the hardwood
trees would have been too scant to offer any concealment.
Mr. Warren said the hideout had to be in the area of the Duck Pond cemetery
as the site satisfied the requirement that it couldn't be seen from
Missionary Ridge, the south side of the river or from Lookout Mountain
as Stringer's Ridge would block the view from the mountain.
Geography supported the Duck Pond site. Further proof came from the
Chattanooga Area Relic & Historical Association. During construction
of the Brookwood Apartments (on the eastern periphery of the cemetery),
bullets were found which had been forcibly removed from the guns with
bullet pulling tools.
In 1976 Mr. Warren sent his findings, along with a Union Map, to the
Tennessee Historic Commission. More than ten years later, around 1987
the Marker was moved to the Duck Pond.
At the time of the Civil War the population on the North Shore of the
River was very sparse. The Walnut Street Bridge wasn't completed until
1890 and so most of this area was pastoral, farmland or forest.
After the Walnut Street Bridge was completed the area of the Duck Pond
was called Alta Vista and was part of a farm owned by J.E. Sawyer. It
was reached by traveling up the Dry Valley Road (today known as Dayton
Blvd.) and in the early 1890's was part of what was called Hill City.
In the early 1890's it was used as a park.
In 1895 this area was dedicated as the White Oak Cemetery by the Hill
City Methodist Episcopal Church. At the dedication they sang "Beulahland"
and referred to it as "God's Acre".
Until 1924 there were only 1700 graves and the area was swampy ground
and weed infested. However, in 1924 the Cemetery hired Harry Richey
as Caretaker, a job he held for sixty-five years. He put in the Duck
Pond and began landscaping in earnest, ultimately converting the area
to be shaped like a park.
The Duck Pond was built from a spring which originated from White Oak
Spring. Ducks were introduced in 1928.
In 1994 the White Oak Cemetery was bought by a Houston, Texas company,
called Service Corp. International, the nation's largest funeral chain.
They renamed it the Chattanooga Memorial Park.
Now let me go back and briefly outline Sherman's move into Chattanooga.
He marched his army from Mississippi to Bridgeport, Alabama in late
November 1863. From Bridgeport his army went through Moccasin Bend and
into these hills north of Chattanooga - that is into the Duck Pond area.
From Lookout Mountain the Confederates could follow all of Sherman's
moves until he disappeared into these northern hills.
The Confederates thought Sherman's Army (or at least the bulk of it)
was on its way to Knoxville.
In any case the Confederates were oblivious to the fact that Sherman's
Army was at the Duck Pond area. They didn't realize that Sherman's true
intention was to cross the Tennessee River and to attack the North End
of Missionary Ridge
Sherman crossed the TN River on November 24th and it wasn't until then
that Bragg and the Confederates became aware of his presence.
This Duck Pond area had proved to be an excellent hideout.
Interestingly, Sherman and Bragg became close friends prior to the Civil
War. Probably their friendship developed when they were both stationed
at Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, in the early 1840's.
Sherman saw Bragg as stern and severe but he also thought Bragg was
a man of great integrity.
While in Charleston Bragg took exception to a Charlestonian's remark
that North Carolina was merely a strip of land between two states. Bragg,
being from North Carolina, couldn't let the remark pass by. Instead
he challenged the man to a duel. Sherman stepped in and persuaded the
Charlestonian to apologize and thus avoided a duel.
They were also supportive of one another in other ways.
In 1853 Sherman gave up his army commission and began managing a bank
in California. In 1855 there was a run on the bank and Bragg left his
funds in Sherman's bank - which enabled Sherman and the bank to weather
Then in 1856 (after Bragg gave up his army commission), Bragg needed
money for a down payment to buy a sugar plantation in Thibodeaux, Louisiana.
He requested his money from Sherman's bank. Unfortunately, Sherman had
invested the money in San Francisco Warrants on which the city refused
payment. Sherman made up the difference from his own pocket and sent
the check to Bragg.
In 1860 Bragg was supportive of Sherman obtaining his post as Superintendant
of a new school in Alexandria, LA. The school was called The Louisiana
Military Seminary, and would later be L.S.U. Bragg supported Sherman
in the position even thought Bragg knew Sherman would resign if Louisiana
Both men detested Abolitionists, but Sherman couldn't tolerate succession.
It upset him to leave Louisiana and it was several months before he
rejoined the Union army. Despite the war, he and Bragg vowed to remain