Patrick Cleburne 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 "S" curves.
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 that crisis.
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 succeeded.
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 friends.