Slice of History, Preserved: Pivotal Civil War Battle Lives on Thanks to Two Bankers' Efforts

Article excerpt

Quests take time. This particular quest took 23 years, beginning in 1987. But in a way, it began when a six-year-old boy saw his first Civil War cannon.

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Like many working farm families, the Brothertons didn't take a lot of vacations except for trips to local points of interest. One of those trips was to Shiloh, in western Tennessee, site of one of the Civil War's biggest battles. Once young Rex Brotherton got a glimpse of the hundreds of cannon standing vigil at the site, "the bug bit," as he puts it. The now 50-year-old banker has been a Civil War buff ever since.

Brotherton is a vice-president and lending officer in the La Grange office of the Bank of Fayette County, a $300 million-asset institution based in Moscow, Tenn., east of Memphis.

The largest Civil War battle in western Tennessee, next to Shiloh, took place just east of La Grange. Known as the battle of Davis Bridge, it involved about 20,000 Union and Confederate troops. The fierce, one-day fight occurred on Oct. 5, 1862. Here is a brief recounting:

Seeing an opportunity to trap the Confederate army retreating from the battle of Corinth, Miss., Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered Union forces to block the Rebels' escape route at Davis Bridge over the Hatchie River. Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn found another crossing farther south, but had to hold the Federals at Davis Bridge to gain time. One brigade after another of exhausted troops were sent up to the bridge where they were able to delay the Union advance long enough for the battered Rebel army to escape. …