southwest of Decherd, Winchester is one of the oldest towns in middle
Tennessee. It was a stop along the old stage and post road that ran
from Virginia down through Knoxville, Sparta, McMinnville, and
Huntsville to New Orleans. As well, its location on Boiling Fork Creek
in the Elk River valley made it part of the cotton boom of the early
trans-Appalachian southwest. Thus, Winchester developed quickly,
featuring, among other sites, Carrick Academy dating from 1809. Then,
the town’s position was further enhanced when, a few years after the
creation of Franklin County (1809), Winchester beat out rival Cowan to
become the local seat of government (1814). In the early days, the town
became important in the shipment of cotton down the Elk to the
Tennessee, then to the Ohio, then to the Mississippi, then to New
Orleans. It also became notable for education, boasting the Winchester
Female Academy (1835), sponsored by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
and Mary Sharp College, founded in 1850 as the Tennessee and Alabama
Winchester was part of the campaign’s final movements. As Bragg’s army
left Tullahoma, it took a position momentarily in the
Cowan-Winchester-Decherd area. However, with his back to the Cumberland
Plateau and mentally undone by his inability to counteract Rosecrans’
movements, the Southern commander ordered a retreat. A little later,
Rosecrans made the town his headquarters for six weeks.
Historic and Historical Civil War Resources:
This house near the square dates to the 1830s and was used by General
William Rosecrans as his headquarters in early July. The house is
privately owned and does not give tours.
– Today a duplex with no period features intact, this structure was the
pre-war home of Confederate Major General A. P. Stewart.
– An 1897 brick jailhouse that sits on the site of the original county
jail and houses Civil War, World War II, Native American, and farm
artifacts and memorabilia. It also features a restored jail cell. Open
Franklin County Courthouse
- The building standing today was constructed in 1937 as a New Deal
public works project. However, it does sit on the original courthouse
site where Franklin County voted overwhelmingly to secede when the state
held their first referendum in February of 1861 and decided to stay in
the Union. Angry at the outcome, Franklin County tried to leave the
state and join Alabama.
Mary Sharp College
– The structure that housed Mary Sharp College for Women, no long
standing, was used to house Rosecrans’ staff while in Winchester. A
Franklin County office building now rests on the site. A state
historical marker designates the site.
Old Winchester City Cemetery
– The remains of 88 Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery,
almost half are unknown.
Beech Grove, Wartrace,