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Wilson County featured on cover of new Tennessee Civil War Trails Guide

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Just in time for Memorial Day, the Wilson County Convention and Visitors Bureau announces the release of the new Tennessee Civil War Trails Guide and the dedication of the Battle of Lebanon marker.The cover of the new Tennessee Civil War Trails Guide features the historic Neddy Jacobs Cabin on the Lebanon Square. The Battle of Lebanon maker was recently dedicated by Commissioner Susan Whitaker of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development along with local officials. The marker is one of 150 markers throughout the state.Wilson County honors its sacrifices this month from the Civil War, when Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his army were defeated on May 5, 1862 in the Battle of Lebanon by Union General Ebenezer Dumont and his troops. The Civil War Sesquicentennial begins in 2011 in America, when local chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy are also planning to have special events around Lebanon.“You invite people in, they learn about the heritage, and stay in local communities,” Whitaker told the dignitaries from Wilson County such as Norm Hill, a member of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, in attendance at the May 17 festivities. “This is such a tribute to you that this made the cover.” Memorial Day is the perfect occasion for visitors to Wilson County to remember these soldiers, since the holiday began as “Decoration Day” around 1868 when Americans began adding more flowers to graves after the Civil War. A Tennessee governor, Union Brigadier General William Bowen Campbell is one of more than 150 men who are buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Lebanon. Nine of them were interred there from the Battle of Lebanon, besides Morgan’s widow. “Confederate Memorial Day” is still observed in regions of the South like Alabama and Texas, sometime between January and May. Before you drive in Wilson County along the Tennessee Civil War Trails, “research and seek those areas that have an interest to you and your family be it in battle sites, letters, Native American or African American - all are included here,” Hill said. “Find out how amazing it is that the early settlers survived, many of whom still have descendants here.”  Wilson County embodies the Civil War, which is why it was selected to be represented on the opening page of the Tennessee Civil War Trails Guide, of which 500,000 copies will be distributed this year, said Director Dr. Carroll Van West of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area at this May 17 dedication. Two Civil War re-enactors, Martin Frost, as Confederate General Robert H. Hatton, and Chad Mitchell, as an infantryman, also came in uniform from SCV Robert H. Hatton Camp #723 to the Square that day. Prominent SCV and UDC members Jack and Ruth Cato of Wilson County were also at the ceremonies. From occupation to emancipation and reconstruction, Lebanon and the surrounding towns in Wilson County went through every period of the Civil War, said West, who is also the director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where he is a professor of History. Confederate General John Wheeler’s unit was camped in Lebanon during a raid in August 1864 in Tennessee, when “a deathlike stillness prevailed” along what is now Castle Heights Avenue.Yet, Civil War artifacts from Wilson County and the Battle of Lebanon can be “extremely rare,” or “specific items” are already in collections, Hill said. Workshops in all 95 counties are being held by the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) before the Sesquicentennial for anyone who wants identify and preserve their memorabilia. In Wilson County, the date has not yet been scheduled.Tennessee’s Civil War Trails Guide is available for free at the 14 Welcome Centers just off the interstate in the Volunteer State. The public can also get them at city chambers or county tourism offices, such as Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau in Lebanon. In Middle Tennessee, drivers can take the Civil War Trails from Summertown through Gallatin.Lebanon has four Civil War signs, which will be among the 150 displayed in Tennessee by the end of 2010 for the Civil War Sesquicentennial. In Wilson County, the other three can be found now at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Seawell Hill Camp and Hatton House. “We want these markers to serve as a reminder that there are lots of things to see” in Wilson County along the Tennessee Civil War Trails, Hill said to the crowd at the May 17 event. “The whole world misses Tennessee if they stay on I-40.” Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial will officially begin on Nov. 12-13 in Nashville with living history demonstrations by interpreters at the Bicentennial Mall, along with other activities at the TSLA, War Memorial Auditorium, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), Whitaker said. For more information on Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial, go to Wilson County is in the Cumberland River Corridor in the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, which is the only state having this distinction by the U.S. Congress in which every county is represented from the Civil War. For more information, go to learn more about Wilson County, visit online at
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