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The Surrender of Clarksville at Fort Defiance

Story + Photography by Tony Centonze

Visitors were encouraged to visit Fort Defiance recently for a living history event as local Civil War reenactors commemorated the 1862 surrender of Clarksville.

“We held our annual surrender commemoration event,” Tracy Jepson said. “Fort Defiance, which was then called Fort Sevier, was surrendered to Union forces on February 19, 1862, after the fall of Fort Donelson.”

The fall of nearby Fort Donelson, according to historians, was the beginning of the Union's devastating march through the south. When Union soldiers arrived, the fort and the city of Clarksville were surrendered without a shot.

To mark the occasion, cannons were fired on an hourly basis and reenactors fired muskets as well, Inside the building, visitors viewed a display of antiquities from the period and enjoyed a traditional tea, complete with ladies dressed in 1860s attire.

“Our 19th century tea was led by Phyllis Smith,” Jepson said. “Everything was authentic to the 19th century-- the cookie and bread recipes and the tea. Then, we served it in real china because we wanted to recreate the feel of what it was like to have afternoon tea in the 1860s. It was a big part of the culture at that time-- to go to a friend's house and have tea together.”

Fort Defiance Civil War Park & Interpretive Center is located at 120 Duncan Street. For information, call (931) 472-3351.

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