At over 150 years after the battle, it is difficult to pinpoint exactlywhere the battle took place. Relying on eyewitness descriptions, we can get close.
William B. Hyder described the location as follows:
".. Col. Wm. B. Stokes sent out a Scout with Captan Ahern at the Head of the Column Command of the Squad and about 10 miles North East of Sparta, at a place Called the Dug out Hill, a Narrow place Between the Mountain and the Bank of the Little River that is called the Calf Killer runs out of the Mountain down the Valley by Sparta …"
John W. Clark described the location as follows:
"... One line was up to our right, on high ground about three hundred feet above us. We were in the Dug Hill road, which ranged around the mountain about 600 years from where we entered it. At the loose end of this hill was another line of battle. By this time another line had formed behind us, and the Johnnies were cross-firing on us three ways. ..."
James Mahan had told his brother, Isaac Mahan, about the battle after the end of the war. Isaac relayed the events to historian Will T. Sewell, who published the story in the Putnam County Herald.
"... In the afternoon of the above date just after entering the valley of the Calfkiller, two well mounted Confederates were spied in the road before the advancing Federals. They fired, at the same time wheeling their horses and dashed back down the valley. Pursuit was immediately given, which led them into an ambuscade. The Confederates, about 40 in number, were hidden behind large boulders in the ivy and laurel just above the road, and were not seen until it was too late. ..."
In his report on the Skirmish at Calfkiller Creek, Colonel William B. Stokes described the location of the battle as follows:
"On the 22d instant, two companies of my command, when returning from a scout on Calfkiller River, were attacked by a portion of Hugh's men, numbering 300, under command of Hughs, Herguson, Carter, and Bledsoe. After fighting some time they were surrounded and overwhelmed. The officers (6 in number) with 45 men have come in through the hills."
The Compiled Military Service Records of the men killed are much more vague indicating that they were killed in action near Johnson's Mill or in a battle near the Calfkiller River.
Historian Will T. Hale interviewed many citizens of White County many years after the battle. He published this description:
"They selected the precipitous borders of the Dug Hill road. This road leads out of Dry Valley into the mountains. On either side were immense boulders and scrub cedars and laurel-- an ideal place for concealment; and beside this desolate road they waited patiently for their prey."
With this information, there are two possible locations which are close to each other.
LOCATION #1: Given that modern day roads often follow the same path as roads of yesterday, the first possible location is along Highway 84, north of France Cemetery and south of England Cove Road.
- GPS: 36.031578, -85.337311
- MAP: Click here for link
- SATELLITE VIEW: Click here for link
- ONLINE WALK OF HIGHWAY 84: Click here for link
PHOTOS (Click to Enlarge)
LOCATION #2: Using a topographical map, the second possible location is northwest of England Cove Road across Highway 84. This area is inaccessible today.