Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail
The Confederate Army of Tennessee occupied Chattanooga in early July, 1863. The Confederates were expecting the pursuing Federal Army of the Cumberland to cross the Tennessee River well above Chattanooga, cut off the Confederate forces at Knoxville, and attack Chattanooga from the north. Security for the Railroad was a primary concern. Learning that east Tennessee Unionists had burned two railroad bridges in the Tyner area, General Patrick R. Cleburne, an Irish born Division commander was sent to guard that area.
To protect the railroads at Tyner and defend the approaches to Chattanooga, Cleburne immediately began constructing four large earth-work redoubts, or forts, in and near Tyner's Station. With walls twelve feet high and 200 to 300 feet in diameter, the forts had embrasures for cannon and openings for rifles, and the works were surrounded by rifle pits. General Cleburne made his headquarters near one of the main forts at Tyner.
One of the soldiers later wrote that "While encamped at Tyner's General Cleburne kept the troops busy by drilling and by constructing forts and earthworks." The four forts constructed by Cleburne were built of earth with hand labor using picks, shovels and wheel barrows. The first fort was built a short distance south of the house that Cleburne used as his headquarters and about 2000 feet north of the railroad. It was also near the unfinished railroad from Tyner to Harrison. The second fort was built about 2000 feet south of the railroad. The third fort was constructed around 2000 feet north of the intersection of the modern U.S. highways 11 and 153, while the fourth was built on a hill about 2000 feet south of this intersection.
The Federal forces were very much aware of the significance of Tyner's Station. The records show that after the Confederate withdrawal to Georgia in September, 1863 the 123rd Illinois Mounted Infantry Regiment, with Wilder's Brigade of Mounted Infantry Regiment that included the 17th Indiana, and 92nd Illinois and Lilly's 18th Indiana battery, crossed the Tennessee River on September 10, captured a "large rebel mail" at Tyner's Station. Other sources indicate that Union troops burned two caissons at that location.
After the Battle of Missionary Ridge, the fort at Tyner was occupied by the Federal Army for the rest of the war. Colonel Horace Boughton of the 143rd New York Infantry, commanding a brigade including that unit, was in command at Cleveland with the responsibility of guarding the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, from Chattanooga to Cleveland, etc. Boughton reported on December 3, 1864, that he had 200 men and two pieces of artillery behind a good earthwork at Tyner's Station.
In October, 1864, Colonel Lewis Johnson, a German born Federal officer, was ordered to the fort at Tyner with the 44th US Colored Infantry Regiment. The 44th was a noted unit of the USCT that had been captured by the Confederates at Dalton, Georgia. While at Tyner, Colonel Johnson reorganized the regiment and got it up to strength through recruitment.