Friday, January 11, 2013

Lamb's Ferry

Lamb’s Ferry-The Sipsie Trail crossed the Tennessee River at Lamb’s Ferry some four miles south of the present-day Town of Rogersville, Alabama.  The Sipsie Trail was an Indian route that was used by Doublehead’s Chickamauga warriors during their attacks on the Cumberland settlements around present-day Nashville, Tennessee.  According to microcopy 208, roll 7, and number 3533, John Lamb was a Cherokee Indian; he signed a letter dated August 15, 1816, with The Gourd, Charles Melton, and other Cherokees.  These Cherokees along the Muscle Shoals requested by letter the return of Negro Fox to be tried by Cherokee law.  Negro Fox had left the area with James Burleson and other white men who had killed two Cherokees at Mouse Town.  

John Lamb had established his ferry that crossed the Tennessee River along the old Sipsie Trail before 1809; the trail had been widened to a wagon road by a mixed-blood Celtic Indian man by the name of McCutcheon in 1783.  McCutcheon, who was a Scots Irish Cherokee, opened the Sipsie Trail during the same period of time that Doublehead controlled the area of the Muscle Shoals.  From his stronghold along the Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River, Doublehead and his Chickamauga warriors used the Sipsie Trail to wage a bloody war against the Cumberland settlers around the Big Lick, present-day Nashville, Tennessee, until June 1795.  McCutcheon’s Trail led from present-day Spring Hill, Tennessee, to Pulaski, and to the Tennessee River south of present-day Rogersville.   

At the end of the Chickamauga War, Lamb decided that he would open and operate a ferry for people coming south from middle Tennessee; travelers could ride a ferry across the Tennessee River instead of fording the river on horseback.  When John Lamb started operating the ferry, the old Sipsie Trail to the north of the Tennessee River became known as the Lamb’s Ferry Road.  The Lamb’s Ferry Road intersected an east to west Indian trail known as the North River Road in present-day Rogersville.  The Sipsie Trail became known as the Cheatham Road from Tuscaloosa to Moulton, Alabama; it was known as the Lamb’s Ferry Road from the ferry crossing of the Tennessee River to Rogersville, to Minor Hill, Pulaski, and then to Nashville, Tennessee.

John Lamb’s Ferry became a thriving enterprise and was used by many travelers heading south of the Tennessee River; the crossing was in the area between Elk River Shoals which was upstream and Big Muscle Shoals which was on the downstream side of the ferry.  Lamb’s Ferry was located on the Tennessee River some six miles upstream from Shoal Town and downstream some five miles from the mouth of Elk River.  The river crossing was operated as a Cherokee Indian ferry until the area was taken by the Turkey Town Treaty of 1816; by 1818, a large number of white settlers flooded the Lamb’s Ferry area during the federal land sales.

Lamb’s Ferry was an important site during the Civil War.  According to Civil War journals, on May 4, 1862, Union General John Adams and his cavalry troops were at Lamb’s Ferry when they received orders to move down the Tennessee River to Bainbridge Ferry.  From May 10 through the 14, 1862, skirmishes between the Union and Confederate troops occurred around Lamb’s Ferry; the area remained occupied by Union soldiers until May 14, 1862.  On April 28, 1863, after trying to cover up Streight’s Raid through North Alabama, General Grenfield M. Dodge moved his Union troops toward Corinth, Mississippi.  As the Union forces were retreating, Dodge’s men burned Lamb’s Ferry, the Town Creek railroad trestle, and LaGrange College.  After the Civil War, a cotton gin and warehouses were built at Lamb’s Ferry; the ferry stayed in operation until the early 1900’s.  

1 comment:

  1. The 1836 Giles County District Maps depict a Lamb's Ferry Road from Pulaski toward the county's southwest corner.

    There's another Lamb's Ferry Road, in Lawrence County, TN between Jackson's Military Road and several mouth southeasterly in the direction of Lexington/Rogersville.

    Thank you, Butch, for your efforts.