Memorial.
Plenty of room for a crowd at the Bridge-Burners memorial.

Memorial and Graves of the Bridge-Burners

Field review by the editors.

Midway, Tennessee

The Bridge Burners were East Tennessee men, loyal to the Union, who devised an audacious scheme to burn every Tennessee railroad bridge between Virginia and Georgia in a single night, crippling the South's ability to fight the war. On November 8, 1861, the Lick Creek Bridge and four others went up in flames, but the plot otherwise fizzled out.

The execution.
Hanging of Jacob Harmon and his son, Henry.

Five of the arsonists were captured and quickly hanged; two were buried in their family graveyard only a few hundred feet from the Lick Creek Bridge that they'd burned. The South vilified them, and the North essentially forgot them until 2002, when a small memorial to the hanged men was erected next to their graves on the anniversary of the bridge burning. It mentions that the five hanged men "left nearly twenty fatherless children" -- and their executions also left a lot of bad feelings in East Tennessee, which got revenge with its own hanging two years later.

Graves.

Memorial.

The memorial and graveyard stand on an empty, windswept plot of land. The creek is still there, but the Bridge Burners' closest neighbors are now an aluminum recycling plant and a Walmart warehouse.

Memorial and Graves of the Bridge-Burners

Address:
Old Knoxville Hwy, Midway, TN
Directions:
I-81 exit 23. Turn north onto onto US Hwy 11E. Drive two miles. Turn right onto Bridge Burners Blvd (toward the Wal-Mart distribution center). Drive a half-mile. Turn left at the stop sign. Drive a half-mile. You'll see a flagpole and the monument on the left, in a field of grass; the cemetery is behind it. Small road leads to both.
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In the region:
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December 11, 2019

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