A Reversal of Fortune: Germantown, Tennessee during the Civil War Era


This is the story of Germantown, Tennessee, of the community’s people and their perseverance. It paints a picture of a town that was mostly lost and the life of its citizens before, during and after the Civil War. The area and the larger context in which it lay set the stage for a community's rise and decline. Although today the present city of Germantown is enclosed within the urban environment of greater Memphis, in those days it was fifteen miles from the city and surrounded by farms, plantations and wild river bottoms. It was a land ideally suited for the cavalry raiders, Confederate partisans, guerrilla fighters and bands of deserters who plagued its people to the very last days of the war. Everywhere in the South, the war had both divisive and cohesive effects on society. Germantown’s formerly cohesive and peaceful community would suffer post-war racial and social tensions and violence, economic and sectarian division. If the scars of a fratricidal war fought at your door and the destruction of so much of your means had not been enough reason, the humiliation of Reconstruction with its allegations of treason guaranteed that Southerners would never forget the Civil War. Perhaps their romantic dedication to the “Lost Cause” helped plaster over unhealed social and psychological wounds. Some communities recovered while others did not. After a decade of recovery, Germantown nevertheless suffered the latter fate. The great Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878 was nearly a death knell. It would take almost a century before the town would begin to recover its former prominence and prosperity.

Illustrations, maps and photos enhance the text. Three appendices (Reconstructing the Roads of the Civil War Era; Identifying Men Who Served in the War; and, Assessing Population, Wealth and Productivity), a bibliography, notes, and an index to full-names, places and subjects add to the value of this work.

George C. Browder

2014, 5½x8½, paper, index, 512 pp.

ISBN: 9780788455971