I wish I could explain (even to myself) where my interest in the Civil War comes from, and why it’s enough to make me want to visit every battlefield and historical monument I come across. All I know is that if I find a place related to the Civil War, I want to see it and understand what happened there.
This past Saturday, when our visit to Shiloh had to be cancelled once again, Brett and I decided we still wanted to get out and see something because the weather was so nice, so we headed south to the Stillhouse Hollow State Natural Area to check out the waterfall there and enjoy a hike.
On the way I spotted a sign along the highway for the Spring Hill Battlefield site and off we went. It took us a few minutes to locate the site as the parking area was so small, and the site looked like nothing more than a large field on the side of the road – we actually drove past it before we figured out where it was. We noticed when we arrived that besides a historical marker there was a trail cut up the hill, and a couple of signs so we decided to get out and see what it was all about.
The Spring Hill attacks took place on November 29, 1864, and lasted only a few hours. The most notable person involved at Spring Hill was Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest. He began the attacks but backed off when the Union forces initially gave back more than expected. Other generals continued the fight and the Confederates eventually defeated the Union forces that day. However, it might be said the fight actually ended as a draw: Union losses were less than those of the Confederates, and they were allowed to fully retreat during the night. The Union troops set up in Franklin, and the following day handed a heavy loss to the Confederate soldiers when they arrived from Spring Hill.
Saturday’s weather was perfect for walking, and our hike through the battlefield was lovely, about a mile to and from the car, with five boards erected along the way containing maps and other information. We left with a good understanding of what had happened there in 1864, and were glad we had decided to stop.
It took another 25 or so minutes to drive a bit further south to the Stillhouse Hollow State Natural Area. The parking lot there was larger than at the battlefield and was nearly full (cars were parked down on the highway), but we managed to find one open spot. The trailhead to the falls was well marked and we set off.
The trail started off fairly level, but it quickly turned steep and somewhat treacherous as we headed down to the stream – it appeared there had been several recent washouts with large rocks and plenty of tangled roots left uncovered. Because of my knee injury, downhill hiking can be difficult and painful, and in no time on this trail my knee was throbbing. But, we were determined to see the falls and kept going. In a couple of places bridges had been erected over the stream as well as a plank walkway where the trail had washed out beside the stream. The walk through the woods was lovely, cool, and we were accompanied by the sound of the stream flowing nearby the entire way.
We arrived at a point where the trail diverged – one way led to an overlook of the falls, the other led down to the bottom of the falls. We happened to meet another couple of hikers at that point and they said that while they were glad they went to the bottom it had been quite a strenuous hike. My knee was practically screaming at me at that point so we decided to stick to the overlook instead knowing that I would probably pay a heavy price for any further downward hiking. Several other hikers had made the same choice we did and were at the overlook when we arrived, but we could also see many people at the bottom.
Our decision turned out to be the correct one because the climb back up to the car from the overlook was just as difficult as the one coming down and just as steep, only in the other direction. Thankfully uphill climbs don’t bother my knee but I was gasping for breath by the time we got to the car. We still agreed that we want to try the hike again, when there was more water and we are in better shape (and I remember to wear a knee brace of some sort)! Kaipo turned out to be a great little hiker on this trip, and got along well with the many other dogs we met along the trail.
It was a great day to get out and be a local tourist. The weather was perfect, the drive easy, we saw nature at its best, and we learned something new. It doesn’t get better than that.