Coal Creek History Field Trip
Briceville 5th Grade
May 10, 2002

Re-enactment of the Battle of Fatal Rock
from the Coal Creek War of 1891--1892

During the Coal Creek War (1891-1892), free miners from the Coal Creek watershed fought the Tennessee Militia over the use of convict labor in area coal mines. On several occasions in 1891, thousands of free miners surrounded stockades where the convicts were quartered. Each time, guards and convicts surrendered and were marched to the train depot in Coal Creek (now Lake City) where they were transported to Knoxville. In response, the Tennessee Militia built Fort Anderson in January 1892 on Militia Hill near The Wye Community to restore order.

In August 1892, hostilities escalated. The militia captured one of the free miners, Dick Drummond, and lynched him at a railroad bridge in Briceville, now known as Drummond Bridge. In retaliation, the free miners laid siege to Fort Anderson. The commander of the fort, Colonel Keller Anderson, was captured by the free miners. Governor Buck Buchanan ordered a contingent of militia from Knoxville, led by Major Daniel (Old War Horse) Carpenter, to relieve the besieged fort. Newspaper articles predicted that "when Old War Horse gets to Coal Creek and gives the warhoop, the miners will hunt their hole".

Because the main road to Fort Anderson, through the Wye Gap, was heavily fortified at the "Miners’ Nest" on Walden Ridge, Major Carpenter attempted a rear attack. Before reaching the town of Coal Creek, the Knoxville Militia unloaded from a train at Offutts Depot. As shown on the attached map, they marched to the top of Walden Ridge along what is now Shultz Hollow Road. Knowing of this mountain road over Walden Ridge, the free miners had posted sentries. When the Knoxville Militia reached the top of Walden Ridge, during the early light and fog of August 19, 1892, the free miners were ready for them.

On May 10, 2002, the 5th grade class from Briceville Elementary School took a bus to the end of Shultz Hollow Road off Old Lake City Highway. They marched up the trail to the top of Walden Ridge, retracing the route followed by the Knoxville Militia in 1892. At what is now known as Star Rock, they saw where a sentry hollered "surround ‘em boys" making the Knoxville Militia think that they were surrounded by thousands of miners rather than six sentries. Instead of fighting, the Knoxville Militia retreated back to Knoxville thus ending the Battle of Fatal Rock.

Click on image to enlarge

Start of the hike at the home of Mr. David Kubat

Along the trail taken by the Militia in 1892
This is the same trail taken by John Hendren and other miners on their way to work everyday. Tara Lynn and cameraman Brian from Channel 10 "Live at Five" accompanied the Briceville students.
Skit performed by Briceville students of Major Carpenter being interviewed by a reporter and bragging about how when he gets to Coal Creek, the miners will "hunt their hole". Skit of the wild miner telling the militia to "git"!
Briceville 5th graders with Amy Dugger (front, center), our Coal Creek Scholar for 2002 Farewell message of John Hendren, who suffocated in the Fraterville Mine Disaster in 1902, being read over his headstone in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.
Listening to the song "When the Mines Grew Still in Fratersville" with Anita Feliciano (kneeling at right) reporter for The Clinton Courier News. Reciting of farewell message of Powell Harmon who died in the Fraterville Mine

Farewell message of Eugene Ault who died in the 1911 Cross Mountain explosion being read over his grave in Briceville Cemetery.

Briceville students searching Briceville Cemetery for the graves of miners killed in the Fraterville and Cross Mountain mine explosions

Briceville 5th graders on the steps of Briceville Community Church built in 1896 by Welsh immigrant coal miners on land donated to the community by Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Company.

Lunch at Cracker Barrel Restaurant
Musicians and singers Tony Thomas and Linda Gunderson performing songs about Coal Creek History

Link to The Courier News coverage

Link to thank-you notes in The Courier News

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