A lonely one lane road, mostly gravel, leads up to a small cemetery deep in the hills of Pickett County along the Cumberland Plateau. While this may seem like an ordinary place it borders the extraordinary when you realize what happened here. This is Travisville, the place where the Civil War came to Tennessee. The fighting here in September of 1861 was short lived and until recently was not even considered part of the Civil War.
Travisville lies just a few miles from the Kentucky state line making it a pivotal location as the Civil War began. However its remoteness made its residents feel secure from the growing conflict around them. An historical marker next to the cemetery outlines what happened. Union forces wanting to secure the borders learned of a Confederate camp in Travisville, moved in and had the Rebels heading into the hills.
As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Travisville should be on your list of places to visit. While the site is small when compared to places like Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain, it is in some ways equally important. Nothing was decided at Travisville, but what happened here illustrated just where this conflict was heading and that no one would be immune from its consequences.
The Travisville Cemetery dates back to 1800. The headstones contain the surnames of a handful of families who called the area home. The cemetery is still used today. One of the men who died in the battle at Travisville is buried there, too. James Saufley was a law school graduate who was apparently convinced to join the Confederates staged in the area.
As you look out from the cemetery you see a rugged landscape of sharply sculpted hills lined with fields and trees. There are no buildings in sight and the serenity of the place makes you forget the violent confrontation that happened here 150 years ago.
Travisville lies just a few miles north of Pall Mall, home of the legendary World War I hero Sergeant Alvin C. York. The Travisville historic site lies just off US 127 near the historic Forbus General Store, a little over two hours from Knoxville.