Sunday, January 01, 2023

'I think we're on the wrong knob': A Tennessee adventure

From left: Civil War adventurers Taylor Agan, Jack Richards and John Banks.
A cropped enlargement of a wartime map shows Roper's Knob, the "fake" knob, the location
of U.S. Army troops and more. (Boyd Family Papers | Bancroft Library
| University of California-Berkeley)

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It’s only Day 1 of a new year, but my psyche has already suffered severe—and perhaps irreparable—damage.

Days ago, my Civil War adventurer pal Jack—who once hypnotized me at Fort Granger early one morning—suggested we climb Roper’s Knob, site of a U.S. Army signal station and blockhouse north of Franklin, Tenn.

Beer can, probably post-war.
“Heck, yes,” I said. “Let’s do it.”

I had hoped to bring Mrs. B, but she nixed that idea during a conversation remarkable for its brevity.

“Do you want to go to Roper’s Knob on New Year’s morning?”

“No.” So Jack invited our young friend Taylor, who has, like, 250 direct Civil War ancestors.

After a great breakfast—Taylor paid, so it tasted much better than a regular breakfast—we assaulted “Roper’s Knob,” passing old lawn chairs, climbing over an ancient farm wall, eluding barbed wire and plowing through nasty Osage branches.

After our arrival at the summit of “Roper’s Knob,” two members of our party came to a sad realization: “I think we're on the wrong knob.”

The real Roper’s Knob—much higher and steeper than the “fake” one—appeared in the near distance.

So we climbed the real Roper’s Knob—my ACLs shall weep for days—and discovered remains of a parapet, the possible remains of a cistern, one Budweiser beer can and a steel cable for who-knows-what.

In 1863, 50-some U.S. Army soldiers manned the blockhouse at the summit. In all, roughly 325 Union soldiers served up on the knob. What an adventure.


For more stories like this, read my book, A Civil War Road Trip Of A Lifetime, coming late-spring 2023. 🙏 Let’s keep history alive. 👊

Remains of a parapet at the summit.
Jack Richards and Taylor Again hold a steel cable discovered the the summit.
A close-up of the cable, perhaps used for logging.
The descent. Gulp.

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