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1875 Living History Event

Greenback , Tennessee
The Tabernacle Shed
The Tabernacle Shed. Image provided courtesy of the event coordinator.
Event Dates
external link iconJun 14 to Jun 16, 2024

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National Campground Rd, Tennessee 37742, USA
Lat: 35.6887, Long: -84.220

Details

In 1873, a group of Union and Confederate veterans and their families met for religious services in Greenback, Tennessee.  The next year, using lumber donated by local farmers, an open-air tabernacle shed was constructed with religious services held there EVERY year since. The National Campground Association, the Greenback Historical Society and the Knoxville Civil War Round Table are honored to produce this living history weekend at the National (Union) Campground, a nationally and state-recognized historic site which is part of the Tennessee Civil War Trail

  • 1875 attire requested.            
  • Worship services Saturday and Sunday.    
  • History tours on site.              
  • Sutler’s Row.          
  • Vintage baseball games.       
  • 1875 music
  • Antique/Historic Quilts
  • Women’s Temperance League. 
  • On site rustic camping
  • Nearby RV camping
  • No weapons.

Additional Information

The historic National (Union) Campgrounds will come alive again during a living history weekend scheduled for June 14-16, 2024. 

Founded in 1873 by Union and Confederate Civil War veterans and their families, annual fellowship and religious services provided healing and reconciliation between East Tennessee neighbors who fought on both sides. Since then, the campground has been in use continually with the 1874 addition of a tabernacle shed constructed using donated lumber and volunteer labor (photo).

The 1875 Reconciliation Bivouac Living History weekend will include period reenactors, vintage baseball games, a sutlers row, period music, a Women’s Temperance League booth as well as a vesper service on Saturday afternoon and a worship service Sunday morning.  Throughout the weekend, historic tours will be conducted at the tabernacle shed, at the historic spring and at the nearby quarry. 

 

 

Rustic camping will be available on the campgrounds just like it was in 1875.  RV and other camping are available nearby.

The public is invited to attend and encouraged to wear period attire.

The National (Union) Campground is located at 1819 King Road, Greenback, TN.  It is on the Tennessee DOT Civil War Trail and has been given national and state historic designation. 

The event is supported by the National Campground Revival Association, by the Greenback Historical Society, by the City of Greenback and by the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable.

Knoxville Civil War Round Table event project leader Tim Dake said, “Sickness, injuries and animosity caused by the Civil War continued well after the guns fell silent in 1865.  Using the camp meeting format, Loudon County veterans were successful in providing reconciliation for both the soldiers and for their families.”  The 1875 Reconciliation Bivouac will be a unique Civil War living history weekend since no black powder, cannons or rifles will be used with few, if any, uniforms present. 

According to early National Campground Revival Committee documents, the campground was founded in 1873 for the purpose of “worship, religious purposes and educational meetings.”  A resolution in the old minute book reads, “Whereas a few well disposed Christian men conceived the idea in the year 1873, to hold a tabernacle meeting in Loudon County, Tennessee and in order to promote the cause of our Great Redeemer and unite the different denominations in Christian fellowship, also to allay feuds engendered by the late National  difficulties (Civil War) and in September 1873, held a meeting with temporary fixtures in a tent, the public seeing the object and success of same, came forward and subscribed hundreds of dollars to make it a permanent place for yearly worship, placed it in the hands and under the management of the board of trustees who expended the same in purchasing several acres of land and erecting thereon a commodious tabernacle shed building for continuance of camp meetings.”

The original committee to build the tabernacle shed included J.H. Donaldson, James Matthews, John Jackson, Charles P.T. Davis, Enoch Hughes, J.C. Wyley and Andrew Carpenter. 

Taking advantage of the sloping terrain, the committee created an open-air place of worship using hand hewn timbers.  Many are still solid although several years ago the shake cedar roof was replaced with metal.  The front of the tabernacle includes ample room for a choir and a pulpit. Electrical power was also added in later years.

Seats for the tabernacle shed were built and installed in 1874 by H.Y. Griffitts for a cost of $12.  The cost was reduced to $6 after a Committeeman said $12.00 was too much. Using the same lumber from the “Blue Sinks” sawmill, John Davison is said to have constructed the first fence around the campground for a cost of $100.00.

Donated by J.C. Wyley, the old bell still used today has been rung every September for 150 years, but is removed and stored when the campground is not being used.

For those not sleeping in tents or their wagons, there was even a boarding house on the campgrounds operated by H.K. Hughes. Until the invention of automobiles, campers arrived on horses, mules or in wagons.  C.P.T. Davis, owned the only buggy in the county and its arrival at a camp meeting caused such commotion the meeting almost broke up.

The National Campground Revival Committee enacted its own laws and also provided its own mayor, policemen and other officers. Violators were arrested and sentenced for “use of intoxicants,” for “entering the campgrounds in an intoxicated condition,” for “bringing any intoxicating liquors on the grounds” or for “selling any bitters.” Fines ranged from $2 to $200.

These laws were rigidly enforced with one intoxicated man being fined $100 which in 2024 is the equivalent of $2,600.

There were other laws to protect the property including the tabernacle shed, the trees and shrubs, the springs and “all other fixtures and everything appertaining thereto.”  Fines for theft, destruction and defacing were from $50 to $1,000. Another rule prohibited bringing any weapons onto the property.

In September 1873, Reverend Stamper from Athens, Tennessee and Reverend Criss conducted the first revival services.

In September 2023, the 150-year tradition continued with a week of worship lead by local pastors Charles Bailey, Todd Chancey, Doug Haag, Jordan Davis, and John Hunn.  Maryville’s Ronnie Phelps, Dotson Memorial Baptist Church music director, has been the revival’s music director for the past five years.

Since 1992, Greenback resident Jimmy Guider has chaired the National Campground Revival Committee.  The governing board includes members from a variety of denominations.  Guider said, “People come from all over, including out of state” to attend the services.

 

Reverend John Hunn, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Lenoir City, has participated for several years. Commenting on the campground and the meetings, he said, “it feels like you’re going back in time.”  Indeed!! 

More Information

PLEASE NOTE: The 1875 Living History Event is not organized by Milsurpia. Milsurpia is an event directory. All questions pertaining to the event should be directed to the venue or organizer

Mark your calendars today so you don't miss the next 1875 Living History Event in Greenback, Tennessee in June

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