The 2017 Civil War Tails calendar is now on our shelves! In it, you’ll find pictures from not only dioramas we have on display, but also a couple of dioramas that are in storage, awaiting release. One of these tells the story of Skull Camp Bridge. Never heard of it? Well . . .
On June 27, 1863, the Confederates evacuated Shelbyville, Tennessee, to avoid being cut off from the main army. Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s small force of cavalry formed the rearguard and fought to hold back the Union cavalry so that the wagon trains could escape and because they expected Gen. Bedford Forrest’s cavalry to join them shortly.
After much fighting, Gen. Wheeler withdrew over the bridge, figuring that Gen. Forrest was not coming after all. However, when he learned that Gen. Forrest was within sight of Shelbyville, he re-crossed the bridge with 400 volunteers. Things did not go well. The Union cavalry broke through his line and overran his cannons, and an overturned caisson blocked the bridge.
Some of the Confederates scattered up and downstream in the growing dusk. Some were captured. Sixty, with Gen. Wheeler, cut their way through the Union line and leaped at full speed into the river fifteen to twenty feet below. Only about twenty made it across the river. Gen. Forrest, hearing the firing, crossed safely four miles downstream.