Travellers Rest

The 1799 Home
Judge John Overton

Civil War at Travellers Rest

Visit our Civil War Exhibit

The Battle of Nashville, History Unfolds at Travellers Rest! tells the story of Travellers Rest and those who lived there during the Civil War. Artifacts, a video, an interactive touch screen, exhibit panels and maps help our visitors understand this crucial time in American history and one family who endured its challenges. Admission to this award winning exhibit is included with your ticket.


The Overton Family’s Journey Through the Civil War

John Overton, Judge John Overton’s son, had opposed Tennessee’s proposed secession from the Union. However, with the firing on Ft. Sumter and President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men to put down the rebellion, Overton, like many other middle Tennesseans, supported the move towards secession when a second vote was taken in June 1861.

Nashville held a key linkage to the deeper South with its transportation lines and central geographic location. Thus control of the city became a prime military objective of the Federal Army. In February 1862, the city became the first Southern capital to be captured and President Lincoln quickly appointed Andrew Johnson as Military Governor of the state. Johnson was determined to reconstruct Tennessee’s political class. He ordered those supporting the Confederacy to be seized and imprisoned until they swore loyalty oaths to the Union.

Overton refused, and a bounty of $5,000 was issued for his capture. Wishing to avoid imprisonment John Overton left Tennessee and his wife, Harriet Maxwell Overton, operated the plantation in his absence. Throughout the war she, her sisters, and their children made Travellers Rest their home. Soon after the occupation of Nashville, Union General James Negley and his troops encamped on the Overton property for a time.

When the Confederate Army of Tennessee returned to Union occupied Nashville in December 1864, Travellers Rest served as headquarters for Confederate General John Bell Hood for two weeks prior to the Battle of Nashville. John Overton returned with Hood to the house for what is believed the first time since he fled the city in 1862. Following the Battle and the Confederate retreat, Union General Washington Elliott came to Travellers Rest, and his units camped on the grounds.