ELIZABETHTON — During the Civil War, it wouldn’t have been all that uncommon to see slaves working in the fields while smoke rose into the sky from chimneys and campfires as Confederate soldiers camped around the property of the historic Reuben Brooks Farm in Stoney Creek, according to historian and re-enactor Grant Hardin.
The Brooks family was one of the most prominent Confederate families in Carter County, a predominantly pro-Union area. In the past, the county’s Civil War history has often been overlooked, but thanks to historians and re-enactors like Hardin, that history is beginning to resurface.
While still in its infancy, the annual “Battle of Brooks Farm” has become the county’s leading Civil War re-enactment, educating many about a time when much of Carter County and its surrounding areas were split politically, Hardin said.
“This area was split really bad but it wasn’t heavily populated, so thereby there wasn’t a lot of fighting except skirmishing and guerilla warfare,” Hardin said Saturday as the re-enactment kicked off its third year.
The house that sits on Brooks Farm, which is owned by Dr. Daniel Schumaier, was built in 1820, and was originally owned by Smith Peters, who was given a land grant for his service in the Revolutionary War. Later, the property was sold to Reuben Brooks, a plantation owner, before it was passed down to his son, William Brooks, who became an officer in the Confederate Army. During the Civil War, the property became a seat of the Confederacy in Carter County.
“It was a very important place, because people that had Confederate leanings and even irregulars stopped here. There’s lots of history that has taken place right at this spot,” Hardin said.
While the Battle of Brooks Farm never really took place, the skirmishes and other fights that took place on and around the property served as the inspiration for the weekend’s re-enactment, including the fight that led to the death of William Brooks on July 1, 1863.
While riding through Stoney Creek to recruit men to join his company, Brooks was shot and mortally wounded. He managed to reach his home and was carried upstairs to his bedroom, where he died. Hardin said Brooks’ bloodstains can still be seen on the floorboards of the room.
“So this house has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of that time,” he said.
In addition to the battle re-enactment, the event also featured a Civil War-era fashion show and demonstrations of the various types of soldiers who fought in the war, including infantrymen, cavalrymen and artillery men.
Hardin said re-enactments are some of the most educational ways of teaching people how the country was formed and the various “growing pains” it has endured.
“We fought the Civil War, establishing ourselves as a people by engaging each other and showing that even though we had a division among Americans big enough to cause such a horrendous war as that, they still came together and built a nation that’s now went to outer space,” he said.
Activities at the site will continue today. The Battle of Brooks Farm will be presented at 2 p.m., following a church service this morning.
To reach Brooks Farm, take Tenn. Highway 91 North (Stoney Creek Highway) from Elizabethton to Mile Marker 9, where the four-lane section of the highway ends. Turn right on Blue Springs Road and travel a quarter mile to the battle site on the left.