Fryar Cemetery is in an area steeped in Civil War history. Especially notable is The Battle of Wauhatchie.
I have passed the monument hundreds of times. On my way into Chattanooga on trips from Nashville and Huntsville and from anywhere west of the city, I spy it within my peripheral vision just off the Tiftonia exit several miles prior to the end of Interstate 24.
A Civil War Monument
A large diameter sphere sits atop a column largely obscured by Tennessee’s unofficial “weed”, the Mimosa tree. Once off the interstate, other distractions obscure my view of the monument. The Golden Arches of McDonald’s and a smiling Hardee’s star rise above all local remembrances of the Civil War. In fact, when I see all the fast food restaurants, I chuckle (ironically) at the thought of what went on here in late October 1863.
The Battle Of Wauhatchie
During the Battle Of Wauhatchi, Union supply lines were a prime target for Confederate troops. Starving the invading northern soldiers would force their retreat. At least, that’s what Confederate General Braxton Bragg anticipated. However, the fight, decided in large part by the actions of Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr, opened the Cracker Line. The Cracker Line allowed supplies to reach Union troops. This newly acquired availability of supplies fueled their Battle for Chattanooga in November of that same year. It was to his cunning in battle that the Von Steinwehr Monument was dedicated. The monument, dedicated to a man who fought a battle to ensure his troops would not starve, now stands amongst a collection of fast food signs. I mean no disrespect when I point out the irony.
I reached the Von Steinwehr Monument by pulling onto Parker Lane in between the aforementioned McDonald’s and a Quality Inn. The lane is blocked after a 1/4 mile. However, I parked and walked the rest of the way via a graveled road.
The Road To Fryar Cemetery
After viewing the monument, I continued along the gravel road. Imagining the history and the battle which took place in these hills, I was sure there must be a Civil War burial ground nestled somewhere on this wooded land.
The constant roar of 18-wheelers and the deafening rumble of a nearby freight locomotive detracted from my harkening to an earlier time when gunshots and canon fire would have been equally as loud. The gravel roadway stretched onward through a tunnel beneath the railway and alongside a meandering creek.
No Civil War burial ground was to be found.
The easy downward slope of the road came to an end at the beginning of a steep incline cresting at the top of the hill. Vegetation gave way to a chain link fence and within its confines I noticed the familiar shapes of tombstones in an upland south cemetery. In this case, Fryar Cemetery.
Fryar Cemetery is denoted by several of its earliest burials from 1855. The Fryar family name is inscribed on many gravestones here. The Hixson (in some cases “Hixon”) families also represent early burials.
One of the most notable burials is that of Wauhatchie Bill. William Fryar (“Wauhatchie Bill”) is famous for wearing a Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen pin on his lapel. This angered the railway union greatly. Bill was arrested for wearing the pin since he was not an accepted member of the Brotherhood. Seeing his misdeed, he agreed to remove the pin and was fined $10 for the misdemeanor.
This land is now within the boundaries of Reflection Riding; a protected area. The land is well kept and pleasant to explore although it does not appear to be currently active. The most recent burial was in 1984.