ABA Banking Journal - July 2010 - (Page 44)
First person | rex brotherton
Slice of history, preserved
Pivotal Civil War battle lives on thanks to two bankers’ efforts
Quests take time. This particular
quest took 23 years, beginning in 1987. But in a way, it began when a six-year-old boy saw his first Civil War cannon. Like many working farm families, the Brothertons didn’t take a lot of vacations except for trips to local points of interest. One of those trips was to Shiloh, in western Tennessee, site of one of the Civil War’s biggest battles. Once young Rex Brotherton got a glimpse of the hundreds of cannon standing vigil at the site, “the bug bit,” as he puts it. The now 50-year-old banker has been a Civil War buff ever since. Brotherton is a vice-president and lending officer in the La Grange office of the Bank of Fayette County, Rex Brotherton outside the La Grange branch of The Bank of Fayette County. a $300 million-asset institution based The cannon and the ante-bellum architecture reflect the area’s history. in Moscow, Tenn., east of Memphis. The largest Civil War battle in westmore acreage, so that today 850 ern Tennessee, next to Shiloh, took place just east of La Grange. Known as the acres are owned by the state surbattle of Davis Bridge, it involved about 20,000 Union and Confederate troops. rounding the original tract. A hisThe fierce, one-day fight occurred on Oct. 5, 1862. Here is a brief recounting: toric schoolhouse will serve as park Seeing an opportunity to trap the Confederate army retreating from the headquarters, and money has been battle of Corinth, Miss., Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered Union forces to appropriated to build a bridge at the block the Rebels’ escape route at Davis Bridge over the Hatchie River. Consite of the original span. federate Gen. Earl Van Dorn found another crossing farther south, but had Brother ton is grateful to his to hold the Federals at Davis Bridge to gain time. One brigade after another employer, led by CEO McCall Wilof exhausted troops were sent up to the bridge where they were able to delay son, for the support he’s received. the Union advance long enough for the battered Rebel army to escape. “We’re a little community bank and Unlike many Civil War battlefields, little changed at the Davis Bridge site we believe banking is more than just for the next 125 years—it remained mostly farmland. In 1987, when an day-to-day operations,” he says. A opportunity came along to purchase five and a half acres where the bridge 23-year community project might had been, Brotherton and a close friend, Herbert Wood, a banker at another test the patience of even the most bank, purchased the tract with help from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. ardent local banker, but in Brother“We just got the notion, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could preserve the ton’s case, it was a labor of love. memory of all these people who fought in this battle,” Brotherton recalls. For more detail about the battle “Our goal, even back in 1987, was to some day give the site to the National go to www.civilwar.org/battlefields/ Park Service. It took 23 years to get it done, but in April we deeded the origdavis-bridge.html. n inal five and a half acres to the Park Service.” — Bill Streeter The two men formed a foundation to raise funds and gradually added
44 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | July 2010
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