Hidden beneath the tall buildings and major venues of Downtown Memphis lies General Washburn’s Escape Alley, which is home to a significant piece of Memphis history.
Union Major General C.C. Washburn was in Memphis during the Union army’s occupation of the city during the Civil War. The alley, which runs from Front Street to Autozone Park, backed-up to the General’s home.
In 1864, General Washburn declared martial law in Memphis in an attempt to prevent Confederate sympathizers from providing aid to Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was undaunted by these measures, however, and, in the early morning hours of August 21, 1864, he raided the city of Memphis, destroying Union supplies and lines of communication as well as looking to capture several Union generals.
This raid surprised a sleeping General Washburn, who fled his home and escaped through the alley wearing only his nightshirt. His uniform and sword were seized by the raiders but returned under truce the following day.