When the Civil War broke out, Memphis declared its allegiance to the Southern cause.
In spite of the opposition from East Tennessee Union supporters, on June 8, 1861, Tennessee became the eleventh, and the last, state to join the Confederacy.
Memphis' crucial location on the Mississippi River focused Union and Confederate attention on the city. Locally, funds were appropriated for the city's defense. The riverfront was fortified with a barricade of cotton bales. Factories converted their production into support the war effort, and thousands of young men joined the Confederate forces. The Confederacy ordered the construction of a chain of forts and two gunboats.
Despite these preparations, one year later, on June 6, 1862, a superior Union fleet easily defeated the rebels. The Battle of Memphis lasted only ninety minutes.
10,000 spectators watched from the bluffs, and, with no serious resistance, Memphis was surrendered to the Union.