When the Civil War erupted, Chattanooga was of strategic importance. During the ensuing battles, Confederate General E. C. Walthall made the Cravens House his headquarters, perhaps sharing it with the Cravens family until US bombardments force the family to evacuate. In late 1863, US forces commanded by General Joseph Hooker defeated Confederates during the Battle of Lookout Mountain, nicknamed "The Battle Above the Clouds."
Though damaged, the house survived the battle but did not survive the aftermath. Hundreds of soldiers and news correspondents who had set up camp in the front yard and around the house, virtually dismantled the wooden portions save for a few large framing timbers. According to contemporary accounts, the troops and camped journalists used much of the wood for tent flooring and firewood; a large amout was also carried away by souvenir hunters. The wood-framed gable roof of the dairy suffered the same fate.
Cravens returned and built his second residence, the one preserved today, in 1865/1866.
By the time of the Civil War, Robert Cravens was one of Chattanooga's most industrial citizens. His white house, sitting on the side of Lookout Mountain, became a focal point prior to and during the Battle of Lookout Mountain.
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Last updated: April 27, 2021