Tag Archives: Civil War Knoxville

Fort Sanders sesquicentennial for Black Friday

In 1863 Nov. 29 fell on a Sunday instead of a Friday, but it was a pretty black day nonetheless, at least for the hapless Rebel soldiers who launched a disastrous assault against Fort Sanders at Knoxville.  Those twenty bloody minutes ended Longstreet’s effort to re-take the city for the Confederacy, following its occupation by Burnside that September.

The attack on Ft. Sanders was neither a particularly big battle as far as Civil War engagements went nor as consequential as what was going on down in Chattanooga.  But it’s a pretty big deal for history buffs here in my neck of the woods, so here’s another anniversary link-fest for you.

  • Knoxville’s own historical columnist Jack Neely on the assault
  • The Knoxville News-Sentinel‘s sesquicentennial coverage of the war in East Tennessee
  • If you haven’t seen the McClung Museum’s exhibit on Ft. Sanders, you should definitely check it out.  They have fossils, too!  (By the way, that new Edmontosaurus is now called “Monty.”)
  • The East Tennessee Historical Society has some nifty Civil War displays of their own, and they’re commemorating the Ft. Sanders anniversary with a free admission day.
  •  Need to read up on the contest for control of Knoxville?  I recommend The Knoxville Campaign by Earl Hess, Lincolnites and Rebels by Robert Tracy McKenzie, and Divided Loyalties by Digby Gordon Seymour.  For additional background, try Noel Fisher’s War at Every Door and W. Todd Groce’s Mountain Rebels.
  • Last year we paid a virtual visit to the site of the battle.  The fort is long gone, but there are still a few landmarks from the Knoxville Campaign around.  Click here to book a guided tour, or stop by Longstreet’s headquarters and the Mabry-Hazen House.
  • Watch the battle reenacted at a replicated Ft. Sanders, constructed for a documentary produced in conjunction with the McClung Museum’s exhibit.
  • And finally, here’s a depiction of the attack by Lloyd Branson, the same Tennessee artist who did the painting of the Sycamore Shoals muster at the top of this blog:

Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Appalachian History, Civil War, Tennessee History

Oh, and speaking of Knoxville’s relationship to the Civil War

…there’s a new Knoxville Civil War Gateway on the corner of Gay St. and Hill Ave:

Beginning May first the Civil War Gateway will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 AM- 4 PM, providing maps, walking tour brochures, videos, troop information, and graphic presentations of the Civil War story here in East Tennessee. Saturday guided tours will be announced and conducted regularly. Consult www.knoxcivilwar.org for all details.

Sounds pretty cool!

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Filed under Appalachian History, Civil War, Tennessee History

Flash forward, Ft. Sanders edition

Here’s some more virtual time travel.  This is Fort Sanders on the western outskirts of Knoxville, TN.  It was the site of a failed Confederate attack in November 1863, but I think the photo is from 1864.

Library of Congress (LC-B811- 4008)

Now the site of the fort is well within the city.  Here’s the same view, give or take a block or two.

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Saving a Civil War site in Knoxville

I was down in Knoxville this evening and picked up an issue of Metro Pulse, a weekly paper on life in and around the city.  There was an interesting story on an effort to preserve a site associated with Longstreet’s unsuccessful attempt to take the city in the fall of 1863.  Here’s an online version if you’d like to have a look for yourself.

The spot in question is a wooded area on the south side of the Tennessee River, just a stone’s throw from downtown and very close to some extant Union fortifications that you can see in this aerial image from Wikimapia.  Hopefully the plan to preserve all these sites and combine them into one historic/natural “greenway” will work out.  Having a nice chunk of green space and a few Civil War forts just a mile from the center of a city sounds like a pretty sweet deal, especially since all those important works north of the river are gone.

While I’m at it, let me recommend the work of Jack Neely, who wrote the news story and has a regular column for the Pulse on little-known aspects of Knoxville’s history.  You can read these short essays here, or in two collected volumes here and here.

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Digging up one battlefield, tearing up another

Here’s a story that ran on the NBC affiliate out of Knoxville last night.  Archaeologists are excavating the site of Confederate works from the siege of Knoxville and assault on Ft. Sanders.

Here’s another one about the Orange County Board of Supervisors striking a blow for low-wage, dead-end retail jobs; corporate competition for locally-owned businesses; and even more encroachment on Virginia’s historic landscape.  Enjoy that soup, Esau.

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Filed under Civil War, Historic Preservation, Tennessee History