I ran across an interesting tidbit while reading Brian McKnight’s Contested Borderland, a book I heartily recommend. In the fall of 1861, there was apparently a rumor floating around in some of the newspapers that Felix Zollicoffer, then in charge of the Confederate defense of eastern Tennessee, might be replaced with Robert E. Lee.
I’m not too familiar with this period of the war, and I don’t know if the rumors were simply that, or if there was some basis to them. If I’m not mistaken, this was around the same time Lee took charge of the Georgia and South Carolina coastal defenses. Was anybody in Richmond really thinking of sending Lee off to handle the situation near the Tennessee-Kentucky-Virginia border instead?
Even if the whole notion was just so much journalistic hogwash, it’s fun to ponder how things might have played out in the mountains of central Appalachia with Lee in command, especially since Confederate affairs here in this neck of the woods were about to take a turn for the worse.