Tag Archives: James Longstreet

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

Longstreet’s HQ is open for business

Here’s some great news from here in East Tennessee.  The Russellville home that James Longstreet used as his headquarters during the winter of 1863-64 is now a museum, thanks to the efforts of people who cared enough to make it happen:

Today’s event marks the fulfillment of the longtime dream of Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association, which organized in February 2006 to save the historic house and otherwise preserve Civil War heritage in the area.

The group’s work began after “a developer went to the (Hamblen County) planning commission and asked to rezone the property, tear down the structure and build a small retail store,” said Lakeway’s vice president, Reece Sexton.

Three businesspeople got together, discussed the issue and “we were able to get a loan and buy it,” said Sexton, editor and publisher of the Civil War Courier in nearby Morristown.

Good for them.  This is how preservation happens, folks—it starts with putting our time, money, and effort where our mouths are.

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Filed under Appalachian History, Civil War, Historic Preservation, Museums and Historic Sites, Tennessee History

New guide to Appalachia’s Civil War, with some delinquency thrown in

A new guide map called “Appalachia: Civil War Home Front” directs visitors to historic sites across thirteen different states.  You can get more information on the places featured at Visit Appalachia.  Pick up a copy and pay us a visit.  We’re not as ornery as we’ve been made out to be.

Speaking of Appalachia and the Civil War, a couple of young punks allegedly vandalized a cemetery and historic church in Hamblen County, TN, just down the road from my neck of the woods.  James Longstreet spent some time in that area following his unsuccessful attempt to take Knoxville in late ’63.  His men used the church in question as a hospital, and the cemetery includes some Civil War burials.  I visited the site a few years ago; it’s a very cool place.  The youths were evidently ghost-hunting, a popular vocation for people whose families dread being asked about them when they run into friends in the supermarket.

Luckily, authorities were able to track down the culprits because one of these criminal masterminds (and I’m not making this up) actually left his bicycle at the scene, seemingly oblivious to the fact that leaving your personal belongings lying around the place where you’ve committed a crime is generally not the best way to evade detection.  No word yet on whether or not these kids are enrolled in any of their school district’s gifted programs; somehow I don’t think they are.

What juvenile vandals really need is just a firm but gentle push in the right direction.  While standing over a pit filled with live crocodiles.

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Filed under Appalachian History, Civil War, Tennessee History