When the United States Army entered Knoxville in September 1863, riding alongside Gen. Ambrose Burnside was Capt. Orlando Poe.  An 1856 West Point graduate with the Corps of Engineers, Poe not only designed and coordinated the construction of the defenses of Knoxville; he was meticulous in his methods, record keeping and documentation.

Standing strong against a November 29 attack by the best assault troops of the Confederacy, Poe was proud of the fortifications at Knoxville.  He ordered the creation of detailed maps, employing Cleveland Rockwell and R.H. Talcott of the US Coast Survey to do original measurements. Only recently located at NOAA, the maps created by these assistants–Rockwell north of the river, Talcott south–display actual survey lines of sight used to locate specific military and civic features.      

North side:  https://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/preview/image/T00939-02-1864              

 South side:  https://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/preview/image/T00920-02-1864

The army knew exactly where its forts were and documented those locations with precision. It is important to note that the army maps are topographical; that is, they record the elevation of the terrain of Knoxville.  All elements on the maps are located with three dimensions.

Recently, graphic designer and historic map specialist Charles Reeves compiled information from the Poe 1864 map, the Rockwell and Talcott maps, Sanborn insurance maps and 1942 topographical maps from the US Geological Service.  All of this data lines up to confirm the accuracy of the mapping done in 1864 locating the Civil War features around Knoxville. Reeves was even able to establish longitude and latitude coordinates for the fortifications. Here is his beautiful map created in January 2019 along with contact information. Reeves’ work is also available from the East Tennessee Historical Society.


Charles Reeves, Jr. – reevesca@tds.net


10812 Dineen Dr

Knoxville (Farragut), TN 37934-1809