The second half of November 158 years ago in 1863 and in 1864 was significant in the Civil War history of Knoxville and in the state of Tennessee. The events that occurred would change the complexion of Knoxville and other areas in the state forever. Such events deserve to be remembered.

November 17: The Siege of Knoxville by Confederate forces begins.

                         Union General William P. Sanders is mortally wounded.

November 18: General Sanders dies at the Lamar House.

Significant during the siege was the mortal wounding of newly promoted U.S. cavalry General William P. Sanders on November 18 and the Battle of Fort Sanders on the early morning of November 29. General Sanders died of his wounds on November 19 at the Lamar House hospital (today the Bijou Theatre). His low key funeral was held that night so as not to arouse suspicion among the Confederate troops. Sanders was interred in the churchyard cemetery of the Second Presbyterian Church which surrounded the church building. Not wanting to upset the troops, General Burnside did not make a general announcement of the death of the very popular general until a day later. However, by that time, many of the troops were aware of his death.

Later, when the Second Presbyterian Church relocated to west Knoxville along Kingston Pike, General Sanders was moved to the national cemetery in Chattanooga, where he rests today.

Six years ago, the KCWRT dedicated a plaque near the front entrance of the Bijou Theatre commemorating the death of General Sanders in this historic building.

November 19: The new unfinished cemetery at Gettysburg is dedicated with a memorable short oration by President Abraham Lincoln.

Tennessee had 775 soldiers in three regiments present at Gettysburg. Of those, 16 were KIA, 118 wounded, 37 wounded and missing, and 245 initially missing. This total of 416 men is equal to a 54% casualty rate against those present. Some of the 245 missing likely found their way back to their regiments within a few days.  

November 23: Battle of Orchard Knob in Chattanooga.

November 24: Battle of Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga.

November 29: Battle of Fort Sanders: Confederate casualties 813; Union casualties 13.  

November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin

From November 1863 the war would drag on for another 17 months inflicting further hardship on the citizens of Knoxville and all of Tennessee.

Suggested Reading: Dr. Earl J. Hess, The Knoxville Campaign, Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee