by Neil J. Williams
Please join us on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, as we tour the locations and places important to reopening of the Tennessee River during the early stages of the 1863 Chattanooga Campaign, we will learn more about the actions that led to the establishment of the famous Cracker Line that fed the Army of the Cumberland which had been bottled up in Chattanooga following their defeat at Chickamauga. We are pleased to have return as our guide, Jim Ogden, Chief Historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. This tour will start at 9 am in Chattanooga and end about 5. We will meet up at 8:30-8:45 am at a location in Chattanooga that will be announced at a later date.
This will be the KCWRT’s fourth trip with Jim Ogden covering different portions of the Campaign and Battle of Chattanooga. The first tour covered Sherman’s army’s approach and eventual attack against Cleburne’s men on the northern portion of Missionary Ridge at Tunnel Hill. The second tour was at the opposite end on the Union line covering the Battle of Lookout Mountain, where recently arrived soldiers from the XI and XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Hooker clashed with Confederate soldiers from Cheatham and Stevenson’s Divisions of the Army of
Tennessee. Last we toured Missionary Ridge and learned about the Army of the Cumberland charge of the steep slopes. This year we will learn about the operations to reopen the Tennessee River and establish a supply line into the city of Chattanooga, that would later be named the Cracker Line. Once established supplies and rations began to follow into the bottled up and starving Army of the Cumberland, prior to the opening of the Cracker Line, the soldiers were down to receiving four pieces of hardtack/bread and a quarter pound of meat every three days.
We will meet up at 8:30-8:45 a.m. in the northeast corner on the Walmart parking lot located at 3550 Cummins Hwy in Chattanooga. We will start our tour from that location and will consolidate into as few cars as possible, any volunteers for drivers in the car caravan would be greatly appreciated. Those who have already volunteered as a driver for the tour, thank you again for volunteering. For lunch I would encourage many of you to bring your own lunch, we will try to find a nice location to eat lunch similar to last year’s Missionary Ridge tour. If you want to grab fast food, you will also be free to do too. This tour will take place rain or shine, please dress appropriately for the weather.
For some good reading on the Battle of Chattanooga and the actions on Missionary Ridge, see Blue and Gray Magazine’s 2013, #6, issue written by the late Wiley Sword; “The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battle for Chattanooga”, by Peter Cozzens; or visit the Civil War Trust’s web page which has extensive information on the battle and some of the people who fought it in.
If you plan to go on the tour of the Reopening of the Tennessee River, please send an email to Neil Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can add your name to the list.
In April 1861, a patriotic young man by the name of Webster Colburn heeded Lincoln’s call and enlisted in the Union infantry for three months as a private. Five years later, with a few more stripes and thousands of miles behind him, Major Webster Colburn, a Union quartermaster, mustered out of the army in June 1866.
His story is that of one man’s private war to survive a year in the infantry and artillery and four more in the demanding job of a union quartermaster. Providing the federal army with everything from socks to horseshoes and haversacks to horses was critical to the survival and success of the Union army. Quartermasters kept supplies coming even when railroad bridges were destroyed, wagon trains captured, and crops burned. The details of Colburn’s journey across Tennessee with the Army of the Cumberland during the Civil War emerged when 6,000 original documents, letters, diaries, orders, and monthly reports preserved by his family came into the hands of Dr. Nancy McEntee who shaped them into the narrative that became Haversacks, Hardtack, and Unserviceable Mules.
Come join us as Dr. McEntee shares the story of Colburn’s struggles at Shiloh, Stones River, Chattanooga and Knoxville and examines his difficulties and mounting responsibilities through times of starvation, loss and victory.
In the process you’ll learn about the thousands of mules and horses that were unserviceable and destroyed, the job of digging up and re-burying hundreds of victims from the Fort Pillow massacre, and the details of another massacre in Memphis in 1866 that history has all but forgotten.
Dr. Nancy McEntee
As a private pilot and lover of history, Nancy McEntee is the author of numerous articles on women pilots and local history. Her first book, Pilots, Pinballs, and Politics: The History of Naples Municipal Airport, became part of a PBS special on aviation in WWII. The Smoky Mountains of Southeast Tennessee are now home for her; a region rich with Appalachian lore and historical characters. Here is where she found the subject of her second book, Molsey Blount: The Colonial First Lady of Tennessee, the life of Gov. William Blount’s wife. Her latest book, Haversacks, Hardtack, and Unserviceable Mules, leaps forward from the Revolutionary period to the Civil War and tells the story of Webster Colburn, a Union quartermaster, whose job it is to feed, clothe, arm, mount, and sometimes bury his fellow soldiers. Because Colburn was with the Army of the Cumberland as a private soldier at Shiloh and Stone’s River, and as a quartermaster at Chattanooga and Knoxville, the book represents a significant contribution to the literature on the Civil War in Tennessee.
Interestingly, Dr. McEntee earned three college degrees later in life…a reflection of a late bloomer and an optimist.
She never planned to become an author yet learned quickly the joy of writing in finishing her PhD in 2003.
Now retired from numerous careers and pastimes, she volunteers in Cades Cove with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a former USMC Woman Marine, she also volunteers with the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard, honoring deceased veterans as they are laid to rest.
Battered and bloodied at the Battle of the Wilderness days before and now engaged in a titanic struggle at the “Mule Shoe” at Spotsylvania, Ulysses S. Grant doggedly affirmed his intentions in a dispatch: “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”
And fight it out he did. Day after day, battle after brutal battle, the Overland Campaign raged for 40 consecutive days between May 4th and June 12th, 1864. The campaign pitted the Union’s best general, Grant, fresh from the West, against the Confederacy’s best, the legendary Robert E. Lee, for the first time in the war.
Weeks of savage fighting in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House, at the North Anna River, and at Cold Harbor, where 7,000 Union soldiers fell in just thirty minutes, exhausted the resources and tested the will of both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. On the home front and in the capitals North and South, a great hue and cry arose as casualty reports were posted and the scale of the carnage became manifest.
The war had entered a new and even-deadlier phase. Through it all, Grant remained implacable. Though the Overland Campaign failed to deliver the knockout blow he had hoped for, Grant had succeeded in stealing the initiative from Lee. The oft-beaten and much-maligned Army of the Potomac would not retreat again.
Come join us on Feb. 12 for an unforgettable evening as General Grant himself addresses his assumption of command of all Federal armies, his build-up for the Overland Campaign, and why he chose to go through the Wilderness rather than around it. He will speak to the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania and the deadly dance between the armies up to and through Cold Harbor to the beginning of the siege of Petersburg.
Welcome to Knoxville, Curt Fields
Dr. E. C. (Curt) Fields, Jr., is an avid and lifelong student of the American Civil War. His interest in portraying General Ulysses S. Grant was driven by that study and his deep respect and admiration for General Grant. Dr. Fields is the same height and body type as General Grant and therefore presents a convincing, truetolife image of the man as he really looked. He researches and reads extensively about General Grant to deliver an accurate persona of the General. His presentations are in first person, quoting from General Grant’s Memoirs, articles and letters the General wrote, and statements he made in interviews.
Dr. Fields holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Memphis. He later earned a Master’s degree in Secondary Education and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Curriculum from Michigan State University. He is a career educator who taught for eight years at the junior and senior high school levels and then served for 25 years as a high school administrator. He also has taught as an adjunct Sociology Professor at the University of Memphis and in Education for Belhaven University’s Memphis campus.
Dr. Fields is now an educational consultant and living historian. As a consultant, he has worked in leadership development as espoused and practiced by General Grant with several corporate and civic groups. As a living historian, Dr. Fields portrayed General Grant at the 150th Sesquicentennial observations of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Raymond, Vicksburg, and at Appomattox Court House in 2015. He has portrayed the general on film, as well starring as General Grant in the Visitor Center film shown at Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and in the Discovery Channel’s three-part documentary series “How Booze built America.”
Dr. Fields also was featured as General Grant, giving his life story, on the Civil War Trust website. A frequent contributor to “The Civil War Courier” (A Civil War monthly newspaper), Dr. Fields is a member of The Tennessee Historical Society, The West Tennessee Historical Society, The Shelby County Historical Society, The Nathan Bedford Forrest Historical Society, The Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, The Appomattox 1865 Foundation, The 290 Foundation (dedicated to the Civil War Navies), The Civil War Trust, and the Ulysses S. Grant Association.
The ninth annual McClung Museum Civil War Lecture Series begins January 20.
Throughout the series, McClung Museum Civil War Curator Joan Markel will shed light on the individual lives of Knoxvillians during the war. This social history is one of the first community-level studies devoted to the origins, conflicts, and aftermath of the Civil War as it played out in an established all-American city.
The lectures, which are free and open to the public, are held on one Sunday each month from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the museum’s auditorium.
The opening lecture on January 20, “Knoxville’s Civilian War: The Caregivers,” looks at the women of Knoxville who served as de facto physicians, ministers, press representatives, and domestic caregivers—all of the roles people looked to for expertise, advice, information, and counseling when life-altering decisions were made.
Other lectures in the series include:
- February 17: “Knoxville’s Civilian War: The Lawyers.” Since its earliest days, our city has had a robust legal community, with many lawyers particularly visible in civil service roles. Examination of the sides chosen and the course of political careers over the war years and beyond reveals a complex interpretation of loyalty.
- March 31: “Knoxville’s Civilian War: The Financiers.” With the coming of the railroad in 1855, new and established merchandising and distribution firms prospered in Knoxville. Many of the old families and the new money cast their lot with the promising economic prospects of the Confederacy. For some of these families, the war brought eager promise followed by economic ruin. Yet others maintained—and even grew—their wealth and status.
- April 28: “Knoxville’s Civilian War: The Common Man.” The stories of many young men from working-class families come to light through well-documented military records supplemented by diaries, letters, and books detailing wartime routines and ordeals. When the fighting ended, many former Rebels never returned, going west or to the Deep South, while many former Union soldiers moved permanently to Knoxville to prosper with the town in the second half of the 19th century.
The McClung Museum is located at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and the museum’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Free parking is available on the weekends. Free public transportation to the museum is available via the Knoxville Trolley Orange Line. See the museum’s website for more information about family programming, parking, and collections and exhibits.
Joan Markel (865-974-2144, email@example.com)
Zack Plaster (865-974-6750, firstname.lastname@example.org)