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.
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. – email@example.com
10812 Dineen Dr
Knoxville (Farragut), TN 37934-1809
Volunteers L to R: John Burkhart, Jason Wasilewski, Eli Beatty, Fiora Cruey, Lincoln Hugo, Katherine Grote, Gene Akers, Dale Green, Jerry Patterson, Jack Spiceland, Travis Henson, Eric Wayland, Dennis Urban, Brian Burroughs. Absent from photo: Neil Williams, Ken Failing, & Jim Doncaster, photographer.
Volunteers across America spurred on by the American Battlefield Trust turned out on Saturday, April 6, 2019 to attend to the maintenance needs of museums and historic sites across the country. For us in the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, this meant attending to the ongoing needs of our adopted site, Fort Dickerson. Seventeen people showed up for the event including eleven Roundtable members, four police explorers, and two of event-organizer Eric Wayland’s extended family. The beautiful morning made the work a joy, and much was accomplished. Thanks to the ongoing work at the fort by the Roundtable and the City of Knoxville, Fort Dickerson has never looked better. A steady stream of visitors to the site throughout the morning and early afternoon testified to the interest the fort now holds for the community.
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.