By Dorothy E. Kelly, Knoxville Civil War Roundtable
Copyright 1998 by Dorothy E. Kelly. All rights reserved.
The Civil War brought division, dissension and hardship to Blount County, but no major battles. At one point in the War, however, Blount County found prominence thrust upon it as blue and gray cavalry wrestled for access to the “back door” to Knoxville.
Shortly after the September 1863 Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Confederate Major General James Longstreet moved from Chattanooga toward Knoxville with orders to capture or drive the Federals under Major General Ambrose E. Burnside out of East Tennessee. Longstreet’s cavalry under Major General Joseph Wheeler was ordered to push through Blount County to claim the heights on the Holston (now Tennessee) River opposite Knoxville. For several weeks prior to Longstreet’s advance in November of 1863, Blount County played host to Union cavalry under the command of Brigadier General William P. Sanders. Sanders’ assignment was to guard the Little Tennessee River fords against roving bands of Confederate cavalry and to notify the Federal authorities of any Confederate advance through Blount County. Blount County Unionists and Home Guards served as guides and scouts for the Federal cavalry, collecting information and reporting on Confederate activity in the area.