Civil War Battles of Tennessee

Longstreet’s Knoxville Campaign (November-December 1863)

Knoxville seen from south bank of Tennessee River, East Tennessee University in middle distance, George N. Barnard, about 1864

A series of battles and maneuvers in East Tennessee during the fall of 1863. Union forces under Major General Ambrose Burnside occupied Knoxville, Tennessee, and Confederate forces under Lieutenant General James Longstreet were detached from General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga to prevent Burnside’s reinforcement of the besieged Union forces there. Ultimately, Longstreet’s own siege of Knoxville ended when Union Major General William T. Sherman led elements of the Army of the Tennessee and other troops to Burnside’s relief after Union troops had broken the Confederate siege of Chattanooga. Although Longstreet was one of General Robert E. Lee’s best corps commanders in the East, he was unsuccessful in his role as an independent commander in the West and accomplished little in the Knoxville Campaign.

Campbell’s Station (November 16, 1863) –  In early November, 1863, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, with two divisions and about 5,000 cavalry, was detached from the Confederate Army of Tennessee near Chattanooga to attack Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s Union Department of the Ohio troops at Knoxville, Tennessee. Following parallel routes, Longstreet and Burnside raced for Campbell’s Station, a hamlet where the Concord Road, from the south, intersected the Kingston Road to Knoxville. Burnside hoped to reach the crossroads first and continue on to safety in Knoxville; Longstreet planned to reach the crossroads and hold it, which would prevent Burnside from gaining Knoxville and force him to fight outside his earthworks. By forced marching, on a rainy November 16, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s advance reached the vital intersection and deployed first. The main column arrived at noon with the baggage train just behind. Scarcely 15 minutes later, Longstreet’s Confederates approached. Longstreet attempted a double envelopment: attacks timed to strike both Union flanks simultaneously. Major General Lafayette McLaw’s Confederate division struck with such force that the Union right had to redeploy, but held. Brigadier General Micah Jenkins’s Confederate division maneuvered ineffectively as it advanced and was unable to turn the Union left. Burnside ordered his two divisions astride the Kingston Road to withdraw three-quarters of a mile to a ridge in their rear. This was accomplished without confusion. The Confederates suspended their attack while Burnside continued his retrograde movement to Knoxville. Had Longstreet reached Campbell’s Station first, the Knoxville Campaign’s results might have been different. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 400 Union and 570 Confederate.

Siege of Knoxville (November 17-December 4, 1863) – On November 17, the bulk of Union Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s army was within the defensive perimeter of Knoxville, Tennessee and the Siege of Knoxville began. The Confederates were not equipped for siege operations and were running short on supplies. On November 18, Union Brigadier General William P. Sanders, leading the cavalry that was screening Burnside’s withdrawal, was mortally wounded in a skirmish. In the meantime, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet planned an attack as early as November 20, but he delayed, waiting for reinforcements under Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson (3,500 men) and the cavalry brigade of General William “Grumble” Edmondson Jones. Colonel Edward Porter Alexander, Longstreet’s artillery chief, wrote that “every day of delay added to the strength of the enemy’s breastworks.” Longstreet’s troops sealed off all approaches to Knoxville, hoping to starve the garrison into submission. Longstreet and his chief engineer, Brigadier General Danville Leadbetter, determined that the old Confederate Fort Loudon (renamed Fort Sanders by the Federals), offered the weakest link.

Assault on Fort Sanders, Kurz and Allison, 1891

Fort Sanders (November 29, 1863) – Also called the Battle of Fort Loudon, this battle took place as part of the Confederates determination to take Knoxville, Tennessee. The Confederates decided that that the old fort was the only vulnerable place where they could penetrate Union Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s fortifications, which enclosed the city, and successfully conclude the siege, already a week long. The fort surmounted an eminence just northwest of Knoxville. Northwest of the fort, the land dropped off abruptly. Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet believed he could assemble a storming party, undetected at night, below the fortifications and, before dawn, overwhelm Fort Sanders by a coup de main. Following a brief artillery barrage directed at the fort’s interior, three Rebel brigades charged. Union wire entanglements-–telegraph wire stretched from one tree stump to another to another-–delayed the attack, but the fort’s outer ditch halted the Confederates.

This ditch was twelve feet wide and from four to ten feet deep with vertical sides. The fort’s exterior slope was almost vertical, also. Crossing the ditch was nearly impossible, especially under withering defensive fire from musketry and canister. Confederate officers did lead their men into the ditch, but, without scaling ladders, few emerged on the scarp side and a small number entered the fort to be wounded, killed, or captured. The attack lasted a short twenty minutes. Longstreet undertook his Knoxville expedition to divert Union troops from Chattanooga and to get away from General Braxton Bragg, with whom he was engaged in a bitter feud. His failure to take Knoxville scuttled his purpose. This was the decisive battle of the Knoxville Campaign. This Confederate defeat, plus the loss of Chattanooga on November 25th, put much of East Tennessee in the UUnion camp. The engagement resulted in an estimated 100 Union casualties and 780 Confederate. When Longstreet learned of General Bragg’s rout from Chattanooga and Sherman’s approach from the south, he lifted the siege on December 4th and withdrew into winter quarters in upper East Tennessee.

Bean’s Station (December 14, 1863) –  Lieutenant General James Longstreet abandoned the Siege of Knoxville, on December 4, 1863, and retreated northeast towards Rogersville, Tennessee. Union Major General John G. Parke pursued the Confederates but not too closely. Longstreet continued to Rutledge on December 6th and Rogersville on the 9th. Parke sent Brigadier General J.M Shackelford on with about 4,000 cavalry and infantry to search for Longstreet.

On the 13th, Shackelford was near Bean’s Station on the Holston River in present day Grainger County, Tennessee. Longstreet decided to go back and capture Bean’s Station. Three Confederate columns and artillery approached Bean’s Station to catch the federals in a vice. By 2:00 am on the 14th, one column was skirmishing with Union pickets. The pickets held out as best they could and warned Shackelford of the Confederate presence. He deployed his force for an assault. Soon, the battle started and continued throughout most of the day. Confederate flanking attacks and other assaults occurred at various times and locations, but the Federals held until southern reinforcements tipped the scales. By nightfall, the Federals were retiring from Bean’s Station through Bean’s Gap and on to Blain’s Cross Roads. Longstreet set out to attack the Union forces again the next morning, but as he approached them at Blain’s Cross Roads, he found them well-entrenched. Longstreet withdrew and the Federals soon left the area. The Knoxville Campaign ended following the battle of Bean’s Station. Longstreet soon went into winter quarters at Russellville. Their success meant little to Confederate efforts except to prevent disaster. The Confederate victory resulted in estimated casualties of this battle were 700 Union and 900 Confederate.

2 thoughts on “Civil War Battles of Tennessee”

  1. Looking for information on the 22nd Virginia cavalry. Trying to find out all the battles they fought after May 1863 up until November of 1863. Thanks for any and all help

    1. It’s more than you asked for, but hope this helps

      22nd Cavalry CSA “Bowen’s Regiment Virginia Mounted Riflemen”
      1863
      May Formed by adding eight companies to Baldwin’s Partisan Rangers. Baldwin’s two companies became Company A and Company E of the new regiment. Colonel Henry S. Bowen, Lieutenant Colonel John T. Radford and Major Henry F. Kendrick were assigned as field officers.
      Many of the new recruits had served in the 37th Virginia Infantry Regiment. The regiment was assigned to the Department of Western Virginia.
      September 1 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      September 12 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      September 21 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      October 24 Nicholas County
      December 9 Logan County
      December 15 Scott County
      December 17 Russell County
      1864
      April Assigned to Jenkins’ Cavalry Brigade, Department of Western Virginia.
      April 24 Breathitt County, Kentucky
      May Assigned to McCausland’s Brigade of Lomax’s Cavalry Division, Army of the Valley.
      May 7 Abb’s Valley
      May 9 Cloyd’s Mountain
      May 10 New River Bridge
      May 13 Jackson’s Ferry & Covington
      May 15 Abb’s Valley
      May 31 Pike County
      June 1 White Sulpher Springs, WV
      June 2 Covington VA
      June 4 Panther Gap
      June 6 Goshen
      June 7 Buffalo Gap
      June 8 Staunton Road
      June 10 Arbor Hill, Newport, Middlebrook and Brownsburg
      June 11 Lexington
      June 13 Buchanan
      June 15 Fancy Farm
      June 16 Otter River
      June 17 Forrest Depot
      June 18 Lynchburg
      June 20 Liberty
      June 21 Salem
      July 3 Leetown
      July 4 North Mountain Depot
      July 7 Hagerstown, MD
      July 8-9 Battle of Monocacy
      Major Kendrick was wounded in the hip and captured.
      July 10 Urbana, MD
      July 11 Rockville, MD
      July 12 Attack on Fort Stevens, Washington D.C.
      July 14 Edwards Ferry VA
      July 15 Snicker’s Gap, VA

      July 16 Loudoun County
      July 18 Ashby’s Gap, VA

      July 19 Berry’s Farm
      July 20 Stehenson’s Depot, VA
      July 23 Second Battle of Kernstown
      July 29 Mercersburg, PA
      July 30 Burning of Chambersburg
      August 2 Cumberland, MD
      August 4 New Creek, WV
      August 5 Shenansoah Valley
      August 7 Battle of Moorfield
      Federal cavalry caught McCausland’s brigade in camp by surprise after Union ‘Jesse Scouts’ dressed in Confederate grey captured the picket. The camp was overrun at dawn, capturing around five hundred men from the brigade. The catured men were imprisoned at Cam Chase, Ohio, for the rest of the war.
      August 9 New Creek Station VA
      August 10 Charles Town, WV
      August 11 Newtown, VA
      August Assigned to Bradley Johnston’s Brigade of Lomax’s Cavalry Division

      August 15 Charles Town, WV
      August 17 New Creek, WV
      August 21 Summit Point, WV
      August 25 Kearneyville, WV
      August 28 Opequan Creek, VA
      September 1 Brandy Station, VA
      September 2 Bunker Hill, VA
      September 3 Berryville, VA
      September 4 Maritinsburg, WV
      September 10 Big Spring WV
      September 12 Darkesville, WV
      September 19 Third Battle of Winchester
      The regiment acted as rear guard while Early’s army retreated after the battle to Fisher’s Hill.
      September 21 Front Royal Pike
      September 22-24 Battle of Fisher’s Hill

      September 24 Harrisonburg and Timberville, VA
      September 25 Gaines Crossroads, VA
      October 1 Port Republic, VA
      October Returned to McCausland’s Brigade.
      October 8-9 Battle of Tom’s Brook
      October 19 Battle of Cedar Creek

      October 23 Bentonville, VA
      October 26 Milford, VA
      October 29 Beverly, WV
      November 12 Nineveh (Cedarville), VA
      Lieutenant Colonel Radford was killed.
      November 22 Front Royal, VA
      December 17 Berry’s Ford, VA
      December 20 Madison Court House, VA
      December 23 Jack’s Shop, VA
      December 24 Gordonsville, VA
      1865
      January 29 Moorfield WV
      February 6 Balltown, WV
      February Major Kendrick was exchanged.
      March Ordered with the rest of Rosser’s Division to leave the Valley and join the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg.
      March-April Siege of Petersburg
      March 29 Quaker Road, VA
      March 31 Dinwiddie Court House, VA
      April 1 Battle of Five Forks

      April 2 Sutherland Station, VA
      April 3 Namozine Church, VA
      April 5 Avery’s Church Road, VA
      April 6 Jetersville, VA
      April 6-7 High Bridge, VA
      April 7 Cumberland Chuch (Farmville)
      April 9 Appomattox Court House
      The regiment cut its was through Union lines and escaed the surrender. Only two men, Corporal J.W. Whitman and Private A.H. Tate of Company G, surrendered with Lee’s army.
      Mid-April The regiment disbanded

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