Bloody Civil War battle in Knoxville remembered 150 years later

Bloody Civil War battle in Knoxville remembered 150 years later

© William Beard, 79th New York Infantry © William Beard, 79th New York Infantry

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - While shoppers rushed from store to store Friday, history buffs and leaders gathered to remember that Knoxville was once a battlefield in the tragic clash between blue and gray.

Civil war reenactor William Beard and others from the 79th New York Infantry laid a wreath today at a monument. The stone marker along Clinch is one of the few visible reminders connecting the neighborhood with its namesake.

Beard explains that on the morning of November 29th, 1863, Fort Sanders was an earthwork fortification which protected a key position in the Union lines.

The fort proved pivotal in stopping Confederate troops from retaking the city. Beard says, "inside the fort we had five killed, three wounded. He [CSA General Longstreet] loses about 814 coming up the hill."

Beard says the Confederate army abandoned its siege of Knoxville after the battle. Other forts south of the city had also been attacked. Friday, a new park opened at one of those, Fort Higley.

The site is dubbed High Ground Park. The previously obscure location at 1000 Cherokee Trail Boulevard will now be open to the public year-round.

High Ground Park features the remnants of trenches, rifle pits and what's left of the Union fort constructed in 1863. The Aslan Foundation purchased land for the park.

Foundation president Bob Young said Friday, "you want to preserve the Civil War site for historical tourism and you want to make sure this natural beauty doesn't get built over so that everyone in the city can get to enjoy it."

Young adds, "there are fantastic views toward the city from here." The Aslan Foundation plans to eventually connect the park to others in the area with additional walking trails.


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