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Pigeon Forge in Sevier County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Unionists Within the Confederacy

Sevier County Home Guard

 
 
Unionists Within the Confederacy Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2012
1. Unionists Within the Confederacy Marker
Inscription.
When the Civil War began, Sevier County Unionists at first operated quietly in secessionist Tennessee. In 1861, they set up a secret garment factory in the second floor of this mill and made cloth for uniforms. They also made shoes for Federal soldiers and Unionist Home Guards with leather from Newton Trotter’s nearby tannery. According to local tradition, the third floor was later used as a hospital. Captain William Trotter, son of mill owner John Trotter, commanded Company H, 9th Tennessee Cavalry (US).

After Tennessee’s vote for secession on June 8, 1861, East Tennessee Unionists formed Home Guard units. Sevier County loyalists established their unit in August 1861. The Home Guard was a militia-type group that protected the lives and property of local Unionists. The Guard initially drilled openly, but when Confederates occupied the county, many members went underground. They gathered intelligence, served as couriers and guides, and harassed the Confederates.

When the Union army took control of the region late in 1863 after the Battle of Knoxville, the guardsmen actively engaged Confederate forces. Early in December, they captured several soldiers in Confederate Colonel William H. Thomas’s Legion – a North Carolina unit composed of mountaineers and Cherokee Indians that was camped at Gatlinburg – and jailed
Unionists Within the Confederacy Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2012
2. Unionists Within the Confederacy Marker
them in Sevierville. Thomas raided the jail, freed his men, and disarmed the guardsmen. The Home Guard quickly regrouped and a month later helped Federal cavalry capture Confederate raiders and their commander, General Robert B. Vance (brother of North Carolina governor Zebulon B. Vance), at the foot of the Smoky Mountains.
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 35° 47.312′ N, 83° 33.23′ W. Marker is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in Sevier County. Marker is on Old Mill Avenue west of Old Mill Street, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. The marker is located in front of the Old Mill General Store. Marker is at or near this postal address: 160 Old Mill Avenue, Pigeon Forge TN 37863, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Pigeon Forge Iron Works (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Early Pigeon Forge (about 300 feet away); Pigeon Forge Elementary School/Pigeon Forge Canning Factory (about 500 feet away); Sevier County Veterans Memorial (about 700 feet away); Pigeon River Railroad
Tennessee Civil War Trails Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2012
3. Tennessee Civil War Trails Marker
(approx. 0.4 miles away); First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge (approx. 0.6 miles away); Broady Dairy (approx. one mile away); Pigeon Forge (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Pigeon Forge.
 
More about this marker. The marker contains a portrait of Col. William H. Thomas, Courtesy North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and a modern photograph of the Pigeon Forge Mill, Courtesy of Pigeon Forge Public Library.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Old Pigeon Forge Mill image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 6, 2012
4. Old Pigeon Forge Mill
This mill is where Unionists from Sevier County ran their secret garment factory, as mentioned on the marker.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 591 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on , by Marcia Nelson of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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