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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Knoxville in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Bleak House

Confederate Memorial Hall

 
 
Bleak House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
1. Bleak House Marker
Inscription. Bleak House, the home of Robert Houston Armstrong and Louisa Franklin Armstrong, is an Italianate-style mansion completed in 1858. During the Siege and Battle of Knoxville, November 17–December 4, 1863, the house was Confederate Gen. James Longstreet’s headquarters. A sharpshooter unit, “The Elite Twenty,” occupied the house’s second-floor east-facing windows, as well as the tower. They were armed with British Whitworth rifles, accurate to about 1,500 yards.

On November 18, when the Federal line was 750 yards east of the house, Union Gen. Williams P. Sanders ordered Lt. Samuel Benjamin in Fort Loudon to put a cannon shot through the Bleak House tower to dislodge the sharpshooters. Called “The Prettiest Shot of the War” by the Federals, it hit the second floor of the house at its southeast corner, killing three of the sharpshooters. Their pencil portraits are on the tower’s interior north wall. That afternoon, Sanders was mortally wounded, reputedly by a sharpshooter, after watching Capt. Stephen Winthrop rally the Confederates. Federal officials renamed Fort Loudon in honor of Sanders.

During the fighting, Mrs. Armstrong and her daughters were confined to an upstairs bedroom for their safety. A sentry was instructed not to allow them downstairs without permission. Mrs. Armstrong once
Bleak House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
2. Bleak House Marker
defied the sentry, and when she refused to return upstairs, he fired a warning shot into the stairway, where the .58 caliber minie ball remains today.

On December 4, Longstreet left Bleak House, a place riddled with many bullet holes, as well as a shell scar in the main parlor.

(captions)
Drawing of Sharpshooters
Bleak House, circa 1874
Gen. James Longstreet
Mrs. Louisa Franklin Armstrong and James Longstreet, 1890
All photos courtesy Knoxville Chapter 89, United Daughters of the Confederacy
 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy marker series.
 
Location. 35° 56.988′ N, 83° 57.377′ W. Marker is in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker can be reached from Kingston Pike (U.S. 70) 0.4 miles east of Cherokee Boulevard, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3148 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37919, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Longstreet's Headquarters (within shouting distance of this marker); Death of Gen. William P. Sanders (approx. 0.4 miles away);
Bleak House image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
3. Bleak House
Note a Confederate grave marker near the window to the left of the entrance door
The Assault Upon Fort Sanders (approx. 1.4 miles away); Fort Sanders U.D.C. Monument (approx. 1.4 miles away); Fort Sanders (approx. 1.4 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Sanders (approx. 1.5 miles away); General Clifton Bledsoe Cates (approx. 1.7 miles away); Fort Byington (approx. 1.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Knoxville.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Side view of Bleak House image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
4. Side view of Bleak House
Yard in rear of Bleak Hosue image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
5. Yard in rear of Bleak Hosue
Confederate grave marker near the window to the left of the entrance door image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
6. Confederate grave marker near the window to the left of the entrance door
Sign near the entrance to Bleak House image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
7. Sign near the entrance to Bleak House
Bleak House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 29, 2013
8. Bleak House Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 462 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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