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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Athens in McMinn County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Pushing Toward Knoxville

Union Armies on the Move

 
 
Pushing Toward Knoxville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, February 19, 2018
1. Pushing Toward Knoxville Marker
Inscription.  This interstate highway parallels the historic line of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroads. In September 1863, Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside led his army toward Knoxville along the line to take control of the strategically vital city.

At Niota (Exit 56), his men converted the brick depot (the state's oldest, constructed 1854) into a temporary fort. They removed bricks at shoulder height to fashion gun ports and scribbled their names—still visible—on the walls in the baggage area.

They also guarded Sweetwater (Exit 60). The nearby Great Craighead Cave, now called Lost Sea Cave, served as a saltpeter mine for the Confederate gunpowder industry from 1861 until the Federals arrived in 1863. Charles W. Hicks later wrote that he and others "camped there and worked faithfully for two years and a half until the Federal soldier came to Sweetwater...when he tore down our works and scattered to our homes."

Union Col. Frank L. Wolford commanded a garrison at Philadephia (Exit 68) to protect the tracks there. On October 20, 1863, Confederate forces under Gen. George G. Dibrell and Col. J. J. Morrison overran
General Ambrose E Burnside and Col. George G Dibrell image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, February 19, 2018
2. General Ambrose E Burnside and Col. George G Dibrell
the position, captured six mountain howitzers, and achieved the first Confederate victory of the Knoxville Campaign.
 
Erected 2014 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 35° 25.595′ N, 84° 41.261′ W. Marker is in Athens, Tennessee, in McMinn County. Marker is on Interstate 75N 3 miles north of Riceville Decatur Road (Tennessee Route 39), on the right when traveling north. Located at the McMinn County Rest Area. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Athens TN 37303, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Road to Chattanooga (approx. ¼ mile away); First United Presbyterian Church (approx. 5.3 miles away); Battle of Athens (approx. 5.4 miles away); Samuel Cleage (approx. 5.4 miles away); Tennessee Wesleyan College (approx. 5.4 miles away); The Nocatula Legend (approx. 5½ miles away); Petty-Manker Hall (approx. 5½ miles away); John Tyler Morgan (approx. 6.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Athens.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2018. It was originally submitted on May 26, 2018, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 177 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 26, 2018, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Aug. 14, 2020