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Knoxville in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Fort Higley

Decisive Battle for Knoxville

 

— Knoxville Campaign —

 
Fort Higley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 20, 2021
1. Fort Higley Marker
Inscription.  (Preface) On November 4, 1863, to divert Federal forces from Chattanooga, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet led two reinforced divisions from the city to attack Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's garrison in Knoxville. Burnside confronted Longstreet outside Knoxville, then withdrew to his fortifications on November 17, and Longstreet besieged the city. In Chattanooga, after Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's army defeated Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's forces at the end of the month, Grant ordered Gen. William T. Sherman to reinforce Burnside. As Sherman marched toward Knoxville, Longstreet withdrew on December 4. Sherman soon rejoined Grant.

This is Fort Higley, the southwestern-most work in the ring of fortifications that Union Capt. Orlando M. Poe designed in November 1863 to protect Knoxville and Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's army. Named for Capt. Joel P. Higley, who was killed at Blue Springs on October 10, 1863, it was the last of four hilltop works built south of the Holston River. The others were Sevierville Hill, Fort Stanley, and Fort Dickerson.

When Gen. James Longstreet besieged Knoxville, the transportation
Fort Higley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 20, 2021
2. Fort Higley Marker
center of East Tennessee, he ordered a battery established half a mile west of here on a hill overlooking the river and the city. After reconnoitering the Federal defenses for a weak spot, he chose to attack Fort Sanders, near the present-day campus of the University of Tennessee.

At first light on the foggy Sunday morning of November 29, the Confederates launched their main assault on Fort Sanders north of the river. Simultaneously, the gunners west of here, reinforced with cavalry brigades, made a diversionary “demonstration” near Fort Higley to hold Federal reinforcements on this side of the river. The attack on Fort Sanders failed. The Union forces there suffered few losses; many more were killed and wounded south of the river. Conversely, the Confederates suffered 813 casualties at Fort Sanders but few in this area.

Fort Higley, which U.S. Colored Troops manned after the battle, continued to protect Knoxville during the war. It remained undisturbed for almost 150 years until development threats prompted local preservationists to save it.

Captions:
Bottom left: Engineers Capt. Orlando M. Poe (right) and Lt. Col. Orville E. Babcock, with Ft. Sanders in rear Courtesy Library of Congress
Top center: Knoxville viewed from Ft. Stanley - National Archives & Records Administration
Top
Original photograph image. Click for full size.
By George N. Barnard, circa 1863
3. Original photograph
Engineers Capt. Orlando M. Poe (right) and Lt. Col. Orville E. Babcock, with Ft. Sanders in rear.
right
: “Defences of Knoxville" Courtesy Library of Congress
Bottom right: U.S. Colored Troops Courtesy Library of Congress
 
Erected 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° 56.279′ N, 83° 55.553′ W. Marker is in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker can be reached from Cherokee Trail 0.1 miles north of Spruce Ridge Way, on the right when traveling north. Marker is in parking area for High Ground Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1000 Cherokee Trail, Knoxville TN 37920, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Dickerson (approx. 0.9 miles away); Back Door to Knoxville (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Dickerson (approx. 0.9 miles away); Fort Dickerson 1863–64 (approx. 0.9 miles away); Civil War Knoxville (approx. 0.9 miles away); The 1863 Siege of Knoxville (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Dickerson (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Dickerson (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Knoxville.
 
Marker detail: Knoxville viewed from Ft. Stanley. image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 20, 2021
4. Marker detail: Knoxville viewed from Ft. Stanley.
Marker detail: U.S. Colored Troops image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 20, 2021
5. Marker detail: U.S. Colored Troops
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 21, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 48 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 21, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 3, 2021