Jefferson City in Jefferson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Mossy Creek Engagement
Bending but not Breaking
In November 1863, Confederated Gen. James Longstreet led a force from Chattanooga to attack Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s army at Knoxville. The campaign failed, and in December Longstreet’s men marched east along the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to winter quarter at Russellville, where they remained until March 1864. Numerous small engagements between Longstreet’s and Burnside’s armies occurred during the winter.
An engagement took place here on December 29, 1863, when Confederate Gen. William T. Martin’s cavalry attacked Union Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis’s Federal troopers, who were pressuring Confederate soldiers preparing for winter camp at Russellville. Martin struck late in the morning, bending but not breaking the Union line because of the effectiveness of Capt. Eli Lilly’s 18th Indiana Artillery, which was positioned a few yards from here across the road.
Lilly, who considered this the battery’s most glorious and successful action, soon faced hard times. A few months later, he transferred to a cavalry unit that surrendered to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest in Middle
Another Union officer, Capt. Elbert J. Cannon, 1st Tennessee Cavalry, led a daring saber charge against the 11th Tennessee Cavalry (CSA). Some of the Confederates had dismounted and fired their carbines from kneeling positions. Both Cannon and his horse were struck and they fell to the ground as the charge thundered by into the woods. Two Southern soldiers found him, barely alive, and left him to be retrieved by his own men. They also informed his mother, who lived near the Confederate camp. She was escorted through the lines and remained at her son’s side until he died on January 1, 1864. Cannon is buried a few yards west of here in Branner Cemetery.
(left) Map courtesy David C. Smith
(right) Capt. Eli Lilly Courtesy of Eli Lilly Company; Capt. E.J. Cannon Courtesy David C. Smith; Gravestone of Capt. E.J. Cannon in Branner Cemetery
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Industry & Commerce War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 36° 7.884′ N, 83° 28.884′ W. Marker is in Jefferson City, Tennessee, in Jefferson County. Marker is on East Old Andrew Johnson Highway 0.1 miles south of Municipal Road., on the right when traveling south. The marker is located near the entrance to the National Guard Army. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jefferson City TN 37760, 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. Battle of Mossy Creek (here, next to this marker); Sarah Swann Hall (approx. 0.9 miles away); Site of Original Land Grant by John Roper Branner (approx. one mile away); Carson - Newman College (approx. 1.3 miles away); Cox Mill (approx. 3 miles away); Frances Hodgson Burnett (approx. 5.1 miles away); Welcome to the Overlook at Panther Creek State Park (approx. 6˝ miles away); Melville Milton Murrell (approx. 6.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jefferson City.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 684 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on December 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 22, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 5. submitted on December 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. 6. submitted on July 22, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 7. submitted on December 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.