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

Big Creek Gap

Natural Opening

Big Creek Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 17, 2014
1. Big Creek Gap Marker
Inscription.  The road in front of you winds through Big Creek Gap, one of the few natural openings through the Cumberland Mountains in the region. During the Civil War, this corridor was much narrower and steeper, and even lightly loaded wagons found travel extremely hazardous. Cumberland Gap, one the main migration route from the eastern states to the west and a strategic gateway during the Civil War, is about thirty miles northeast of here.

Early in the conflict, Confederate military engineers ringed Cumberland Gap with defensive works and considered the pass impregnable from the north and east. East Tennessee citizens who supported the Union alerted Federal commanders to the possibility of flanking the fortifications via Big Creep Gap. After a rigorous march, a detachment of Union soldiers, including a company of Campbell County men under Capt. Joseph A. Cooper, first penetrated the narrow passage here in March 1862 and routed the Confederate cavalry posted nearby. A more substantial offensive effort under U.S. Gen. George W. Morgan occurred in June, producing a bloodless Confederate withdrawal from Cumberland Gap. Subsequently, control of the
Close up of map shown on the marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 17, 2014
2. Close up of map shown on the marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
Gap changed hands several times.

Across the highway, on a small knoll above and the right of the old rock quarry, are remnants of the earthworks that defended Big Creek Gap. They are the only know Civil War—era fortifications in Campbell County. In the summer of 1861, the 19th Tennessee Infantry (CS) and other units stood watch here to guard the state border and prevent local men from joining the Union army in Kentucky. Rifle pits, gun emplacements, and ammunition dumps used by soldiers from both sides are still extant.

(upper right) "Drawing Artillery Across the Mountains," Harper's Weekly, Nov. 21, 1863.
(lower right) Gen. Joseph A. Cooper Courtesy and Gen. George W. Morgan Leslie's Illustrated History
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. A significant historical date for this entry is October 21, 1863.
Location. 36° 23.274′ N, 84° 7.524′ W. Marker is in LaFollette, Tennessee, in Campbell County. Marker is at the intersection of North Tennessee Avenue and North Indiana Avenue (U.S. 25W), on the right when traveling south on North Tennessee Avenue
Big Creek Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 17, 2014
3. Big Creek Gap Marker
. Located at the Cumberland Trail Trailhead. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: La Follette TN 37766, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (approx. half a mile away); Historic Stone Chapel (approx. half a mile away); Glen Oaks (approx. half a mile away); Campbell County War Memorial (approx. 5.1 miles away); Stone Mill (approx. 7.2 miles away); The Civilian Conservation Corps and Cove Lake State Park (approx. 7.3 miles away); The Tennessee Valley Authority (approx. 11.4 miles away); Norris Dam (approx. 11½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in LaFollette.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 7, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 867 times since then and 120 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 7, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 7, 2022