Knoxville National Cemetery
Civil War Knoxville
In an 1861 referendum, 81 percent of East Tennessee voters rejected secession. Many in Knoxville, the region's largest city, supported the Union. During the Civil War, 30,000 East Tennesseans joined the U.S. Army. When Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside's troops arrived in Knoxville in 1863, they received a hero's welcome.
On November 17, 1863, Confederate forces led by Gen. James Longstreet surrounded Knoxville. The city was encircled by a strong line of earthworks anchored on the Tennessee River.
Longstreet attacked at Fort Sanders on the western edge of the Union line on November 29. The assault lasted less than an hour as Union soldiers inflicted heavy losses on Confederate troops. The Confederates retreated and attempted to lay siege to the city. Longstreet withdrew in December, leaving East Tennessee firmly Union hands.
In December 1863, General Burnside ordered Capt. H.S. Chamberlain to prepare a cemetery for casualties of the Knoxville fighting. Three years later, Capt. E.B. Whitman, who was in charge of establishing national cemeteries in the South described it as: the only burial ground of Union Soldiers...originally laid out and constructed to the present time in a manner and on a system that renders it suitable to be converted into a National
By 1874, there were 3,135 interments in the 10-acre tract. Approximately one-third were unknown. Graves were arranged in concentric circles around a central flagstaff. A stone wall enclosed the grounds.
One Civil War Medal of Honor recipient lies here. Pvt. Timothy Spillane, 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, received the commendation for gallantry at the Battle of Hatcher's Run, Virginia, February 5-7, 1865. He died in Knoxville in 1901 (Section A, Grave 3319).
The first monument erected in the cemetery honors the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry known as the "Highlanders". Hugh Young, a stonecutter by trade and member of the regiment, carved this monument and surrounding headstones for his comrades in March 1864.
In 1893, the Tennessee Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans' organization, decided to build a monument to the state's Union dead. The cornerstone was laid in 1896 during a ceremony that featured a parade and speeches.
The 60-foot-tall, limestone tower was dedicated five years later. More than 7,000 donors, most Union veterans, contributed to the $11,000 cost. Lightning toppled the monument in 1904. It was reconstructed and rededicated in 1906.
Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - National Cemetery Administration.
Location. 35° 58.583′ N, 83° 55.617′ W. Marker is in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker is at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Tyson Street, on the right when traveling east on Bernard Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is located at the north corner within the Knoxville National Cemetery. Marker is in this post office area: Knoxville TN 37917, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A National Cemetery System (here, next to this marker); Old Gray Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Old Gray Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); The Southern Railway Station (approx. 0.6 miles away); Patrick Sullivan's Saloon (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Midday Merry-Go-Round (approx. 0.7 miles away); Vinnies Italian Restaurant (approx. 0.7 miles away); Father Abram J. Ryan (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Knoxville.
Also see . . . National Cemetery Administration - Knoxville National Cemetery. (Submitted on December 16, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 16, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 222 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 16, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. 5. submitted on December 17, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. 6. submitted on December 16, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. 7, 8. submitted on December 17, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. 9, 10. submitted on January 14, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.