A picturesque field near Corryton will transform into a Civil War battlefield as part of a four-day observance of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders, hosted by Knox County and the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. The event will be held Oct. 10-13 in the 10,000 block of Washington Pike on the site of the reconstructed northwest bastion of the Civil War fort. Re-enactments of the battle of Fort Sanders and Campbell’s Station are planned for Oct. 12 and 13.
Thursday and Friday mornings, Oct. 10-11, are reserved for school group tours. The site will be open to the public on Friday afternoon with period military demonstrations, presentations and public lectures. There will be a short ceremony at 4 p.m. on Friday officiated by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. The ceremony will include a mayoral proclamation and a performance by a brass band playing Civil War-era instruments. Dan Paterson, the great-great grandson of General James Longstreet, the Confederate commander during the battle, is also scheduled to attend the ceremony.
“Knoxville and Knox County have a rich Civil War history, and this event is a great opportunity for children and families to see it come alive,” said Mayor Burchett. “The re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Sanders is always an exciting event, and this year’s commemoration is going to be even better.”
More than 1,000 students from throughout the area will see battle demonstrations, as well as learn how the war played out in the lives of both civilians and soldiers. Impressionists will lead presentations as the personas of Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Frederick O. Douglas.
The re-enactment of the battle of Fort Sanders and Campbell’s Station will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13. Event organizers expect as many as 1,000 re-enactors and 16 period-accurate artillery pieces at the event, making it one of the largest attended re-enactments in the event’s history. Union and Confederate cavalry units, along with horse and mule drawn supply wagons, will take the field during the Battle of Campbell’s Station re-enactment. Civilian re-enactors will also populate a small East Tennessee homestead recreation complete with a hand-built cabin and other out-buildings.
While the re-enactment will take place on the rolling hills of a 140 acre farm in Corryton, the original fort, which disappeared in the early 1900s, was located in the vicinity of 17th Street near the University of Tennessee campus. Pulitzer Prize winning author James Agee mentions remnants of the fort in his novel “A Death in the Family,” which was set in Knoxville in 1915. The present-day northwest bastion reconstruction was built in 2007 and was based on the descriptions of Captain Orlando M. Poe, who was a federal engineer in the fort during the battle. It was used as a setting for the digital film “Its Memory Alone Remains,” which can be seen at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Admission to the re-enactments is $8 for adults and free to children under the age of 6. Families attending with four or more members pay a maximum of $30. Admission is good for both days. Discount coupons are available at the re-enactment website www.battleoffortsanders.com. The event will be held rain or shine.
This official sesquicentennial event is sponsored by the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, Lincoln Memorial University, WBIR-TV, the Civil War Courier, the Camp Chase Gazette, the Citizen’s Companion and the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.