Town of Tazewell
Tazewell is a small Northeast Tennessee town, the seat of Claiborne County. It is located on the northern slope of Walden’s Ridge, which is part of the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains. During the American Civil War, the people of Claiborne County are divided, often within families and among neighbors and friends. Tazewell changes hands four times during the War. Although no major battles are fought in the county, there are several bloody skirmishes.
Present-day view of the area around Tazewell Tennessee.
With those amazing mountains in the background.
19 MARCH 1862
Defining Confederate pluck
Tuscarawas [OH] Advocate, April 4, 1862
Letter from B. B. Brashear.
March 19, 1862.
While at Somerset [KY] I visited the Secesh wounded. Among them was an educated and intelligent lieutenant who belonged to the 16th Mississippi … from whom I learned something of the disappointments, the expectations, and the hopes, of the rebels. He bitterly denounced their General, Gen. [George] B. Crittenden [commanding the Department of East Tennessee] – called him a craven and a drunkard. …
I said to him, suppose you are conquered at Bowling Green [KY] as you have been here, what will you then do? He answered:
“That would prolong the conflict between us. We will contest every inch of ground between this and the Rio Grande.”
B. B. BRASHEAR.
1 JUNE 1862 – 27 OCTOBER 1862
Operations in East Tennessee
You will find here several different reports of the same events, which gives a well-rounded description of all of the actions involved. I have heavily edited some of these documents for readability; these officers are well-educated and taught to use excess verbiage.
22 JULY 1862
Affair at Tazewell, violation of flag of truce.
Report of Col. James P. T. Carter CSA.
Second Tennessee Infantry.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND EAST TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS,
Camp Cotterell, July 23, 1862.
GENERAL: Yesterday, soon after 6 p. m., with 450 of the Second East Tennessee Regiment and 30 men of the Forty-ninth Indiana … with two days’ rations and sixty rounds of ammunition … left camp to carry out your instructions to endeavor to cut off the rebel cavalry which have been in the daily habit of visiting Tazewell. …
I reached the vicinity of Tazewell; but soon after nightfall, finding the night so dark, I moved slowly and with caution up the old road for some distance. … There I was met with information that from fifty to sixty of the rebel cavalry had passed down toward the river on a scout. … In a short time they were heard approaching, and when up with our position a portion of my command opened fire upon them.
The night was very dark, and it was impossible to distinguish either horse or horseman. Not many shots had been fired when I distinguished the voice of Lieut.-Col. Keigwin, of the Forty-ninth Indiana, calling me by name, and telling me to cease firing, as he was with a flag of truce. This was the first intimation I had that a flag had been sent out.
Of course I ordered the firing to cease, and, hurrying down to the road with my men, rendered every assistance in my power to the wounded. … No one can regret more than I do this most unfortunate occurrence. If I could have had the least idea that a flag of truce was on the road, I need scarcely assure you this would not have happened …
The wounded were taken to a house near at hand and every attention was shown them. It was not until some time after the damage was done that the courier reached me with your order recalling the expedition.
JAS. P. T. Carter, Col., Comdg.
Second Regiment East Tennessee Volunteers.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 108-109.
Claiborne County in Northeast Tennessee
22 JULY 1862
New York Times
AN UNFORTUNATE AFFAIR IN EAST TENNESSEE.
The Louisville News contains an extract from a private letter from a member of the Fourteenth Kentucky Regiment, dated Camp Baird, Claiborne County, Tennessee. The writer gives the particulars of an affair which occurred near Tazewell on the 22nd. He says that on the night of the 22nd, a flag of truce came in from the rebels, and, through a mistake, some four or five on each side were killed outright or seriously wounded.
The bearers of the flag were allowed inside of the pickets to the camp of Col. [MARCELLUS] MUNDY, who sent them to Gen. [GEORGE] MORGAN. According to the General’s orders they were removed a mile and a half beyond the outposts, to remain till morning.
As there was no camping ground at that point, they all concluded to go to Tazewell, nine miles further along. The party consisted of Lieut.-Col. [JAMES] KEIGWIN, of the Forty-ninth Indiana; Capt. [?] LYONS, Chief of Topographical Engineers of Gen. MORGAN’s Staff and several other officers besides the truce bearers. All went except Col. MUNDY, who said his orders would not permit him to go any further.
In the meantime one of the soldiers out on duty saw the party and informed Gen. [S.P.] CARTER that there was a party of rebel cavalry just beyond our lines. Gen. C. sent a regiment to the point designated, and posted them in different positions. As the truce party returned, on the morning of the 23rd, they were fired upon by CARTER’s men. Lieut.-Col. KEIGWIN was shot through the hips, and so seriously wounded that he may not possibly recover. Capt. LYONS had one arm broken.
A rebel Lieutenant was killed on the spot, and three or four other rebels were so seriously injured that they cannot recover. Every rider was unhorsed, and quite a number of horses were killed. … Later information says that six or eight were killed on the spot.
Published in the New York Times, 4 August 1862
26 JULY 1862
Skirmish at Tazewell.
2 AUGUST 1862
Battle of Tazewell: Key to Cumberland Gap.
A Civil War Experience
The 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as part of Col. John F. De Courcy’s 26th Brigade, march south from their stronghold at Cumberland Gap toward the small town of Tazewell on 2 August 1862. The purpose of their expedition is to find and acquire forage and supplies for the Federal garrison holding Cumberland Gap.
During several days of foraging and extended trips further south of Tazewell, some periodic skirmishes with Rebel cavalry are encountered but the troops are successful in filling their wagons with much needed food and hay for their animals.
Claiborne County Historical & Genealogy Society
3 AUGUST 1862
Reconnaissance from Tazewell to Big Spring.
4 AUGUST 1862
Report of Col. John F. De Courcy USA,
Sixteenth Ohio Infantry, commanding brigade.
TAZEWELL, EAST TENN., August 4, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have to report, for the information of the general commanding, that on my arrival at this point on the evening of the 2nd instant I found the enemy’s pickets posted on the hills in front of the town. They, however, retired on the approach of the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, and this corps took up that ground for the night. I have ever since occupied a very extended line of pickets on that ground.
The foraging has thus far proceeded satisfactorily. Hay, horses, cattle, and sheep were brought in yesterday. No corn has been found as yet.
Yesterday [the 3rd] I made a reconnaissance toward Big Springs. The enemy had there about 100 cavalry, and they held their ground for about an hour and did not leave until I opened fire on them with a 10-pounder.
This day [the 4th] I proceed with the Sixteenth Regiment and two guns to Little Sycamore, via Big Springs, where I shall leave a part of the Forty-second Regiment to protect my line of retreat in case of disaster. From Little Sycamore I shall move toward Big Sycamore, and return to Tazewell from that point without passing through Big Springs.
This expedition is intended to cover a large train which proceeds from here direct to Big Sycamore. I have not sufficient strength to make detachments without at the same time leaving altogether open the position in rear of this town. But by thus calling the enemy’s attention toward Little Sycamore I hope to make them uneasy about their Morristown line of road.
Two of the enemy’s spies have been arrested whilst in the act of giving their cavalry information of the position of our infantry. It would serve as a good example if these men were punished according to the laws. If an order be sent me to that effect, I will have them publicly shot.
I have the honor to be, yours, respectfully,
JOHN DE COURCY, Col., Commanding Twenty-sixth Brigade.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 42-43.
JOHN FITZROY DE COURCY
Col. John F. De Courcy
Colonel De Courcy was a professional British soldier who was drawn to the United States by the Civil War; he was assigned to the Army of the Ohio in late 1861. De Courcy and the 16th Ohio Voluntary Infantry accompanied Gen. George W. Morgan USA in seizing the Cumberland Gap from Rebel forces in June 1862.
Three months later, the Confederates attacked the Gap in great numbers during the Kentucky Campaign. Morgan’s garrison left the Gap just before Rebel troops arrived and conducted an epic march through the roughest country in Kentucky north to the Ohio River.
In December 1862, Gen. George Morgan, the 16th Ohio, and Col. De Courcy traveled west to take part in the disastrous Chickasaw Bluffs assault near Vicksburg MS, which was led by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. De Courcy’s brigade spearheaded that attack and sustained heavy losses.
Dissatisfied with his position, De Courcy gave up command of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and left the regiment at its winter camp at Young’s Point, Louisiana. He took a leave of absence in the spring of 1863, but he was available when Gen. Ambrose Burnside USA began his invasion into East Tennessee.
Burnside appointed De Courcy commander of an independent brigade and ordered him to have his troops at Cumberland Gap by the end of the first week in September. On 7 September 1863, Gen. James M. Shackelford USA—who was marching with the main army—appeared on the south side of the Gap, while De Courcy’s gathered his troops at the north end on the afternoon of 8September. … Both Shackelford and De Courcy sent in demands for Gen. John W. Frazer CSA to surrender the Gap, which were rejected.
Burnside arrived the following morning. Frazier surrendered the Cumberland Gap that afternoon, 9 September 1863. … De Courcy and his men marched into the Rebel lines to accept their surrender. Almost immediately, Burnside placed Col. De Courcy under arrest for insubordination, because he had not deferred to Brig. Gen. Shackelford to receive the surrender. The incident came to nothing, and Burnside let the matter drop.
In March 1864, when the 16th Ohio’s original enlistment expired, De Courcy mustered out and left the country. He returned to British service as a colonial administrator.
In 1875, John Fitzroy De Courcy became the 35th Baron Kingsale, the largest peerage in Ireland; a seat he held until his death in 1890. He apparently left no written account of his three years in the Union Army.
5 AUGUST 1862 – 6 AUGUST 1862
Report of Col. John F. De Courcy
Foraging, operations against and about Cumberland Gap, reconnaissance and skirmishes near Tazewell.
CAPTAIN: In continuation of the daily report which Gen. Morgan directed me to send in of the foraging expedition which I was ordered to make in the vicinity of Tazewell, I have the honor to state as follows:
About 10.45 a. m. yesterday [the 6th] the enemy made a sudden attack in great force on the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers on the entire length of the line of advanced posts furnished by that corps. The attacking force consisted of at least three infantry regiments, with some artillery, supported by other regiments and more artillery.
The enemy had been secreted during the previous night in the dense woods in front and on the flanks of the advanced posts and their pickets. The manner of the attack showed evidently that the intention was to cut off the advanced gun. In this the enemy would have succeeded but for the courageous coolness of the men serving the gun, and the companies placed there to protect it.
So well did these companies comport themselves that the gun was enabled to fire one round at the enemy at a distance not greater than seventy-five yards. The gun was then limbered up and retired in good order (Major Kershner’s horse was shot during this part of the affair), but the companies protecting the retreat of the gun were themselves surrounded by two regiments and completely cut off.
Here began a most desperate combat betwixt the companies of the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers and the enemy’s two regiments. Finally more than four-fifths of the officers and privates of the two companies cut their way through and rejoined later in the day their regiment, in rear of Tazewell.
Whilst these brilliant deeds were being performed on the right as severe an engagement was taking place on the left. There Major Kershner (who was in command of the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers) had taken position with three companies on a high knoll commanding the roads by which the enemy was advancing.
The conduct of these companies and their management by Major Kershner was excellent. For one hour and a half they held two regiments at bay, and compelled one of these regiments to fall back to reform; but the companies having exhausted all their ammunition, were finally ordered to fall back in skirmishing order.
I arrived near the scene of action about 11 o’clock. It was at once apparent that the position in front of Tazewell was not any longer tenable. I immediately ordered the Fourteenth Regiment Kentucky Volunteers to form in line right and left of the road, placing at the same time two guns near the center to cover the retreat of the Sixteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers.
As soon as the latter had reached this line, I ordered the guns to retire, and shortly after the Fourteenth Regiment Kentucky Volunteers followed and took up position on the heights in rear of Tazewell, where the remainder of the brigade, with the artillery, were posted.
Having received information that the enemy had massed troops on the Knoxville road with the design of getting in rear of my right, I gave up all idea of advancing, and determined to hold these heights as long as my line of communication with Cumberland Gap was not endangered.
This was accordingly done, and the First Wisconsin Battery, ably commanded by the gallant Lieut. Anderson, with a well-directed fire, first stopped the enemy’s advance, and finally compelled him to retreat over the hills and out of sight. The enemy’s artillery fire was good, both as to range and direction, and the caliber of their guns was larger than ours.
About the time the enemy began to retire almost all stragglers had rejoined, and all stores and wagons had been sent well to the rear. The artillery ammunition being nearly all expended, and the men much exhausted from want of food, having lost their rations during the action, and their physical powers having been taxed to the utmost during the hottest part of the day, I resolved to retire slowly.
The movement began about 7 p.m.; was effected in excellent order, and in a direction through the woods which completely concealed it from the observation of the enemy’s scouts. Several hours previous I had again received information from loyal citizens and colored people that several regiments of the enemy were in rear of my right flank, which would have rendered this movement imperative had even the above reason not compelled it.
I have called upon officers commanding regiments to make a detailed report of the doings and conduct of their respective commands, and copies of these reports will be forwarded to you without delay. A return of killed, wounded, and missing will be furnished you as soon as possible.
Amongst the missing the name of Capt. Edgar, Sixteenth Regiment, will appear. This able, zealous, and gallant officer was seen to fall when his company was breaking through the enemy’s regiments.
I have the honor to be, sir, yours, respectfully,
JOHN DE COURCY
Col., Commanding Twenty-sixth Brigade.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 43-44.
A period map showing Tazewell and surrounding area.
Dashed blue line indicates the route of De Courcy’s brigade.
6 AUGUST 1862
Battle of Tazewell
As his forage operation continues, Col. De Courcy is aware of a large Confederate force camped south of the Clinch River, not too far from Tazewell; but he does not anticipate any major engagement will take place. On the Wednesday morning of 6 August, however, De Courcy is confronted by a vastly superior Rebel force commanded by Col. Thomas Hart Taylor.
7 AUGUST 1862
Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan, U. S. Army.
CUMBERLAND GAP, August 7, 1862.
COL.: To obtain forage and feed and learn the strength of the enemy, De Courcy was ordered to Tazewell on the 2nd instant. He secured 200 wagon loads of forage, all of which safely arrived on the 5th. Some slight picket skirmishing took place, in which we had 2 men wounded, while the enemy had 1 killed and several wounded.
Early in the morning of the 6th instant, not wishing to bring on a general action, I ordered Col. De Courcy to return to this post, but he was attacked at daybreak on that day. Considering enemy’s forces the attack was feeble. Two of his regiments surrounded two companies of the Sixteenth Ohio, detached to protect a section of artillery.
The enemy’s movement was well executed, and had it not been for the coolness and gallantry of Lieut. Anderson we would have lost two pieces of artillery. Although surrounded by a vastly superior force, the two infantry companies, under command of Capt.’s Edgar and Taneyhill, fought heroically, and three-fourths of them succeeded in cutting their way through to their regiments. But we fear that Capt. Edgar, an officer of great merit, was killed, and Capt. Taneyhill taken prisoner.
There were several instances of distinguished conduct both on the part of officers and soldiers. A soldier of the Twenty-second Kentucky was shot through the neck and fell. His gun dropped from his hands; his foe contrived to advance upon him, when the wounded hero grasped his gun, rose to his feet and shot the rebel soldier dead when within five paces of him, when he again fell weltering in his blood.
Two soldiers of the Sixteenth Ohio had lost their way and were going toward the enemy, when Lieut.-Col. Gordon, of the Eleventh Tennessee, hailed them, demanding their regiment. With coolness and courage they required him to declare his rank and regiment and took him prisoner. Resuming their march by a circuitous route they rejoined their commands. Gordon speaks highly of their courage and courteous treatment.
At 3.30 p. m. a courier arrived from Col. De Courcy and asked for aid. Leaving three regiments to guard the Gap I marched with my remaining force to his assistance, but when within 2 miles of Tazewell I met him on his return. The enemy left the field at 5 o’clock and maintained his position until 7 o’clock p. m. The enemy’s loss is believed to be considerable. I did not pursue, lest with a superior force, he should gain my rear.
GEORGE W. MORGAN, Brig.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 835-836.
Lt. Col. Philip Kershner
6 AUGUST 1862
Battle of Tazewell
On Wednesday morning the whole country was enveloped in a dense fog and perhaps delayed the attack for a short time. About seven o’clock the 16th Ohio under command of Major [Philip] Kershner came up and relieved the 14th, which marched down on the road toward Tazewell perhaps a quarter of a mile, into an old orchard, where guns were stacked and knapsacks unslung to await further orders.
Here it will be necessary to give some idea of the ground in order that a clear understanding may be had of succeeding events. …
Tazewell is a small village situated between two elevated ridges … both ridges sloping toward the town, the summits of which are near two miles apart. On the south side of the village there is a small uneven hill, densely covered with small cedar and pines. The Morristown road crosses the ridge south of Tazewell, through a small … gap where the heavy timber is still standing …
In the gap there were two guns of the battery and a small reserve force, the rest of the regiment being scattered in different positions through the woods, and on various roads and lookout points …
The 16th Ohio had but just taken its post in these various positions, when some of the enemy’s artillery down at Big Spring opened at long range to attract attention in that direction. In a few moments some scattering guns were heard at the outer picket posts, followed almost immediately by rousing cheers and heavy volleys of musketry.
The 14th formed instantly in line of battle and waited for orders to move up the hill to the assistance of the 16th … Not many moments elapsed, before it was clearly to be seen that the enemy in large numbers had completely surrounded the 16th and the two pieces of cannon. …
A rebel column came sweeping down the hill on the right with loud cheers; each discharge of canister left a wide gap in their ranks, which was instantly closed without the slightest wavering; twice the canister tore though their ranks but on they came within twenty or thirty paces of the guns. … the guns were brought off at double quick and the enemy were so near that the line of skirmishers were in a few yards of the road just as the guns were passing.
Major Kershner’s … small reserve force cut his way through the rebel ranks; the artillery drove into the orchard where the 14th was in line, and again opened fire upon them, and so also did the 14th which somewhat checked them, and afforded some protection to the retreat of the 16th.
They were so completely surrounded and cut off from each other that they came down the hill in straggling parties and irregular order, but still maintained a severe and effective fire upon the enemy, who immediately formed in line of battle and came down the hill in excellent order, and with a defiant yell which clearly bespoke their confidence of success.
The guns again moved off in haste and the command was given for the 14th to retreat, which was done in considerable disorder, because the regiment had to cross two fences, and the ground was quite uneven … while the rebel regiment was flanking us on our rear. The boys, however, did some pretty effective shooting in defiance of the orders … to cease firing, and move on to the ridge beyond the town. …
As soon as we were under cover of the town, our cannon opened fire upon the rebel column, and drove them back … The day was exceedingly hot and many were almost entirely exhausted from heat and thirst. Our battery played so effectively upon the rebels, that they did not enter the town, but most of their force returned to the ridge from which they had driven us, and in short time they had two cannons in position, and commenced returning our fire. The [artillery fire] continued during the whole afternoon without damaging us in the least. …
About night the brigade started out to take a walk, and they walked to Cumberland Gap before midnight … Regiment went on picket this morning and was attacked by a greatly superior force. … We got in a good position behind a fence, where we fought until our last cartridge was gone.
Then we retired beyond the town where our batteries were in position. The rebel’s tried to plant a battery, but could not do it. … we returned to camp that night meeting our whole Division near Powell’s River coming to reinforce us. We all returned to the Gap.
William Warner Reid Diary,
16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
12 AUGUST 1862
Colonel J. B. FRY:
Knoxville Register admits that [CSA Col. John C.] Vaughn’s regiments alone lost 109 men at Tazewell on the 6th instant, but claims that they captured four guns. All they got was the shot.
GEORGE W. MORGAN.
The Graham-Kivett House.
Tazewell’s oldest house, built c. 1810.
15 AUGUST 1862
Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
Since our arrival here [Cumberland Gap] June 18th, the monotony of camp life has only been broken by work upon the fortifications and an occasional foraging expedition inside the enemy’s lines. One of the most important of these trips was entered upon Saturday morning, Aug. 2nd, by the 26th Brigade, composed of the 16th and 42nd Ohio, and the 22nd Kentucky regiments under Acting Brigadier General J. F. De Courcy, accompanied by six pieces of artillery under command of Lieut. Anderson of the 1st Wisconsin battery, and Lieut. Webster of the siege battery.
At five o’clock Saturday morning the Brigade left camp, having in charge two hundred wagons, and after driving in the rebel pickets, encamped the same evening on the brow of a hill overlooking Tazewell, the county seat of Claiborne county, Tennessee, and fourteen miles from Cumberland Gap.
Four of the pieces were planted in front of camp, while the 16th Ohio with two pieces of artillery were stationed as pickets on the ground previously occupied by the rebels for the same purpose. The Brigade remained in camp Sunday, while the quartermasters spent their time confiscating rebel horses about town.
On Monday morning the Brigade took up its line of march for Clinch river, seven miles distant, where the rebels were reported encamped, eight thousand strong. There was a slight skirmish near Lycoming, in which one rebel was killed and four or five wounded. Our loss nothing.
Seventy wagons escorted by two companies of the 16th loaded within three-fourths of a mile of the river, and returned without accident. The Brigade re-occupied its camp near Tazewell, Monday evening and during Tuesday. The 14th Kentucky, which had been ordered up as a re-enforcement, acted as picket Tuesday and during the night.
Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock the 14th Kentucky was relieved by the 16th Ohio. Companies B and E were stationed one fourth of a mile in advance as outposts, the remainder, save companies C and G, picketed in different directions about the hill and ravines.
Half an hour after, scattered firing was heard in the direction of the outposts, and the cannon accompanying them was ordered in. No uneasiness was felt for an hour when a simultaneous attack was made on all the pickets, the outposts being entirely surrounded.
The outposts had twice been ordered in but failed to receive the message. They determined not to surrender, but to try to run the gauntlet and escape; but a concealed regiment opening fire on them at ten paces, killing Capt. Edgar of company B, and severely wounding Sergeant Major Beatty Smith, broke their ranks when every man for himself tried to make their own way through the lines, and about half succeeded.
The remainder were taken prisoners. The rear pickets had been attacked by four regiments who had taken position during the previous night, guiding their movements by cow bells. The reputation of the 16th Ohio was at stake, and the pickets fought desperately.
A part of company D supported a rifled Parrot on the brow of the hill, which poured incessant volleys of grape and canister death into the rebel ranks. Then charges were made to capture the piece by a rebel regiment, and once they were so certain of success that their commander ordered them to seize the gun and run it in the bushes; but they had reckoned without their host.
The cannon, double shotted, opened on them at twenty paces, mowing down almost an entire company; and while the gallant little fragment of company D poured a deadly volley into them, Major [Philip] Kershner ordered the piece to retire, and withdrew the pickets to the rear of the ravine.
At this juncture Major K’s horse was shot from under him, and during the remainder of the fight he gave his commands on foot. He was the only field officer engaged in the fight, and maneuvered his regiment (the 16th Ohio) admirably.
For one hour companies C and G held the whole rebel force in check, when the 14th Kentucky came to their assistance, and together they gradually retired, followed by four regiments of rebel infantry.
When our regiments had retired a sufficient distance to be out of danger, our artillery back of Tazewell opened on the rebels, when they gave a fine exhibition of a skedaddle back over the hill. They replied with a twelve pounder, but after having it twice dismounted, drew off.
Major Kershner cannot receive too much credit for the manner in which he conducted the fight, and his success in bringing his men and guns from the field with as little loss. He is a cool, brave man, well versed in tactics, respected and obeyed by his men, and deserving of a higher position in the service.
Dr. Chase, Assistant Surgeon 16th Ohio, was the only medical officer in the fight, and sustained the reputation of his profession, being the last man to leave the field, though the balls created anything but agreeable music about his ears.
General De Courcy was on the field during the latter part of the action.
During the fight, the 42nd Ohio guarded the Virginia road, to prevent the enemy from flanking, and the 22nd Kentucky supported the four guns back of Tazewell.
Two of the 22nd Kentucky were wounded while on picket Tuesday, and succeeded in killing two rebel cavalry, and wounding five or six. Capt. Edgar’s body was brought in by a flag of truce Sunday and interred with appropriate honors. Our regiment lost one killed and fifty-two wounded and missing. Dr. Brashear has today accompanied a flag of truce to Tazewell, to see two of our wounded prisoners.
The Knoxville Register admits one hundred killed on their side, and we are informed on reliable authority that four hundred will not more than account for their killed and wounded. Corporal Paul Wilder, of company B, captured Lieut. Col. Goodwin, of the 11th Tennessee, and brought him into camp.
WILSCOT, unknown soldier
This map shows more detail and place names than the older map.
21 AUGUST 1862
… from what I can learn from the most reliable sources the action commenced about 11 o’clock and continued about two hours and a half. There were no forces engaged on our side but the 16th Ohio, the other forces on our side being necessary to hold in check some 3 or 4 rebel regiments that were awaiting an opportunity to get into our rear and cut off our retreat and communication with the Gap.
The official report shows 54 men missing belonging to several companies… All the 16th engaged in the fight lost their knapsacks, blankets, overcoats and all their contents, including letters and many other little et ceteras that they had from time to time gathered up.
The rebel force, as nearly as we can learn, was 11 regiments of infantry together with artillery and cavalry. Four of our regiments were engaged in the contest with the 16th Ohio, and were several times repulsed, but they outflanked us and we were compelled to retire in consequence of vastly superior numbers …
[Captain Hamilton Richardson, 16th OVI]
21 AUGUST 1862
A letter from a member of Capt. McClure’s company … dated on the 10th inst:
“You have no doubt heard of our fight at Tazewell. Our regiment was pretty badly cut up, as all the fighting on our side was done by the 16th. Our company was divided, and attached to other companies, in order to equalize them. I was with Capt. Botsford’s company and had a severe time of it.
When the rebels made the attack, our company was held back as reserve. As soon as they made a charge, we were ordered to support the artillery which we did in handsome style, keeping the enemy in check and our artillery made good their retreat; we then fell back gradually to our main support.
When I came to myself again, I found that I was minus my knapsack and haversack, but with them the secesh received about forty rounds of cartridges, which to some of them I think wasn’t very agreeable. As you will get a better description of the engagement than I can give, I will leave the rest to them.
We buried Capt. Edgar last night. His body was procured by a flag of truce.
Dave, 16th OVI,
Battle of Tazewell
A CONFEDERATE PERSPECTIVE
In early August 1862, Gen. E. KIRBY SMITH advanced from Knoxville toward Cumberland Gap, intending to clear the way through the Gap with the 18,000 troops with him. With Gen. CARTER L. STEVENSON’s Division in the lead, Smith camped at the Clinch River, where his pickets sighted one of De Courcy’s foraging parties, 7 miles southeast of Tazewell on 4 August.
After filling their wagons … De Courcy returned to Tazewell, reported the encounter with Smith’s pickets and requested reinforcements. Gen. George Morgan immediately dispatched the 14th KENTUCKY—then doing picket duty on Walden’s Ridge—to reinforce De Courcy.
When the 14th was relieved from picket duty at 7 a.m. on 6 August, Walden’s Ridge was covered in dense fog. Within a half hour, Col. THOMAS H. TAYLOR’s Brigade of Stevenson’s Division, supported by the RHETT ARTILLERY, attacked the 16th OHIO’s pickets in the fog, driving them down the ridge and capturing 52.
When Taylor turned their right flank, the 16th were able to extricate their two guns from the crest of the ridge; but by the time the 14th Kentucky could be formed, the engagement was over and what was left of the 16th had dispersed. With Taylor’s Brigade now in musket range of the 14th KENTUCKY and moving to attack both flanks, the Union regiment fired a volley before retiring to the Union line north of town.
Then, as Taylor’s Brigade advanced toward Tazewell, they passed a lane that ran at right angles to their line of march. Where the lane connected with the main road, the Federals had one of their cannon posted, hidden by some bushes. The sergeant in charge of the piece, double-shotted it with canister and trained it so as to rake the main road and beyond.
As Taylor’s Brigade came down the slope of Walden’s Ridge in line of battle, with colors flying, the cannoneer waited until his line of sight was filled with gray clad troops before firing, sweeping the lane, the road, and the field beyond with a hail of canister.
Confederate casualties from this single discharge are not known, but the slaughter was said to be terrible. In the chaos which ensued, the sergeant limbered up his gun and escaped to the Union lines.
Both the 16th Ohio and 14th Kentucky lost their knapsacks, two day’s rations for 800 men and about 50 small arms that day, but De Courcy managed to save all their wagons and artillery, along with all the horses and provisions they had confiscated.
For the rest of the day there was an exchange of artillery fire between the opposing forces on the two hills until, after dark, with his wagons well on their way to the gap, De Courcy retired.
De Courcy had stripped Claiborne County of provisions for civilians and the Confederate military. One of Taylor’s men, writing home to his parents in Georgia on August 12, complained of the lack of rations over the prior month, saying that sometimes the troops went without food for three days at a time.
Major General E. Kirby Smith
16 AUGUST 1862
Gen. Smith waits for his reinforcements and bypasses Cumberland Gap through Barbourville KY to the west, leaving Stevenson’s Division to watch Morgan’s garrison in the Gap, who Smith believed were too well fortified to capture, but too small a force to challenge him in the field.
11 NOVEMBER 1862
Great Fire of Tazewell
On 11 November 1862, after Confederate troops who have been stationed at Tazewell leave the area, it is discovered that a fire is burning in the town. Some twenty buildings are destroyed, including the courthouse, a large hotel and several brick storehouses. It was watched with dismay by Hugh Graham, whose ‘Castle Rock’ home escaped destruction.