Civil War in Knox County
But the greatest event in the history of Tennessee as of the Union at large was the war of the Rebellion. Because of the peculiar condition of society in the eastern part of the state, only one in twenty of the population being slaves, the stronghold of the Unionists was in East Tennessee. And this was true even after the firing on Fort Sumter, this fact being due in large part to the attitude assumed by such leaders as Andrew Johnson, TAR Nelson, William G Brownlow, Horace Maynard, Connolly F Trigg, Oliver P Temple, and others, who though of less prominence were yet of equal patriotism. These men and such men as these did all in their power to prevent Tennessee from seceding from the Union. The first great movement that distinguished East Tennessee from the rest of the state in this matter was made in May, 1861, on the 30th of which month, there assembled at Knoxville five hundred delegates from all portions of East Tennessee in pursuance of the following call the meeting being held in Temperance Hall.
The undersigned, a portion of the people of East Tennessee, disapproving of the hasty and inconsiderate action of our general assembly, and sincerely desiring to do in the midst of the trouble which surrounds us, what will be the best for our country and for all classes of our citizens, respectfully appoint a convention to be held in Knoxville on Thursday the 30th of May inst and we urge every county in East Tennessee to send delegates to this convention, that the conservative element of our whole section may be represented, and that wise and judicious councils may prevail, looking to peace and harmony among ourselves.
FS Heiskell John Williams WH Rogers John J Craig SR Rogers
John Baxter Dr WA Rogers OP Temple WG Brownlow John Tunnell
CF Trigg CH Baker David Burnett And others
The unconquerable Union sentiment thus existing in the eastern part of the state did much to prevent and delay the organization of regiments to aid the Confederate cause, and several of the young men favoring this cause anxious to enter the field went down into Georgia and united with the first regiment raised in that state. But as it was seen by the secession leaders to be necessary to suppress the Unionists who would if left to follow out their own will and policy destroy communication between Virginia and the states southwest of Tennessee, the old fair grounds, two miles west of Knoxville were converted into a camp for such secession companies and regiments as might be organized in East Tennessee. On May 29, the Third Confederate Tennessee regiment made up mainly from citizens of Monroe county, which was strongly secession, was organized and soon afterward the Fourth and Nineteenth regiments were also organized.
On July 26 General Zollicoffer reached this camp and assumed command of the Confederate forces in East Tennessee, remaining in Knoxville until the following September, when he went to Cumberland Gap, leaving Col WB Wood in command of the camp at the fair grounds. November 15, Col Wood was succeeded by General WH Carroll, with General GB Crittenden as division commander, who also had his headquarters at Knoxville. The first company organized in Knox county for service in the Confederate army was Company E, Nineteenth Tennessee infantry, which was in May, 1861, with the following officers: Dr John Paxton, captain; John Miller, first lieutenant; George Boyce, second lieutenant; LB Graham, third lieutenant; Samuel Hamilton, orderly sergeant. In 1862 this company was reorganized.
Union regiments and companies from East Tennessee were organized in Kentucky, from bands of refugees who went to that state for the purpose of being thus organized because they could not well be organized at home. And it necessarily happened that very few companies were organized wholly from any one county. Of the First Tennessee cavalry Company C composed mainly of men from Knox county. This company was organized with James P Brownlow, captain, who upon becoming lieutenant colonel, was succeeded by MT Burkhart, and upon the promotion of Capt Burkhart to major of the regiment, the command of the company devolved upon Elbert J Cannon. The last captain of the company was Jacob K Lones, who was commissioned in December, 1863. John Roberts and James H Smith were successively second and first lieutenants. The entire number of men in the company was 122, of whom forty one were killed or died of wounds or disease. There was also a considerable number of men from Knox county in the Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth cavalry regiments. The First Tennessee cavalry was organized at Camp Garber, Ky, March 1, 1862, as the Fourth Tennessee infantry and remained an infantry regiment until November 1, 1862, when it was transferred to the cavalry arm of the service. The first officers of this regiment were as follows: Robert Johnson, colonel; James P Brownlow, lieutenant colonel; James O Berry, major; and John Hall, adjutant. (Source: Standard History of Knoxville, Tennessee, edited by William Rule, George Frederick Mellen, John Wooldridge, Lewis Publishing Company, 1900)