Cumberland Gap was of great strategic importance during the Civil War. Union forces saw the gap as an easy route through the mountains into east Tennessee, where many people voiced opposition to secession. The route through the gap could provide a way for union forces to disrupt vital confederate supply routes. Confederate forces viewed the gap as an integral part of a strategy to move forward into Kentucky to reclaim resources.
Although there was never a major battle, there was a great deal of activity as both sides clamored for control of Cumberland Gap. Through strategic maneuvers and skirmishes, both sides managed to occupy the gap twice!