Civil War at Cumberland Gap

morgans retreat200for web
Union forces under General George Washington Morgan retreat and destroy munitions in order to keep them from falling into Confederate hands

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!

019-Civil War Painting-Hauling Cannon up Gap
Soldiers hauling cannon up the ridge

Soldiers from both sides endured extreme conditions and hardships while stationed at Cumberland Gap. In order to control and defend the gap, soldiers cleared away trees and built earthen fortifications on the hillsides surrounding the gap. Hauling artillery and supplies up the steep slopes surrounding the gap, the soldiers worked long hours in extreme weather conditions.

picture of Benjamin Norton, his journal, and a medal earned during the war
Tin type image of Union soldier Alexander B. Norton, a medal, and his journal which details his activities during the war

Life of a Soldier

Among some of the most prized possessions of many of the soldiers were their journals, in which they recorded their daily activities. These historical accounts provide a detailed look at day to day life of a soldier.

civil war page
National Park Service website showcasing the stories of the Civil War

Learn More...

The Civil War: 150 Years
link to the National Park Service website commemorating the Civil War sesquicentennial.

Slavery: Cause and Catalyst of the Civil War (2.46 MB)
downloadable pdf brochure

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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