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!
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.
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.
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Last updated: April 14, 2015