Civil War Comes to Cumberland Gap

Union forces retreating with munitions exploding behind them
Union forces evacuate the Cumberland Gap, leaving nothing useful behind

During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces vied for control of the Cumberland Gap which was a strategic stronghold for both sides. Union commanders viewed the gap as a way to cut the Confederacy in two and an opportunity to disrupt communication and supply lines along the southern railroad. Confederate commanders recognized this and saw the gap as a critical defensive position.

picture of norton copy285
Tin type photo of Seargant AB Norton of the 4th Tennessee Cavalry along with medal and journal

Both Union and Confederate troops spent months at a time at Cumberland Gap, watching and waiting for the enemy's next move. Although there were never any major battles at Cumberland gap, there were a number of skirmishes and strategic flanking movements. During the war both sides actually occupied Cumberland Gap twice!

Numerous programs and activities showcase the stories of the Civil War at Cumberland Gap!

civil war web page

More Information...

During the Civil War (542 KB)
Publication featuring timeline of the Civil War at Cumberland Gap and units that were at the gap during the war

Civil War: 150 Years
National Park Service website commemorating the Civil War sesquicentenial

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


Last updated: December 7, 2018

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