Civil War in Tennessee: War in the Mountains
I-40 exit 435
Newport, TN 37821
Tennessee’s mountain residents were bitterly divided about secession in 1861. Most were Unionist, but after the state seceded, this part remained Confederate territory until later in the war. Both armies passed through Newport (Exit 435) frequently in the winter of 1863–1864 to virtually strip the French Broad River Valley of livestock and grain. Fighting occurred around Dandridge (Exit 424) in January 1864, when Confederate Gen. James Longstreet’s forces compelled Union Gen. John Parke’s foragers to retreat to Knoxville. In Unionist Sevierville (Exit 407) on Tennessee Rte. 66, the Home Guard protected residents from Confederate occupation. Local women sewed the Guard’s uniforms at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. Unionists tried and failed in September 1861 to destroy the Strawberry Plains Railroad Bridge (Exit 398). In May 1862, Col. William H. Thomas’s North Carolina brigade, which included many Cherokee Indians, began guarding the bridge. Union advances forced his retreat in September 1863, and Federals controlled the bridge afterward.