Civil War in Tennessee: War in the Mountains

Tennessee’s mountain residents were bitterly divided about secession in 1861, although most were Unionist. In Huntsville (Exit 141), Scott County residents voted to secede and join Kentucky if Tennessee joined the Confederacy. Confederate commanders struggled to defend Tennessee’s lengthy border with Kentucky and western Virginia. A Confederate fort in LaFollette (Exit 134) overlooked Big Creek Gap, a mountain pass, in case a Federal advance came that way. Other gaps were similarly fortified. Although when Confederate Gen. Simon B. Buckner inspected the posts from Clinton (Exit 122) east to Cumberland Gap in June 1863, he found them “very imperfect.” Buckner strengthened the Cumberland Gap defenses (Exit 134); today, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park preserves both early Confederate fortifications and later Federal works.