History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     This week we shall review The Civil War and Campbell County Tennessee, as written by Judge Gregory (Greg) K. Miller. Judge Miller is a qualified writer with many credentials to his name. Among them he set in motion the beginning of the Campbell County Historical Society in LaFollette, Tennessee. He was also chosen an honorable position as Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who Among Practicing Attorneys. There are many more credentials to his name, specifically, his six years service as an Assistant District Attorney for the Honorable Wm. Paul Phillips. He was also appointed as Judicial Referee for the 8th Judicial District in 1988 by Judge Lee Asbury; Judge Conrad Troutman, Jr., and Chancellor Billy Joe White. Greg is the son of Clarence D. Miller and Ella Mae (Mowell) Miller, all residents of LaFollette, Tennessee.

     Greg writes that when he became interested in the Civil War in Campbell County, Tennessee, he was bewildered as to how little material that was available in the County. And so, he decided to beat the odds by writing a book on the subject.
The first section of the book begins with the people of the County of Campbell and the struggle for their own survival. However hard their struggle, they were largely a happy and carefree lot.

     Greg cites Mr. Frank Richardson's work in his book, From Sunrise to Sunset. Mr. Richardson mentions in his book how few dwellings there were in existence at the time in Jacksboro. He also states that a chimney attached to a house was worth more than the house itself. He writes of the many social grievances that were encountered such as drinking, cock fighting, shooting matches, and frequent fights.

     The Civil War book states that prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Campbell County had a population of 6,712, of which 366 were slaves. The 1860 U.S. Census lists 61 slave owners with John Kincaid owning the most, 54. The value of slaves many times far exceeded the value of the land on which they worked. A William Heatherly, of the first district, owned 250 acres valued at $1,660; he also owned two slaves at the same time, valued at $1,800

     There was little sentiment in Campbell County for the Confederate cause simply because of the less numerous slave counts. In March of 1862, while marching through this area of the County, Col. James P.T. Carter of the 2nd Tennessee Volunteer, U.S., wrote of the sentimentality of the locals. He writes:

"The people through the section of country over which we passed are truly loyal in the sentiments and hailed the advent of our troops with unbounded enthusiasm. Everything they had was freely tendered to us."

     The Confederate cause was put on the back burner so far as sentimentality was involved. Of the 1059 votes cast in Campbell County, only 59 favored secession. East Tennessee, on June 8, 1861, by a vote of 104,913 to 47,238, opposed secession. With the overall vote counted, Campbell County favored the Union cause.

     Pillaging ran rampant in Campbell County by the Confederate forces. Lands were stripped of their crops, animals killed. Other atrocities included looting and raiding of the local's personal items. Frank Richardson witnessed the retreating of Confederate forces from Big Creek Gap (now LaFollette) from Kentucky in December of 1862. He wrote: "They spread out in the valley and commenced devouring everything in reach, like the locust of Egypt. What they could not eat they trampled under their feet."

     Campbell County was located in a tactical location due to its accessibility to Cumberland Gap. This setting was a much-anticipated vicinity for the struggle between the two American armies, Union and Confederate. The loyalty of the Campbell County residents was one of faithfulness to their cause of the Civil War.

     Judge Miller recounts a map in the vicinity near Cumberland Gap. On this diagram he writes that at the beginnings of the Civil War, there were 42 lesser gaps in the vicinity of the Gap. He also writes that most gaps to the east of Cumberland Gap were mere rough bridal paths.

     The book also states that Campbell County comprised the "best secondary gaps near Cumberland Gap." The Jacksboro Gap was by far the most excellent gap, which was "described as the best wagon road West of Cumberland Gap." It seems that most attempts to flank Cumberland Gap were through Rogers Gap (located in Claiborne County) and Big Creek Gap (now LaFollette)

     Roger's Gap is located between Speedwell and Fincastle. This opening is described as a secondary road in the past, passable only for lightly loaded wagons and artillery. However, Colonel John F. DeCourcy, of the 16th Ohio Infantry, improved this Gap in June 1862.

     Big Creek Gap guarded one of the two routes connecting Cumberland Gap to Knoxville, the first being from Cumberland Gap to Tazewell, in Claiborne County. The second course reached from Cumberland Gap southward through Powell's Valley along the eastern flank of Cumberland Mountain. This route passed through Speedwell, Fincastle, and Jacksborough.
The highest ranked officer from Campbell County was Col. Joseph Cooper. Judge Miller relates in his book the many military exploits of this famed soldier. Col. Cooper hated the Confederate aggression in Campbell County. He, with 85 other Campbell County residents, organized Company A of the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment. The book goes into detail exploiting Col. Cooper's involvement in the Civil War.

     This fine book has many chapter titles such as First Thunder, Summer of Struggle, Full Fury, and The Storm Abates. It also includes biographical sketches of the Civil War leaders in the vicinity. Within these fine works Judge Miller has also included the artillery arms likely used in Campbell County. For genealogical purposes, included is the list of Civil War veterans buried in Campbell County.

     Also for genealogical purposes, the book contains the listing, in alphabetical order, of the Campbell County Civil War Veterans, their companies, and whether they were in the Confederate service or the Union service. This addition is such a valuable contribution.

     This indexed book is a tribute to one of Campbell's Counties finest historians. Judge Miller has outdone himself in his research and writing expertise.

     I have just touched on the contents of this fine book. All my subjects listed in this article are just a drop in the bucket. Whether you are interested in Campbell County and its involvement the Civil War or not, the history of Campbell County and the many names provided offer a volume of information.

     If for historical reasons or genealogical reasons, I would highly recommend this 109 page book simply because of its powerful message. If the readers would like to purchase a book, please write Judge Gregory K. Miller, P.O. Box 1193, LaFollette, Tennessee 37766. Price: $10.00 plus $2.00 shipping. 

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