Although no major
Civil War battles were fought in Loudon County, it was
a hotbed of activity during the the conflict due primarily
to troop movements through the county enroute to other
battles. There was, however, a brief skirmish at Philadelphia
occurring in 1863. Loudon County was important to both
sides of the war because of it railroads, rivers, and
Even though Tennessee seceded from the Union on June
18, 1861, many East Tennesseans remained loyal to
the union. With encouragement from the Federal Government,
Union sympathizers planned the burning of all major
bridges in East Tennessee during the month of November
in 1861. The Loudon railroad bridge was spared from
this fate, because according to legend the group assigned
this task decided to get drunk instead. Realizing
the danger to the bridge, the Confederates dispatched
the 16th Alabama Infantry to guard the
bridge. They remained there until Union General Ambrose
Burnside's invasion in September 1863
prepare for this invasion, General Burnside sent Colonel
William P. Sanders on a raid into East Tennessee.
On June 19, 1863, Colonel Sanders struck the railroad
at Lenoir's Station, bypassing both Kingston and Loudon
because they were too heavily guarded. His troops
succeeded in capturing a detachment of artillery men,
three cannons, eight officers, and fifty-seven enlisted
men. He burned the depot and several other buildings
but refrained from burning the Lenoir Cotton Mill,
because Dr. Benjamin Ballard Lenoir was a member of
the Masonic Order. Colonel Sanders returned to Kentucky
following the raid.
As General Burnside moved from Kentucky into Tennessee
with the intent to capture Knoxville, CSA General
Simon Bolivar Buckner evacuated Knoxville and headed
to Chattanooga to join forces with CSA General Braxton
Bragg. On September 6, 1863 after crossing the Loudon's
railroad bridge, the Confederate troops burned the
bridge to prevent Union General James L. Shackleford
from capturing the strategic bridge.
the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19-20, 1863,
CSA General James Longstreet moved from Chattanooga
to Knoxville in an attempt to recapture Knoxville.
During this time, General Burnside sent a detachment
of men to the Loudon area. They set up headquarters
in the Wiley Blair Home which was located between
Loudon and Lenoir City. Down the road, Colonel Frank
G. Wolford, commander of the Union troops currently
stationed in Philadelphia, had set up headquarters
in the Walter Franklin Lenoir Home. On October 20,
1863, two Confederate Calvaries, one commanded by
Colonel George G. Dibrell (of the Tennessee 8th Cavalry
) and the other by Colonel John J. Morrison, surrounded
and attacked Wolford's forces. Colonel Morrison had
marched his men 50 miles in 15 hours to place them
between Loudon and Philadelphia. He send part of his
troops to Loudon to hold Wolford's troops and sent
the remaining troops to Philadelphia to join the fighting
with Dibrell's troops. The Union troops were severely
beaten. Seven men were killed and 447 captured. Wagon
trains, supplies, and equipment were also captured.
From Knoxville, General Burnside
sent Captain Orlando M. Poe, chief engineer of the
Army of the Ohio, to Loudon to dismantle the pontoon
bridge before General Longstreet and his troops could
use it. Before completing this task, a small band
of Confederates appeared and surprised Captain Poe.
Expecting to be fired on, he was surprised when the
Confederate Officer waved and beckoned him over. Captain
Poe engaged the Confederate officer in the exchange
of war tales while the Poe's men safely removed the
During the early part of November 1863, General Longstreet's
troops began marching back to Knoxville. In anticipation
of this march, General Burnside began moving the bulk
of his troops to Loudon. As Longstreet's troops approached
Loudon on November 14, General Burnside pulled his
troops back to Lenoir's Station. During November 14-15,
1863, Longstreet's men built a pontoon bridge across
the Tennessee River at Huff's Ferry. Minor skirmishes
occurred between the two troops all along the trail
from Huff's Ferry to Lenoir's Station. Longstreet
had planned to attack Burnsides men the next day but
found that they had quietly slipped away to Knoxville.
Following in hot pursuit, Longstreet's army finally
engaged Burnside's army at Campbell's
Station in Knoxville.
December 3, 1863 in order to prevent Union General
William T. Sherman's troops from using the Loudon
Bridge, the Confederate army burned what remained
of the railroad bridge. They ran 3-4 engines and and
50-100 boxcars off the end of the burned bridge into
the Tennessee River. The wreckage was not recovered
from the river until the 1880s. General Sherman's
advanced cavalry reached Loudon on December 4, 1863.
Sherman's forces skirmished with the retreating Confederates
around Loudon during December 4-5, 1863.
The Union forces now controlled Loudon County and
remained in control until the close of the war. By
March 1864, they had built a temporary railroad bridge.
By November 1864, the permanant bridge was completed.
No other war activity was reported in Loudon County
except for a raid by Confederate General Joseph Wheeler
in the summer of 1864. This raid, however, only touched
the fringes of the county.