The Lion, the Ditch, and the Civil War Battlefield

The Aslan Foundation of Knoxville has come to the rescue of Fort Higley, one of the lesser-known Civil War forts in East Tennessee. As described in a story in the News Sentinel, the foundation bought almost 100 acres encompassing the remains of the fort, which lies downstream from the better known Fort Dickerson.

Fort Higley--photo courtesy of Knox Heritage, Inc.

Fort Higley--photo courtesy of Knox Heritage, Inc.

Visitors to the Fort Higley site could walk the land and never know it was a Civil War site. The forts on the south side of the river never contained the extensive fortifications seen in places such as Fort Negley in Nashville. Fort Higley, however, was listed as one of the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields in 2005 by the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Fort Higley was never the scene of a battle, but Northern troops stationed here took part in the nearby Battle of Armstrong’s Hill, described by Geoffrey R. Walden as follows:

“The action at Armstrong’s Hill has largely been forgotten. You cannot find Armstrong’s Hill mentioned anywhere in the Official Records and only in a handful of regimentals. However, this was a savage two-hour battle with important results for the siege of Knoxville and surprising parallels to the assault on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. The numbers in both actions were roughly equal, and the Confederate participants were the same in both. The terrain is markedly similar on both fields, although the slope of Little Round Top is certainly rockier. The Confederates mounted a spirited assault in both instances, only to be driven back. Here the similarities end; Little Round Top has been the subject of story, poetry, and canvas for 125 years, while Armstrong’s Hill has been relegated to obscurity.”

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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