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Battle of Bean's Station (December 14-15, 1863)
The engagement at Bean's Station developed as a result of Confederate General James Longstreet's retreat into East Tennessee following his repulse at Knoxville. Longstreet's First Corps was detached from the Army of Tennessee following the Battle of Chickamauga to retake Knoxville from the Union Army of the Ohio, which was commanded by Ambrose Burnside. After the Confederate attack on Knoxville's Fort Sanders failed, Longstreet retreated into East Tennessee on December 4.
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet abandoned the Siege of Knoxville, on December 4, 1863, and retreated northeast towards Rogersville, Tennessee. Union Maj. Gen. John G. Parke pursued the Confederates but not too closely.
Battle of Bean's Station, 14 December 1863
A minor battle during the American Civil War. A Confederate army under General Longstreet had attempted to recapture Knoxville, Tennessee, originally captured by Union forces on 3 September 1863. After a failed assault (battle of Knoxville, 29 November 1863), news arrived of the defeat of the Confederate army besieging Chattanooga (battle of Missionary Ridge, 25 November 1863) and of the approach of a relief column under General Sherman.
Battle of Bean's Station
Description: Lt. Gen. James Longstreet abandoned the Siege of Knoxville, on December 4, 1863, and retreated northeast towards Rogersville, Tennessee. Union Maj. Gen. John G. Parke pursued the Confederates but not too closely.
The Valley of East Tennessee in the Civil War
From a military standpoint the East Tennessee campaigns were of no great significance in the Civil War. Politically, however, the area was important. The entire section of Tennessee east of the Cumberland plateau was predominately Union in its sympathies. The mountain and river valley area along the Upper Tennessee and its tributaries was a region of small farms. Slave owners were rare. Consequently in the state referendum in Tennessee, secession lost by some 20,000 votes-in the eastern counties. A convention was held of representatives from this area and a memorial of the State Legislature was approved-acting legislative consent to the formation of a new state, this state to remain in the Union.
Longstreet's Knoxville Campaign
During the stalemated investment of Chattanooga, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet quarreled. On President Jefferson Davis' approval, to ease command tensions and divert Union attention from Chattanooga operations, Longstreet, 2 divisions led by Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws and Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins, and 2 artillery battalions under Col. E. Porter Alexander and Maj. Austin Leyden were sent to attack Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's East Tennessee troops at Knoxville. Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's 5,000 cavalry, directed to lend support, brought Longstreet's strength to 17,000 men.
Knoxville in the Civil War
President Abraham Lincoln stated, "If the Union armies could take East Tennessee, we will have the Rebellion by the throat and it must dwindle and die." Why? What was so important about Knoxville and East Tennessee in the early 1860s? Events occurring in and around Knoxville during the Civil War (1861-1865) would underscore the president's words and explain the historic markers so numerous in the area and the emotions that still prevail three and four generations since that terrible time.