East Tennessee Campaign Facts

June 2–September 9, 1863

Key facts about the East Tennessee Campaign of 1863.

Portrait of Ambrose Burnside

In September 1863, Major General Ambrose Burnside launched his East Tennessee Campaign was a Union offensive that resulted in the Union capture of Knoxville and the Cumberland Gap. [Wikimedia Commons]

Date and Location

  • June 2–September 9, 1863
  • Eastern Tennessee near Knoxville

Timeline of the East Tennessee Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the East Tennessee Campaign in order.

  • September 7–9, 1863 — Battle of Cumberland Gap
  • September 22, 1863 — Battle of Blountville
  • October 10, 1863 — Battle of Blue Springs

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Department of the Ohio (9th and 23rd Army Corps)

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Department of East Tennessee

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • 20,500

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Undetermined

Estimated Union Casualties

  • Undetermined

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • Undetermined


  • Union victory

Impact of the East Tennessee Campaign

  • When Tennessee seceded from the Union on June 8, 1861, the majority of the population in the eastern part of the state remained loyal to the Union.
  • When the American Civil War began, the governor of Tennessee was forced to send military personnel to Knoxville to enforce the statewide vote for secession.
  • Because of the number of loyalists in the area, President Abraham Lincoln considered the liberation of East Tennessee to be of paramount importance.
  • On June 2, 1863, Major General Ambrose Burnside departed from Cincinnati, Ohio with a Federal force intent on capturing Knoxville.
  • Major General Ambrose Burnside’s East Tennessee Campaign was delayed when one corps of his army was deployed to Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • Events occurring in the Chickamauga Campaign during the summer of 1863 forced Major General Simon B. Buckner to move most of his army to southern Tennessee, leaving only a token force to defend Knoxville.
  • Major General Ambrose Burnside’s cavalry reached Knoxville on September 2, 1863, almost unopposed.
  • On September 3, 1863, Major General Ambrose Burnside marched his army into Knoxville, and was warmly received by the citizenry.
  • Confederate Brigadier General John Frazer surrendered the Cumberland Gap to Major General Ambrose Burnside on September 9, 1863.
  • On September 22, 1863, Union forces commanded by Colonel John J. Foster defeated Confederate soldiers commanded by Colonel James E. Carter at the Battle of Blountville.
  • On October 10, 1863, Union forces commanded by Major General Ambrose E. Burnside defeated Confederate Brigadier General John S. Williams’ forces at the Battle of Blue Springs.
  • Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s victory at the Battle of Blue Springs forced Confederate forces to evacuate northeast Tennessee in October 1863.
  • Confederate General James Longstreet launched his Knoxville Campaign in November 1863.