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]

East Tennessee Campaign Facts

June 2–September 9, 1863

Key facts about the East Tennessee Campaign of 1863.


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.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title East Tennessee Campaign Facts
  • Coverage June 2–September 9, 1863
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 16, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 3, 2022