Well, not really THE Civil War…it’s actually The Sullivan County Civil War Days, an annual event commemorating the Battle of Blountville.
And if you’ve never heard of the Battle of Blountville, here’s what you’ve missed:
In 1863, Union General Ambrose Burnside undertook an expedition into East Tennessee to clear the roads and gaps to Virginia, and to secure the saltworks just beyond Abingdon (modern-day Saltville). Because of its proximity to the railroad, Blountville became one of his targets.
So he sent Colonel John W. Foster to engage Confederate Colonel James E. Carter in the tiny town. Upon their arrival, the Union forces picked out a strategic place to camp. It was at the top of a hill, and could fire cannonballs down at Confederate troops in the town. Strangely enough, it was also a cemetery (*The Blountville Cemetery is now the final resting place for many Revolutionary War and Civil War Soldiers).
So on September 22, they shelled the town and initiated a flanking movement. After only four hours, Confederate forces surrendered, and Blountville laid in shambles. Many of the town’s buildings were hit by cannon fire, and the courthouse (and much of the town) was burned from the inside-out.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Three years later, the courthouse was rebuilt. And though it has since been razed and rebuilt, the basement is still the original foundation for the building, and documents originally housed in the courthouse now lay in ashes on the floor.
Another Blountville landmark, the Old Cannonball House, still retains the marks and scars from Union cannon fire. And the Historic Deery Inn, where women and children fled during the battle, is reportedly haunted by ghosts from that historic day. Bearing so many wounds from the battle, it’s no surprise Blountville was only the second battle chosen for Tennessee’s Civil War Trails.
But if you want to hear the whole story, see the battle re-enactment, smell the cannon-smoke, check out the cannonball damage, or have your very own close-encounter with a Civil-War ghost, you’ll have to check out Civil War Days for yourself. It all starts this weekend (Saturday, June 19 at 9am), and it’s completely free of charge!
(Civil War Days is sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism)
For more information, visit the Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism, or call(423) 323-4660. And to learn more about Historic Blountville, click here.