Fort Anderson (4)
Fort Anderson (4) (1892-1893) - A Tennessee Militia Fort established in 1892 on Militia Hill near present day Rocky Top, Anderson County, Tennessee. Named Fort Anderson probably after Colonel Kellar Anderson, commander of the fort. Abandoned in 1893.
History of Fort Anderson
Established in January 1892 as a base for Tennessee National Guard troops during Coal Creek War. The troops were put in place to protect convict miners from harm by regular miners who had been displaced by convict labor.
The Coal Creek War began when miners captured the convict stockades and sent the convicts and guards by train to nearby Knoxville. The Governor was then informed that convict labor would no longer be tolerated in the mines. The Governor responded by sending an 84 man militia detachment to establish Fort Anderson.
The fort overlooked the town of Coal Creek (now Rocky Top) and the convict stockade at Coal Creek. It was armed with cannon and Gatling guns. The fort was poorly sited and the troops became easy targets for miners in the hills behind the fort. In response, a system of breastworks was dug around the fort to protect the troops.
Miners attacked the fort in the summer of 1892 but were repulsed. As hostilities escalated the cannon was actually fired down into the town with shot cans filled with mud to demonstrate that the town could easily be destroyed. The miners then captured Colonel Keller T. Anderson, commander of the fort, and held him hostage. Governor John Buchanan responded by declaring martial law and sent General Samuel T. Carnes and the bulk of the state milita (583 officers and men) to the area in the late summer of 1892. Colonel Anderson was released and hundreds of miners were arrested. This overwhelming show of force ended the conflict that saw over 500 miners arrested and 27 killed.
Fort Anderson was abandoned in late 1893 after the Tennessee Legislature appropriated funds to build Brushey Mountain State Prison, signalling the end of convict lease system in Tennessee. The system actually ended when the last state contracts expired in 1896.
The remains of the fort are on Militia Hill near present day Rocky Top, Anderson County, Tennessee. The remains of the breastworks can be seen and a display cannon is in place. Numerous markers are scattered around the site explaining events of the time.
Visited: 20 May 2016