Fort Sanders (2)

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Fort Sanders (2) (1863-1865) - A U.S. Army post established as Fort Buckner in 1863 during the U.S. Civil War in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee. Renamed for Union Brigadier General William P. Sanders (Cullum 1751) who was killed in the Battle of Fort Sanders, 18 Nov 1863. Fort abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war. Also known as Fort Loudoun.

Assault on Fort Sanders

Fort Sanders History

Fort Sanders was one of 20 named Union fortifications surrounding Knoxville, Tennessee (8 Forts and 12 Batteries) during the U.S. Civil War. This ring of defenses was established late in 1863 to counter a Confederate threat to the city. Confederate forces attempted to capture the city in November-December 1863 and laid siege to the city. Large losses were sustained by Confederate forces attempting to take Fort Sanders and the Confederates withdrew, lifting the siege.

Knoxville defenses 1863

The fort was constructed on high ground at the northwest corner of the city. The earthwork rose 70 feet above the surrounding ground and the defenses included a 12 foot wide ditch that was 8 feet deep. A steep wall rose 15 feet above the ditch to the top of the fort. The fort was armed with 12 cannons and a garrison of some 440 men from the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry.

In November 1863 Confederate forces under General James Longstreet laid siege to Knoxville and planned an attack on the fort in an effort to break through the defenses. The attack took place on 23 Nov 1863 without a supporting bombardment of the fort and without the element of surprise. The attacking Confederates also misjudged the depth of the ditch and the slope of the wall and did not provide scaling ladders for the attacking force. As seen in the picture above, the defenders also strung telegraph wire between stumps on the approaches to the fort. The wire entangled the attackers, slowing them down and preventing timely troop maneuvers. The attack was a disaster for the Confederate attackers and General Longstreet call off the attack after about 20 minutes. The confederate attackers suffered 813 casualties and the Union defenders suffered only 13.

General Longstreet withdrew from Knoxville on 4 Dec 1863 and Knoxville remained under Union control for the remainder of the war.

The was fort abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

Current Status

No remains in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Fort Sanders Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1680960
  • Location: Knox County, Tennessee, US, FIPS Code: 47093
  • Latitude: 35.9588889, Longitude: -83.9338889, Elevation: 988 Map: Knoxville
  • As Of: 01 Sep 1990
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 35.9591635 Long: -83.9318562

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