1863 September 19: The Capture of Cumberland Gap and Other News
The weekly round-up of war news from the September 19, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.
Union General Ambrose E. Burnside tricked Confederate General John W. Frazer (sometimes spelled Frazier)¹ into surrendering the 2,300-man Confederate garrison guarding the Cumberland Gap by leading him to believe that Burnside had a much larger force than he actually had. The Battle of Cumberland Gap, which took place on September 7-9, 1863, was part of Burnside’s Knoxville Campaign.
The Chickamauga Campaign was a series of battles fought in northwestern Georgia from August 21 to September 20, 1863. It began with the Second Battle of Chattanooga on August 21 when Union General William S. Rosecrans ordered the shelling of Chattanooga. Confederate General Braxton Bragg finally abandoned the city on September 6, which is what the sentence “Chattanooga is ours without a struggle,” toward the bottom, refers to.
Gen. Burnside’s advance captured Gen. Frazier and 2,000 rebels, and 14 pieces of artillery, at Cumberland Gap, on the 9th inst [September].
Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg, and Cumming’s Point, were taken possession of by the Federal forces on the 6th inst. [September].
Gen. Burnside, upon completing the redemption of East Tennessee tendered his resignation to the War Department, by telegraph.
The Headquarters of the Army of the Cumberland are established at Chattanooga.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12.— The following dispatch from Gen. Rosecrans has been received at headquarters : To Major General Halleck [Henry W. Halleck] :
CAMP NEAR TRENTON, GA., Sept. 9th, 6:40 P. M.—Chattanooga is ours without a struggle, and East Tennessee is free. Our movement on the enemy’s flank and rear progress, while the tail of his retreating column will not escape unmolested.—Our troops from this side entered Chattanooga about noon.
On the 16th of July the Wyoming blew up his steamer, sunk a ten-gun brig and engaged six batteries, with a loss of four men killed and seven wounded.
A boat expedition of 1,000 sailors made a night attack on Fort Sumter, but were repulsed with a loss of eighty men.
The New York ‘Times’ correspondent with the Army of the Potomac says it is believed that one corps of Lee’s army [Robert E. Lee], under Longstreet [James Longstreet], is moving to Richmond, there to be transferred, two divisions to the west and one to Charleston.
A fire on the St. Louis levee on the night of the 13th inst [September], destroyed the steamers Imperial, Hiawatha, Post Boy, and Jesse K. Bell. It is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary.
Half of James Island, Charleston Harbor, is reported captured, and a white flag floating over Fort Moultrie.
1. John Wesley Frazer (1827-1906) was a graduate of West Point and spent his career on routine garrison duty at various places. He resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on March 15, 1861, and accepted a commission as a captain in the Confederate Army on March 16. Frazer was appointed a brigadier general in May 1863 and was given command of the 5th Brigade of the Army of Tennessee in July. He was ordered to defend the Cumberland Gap, which he surrendered on September 9, 1863, as noted above. He was a prisoner-of-war until the end of the Civil War.
2. “Occupation of Cumberland Gap,” from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden (Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68): 535; available in the UWRF Archives (E 468.7 .G87 1866).