ALCOA,TN-Mary Loyd Reneau of Clay County and Celina was appointed Marshall of the 117th Convention of The Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) recently convened at the Airport Hilton Hotel in Alcoa, Tennessee.
Reneau represented the William Wesley Elam Chapter #2557 of the UDC which was awarded 11 certificates recognizing its outstanding historical, educational, benevolent, memorial and patriotic work.
The convention, hosted by the East Tennessee chapters, commemorated the Battle of Fort Sanders with the theme “Its Memory Alone Remains.” The 47 chapters across the state were represented at the convention by approximately 200 members and guests.
As Marshall, Reneau’s responsibility was to assist all committee chairmen attending the convention, coordinate all activities at the convention and to make sure everything went smoothly.
On November 29, 1863, the Battle of Fort Sanders began with the Confederate forces of Lt. General James Longstreet massed for a pre-dawn attack on a Union earthwork just west of Knoxville, TN.
In attempting to take Knoxville, the Confederates decided that Fort Sanders was the only vulnerable place where they could penetrate Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s fortifications, which enclosed the city, and successfully conclude the siege, already a week long. The fort surmounted an eminence just northwest of Knoxville. Northwest of the fort, the land dropped off abruptly.
Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet believed he could assemble a storming party, undetected at night, below the fortifications, before dawn, which would overwhelm the Union forces in Fort Sanders by a surprise attack. Following a brief artillery barrage directed at the fort’s interior, three Rebel brigades charged. Union wire entanglements-–telegraph wire stretched from one tree stump to another to another-–delayed the attack, but the fort’s outer ditch halted the Confederates.
This ditch was twelve feet wide and from four to ten feet deep with vertical sides. The fort’s exterior slope was almost vertical, also. Crossing the ditch was nearly impossible, especially under withering defensive fire from musketry and canister. Confederate officers did lead their men into the ditch, but, without scaling ladders, few emerged on the scarp side and a small number entered the fort to be wounded, killed, or captured. The attack lasted a short twenty minutes.
Longstreet undertook his Knoxville expedition to divert Union troops from Chattanooga and to get away from Gen. Braxton Bragg, with whom he was engaged in a bitter feud. His failure to take Knoxville scuttled his purpose. This was the decisive battle of the Knoxville Campaign. This Confederate defeat, plus the loss of Chattanooga on November 25, put much of East Tennessee in the Union camp. The estimated casualties were a total of 880 soldiers (US 100; CS 780).