Knox County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission


Welcome from the Knox County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. In this commencement year of 2014 we are proud to play the role of facilitator in our community’s recognition of its powerful Civil War past. Our mission is to educate and inform all our citizens, young and old, about East Tennessee’s unique Civil War experience with its rich visual and written documentation, and to identify and preserve the many places where that history occurred 150 years ago.


We believe that these stories and places are community treasures that need to be captured and protected so that the past is not lost to successive generations. We also

believe that an inclusive and balanced interpretation of the past cannot help but improve our understanding of what it means to be responsible citizens today.


Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee - Spring 2015


Historians and Civil War enthusiasts in Knoxville, Tennessee are gearing up for an eventful Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration scheduled for April 30 – May 3, 2015. Local organizations are working with the State of Tennessee to create a wide range of programming that is sure to peak the interest of Civil War enthusiasts as well as all citizens with an interest in history.


The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission has hosted a commemorative event in a select city for each year of the Sesquicentennial. Knoxville is the chosen city for the last year of the Sesquicentennial, and the theme is Reconstruction and Reunion in Tennessee. East Tennessee played a major role politically after the Civil War with the Presidency of Andrew Johnson and the election of William “Parson” Brownlow as Governor of Tennessee in 1865.

Knoxville hosted a Blue and Gray Reunion in 1890 and 1895, where veterans of the 1863 Battle of Fort Sanders returned to shake hands with comrades and former foes. It was a way of coming together and moving forward as a country, and it hosted a variety of activities including lectures, parades, and fireworks. Organizers are working to recreate certain aspects of that historic occasion that will dovetail with the State of Tennessee’s activities. The official title for the local event is the Blue & Gray Reunion & Freedom Jubilee.


In addition, African American men were mustered into the Union army in Knoxville in 1864, which resulted in the formation of the 1st United States Colored Heavy Artillery. Plans are underway to highlight the history of these troops, and to tell the story of how local African Americans went on to become both businessmen and politicians. 


Together, Knoxville and the State of Tennessee will offer four days of programming where visitors can explore the themes of reconstruction, remembrance, and reconciliation. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour historic homes and cemeteries, visit the defensive forts that surrounded Knoxville, and learn more through local museums and special exhibits.