Archive for November, 2013

150th anniversary of Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan at the 1863 siege & battle of Knoxville

November 27, 2013

Battle of Fort Sanders

Painting by Greg Harlin of the November 29, 1863 attack showing the 20th Michigan’s position. Greg Harlin based his work on illustrations, photos, original letters and diaries, older paintings, and military diagrams.
(Fair use of image from the McClung Museum, University of Tennessee Knoxville.)

Siege of Vicksburg

Fort Sanders on the northwest corner of  Knoxville, Tennessee with the November 29, 1863 position of the 20th Michigan and the direction of the main Confederate attack.
(Public domain image.)

In August 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the 20th Michigan returned to Kentucky.

In October, the 20th Michigan crossed through the Cumberland Gap to eastern Tennessee.

Many people in eastern Tennessee were strongly pro-Union. One of President Lincoln’s priorities was to secure the area and provide them protection from the Confederates.

In September 1863, after the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Georgia, the main Union army retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederates cut them off and placed Chattanooga under siege.

At the same time, a large Confederate force commanded by General James Longstreet moved into eastern Tennessee.

The Union forces, including the 20th Michigan, withdrew to defensive positions in Knoxville, Tennessee.

By November 25, 1863, reinforcements under General Grant defeated the Confederates besieging Chattanooga. That freed Union forces to relieve those cut off in Knoxville.

Aware that Union reinforcements were on their way, the Confederates decided to assault what they hoped was the weakest point of Knoxville’s defenses, Fort Sanders on the far northwest corner of Knoxville.

Before the attack, the Union soldiers soaked the sloped dirt walls of Fort Sanders. After the water froze the icy slope would be even more difficult for the Confederates to scale.


150 years ago on November 29, 1863 the Confederates attacked and failed in their attempt to take Fort Sanders. The 20th Michigan suffered 19 casualties, with two killed, eight wounded, and nine captured.


Battle of Fort Sanders

Drawing illustrates almost the exact position of the 20th Michigan during November 29, 1863 Confederate assault on Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tennessee.
(Public domain image.)


As commander General Grant was responsible for the Union’s July victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi and the November victories at Chattanooga and Knoxville.

President Lincoln recognized that and promoted General Grant to General of the Army of the United States. From that position General Grant applied his winning strategies and tactics to lead the Union armies to victory over the Confederacy eighteen months later.


For more information:

The Battle of Fort Sanders: Permanent Exhibit at the McClung Museum, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Fort Sanders Battle Summary from the National Park Service

Anson Croman and the Civil War: Tennessee 1863


If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment

Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.


Revised: December 1, 2013
Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-kq
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