HISTORY OF THE 

63D TENNESSEE

 (Also called the 74th Tennessee Infantry Regiment ) 

10 Companies from East Tennessee were organized in the Spring and Summer of 1862.   July 30th, 1862, the companies were commissioned the 63d Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  The Regiment served in both theaters in the war, and was paroled at Appomattox Courthouse, April 9, 1865.

 

ORGANIZATION SERVICE IN THE WAR
BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA BATTLE OF KNOXVILLE
TODAY'S 63D HOME

 

 

ORGANIZATION

 

Officers:    Col. Richard G. Fain (from Hawkins Co./ West Point Grad.)

                  Lt. Col. Abraham Fulkerson (Hawkins Co./ V. M. I. Grad.)

                            Note: due to the age and poor health of Col. Fain,

                            Lt. Col. Fulkerson ran the day to day affairs of

                            the Regiment. The Lt. Col. was a Major in the 19th

                           Tenn. and was wounded at Shiloh in April of 1862.

                  Maj. John A. Aiken (Washington Co.)

                  Adjutant U. L. York (McMinn Co.)

                  Surgeon J. S. McDonough (Loudon)

  

Company Commander County of origin
A Capt. William H. Fulkerson Claiborne County
B Capt. William Lyon Roane County
C Capt. Richard3 Fain Powel Hawkins County
D Capt. A. A. Blair Washington County
E** Capt. Crockett R. Millard Sullivan County
F Capt. A. M. Millard Sullivan County
G Capt. F. A. Dyer Knox County
I Capt. James T. Gillespie Washington County
K Capt. John W. Robinson Washington County

 **NOTE: Organized in early 1861 attached to the 3rd Tenn. with which the company fought at the Battle of 1st Manassas and Brimstone, Tenn.

  The regiment was first assembled at Loudon, Tennessee and sent to Bridgeport, Alabama. 

¨       Number of enlisted men as of Jan. 21, 1863: 843 

¨       First assignment of the 63d Tenn. was to guard the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia railroads. 

¨       Second assignment: In the winter of 1862 the 63d was sent to Cumberland Gap. Here the 63d, 43rd Alabama and Hilliard's Legion of Alabama were formed into a brigade under the command of General Gracie.  Gracie's Brigade would guard the Gap until the summer of 1863. 

¨       Third assignment: Gracie's brigade was placed under the command of Gen. Buckner's Division in Gen. Bragg's Army of the Tennessee.  Gracie's brigade would serve in Knoxville, Clinton, Strawberry Plains, and Big Creek Gap during the next 6 months. 

¨       Fourth assignment: Gracie's brigade was sent to Chattanooga, where it was assigned to Gen. W. Preston's Division of Buckner's Corps. 

The ten companies from which the 63d Regiment was formed had been organized as independent companies during the months of April, May, June and July 1862. Many of the men had previously served in 12 months' organizations of cavalry. Some had served in the 36th Tennessee Infantry, which was disbanded. Some of them were from the 26th Tennessee Infantry Regiment who was not present at Fort Donelson when their regiment was surrendered and were transferred to these companies by order of Major General E. Kirby Smith in May and June, 1862. Most of these were returned to their original organizations by order of General Bragg, in October and November 1862.

Captains-William H. Fulkerson (to Major), Henley Fugate, Co. "A". Organized April 15, 1862 in Claiborne County.

Captains- William Lyon, Amos M. Hardin, Co. "B". Organized May 12 at Knoxville, from Roane County. Some men were formerly in the 26th Tennessee Infantry, others from Co. "E", 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Battalion.

Captain Richard Fain Powel, Co. "C". Organized May 12 at Rogersville, Hawkins County, Also called "B" when first assigned.   

Captain A. A. Blair,  James R. McCallum, Co. "D". Organized May 13 at Jonesboro, Washington County, with some men from Knox and Hawkins Counties.  "The Kirby Smith Rifles."  

Captain Crockett R. Millard, Co. "E", originally organized June 8, 1861 as Co. "K", 3rd (Vaughn's) Tennessee Infantry Regiment from Sullivan County. In the first Battle of Manassas. Reorganized May 14, 1862. 

Captain A. M. Millard, Co. "F". Organized May 14. 1562, from Sullivan County. Also called "G" when first assigned. Some men from 26th Tennessee Infantry. 

Captain F. A. Dyer, William H. Wilkerson, Co. "G". Organized May 6, 1862 at Knoxville. Also called "E" when first assigned. Some men from cavalry, some from 16th Tennessee Infantry.   

Captain B. F. Brittain, Co. "H". Organized May 16, 1862 at Cleveland, Bradley County. Formerly Co. "C" Ist (Rogers') East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Captain William L. Brown.  James T. Gillespie. 

Captain John .A. Cammon, Co. "I". Organized June 14, 1862 at Jonesboro, Washington County. Mustered in as an independent company of cavalry but transferred to infantry July 17, 1862 by General Edward Kirby Smith..  

Captain John W. Robertson, Co. "K". Organized July 19, 1862 at Jonesboro, Washington County, Some men from Companies 'D" and "G" were transferred to this company. 

As the companies were formed they were stationed at various points along the lines of the East Tennessee and Virginia and the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroads. On July 30, 1862, without assembling for the purpose the regiment was organized; the companies voting for their field officers wherever they were stationed. Colonel Fain resigned in November 1863, and Abraham Fulkerson succeeded him as Colonel; Major Aiken became Lieutenant Colonel; and William H. Fulkerson became Major.  Lieutenant Colonel Aiken was killed May 16, 1864, and Major William H. Fulkerson became Lieutenant Colonel. Colonel Abraham Fulkerson had previously served as major of the 19th Tennessee Infantry. 

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SERVICE IN THE WAR

After its organization the regiment was first assembled at Knoxville, where it was assigned to Brigadier General C. L. Stevenson's Division on August 23. From there it moved to Loudon, Tennessee, and on October 9, 1862, Major General Sam Jones advised General N. B. Forrest at Murfreesboro: "I shall send Fain's Regiment also as soon as I can find a guard to replace it at Loudon."

Regimental reports quoted in substance continue the story. “From Loudon. we were ordered to Bridgeport. Alabama and instructed to report to General Forrest at Murfreesboro. Remained till last half of November when we returned to Knoxville. General Stevenson ordered us to report to General Gracie at Cumberland Cap. Arrived December 8, after a severe march thru heavy snow and rain. While at Cumberland Gap made two marches into Kentucky about 30 miles to secure supplies. On the first one made during Christmas week into Harlan County, we brought out 56 beef cattle. The regiment is pretty well drilled, well armed, and would be very efficient if we had plenty of clothing and shoes."

The brigade commanded by Brigadier General Archibald Gracie Jr., to which the report referred had so many units attached to it at one time or another, that it is hardly worthwhile to trace its composition in detail, but the regiments which remained together until after the Battle of Chickamauga were the 43rd Alabama, Hilliard's Alabama Legion, and the 63d Tennessee Regiment.

"June 19, 1863, the 63d Tenn. left Cumberland Cap for Knoxville. Under General Buckner they moved by rail to Tullahoma to reinforce General Bragg, reaching there just in time to retreat with the army. Marched to Bridgeport; by rail back to Knoxville; remained in East Tennessee till the last half of August. Left Sweetwater September to join the Army of Tennessee at LaFayette, Georgia. Skirmished at McLemore's Cove; lay in line of battle September 18-19; carried an aggregate of 404 men into assault September 20th, came out with 202.

At Chickamauga Gracie's Brigade was in Buckner's Corps, Brigadier General William Preston's Division and consisted of the 43rd Alabama, Hilliard's Alabama Legion and the 63d Tennessee. Lieutenant Colonel Abraham Fulkerson was in command of the 63d and was severely wounded.

 “Remained in front of Chattanooga until October. Transferred to Johnson's Brigade, Buckner's Division. Soon after transferred to Lieutenant General James Longstreet's command in East Tennessee: reached Knoxville November 28; engaged in assault on Fort Loudon the 29th; 15 killed or wounded. Remained in front of Knoxville till December 4th, siege raised. After several days and nights continuous marching reached Rogersville, December '9th. Engaged at Bean's Station December 14th with 2 killed, 17 wounded. The marches from Chattanooga to Knoxville, and from Knoxville to Rogersville were made in very severe weather, and nearly half the command entirely barefooted. Since the engagement at Bean's Station the regiment has been in every march that has been made by the Army of East Tennessee up to the present time. It now has an aggregate of 405 present and willing to serve their country wherever ordered”. This report was dated April 8, 1864 at Zollicoffer (now Bluff City).

 Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson's Brigade was composed of the 17th /23rd, 25th/ 44th, and 63d Tennessee Infantry Regiments. These regiments remained together until the end of the war. On December 31, 1864, Major Aiken was reported in command of the 63d (until killed May 16th, 1864), and Colonel John S. Fulton, of the 44th, in command of the brigade. A Federal report dated October 8, 1863, stated that a scout had heard the men in Longstreet's Army talking; that they were much discouraged; and that on the march from Knoxville, 80 men deserted from the 63d in one night.

Later reports state: "May 1, 1864, marched from Bristol to Richmond, Virginia, to Drewry's Bluff. Charged the enemy in his works on the 16th; retired to Petersburg, and fought at Petersburg June 17th; at Walthall Junction June 19th; retired to Petersburg the 23rd; on the front the rest of June. On June 17th, at Petersburg, the 11th New Hampshire Volunteers captured the colors of the 63d.

"Relieved July 5th; at New Market in camp July 8 to 27; skirmished the 28th, moved to Chaffin’s Farm July 31. Moved to Signal Hill August 11: remained in front of the enemy at  Signal Hill till August 31, 1864."

On the move into Virginia, the 63d was placed in Major General Robert F. Hoke's Division, on May 15, at Drewry's Bluff, the 63d reported 311 effective, 351 present.

The report for September-October, 1864 is missing, but the final report for November -December 1864 stated; "During this two months the regiment remained in quarters on the lines of Chaffin's Farm in front of Fort Harrison until the 28th of December, when the regiment, with the brigade, was transferred to Heth's Division (Major General Henry Heath), III Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, and moved five miles to the right of Petersburg. The regiment was in no engagement during this period. It was wholly occupied in work on the bomb proofs of General Ewell's lines. Joined Archer’s Brigade December 27, 1864.

This does not mean that the regiment was transferred to Archer's Brigade, but that Johnson's and Archer's Brigades were consolidated under Colonel (later brigadier general) William McComb. The units in Archer’s Brigade were the 2nd Maryland Battalion, Ist Confederate, 7th and 14th Tennessee Infantry Regiments. On January 31, 1865, the 63d was reportedly commanded by Captain A. A. Blair; on February 28, by Captain John W. Roberson.

The regiment was surrendered and paroled at Appomattox Courthouse April 9, 1865 as part of Lieutenant General A. P. Hill's Corps, Heath's Division, McComb's Brigade. At this time the 17th/23rd/25th/44th/63d Tennessee Regiments were reported as consolidated into one unit, commander not shown. Colonel Fulkerson, in his history of the regiment in Lindsley's Annals said there were only 28 men left from the 63d, under the command of Lieutenant E. L. Etter, of Company "C".

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The 63d sees the Elephant in GEORGIA--------CHICKAMAUGA

Gracie's brigade was sent to Chattanooga where it was assigned to Gen. W. Preston's Division of Buckner's Corps.

Ist Battle- CHICKAMAUGA (September 19th and 20th, 1963) Friday, September 18th: The 63d was in position at Dalton's Ford, on the Chickamauga River.

- Saturday, September 19th: Early on the morning of the 19th, Gen. Gracie's Brigade (which the 63d was attached to) was formed in a line of Battle near Lee & Gordon's mills. The 63d was in the second line supporting Stewart's division (Longstreet’s Corps), which was in action during the whole day. For the most part, the 63d did not see much action on the first day.

- Sunday, September 20th: By 9:A.M. the battle was raging from right to left. The 63d was ordered near Dyer's house, on the Chattanooga road. Between 4 & 5 P.M. orders were received to support Kershaw’s brigade posted to the left of the Chattanooga road. About 5:P.M. Gen. Gracie's brigade was ordered to take a strong position on a hill held by a brigade of the enemy, with one battery, flanked by a brigade on either aide. The most stubborn phase of the battle had just begun.  US Gen. G. Thomas had collected the remnants of the army's right wing on Snodgrass Hill. It was here that Thomas saved the Yankee army and earned the title, "Rock of Chickamauga." Gracie's Brigade was sent forward into a line of battle. The 63d, occupying the right of the brigade, was the last to form into line. The enemy opened a terrific fire with shot, shell, and grape. The 63d was under fire for more than an hour. The 63d's ammunition was exhausted and was not replenished except from the cartridge boxes of the killed and wounded. When the order was given to charge, the 63d stormed the enemy's fortified position driving them into the ravines beyond.

63rd's marker on Snodgrass Hill, Chickamauga battlefield.

The battle was won! That night the 63d slept atop Snodgrass Hill.

Casualties were listed as:   404 men were sent into battle;  202 were listed as casualties -- 50%; 47 were killed on the field --12%

Monday, September 21st:  After burying the dead, the regiment marched with Bragg's army to Missionary Ridge.

At Missionary Ridge the army was reorganized and the different State troops put together. The 63d was detached from Gen. Gracies's brigade and attached to Gen. Maney's brigade of Tennesseans. However, before reporting to Gen. Maney the order was rescinded and the regiment was placed in Gen. Bushrod Johnson's Tennessee brigade. This latter brigade was ordered to East Tennessee to re-enforce Gen. Longstreet's Corp, which was then preparing for the siege of Knoxville.

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The Battle of Knoxville

In order to better understand how the 63d ended up in Virginia an overview of the campaign for East Tennessee in 1863, should make it easier to comprehend.  November 3, 1863: Gen. Bragg had a top level meeting with Generals: Longstreet, Hardee, and Breckinridge. It was decided to send Gen. Longstreet and his Ist Corps to East Tennessee in the hope of bagging General Burnside and returning to Chattanooga before Union reinforcements could arrive and break the siege. The real reason for this movement was that Gen. Bragg wanted to "get rid of Longstreet for his disrespect and Insubordination" back in October. This was a serious gamble as Bragg was now outnumbered two to one.

November 5, 1863: Longstreet's Ist Corps leaves Tyner's Station 8 miles East of Chattanooga by rail. Many believed that the 1st Corps had marched to Knoxville; not so! The lines were worn out, the train derailed several times, and the men had to ride out in the open on flatbed cars but it was better than walking.

November 11, 1863: Back in Chattanooga, the 63d Tenn. has been "transferred to Bushrod Johnson 's division of 3,500 (composed of the 17th/23rd/25th/44th/ & 63d). At Sweetwater the army left the trains. It was here that a critical shortage of wagons and teams became apparent. 

The wagon train consisted of 113 wagons (30 short of their allotment). Many of the mules were just able to carry their harness; all of the animals were described as feeble.

Facing Longstreet was Gen. Burnside who had 23,000 men (9th & 23rd Corps) strung out for 80 miles from Cumberland Gap to Loudon. Half of his men were in Knoxville.

November 12, 1863: Joe Wheeler's 3 cavalry brigades crossed the Holston River (Fort London Lake/Tennessee River) at Loudon for a raid via Maryville to Knoxville to seize the heights South of the city.

November 13, 1863: the Army began its march to Knoxville.

November 16, 1863: the 2 armies fought at Campbell's Station. Porter Alexander (Longstreet’s chief of artillery) rolled 17 cannons into position in a broad meadow, which forced the yanks to pull back. According to Alexander the whole yank division could have been bagged. The Union army retreated to Knoxville and safety; the 63d was still in Chattanooga.

November 17, 1863: Wheeler's 3 cavalry brigades had rejoined the main body after probing the fortifications at Knoxville and bagging about 140 Yanks in a running fight from Stock Creek (along Old Maryville Pike) to the gates of Fort Dickerson (along Chapman Hwy.). Burnside had approximately 12,000 troops in a series of earthworks & forts around Knoxville. The defenses encircled the city from East Knoxville (Mabry-Hazen House Hill) to Second Creek (called at that time College Hill / site of U. T.).

November 18, 1863: Gen. Kershaw collided with dismounted Union cavalrymen under Gen. G.W. Sanders (a Southerner & close friend of Porter Alexander). Sanders would be wounded in the fight (sight of 2nd Presbyterian Church Kingston Pike) and he would die the next afternoon in the bridal suite of the Lamar Hotel in Knoxville. With Burnside inside the city, Longstreet established his HQ in the brick "Bleak House" (U.D.C. House/Kingston Pike).

November 20, 1863: Longstreet began to look for a weakness in the defenses of the city.

November 23, 1863: Alexander's battery is ferried across the river and set up opposite of the mouth of 3rd Creek (Cherokee Heights). The ammunition is found to be so unreliable that he withdraws from the position and sets his battery up on a different site, (Knoxville College) 2,000 yards facing Fort Sanders. Fort Sanders is on a 198-foot elevation about 300 yards north of Kingston Pike. The 3 sides of the fort had a steep parapet topped by cotton bales that were covered with rawhide to prevent their igniting from gunfire. A ditch that varied in width from eight to 12 feet and in depth from 6 to 8 feet, creating a face of twenty feet in depth at numerous spots. In front of the ditch, the Federals had strung telegraph wires from tree stumps and plowed vertical furrows (having a rifle trained on each furrow). All in all there were 440 infantrymen and 12 cannon inside the fort.

November 25, 1863: Longstreet decides to make the attack on Mabry-Hazen House Hill, but is concerned with the mill pond, which has been created by the damning of Ist creek (not knowing the depth of the pond which would have to be crossed in the attack).

November 25 (night of), 1863: Brigadier General Danvill Leadbetter, the army's chief engineer (the man who built the cities defenses in the Summer of 1863) arrived in Knoxville with reinforcements. Bragg had sent Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson's division (including the 63d Tenn.). Gen. Johnson's division was NOT considered to be part of the 1st Corps. Gen. Johnson had traveled by train to Sweetwater and marched the rest of the way just in time for the attack on Knoxville.

November 26, 1863: Generals Longstreet & Leadbetter studied the works around Mabry House Hill and proposed that the attack be made on Fort Sanders as the skirmishers were already within 400 yards of the fort. While looking at the fort, the generals saw a Yankee cross the ditch with the lip of the trench only coming up to his waist (he had crossed on a plank). It was settled; they would attack on November 29th.

November 28 (night of), 1863: it rained a downpour with the temperature dropping below freezing. The cold turned the mud to a sheet of ice. Fires were not permitted and with at least half the army barefoot, the soldiers suffered greatly.

November 29, 1863: The attack started at dawn as 2 Mississippi regiments raced across the frozen ground; canister from the fort devastated the ranks. Next came 3 regiments of Georgians who made it into the ditch; unable to ascend the icy parapet it became a death pit. The yanks rolled light artillery shells down the incline blowing the men to pieces. Southern casualties were over 800 in just 20 minutes; the Federals suffered on 15 wounded. Longstreet then orders Bushrod Johnson's division (including the 63d) forward, but upon hearing that the Mississippians & Georgians had been stopped he halted the units. According to the account given by Lt. Col. Fulkerson (commanding the 63d at Knoxville) the 63d suffered 15 killed or wounded at the battle of Knoxville. One can only speculate that these men were killed by long range artillery fire as the 63d moved forward considering they were not in on the assault.

According to the Regimental Memorial Roll the following members of the 63d died at Knoxville:  C.C. Farris, Co. C & W.R. Bains, Co. C. (no other names are given).

Within the hour Longstreet received a message informing him of Braggs defeat at Missionary Ridge (Nov. 24). A Union courier with a letter from Grant to Burnside was captured. The Letter said that Sherman was on his way to Knoxville with three relief columns (the dispatch was bogus; the messenger was a decoy sent by Grant to be captured).

December 1, 1863: Longstreet abandons the siege of Knoxville. He orders Gen. Vaughn to destroy all locomotives, railroad cars, boats, and bridges, which had been brought up with the army. The only positive aspect of the whole affair in East Tennessee in 1863 was Bragg was relieved of command at his own request.

December 4-5 (night of), 1863: The Confederate army stole away from Knoxville in a downpour.

December 9, 1863: The retreat moves through Blain's Cross Roads, Spring House, Rutledge, Bean Station, then to Rogersville where they halted.

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