Civil War History Comes Alive

Three pieces of Civil War history can be found in the Morristown/Hamblen County area. Just a few miles northeast of Morristown is the historic Bethesda Presbyterian Church & Cemetery.

Bethesda Presbyterian Church, completed 1835, is a powerful reminder of the effect of the Civil War on the Tennessee home front. As the war clouds gathered, conflicting sympathies divided the congregation, and the church closed its doors. After the Battle of Bean’s Station on December 14, 1863, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet arrived in the area with 25,000 ill-clad soldiers who remained until late in February 1864. Bethesda Church served as a hospital. Soldiers of both armies rest in the cemetery, including 80 unknown dead, most believed to be Confederate soldiers.

North of Bethesda Church you’ll find the historic Nenny House that was used by Gen. James Longstreet as his headquarters during the winter of 1863-64 following his defeat at the Battle of Fort Sanders in November 1863 during the Knoxville campaign. Saved from destruction and painstakingly restored by members of the Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association (LCWPA), the General Longstreet Museum is full of artifacts from around the region that bring to life the story of the Civil War in the Lakeway Area. On the grounds of the museum is the building that one of Longstreet’s brigade commanders, Gen Joseph Kershaw used as his office.  

This building was moved from its location a half-mile away and now is the home of an authentic 1860s tailor shop where the curator of the museum makes authentic Civil War re-enactment uniforms.

The LCWPA hosts several re-enactments and encampments during the year as well as book signings, children’s history events, and other special events. Both Bethesda Church and the Longstreet Museum are stops on Tennessee’s Civil War Trails.


For more information:

General Longstreet Museum:  www.facebook.com/generallongstreetmuseum

Bethesda Church: www.tnvacation.com/civil-war/place/2098/bethesda-church-and-cemetery

Tennessee Civil War Trails: www.tnvacation.com/civil-war