That’s pretty much the entrance to the Blountville Historic District, and the park itself is touted by organizers and county officials as a potential boon for heritage tourism.
The park’s executive board, which has been working toward establishment of the park for about three years, hosted an official unveiling and dedication of the new sign Monday. The event was co-hosted by the Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism.
“It is my high honor to welcome you here today to what I consider to be a very important day in the history of Sullivan County,” Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said in opening the ceremony. “It’s our commitment, a visual commitment, to a lot of people that we have a military park here in Sullivan County to commemorate the Battle of Blountville. I have great hope that this will be a red-letter day in the history of Sullivan County, where we begin to recognize our history, and we begin to adopt our history and that we become very proud of our history.”
State Representative Timothy Hill, R-District 3, thanked all those who have worked to get this far with plans for the park.
“Anybody who knows me knows me well enough to know I love the preservation of our history and the discussion of our history,” Hill said. “This is that important, for us to put a marker in the ground to talk about our history and who we are, because when we forget our history, the good and the bad ... what happens? We’re not for anything, right? So this is the beginning of the march toward the battlefield park.”
From information distributed at the event:
About the battle
On Sept. 22, 1863, Union forces advanced from Knoxville and arrived on the outskirts of Blountville, quickly occupying high ground on the west side of town. Confederate forces formed one line on a knoll near present day Blountville Middle School and another on a hillside occupied today by the county school system’s maintenance building. The battle began around lunchtime. The Union’s first target was the county courthouse, and it soon was ablaze. In the end, casualties were light on both sides, but after four hours of battle many homes and businesses were burned to the ground. Confederate troops retreated toward Bluff City. Union forces ultimately returned toward Knoxville within a couple of days.
About the park
In early 2011, the Sullivan County Commission authorized the Department of Archives and Tourism to work with the Battle of Blountville Civil War Military Park Executive Board toward development of the park. Some goals of the park are: Work with the annual Battle of Blountville re-enactment to compliment development of the park; establish a main Civil War monument and commemorative brick walkway for those who fought in the Battle of Blountville; establish two additional Civil War monuments in the main-stage area of Blountville Historic District; place Civil War cannons and other artifacts along the Civil War walk; and develop walking trails and interpretive markers to local, pertinent battlefield sites.
Blountville Veterans Park
Fundraising has started for the Blountville Veterans Memorial Park, to be located near the welcome sign at the Highway 394/Blountville Bypass intersection. You can purchase for $100 an inscribed paving brick (4 inch by 8 inch) in honor of anyone living or deceased who served in the U.S.military and was honorably discharged. You can select up to three lines of text, with up to 17 characters per line (spaces count), all letter or numbers only — no punctuation other than dashes. For more information, contact the Sullivan County Department of Tourism at (423) 323-4660 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other ways to help
There is an equal need for volunteers and financial support, but the initial success of the park will depend heavily on donations from corporate and private donors. Initial donations will secure monuments to honor those who fought on the Blountville battlefield. Donations also will go toward creation of the walking trails and other components of the park’s overall plan. Corporate donors will be listed by “rank” according to their level of giving: from “captain” at $1,000 to 4-star general at $50,000. Individual and small business donors will be listed by “rank” from “private” at $100 or less to “Sergeant Major” at $500 to $1000. Checks should be made payable to “Sullivan County Trustee” and mailed to SCDAT, P.O. Box 3179, Blountville, TN, 37617.