New sign marks site of 1864 Battle of Kingsport

Matthew Lane • Dec 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — A new Civil War sign has been erected at the confluence of the South Fork of the Holston River — describing the December 1864 Battle of Kingsport on the site of the Rotherwood Mansion.

The sign details the Battle of Kingsport — a one-day Civil War skirmish between Union and Confederate forces in the fields surrounding the Rotherwood Mansion. The sign includes a map of the battle, pictures of the generals involved, and a brief description of the battle.

Kingsport worked with a Virginia-based nonprofit organization — Civil War Trails — to erect the sign in October after learning of the chance to do so at a conference held back in March.

Jason Meredith, a planner with the city who worked to get the sign erected, said city officials got the idea for a sign after attending an environmental conference at MeadowView in March.

“Susan Whittaker, the commissioner of tourism development, gave a presentation on ecotourism opportunities, and one of the things she mentioned was Civil War Trails,” Meredith said. “We looked into it and found there were matching state funds for the signs.”

Kingsport then worked with Civil War Trails (www.civilwartrails.org) a Virginia-based organization that promotes historic Civil War sites in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and West Virginia. The organization installs the signs, maintains the Web site, and includes the sites in a yearly brochure.

The cost of the sign was $5,500. Kingsport’s portion was $1,100, and the state matched the remaining $4,400. Meredith said there is a $200 yearly membership fee, which covers the maintenance of the sign and inclusion in the brochure.

“We looked into the Civil War history in Kingsport, and although it wasn’t very extensive, there were a couple of places where we thought that it would be significant enough to have a sign,” Meredith said. “It’s a way to recognize Kingsport’s involvement in the Civil War and provide an opportunity for ecotourism. We want to be involved in this since we had involvement in the Civil War.”

The Battle of Kingsport took place on Dec. 13, 1864, when Union forces under the command of Col. Samuel Patton flanked about 300 Confederate troops under the command of Col. Richard C. Morgan at the confluence of the South Fork of the Holston River. Morgan was captured, and his remaining men retreated toward Bristol.

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