Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Longstreet's Headquarters - A Cold Command

Marker ID:  
Location: on Andrew Johnson Highway (U.S. 11-E), Russellville, TN
County: Hamblen
Coordinates: N 36° 15.441    W 083° 11.749
  36.25735    -83.19581666
Waymark: None


In the winter of 1863-1864, after abandoning the siege of Knoxville, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet was given command of the Confederate forces in Upper East Tennessee. He chose Russellville, a small town on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad roughly and equal distance from Morristown and Bulls Gap, as his winter quarters. He and his staff established their headquarters here in the William Nenney House, using first-floor rooms as their command center, while the soldiers constructed hut camps along the railroad and also from the Holston to the Nolichucky Rivers. Longstreet's cavalry maintained a defensive line that stretched between Rutledge to the south and Dandridge to the east.

Longstreet's staff faced the task of feeding and supplying about 25,000 men. They took control of most of the area's mills and tanneries. Cain Mill near Russellville ground corn day and night for the army. The local Methodist church served as a hospital.

On December 29, 1863, Union forces defeated part of Longstreet's command at Mossy Creek. When the temperature fell to 24° below zero on January 1, however, the Federals could not follow up on their victory, nor could the Confederates advance.

Several other engagements occurred as each side probed the other's defenses and foraged in the countryside. They included Bean's Station (December 14, 1863), Hay's Ferry (December 24), Dandridge (January 16-17, 1864), Fair Garden (January 26-28), and Blant's Hill (January 28). The Federals were more numerous and better supplied, but Longstreet remained in control of the area until after February 26, 1864, when the Confederates moved to Greeneville.

Longstreet's Headquarters was originally known as the Nenney House. It was built late in the 1830s for William Nenney, whose family members were prominent farmers and merchants in the Russellville area.

Erected 2010 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.