Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Old Gray Cemetery / Silent Voices

Marker ID:  
Location: 543 North Broadway, Knoxville, TN
County: Knox
Coordinates: N 35° 58.434    W 083° 55.452
  35.9739    -83.9242
Waymark: None


Old Gray Cemetery
Silent Voices

Since the Civil War, the thirteen-acre Old Gray Cemetery has been the final resting place for Union and Confederate veterans. During the conflict, control of Knoxville shifted from Confederate to Union forces, so it is appropriate that both sides are represented here. The cemetery was established in 1850 and reflects the Rural Cemetery Movement that swept the urban South in the decade before the war.

There are no political divisions within Old Gray. Tennessee’s Reconstruction era governor William G. “Parson” Brownlow (1805–77) lies buried just across the way from Henry M. Ashby (1836–68), one of the Confederacy’s youngest colonels. William Richard Casewell (1809-1862), a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Tennessee, was murdered at his Knox County home in 1862. U.S. Congressman Leonidas C. Houk (1836-91) organized the 1st Tennessee Infantry (USA), while U.S. Congressman Horace Maynard (1814-82) was one of the leaders of the 1861 Unionist Convention at Greenville. Ellen Renshaw House Fletcher (1841-1907) called herself “a very violent rebel” and kept an invaluable diary of life in Knoxville during the Civil War. The Horne Monument features an almost life sized sculpture of a Confederate soldier to mark the graves of William A. Horne (1845-91) and his brother John F. Horne (1843—1906).

Union cavalrymen known as Gen. George Stoneman’s “Cossacks,” members of the “The Immortal Six Hundred” (see sidebar), Confederate nurse Jennie Gammon (shot during the Battle of Fort Sanders), and Union caregiver Maggie S. P. Haynes (matron of the Union army’s Asylum General Hospital)—Unionists and Confederates alike are now peacefully at rest here.

“Next day we moved our camp to a grove opposite the Gray Cemetery.... We had a beautiful situation here for a camp, in a pine and cedar grove, the ground softly carpeted with pine straw.... While here we increased our battery to four guns.... For a few weeks we had a hard time of it drilling new recruits. I got sick of giving the command, “Load by detail, Load!.” — Sgt. Samuel Bell Palmer, Mabry’s Artillery (CSA), Sept. 1862.

“The Immortal Six Hundred” is the name given to that number of Confederate officers confined on Morris Island near Charleston, S.C. In Oct. 1864, they were positioned in the line of fire from Confederate guns at Fort Sumter, in retaliation for the exposure of six hundred Union officers imprisoned in Charleston to Federal artillery fire. The standoff soon ended when a yellow fever epidemic forced Confederate authorities to remove the Federal prisoners from the city.

William . Brownlow Courtesy McClung Historical Collection
Henry M. Ashby Courtesy McClung Historical Collection
Samuel B. Palmer drawing - Courtesy McClung Historical Collection

Erected 2009 by Tennessee Civil War Trails.