Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 18, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

THE SIEGE OF KNOXVILLE....Glenn Reynolds writes today that his office is a battlefield. Literally:

The Law School is in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, so called because it's the site of Fort Sanders, whose siege played the decisive role in the Siege of Knoxville during the Civil War....

I mention this because of Antoine Clark's remark that "I continue to despair at the difficulty that anglosphere writers have in comprehending the humiliation of occupation. Admittedly this is for the best of reasons: Washington DC was last under foreign armed occupation in 1812, London in 1066."

....In fact, of course, the American South knows what it's like to lose a war, and to be occupied.

Glenn's overall point is well taken, of course: we have had a major war on our soil, and its impact on our history and culture has been immense.

But family loyalty compels me to point out that the Siege of Knoxville is not the best example to use here: it was Union troops who were besieged at Knoxville, not Southerners. In fact, one of them was my great-grandfather, Eli Drum. Here's what he wrote in his diary 140 years ago this month:

Sunday 29th. Cannonading was again commenced last night and was kept up until the morning our regt and the 111th Ohio. Was sent on the north side of Knoxville and held as a reserve. The enemy charged on Fort Saunders and was repulsed, our forces captured about two hundred of them.

Monday 30th. Everything appears to be quiet today. No firing on either side, both parties busy burying the dead and taking care of the wounded.

Tuesday Dec 1st 1863. Still laying under arms at Knoxville. The rebels do not appear to be willing to renew the attack. Called out in line and heard good news from Grants army.

....Saturday 5th. Today we have glorious news. Our reinforcements arrived driving the enemy before them. Not one to be seen this morning so we again have peace at Knoxville. Our regiment is back to our old quarters. We was again paid off this evening.

(Presumably the glorious news was the lifting of the siege, not getting paid. Although I suppose that didn't hurt.)

This isn't of much interest to anyone outside the immediate Drum family, of course, but I became a minor expert in the Siege of Knoxville back when I was researching Eli's diary and figured I ought to make use of it. Considering our rather opposite approaches to nearly everything, I've always been slightly amused by my Knoxville connection with Glenn, and now I realize that it's even closer than I imagined. Small world.

Kevin Drum 12:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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