One key officer in Longstreet’s command at Knoxville was Col. Edward Porter Alexander, his chief of artillery.
It’s interesting that Alexander’s pre-attack artillery barrage at Knoxville was no more successful than the more famous and larger one which he orchestrated at Gettysburg. In both cases, most of the Rebel’s big guns overshot their target.
But Alexander also was critical, at least in his post-war memoir, of Longstreet’s continual delays in getting the assault on Fort Sanders underway, and of his last-minute absurdity of trying to make it “a surprise.”
“…Every day of delay added to the strength of the enemy’s breastworks,” Alexander wrote, until whatever chance the Rebels had to begin with was long gone by the time their infantry stepped off of their line of departure.
“If a surprise were ever proper,” he continued, “it should have been tried a week before, for we had spent that much time, nearly, in building batteries & putting guns across the [Holston] river which would now be of little or no use.”