When Gen. Burnside’s Ninth Corps troops marched into Knoxville in September, 1863, history has recorded that some young men of the town were so excited they rushed to join the Union army.
Recruitment was more problematic out in the hills, as First Lieutenant Ezra Knight Parker, Battery
E D, soon found out and recalled in a 1913 memoir.
“…the writer was detailed to open a recruiting office in the village of Loudon, as our several batteries were all short of men….I duly opened the office in a small building contiguous to a hotel…Handbills were printed and distributed in the vicinity, and on the morning of the second day, as I looked out of the office, I had an idea that a large squadron of cavalry was drawn up before the hotel….
“The men were thin and lanky, also their horses were the same. All carried guns, some double barrel shotguns; some ancient rifles, and a few modern carbines…They inquired of the guard if they could ‘jine’ the Union army, and the guard referred them to me…. They came inside and said ‘Howdy.’
“They then said that they came from the mountains that lay partly in North Carolina and partly in Tennessee; that they wanted to keep their horses and go home upon them once a week. I explained that if they enlisted in our service they could go home only at times when furloughs might be granted them…
“This they said they could not agree to. They would be ready at any time to a fight, if their services were required, and this they thought was all that should be required of them. Under such conditions, it is evident that the fifty or more mountaineers did not enlist.
“This ceremony took place on each of the two or three following days…I did not secure a single recruit, and when our battery was ordered to Blue Springs, I was only too pleased to turn over the office to a captain of infantry, who was as successful recruiting as I had been.”
These East Tennesseans were Union, sure enough, but they were plenty independent, too.