Site of the Morgan Hill archeological dig in the summer of 2009, where artifacts such as belt buckles and friction primers convinced University of Tennessee scientists they had found the 1863 emplacements of the Ninth Georgia Artillery Battalion.
The Ninth was one of several Confederate artillery units, under command of Colonel Edward Porter Alexander, which opened the Sunday, November 29, 1863 attack on Fort Sanders.
One of the Ninth’s batteries is the subject of a new painting on display at Knoxville’s McClung Museum. The museum website’s assertion that “the Union fortifications were pounded by artillery from Confederate positions to the west and north of town announcing the deadly assault” is dramatic but inaccurate.
There was also Confederate artillery fire from the south, by the “Boy Battery” of the Virginia Light Artillery. It was specially positioned by Alexander and Gen. Longstreet on Cherokee Heights across the Holston River to the south of the fort.
But Longstreet had decided at the last minute to restrict the artillery to minor practice, ordering just three shots (from the west, north and south) at dawn to signal the Rebel infantry to move out.
It’s true, however, that Alexander exceeded his orders and had his batteries throw a few extra shells over the heads of the infantry into the rear of Fort Sanders to impede the arrival of any Union reinforcements. But there was no “pounding” of the fortifications.