Battle of Bull's Gap

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Battle of Bull's Gap

November 11, 1864


November 13, 1864


Hamblen and Greene Counties, Tennessee


Western Theater


Breckinridge’s Advance into East Tennessee


Confederate victory

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Conf Navy Jack.png

Governor’s Guard Brigade,
State of Tennessee

Department of Western Virginia
and East Tennessee


Alvan C. Gillem
Brigadier General, USA

John C. Breckinridge
Major General, CSA


2,400 est.





In November 1864, Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge undertook an expedition into East Tennessee, anticipating that Confederate sympathizers would join his force and help drive the Yankees from the area. The Federals initially retired in front of this force and, on November 10, were at Bull’s Gap on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. The Confederates attacked them on the morning of the 11th but were repulsed by 11:00 am. Artillery fire continued throughout the day. The next morning, both sides attacked; the Confederates sought to hit the Union forces in a variety of locations but they gained little. The next day firing occurred throughout most of the day, but the Confederates did not assault the Union lines because they were marching to flank them on the right. Before making the flank attack, the Union forces, short on everything from ammunition to rations, withdrew from Bull’s Gap after midnight on the 4th. Breckinridge pursued, but the Federals received reinforcements and foul weather played havoc with the roads and streams. Breckinridge, with most of his force, retired back to Virginia. This victory was a temporary Union setback in the Federal plans to rid East Tennessee of Confederate influence. (NPS summary)