Second Floor
Hours
  • M-F: 8am - 5pm
  • Closed Sept 7, 2015
865-215-8824, eths@eastTNhistory.org
First Floor
Hours
  • M-F: 9am - 4pm
  • Sat: 10am - 4pm
  • Sun: 1pm - 5pm
  • Closed Sept 7, 2015
865-215-8830
Third Floor
Hours
  • M-Tu: 9am - 8:30 pm
  • W-F: 9am - 5:30 pm
  • Sat: 9am - 5pm
  • Sun: 1pm - 5pm
  • Closed Sept 7, 2015
  • Closed Nov 11, 2015
865-215-8801
Second Floor
Hours
  • M-F: 8am-4:30pm
  • Closed Sept 7, 2015
  • Closed Nov 11, 2015
865-215-8800

Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee

In conjunction with the State of Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Event
April 30, 2015 to May 3, 2015
Various Locations Around Knoxville

 

Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee: A Historical Precedence

Knoxville and East Tennessee stood at the epicenter of political influence and confrontation for the nation and the state at the end of the Civil War. Vice President Andrew Johnson, a former slaveholder, became President at the close of a war that ended slavery. Knoxvillian Parson William Brownlow, a fiery and unforgiving Unionist, was elected governor in a state that had joined the Confederacy.

These two East Tennesseans would wrestle with the job of reuniting a country when there appeared to be no sense of compromise on either side. Naturally, 150 years later the State of Tennessee has chosen Knoxville to be the site for its five-year long commemoration of the Civil War.

Because of the pivotal role East Tennessee played for the nation at the end of the Civil War, Knoxville and the state of Tennessee will offer four days of programming where visitors can explore the themes of reconstruction, remembrance, and reconciliation.

Knoxville in Gala Attire. Blue and Gray Parade, October 7, 1890
Blue and Gray Parade, Knoxville, TN, October 7, 1890

Knoxville hosted a Blue and Gray Reunion in 1890 and again in 1895, where veterans of the 1863 Battle of Fort Sanders returned to shake hands with comrades and former foes. Today, the city is working to recreate the feeling of that historic occasion that will dovetail with the State of Tennessee’s activities.

In those postwar reunions held both north and south, African Americans were largely uninvited. This time around The Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee will recognize the veterans and descendants of the 1st U.S. (Colored) Heavy Artillery regiment in Knoxville. We hope you will join us from April 30 – May 3 for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

Browse The Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee Event Schedule (by topic):

First Steps in Freedom | Blue & Gray | Homes, Cemeteries, Forts | Museums and Exhibitions | State Events

First Steps in Freedom

Saturday, May 2

Opening Ceremony & Color Guard Presentation by 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, 11:30 a.m.
Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave.   

Presentation of records transcription of 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, 11:30 a.m.
This transcription of original records now housed in the Smithsonian will be presented to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center Archives.
Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave.   

Exhibition: A Glorious March to Freedom, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Traveling exhibition from the African American Civil War Museum
Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave.    

Guest Speaker: Dr. Frank Smith, 12:30 p.m.
Executive Director, African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave. 

Odd Fellows Cemetery, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Cemetery tours and visits with soldiers from the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery
Graves of Civil War veterans, 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, will be decorated.
Walter Hardy Park, 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. (Park adjacent to Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potter’s Field) 

Freedom Jubilee, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Centered around a larger-than-life statue of Alex Haley, this event will honor and tell the African American story, from Africa to Emancipation, featuring story tellers, poets, musicians, re-enactments, children’s activities, and vendors. Special guest to be announced. This park and statue honor Roots author Alex Haley and the important impact of his book. Haley in his later years made his home in Knoxville and East Tennessee.
Alex Haley Heritage Square, 1600 Dandridge Ave.

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Blue & Gray

Friday, May 1

Blue & Gray Reunion Dinner, 7:00 p.m.
Ron Maxwell, director of the popularly acclaimed films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, will be the special guest speaker. Music and a short history of Knoxville’s 1890 Blue and Gray Reunion will add to the evening’s theme. For ticket information and purchase, click here or call 865-215-8883.  
Knoxville Convention Center, 701 Henley Street

Saturday, May 2

Civil War Exposition, 9:45 a.m.-5 p.m.
Opening Procession: 9:45 a.m., Opening Ceremony: 10 a.m.
Saturday features a wide variety of events reminiscent of those held in the 1890 reunion, including living history, remembrances, music, movies, museums, earthwork forts, historic homes, cemeteries, walking and bus tours, vintage base ball as played in 1864, and visits by historic personages. Ladies in period dress will represent home front stories. 
East Tennessee History Center, Krutch Park, Various Locations

Share your Story, (Times: TBD)  
Union, Confederate, slavery, or home front; take five minutes to record your family’s Civil War story for all time.
East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Play Ball: Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball, Games, Noon & 2:30 p.m.
Four vintage teams play baseball by the rules as practiced in 1864—“No gloves, no spittin’, no swearin’!” 
World’s Fair Park, Performance Lawn

Lead Your Own Army to Victory: Battles in Miniature, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Learn history and perhaps reverse the outcome of a battle. Participants will maneuver authentic painted and detailed 56mm models representing Confederate and Union troops. Coaching is provided. Public is invited to participate. Presented by the Historic Gaming Club of Knoxville.
East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Civil War Living History, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Visit with Living Historians and tour this Civil War era home that contains its original family furnishings.
Mabry-Hazen House, 1711 Dandridge Ave.

Old Gray Cemetery Special Program, 1 p.m.
Old Gray Cemetery stood silent witness to many dramatic events of the Civil War in Knoxville.  Enjoy a stroll through the cemetery grounds and experience firsthand the evidence of the struggle that happened here 150 years ago.  The graves of over 260 men who served in the Civil War will be marked with flags appropriate to their military service.  The special program at 1 p.m. will feature a short historical program with several speakers.  Two of the speakers will be historical reenactors representing the reflections of John Bell Brownlow (Union) and James Rogers McCallum (Confederate) in 1890 on the ware and its aftermath.
Old Gray Cemetery, 543 North Broadway

Dramatic Reading by David Madden from his Civil War novel Sharpshooter, 1 p.m.
Ramsey House, 2614 Thorngrove Pike

Dramatic Reading of Play, 1 p.m.
Homemade Yankees, a play in seven scenes, by novelist Robert Morgan, winner of the John Collum Playwriting Competition
East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Historic Plaque Dedication, 2 p.m.
Commemorate the death of William P. Sanders on the site, November 9, 1863
Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St.

Civil War Filmmaker and Director, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Ron Maxwell will screen personally selected excerpts from his successful Civil War movies such as “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals” which he feels were critical to advancing the historical storytelling of the films. Followed by Q & A.
The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, 1327 Circle Park Dr.

Peace Jubilee, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
In the spirit of the 1890 Blue and Gray Reunion, Confederates and Unionists will put aside old differences and come together again as one nation. Enjoy an evening of music, original speeches from the 1890 event, a Veterans Procession, and a candle light ceremony in memory of ancestors, concluding with a fireworks finale. Food vendors on site.
World’s Fair Park

Sunday, May 3

Service of Remembrance, Reunion, and Reconciliation for a Nation Divided, 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.
First Presbyterian Church, 620 State St.

Rededication of the Sultana Monument, 2:00 p.m.
In memory of the many East Tennessee Union soldiers who died in the explosion of the steamboat Sultana in the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865.  Presented by Major William A. McTeer Camp No. 39, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  For additional details, contact David McReynolds, Camp Commander.
Mount Olive Cemetery, 2500 Maryville Pk., Knoxville

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Homes, Cemeteries, Forts

These attractions are open for visitors throughout the weekend; bus tours available Saturday, May 2 ONLY.

Knoxville Historic Homes, Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sunday: Crescent Bend & Bleak House
Tours includes Blount Mansion where Confederate spy Belle Boyd lodged with relatives; Mabry-Hazen House was occupied by troops from both sides; Bleak House was headquarters for two Confederate generals, with deadly accurate sharpshooters in the tower; Crescent Bend, occupied by Brigadier General Joseph B. Kershaw of South Carolina; Ramsey House,* boyhood home of prominent Confederate citizen and Treasury Agent Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey.
*Participating site but not on bus route

Stories in Stone: Cemetery Tours, Downtown Knoxville Area, Open Dawn to Dusk
Explore a cross-section of cemeteries and experiences illustrating the very human side of war.  Included are Knoxville National, Old Gray, Bethel Confederate, Odd Fellows (African American), Beth-el Temple (Jewish), Freedman’s Mission Cemetery, First Presbyterian, Mount Olive Cemetery,* and Lebanon-in-the-Forks* 
* Participating but not on bus route

Knoxville’s Civil War Forts, Open Dawn to Dusk
Don’t miss Fort Higley at High Ground Park and Fort Dickerson, two surviving earthwork forts, both on high bluffs directly across the river from downtown. A monument near downtown Knoxville marks the site of the Battle of Fort Sanders,* a bloody 20-minute battle that resulted in a Union victory, ultimately deciding the fate of East Tennessee. 
*Participating but not on bus route

Historic Homes Addresses

Cemeteries

Forts

  • Fort Dickerson—3000 Fort Dickerson Road SW
  • Fort Higley (High Ground Park)—1001 Cherokee Trail

NOTE: Sunday Hours for Historic Homes, Cemeteries, Forts
Historic Homes: Blount Mansion, Mabry-Hazen, and Ramsey House are open in the afternoon for visitors
Cemeteries: Open from dawn to dusk for visitors
Forts: Open dawn to dusk for visitors
Museums: Open regular Sunday hours (UT Downtown Gallery closed)

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Museums and Exhibitions

Special event times listed. For regular operating hours, see venue's website.

Voices of the Land: Divided Loyalties, April 30-May 2: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., May 3: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Dramatic stories of a region at war within itself, dividing families, communities, institutions, even churches. 
Museum of East Tennessee History, 601 S. Gay St.

The Battle of Fort Sanders, November 29, 1863, April 30-May 2: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., May 3: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
The Battle of Fort Sanders and Knoxville’s pivotal role in the Civil War.
McClung Museum of Natural History, University of Tennessee, 1327 Circle Park Drive, UT Campus

Bethel Museum and Cemetery 
The story of nearby Bethel Cemetery as it pertains to the Civil War in Knoxville.
Bethel Museum and Cemetery, 1917 Bethel Ave.

Memories of the Blue and Gray: The Civil War in East Tennessee at 150, April 30-May 2:
9 a.m.-5 p.m., May 3: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Memories of the Civil War are woven into the fabric of our regional history. A look at the many ways we preserve and express this memory.
Museum of East Tennessee History, 601 S. Gay St.

A Glorious March to Freedom, April 30-May 2: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Traveling exhibition from the African American Civil War Museum
Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave.

LeFevre’s Civil War Series exhibition, May 1, 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Special “First Friday” Showing, Closed Sunday, May 3   
Illustrations cover the history of the Civil War through 32 of the most significant battles.
University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, 106 S. Gay St.

Farragut Folklife Museum, April 30-May1: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Highlight is Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Gallery featuring personal items of this Civil War hero. 
Farragut Folklife Museum, 11408 Municipal Center Dr., Farragut

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2015 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Events
     April 30-May 1;
Separate Registration Required!

Keynote Event, April 30: 7 p.m.
Fisk Jubilee Singers, Lecture, REMEMBERING THE CIVIL WAR, by Carolyn E. Hanney, Ph.D.
Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St.

Teacher Workshop, April 30: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Teaching with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress, Free and open to K-12 educators.  Registration required by emailing Kelly.wilkerson@tn.gov
East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Looking Back: Civil War in Tennessee, April 30: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and May 1: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Experts will identify and document Civil War artifacts and share preservation techniques.  To reserve a spot, call 615-741-1883 or email civilwar.tsla@tn.gov.  Click here for additional information.
East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Opening Ceremony, May 1: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Remarks by Dr. Carroll Van West, Tennessee State Historian, Governor Bill Haslam (invited), and Renee Kessler, Director, Beck Cultural Exchange Center.  Afternoon session:  Panel discussuons with Drs. Todd Groce, Luke Harlow, Bobby L. Lovett, Tracy McKenzie.  Book signings to follow.
Knoxville Convention Center, 701 Henley St.

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Locations for Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee Events