Few areas were of more obvious strategic significance during the Civil War than the Cumberland Gap. A gap in the Cumberland Mountain chain at the juncture of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, it had to be taken by the Union in any drive south in this rugged region. Brigadier General George W. Morgan led four brigades to attack Confederate fortifications in the gap that were referred to at the time as the American Gibraltar.
The approach march to the gap over some of the most rugged terrain the Western Theater was a nightmare and took two weeks. Morgan was cut off from his supply lines and had to use foraging to supply his men. The “battle” itself was anti-climactic, the Confederate force under Brigadier Carter L. Stevenson withdrawing in advance of the Union arrival. Morgan would hold the gap until September, abandoning it when Bragg invaded Kentucky. The gap was taken by the Union again and for good when General Ambrose Burnside took it during September 7-9, 1863, along with 2300 Confederate prisoners.
Here is the report of General Morgan announcing the capture of the American Gibraltar: (more…)