Commemoration and reconciliation—the 1890 Blue-Gray Reunion in Knoxville

Knoxville Journal

New to the McClung Digital Collection is the very rare Knoxville Journal’s Souvenir Edition of the 1890 Blue-Gray Reunion. Although it is necessary to magnify the text in order to read the articles, it is well worth the effort for a perspective on the Civil War and its participants. The reunion took place 25 years after the end of the war, when the events were still in the memory of many—both soldiers and civilians—who experienced it.

Some of Knoxville’s leading citizens and Civil War veterans organized the Blue-Gray Reunion that took place October 7–9, 1890. Invitations were sent to veterans of all units who served at the Battle of Fort Sanders, either Union or Confederate, and three days of activities were planned for the visitors including a large parade, a “peace jubilee” and—to cap the event—a huge fireworks display. It was estimated that 30,000 people attended the parade and 35,000 viewed the fireworks. The “peace jubilee” of veterans from both sides drew a “large crowd.”