University of Tennessee's Sorority Village entrenched in Civil War history

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UT archaeologists have uncovered a significant piece of Civil War history at the future construction site of the school's Sorority Village.

"It's part of our heritage. Just being here, it's like going to Gettysburg on a smaller scale," said Jeff Chapman, director of UT's Frank H. McClung Museum.

Military maps from almost 150 years ago placed confederate artillery during the Battle of Fort Sanders at the location of the planned village near the corner of Kingston Pike and Neyland Drive. Before constructing the gated all-sorority neighborhood, the school asked the archaeology department to dig into the issue.

"The maps showed trenches here and artillery that fired on Fort Sanders," said UT archaeologist Michael Angst. "We started digging perpendicular to the trenches in April and figured we would intersect them if they existed."

Researchers discovered two trenches spanning a total of approximately 275 feet along with two battery positions. Nearly 150 years later, the red subsoil still has impressions from the wheels of the large cannons...

... Archaeologists also uncovered soldier's belt buckles, ammunition, pottery, and firing mechanisms for the cannons. But the most significant find is the trench itself.

"Thanks to this fantastic archaeology, this is the only known spot that we can say without a doubt was a Confederate position in the Battle of Fort Sanders," said Steve Dean, president of the East Tennessee Civil War Alliance. "We had maps, but never any actual indisputable proof that this find has provided."

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