A significant yet lesser-known chapter of the history of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park recently came to light, thanks in large part to the Friends of Cumberland Gap non-profit group.
A park supporter noticed a historic Civil War letter for sale earlier this year and purchased it. The Friends of Cumberland Gap then learned of the letter and offered to buy it for the park’s archives.
Written by Lieutenant Colonel James F. Wade of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), 6th Cavalry, the letter is dated November 28, 1864, and originates from Cumberland Gap. In the letter, designated “General Order No. 1,” Wade “hereby assumes command of the 3rd Brigade, consisting of the 5th USC Cavalry 13th Ky Cavalry – 30th, 37th and 43rd Regts. Ky Mtd. Inf.”
“This is a part of the Gap’s Civil War history that is only just beginning to be explored,” said Superintendent Mark Woods. “Thanks to the generosity of our Friends Group, we are able to have this tangible link to the presence of the USCT here at Cumberland Gap.”
“The purchase and donation of this letter fits well with the mission of the Friends group, formed in 2009, as we strive to ‘strengthen awareness of and assist the National Park Service in its mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.” Said John Brown, the group’s chairman. “We are pleased to be able to bring this important historical find back home where it belongs.”