Friday, December 19, 2008

Fort Smith

When Confederate General Leonidas Polk invaded Kentucky and captured Columbus, Union General US Grant moved fast. He soon after took Paducah and Smithland, strategic spots along the Ohio River. Paducah guarded the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers while Smithland guarded the Ohio and Cumberland rivers. In February 1862 Grant would need naval access to the Cumberland River to aid his attacks on Fort Donelson.

So in my continuing efforts at visiting the rare spots of the war I went to Smithland to see what I could see. There is not much. Smithland is a small town. I think there was just a warning light in town, not a traffic light, just a flashing yellow light. But on the hill south of town are the remains of the Union Fort Smith. They are pretty well preserved, I've heard that they are the best preserved entrenchments in Kentucky but I'm not sure I'd go that far.

This is the only sign in the fort although there were two park benches. The whole place seemed creepy. Perhaps that's because its right next to the cemetery. The benches did not give me a warm cozy feeling, I almost felt like an intruder.
And of course along the river was a place to see the confluence of the Cumberland and Ohio rivers. The Cumberland enters the picture from the right and exits the left side as the Ohio.

I doubt I'll ever visit Smithland again but it was nice to see it once.

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