Forrest's Raid

Historical Marker #517 in McCracken County recalls Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid on Paducah in March 1864.

The journey to Paducah from western Tennessee began in the spring of 1864. Forrest was intent on reaching Kentucky to disrupt Union supply lines. He also hoped to secure supplies for his own command and to discourage African Americans from enlisting in the Union Army.

The raid began on the early afternoon of March 25, 1864, as Forrest's Confederates drove Union troops away from Eden’s Hill and into Paducah. The Federals, under the command of Colonel Stephen Hicks, retreated to Fort Anderson for protection. The fort, manned by more than 650 soldiers, was protected by two gunboats on the Ohio River, the "Peosta" and "Paw Paw." While some of Forrest's troops harassed the fort by firing into it from neighboring homes, the rest plundered Paducah, collecting supplies. After an hour of fighting, Forrest demanded an unconditional surrender from Hicks, who refused.

Shortly thereafter, Confederate Colonel Albert P. Thompson, a Paducah native, led an unauthorized and unsuccessful attack on the fort. Thompson was killed in the assault just a few miles from his home by a cannonball. After being driven back, the Confederate troops burned many of the military buildings in the town and collected more than 200 horses and mules. Ten hours after the raid started, Forrest and his troops withdrew to Mayfield.

Casualties from the raid and Battle of Paducah were relatively small. Fourteen Union soldiers were killed, forty-six wounded, and forty taken captive. It is estimated that the Confederates lost around 300 men. Approximately sixty homes were destroyed in Paducah along with some warehouses, a train depot, and a steamboat.

Images

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army. A prominent figure in the western theater of the Civil War, Forrest's actions include the March 25, 1964 raid at Paducah. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Civil War Cannon

Civil War Cannon

Colonel A.P. Thompson was killed in the Battle of Paducah a few miles from his home by cannonball. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Union Gunboat

Union Gunboat

Union gunboats were instrumental in protecting Fort Anderson from Nathan Bedford Forrest and his Southern troops during the 1864 raid of Paducah. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Fort Anderson

Fort Anderson

As part of the raid on Paducah, Colonel A.P. Thompson launched an unauthorized attack on Union troops who had retreated to Fort Anderson. The fort held and the Confederate States Army was pushed back. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

McKenzie Martin, “Forrest's Raid,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 24, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/365.

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