Burning of Old Columbus
North of this marker lies the site of Old Columbus,once an important landing on the CumberlandRiver. In the winter of 1863-1864, the warhad disastrous consequences for this river village.
Late in December 1863, Gen. Ulysses S.Grant sent a naval convoy up the river fromNashville to Creelsboro, Ky., on a reconnaissanceand supply mission. The U.S. gunboats Reindeerand Silver Lake No. 2 under U.S. Navy Lt. HenryA. Glassford accompanied three transports carryinga detachment of 140 sharpshooters from the129th Illinois Infantry, under the command of Col.Andrew J. Cropsey. At five locations includingGainesboro, the county seat, Confederate guerrillabands fired on the convoy as it headed upriver.Tennessee military governor Andrew Johnson haddecided to establish a Federal army post therebecause the town was a base of operations for Confederatepartisans in the region. He ordered gunboatcommanders not to destroy the town so thatthe buildings could be used for military purposes.After the Federals occupied Gainesboro, Unionforces began to suppress partisan warfare. Duringa February 1864 raid into the countryside, Col.Henry K. McConnell's 71st Ohio Infantry pursuedtwo companies of Confederate rangers led byCols. Oliver P. Hamilton and John M. Hughs. TheFederal force arrived at Columbus, where manyof the partisans lived and kept their horses. Afterremoving the women, children, and livestock, theFederals burned the village to the ground.
"The country between Carthage and theCumberland Mountains through which wepassed is bordering upon famine. Familieswithout regard to politics are eaten out andplundered by those common enemies ofmankind (rangers) until even those formerlywealthy are utterly reduced, and many ofthe poorer are now actually starving."
—Col. Henry K. McConnell, 71st Ohio Infantry
"Jackson County was represented to me asthe seat of operations of several guerillabands, and it fully merits its reputation,for we had scarcely touched the county linebefore guerillas were discovered on the lookoutfor us."
— Lt. Henry A. Glassford, USN
(Inscription under the photo in the upper center)
USS Gunboat Silver Lake No. 2, fromThe Photographic History of the Civil War (1911)