This was the home of Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman. Tilghman was born in Claiborne, Maryland in 1815. His family had a long and distinguished history in Maryland. He graduated from West Point with the Class of 1836 and was a veteran of the Mexican War. Tilghman settled in Paducah in 1852, working as a civil engineer and supervising construction of the New Orleans and Ohio Railroad. At the beginning of the Civil War he was western commander of the Kentucky State Guard, formed to protect Kentucky's neutrality. However, when those attempts failed, he was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. Tilghman organized the Third Kentucky Infantry and the majority of the men in the western division of the Kentucky State Guard followed him in joining the Confederacy.
In December 1861, Tilghman was named commander of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. He quickly recognized the poor position of the fort and ordered the construction of Fort Heiman begun on high ground across the river.
Late in day on February 4, 1862 then Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant with two divisions supported by seven gunboats lead [sic] by Flag Office Andrew H. Foote arrived downstream from Fort Henry. Tilghman assessed the situation and consulted with his officers. On February 6, 1862, realizing that the fall of Fort Henry was unavoidable, Tilghman sent most of the garrison to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River to reinforce that position. Tilghman returned to Fort Henry and with a small force for several hours, allowing the main body of the Fort Henry garrison to reach Fort Donelson. He then surrendered the fort to the Union gunboats under Foote.
Tilghman was sent to Fort Warren, Massachusetts as a Prisoner of War. However, he was released as part of a prisoner exchange only a few months later and immediately returned to service as commander of the 1st Brigade of Major General William Loring's Army of the West which included the Third Kentucky. He fought at Corinth and Holly Springs in Mississippi. On May 16, 1863 while commanding his troops in the Battle of Champion Hill he was struck by a shell fragment and fatally wounded.
The Tilghman House was saved from demolition by community volunteers and restored to serve as a Civil War Museum focused on the role of the western rivers and western Kentucky in the Civil War. In 1998 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.