I’ve been doing some research on Civil War activity in my county. It’s hard to believe that there was so little, since I live in a Kentucky county that borders Tennessee and Forts Henry and Donelson are just a few miles to the southwest.
However, I have discovered information on a brief battle/skirmish that occurred along the Cumberland River at a village called Canton. In the days of the Civil War, Canton was something of a boom-town because of its port on the Cumberland. Here is a map with a couple of key locations:
The battle took place on or around November 20, 1861. It involved troops led by Nathan Bedford Forrest who engaged a sidewheel “timberclad” gunboat, theUSS Conestoga, which was involved in many battles and skirmishes along the rivers of the south. Here is a picture of the ship.
Kentucky Historical Marker #619, located on the side of Nwy. 68 in canton, reads, “CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest with 6 cavalry companies joined Gen. Charles Clark, Nov. 15, 1861, at Hopkinsville. On reconnaissance learned of USA gunboat Conestoga’s intent to destroy CSA supplies at Canton. They met here November 20 in 7 hours of ship-to-shore combat. Conestoga left. Forrest’s command had stood ground well, first time under fire.”
It seems that the previous account is more from a Confederate perspective. The logs from the Conestoga are a bit different. They list the date of the battle as November 18, 1861, and have little detail. It reads, “U.S.S. Conestoga, Lieutenant S. L. Phelps, on expedition up Cumberland River, dispersed Confederate forces and silenced battery at Canton, Kentucky.“
I wonder which account is true.
Anyhow … this afternoon I hunted for three hours along the bluffs just to the north of the Hwy. 68 bridge (see map) with the landowner – a friend of mine named Mark. As you can tell from the map, the terrain has changed rather dramatically since the TVA dammed the Cumberland river to create Lake Barkley. (I’ve tried to approximate the original river channel – it may, actually, lie further out from the modern shore.)
It was tough hunting. Lots of trash and false signals. I did hit a strong signal and pulled an old jar lid out of the ground. I pretty much demolished the spot looking for a potential jar full of loot. But there was none.
However, along one of the bluffs, about three feet down from the top, I hit a good signal and dug my first actual lead bullet out of the ground. By its size it is clearly a very large slug. It’s pretty much squashed because of all of the rock in the ground at this location. It’s the only one either of us found, though. Must have been a stray round that found it’s way so far north.
In talking to Mark I discovered that the original port was on the south side of the modern highway (see map). I just happen to know a couple who owns sever acres on that bluff, but I am afraid that any relics there may be lost. Mark told me that the original owners bulldozed that property (including several large Indian mounds) over the side of the bluff into the river back in the 1960’s. But I will hit the spot anyway.
Sorry for the “novel,” but I wanted to share the research on a truly interesting spot. It’s cool to know that I dug a slug that was fired in that battle, and even know the approximate date.
Here’s a picture of the smashed slug and another unidentified item. Maybe someone will be able to tell me what it is.
NOOB: Hunting Since 11.24.08 / Garrett GTP 1350 & Bounty Hunter Quicksilver / Oldest Coin – 1912 Barber Dime / Silver Coins – 8 / Coin Count – 124/ Clad Total – $11.40 / Ring Count – 2