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Western Kentucky

Civil War Sites I-85 and west


Columbus-Belmont State Park
350 Park Road, Columbus KY 42032-0009
 Road map 
   Kentucky’s tenuous hold on “neutrality” was shattered when Confederates occupied the heights above the Mississippi River here Sept. 3, 1861. Union troops under U.S. Grant had occupied Belmont, Mo., across the river the day before. Southern troops under Leonidas Polk soon fortified the spot, turning the Columbus heights into “the Gibralter of the West” with 140 pieces of artillery trained on the river. The Confederates also obstructed the Mississippi with an iron anchor chain. The Confederate occupation of Columbus was short-lived, however. The position was outflanked and cut off the Union victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee.
   The state park features a 2.5-mile walking trail along the bluffs and the Confederate-built fortifications there. Pieces of artillery and the anchor chain once obstructing the river are on display as well. Museum open daily May–September and weekends in October. $4/adult.

Columbus is on the NPS Vicksburg Campaign Trail.


Visitor Center
128 Broadway, Paducah KY 42001
   Pick up walking and driving tour information here. Downtown Floodwall Mural depicts Civil War scenes. For more Paducah and area sites, request a copy of the Ohio River Civil War Heritage Corridor tour (see listing below).

Lloyd Tilghman House and Civil War Museum
631 Kentucky Ave, Paducah KY 42003
 Road map 
    Pre-war home to Confederate Gen. Lloyd Tilghman (killed in Mississippi in 1863), this museum highlights the war in Western Kentucky. Open April–November Wednesday–Saturday noon–4 pm. $3/adults.


The Ohio River
Civil War Heritage Corridor

   This 32-stop driving/walking tour covers the six Kentucky counties on the Ohio River across from Illinois. It follows US 60 from Henderson to Wickliffe. The area, occupied early by Union troops, was divided in its loyalties with many citizens here siding with the Confederacy. The tour covers battle and skirmish sites, remains of fortifications and African-American and other civilian stories.
    Request a free copy from Prof. William H. Mulligan, 270-809-6571 or

Bowling Green

Civil War Discovery Trail
    Confederates occupied Bowling Green in September 1861 after the fall of Columbus. The town, a transportation center, quickly became a stronghold and headquarters for the Southern forces and was named state capital of the “Confederate State of Kentucky” in November 1861. Union gains in the state and in Tennessee forced the Confederates to evacuate the city, and it was in Federal hands by February 1862.
    A 14-stop Civil War Discovery Trail driving tour has been created. The brochure describes forts, monuments, homes and other sites associated with the war in Bowling Green.
    Pick up the brochure at the visitor center downtown or in the Corvette Museum lobby. Download a copy from or request a copy by calling 800-326-7465.

The Kentucky Library and Museum
On the Western Kentucky University campus
1 Big Red Way, Bowling Green KY 42101
 Road map 
   The “A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky” exhibit examines south central Kentucky’s divided loyalties. On view are a simulated Civil War campsite and Victorian photography studio with period artifacts including flags, weapons and John Hunt Morgan’s saddle. Gallery hours 9 am–4 pm Monday–Saturday, 1–4 pm Sunday. $5/adult.


Jefferson Davis
State Historic Site

US Highway 68 E,
Fairview KY 42221-0157
 Road map 

   The 351-foot obelisk marking the birth site of Jefferson Davis, June 3, 1808, was completed in 1924. Museum/visitor center on site.

   Park grounds open daylight hours year-round. Museum open 9 am-5 pm daily April-Nov 15. $4/adult admission to museum or monument.

West Point

Fort Duffield
Dixie Highway (US 31 W) and Salt River Drive, West Point KY 40177
 Road map 
    Well-preserved Union fort built in 1861 to protect the supply base at West Point and command portions of the Ohio and Salt Rivers. Walking tour takes visitors through the fort. Good virtual tour:


Battle of Sacramento Civil War Driving Tour
    This running battle between Greenville and Calhoun was typical of a Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest fight. The aggressive Forrest, operating toward the Green River, discovered a Federal scouting party near Sacramento Dec. 28, 1861, and attacked. The outnumbered Northerners fled back to the main Union force at Calhoun protecting locks on the Green River. Forrest escaped the pursuit. A downloadable driving tour of the Battle of Sacramento is available. See Kentucky Links.

Website links to Kentucky places: Kentucky Links