General Grant’s expulsion of the Jews from Paducah, Kentucky during the Civil War

This is the story of how the actions of Cesar Kaskel, a resident of Paducah during the Civil War, lead to the ending of a Union military injustice, that became known as the worst official anti-Semitic action in American history, when Major-General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders No. 11 on December 17th, 1862, instructing his officers to expel all the Jews in the military district of western Kentucky, western Tennessee, and Mississippi:1

Gen. Grant believed that Jewish and other unprincipled traders were orchestrating an unscrupulous trade of southern cotton in his military district and delivering intelligence, gold and supplies to the enemy, but the order blamed the Jews as a class instead of singling out the individual traders. Since western Kentucky, western Tennessee and Mississippi were in Grant’s military district, Grant was in charge of bestowing trading permits, and cotton was a lucrative trade, so he was being inundated with requests. He knew of the reports of goods being smuggled to the Confederacy, and he wanted to stop this practice.

The Civil War brought out the worst in some people, where mistrust and animosities grew steadily in the Four Rivers region due to the political differences, economic hardships and constant guerrilla attacks on residents that became a part of life in the area, and because of this, old world prejudices and stereotypes soon occurred, singling out the Jewish residents in particular.

Because of the river systems located so close to Paducah and the railroad lines that went through the city, its growth, before the Civil War, grew steadily, and because of the river traffic, it was a good location to start businesses for many German immigrants, among them, many of Jewish ancestry. Cesar Kaskel was born in the town of Rawitsch, Prussia, and during the 1850’s, many German Jews left for the United States to escape from a world where there were legal limitations on where they could live and the kinds of jobs that they could do to make a living. Prussia, during this time, was going through domestic unrest due to a bad economy that created hardships for finding work, and Kaskel hoped to change all of that when he moved to Paducah, Kentucky in 1858.2

Kaskel soon partnered with Solomon Greenbaum and went into business, but unfortunately, the Civil War began in 1861, and Kaskel found that running a business during this time was a difficult task. On June 12th, 1861, southern trade was restricted by the Federal Government to economically deprive the Confederate’s ability to trade for war supplies. On September 6th, 1862, Gen. Grant landed troops at the riverfront in Paducah, causing even further economic hardships for Kaskel, where permits, from the Union army, were required before anyone was allowed to conduct business transactions, after western Kentucky was declared to be under “insurrectionary influence” that allowed the Treasury Department to control the trading in the region to limit the ability for illegal trade to occur with the Confederacy.3

With all of the shortages in goods during the war and the Union army in control of Paducah, the speculators and smugglers fared very well, despite the attempts of the Federal government to halt illegal trade, with the supply and demand problems created by the war, and many unscrupulous deals were done to line many a pocket, giving some, with the right connections, more Federal trade permits that gave them the ability to create a vast amount of wealth from the imbalance in trade.4

In small cities, like Paducah, many residents were aware of these deals, and this created accusations of public corruption and personal animosities, either because they were blacklisted from getting permits because they were openly secessionist and branded as treasonous to the Union cause, or they were recent immigrants that had distinct European accents and different ways. The old-world stereotype of the Jewish immigrants came to the forefront, and many were denied permits because they were considered untrustworthy and unscrupulous in business. The Unionist believed they were in league with the secessionists, smuggling goods to the Confederates, and the secessionists didn’t trust the Paducah Jewish merchants because many openly supported the Union Cause; in fact, Cesar Kaskel was the Vice-President of the Paducah Union League Club, and his brother, Julius, was a recruiter for the Union army.5

Alincoln Wikimedia Commons

Abraham Lincoln (Wikimedia Commons)

To highlight how some in the Union army believed that the Jews were all smugglers, a report was wired from Union Navy Lieutenant S. L. Phelps to Flag-Officer A. H. Foote on December 30th, 1861, where he complained that too much smuggling was occurring from Paducah to Evansville, and that it was being done by “as usual chiefly by Jews.”6

When the war began, President Abraham Lincoln had a problem, and it was cotton; the South had it and everyone needed it. Both the European industries and the northern industries in the United States needed the raw material, and the Union army needed it for tents, but it was decided early on in the war to allow trade from the Border States to occur in the Confederate States, so that permits would be given to private citizens that allowed cotton to be bought and brought north. This satisfied the northern industrial interests that were continually requesting that the cotton trade be allowed to continue.7

The problem that General Grant had was when his armies marched south into Tennessee and Mississippi in 1862, where cotton was one of the main cash crops. He quickly learned how warfare caused the price of cotton to skyrocket to three or four times the prewar value, causing many to follow the army in the occupied towns to seek ways of acquiring cheap cotton from the south, and to sell in the northern states for a huge profit. Needless to say, some of the speculators following the army were not afraid to do many things to make a profit, including corrupt deals that also benefited the Confederates. Because military and guerrilla raids were continually burning cotton bales, many farmers chose to sell their cotton as fast as possible, but only at the lower price offered by the speculators.8

General Grant Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division pga 00723

General Grant
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
pga 00723

The situation was so chaotic that a correspondent with the Chicago Tribune described, in his article on December 18th, 1862, what it was like when Gen. Grant was in Holly Springs, Mississippi, “If ever a community were insane, or afflicted with a disgusting moral malady, it is the crowds of speculators and vagrants which have congregated at Holly Springs to deal in cotton – they have ‘cotton’ on the brain – every one of them.”9

Gen. Grant was plagued with constant requests for permits and transportation requests from the speculators, and he believed that many of them were carrying vital military intelligence and trading with gold to the Confederates, when they were travelling back and forth from the enemy lines. Grant felt that guarding the shipments also demoralized his troops, because of the many unscrupulous dealings that were occurring everywhere, including with his soldiers.10

General William Tecumseh Sherman believed that the speculators were hurting the war effort, and he often referred to them as the “Jews and speculators” in his letters. In one of them on July 31st, 1862, he stated, “They were nearly out of bacon and salt meat, but the desire of our people to trade has soon supplied this. Cincinnati has sent enough salt to supply all their army for six months. In like manner the Jews and speculators have sent in enough gold to get all the cartridges necessary, so the two wants of the army are supplied, a whole year lost to the war, and some Jews and speculators have made ten per cent profit. Of course our lives are nothing in the scales of profit with our commercial people. The buying of cotton by the people of the South was one act of folly, but our buying the refuse of them for gold and especially shipping salt, which from scarcity has risen to $100 a barrel, is a greater act of folly.”11

Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-BH832-578)

Edwin Stanton (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-BH832-578)

Adding to Gen. Grant’s problems, many soldiers saw the opportunity of making good money too good to pass up, by entering into illicit dealings with speculators, and in one account, an agent of the War Department and the future Assistant Secretary of War, Charles A. Dana, wrote a letter, on January 21st, 1863 in Memphis, to Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, regarding the problem, “Every colonel, captain, or quartermaster is in secret partnership with some operator in cotton; every soldier dreams of adding a bale of cotton to his monthly pay. I had no conception of the extent of this evil until I came and saw for myself. Besides, the resources of the rebels are inordinately increased from this source. Plenty of cotton is brought in from beyond our lines, especially by the agency of Jewish traders, who pay for it ostensibly in Treasury notes, but really in gold.”12

Gen. Grant wrote to C. P. Wolcott, the Assistant Secretary of War in Washington D.C. on December 17th, telling him how he had been expelling some of the Jewish speculators from his Department, but they kept coming, with their “carpet-sacks”, no matter what he did to try to stop the constant traffic. He said the “Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel everywhere. They will land at any wood-yard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves they will act as agents for some one else, who will be at a military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold.”13

Gen. Grant told Wolcott that he believed the answer was for the Government to buy up all the cotton at a fixed rate, and then send it to Cairo, St. Louis or anywhere else away from him, so that “all traders (they are a curse to the army) might be expelled.”14

The resentment the Union army had to the cotton trade speculators continued to grow after continually dealing with unscrupulous traders, and many officers’ bigotry began to show towards the Jews in general, by stereotyping all of them into this persona they were so used to seeing around the Headquarters of their camps, and Gen. Grant was one of them. Even though not all of the speculators were Jewish, this did not deter their animosity against the Jewish traders.15

While preparing to move out in his first campaign to take Vicksburg, Mississippi, Gen. Grant sent a telegraph from Lagrange, Tennessee on November 9th, 1862, to Major General Hurlbut ordering him to “Refuse all permits to come south of Jackson for the present…The Isrealites especially should be kept out.”16

In mid-December, Gen. Grant’s father, Jesse Grant, visited his son’s Headquarters in Mississippi, and traveling with him were the Mack brothers, Harman, Henry and Simon, that were influential Jewish clothing manufacturers from Cincinnati, Ohio. Gen. Grant’s father was in a secret partnership with them to gain a permit to purchase cotton, along with a means to transport the cotton to New York, and the agreement was that he would travel with them to his son’s Headquarters to act as their agent for a fourth of the cut, but they were completely unaware of all of the problems that cotton had been for the younger Grant. He exploded in anger at his father and the Mack brothers, when he first learned of the plan, and according to witness that was present when this occurred, Journalist Sylvanus Cadwallader from the Chicago Times, Gen. Grant erupted at his father’s attempt to profit from his position in the army, while also raging at the brothers for trying to involve his father in their nefarious and unworthy plan. He immediately sent the brothers home on the first train north, and it was shortly after this event that General Orders No. 11 was issued, on December 17th, 1862.17

Gen. John A. Rawlins, Wikimedia Common

Gen. John A. Rawlins, Wikimedia Common

Gen. Grant’s Chief of Staff, John A. Rawlins, objected to the order as it was being prepared and told the general that it could be seen as discriminatory toward the Jews, but this did not deter Gen. Grant though and he told him, “Well, they can countermand this from Washington if they like, but we will issue it anyhow.”18

When the order was first issued, four military officers sent messages to Gen. Grant’s Headquarters, in an attempt to determine if the order included the Jewish sutlers that were following the military camps. Because the sutlers, merchants and peddlers that followed the camps selling non-military day-to-day goods such as food, tobacco, liquor and clothing, offered a service that was good for their soldier’s morale, the officers questioned the need to expel the Jewish traders, and they held off following the order until they received an answer to their queries.19

In the Israelite newspaper from Cincinnati, Ohio on January 23rd, 1863, it was reported that General Jeremiah Sullivan, at Jackson, Tennessee, refused to enforce the unjust order, and he was said to have stated that he “thought he was an officer of the army and not of the church.”20

Three days later, as Gen. Grant was south preparing for a possible attack on Vicksburg from northern Mississippi, Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn attacked Grant’s supplies lines at Holly Springs, Mississippi, capturing 2,000 soldiers, burning a large amount of Union rations and causing 50 miles of damage to the rail and telegraph, so because of this raid, Grant’s communications were knocked down and unreliable for weeks, contributing to the slow reactions to implementing the order.21

Nathan Bedford Forrest (Wikimedia Commons)

Nathan Bedford Forrest (Wikimedia Commons)

At the same time, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, commanding his force of cavalry in the district around Memphis, attacked posts and the railroad lines between Jackson, Tennessee and Columbus, Kentucky. These two raids caused Gen. Grant to determine that attacking Vicksburg from northern Mississippi was not possible because of the inability to protect the long supply lines to the front.22

Another issue that may have caused confusion was that of the Jewish soldiers and officers in the Union army, and especially to those under the command of Gen. Grant. Were they to be banned as well from Gen. Grant’s theatre of operations? Captain Philip Trounstine, of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, was so incensed at the order, he resigned his commission saying that he could not “help feeling, that as I owe filial affection to my parents, Devotion to my Religion, and a deep regard for the opinion of my friends and feeling that I can no longer, bear the Taunts and malice, of those to whom my religious opinions are known, brought on by the effect that, that order has instilled into their minds. I herewith respectfully tender you my immediate and unconditional resignation.”23

Even though the order was slow getting out, there were a few cases where Jews were mistreated within the Holly Springs Headquarters region, where one group was refused rail transportation to Memphis, forcing them to trek on foot forty miles to the city, and another group was imprisoned, fined and sent on a military train to Jackson, Tennessee where they received orders to promptly leave the military district.24

Outside of Gen. Grant’s immediate Headquarters’ region, there were no reported occurrences of the order, except in Paducah, Kentucky, when it was finally received to the desk of Captain L. J. Waddell, Paducah’s Provost Marshal, and when he read the order, he implemented it to the fullest extent by preparing orders for the removal of thirty Jewish men and their families in the city. As Provost Marshal, Capt. Waddell’s role was to police the city of Paducah for the Union army, under the orders of Gen. Grant, and he followed the order to the letter, whereas other officers disregarded the command to expel the Jews.25

Kaskel was summoned to the office of Capt. Waddell on Sunday December 28th, 1862, and was handed an order to leave the city:

OFFICE OF PROVOST MARSHAL
Paducah, Ky., December 28, 1862

C. J. Kaskel – Sir: In pursuance of General Order No 11, issued from General Grant’s headquarters, you are hereby ordered to leave the city of Paducah, Kentucky, within twenty-four hours after receiving this order.

               By order,

L. J. WADDELL,

Captain and Provost Marshal 26

The other Jewish men of Paducah were also given orders to leave the military district within twenty-four hours, even though two of the men were formerly Union soldiers, so they all began hurried preparations for leaving the city, but Kaskel was outraged with the order and was not going to let this injustice go without a fight.27

Kaskel and several other families decided the best way to fight the order was to go to the top, and they hurriedly sent a telegram to President Abraham Lincoln describing what happened:28

PADUCAH, KY., December 29, 1862.

Hon. ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
          President of the United States:

General Orders, No. 11, issued by General Grant at Oxford, Miss., December the 17th, commands all post commanders to expel all Jews, without distinction, within twenty-four hours, from his entire department. The undersigned, good and loyal citizens of the United States and residents of this town for many years, engaged in legitimate business as merchants, feel greatly insulted and outraged by this inhuman order, the carrying out of which would be the grossest violation of the Constitution and our rights as good citizens under it, and would place us, besides a large number of other Jewish families of this town, as outlaws before the whole world. We respectfully ask your immediate attention to this enormous outrage on all law and humanity, and pray for your effectual and immediate interposition. We would respectfully refer you to the post commander and post adjutant as to our loyalty, and to all respectable citizens of this community as to our standing citizens and merchants. We respectfully ask for immediate instructions to be sent to the commander of this post.

D. WOLFF & BROS.
C. F. KASKELL.
J. W. KASWELL.

Their telegram was received in Washington and General Halleck, General-in-Chief of all the Union armies, endorsed it on December 31st, but it was either ignored or lost before it could reach President Lincoln. It could have been overlooked because Lincoln and his staff were busy preparing the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued on January 1st, 1863.29

In their rush to leave the city, there were stories of how one baby was nearly left behind, and that two elderly sick women were allowed to stay with neighbors to care for them. Also, there is folklore in Paducah that tells the story of a Union soldier knocking on the door of a Jewish resident, and when he asked them who they were, the resident replied, “Tailor” in a heavy German accent, in which he replied, “Sorry to bother you, Mr. Taylor, but I’m looking for Jews.”30

After leaving Paducah, on the Steamship Charley Bowen, on the Ohio River, first to Cairo, Illinois and then up to Cincinnati, Ohio, Kaskel quickly wrote out his account and sent telegrams to many leading members of the American Jewish community and to the press, which was picked up by the Associated Press and printed on December 30th, 1862. He described his situation of being expelled from his home and community stating that he was a “peaceable, law abiding citizen, pursuing my legitimate business at Paducah, Kentucky, where I have been a resident for nearly four years, have been driven from my home, my business, and all that is dear to me, at the short notice of twenty-four hours; not for any crime committed, but simply because I was born of Jewish parents.”31

Kaskel pleaded with the Press to help spread the news of the order by saying, “On my way to Washington, in order to get this most outrageous and inhuman order of Major General Grant countermanded, I ask you, gentleman, to lend the powerful aid of the press to the suffering cause of outraged humanity; to blot out as quick as possible this stain on our national honor, and to show the world that the American people, as a nation, brand the author of that infamous order as unworthy of their respect and confidence.”32

Kaskel arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio and only stayed for a short time, long enough to talk to the leaders of the Jewish community in the city to collect letters of recommendation, before heading out to Washington D.C. to speak to Lincoln personally, with one of the Wolff brothers that was expelled from Paducah as well.33

Hon. John A. Gurley, Ohio, Wikimedia Commons

Hon. John A. Gurley, Ohio, Wikimedia Commons

Arriving in Washington on January 3rd, 1863 with letters of recommendation from Max Lilienthal, a rabbi and educator in Cincinnati, and Daniel Wolf, a respected merchant from the same city, Kaskel went to speak to Congressman John A. Gurley of Cincinnati, Ohio, a Republican that had recently lost his re-election campaign, but was friends with the Jewish leaders in Cincinnati and he had access to the President.34

Kaskel explained what had happened and Gurley took him to go see President Lincoln, arriving at dusk, and there is one account of the meeting between the two, though without authenticity to the story, that when the President greeted them and learned what happened, he remarked, “And so,” Lincoln is said to have drawled, “the children of Israel were driven from the happy land of Canaan?” “Yes,” Kaskel responded, “and that is why we have come unto Father Abraham’s bosom, asking protection.” “And this protection,” Lincoln declared “they shall have at once.”35

After explaining the full situation to the President, Lincoln told him that he had not been told about the order removing the Jews from the district, and he immediately penned an order revoking General Orders No. 11, and sent a message to Gen. Halleck to rescind the order, telling Kaskel that he could go home and by the time he reached Paducah, the order would be rescinded.36

General Halleck sent Lincoln’s directive to Grant the next day:37

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, January 4, 1863.

Major-General GRANT,
                  Holly Springs, Miss.:

A paper purporting to be General Orders, No. 11, issued by you December 17, has been presented here. By its terms it expels all Jews from your department. If such an order has been issued, it will be immediately revoked.

H. W. HALLECK

General-In-Chief.

General Halleck Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-cwpb-06957

General Halleck
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
LC-DIG-cwpb-06957

Kaskel immediately headed back to Paducah that evening, and he arrived back in the city before Lincoln’s revoking of General Orders No. 11 became known to the officers, most likely due to the communications problems that Gen. Grant was still experiencing, and when his presence in the city was discovered by the Post Commander, he was asked whose orders allowed him to return, and the emphatic response from Kaskel was, “By order of the President of the United States.”38

 Because the order was not immediately revoked in Gen. Grant’s reports, Lincoln felt that he was due an explanation, to maintain a good relationship with Grant, so Gen. Halleck had Col. John C. Kelton write an unofficial message to Grant, on January 5th, explaining that the wording of his order excluded a whole class of people instead “of certain obnoxious individuals.” The message added, “Had the word ‘pedler’ been inserted after Jew I do not suppose any exception would have been taken to the order. Several officers and a number of enlisted men in your Dept are Jews. A Govr of one of the Western states is a Jew.”39

It was two days later after Gen. Halleck’s message to revoke the order when Grant’s office transmitted the order of recall, on January 6th, nearly three weeks after it was first issued. Gen. Grant’s new order was short, and to the point, stating, “By direction of General-in-Chief of the Army, at Washington, the general order from these headquarters expelling Jews from the department is hereby revoked.” Later, on January 21st, Gen. Halleck sent another message to Gen. Grant officially to clarify the thoughts of President Lincoln, saying that he had no objection to his order expelling traders and Jewish peddlers and that he thought that was the true reason for the order, but because it expelled an entire religious class, including soldiers in the ranks, the President “deemed it necessary to revoke it.”40

After the high numbers of casualties inflicted on the Union soldiers at the Battle of Shiloh, on April 6th and 7th, 1862, Lincoln had many requests to remove Gen. Grant from command, claiming that he was incompetent as a commander, with accusations of heavy drinking, and it was only the last minute arrival of General Don Carlos Buell that saved him from a complete military disaster. The President told them that he could not spare the general because “he fights,” and the same could be true regarding General Orders No. 11 where Lincoln may have believed that he needed to keep an eye on Gen. Grant, but he wanted no distractions to interfere with the military campaigns against the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi.41

Max Lilienthal Wikimedia Commons

Max Lilienthal Wikimedia Commons

While Kaskel was making his way to talk to the President in Washington, delegations of Jewish leaders from Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky were preparing to travel to Washington to talk with the President concerning General Orders No. 11; the Cincinnati group included Rabbis Max Lilienthal and Isaac Mayer Wise, the editor of the Israelite newspaper, along with Lawyer Edgar M. Johnson, and the Louisville group included Lawyer Martin Bijur and Abraham Goldsmith, a merchant from Paducah. While en route for the Capital, they learned that Kaskel was successful in getting the order revoked, but they continued on regardless, to thank the President in person for his decisive action on the matter.42

When they arrived in Washington, they met Congressman Gurley, as Kaskel had done, and received the same prompt invitation to go and speak to the President; in fact, they did not have time to even change out of their traveling clothes before heading out. Rabbi Isaac Wise wrote an account of meeting, in the Israelite, with President Lincoln on January 16th, 1863:43

Having expressed our thanks for the promptness and dispatch in revoking Gen. Grant’s order, the President gave utterance to his surprise that Gen. Grant should have issued so ridiculous an order, and added – “to condemn a class is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad. I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners.” The President, we must confess, fully illustrated to us and convinced us that he knows of no distinction between Jew and Gentile, that he feels no prejudice against any nationality, and that he by no means will allow that a citizen in any wise be wronged on account of his place of birth or religious confession.

Kentucky Governor Lazarus Powell (Wikimedia Commons)

Kentucky Governor Lazarus Powell (Wikimedia Commons)

On January 5th, 1863, Democrat Senator and a former Governor of Kentucky, Lazarus Powell, brought up a resolution in the Senate to condemn Gen. Grant’s order, and on January 9th, he brought with him documents from residents of Paducah showing that they had been expelled from the city. Powell concluded that Gen. Grant “might just as well expel the Baptists, or the Methodists, or the Episcopalians, or the Catholics, as a class, as to expel the Jews. All are alike protected in the enjoyment of their religion by the Constitution of our country.” Republican Senators John Hale and Charles Sumner succeeded in getting the resolution tabled, which ended the discussion in the Senate, and a resolution in the House of Representatives was also attempted, but it met the same lack of success as in the Senate.44

After Gen. Grant’s victory at the Battle of Vicksburg on July 4th, 1863, the calls for his dismissal by President Lincoln quieted and Gen. Grant was considered a hero thereafter for the Union cause. That is, until Gen. Grant decided to run for President of the United States in 1868, when General Order No. 11 became a campaign issue in the election, and throughout it all, he never said a word about the order, but he did have Gen. John Rawlins issue a statement regarding the order in the New York Times, on June 22nd, 1868, that stated, “The idea that it was issued on account of the religion of the Jews cannot be seriously entertained by any one who knows the General’s steadfast adherence to the principles of American liberty and religious toleration.” Gen. Grant went on to win the Presidency by more than 300,000 votes and more than enough electoral votes, but during the election, there were Jewish leaders that were both for and against the general.45

One of the most noticeable actions of President Grant during his presidency was that he appointed more Jews to public office than any President before him, and he gained many Jewish friends that were quick to speak out in favor of his presidency, so it appears that he went out of way to wipe away the memory of General Orders No. 11, or as his wife, Julia Dent Grant, referred to as ‘that obnoxious order’.46

Cesar Kaskel remained in Paducah for only a short time after the war, moving to New York City and opening a high-end clothing business afterwards, and even though he did not become an outspoken Jewish leader, like Isaac Wise or Simon Wolf, he knew he was able to show that the Jewish minority would always have a voice in the United States, as long as they stood up together to accomplish their goals. Needless to say, he would have had a wonderful story to tell his customers.47

 

Notes and References:

  1. Official records of the Union and Confederate armies in the The War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1886/1887), Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 424 
  2. Paducah Kentucky: A History, by John E. L. Robertson and Ann E Robertson, The History Press, Charleston, SC., p. 41 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 3-4
  3. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 3-4 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 515
  4. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 5-6 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 515
  5. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 5-6 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 514-515
  6. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1908), series I, vol. 22, p. 479
  7. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen V. Ash, The Historian 44 (August 1982), 506
  8. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 507
  9. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 507
  10. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 508
  11. Home letters of General Sherman, Edited by M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1909, p. 229-230
  12. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 508 & OR Series 1 – Vol 52, part 1, p. 331 – Charles A Dana to Edwin M Stanton about officers in cotton speculation making money. & Recollections of the Civil War, by Charles A Dana: With the Leaders at Washington and in the Field in the Sixties, D. Appleton and Company, 1902, p. 18
  13. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 421
  14. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 421
  15. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 508
  16. The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vol 6, p. 283 & Recollections of the Civil War, by Charles A Dana, D. Appleton and Company, 1902, p. 17
  17. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 47-48
  18. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 511 & James H. Wilson, The life of John A. Rawlins, The Neale Publishing Company, New York, 1916, p. 96
  19. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p.18-19
  20. Israelite (Jan 23, 1863), p. 229 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 513
  21. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 8 & Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 463 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 513 & Three Years with Grant, by Sylvanus Cadwallader, p. 34-40
  22. Three Years with Grant, by Sylvanus Cadwallader, p. 34-40 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 513
  23. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 18 & Philip Trounstine to Major. C.S. Hayes, Moscow, Tennessee, March 3, 1863, in Jewish American History Foundation, http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/trnstine.htm, (accessed August 8, 2014).
  24. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 512 & How General Grant’s Order did work before it was revoked, Jewish American History Foundation, Online at http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/go11.htm (Accessed August 8, 2014)
  25. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 513-514 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 6
  26. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 6
  27. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 6
  28. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 506 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 8-9
  29. War and Peace of Mind: The Jewish Expulsion and the Election of President Ulysses S. Grant, by Caryn Miller, Rutgers University, 2011, p. 40 & The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vol 7, p. 55 & Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 506
  30. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 514 & Paducah Kentucky: A History, by John E. L. Robertson and Ann E Robertson, The History Press, Charleston, SC., p. 42
  31. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 12 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 118 & General Grant’s Infamous Order, By Jonathan D. Sarna, December 19, 2012, New York Times (Accessed Aug 11, 2014)
  32. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 12-13
  33. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518
  34. Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 118 & War and Peace of Mind: The Jewish Expulsion and the Election of President Ulysses S. Grant, by Caryn Miller, Rutgers University, 2011, p. 40 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 21 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518
  35. Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 118 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 118
  36. Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 118 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 21
  37. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 530 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518 & The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vol 7, p. 53
  38. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 22 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 119
  39. The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol 7, Dec 9 1862 to mar 31 1863, p. 54 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 519
  40. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 17, Part II, p. 544 & The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vol 7, p. 54 & Official Records Series 1 – Volume 24, Part I, p. 9
  41. Abraham Lincoln and men of war-times Some personal recollections of war and politics during the Lincoln administration, Alexander Kelly McClure, The Times Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1892, p. 193-196
  42. Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 119 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 518 & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 22-23
  43. Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 22-23 & The Israelite,  Jan 16, 1863, p. 218 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 119-120 & Civil War Exodus: The Jews and Grants General Orders No 11, by Stephen Ash, p. 519
  44.  Congressional Globe, 37th Cong, 3rd sess., January 9, 1863, part 1, p. 245 & The Israelite, Jan 16, 1863, p. 218 & Abraham Lincoln and the Jews, Isaac Markens, p. 120
  45.  Grant and the Jews, New York Times, June 22, 1868 & General Grant’s Infamous Order, By Jonathan D. Sarna, December 19, 2012, New York Times (Accessed Aug 11, 2014) & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. xi Introduction
  46.  General Grant’s Infamous Order, By Jonathan D. Sarna, December 19, 2012, New York Times (Accessed Aug 11, 2014) & Sarna, Jonathan D., When General Grant Expelled the Jews, Schocken Books, New York, 2012, p. 49 & The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant, by John Y. Simon, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1975, p. 107.
  47.  General Grant’s Infamous Order, By Jonathan D. Sarna, December 19, 2012, New York Times (Accessed Aug 11, 2014)

The Battle of Paducah during the Civil War

The Battle of Paducah flood wall mural.

An Attack may be coming – March 20-24, 1864

After the initial excitement when Confederate General Polk invaded Kentucky to take Hickman and Columbus, General Grant’s taking of Paducah, and the Union successes in the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the region went through the adjustment of being occupied by the Union Army, and because of this, many sympathizers to the Confederates conducted illegal trade to the Confederate Army.

Both pro-confederate and pro-union groups formed bands of guerrilla fighters, also called bushwhackers over in Missouri, using guerrilla warfare tactics, and these groups became prevalent in the area causing much death and hardship. There were guerrillas that did not discriminate against confederate sympathizer or unionist, using the war was a means for getting rich off of stolen merchandise. They were all vicious in the way they attacked and robbed the citizens of the Four Rivers, and this was one of the direct causes for much of the animosity in the region, creating hatreds and a reason for revenge attacks as a way of life for many.

On July 31st, 1863, Gen. Ambrose Burnside declared martial law in Kentucky “for the purpose only of protecting the rights of loyal citizens and the freedom of election,” so if anyone was considered disloyal to the union, they could not vote, and they needed the approval from the military to prove they were good Union citizens to do so. This offended many of the secessionists in the Jackson Purchase region, because there were many Confederate sympathizers, and to add to their insult, Federal officials were given the power to control how much material anyone could have on hand at any given time, if the area was deemed a target for raiders, and Federal treasury agents determined that no one could keep more than two month’s supply of goods, which directly affected the profits from many of the wholesale merchants in the area.1

The importance of Paducah was its proximity to the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, where crucial supply lanes could be blocked and disrupting access to these would stop the military supplies being shipped on the rivers to the front, which could cause considerable damage to the Union war effort if they could not reach their destination. Alternate methods of transportation would have to be employed, and this would create life-threatening time delays to the Union Army.

In the week before the Battle of Paducah occurred, the rumors were rife about General Nathan Bedford Forrest bringing his large force of cavalry north to attack either Columbus or Paducah, but over the many months of continuous guerrilla activity in the region, the city was accustomed to warnings of a possible attack, and many residents in the city did not believe an attack would occur.2

Gen. Forrest had good reason to head north into western Tennessee and Kentucky; the main objective was to try to slow down the soldiers in Gen. Sherman’s planned attack of Atlanta by disrupting the supply lines from the rivers and railroad in Paducah, but another reason was to obtain needed supplies and new recruits for his regiments, because there were many sympathizers in the area to help his army.3

It was a time of much tribulation in the area, with the disruption of trade that was hurting the residents economically, whether they were secessionist or unionist alike, and Confederate guerrillas were a big concern to the Union Commanders in the area for many months before the Battle of Paducah occurred. Col. Hicks communicated to command on March 23rd, 1864 that “Thirty-five guerrillas met railroad train at Mayfield yesterday; killed one negro man and shot several times at a Union man, who escaped. No Union man can go out of this place with safety in that direction. The interior is full of guerrillas.”4

In another report that was wired on March 22nd, 1864, Col. William H. Lawrence, of the 34th New Jersey Infantry and posted in Columbus, Kentucky, described the attacks, vandalism and theft that occurred in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. The report stated, “Julian Sanderson, mail carrier between Columbus and Mayfield, reports that the postmaster at Fancy Farms, 10 miles south of Mayfield, was shot this morning; also the Catholic chapel at that place destroyed; that Willet & Boswell’s store was entered, taking all their goods. They number about 50 men, and have taken off some 4 or 5 citizens as prisoners.”5

The feeling was mutual from the confederate soldiers and sympathizers concerning the ‘Home-Guard’ guerrilla activity that was used by the Union army for information, and Henry George, a confederate soldier in the 7th Kentucky Mounted Infantry had this to say about the pro-union guerilla group, “From the middle to the close of the war portions of Kentucky and Tennessee were infested with gangs of robbers and murderers calling themselves “Home Guards,” most of whom had some sort of affiliation with the Federal armies, and if they did not act under orders from the Federal commanders they certainly made no effort to restrain them.”6

Another reason that may have caused Gen. Forrest to want to attack the Union forts was because former slaves were being recruited in Paducah to be soldiers, and he believed they should always be considered as property, and if any African American soldiers were captured, they would be brought back to their owners or sold in the slave market, but the newly recruited soldiers knew they would probably suffer torture and death if they were captured.7

A message was received in Paducah from Col. Hicks’ superior, Gen. Brayman, at Columbus, telling him that Union City fell at 11 am on March 24th, 1864, and it was a possibility that Paducah would be attacked. In the fort, Col. Hicks had no way of knowing exactly what Gen. Forrest’s plan was, but he made his plans and instructed his officers to be ready for any eventuality.8

Rziha Map of Paducah Dec 1861, The Town Area, Wikimedia Commons

A close up view of the Rziha Map of Paducah Dec 1861. The Town Area, Wikimedia Commons.

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Hospital No. 2 – March 20 – 24, 1864

After the Battle of Shiloh on April 6th, 1862, Paducah became an important area for the creation of many hospitals to help the vast numbers of sick and wounded that were being shipped up the Tennessee River, away from the front lines in the south. Many places in Paducah were used as makeshift hospitals, and they included the Baptist, Christian, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, along with the Female Seminary, the Court House and other public and private buildings.9

Nurse Jennie Fyfe, from Lansing, Michigan, arrived in the city, on the evening of March 19th, 1864, to work at Paducah Hospital No. 2 by helping the injured in the war, and it is to our good fortune that she wrote letters to her sister Nell Fyfe that have been preserved, detailing the life and conditions of the area during this time of the Civil War. In the morning of March 20th, she noted that Paducah was “a larger place than I had supposed. About ten thousand inhabitants they tell me. Lighted with gas &c, &c. But it is chill here now, very chill. few ladies are seen upon the streets, but a great many soldiers. The place is protected by gunboats & a fort.”10

When she arrived to the hospital, she was told from the nurses that they had a scare the night before about fears that Paducah was going to be attacked from guerrillas, which were said to be in large numbers down in Mayfield, a town to the south that is connected by the railroad in the city. She was told that in case the town was attacked, to be prepared because the union troops had standing orders to fire upon the city to prevent the commissary stores from falling into the hands of the enemy, but she was also told that, since there were so many secessionists in the city, they would use their influence against an assault on the city because they would lose their property as well, just as those that favored the union cause would if an attack were to take place.11

On Thursday, March 24th, a day before the battle, Fyfe saw how rumor of an attack was growing in the city, but little was heeded to prepare for its eventuality, and she wrote to her sister explaining how the day occurred:

“Thursday, March 24th we were surprised by the ringing of the alarm bell, calling the Union League together. The Enemy were said to be coming upon us yet no one seemed alarmed. & things moved on quietly as usual. Soon after dinner it again sounded & all went immediately to the Hall. A little excitement prevailed for awhile but died away as evening approached. We [?] ladies walked out to the Fort to see something of the stir. The guns were all mounted there, & the gun Boats in readiness for an attack but after all, none among us seemed to think but we were all safe. I could not sleep that night, though I kept very quiet about, the rest seemed so fearless & free from alarm.”12

Map of Western Kentucky from The Ulysses S. Grant Papers:  Vol 4, January-March 31, 1862.

Map of Western Kentucky from The Ulysses S. Grant Papers: Vol 4, January-March 31, 1862.

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Fort Anderson – Early morning

The fort was full of activity early in the morning, sending out scouts to watch for Gen. Forrest’s army and gathering everything essential from the posts in the city to bring inside the fort. Maj. James Chapman received orders to maintain his command in readiness at his post inside the city, and if he were to encounter any trouble, he was to move all of his men immediately to the fort.13

The fort was located across from Hospital Street, today’s Martin Luther King Jr Drive around 4th Street, and Trimble Street, today’s Park Avenue, ended at the west wall of the fort. It was approximately 400 feet long and 400 feet wide, surrounded by a deep ditch filled with water creating a moat, and Col. Hicks had a total of 665 men in his command at the fort: 274 men from the 1st Kentucky Heavy Artillery, commanded by Lt. R. D. Cunningham; 271 from the 16th Kentucky Cavalry, commanded by Maj. Barnes; and 120 from the 122nd Illinois Infantry, commanded by Maj. J. F. Chapman.14

The 122nd Illinois Infantry was the only regiment in the fort that had actual combat experience. The 16th Kentucky Cavalry was created on February 15th, 1864, with Paducah being the recruitment center for the regiment, and the 1st Kentucky Heavy Artillery was composed of the newly recruited African American soldiers, beginning on February 27th, 1864; some being former slaves of Paducah residents that were not too happy with the loss. When a slave enlisted, they were free, along with their families, but this also caused a high amount of resentment from the former slave owners, making them targets for confederate soldiers, and if they were captured, they could expect death or a return to slavery.15

Because the fort was built so close to the properties on the north side of the city, Fort Anderson was ringed closely by many houses on the streets, and this was noticed early in the occupation of Paducah, when the fort was being built. While many homes and buildings near the fort were labeled early on as being hazardous to the soldiers in the fort if occupied by the enemy, nothing was done to eliminate the threat to the fort.16

Fort Anderson, LOC Geography and Map Division, Library of Virginia Map Collection, The Virginia Historical Society cw0219000.

Fort Anderson, LOC Geography and Map Division, Library of Virginia Map Collection, The Virginia Historical Society cw0219000.

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Hospital No. 2 – Between 2:00 to 6:00 pm

At around 2 pm, word reached Hospital No. 2 that a courier was sent to Col. Hicks telling him that the Confederate army was in fact approaching Paducah, and when Fyfe went to look out of the upstairs window, she saw the horde coming in from the outskirts of town. She, and the other nurses, dressed themselves for an emergency, and then went to their wards. “Our able bodied men save the Steward, druggist & two nurses,” Fyfe wrote later, “had gone to the fort immediately on the receipt of the news of the enemy’s coming.” Fyfe was one of the two nurses that stayed to take care of the wounded soldiers that could not make it to the fort.17

An hour later, Fyfe was talking with one of the men left in her ward when she first saw the Confederate soldiers that were surrounding the hospital, and as she went to look out of the window, one soldier had his pistol drawn ready to fire. She hurried away from the window and the nurses were ordered to go below into the cellar, and while she was heading downstairs, she heard the boom of the cannons from the fort and the gunboats firing. Immediately after hearing this, the doors were kicked open and Confederate soldiers and officers began entering the Hospital and demanding surrender.18

She and the others surrendered, considering their group consisted of herself, the steward, the druggist, one lame nurse using crutches, and the patients that could not make it to the fort. The Confederates immediately began plundering everything useful, beginning by first entering the office and then taking all of the medicines. They began ordering the Union soldiers, that could walk, to help move the boxes of looted supplies out to the carts, and Fyfe noted later that “it made our blood boil a little to see them perform & hear them command our men – They were exceedingly polite to us ladies, during all of their stay here, but became rough & profane, to the men generally. After they had taken the medicines they proceeded to the closets where the soldiers knapsacks & clothing were, Dressed themselves in our mens clothes, took what knapsacks they could carry & whatever else they had time & place for.”19

Fyfe recounted an incident in one of her letters to her sister about how a Confederate officer commanded the steward to harness the horses and then put them before the ambulance, but the steward told the officer that he would not do it, and the officer then turned his attention to one of his men and ordered them to harness the horses and drive them away.20

Fyfe noted that at least fifty Confederates were in the ward and house pillaging, and she observed that they “presented a ludicrous appearance dressed in all sorts of colored clothing, their horses laden with cloths of all kind, shawls, silks, &c. &c.”21

In one anecdote that Fyfe described later, the steward and the druggist had disappeared while the Confederates were still plundering the hospital, but she and the other nurse knew where they were hiding, which was up in the cupola of the hospital, and she said she had some sport in sending up to them food, candles, matches and cigars wrapped in a sheet.22

During the hospital’s occupation by the Confederates, Fyfe noted that she saw Gen. Forrest standing in the backyard, close to the house, and she described him as being a “fine looking man, but how deceiving his looks.” He then gave orders to take all the prisoners that could walk, and had them taken to an officer to be questioned. It was around 6 pm when the Confederates left the hospital and Nurse Jennie Fyfe was not sure if they would return or not.23

Fort Anderson during the Battle of Paducah Paducah flood wall mural.

Fort Anderson during the Battle of Paducah. Paducah flood wall mural.

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The Battle

On Friday morning, Major James Chapman, with members of his 122nd Illinois Infantry, sent some of his scouts to watch the approaches from Mayfield road, outside the city, to watch for any advances from Gen. Forrest’s army, and at 2 pm, he got a report saying that the Confederate army was three miles from the city, at which he immediately formed his men and marched them back double-time to the fort, as were his orders. Once back into the fort, Maj. Chapman had his men take their assigned positions manning the wall. He stated later in his official report that he “formed my command on the west side of the front, with my right and left respectively resting near two 24-pounder siege guns, while in my center was a 24-pounder howitzer. In this position I awaited the approach of the enemy.”24

 Col. Hicks had one group of scouts come back to the fort at noon saying the enemy was not seen, but he sent them out again, and also within three miles from town, they encountered the advance guard for Forrest’s army that fired upon them. They immediately fell back to town raising the alarms, and within minutes, the Confederates were driving in the Federal pickets and skirmishing fire was being reported, with the Confederates firing into the backs of his retreating men. Hicks immediately ordered everyone back to the fort for the protection of its walls. Earlier, the fort received further protection when the USS Peosta, a tinclad gunboat, arrived at 12 pm, joining the USS Paw Paw that was already stationed at Paducah.25

When the Confederates entered the city, Paducah resident and a soldier in the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Company D, Pvt. J. V. Grief stated that the regiment reached the Federal’s picket line at Eden’s Hill at 2:10 pm, and they entered the city on Mayfield road where Guthrie and 17th Street meet today, under the command of Lieutenant Jarrett and Col. A. P. Thompson. Before the war began, Col. Thompson was a prominent lawyer in Paducah and he served as McCracken County’s commonwealth’s attorney. It was decided earlier in the morning from Mayfield that Company D, of the 3rd Kentucky, would be allowed to join in the vanguard of the army since they knew the land and the people, because this company consisted mostly of Paducah men that went off to serve as soldiers for the Confederate cause. They were originally the 3rd Kentucky Infantry, but after the Battle of Vicksburg, they were reassigned to General Forrest’s Cavalry as a mounted infantry regiment.26

When the Confederates reached the range of the cannons from the fort and the gunboats on the Ohio River, the Federal soldiers began firing all of their artillery at the approaching enemy. At 3 pm, the Kentuckians were at what is today 15th and Broadway, and Captain F. G. Terry, of the Confederate 8th Kentucky Regiment that was at this time serving as Col. Thompson’s ordnance officer, reported that Captain McGoodwin, the acting assistant adjutant-general, was sent to General Buford to report the location of Col. Thompson and to ask for instructions. The order was returned telling them to “dismount your men and move against that fort, keeping your flanks well protected.” Once they were ready, they formed a line of battle and began marching immediately in the direction of the fort.27

Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Thomas Smith, who was commanding the USS Peosta in the absence of Lieutenant Commander James Shirk, that had just left on a ship to give a report at Cairo, Illinois an hour earlier, reported that when the Confederates entered into firing range, he “steamed to the upper end of the city and opened on them with our starboard bow guns, the U.S.S. Paw Paw also opening at the same time. We then dropped down to the foot of Broadway and fired up the street.”28

At this time, Union Maj. Chapman saw that the Confederate infantry were “forming in my front at a distance of 1,000 yards. They very soon moved forward in thee lines, with skirmishers in front. The latter took possession of some dwellings and the general hospital Numbers 1, and commenced firing at us through the windows and around the corners of the houses. From this position they were soon dislodged.” Both the Peosta and the Paw Paw gunboats steamed next to the fort and provided aid in firing to help dislodge the Confederates from the buildings.29

At what became Forrest’s headquarters at 15th and Broadway, six men from Company D were sent with a flag of truce to carry a message for Gen. Forrest to Col. Hicks at the fort at about 4 pm. In the book Paducahans in History by Fred G. Neuman, four names were recorded as the flag bearers: Charles Reed, John Brooks, Rufe Stevens and John Garrett. While the flag of truce was going up Broadway, the 3rd and 7th Kentucky regiments were advancing closer and began taking up positions to attack the fort, and the 8th Kentucky regiment was in the center of town looting the commissary stores, searching for every horse, mule and wagon, while also burning the quartermaster’s supply depot building and the railroad depot, along with other important federal locations.30

When Col. Hicks heard that a flag of truce was approaching, he immediately ordered the men in the fort and signaled the gunboats to cease firing, and then sent men out to meet the bearers with the flag to receive the message. The message read:

Bedford to Hicks asking surrender

 In response, Col. Hicks sent this reply to be delivered to the Confederate flag bearers:

Hicks reply to Forrest surrender demand

Col. Hicks noticed that while the flag of truce was near the fort, the enemy was moving in and taking positions to attack the fort and gunboats, while also trying to setup a small artillery battery. Once the reply message was returned at 4:30 pm, the enemy advanced causing the fort and gunboats to open up fire on them, and it was at this time, the engagement began in earnest. Union Maj. Chapman saw that once the flag of truce returned, the enemy advanced with a heavy force led by Col. Thompson, and they “filled all the houses in reach of the fort, and opened a heavy fire from behind every obstacle that would afford them protection.”31

As soon as the fort and the USS Peosta and USS Paw Paw gunboats began firing, Confederate General Buford, who was on the right flank in the east and south side of the city, reformed the line where the right was on Broadway, which he was commanding and the left was on Cairo Road, commanded by Col. Thompson. Gen. Buford left sharpshooters in the buildings next to the river on Front Street to fire on the gunboats in the river in an attempt to draw their fire away from the fort. The line continued to advance to be able to surround the fort, and it was maintained until they came to the more densely built part of the city where the line was unable to be held, forcing the Confederates to form columns by regiments or companies to continue advancing on the fort down the streets. When they were within rifle-shot of the enemy, they were halted for a short time about three hundred feet from the fort, making sure to protect themselves by getting behind houses and hiding in the alleys.32

Henry George, a confederate soldier in the 7th Kentucky Mounted Infantry and a soldier in the battle stated, “they were moved forward again in the streets, the buildings on either side still preventing an advance in any sort of line until an open space was reached near the fort. While marching through the streets the command was under a constant and withering fire from the fort by both small arms and artillery. When out in open space, the lines were somewhat adjusted before the final charge was made. When within a short distance of the fort it was discovered that it was surrounded by a deep ditch with such perpendicular banks as to render crossing impossible.”33

During one of the assaults on the fort, Ewell Hord, a young Confederate in Company D that was in the line next to and on the left of Paducahian J. V. Greif, asked if he could have help with loading his gun. Greif told him to load it himself and the boy told him that he could not because he was wounded in the arm and was not able draw his rammer. Greif exclaimed to Hord, “Go to the rear, you fool! What better luck do you want? It gets you out of this!” With this, Hord went to the rear crying that no one would help him continue to fight.34

Company D roll from 1909 showing T B Fauntleroy and J V Grief, Photo taken at Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

Company D roll from 1909 showing T B Fauntleroy and J V Grief, Photo taken at Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

First Sergeant Thomas B. Fauntleroy, also in Confederate Company D of the 3rd and from Kevil, was with Gen. Buford when the general rush occurred during the battle for the fort, and was within forty yards of the parapet after the third attempted assault against the fort’s walls when the attack was halted around 5 pm. The gunboats were effectively firing their cannons directly up the streets to help clear them of the attacking soldiers, and the firing was intense up Trimble Street, where Col. Thompson was in command. Union Col. Hicks stated that at this time, “They rallied and tried it again, and met the same fate. They made a third effort, but were forced to abandon their design.”35

In a letter that he wrote home after the battle to his mother, Carpenter Mate Herbert Saunders was on the USS Peosta on the day of the battle, and he stated that the ship kept “putting the shell and grape into them from all the guns that we could get to bear on them.” After about two hours into the battle, Saunders described how their “rifle men and some of the people of the town got into the buildings down by the river and pelled us with musket ball but we soon gave enough of that for we directed our whole fire on them at short range with shell grape and canister and soon fetched the bricks around their eyes.”36

In another account that was in the Indianapolis “Journal”, George Vance, from Indianapolis, relates his experiences in a letter home of the battle while serving on the USS Peosta. He recalled that the “first time the rebs charged up to the very ditch but fell back, having suffered severely. Our boat lay off abreast of the Fort, and we poured in a steady stream of shells. We worked seven guns, and I tell you we worked with a will. While the fighting was going on the women and children were being ferried across the river. I was really sorry to see the women driven around like so many sheep, but we could not stop to help them any.”37

Vance stated that after driving the Confederates back from the fort, they began shelling the town because they were being shot at from “every window, hole, and corner on the levee, and it was just like a hail-storm for about half an hour. We of course could not work the guns on our upper deck, and it was dangerous loading even the guns behind the casemates, as we were so close to the buildings that the sharp-shooters could hit a port almost every time. We directed our shots at the buildings to drive them out; but actually the buildings would have to begin to crumble and fall before they would slacken their fire. Their fire was so accurate that I am minus a new pair of boots by it, and came near being minus a leg.”38

Lt. Smith, in command of the USS Peosta, reported later how the musket fire coming from the buildings on Front Street became such a danger to his gunboat saying, “In consequence of a heavy fire of musketry being directed upon us by sharpshooters in the buildings on Front Street, I reluctantly opened upon them, demolishing the City Hotel and brewery and setting several other buildings on fire.”39

Positions of troops on a map display at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

Positions of troops on a map display at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

After the last assault on the fort failed, Col. Thompson was killed. J. V. Greif related “that a column of the Third Kentucky was entering the alley back of the present Frank Kirchhoff, Sr., property at Fifth and Trimble streets, a two-story brick farm house then occupied by Robert Crow. Colonel Thompson had halted and his horse stood a few feet east of the alley entrance, the horse facing the south with the fore hoofs in the gutter. The colonel was conversing with several officers and had his cap in the right hand held overhead at arm’s length, when the cannonball struck him and the animal. The horse ran half a block to Sixth street and fell, and was later buried on the spot where a marker in the sidewalk determines the place where its gallant rider lost his life in sight of his home.” In the fort, Col. Hicks and Maj. Chapman both reported seeing the Colonel fall.40

A retreat was called for the Confederates to fall back to the buildings, and many of the soldiers continued firing at the fort from the upper floors of the buildings nearest to the fort, behind them and also in any of the hollows that allowed them cover to fire. Col. Crossland, of the 7th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, took over command of the regiment after Col. Thompson was killed, and he ordered his men to fall back behind the A. R. Lang’s tobacco stemmery, and shortly after this order, he was shot in the thigh with a musket ball. He was then succeeded in command by Lt. Col. Holt.41

With the fighting being so intense, Col. Hicks began to worry about his ammunition supply in the fort and on the gunboats. Out of 30,000 rounds, he had already expended 27,000, and he ordered, in this emergency, that the “remainder to be equally distributed; the men to fix their bayonets; to make good use of the ammunition they had, and, when that was exhausted, to receive the enemy on the point of the bayonet feeling fully determined never to surrender while I had a man alive.” Writing in his report later, Col. Hicks wrote, “When this order was repeated by the officers to their respective commands, it was received with loud shouts and cheers,” but he also stated in the same report that the Confederate sharpshooters, after gaining possession of the houses around the fort, had killed and injured some of his gunners, many of which being killed by being shot in the head.42

Maj. Chapman was also having a lot of trouble with the continuous shots coming from the sharpshooters in the houses, and when the fire began to slow down, he told his men to not fire unless they could see the enemy, because of his concern for conserving ammunition.43

Nine sharpshooters from Company D were able to travel down Walnut Street, 6th Street today, maneuvering around to reach a brick cottage, owned by Gus Slusmeyer, located at 515 North Fourth Street. They entered the house to be able to shoot at the fort from one hundred feet away. J. V. Greif said that a cannon ball from the fort went through the house and knocked him down. He stated later, “Our guns were never idle after we got in position until the enemy succeeded in bringing to bear on our position a gun from another part of the fort. I was knocked down when a ball passed through the house and as I fell I heard the order of Lieutenant Jarrett to get out. When I got up all were gone.”44

In the fort, Maj. Chapman saw the Confederates act as if they were going to renew the assault, but instead, they began falling back at about 6 pm, and he reported later, “Thus, after near three hours of hard fighting, the enemy was completely repulsed, leaving on the field 2 of their best generals, 1 captain, and 1 lieutenant, all killed. As they moved all the wounded and most of the dead, it was impossible for me to ascertain what was their loss in my immediate front. As several wagons were employed for near half an hour removing them, I concluded their loss was very heavy. Fifteen dead bodies were left on the ground near the fort.”45

When the Confederates began withdrawing, the soldiers from the fort and the gunboats raised their guns and began shelling the horses that were left at 15th and Broadway. One of the shells exploded and a piece of shrapnel struck a cavalryman that was holding some of the horses in the hip. J. V. Greif stated that another piece of shrapnel passed between him and his horse, and he said that it ended up “cutting off my stirrup leather and breaking the horse’s leg between the hock and the stifle joint. I rode the wounded man’s horse out.”46

After the Confederates withdrew from the fort, the main force moved a short distance outside Paducah in what is now known as the Hendron area to prepare a camp for the night, leaving a covering force of sharpshooters in a few of the buildings to hold the Federal soldiers within the fort for the night.47

At 10:30 pm, Lt. Smith received reports that the Confederates were still destroying property, so he moved the USS Peosta up to edge of town and began firing at where he thought they were located, and Col. Hicks later reported, “Toward dark the enemy took shelter behind houses, in rooms, and hollows, and kept up a scattering fire until 11:30 o’clock, when it entirely ceased, and the rebel general withdrew his command out of the range of my guns and went into camp for the night.”48

 _____________________________

Hospital No. 2 – 6:00 to Midnight

After the Confederates left after 6 pm, Nurse Jennie Fyfe recalled that they kept expecting a return of what she called the ‘Rebel Horde’, and while they waited, women and children came by asking for a safe place, but they were questioned whether they were loyal or not. Asking this question may seem like a harsh act, but considering that time in Paducah, when there were two distinct groups, unionist and confederate sympathizer, asking those wishing entry if they were loyal or not, may have seemed very important for the U.S. army hospital to ask, because, at this time, no one knew for sure who was going to win the battle.49

Two shots came through the windows during the evening, causing many of the alarmed patients to crouch in the corners and under their beds, and later in the evening, a confederate soldier entered Fyfe’s ward and demanded that everyone hand over their money, but before the battle, the nurses were given the money and watches of the patients and hid them.50

One of the nurses from Hospital No. 1, which had been taken over early in the battle by the Confederates to fire at the fort from its windows because of its close proximity, made it to Hospital No. 2 in the evening, and she told them that the nurses were taken prisoner but they all escaped during the battle. Considering how the nurses were treated respectfully at her hospital, Fyfe was grateful that she did not receive the same “scandalous treatment of the ladies of No. 1.”51 

A Civil War rifle musket on display at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

A Civil War rifle musket on display at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

_____________________________ 

The Residents of Paducah – 2:00 to 11:00 pm

When the Confederates began encountering the picket line at Paducah, many of the residents started hearing musket fire in the distance coming toward them, and those that did not believe that the city would be attacked saw that their worst fears were actually coming true. Some residents left what they were doing and ran home to gather their families to find shelter from the coming battle, while others hid in their cellars or found hiding places to wait out the attack.

On March 25, 1927, Louis Kolb Sr. recounted that day’s events in 1864, to the News-Democrat newspaper, by describing how the advance rebel vanguard arrived at Eden’s Hill at 2:10 pm and how Forrest’s main body of his cavalry reached the area of 15th and Broadway, dismounting his troops at 3 pm. Kolb detailed how he and his wife finally made it to the river bank at 5 pm, and after finding a small boat, he “clung fast to the bottom of the boat while the firing was going on, near a woman with a bad case of smallpox, having less fear of contracting the disease than the shots from in and around the fort.” He was able to get across the river at Brookport, Illinois, staying there until Sunday.52

In a Louisville “Journal” account on March 29, 1864, a Paducah resident gave their account of the day of the battle. The witness said the Rebels arrived at 2 pm in the suburbs, and they thought that they have would have some time to get to safety, but within thirty minutes, they heard the first musket fire, while making their way to provide safety for their family. After making it to the river, Quartermaster Captain J. A. Finley, staying cool under fire, remained to help load the scared residents on to a large wharf-boat of J. H. Fowler & Co., with at least a thousand people loaded on board, and after the Owens’ ferry-boat, called the Blue Bird, came alongside the wharf-boat to fasten them together. A coal-barge, loaded with more residents, was also fastened to the ferry-boat, and the trio made their way to the opposite shore, while the USS Peosta was firing over and around them, causing “an awful tremor to seize our vitals.”53

_____________________________

Saturday March 26th, 1864

Before 7 am the next morning, Gen. Forrest was preparing to leave the property of George Schmidt, in the Hendron area outside Paducah, for Mayfield, when he sent out his second flag of truce back to Paducah proposing an exchange of soldiers.54

The message read as follows: 55

Forrest to Hicks asking for exchange of prisoners

When the army arrived in Mayfield, the Kentucky regiments were granted a furlough for a few days to go spend time to see family and homes, considering that most of the soldiers have not seen them since they enlisted back in 1861. It was noted in several sources that all of the Kentuckians returned to their units at Trenton, Tennessee, where they were to rendezvous, and when they returned, they had good mounts and comfortable clothing, along with many new recruits to join the regiments.56

Early in the morning at Fort Anderson, Col. Hicks still viewed the enemy two and a half miles from the city making a demonstration of a possible attack, so he ordered Maj. Barnes, of the 16th Kentucky Cavalry, to send out some of his squads to burn all of the houses that surrounded the fort, because the day before, many of his deaths and casualties occurred when the Confederate sharpshooters were occupying the upper stories of those homes and buildings, and Col. Hicks was going to remove those hazards endangering his troops, at all cost.57

While Maj. Barnes was carrying out his order to burn the homes, Gen. Forrest’s flag of truce arrived and Col. Hicks replied as follows:58

Hicks reply to Forrest about exchange of prisoners

Even though some residents did not return until Sunday, some began being ferried back across the river early in the morning at dawn, and those property owners that had homes near the fort discovered that they were burning or going to be burned, without a chance to remove any of their valuables. Some of the residents that had already returned were told when they asked if they could retrieve some of the furnishings that the order stated the homes must be burned immediately.59

In an account recorded by Fred Neuman in his book Paducahans in History, he describes the story of how Col. Thompson’s body was removed from Trimble Street at 9 am in the morning:

“Colonel Thompson’s mutilated body lay on Trimble street where he fell until the morning after the Battle of Paducah, when shortly before 9 o’clock John McClung and former Mayor D. A. Yeiser went to the site and gathered the remains, engaging a drayman to convey the torn body to the one-story frame building which then stood where the Post office now is located. Mr. McClung was a clerk at L. S. Trimble & Company’s wholesale grocery and Mr. Yeiser was then with the old Cope & Neel drug store on the north side of lower Broadway. They visited the place where the Colonel’s body lay as soon as they heard of its being left in the disorder which for a few minutes followed his fall.”60

When some of the residents returned the next day, they found that a third of the town was destroyed, and everywhere they looked, many buildings still standing were riddled with holes from the shells of the two gunboats. One resident said that many “business and dwelling-houses have suffered greatly from the shells of the gunboats, prominent among which are the Continental Hotel, City Hotel, and Branch Bank of Louisville. The latter is almost a mass of ruins, with its entire contents. Cashier S. B. Hughes and family resided in the building, but, fortunately, had escaped.”61

Over in Hospital No. 2, Nurse Fyfe wrote home later saying that she saw another one of the nurses that had escaped from Hospital No. 1, which was burned down because of Col. Hicks’ order, due to its close proximity to the fort. The nurse explained that once the fighting started, she hid behind a stump during the fighting, and when the truce flag came down Broadway and the firing ceased, she made her escape to the river and crossed in a boat. Fyfe said that she went out later to view the destruction in town, and she saw the place where Col. Thompson fell and also the ruins of Hospital No. 1, saying that six skeletons were found inside. Of the damage to the city, she wrote, “Some of the buildings burned were very fine; beautiful yards about them & every thing betokening wealth.”62

Confederate Officer’s uniform at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

Confederate Officer’s uniform at the Lloyd Tilghman Museum in Paducah.

_____________________________

The Importance of Paducah

Even though Gen. Forrest succeeded in raiding Paducah of its supplies and horses, while destroying the buildings used by the Federal army, militarily, the assault on the fort was a setback. The Union lost 14 men, 46 men were wounded and 40 were captured, but the Confederate losses are harder to define, because many of the dead were either buried or taken back with the wounded to Mayfield and buried. Col. Hicks estimated that 300 were killed and 1,000 to 1,200 were wounded from Gen. Forrest’s cavalry, but reports, during the Civil War, were often exaggerated, so the numbers are most likely much lower. Whatever the case, Gen. Forrest lost a lot of men for just a raid.63

Confederate soldier Henry George later wrote that Gen. Forrest stated that he “drove the enemy to their gunboats and fort, and held the town for ten hours; captured many stores and horses; burned sixty bales of cotton, one steamer and a dry dock, bringing out fifty prisoners. My loss, as far as known, is twenty-five killed and wounded, among them Colonel Thompson.”64

The damage to Paducah was considerable, caused by both the fort’s and gunboat’s cannons and by the Confederate forces. Gen. Forrest’s soldiers burned the Union headquarters, the quartermaster and commissary building with all of its supplies, the railroad depot and a steamboat that was on the ways, the Dacotah, but the Union forces burned down all of the buildings and homes near the fort and the artillery burned and damaged many more buildings around the city, especially on the water front.65

It seems that Gen. Forrest made a serious error in strategy, when he ordered the attack on the fort, because the ditch, water and the size of the walls should not have been a surprise, and if they had done a little reconnaissance on the fort and its defenses, before entering the city, the outcome may have ended differently, instead of rushing at full speed to assault its walls.66

It could be that Gen. Forrest knew strategically that he could not stay long before more gunboats and troops arrived to relieve the fort, explaining why he decided to move his army back to Mayfield, but if he had continued the assault that morning, considering the fort’s ammunition was desperately low, they could have possibly been able to overpower the Union soldiers when their ammunition ran out. However, because his force was a cavalry, Gen. Forrest probably knew that he did not have the necessary equipment and artillery to continue occupying Paducah, especially since he would not have a supply line, needed to stay.

It was questioned later about who ordered the assault on the fort. Forrest’s biographers later pushed the narrative that Col. Thompson assaulted the fort on his own initiative, saying that Gen. Forrest ordered him to just hold the enemy soldiers in the fort, but Gen. Forrest was the kind of general that demanded respect, so many believe that Col. Thompson was indeed acting on orders to attack.  It could be possible that Gen. Forrest allowed the assault to continue, when the ditch and walls were seen for the first time, either because he thought that a lightning strike attack could win the day, or he was affording the chance for Col. Thompson to take his hometown for the south.67

Another reason why the assault on the fort was so intense could also be the fact that former African American slaves, from Paducah, were manning the walls of the fort, and Gen. Forrest and his men wanted to send a message to all slaves that may have been thinking about abandoning their masters to join the Union Army. Evidence to this fact can be shown by Gen. Forrest’s attack on Fort Pillow in Tennessee on April 12, 1864, where nearly all of the African American soldiers manning the fort were tortured and killed following the surrender. If Fort Anderson had fallen to the Confederates, it is very possible that the African American soldiers would have had the same fate.68

If the fort was destroyed and the garrison killed or captured, this would have disrupted the supplies getting to Chattanooga, from the Tennessee River, to help the attack on Atlanta that was fought on July 22nd, 1864. If it was Gen. Forrest’s goal to slow down Gen. Sherman’s march to Atlanta, it failed because keeping Forrest’s forces occupied in the west meant that Gen. Sherman did not have to worry about a cavalry attacking from behind him, or on his flank. Gen. Sherman sent a message to Col. Hicks, on April 3rd, regarding his defense of Paducah saying, “Your defense of Paducah was exactly right. Keep cool, and give the enemy a second edition if he comes again. I want Forrest to stay just where he is, and the longer the better.”69

 Notes and References: 

  1. History of Kentucky, Vol. 1, by Lewis Collins, Collins & Co., Covington, Ky. 1874, p. 127 & Paducah, Kentucky A History by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 38-39.
  2. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, March 20, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library)
  3. A History of the State Louisville, Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1885 by J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin and G.C. Kniffin, p. 83.
  4. Official records of the Union and Confederate armies in the The War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1886/1887), Chapter 32, Part III, p. 131. Hereafter, this will be called OR Records.
  5. OR Records Chapter 32, Part I, p. 628.
  6. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A. by Henry George p. 78.
  7. Paducah, Kentucky A History by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson p. 44, 46
  8. OR Records Chapter 32, Part III, p. 144.
  9. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, March 20, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library)
  10. A History of the State Louisville, Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1885 by J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin and G.C. Kniffin, p. 83
  11. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, March 20, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library)
  12. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library)
  13. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 551
  14. OR Series 1 – Volume 32 (Part I) p. 548 & Old First of the South by Patricia Ann Hopkins pg 173 & Ronald K Huch, Fort Pillow Massacre: The Aftermath of Paducah, Illinois State Historical Society Journal 66 (spring 1973), p. 65 & Fort Anderson, Paducah, Kentucky by John Rziha Illustration, 1861, Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu, Catalog Number 2008627280. On bottom of illustration, scale is 20 feet to one inch, so 400 x 400 ft.
  15. OR Series 1 – Volume, 32 (Part I), p. 549 & Paducah, Kentucky A History by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 44
  16. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library)
  17. Estate of Dr. J. M. Best, deceased, vs. The United States, Sam Houston, Library of Congress Call number: 5930312, p. 2
  18. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  19. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  20. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  21. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  22. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  23. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library) 
  24. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 551
  25. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 547 & The Civil War Letters of Herbert Saunders, edited by Ronald K Huch, March 28 letter, p. 22
  26. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 58
  27. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 76 & Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 59
  28. Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 199-200
  29. OR Series 1 – Volume 32 (Part I) p. 551 & Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 199-200
  30. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 58, 60 & A History of the State, Louisville, Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1885, by J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin and G.C. Kniffin, p. 83 & Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 201
  31. OR Series 1 – Volume 32 (Part I) p. 547, 551 & A History of the State Louisville, Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1885, by J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin and G.C. Kniffin, p. 83 & Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 201
  32. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 60 & History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 76 & Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 199-200
  33. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 76
  34. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 64-65
  35. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 61 & OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 547 & Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 201
  36. The Civil War Letters of Herbert Saunders, edited by Ronald K Huch, Mar 28 letter, p. 23
  37. Indianapolis “Journal” Account of George Vance from that town that sent a letter telling of the Battle of Paducah from the USS Peosta, The Rebellion Record, Edited by Frank Moore,  Accounts of Battle of Paducah, p. 506
  38. Indianapolis “Journal” Account of George Vance from that town that sent a letter telling of the Battle of Paducah from the USS Peosta, The Rebellion Record, Edited by Frank Moore,  Accounts of Battle of Paducah, p. 506
  39. Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 199-200
  40. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 62-63 & OR Series 1 – Volume 32 (Part I) p. 547, 551
  41. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 76 & Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 63 & Kentucky: A History of the State Louisville, Chicago: F.A. Battey Publishing Co., 1885, by J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin and G.C. Kniffin, p. 89
  42. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 547
  43. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 551
  44. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman p. 63
  45. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 551
  46. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 64
  47. From History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A. by Henry George p. 76 & Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 64 
  48. Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I – Volume 26: Naval Forces on Western Waters (March 1, 1864 – December 31, 1864), p. 199-200 & OR Series 1 – Volume 32 (Part I) p. 547
  49. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  50. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  51. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library) 
  52. Paducah: Frontier to the Atomic Age – by John E. L. Robertson, Arcadia Publishing, 2002, p. 48
  53. The Rebellion Record, Edited by Frank Moore, Accounts of Battle of Paducah p. 499-501  – “Louisville “Journal” Account, Paducah, March 29, 1864
  54. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 68
  55. OR: Series 1, vol 32, Part 1, p. 548
  56. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 78
  57. OR: Series 1, vol 32, Part 1, p. 548
  58. OR: Series 1, vol 32, Part 1, p. 548
  59. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 67
  60. Paducahans in History, by Fred G. Neuman, p. 70
  61. The Rebellion Record, Edited by Frank Moore, Accounts of Battle of Paducah, p. 499-501  – “Louisville “Journal” Account, Paducah, March 29, 1864
  62. Jennie Fyfe to Nell Fyfe, April 6, 1864, Fyfe Family Papers, Special Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: (Copied from Paducah Public Library
  63. Paducah, Kentucky A History, by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 46 & OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part I), p. 547
  64. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A. by Henry George, p. 77
  65. Paducah, Kentucky A History, by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 46
  66. Paducah, Kentucky A History, by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 46
  67. History of the 3d, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A., by Henry George, p. 77 & Paducah, Kentucky A History, by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 46
  68. Paducah, Kentucky A History, by John E.L. Robertson with Ann E. Robertson, p. 46
  69. OR Series 1 – Volume 32, (Part III), p. 242

How Paducah got its name

Surveying of Paducah

William Clark surveying his new property to lay out the grid for the new town of Paducah in 1827. Paducah flood wall mural. (Photo by John Cashon)

A common story told in the Paducah area is that William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark fame, named Paducah for a Chickasaw chieftain called Chief Paduke, but this is incorrect. Clark was actually referring to a tribe he learned about during his travels exploring the west.

In a letter to his son on April 27, 1827, Clark wrote:

“I expect to go to the mouth of the Tennessee River, and be absent about two weeks. I have laid out a town there and intend to sell some lots in it, the name is Paducah, one of the largest Indian nations known in this country, and now almost forgotten.”

Clark was actually referencing a tribe called the Padouca, but spelled it Paducah. From the Lewis and Clark Original Journals, the tribes living to the west of the Mandan Tribes in the Ree Villages were documented. In this excerpt by George Bird Grinnell in the American Anthropologist, the Padouca are discussed:

Lewis and Clark Original Journals, vol. 1, p. 190, gives information obtained at Ree Villages, 1804. In the list of tribes that live on the plains to the west of the Rees one is given Cat-tar-kah, interpreted as Paducar. This information was presumably had through a French interpreter, for the other tribal names in the list are translated in English. This would seem to show that the French on the Upper Missouri considered the Cataka to be Padouca.

Grinnell also gives more information regarding French sources explaining where the term Padoucas originated:

Padoucas—English name, French nickname Padoo, Padoucies is their own tongue. Live in villages on heads of Platte and Arkansas, trade with New Mexico; many horses. Yet almost immediately Clark says he could get no definite information about this once powerful nation, and quotes French writers. Speaks of a fork of the Platte bearing the name of the tribe and conjectures that the nation had broken up and become individual small tribes.

George Rogers Clark flood wall mural. (Photo by John Cashon)

So this is where Clark first learned of the Padoucas, but the French information was also incorrect. By looking into the Spanish documents of the time, a clearer picture emerges.

While the French were located east of the plains, the Spanish were in the areas of New Mexico and Texas in the south, and they had much more information about the inhabitants in the southern plains area where the French said the Padouca lived. When the Spanish first settled in the area, they encountered the Pueblo and Apache tribes.

The Pueblo were the first to learn the usefulness of the Spanish Mustang, and the Apache quickly followed suit. When the Mississippi and Missouri Valley tribes first encountered the Apache, they called them the Padouca, and they discovered the difficulties in fighting warriors from horseback. This would have occurred before firearms were traded to the various tribes, and this technique of fighting from horseback would have been a major advantage to the Apache in warfare.

From the Texas State Historical Association:

The Spanish first contacted the Apaches in 1541, when Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his men encountered a band of “Querechos” on the journey to Quivira. From 1656 to 1675, the Spanish settlers and Pueblo Indians of New Mexico suffered heavily from almost continuous Apache raids. These raids, in conjunction with drought, harsh Spanish rule, and missionary activities, led the Pueblo Indians to revolt and to drive the Spaniards out of New Mexico in 1680 (the “Pueblo Revolt). When the Spaniards reconquered New Mexico in 1692, the Apaches were a powerful nation of mounted Indians who raided with impunity wherever they desired

In the mid 1700’s, the Apaches were displaced by an incursion of a fierce, warlike tribe called the Comanches that had recently learned to use horses in warfare. The Comanches were an off-shoot branch of the northern Shoshone Tribe from the Rocky Mountains that moved into the southern plains and they quickly drove the Apaches out of the area through conquest.

The Spanish did not record the term ‘Padouca’ for any of the Plains tribes that they encountered, and since many of the French documents referred to a people from the same area, it can be concluded they were meaning the Apache before the Comanche moved into the area.

Since Lewis and Clark were travelling up the Missouri River, many of the tribes of this area did not have accurate information about the inhabitants in the southern plains, and these tribes would have possibly gained their knowledge of the plains tribes from the French traders that had been in the region for a while. The stories they told Lewis and Clark referred to a once numerous and powerful tribe in the plains that had disappeared after the Europeans arrived.

It was this ‘lost’ tribe that Clark was referring to in his letter to his son about the Padoucas, and the reason Paducah got its name.

 

 

A dialog on civility

George Caleb Bingham - The County Election, Wikimedia Commons

George Caleb Bingham – The County Election, Wikimedia Commons

We all want a civil society, but what does civility actually mean when describing today’s bombastic rhetoric to each other.

No matter which side, liberal or conservative, one can easily find comments on the internet that show no desire to find common ground, and remaining cordial is a useless exercise to some.

We have all seen it.

There is so much anger today, and finding ways to extinguish that fire can seem to be a daunting task for anyone that believes that we will have to find ways to work together, to move forward.

Unfortunately, it appears there are some that believe the fight is worth fighting, and being civil is needless and unwanted. Their efforts extend to trying to eradicate the opposing political parties views.

We are in a new kind of civil war that is dividing family and friends. This has become more prevalent since so many have turned to Facebook to air their differences. 

The new norm is an us versus them mentality, if you will. Winning this fight has gotten everyone so worked up, that I wish everyone would take a collective deep breath to see how we are talking to each other, and to find ways to heal the wounds that have been inflicted.

What is not seen or heard though is the fact that there are many that think politics is not worth losing friendships with their family and friends, so they go underground with their beliefs to keep the peace. I am in between. I believe strongly in my political ideals and I want to be able to express my values without fear, but I have lost friendships too, and I have become tame compared to some.

In my community, I have totally different political values to many, but I grew up in the same environment that they did. I know the same people that they do. I went hunting at a young age, like many, and went to the same churches, festivals and events. I am a part of the community and the community is part of me, as it is with them.

Sometimes, I feel they can be hard-headed and refuse to back away from their positions, but I find that I am just as adamant about my own positions. The difficulty is if they get into a huff, they just walk away for good, and let me tell you, they have long memories.

I have learned that I have to be very diplomatic when talking to my friends, and I know there are some people you just can’t reach, but I do believe it is possible for them to at least accept that my ideals should be on the table and not disqualified out of hand as so often happens today. At the same time, I don’t want them to think that I am discrediting their thoughts as well.

Because of all of the heated rhetoric, I understand what it means to feel like a stranger in my own community, and that I am only tolerated, because I was born here. I know that this isn’t true, but the feeling is the same. The ground beneath my feet still feels like home though, and nothing will persuade me to think otherwise.

One fact still remains the same, I am just as much an American as any other, no matter my beliefs. But is the fight worth it?

Being from Kentucky, the Hatfield and McCoy feud comes to mind. The fight between them lasted for generations, and back then, they could have never envisioned a day when they wouldn’t be fighting, but today, they only battle each other to see who can bring in the most tourist money for their communities. Their feud has faded away.

Will this feud that we are in today, that is causing so much incivility and harm, do the same? I hope so.

 

It was meant to be

John and Marcelle Wedding Collage.

Our Wedding Collage.

I have seen many romantic movies where a couple meets, falls in love, and then gets married. These are time honored stories that have captivated people in movies and books, and the one thing that I never expected was that it would happen to me. This is my own love story.

It all began in 2000 when I was working at Apex Internet Services in Paducah, Kentucky. I had studied history and archaeology in college, but I never did anything with my degree afterwards, so with nostalgia for those days in college, I decided to take a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico to see the Mayan Ruins at Tulum, Mexico. I had been planning a trip like this for many years and never had the time to make it happen, but it was time for this to change.

I made arrangements with Carnival Cruise Lines, and because I was single and was not dating anyone, I was going alone. Many of my friends could not believe that I would do something like this alone, but for me, in the back of my mind, I thought it might also be a chance to meet someone. You never know how fate can change your life.

After boarding the ship in Tampa, Florida, I spent time exploring, taking in the views of the Gulf of Mexico as we traveled south, headed for the Cayman Islands. It was an interesting time wandering the ship by myself seeing so many couples enjoying themselves and living in the moment.

I came to the conclusion that most of the women that I met would not be single or alone on this cruise, but it didn’t matter too much to me because I still had Tulum to look forward to seeing.

Mayan Ruins at Tulum in 2000.

Mayan Ruins at Tulum in 2000.

On the second night out, the ship was to have a special event where everyone was to dress in their finest for the Captain’s dinner. After sitting at my assigned table for the cruise, and enjoying the fine food that was before me, my eyes struck upon a woman sitting at a table adjacent to me, wearing a beautiful red dress.

I had made friends with the people at my table and they noticed that I could not take my eyes off of this woman in red. They kept telling me that she didn’t appear to be with anyone either and to go introduce myself, but I was not in the right frame of mind to be so bold that night. One thing was for sure though, I would keep my eyes open for this ‘lady in red’ in the next few days.

The next day, the ship was planning to make port in Cozumel, Mexico which was where the tour would begin to go to Tulum. I had made the arrangements to take the tour, and when we all arrived, their were several tour buses ready to take us to the site. I kept looking for my ‘lady in red’ but I didn’t see her. This was a little disappointing but my spirits were still flying knowing that I would soon visit the reason I took the cruise in the first place.

Before arriving at Tulum, the buses stopped at an Obsidian factory so that those on the tour could buy souvenirs. It was at this time that my eyes spotted her standing just ten feet from me. The tour guide was telling us that we could have a sample of the tequila that was also made at this location. This was my moment and I knew it.

Tulum photo that I took in 2000.

Tulum photo that I took in 2000.

When I was given the drink, I strode up to her and introduced myself, and I asked if she would like to have a toast with me. We toasted to good times and meeting great people. Her name was Marcelle and afterwards, we talked a little more before we were called back to the buses to head out to Tulum.

Since, we were on different buses, I was not able to keep the conversation going but I was happy that I was able to break the ice and introduce myself.

After arriving at the ruins, I was in my element or as we say in Kentucky, “I was in hog heaven.” I explored everything that I could and every now and then, I would cross paths with Marcelle and we would just shyly smile at each other and say hello.

After the tour was over and the buses had returned to Cozumel, we had the rest of the day to explore the town before we had to board the cruise ship that night. I searched for Marcelle to see if she wanted to explore the town with me, and to my great pleasure, she said yes.

We had a wonderful time walking around all of the shops and seeing the sites, so I asked if she would like to join me later on the ship for a date. They were having a dance party on the deck that night and I thought it would be a great way to get to know Marcelle. She said yes, and I definitely knew that I was having a great day.

It was the kind of evening where time had no meaning. We danced and laughed for a while at the dance party and then we decided to go to the casino and play the slot machines. Before I knew, it was four in the morning and we had to say goodbye. It was a magnificent time for me and that evening was magical.

For the rest of the cruise, we had a great time enjoying the sites and all of the activities on the ship, but unfortunately, the time was fast approaching when the cruise would end and we would have to say goodbye.

The day we were to make port at Tampa, I learned that she lived in Orlando, Florida and since my twin brother, Ken, lived there, I told her that when I visited him, I would call her. I promised to email her and let her know how it was going in Paducah. It was time to go home and I felt as if I was losing a great friend.

Life back home continued and returned to normal, and Marcelle and I emailed each other a little, but as often happens, we lost touch with each other. I thought I would never see her again.

English: Orlando Skyline at night

Orlando Skyline at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then something happened that would change everything. The company that I worked for was bought by a company in Orlando, Florida, and I was asked if I would like to move to Florida and work for them. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I would run into Marcelle, but I knew it was a big city. Fortunately, I still had her email and I could always contact her when I moved.

Time became a blur with all of the preparations that I was making for the move and the transition to the new company. I found out that the day that I would move to Florida would be September 11, 2001. This was the day that our country was attacked by Al Qaeda, and my drive to Florida was a surreal event with no one on the highways but convoys of state troopers with all of their lights ablaze and sirens blaring. It seemed to be bad omen for my new life in Orlando, so I didn’t know what to expect.

After getting settled in my new apartment and my new job, I found Marcelle’s email address and asked if she would like to have coffee with a fellow resident of Orlando, and to my delight, she agreed to meet me. We met and I had a great time, and it seemed as if time had not separated us at all. We began dating exclusively shortly afterwards.

Hurricane Charley 13 Aug 2004 Wikipedia

Hurricane Charley 13 Aug 2004 Wikipedia

In 2004, I asked Marcelle to marry me and she said yes. It was shortly before hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit Florida and affected our life in Orlando. You may ask why I would bring up such scary events like the hurricanes right after mentioning that Marcelle and I were getting married.

Well, it turned out to be the reason why something wonderful happened. After the last hurricane hit, we were understandably frustrated with being cooped up in the house so much, so we decided to get out and go to a wedding expo to get ideas for our own wedding.

After we arrived, we saw that a local radio station was having a ‘Wedding under the Stars’ contest, so we decided to enter. The next day, we received a call telling us that we were one of three couples that won a chance to win a $30,000 Wedding Giveaway. All that we had to do to win was play the ‘Nearlywed Game’ on the radio.

The game was just like the Newlywed Game that was on television. One of us would stay and would be asked a question while the other was out of the room. The other would come back into the room to see if they would have the same answer.

John and Marcelle Wedding Photo.

John and Marcelle Wedding Photo.

By the third question, we were in trouble and in third place. We had only one chance to win. The last question was a bonus and was worth more points. We would have to answer correctly and the other couples had to answer incorrectly.  

As a strategy for playing the game, I told Marcelle that if she was asked about previous girlfriends of mine, she could answer them all with Amy, my ex-wife, to keep it simple. However, there were no questions so far like that to help us.

The last question was for Marcelle to answer. She was asked who I shared my first romantic kiss with? Marcelle answered ‘Amy’, hoping that I would remember our strategy. Walking back in, I was asked the question, and I turned and smiled at Marcelle before answering, and I saw the concern on her face.

I did remember and answered ‘Amy’. We received twenty-five points for getting the question correct and this put us in the lead. All that we could do now was see if the other couples would answer correctly or not. Unbelievably, they did not and we won, and it was at this point that I knew that Marcelle and I were truly fated to be together.

We were given everything for our wedding, and we were given a three page spread in a bridal magazine. It was to be on Valentines Day and included a honeymoon in the Bahamas, and while there, we stayed in a villa that was twenty feet from the ocean. No one could have asked for a more romantic wedding and honeymoon.

To have everything fall into place so much for a couple, I feel blessed everyday with my fortune of meeting Marcelle on the cruise, being transferred to Orlando, Florida, and winning a fairy-tale wedding that neither of us could have ever imagined was possible.

We are residing in Paducah now and everyday, I feel blessed having Marcelle in my life. All of the pieces fell just right for us, and because of this, I will always believe that it was meant to be.

John and Marcelle Wedding silhouette.

John and Marcelle Wedding silhouette.

Our Story of America

Story of America: A Nation Divided – Add your story here

Why is there so much division in the United States today? This question is one that I have constantly been exploring to try to find answers, and though I may have found cultural, religious or traditional reasons, I cannot understand why divisive and partisan ideas continue to grow even if they are proven untrue beyond any shadow of doubt.

Why hold on to these beliefs when all evidence points out they are incorrect?

While watching one of the videos that Annabel Park and Eric Byler released from their upcoming Story of America: A Nation Divided documentary, a white, southern man from Mecklenburg, Virginia states, “the Constitution tells us that if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

Hearing this struck a nerve for me because in my area of Western Kentucky, this is a common theme being expressed by many people, and they are proud of their beliefs. The Virginian continues by stating, “We’re divided because we are intentionally divided. Okay?  If you can divide a country, while you are fighting amongst yourselves, they can take your country over, just like what’s happening.”

When he was asked why there was so much rhetoric directed today towards President Obama in the last four years, he immediately began to bring up the same talking points that some of the national figures have been saying, “I’ll tell you why, because he has never pulled out his thesis paper from college. He borrowed money from the government. Okay? And he is not an American citizen. Okay? He’s a Muslim.”

Story of America: A Nation Divided

I have heard these talking points many times, and when asked if any evidence could be produced to prove these assertions, none are found or given, except excerpts and quotes from far right media sources that also provide no proof.

It doesn’t matter if these ideas make no sense or are misinformed by the rhetorical talking points directed towards the President, because they are staunch in their holding on to these beliefs and will adamantly stand their ground against anyone that may question their ideology.

Just the other day, I was talking with one of my friends that is a republican, and somehow the conversation steered into my friend exclaiming in disgust, “Obama is trying to close down the coal industry in Kentucky, all because of this made up theory of climate change.”

Story of America: A Nation Divided

I asked if she didn’t believe in the science and her reply was, “It’s not true and the only reason why Obama keeps talking about it is to give him more power by regulating things like the coal industry and losing everyone their jobs.” There was no doubt that she honestly believed that the President was intentionally doing this.

I began to counter but we both decided to agree to disagree, which has been our way for many years. We both understand we have major differences when it comes to the government and politics, as do all of my friends here in my area.

I still want to find an answer to this though. It perplexes me how people can stubbornly hold onto their beliefs, no matter the facts. Whenever I ask them for evidence, I am told that it is something they were told. It is like having a faith in an ideology so profound that it never matters about the facts. It just is.

I very much doubt there is anything that I could write or say that could persuade them to go against these beliefs. It will take more than that.

Story of America: A Nation Divided

This is why I think an important step forward is the making of this documentary, The Story of America: A Nation Divided. Not only are they going around the country and interviewing Americans of all stripes and colors, but they have also setup, on their website, a place for everyday people to tell their own story of America, and hearing these stories can help promote an understanding of different people’s situations and beliefs. Watching and reading these compelling stories opens eyes and hearts where there may have been a self-imposed wall standing between people.

These are such crazy times in this country and finding any quick solutions to ending the division in America may never happen, but one thing is for sure, without dialog and understanding, it has no hope of being possible. It will require the nation to reflect on what it means to be American, and with one little step at a time, we all can begin to envision a day when all the hatreds and divisions are finally healed.

To do that though, it may just take one story at a time.

[WATCH - Why are we so divided? A voter from Mecklenburg, Virginia from Story of America: A Nation Divided]