Here is a recorded account describing a pistol and saber fight between Major Charles W. Anderson, an aide on the staff of Nathan B. Forrest, and two Federal soldiers on the streets of Paducah on March 25th, 1864. This account was written by Capt. B. L. Ridley from Murfreesboro, TN., which was described to him at the home of Major Anderson in Florence Depot, TN., and was recorded in the Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 4, in 1896 on pages 358-59. Major Anderson told the story, at first, as if he were a witness to the events, but he later identifies himself as the Confederate Officer in this fight. Afterwards, there is another account written by J. V. Grief in Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 5, page 4.
This is an account of the Battle of Paducah by resident and a former soldier in Paducah’s Confederate 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Company D, in Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 5, and was published in 1897:
Kentucky State Militia Colonel Lloyd Tilghman’s meeting with Union Colonel Benjamin M. Prentiss, the commander of the Union Headquarters at Camp Defiance, Cairo, Illinois, on May 6th, 1861.
Source: Chicago Tribune and N.Y. Evening Post, May 11, 1861 recorded in The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Moore and Everett, Vol 1, Doc. 139, 1861, pgs. 194-195.
Prelude to Invasion
After Fort Sumter fell to the Confederacy, the State of Kentucky adamantly tried to remain neutral between the Union States and Confederate States, and during this time, both armies tried to place their forces on the most tactical points on Kentucky’s borders, especially in the west, next to the Mississippi River. The Union army setup their headquarters at Cairo, Illinois and Bird’s Point, Missouri at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and the Confederate army setup at Union City, Tennessee, and New Madrid, Missouri just across the border from southwest Kentucky, and each side maintained readiness in case the opposing army made an incursion into Kentucky to gain the most desirable strategic locations within the Jackson Purchase, because they thought losing this ground to the other was detrimental to their war effort.
Before the War of the Rebellion – 1818-1860
To begin to understand the story of Paducah in the Civil War, one needs to envision the city before the war in regards to the early Jacksonian Democratic voting patterns in the Jackson Purchase, and the later rise of Henry Clay’s Whig Party’s influence in McCracken County and Paducah, where the rest of the Purchase remained heavily Democrat.
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
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.
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.”
From Cairo and Paducah – The Invasion
Paducah, Kentucky History
Here is an interesting piece of Paducah history. The pdf linked in the address below is called the Estate of Dr. J. M. Best, deceased, vs. the United States. It was a brief to the U.S. Senate regarding the claim for destroyed property of Paducahan Dr. Best that was ordered to be burned by Union Colonel Stephen G. Hicks because of its close proximity to Fort Anderson in Paducah on March 26th, 1864. A day after the Battle of Paducah.
Click the link or picture below to read or to download the PDF for your own records: