“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Guntersville in Marshall County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

Federal Troops Burn Guntersville During Civil War

Federal Troops Burn Guntersville During Civil War Marker image. Click for full size.
By David J Gaines, November 23, 2011
1. Federal Troops Burn Guntersville During Civil War Marker
Inscription. January 15, 1865 was perhaps the darkest day in the history of Guntersville. At noon, forty Federal marines from the gunboat U.S.S. General Grant were sent to burn the town. After the mission was completed, only seven buildings remained standing – the Marshall County Courthouse, the city jail, the Guntersville Hotel, a school house, the Masonic Hall and two residences. Miraculously, both residences still exist – the Gilbreath house on Blount Avenue and the Nickles house on Hill Avenue.

The mission to burn the town resulted from an incident at nearby Red Hill, a small community south of Guntersville. During a surprise early morning Federal raid by Colonel William J. Palmer’s 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry on General Hylan Lyon’s Kentucky Cavalry, one of Colonel Palmer’s men was killed. The soldier was Sergeant Arthur P. Lyon (no relation to General Lyon), a favorite of the Federal Cavalry and recent recipient of the Medal of Honor.

This action caused immediate retaliation by the Federal troops, who burned several plantations as they advanced on Brown’s Valley toward the Tennessee River. Among the plantations destroyed were those of Arthur Campbell Beard and Thomas Atkins Street. The plantation belonging to Dr. J.W. Fennell was spared by the Federals, who used the house to treat their wounded.

The Grant,
Federal Gunboat: General Grant image. Click for full size.
2. Federal Gunboat: General Grant
(Please read my Feb. 27, 2012, forum post. My great grandfather was present on the Gen Grant)
which was positioned nearby then navigated up river to Guntersville where the marines were dispatched to burn the town. The gunboat's log noted that it landed at Guntersville at noon, sent out a landing party, and burned the town. It also recorded that the weather was clear and pleasant and that by 3:50 p.m. the burning of Guntersville had been completed. The Grant then cast loose and headed down the Tennessee River.

Guntersville began to resurrect itself from the destruction of four years of war with the help of Louis Weiss Wyeth. In the summer of 1865 he traveled to Nashville, Louisville and Cincinnati to solicit food and aid for the starving citizens of Guntersville. Effects of the Civil War lasted well into the twentieth century. As late as 1935 there were forty-three widows of Confederate veterans drawing pensions who were living in Marshall County. The last Confederate veteran to die in Marshall County was John L. Cox, who died in 1944.
Erected 2010 by Guntersville Historical Society.
Location. 34° 21.825′ N, 86° 17.458′ W. Marker is in Guntersville, Alabama, in Marshall County. Marker is on Alabama Route 79, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Located at the Visitor's Center on US 431/SR 79 on the north of town. Marker is in this post office area: Guntersville AL 35976, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. John Gunter (here, next to this marker); History of Guntersville (a few steps from this marker); Veterans of Foreign Wars Marshall County (approx. 0.4 miles away); Events in Marshall County (approx. 0.4 miles away); Section of Core (approx. 0.4 miles away); Ravine Used For Protection Against Yankee Shelling (approx. 0.6 miles away); A Celebration of 150 Years (approx. 7.8 miles away); Pre-Civil War Cemetery (approx. 7.8 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Guntersville.
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by David J Gaines of Pinson, Alabama. This page has been viewed 983 times since then and 134 times this year. Last updated on , by J. Makali Bruton of San Salvador, El Salvador. Photos:   1. submitted on , by David J Gaines of Pinson, Alabama.   2. submitted on , by Jim Campbell of Fountain Hills, Arizona. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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