“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Selmer in McNairy County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Mobile & Ohio Railroad

Strategically Important Transportation Route

Mobile & Ohio Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Austin, December 9, 2020
1. Mobile & Ohio Railroad Marker
Inscription.  This is the Mobile and Ohio Railroad which was chartered in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky in 1808 to provide a vital commercial link between the Gulf or Mexico and Cairo, Illinois, on the Ohio River. The last miles of track were laid in April 1861 just as hostilities erupted at Fort Sumter. The strategic significance of the railroad quickly become apparent. By the spring of 1862, thousands Of Confederate troops from as far away as Pensacola and Mobile steamed into southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi on the railroad in anticipation of an imminent Union offensive. Corinth, Mississippi, was among the most important railroad junctions in the western Confederacy. Bethel Station, north of here, was also a strategically significant point that provided access to the Tennessee River and the interior of western Tennessee.

When Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant massed his army at Pittsburg Landing in April 1862, he intended to disrupt the railroad at Corinth or here at Bethel Station, but the Confederates struck first near Shiloh Church. After failing to defeat the Federals, the Confederate army retreated to Corinth. By
Mobile & Ohio Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Austin, December 9, 2020
2. Mobile & Ohio Railroad Marker
the autumn of 1862, Union forces had captured the town. Federal Gen. Grenville M. Dodge rebuilt the shattered rail line and, though constantly harassed by Confederate cavalry, held it until end of the war.

Local disputes about the location of the railroad right-of-way near the McNairy County town of Purdy resulted in a more-western route for the line. The county seat was moved to Selmer, on the railroad, in 1890.

"The Federals took possession or that portion or the Mobile & Ohio railroad near Bethel Station. They had nothing to oppose them. They burnt two bridges and tore up a portion of the track. All the Mobile & Ohio railroad north of Corinth has been abandoned." — Houston Telegraph, June 2, 1862

Mobile & Ohio Railroad, 1848 Courtesy Alabama Dept. of Archives & History

Bethel Springs rail yard, ca. 1900 — Courtesy McNairy County Archives

Gen. Grenville M. Dodge Courtesy Library of Congress
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 35° 10.174′ 
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N, 88° 35.476′ W. Marker is in Selmer, Tennessee, in McNairy County. Marker is at the intersection of East Court Avenue (Business U.S. 64) and North Front Street, on the left when traveling south on East Court Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Selmer TN 38375, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. In affectionate memory of the early settlers of McNairy County and the Town of Purdy (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); McNairy County War Memorial (about 800 feet away); McNairy County Confederate Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Trail of Tears (approx. 1.8 miles away); The Hurst Nation (approx. 4.4 miles away); Fielding Hurst and Purdy (approx. 5.4 miles away); Purdy (approx. 5˝ miles away); Approach to Shiloh (approx. 6.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Selmer.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 9, 2020, by David Austin of Scotts Hill, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 40 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 9, 2020, by David Austin of Scotts Hill, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 4, 2021