“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Columbus in Hickman County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery

Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, September 4, 2010
1. Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery Marker
Inscription.  The Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery was initially organized as the Second Tennessee Heavy Artillery, African Descent and also briefly known as the Third Mississippi. Despite its initial designation as a Tennessee unit and second assignment to Mississippi, the Fourth was largely recruited in the Columbus area. Many of those who enlisted in the Fourth came there from the surrounding area of the lower South seeking freedom. Because of opposition by Kentucky's political leaders to the enlistment of African Americans in the Army, no such units have a Kentucky designation.

The Fourth's headquarters were in Columbus from its creation in July of 1863 through July of 1865. It was mustered out of service February 25, 1866 while serving at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The regiment was either attached to District Headquarters at Columbus or the garrison at Fort Halleck, one of the names used for the base at Columbus.

The entire regiment did not serve in the same place at all times. Company C, for example, was moved to Island 10 to guard the contraband colony there between June 25 and July 25, 1863. They then accompanied Lt. Colonel
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Roberts on an expedition to Arkansas before returning to Columbus.

Companies D, I, and L saw action in the second battle of Fort Donelson on October 10-11, 1864. Company I lost an officer, Lt. Johnson, and three enlisted men with an additional five wounded. Federal forces successfully repelled this Confederate attack on Fort Donelson.

Other companies of the Fourth served at many towns in the Purchase region of Kentucky and Tennessee, guarding the railroad, bridges, key roads, and river ports. Communities included Hickman and Moscow in Kentucky and Union City, Pine Bluff, and Crockett in Tennessee. Since the District of Columbus included all of Kentucky west of the Tennessee River and much of the western part of Tennessee, companies and detachments from the Fourth served in many other communities and patrolled large areas protecting communications and transportation lines. These patrols, along with picket duty were a regular part of the routine of a soldier's life.

Companies were frequently assigned to recruiting duty, which took them from Columbus for extended periods to enlist other African Americans in the Army. Companies D, I, and K were on recruiting duty, helping raise the 119th United States Colored Infantry when they encountered Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry near Fort Donelson in October of 1864.

The Fourth shared the duties at Columbus with
Map of Columbus and Vicinity image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, September 4, 2010
2. Map of Columbus and Vicinity
the other units, all white, stationed there throughout the War. Because Columbus was a key transshipment point these duties frequently involved unloading riverboats, loading railroad cars, and then escorting the rail cars to their destination. Black and white troops shared in these duties, as they did picket and patrol, which in the strongly pro-Confederate Purchase region could be hazardous duty. After deactivation, many members of the Fourth remained in Columbus and its vicinity and settled there.
Erected by Kentucky's Civil War Heritage Trail.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is February 25, 1644.
Location. 36° 45.898′ N, 89° 6.73′ W. Marker is in Columbus, Kentucky, in Hickman County. Located along the river walk in Columbus-Belmont State Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus KY 42032, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. African Americans at Columbus during the Civil War (a few steps from this marker); Earthquakes Along the Mississippi (within shouting distance of this marker); A River View of History (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Columbus - A Town Transformed (about 400 feet away); "Gibraltar of the West"
Civil War Heritage Markers on the Bluff image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain
3. Civil War Heritage Markers on the Bluff
(about 500 feet away); The Battle at Belmont, Missouri (about 500 feet away); The History of Columbus, Kentucky (about 500 feet away); Anchor and Chain (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbus.
Additional keywords. USCT, United States Colored Troops
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 26, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,393 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 26, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

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Sep. 21, 2023