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

New Johnsonville in Humphreys County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)


Constructing a Military Depot

Johnsonville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 19, 2014
1. Johnsonville Marker
Inscription.  As the Union military occupation spread over Middle Tennessee, Federal commanders needed a supply depot on the Tennessee River. By 1863, they agree that such a depot, navigable year around, would provide Union armies in the west with a stream of vital supplies. To connect it with Nashville, Gen. William Rosecrans ordered in October 1863 that the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, which ended at Kingston Springs, be extended to the Tennessee River. The 1st Michigan Engineer Regiment designed the line and 5,000 conscripted African Americans laborers from surrounding counties built it.

By May 1864, the 90-acre depot included a sawmill, docks, wharves, offices, warehouses, horse corrals, and quarters for 2,500 soldiers. Union soldiers constructed a fort that U.S. Colored Troops (USCTs) manned to protect the depot. On May 10, Tennessee’s military governor, Andrew Johnson (later the 17th U.S. President), rode the 78 miles on the first train from Nashville to the new depot. According to witnesses, Johnson “stood on a pile of cross-ties and made a flowery speech, … then breaking a bottle of wine on the railroad track … named the place
Johnsonville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 19, 2014
2. Johnsonville Marker
after himself.” From that day on, the depot and town were called Johnsonville.

On November 4, 1864, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Johnsonville from the western bank of the Tennessee River. When Union commander Col. Charles R. Thompson ordered all vessels burned to prevent their capture, the fire also engulfed most of the buildings here. Losses were estimated in the millions of dollars.

Early in 1865, the Union army abandoned the depot except for a small USCT detachment. After the war, Johnsonville flourished as a railroad town. In 1867, the Tennessee River was bridged to the western shore, allowing trains to run continuously between Nashville and Memphis. Johnsonville ceased to exist 80 years later. In the mid-1940s the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Tennessee River and formed Kentucky Lake. The fort and defensive lines are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and comprise the Johnsonville State Historic Park.

(lower left) Andrew Johnson, ca. 1869 and Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, ca. 1864 Courtesy Library of Congress
(upper right) Johnsonville supply depot with fort on hill in background Courtesy Library of Congress
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed
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in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 36° 3.611′ N, 87° 57.563′ W. Marker is in New Johnsonville, Tennessee, in Humphreys County. Marker is on Old Johnsonville Road 0.4 miles west of Nell Beard Road, on the right when traveling west. The marker is located at the entrance to the Johnsonville State Historic Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New Johnsonville TN 37134, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Forrest's Opening Move (within shouting distance of this marker); United States Colored Troops at Johnsonville (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nashville and Northwestern Railroad (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Town of Johnsonville (approx. ¼ mile away); The Union Supply Depot (approx. 0.4 miles away); Old Johnsonville (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Tennessee River in the Civil War (approx. 0.4 miles away); Battle of Johnsonville (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Johnsonville.
Also see . . .  Johnsonville State Historic Park. (Submitted on June 14, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 474 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 14, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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May. 28, 2020