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“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)
 

Columbus - A Town Transformed

 
 
Columbus - A Town Transformed Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 4, 2010
1. Columbus - A Town Transformed Marker
Inscription. The view from these 180-foot bluffs has changed significantly in the last several centuries. The Mississippi River has shifted course. Portions of the bluff has crumbled into the river. The bustling town of Columbus, which once lay just beneath these bluffs, has largely vanished, and the view of Belmont across the river is not what it once was. Close your eyes, and even the sounds have changed. An element of quiet now exists in what was at times a very noisy place.

These images - some photographic and some drawn - show you what you might have seen had you stood here in earlier times. Each is explained more fully in the museum. Look for them as you view the exhibits, and you will get a sense of the degree to which Columbus was transformed by human and natural forces.

(Captions under photos and illustrations in the center and right):
View from the bluffs - looking towards the battlefield at Belmont - 1864
On November 7, 1861, civilians and soldiers on these bluffs and in the town below heard gunfire (some from nearby cannon), saw smoke, and caught glimpses of a battle that was being fought across the river at Belmont, Missouri. As spectators at Columbus watched, Confederate troops beat back a Union attack led by a future President of the United States. Who was he? You'll find out inside the museum.

Map
Photos and Map in the Center of the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 4, 2010
2. Photos and Map in the Center of the Marker
of Columbus and Belmont during the Civil War

Though some of the details are not quite correct, this map shows the relative locations of Columbus, as fortified by the Confederates; Belmont, site of the Battle of Belmont, and Cairo, an early Union stronghold at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Members of the 4th US Colored Heavy Artillery on the bluffs - 1864
This photograph was taken within 400 yards from where you are now standing. Much of "downtown" Columbus can be seen in the background, including warehouses, docks, and railroad tracks. The soldiers are members of the 4th US Colored Heavy Artillery, which was raised here and was one of two core regiments garrisoning Columbus.

Birds-eye view of Columbus - taken in 1907 or earlier
This postcard view of Columbus shows the original downtown area, early in the 20th century. The town had already suffered from floods, fires, and hard economic times. In 1927, the Mississippi permanently overran its banks, took a new course, and claimed much of historic Columbus. The town was relocated to the bluffs, where it remains today.

Plan of the Confederate fortifications at Columbus - 1862
This map was made by Union engineers, shortly after the Confederates abandoned their position here. Traces of the earthwork fortresses and trenches shown on this map can still be seen.
Illustration and Map on the Right Side of the Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 4, 2010
3. Illustration and Map on the Right Side of the Marker
In fact, you have passed a reconstructed portion of one as you approached the museum.
 
Location. 36° 45.868′ N, 89° 6.658′ W. Marker is in Columbus, Kentucky, in Hickman County. Touch for map. Located on the front porch of the museum at Columbus-Belmont State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus KY 42032, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A River View of History (here, next to this marker); Earthquakes Along the Mississippi (within shouting distance of this marker); African Americans at Columbus during the Civil War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fourth United States Colored Heavy Artillery (about 400 feet away); The Battle at Belmont, Missouri (about 400 feet away); The History of Columbus, Kentucky (about 500 feet away); "Gibraltar of the West" (about 500 feet away); Anchor and Chain (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbus.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Front Porch of the Park Museum image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
4. Front Porch of the Park Museum
The Museum building, now restored, served as a hospital during the Civil War.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 689 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 21, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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