“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Confederate States of America

Confederate States of America Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, May 18, 2010
1. Confederate States of America Marker
Inscription. When Southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, the Mississippi River became not only a vital commercial waterway, but also a strategic route through the heart of the Confederacy. The river proved to be the South's greatest weakness. At the onset, Confederate officials believed that the Mississippi's mouth was well-protected by forts below New Orleans, Louisiana and that any Union attack would come from the north. Columbus, Kentucky, just below Cairo, Illinois was heavily fortified with a giant chain stretched across the river to block Union vessels. Columbus was not seriously challenged, but Union victories inland had outflanked the position, and it was evacuated in early 1862. New Madrid, Missouri and nearby Island No. 10 then became the northernmost Confederate defenses, but they were captured a few months later, in April, 1862. The same month, a Union fleet entered the mouth of the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Confederacy was highly confident that Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans, could repel any invasion, and half of their River Defense Fleet was sent north to Memphis to protect the Memphis-Charleston Railroad. The Union fleet fought past the rebel forts in Louisiana, destroying all but one of the remaining Confederate vessels, and undefended New Orleans surrendered May 1, 1862.

Confederate States of America Flag image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, May 18, 2010
2. Confederate States of America Flag
France, Spain, North Carolina, Tennessee, US, Confederate States, Great Britain Flags
New Madrid and Island No. 10 had fallen, Fort Pillow and the small River Defense Fleet were Memphis' only protection. Local hopes rose when Confederate boats sank two Union vessels in an attack at Fort Pillow, but the retreat of Confederate forces from Corinth, Mississippi, after the Battle of Shiloh, left both Fort Pillow and Memphis outflanked. Fort Pillow was abandoned, and a federal flotilla steamed down river for the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862. As the citizens of Memphis watched from the bluff, Union gunboats and rams took an hour and a half to sink, burn, or capture seven of the eight River

Defense steamers. The defenseless city immediately surrendered. After the easy victories at Memphis and New Orleans, the Union forces were unable to complete their capture of the lower river for more than a year. Fortified Vicksburg proved to be a nearly impregnable position and surrendered only after a 7-week siege, on July 4, 1863. The Civil War continued for two more years, but Union control of the river divided the Confederacy, and proved to be a major turning point in the conflict. The war officially ended April 1865.
Location. 35° 8.658′ N, 90° 3.566′ W. Marker is in Memphis, Tennessee, in Shelby County. Marker is on North Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 125 North Front Street, Memphis TN 38103, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spain (here, next to this marker); Tennessee (here, next to this marker); North Carolina (a few steps from this marker); France (a few steps from this marker); Great Britain (a few steps from this marker); Memphis Queen II (approx. 0.2 miles away); Civil War Hospital (approx. ¼ mile away); Cotton Exchange Building (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Memphis.
Also see . . .
1. The Battle of Fort Pillow (April 12, 1864). In April 1864, the Union garrison at Fort Pillow, a Confederate-built earthen fortification and a Union-built inner redoubt, overlooking the Mississippi River about forty river miles above Memphis, comprised 295 white Tennessee troops and 262 U.S. Colored Troops, all under the command of Maj. Lionel F. Booth. Confederate Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the fort on April 12 with a cavalry division of approximately 2,500 men. Forrest seized the older outworks, with high knolls commanding the Union position, to surround Booth's force. Rugged terrain prevented the gunboat New Era from providing effective fire support for the Federals (Submitted on March 20, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.) 

2. CWSAC Battle Summaries Shiloh. As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. (Submitted on March 20, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.) 

3. The Battle of Vicksburg - Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, was the culmination of a two year effort by Union armies and navies to wrest control of the Mississippi River from Confederate forces. (Submitted on March 20, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.) 
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 20, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 614 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on May 3, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 20, 2012, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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