Battle Of Paducah "Yankees Penned Down" March 25, 1864
Shortly after noon on March 25, 1864, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and 2,800 of his cavalrymen, having ridden 100 miles in 50 hours, suddenly descended on the Ohio River town of Paducah, KY. They were on another of their slashing raids deep into Yankee territory with the mission of recruiting men and capturing and destroying Union supplies. Col. Stephen G. Hicks, commander of the important Union supply depot, withdrew with his 665 men into Fort Anderson, a strong eastern fort west of town. Two Union gunboats in the river helped defend the fort.
Forrest sent his usual demand for surrender to Hicks: "If you surrender, you shall be treated as prisoners of war; but if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter." Forrest was not disappointed that Hicks declined to surrender; he just wanted the large quantity of supplies at Paducah. He ordered some of his men to keep the Yankees penned down inside the fort while the rest collected or destroyed the Union stores.
Col. A.P. Thompson, whose hometown was Paducah, disregarded Forrest's command and ordered an ill-advised assault on the fort. Thompson "was struck by a shell, which exploded as it struck him, literally tearing him to pieces." This event, accompanied by a dozen other casualties, ended the charge.
While Forrest's men cleaned out the supplies, the gunboats fired into Paducah, not hurting the Confederates but causing considerable damage to the town. Having completed their mission, the raiders rode out of town at midnight. Forrest reported: "I drove the enemy to their gunboats and fort; and held the town for ten hours, captured many stores and horses; burned sixty bales of cotton, one steamer, and a drydock, bringing out fifty prisoners." A few days later the Rebels read a newspaper that boastfully reported that the Rebels had missed 140 excellent army horses that had been hidden in a foundry. Forrest promptly sent a detachment back to Paducah. They again ran ran Hicks into the fort, then found the horses and took them with them back to Mississippi.
Fascinating Fact: While traveling to Paducah, part of Forrest's command, the 7th Tennessee, captured the Union 7th Tennessee at Union City, TN.
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