Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Naval Warfare

Marker ID:  
Location: 16055 US-79 Scenic, Buchanan, TN
County: Henry
Coordinates: N 36° 26.351    W 088° 5.003
  36.43918333    -88.08338333
Waymark: None


Naval Warfare
Controlling the Tennessee River

This was a busy landing and crossing point on the Tennessee River; a waterway of strategic importance during the war. After the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862, the Confederates’ hope of maintaining control of Paris Landing vanished. On March 11, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered four infantry companies and an artillery battery to establish a garrison here and secure the county and the landing.

As the fighting moved to other parts of Tennessee, Paris Landing was largely forgotten until late in October 1864 when Confederate Gen. Nathan B. Forrest began raids in the region against Union transportation and communications lines. The Confederates established a concealed battery here and began attacking Federal gunboats steaming upriver to Johnsonville, a major Union supply base. They captured or destroyed several vessels, including USS Undine after an hour-long artillery duel between the gunboat and Forrest’s horse artillery on October 30. Acting Master John L. Bryant reported that “the enemy opened with a cross fire of artillery and musketry. I opened on them with my broadside guns and returned the fire with rapidity.” He fired canister at Confederate soldiers in the bushes to “good effect,” but then a steam pipe burst, making Undine “entirely unmanageable,” and Bryant surrendered.

Forrest’s men repaired the vessel and resumed their attacks on Federal gunboats. On November 2, however, Undine was severely damaged in a fight. The Confederates took it to Reynoldsburg Island and two days later burned it to the waterline.

(photo captions)
Gen. Nathan B. Forrest Courtesy Library of Congress
Confederate infantry and artillery firing on Union gunboats Courtesy Naval Historical Center
Union gunboat fleet on the Tennessee River, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (1896)
Rail Line at Johnsonville – Courtesy Library of Congress

Tennessee Civil War Trails

Photos of this marker can be found on HMDB.org