Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Island No. 5 (Wolf Island)/Belmont, Missouri/Columbus, Kentucky

Marker ID:  63
Location: Mud Island River Park, 125 N Front Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 8.968    W 090° 3.507
  35.14946666    -90.05845
Waymark: None


Island No. 5 (Wolf Island)/Belmont, Missouri/Columbus, Kentucky
Panel #63 Mississippi Riverwalk

A) Island No. 5 (Wolf Island)
Mile 933.0 AHP

Kentucky and Missouri fought all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court for possession of Wolf Island. Missouri’s attorneys presented an array of old maps and navigation charts that showed the island lying close to the Missouri shore. Kentucky produced twenty-seven witnesses who swore that the island had always been on their side of the river until the Mississippi shifted and cut it off from the east bank. The court found the residents' testimony more persuasive that old documents, and awarded Wolf Island to Kentucky.

B) Belmont, Missouri
Mile 936.8 AHP

In November 1861, General Grant came down river from Cairo, IL with 3,000 Union troops to discourage a Confederate troop movement across the river to Missouri. Columbus, KY was too strongly fortified, so Grant attacked a rebel encampment at Belmont, MO. The inexperienced Union soldiers overpowered the smaller Confederate detachment but in the excitement of victory, they broke ranks in a wild search for trophies. Before General Grant could pull his men together, fresh rebel troops crossed over from Columbus, KY and surrounded them. Grant’s forces had to fight their way back to their boats and suffer heavy casualties. The Confederates later abandoned Belmont, and it became a major U.S. Supply base for the Mississippi River Campaign.

C) Columbus, Kentucky
Mile 936.9AHP

Revolutionary War veterans were granted theses bluff lands at the end of the war, but fear of the Chickasaws left the area largely unsettled. After the British burned Washington D.C. in the war of 1812, local landowners drew up an elaborate plan for a new national capital to be built here called Columbus. The promotion drew a few settlers, but the U.S. Government showed no interest in moving to the Kentucky wilderness. Columbus was a quiet little river town when its bluffs made it a strategic location in the U.S. Civil War. Despite Kentucky’s neutrality, Confederate General Leonidas K. Polk took possession of the town in 1861. He headily fortified it and blocked the river with a massive chain stretched across to Belmont, Missouri. Union forces never challenged Columbus but outflanked it by taking Fort Henry and Donelson to the east. Polk then moved his guns and men down the river, and U.S. troops took Columbus, unopposed. Parts of the Columbus waterfront slid into the river after the 1927 flood, and a flood wall now protects the foot of the bluff.
Mississippi Riverwalk.
Marker Number 63

A photo of this marker can be found on HMDB.org


AHP - Above Head of Passes, this is the distance from the mouth of a river when measured along the course (navigable channel) starting at zero.