On the Cumberland River
As a major Cumberland River port with three landings, Carthage was strategically important to both Confederate and Union forces. The Upper Ferry and landing was located near the present Corps of Engineerboat ramp near Upper Ferry Road.
During Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's 1862 Kentucky invasion, part of his army crossed the Cumberland River at Carthage. Early in 1863, to make it more difficult to cross the river, Union commanders ordered a naval excursion "to destroy every ferry-boat, barge, or other means of crossing as high up as Carthage." Late in December, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sent a navalconvoy up the river from Nashville to Creelsboro, Ky., on a reconnaissance and supply mission. U.S. gunboats Reindeer and Silver Lake No. 2 under U.S. Navy Lt. Henry A. Glassford accompanied three transports with 140 sharpshooters from the 129th Illinois Infantry, under the command of Col. Andrew J. Cropsey.
Having secured control of the river and the ferry crossing, the Federals turned Carthage into a major depot. From 1863 to the end of the war, Federal boats arrived from Nashville to unload supplies at Upper Ferry. Some of the supplies were transported overland by way of Eastland Heights and through Carthage to theFederal fort on Battery Hill to provision the troops guarding the town.
"A heavy guard was detailed this morning to guard boats to Carthage. I presume it will be a pleasant trip; we shall learn when the guard returns. If, in addition to the duties on hand, we have to guard them (the boats), we need not expect to spend any time in camp this winter."
— Capt. Joseph F. Culver, Co. A, 129th Illinois Infantry
The grave of Col. William Walton, founder of Carthage, is located near the Upper Ferry. He surveyed the land for the town and also constructed the old Walton Road connecting West and Middle Tennessee.
Gen. Braxton Bragg Courtesy Library of Congress
A view of the Cumberland River, from the Upper Ferry. Courtesy Smith County Heritage Museum
William Walton and wife. - Courtesy John Waggoner, Jr.