Harpeth Shoals

Harpeth Shoals (HM1B17)

Location: Charlotte, TN 37036 Dickson County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 18.22', W 87° 9.209'

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Hazardous Navigation

After the fall of Fort Donelson in February 1862, Federal forces gained control of Nashville and transported most of their supplies to the city via the Cumberland River. Extending for five miles along the river here, the Harpeth Shoals made navigation hazardous. The rough waters gave Confederate guerrillas an opportunity to disrupt the Union supply line. In 1862 and 1863, Confederate Col. Thomas G. Woodward's partisans frequently attacked Union shipping at the Shoals. Federal commanders sent frequent patrols to the area, but their poorly equipped cavalry and the guerrillas' ability todisperse rapidly thwarted Union attempts to control the Shoals effectively.

On January 13, 1863, Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry established positions nearby and ambushed Union ships. Wheeler's men destroyed two Union hospital ships, USS Trio and Parthenia, and one gunboat before retiring. Federal authorities sent large patrols to intercept Wheeler's force, but they were unsuccessful. Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans complained a month later that the attacks represented "inhuman violations of the rules of civilized warfare by the rebel authorities" that revealed the "barbarism of these rebel leaders." Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg asked authorities to promote Wheeler "as a just reward to distinguished merit."

Federal forces resumed construction of the unfinished Nashville and Northwestern Railroad in 1863. Completed in May 1864, the rail line transported Union supplies into Nashville, thereby negating the navigational hazards of Harpeth Shoals. Confederate guerrillas mounted no more attacks on the Cumberland River in this area following the completion of the railroad.

Gen. Joseph Wheeler Courtesy Library of Congress
"Guerillas burning Steamers on the Cumberland River" John Fitch, Annals of the Army of the Cumberland (1863)
(map) Courtesy of U.S. Corps of Engineers Archives, Nashville
HM NumberHM1B17
Series This marker is part of the Tennessee: Tennessee Civil War Trails series
Placed ByTennessee Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 4:42am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 486220 N 4017641
Decimal Degrees36.30366667, -87.15348333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 18.22', W 87° 9.209'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 18' 13.20" N, 87° 9' 12.54" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)615
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1190 Dozier Boat Dock Rd, Charlotte TN 37036, US
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