Johnsonville (HM1EVL)

Location: New Johnsonville, TN 37134 Humphreys County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 3.611', W 87° 57.563'

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Constructing a Military Depot

As the Union military occupation spread over Middle Tennessee, Federal commanders needed a supply depot on the Tennessee River. By 1863, they agree that such a depot, navigable year around, would provide Union armies in the west with a stream of vital supplies. To connect it with Nashville, Gen. William Rosecrans ordered in October 1863 that the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, which ended at Kingston Springs, be extended to the Tennessee River. The 1st Michigan Engineer Regiment designed the line and 5,000 conscripted African Americans laborers from surrounding counties built it.

By May 1864, the 90-acre depot included a sawmill, docks, wharves, offices, warehouses, horse corrals, and quarters for 2,500 soldiers. Union soldiers constructed a fort that U.S. Colored Troops (USCTs) manned to protect the depot. On May 10, Tennessee's military governor, Andrew Johnson (later the 17th U.S. President), rode the 78 miles on the first train from Nashville to the new depot. According to witnesses, Johnson "stood on a pile of cross-ties and made a flowery speech, ? then breaking a bottle of wine on the railroad track ? named the place after himself." From that day on, the depot and town were called Johnsonville.

On November 4, 1864, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Johnsonville from the western bank of the Tennessee River. When Union commander Col. Charles R. Thompson ordered all vessels burned to prevent their capture, the fire also engulfed most of the buildings here. Losses were estimated in the millions of dollars.

Early in 1865, the Union army abandoned the depot except for a small USCT detachment. After the war, Johnsonville flourished as a railroad town. In 1867, the Tennessee River was bridged to the western shore, allowing trains to run continuously between Nashville and Memphis. Johnsonville ceased to exist 80 years later. In the mid-1940s the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Tennessee River and formed Kentucky Lake. The fort and defensive lines are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and comprise the Johnsonville State Historic Park.

(lower left) Andrew Johnson, ca. 1869 and Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, ca. 1864 Courtesy Library of Congress
(upper right) Johnsonville supply depot with fort on hill in background Courtesy Library of Congress
Series This marker is part of the Tennessee: Tennessee Civil War Trails series
Placed ByTennessee Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 12:14pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 413597 N 3991049
Decimal Degrees36.06018333, -87.95938333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 3.611', W 87° 57.563'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 3' 36.66" N, 87° 57' 33.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)931
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1065 Old Johnsonville Rd, New Johnsonville TN 37134, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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