In March 1862, Union steamboats fought Tennessee River currents to carry an invading army deep into the Confederacy. At the height of the Union occupation, transports and gunboats four and five deep lined both sides of the river in front of you. Men transported on these ships would fight the Battle of Shiloh and later capture the Confederate rail center at Corinth, Mississippi.
For the remainder of the war Union gunboats patrolled the Tennessee. They prevented the Confederates from building artillery batteries, skirmished with Southern shore parties, and occasional took retribution on riverside towns. By war's end, only chimneys marked the sites of some of this valley's oldest settlements. Savannah suffered little damage—likely because of its numerous Union sympathies.
The wooden gunboat Lexington (above), like its sister ship U.S.S. Tyler, fired on Confederate troops during the Battle of Shiloh. Shells from these Union gunboats harassed the Confederates during the night of April 6-7.
Gunboats (below) stand watch while transports shuttle troops across the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing during the Battle of Shiloh.