General Ulysses S. Grant occupied Smithland in September, 1861 in response to Confederate Gen. Leonidus Polk's establishment of Confederate fortifications at Columbus. Fort Smith was an important supply depot and staging area for Grant's campaigns against Forts Hentry and Donelson, as well as Vicksburg.
The fort consisted of two star-shaped, earthen forts built on the hills overlooking the rivers and the surrounding area. The larger of the two forts, which housed a 32-pound and 64-pound cannon, sat on the site of the senior citizens' center and rest home. The small fort, which still remains and is pictured left, housed a 32-pounder and is located on Cemetery Hill behind Livingston Central High School.
Fort Smith was garrisoned throughout the war by various regiments, including the 13th US Colored Heavy Artillery. Several of these soldiers were buried on Cemetery Hill adjacent to the fort. Fort Smith is one of the finest examples of earthen fortifications in Kentucky.
A walking tour of Ft. Smith is available from the Smithland Chamber of Commerce (270) 928-2446.
The Smithland Heritage Tour and Civil War Re-enactment is held every year during the first weekend in May at the Livingston Central High School. The event also features a narrated walking tour. For more information, call the Smithland Chamber of Commerce (270) 928-2446.
Once a bustling port, Smithland is reputed to be the oldest incorporated town on the Ohio River.
CIVIL WAR HISTORICAL MARKER NEAR SMITHLAND:
Civil War Base (State Marker 767, 3 mi. N. of Smithland, US 60, KY 173)