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Civil War 150: “Fort C.F. Smith and College Hill.”

Map of Fort C.F. Smith on top of College Hill. The actual drawing is in the National Archives in Washington D.C.

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/          Thursday, July 28th, 2011 10:00 AM CST

As you drive up Main St. towards the top of the hill, looking at Bowling Green’s Iconic water tower it feels the hill is so steep that your car will pull harder to make it up the hill. A great place if in the 1860’s you were to fortify your dominance and position over a city. A city known as the Gibraltar of the West. Known as Reservoir Hill now, College Hill was one of nine key fortifications of the Confederate States Army defense in 1861 for their occupation of Bowling Green.

Trees had fallen and then their ends were sharpened and placed as Cavalry Barriers. Stones from a nearby college building under construction were used for fortification. The whole system of defense with these forts were manned in Bowling Green by 4,000 confederate soldiers.

Construction of this strong defensive work began in 1861 during the Confederate occupation as we’ve said. After the Confederates abandoned the city the Union Army completed the fortification, named Fort C. F. Smith in honor of General Charles Ferguson Smith (He had died of his injuries 2 weeks earlier at the battle of Shiloh).  (Plan outline above) Of the extensive fortifications that once occupied this hilltop, only these outer earthworks remain. It truly is cool that 150 years later you can walk down or up the hill and have a nice lunch on these old stones.

The stone is rather old (don’t know date) but it reads; “EARTHWORKS THROWN UP UNDER FEDERAL GENERAL OBSY M MITCHELL AND CO BENJ HARRISON LATER PRESIDENT 1862.”

The long, linear wall is the breastwork, which protected infantrymen from enemy fire. The semi-circular lunette sheltered artillery pieces. Union Colonel Benjamin Harrison supervised construction of these earthworks.

Fort C. F. Smith was described as a bastion fort; forts designed to withstand attack from any direction. Owing to the time and labor required in their construction, bastion forts were usually built only at sites of great importance; sites which demanded the presence of troops. Fort C. F. Smith was heavily armed. The fort mounted four 20-pounder Parrotts; two 3.8 inch James rifles; four 4-inch rifled guns; thirteen 12-pounder light and two 6-pounder smooth bores.

If you want to skip ahead to get more detail or start learning more today, check out the Civil War Trail (website link for trail) via the Convention and Visitors Bureau or Kentucky Museum on WKU’s Campus.

Past Civil War 150:

Part 1: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, resting place of  “African American Union Soldiers.”

Part 2: The Confederate Graveyard and Monument of Bowling Green. Also, the Most Dangerous Confederate.

Part 3: “Defending the L&N Railroad Wayside Exhibit.”

Part 4: “Mt. Ayr & Fort Underwood”


Part 5: “Baker Hill and Downtown Bowling Green”

Part 6: “Confederate Defense Line and Rifle Trench.”

   General Benjamin Harrison

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