Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fort Heiman, Kentucky: An *Almost* Forgotten U.S. Civil War Fort

Fort Heiman is a somewhat unknown part of the Fort Henry/Fort Donelson battle of 1862. There is very little information available on Fort Heiman at the moment. While there is a little more information available today about Fort Heiman than when I first started researching the U.S. Civil War 15+ years ago, unfortunately, when you are lucky enough to come across anything about it it's usually just a passing mention in the accounts of the Fort Henry/Fort Donelson battle.

Fort Heiman was a Confederate battery during the early stages of the United States Civil War (1861-1865). It was named after Colonel Adolphus Heiman and in December of 1861 was "constructed" across the river from Fort Henry. Both forts were situated in an area where they could easily spot and stop river traffic. While Fort Heiman was located on a hill Fort Henry was located on low, swampy land. On February 4, 1862 Fort Heiman was abandoned when General Lloyd Tilghman (Confederate commander in charge of Forts Henry and Donelson) realized Fort Henry was doomed to fall. Fort Henry was taken on February 6, 1862 and by February 8, 1862 it was completely underwater. Fort Donelson fell to the Union Army on Febuary 16, 1862.

Unfortunately, the gentleman who owned the property Fort Heiman is located on could not keep it. The land was divided up into lots and sold to the highest bidder. Historians and local politicians have worked hard to bring a bit of attention to the plight of Fort Heiman and thanks to their efforts the fort was saved!

A $60,000 federal land grant was awarded to Calloway County, Kentucky to go towards the preservation of the lands comprising Fort Heiman. The Fort has been on the National Register since December 12, 1976. I have scans of newspaper articles related to this grant that I will post later.

On October 30, 2006 Calloway County, Kentucky transferred 150 acres belonging to Fort Heiman to the National Park Service. The NPS now manages the land of Fort Heiman and it has become part of the Fort Donelson National Battlefield.

I have been lucky enough to visit the Fort Heiman location several times and on two occasions snapped some photographs that I will be posting over the next few days. The first set of photographs were taken in the late 1980's so quite a bit has changed since. The second set of photographs were taken on June 8, 2002. They are new photos of what remains of Fort Heiman--which isn't much. Each set of photographs are contained in their own post and there is a description of each photo.

I truly hope you enjoy the photos of a little-mentioned and mostly forgotten part of the United States Civil War. Hopefully, Fort Heiman, now that it is under the preservation and control of the National Parks Service it will be able to take its rightful place in the history books along with Forts Henry and Donelson.

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