In late 1861, 19,000 Confederate soldiers worked hard to fortify the bluffs near Columbus, Kentucky. 140 siege guns soon lined the highest points of their defense-- an intimidating sight for anyone that came too close to what was then the most heavily fortified place in North America -- the "Gibraltar of the West." When the Union army attacked this stronghold in 1861, it marked the beginning of the Union’s Western Campaign and General Ulysses S. Grant’s first battle of the Civil War (known today as "The Battle of Belmont.")
Today, you can hike along the still-recognizable trenches dug by the Confederate soldiers in what is now Columbus-Belmont State Park on the Great River Road in Kentucky. Once a hospital for wounded Confederates during the war, a beautifully preserved antebellum home in the park now serves as a museum. After learning more about the history of the area, step outside to see some of the imposing artillery whose relentless barrage sent the Union soldiers running back to their ships. The bluffs that were so daunting for Union troops now offer spectacular views of the calm blue waters of the Mississippi River below. Go camping in one of the park's 38 campsites, play miniature golf, or lay out a tasty spread for a picnic while the kids play on the playground. Don’t miss the special Civil War Days in the park, held annually in October. This fun event includes battle re-enactments, a Ghost Walk, a Civil War Ball, Memorial Services, and more.
For more information about the Columbus-Belmont State Park, visit their website. Take advantage of this opportunity to get a closer look at Civil War history on the Great River Road in Kentucky!
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