The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 divided the
United States and the bitter conflict of the Civil War
spread throughout the south. Kentucky faced the
impossible task of being a border state and tended
toward neutrality, which simply meant the both sides
drew men and resources from her. However, most
Kentucky and Tennessee communities between the
rivers sympathized with the south.
To guard the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, the
Confederacy built two forts on the southern edge of the
lands between the rivers. Fort Donelson and Fort
Henry guarded access to the heart of the South. If
these forts fell, the Union could send troops deep into
the south and split the Confederacy. This was the
strategy of The General. Later the General,
“Unconditional Surrender” Grant, was to build a
Presidential campaign on his victories.


Gray clouds gatherin’ on a sky of blue
Shadowed the southern land,
An’ ‘fore that shadow had run it course,
Blood stained the Greenwood land.

A nation divided by North and South,
An’ Kentucky in between,
Left a river’s grave for the Blue and Gray
Before the end was seen.

Kentucky’s rivers and Tennessee’s,
Two prizes in the fight,
Left many widows dressed in black,
Alone to weep at night.

In Trigg, before the war broke out,
A choice there they made,
In ‘60s election for President,
A single vote got Abe.

Though Kentucky was a neutral state,
The Greenwood men said no.
They sided with the men in Gray,
Against the North they’d go.

The Henry and the Donelson Forts
Guarded the Southern lands,
And furnaces fired by Hillman’s folk
Put iron in the rebels’ hands.

They took Paducah, the men in Blue,
An’ down the river came,
Attacked Fort Henry and watched it fall,
Thought Donelson would do the same.

With one Fort down, and one to go,
The General laid his plan.
Attack the other from both sides now,
From river and the land.

Around the rivers to Donelson’s bank,
The Union gunboats ran,
But the marchin’ troops fought cold and rain,
As they trekked the Greenwood’s land.

Fort Donelson, the key to the Southern lock,
An’ The General attacked her wall.
The cannons’ blaze and gunboat’s grape
Rained down with death to all.

Defeat at last for the boys in Gray,
The rivers’ Fort was lost.
The Union’s General’s terms were brief,
“Unconditional Surrender” the cost.

On to the South, the General marched.
Saw victory within two years.
A hero to the Northern cause,
The cause of Greenwood tears.

In years after the war was done,
Politics became his game.
Braggin’ ‘bout fightin’ on Greenwood soil,
Brought Grant both votes and fame.

A President forged in a land of iron,
His victories…just history past.
But scars were left on the Greenwood’s heart,
From the shadow that he cast.


No part of this book should be copied, reprinted or reposted without permission or consent of Lynn M. Hodges.
Posted on Between The with permission of Lynn M. Hodges