Marion, located in Crittenden county, appears to have been fairly regularly visited by Federal troops, although it rarely served as a military target. More commonly, Crittenden County was an east-west through route for Federal troops or it suffered spillover effects from the Union county operations. It is believed that Marion was briefly garrisoned, although this has not been documented.
Two documented skirmishes took place in the county, and the alleged burning of the county courthouse by Confederate Brig. Lyon has not been documented and is being further investigated. A major local theme is that of raidings and repression from the Illinois side of the Ohio River, and the presence of large-scale north-south smuggling trade routes, including Ford's Ferry Road. The county also experienced some unusual political events, including the disruption of the circuit court by Federal soldiers and the removal of county records to Illinois by the county clerk.
One example of military interference in the local judiciary occurred on May 13, 1862. Col. S. Noble, Federal commander of the Post of Paducah, sent Capt. Stacy's cavalry company to Marion. Stacy interrupted the operations of the circuit court by storming into the court chamber. He demanded that the presiding judge Wiley P. Fowler, grand and petit jurors, John T. Bunch, and Ben P. Cissell to take the oath of allegiance to the Federal government. The judge and others protested that they had taken the oaths required under state law and four were finally arrested for refusing to take the oath. The four were bonded to appear in the Paducah, Circuit Court, Marion.
The largest military action in the county took place at Weston on June 21, 1864. The steamboat Mercury, carrying the entire 7th Ohio Infantry was fired on by Confederates as it passed the north end of town, the attackers firing from behind a bluff and buildings on or near it. The attackers apparently didn't realize the strength of the unit on the boat and were readily driven off by the firing of whole volleys from the boat. There were casualties on both sides. The boat's captain refused to land to allow the infantry to burn the town, citing orders to not land on the Kentucky shore.
The second documented military action in the Crittenden County occurred at Bell's Mines in the extreme northeastern corner of the county. Lt. Thomas W. Metcalfe with 46 men of Company C, 56th Kentucky Mounted Infantry departed Cloverport, KY on July 5, 1864, travelling through the Green River country. They were attacked at Bell's Mines on July 13 by 300 guerillas, and the force was reported captured by the Evansville Daily Journal on July 19, 1864. The company record recounted its losses as 22 horses and rigging, one man killed, and 11 men captured. The newspaper account stated that six of the men had escaped and reached Shawneetown where they reported the action.
Confederate Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest also made a "business expedition" through Crittenden County and surrounding counties beginning on April 15, 1863. (From a report by James E. Jacobsen)
CIVIL WAR HISTORICAL MARKERS IN MARION/CRITTENDEN COUNTY:
Courthouse Burned (State Marker 596, Marion, Courthouse lawn, US 60,641)
Forrest Reconnoitered (State Marker 615, 1 mi. NE of Marion, US 60, Crittenden county)
For additional information:
Crittenden County Museum (270)965-4704
Chamber of Commerce (270)965-5015
Contact Judge John C. May, 107 S. Main St., Marion, KY 42064