Historic Fort Williams

Fort Williams – Union Civil War Fort

In December 1862, John Hunt Morgan led an army of 3,000 men on a raid through Southern Kentucky. He fought various battles and destroyed railroads and telegraph lines along his route. One stop was in Glasgow, where he was met by three companies of Michigan Cavalry. He drove out the Michigan troops and held control of Glasgow for three days while he destroyed Union rail and communication facilities. He fought a small battle at Bearwallow before moving on.

The West Kentucky Corporation, an organization of Western Kentucky cities and counties, is establishing the “John Hunt Morgan Civil War Trail.” Fort Williams was built in 1863 to keep John Hunt Morgan out and to maintain Union control over Southern Kentucky. It was raided and captured on October 6th, 1863 by Col. Hughes of the 25th Tennessee, CSA. Many men, horses, and supplies were captured and taken to Tennessee.

Fort Williams was ordered constructed in Glasgow in the spring of 1863. It was during the spring and summer of 1863 that the Union army began to build defensive works at strategic points in Kentucky to defend transportation networks and supply depots in the Commonwealth from Confederate raids.

Constructed under the supervision of Lt. Miles D. McAlister, who was Chief Engineer for the Department of the Ohio. He constructed a “figure 8” shaped redoubt, an enclosed fort, built to withstand attacks from all sides. The fort was armed with 24-pounder and 6-pounder cannon. It had several names but finally officially named Fort Williams in November 1863 in honor of Gen. Thomas Williams who was killed in battle. Glasgow was garrisoned by Union troops throughout the war. Glasgow’s strategic importance was due to its location. It was the crossroads of several north-south and east-west roads and by Juny 1863, a branch of the L&N Railroad.

In 1861, as the Civil War began, Williams was serving as an instructor at the Artillery School at Fort Monroe in Virginia. Williams was assigned to Gen. Benjamin Butler’s command in the land operations against New Orleans.
From New Orleans, Williams and his brigade were assigned the task of occupying Baton Rouge. In August 1862, Confederate forces under the command of Gen. John C. Breckinridge attacked the city. Gen Williams was killed leading the successful defense of the city and was buries in the family plot in Detroit, Michigan.

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