Although events were relatively quiet in the Civil War in early September 1861 (at least until the battle at Carnifex Ferry in West Virginia on Sept. 15), there were significant developments. One was the end of Kentucky’s attempt to remain neutral in the growing struggle between North and South. Confederate forces moved into the state, occupied places such as Columbus, Ky., on the Ohio River, and were clearly headed for Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee River. A small Union force out of Cairo, Ill., got there first and readers of the Democratic Banner on Sept. 10 were introduced to a name that would become familiar as the war went on:
“On Friday last (Sept. 6), Gen. Grant, with two regiments infantry, one company of light artillery and two gun boats, took possesion of Paducah, Ky. He found secession flags flying at different points of the city in expectation of greeting the arrival of the southern army, which was 3,800 strong, sixteen miles distant.
“Loyal citizens tore down the secession flags on the arrival of our troops.
“Gen. Grant took possession of the telegraph office, railroad depot, Marine Hospital and found large quantities of complete rations and leather for the Southern army.
“Gen. Grant immediately issued a Proclamation saying he came as a friend and not as an enemy, and as soon as the rebellion was put down he would withdraw the forces under his command.”
There was no fighting, but Grant’s move kept the Confederates out of a key spot for controlliing western Kentucky and, as things developed, maintained Union control of the mouth of the Tennessee River.
Grant did not stay at Paducah, but was ordered back to Cairo and Gen. C.F. Smith was placed in command in western Kentucky.