Battle of Johnsonville: Up in Smoke
90 Nell Beard Road
New Johnsonville, TN 37134
Johnsonville was a major Federal supply depot on the Tennessee River at the western terminus of the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, completed in May 1864. Col. Charles R. Thompson commanded the 2,000–man garrison here. The 12th, 13th, and 100th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments provided infantry support for the heavily fortified post. Early in November 1864, part of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 3,500–man command occupied the west bank of the Tennessee River opposite Johnsonville. On November 4, after capturing two Federal vessels as a diversion, Confederate gunners opened fire on three Union gunboats, eleven transports, and eighteen barges. Assuming that Forrest intended to attack the depot, Thompson ordered the vessels burned to prevent their capture. The fire spread to the docks and warehouses, and the Federal batteries could not destroy Forrest’s well-concealed gun emplacements.