Sunday, March 4, 2012

Earthworks At Bowling Green, Kentucky

Confederate earthworks remain at Fort Webb outside Bowling Green, Kentucky

March 3rd, 2012
Major Jester

Bowling Green, Kentucky offers a plethora of historic destinations of interest to any history buff. We stumbled upon one such site during a recent weekend trip to this southern Kentucky town. I noticed a sign pointing to a Fort Webb. Not wanting to pass up a chance for a visit to a potential old fort, we turned.

In September, 1861, 4500 Confederate troops under the command of General Simon Bolivar Buckner constructed a series of eight forts to protect the rivers, roads and railroads in Bowling Green. Fort Webb was one of those forts.

Fort Webb was of simple design and construction. Soldiers used picks and shovel to dig an ever deepening ditch while throwing the dirt and rocks up on the parapet to make a high earthen wall. Called a lunette by military standards of the day the structure was crescent shaped, thus the lunar name. Attacking troops had to cross the slope leading to the deep ditch, descend into the ditch and then scale the escarpment to the top of the fortification.

The remains of Fort Webb are obvious to even a casual observer. To reach the fortification one must traverse a long gentle slope across a field of exposed limestone outcroppings. A recent set of wooden timbers provide steps leading up to the top of the parapet. The deep hand dug ditches are still visible and scar the land.

We had this site of Civil War history to ourselves on the day of our visit. Sitting on one of the benches and contemplating the work involved in the construction of this fortress was an enjoyable thought exercise. When you stand on the parapet and look out over the surrounding area you can easily imagine being a Confederate artilleryman in the late fall of 1861. Listen closely and you can hear the sounds of canteen cups clanking, orders barked by a sergeant and maybe even catch the whiff of a Captain’s cigar.

Bowling Green is an easy three hour plus drive from Indianapolis on I-65. Fort Webb is off of Bench Park Drive on Bowling Green Country Club Drive. Detailed directions are available on the Bowling Green City website.