On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 4:00 am, the Hickman County Leadership Team boarded a large school bus and made the trip to Frankfort. At 10:00 am they had passed through the Capitol Security and were on their way to tour the Capitol.
By 12:45 pm, the Leadership Team had visited the Senate Chambers, the House of Representatives Chambers, the Kentucky Supreme Court hearing Chambers, and the Official State Reception Room (25 ft. by 60 ft). It was in the State Reception Room where the Leadership Team had a 35 minute meeting with their state senator, Senator Ken Winters, R-Murray, Kentucky.
Ivan Potter, the Leadership Project Director, while waiting in Senator Williams Office, to pick up Senate Gallery passes, spotted a familiar name on the official Kentucky Legislative Record.
The paper, dated Tuesday February 22, 2011, featured an article on Hickman County history on its cover. Anchoring the left side of the cover was a special box in which were printed these words, “Discovering Together Kentucky’s Civil War History,” Presented by the Kentucky Historical Society. Kentucky’s Civil War: Columbus.
Historical Marker #528 at Columbus-Belmont State Park in Hickman County discusses Columbus’s role during the Civil War.
In early September 1861, Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk took Columbus. An important strategic location because of the Mississippi River and the presence of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, Polk fortified the area and placed a large chain across the river to block Union gunboats. Because of the chain and the fortifications placed on the river bluffs, Columbus was called the “Gibraltar of the West.”
Because of Polk’s presence at Columbus, Union Gen. U.S. Grant took Paducah. In early November, Grant was directed to occupy Belmont, Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Columbus. On Nov. 7, Grant attacked Confederate troops at Belmont, which Polk reinforced from the Kentucky side of the river. Each army lost about 600 men, and the Confederates retained control of Belmont.
Potter quickly secured two copies of the Legislative Record as he left the Senator’s office with the official Senate Gallery passes.
The Record for this date covered in 104 pages of newsprint all activities associated with the introduction, reading, and passage of legislative bills from the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives.
On each day of the General Assembly meeting in legislative body, an Official Record of that days events must be printed. The Frankfort State Journal news paper prints about 1100 to 1250 copies of this Official Record each day of the legislative session.
The normal life cycle for these Records is about three days. After this time, their major function is as recycled newsprint. Maybe as many as 10 copies will survive each day for use in libraries or special research centers.
According to La Donna Latham, Director of the Hickman County Historical & Genealogical Society there will now be added to their special collection of all items pertaining to Hickman County history, this Legislative Record that features the Civil War history of Columbus. This document may become an historical artifact, in that only one or two copies may exist after a few months from the print date.