Fort Wright (3)
Fort Wright (3) (1861-1862) - A Confederate U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1861 along the east bank of the Mississippi River on the second Chickasaw Bluff near Randolph, Tipton County, Tennessee. Named Fort Wright after Lieutenant Colonel Marcus J. Wright. Abandoned in 1862.
In late April 1861, Tennessee Governor Isham G. Harris ordered Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Joseph Wright to establish a camp and fortifications along the Mississippi River at Randolph, Tennessee. It took four months to fortify the bluff at Randolph with earthworks and artillery batteries to protect the fort from Union land and gunboat attacks.
By June 1861 some 50 large cannons (32-pounders and up) were reported at the fort with 32 of them mounted. By 22 Jun 1861, the breastworks were complete and sodded with grass. The breastworks were reported to be 20-30 feet thick. A separate crescent-shaped wall east of the fort provided a land-side defense.
As a training facility, the fort provided hands-on instruction with artillery practice, tactics, and construction techniques. The post identified and trained an officer corps and trained some 6000 men. Future Confederate general officers like Nathan Bedford Forrest and Alexander P. Stewart, (Cullum 1122), trained at Fort Wright.
Alexander P. Stewart was promoted to the rank of Major in the Tennessee Militia by Governor Harris and was assigned command of the heavy artillery and water batteries at Fort Wright shortly after his own training there was completed. Stewart organized and trained 20 batteries of Tennessee artillery at Fort Wright. He went on to become a Confederate Lieutenant General as did Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a wealthy man with no military experience who began his military career at Fort Wright as a private in 1861. Forrest saw how poorly equipped the men were and offered to buy horses and equip a full regiment himself. He was subsequently commissioned a lieutenant colonel and given command of a regiment, the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry. He went on to distinguish himself as a cavalry officer and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Fort Randolph, a second Confederate fort in the area, was constructed only months after Fort Wright, in the fall of 1861.
Fort Randolph and Fort Wright were abandoned in June of 1862 as Union victories secured control of the Mississippi River.
Now Fort Wright Historic Site. A small roadside memorial marks the fort location. Included on the site are a small stone monument and a flag pole. At the edge of the bluff is a wooden observation platform in disrepair and probably unsafe. No view of the river is available as tree growth has obscured any view. At the time of this visit (2020), the remains of the magazine could not be located because debris in the area and the steepness of the bluff gullies made access difficult.
Visited: 6, 8 Sep 2020