Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Geographic Primer

The geography and towns near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers can be confusing. The Union used the rivers as much as possible for moving troops, supplies, animals and equipment. A typical river steamer carried about one thousand men, about two regiments.

The rivers meet at Cairo, Illinois, which is pronounced kerr-oh. When driving east on US-60, you cross the Mississippi from Missouri into Cairo for about 30 seconds and then cross the Ohio into Kentucky. The town occupies a tiny peninsula between the two  rivers.

Cape Girardeau is about 35 miles up the Mississippi from Cairo.

Paducah, Kentucky, is 35 miles by land and 50 miles by river boat up the Ohio. The Tennessee river enters the Ohio at Paducah. Only 2 miles further and the Cumberland river joins the Ohio.

Columbus, Kentucky, on the east bank, and Belmont, in Missouri on the west bank of the Mississippi, are about 25 miles down the Mississippi from Cairo.

Located near the confluences of these four great rivers, Cairo was a logical jumping off point for southward movements by Northern forces. Use of these rivers was a great strategic advantage to the Union army and 'brown-water' navy.

No comments: