The Lloyd Tilghman Home and Civil War museum is an excellent example of how informative even small museums can be. This turned out to be one of the nicest surprises in Paducah.
Tilghman was a railroad construction engineer, who moved with his wife and eight children into this 1852-built home, so he could help the city of Paducah get a railroad line. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate army, and soon became a brigadier general. Tilghman is best remember for a gallant, but hopeless defense of Fort Henry, in Tennessee, on Feb. 6, 1862. He was killed at the Battle of Champion Hill, part of the Vicksburg, MS campaign, on May 16, 1863.
To get the most out of your museum stop, please ask for the free guided tour. You'll learn much more about Tilghman, and how he came to Paducah because of this railroad work. Also, you'll learn his family had Revolutionary War ties direct to Gen. George Washington's staff.
Western Kentucky isn't well known for major Civil War battles, but the loss of the region proved fatal for the Confederacy. Western Kentucky, and especially Paducah, was the key to Union invasion along the Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland River valleys. All of this is pointed out on the tour.
The tour also highlights the Battle of Paducah, in 1864, and recalls in paintings, and a model, the Federal fortifications there.
The museum contains numerous guns, uniforms, swords, photos and paintings, maps, and a complete collection of Confederate flags. Most people are aware of the X-shaped Confederate battle flag, but many have no idea this was one of several used. The tour points out the last Confederate national flag, adopted by the Confederate congress only days before final surrender. Most people of the day had no idea of its existence.
When you first see this house from the outside, don't be taken aback. It's not in the best of shape, but the tour guide said that work has been concentrated on the interior with a plan to also redo the exterior, as money permits.
Finding the museum is easy. It's on the direct route from the Paducah riverfront region, along Kentucky Ave., six blocks south of the beautiful downtown flood wall murals, and the old marketplace shopping area.
The museum is open Wednesdays thru Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m., April thru November. It can also be opened by appointment, and may be open earlier, or on off-days, during dockings of passenger riverboats. The price is $3 adults, and $1 ages 6-12.
There is no official website for this museum. You have to use the Paducah visitors website, then click on "Visitors Information," then "History," and then "Museums" to check the latest hours. The website also gives you riverboat landing information.
When I went, I knew virtually nothing about Tilghman, and little about Civil War action in Western Kentucky. This museum did its job in giving a good presentation about both.
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