Tag Archives: Army of Kentucky

Morgan’s Second Kentucky Raid

October 15, 1862 – As the two Confederate armies pulled out of Kentucky, Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate cavalry conducted another raid in the state.

John Hunt Morgan | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Morgan’s cavalry had been assigned to Major General Edmund Kirby Smith’s rear guard as Smith’s Army of Kentucky headed back to eastern Tennessee. When Morgan discovered that the Federals were not pursuing, he requested permission to go back into the heart of Kentucky to disrupt communication and supply lines. Smith, whose army remained 25 miles southeast of Richmond, approved without consulting General Braxton Bragg, who was leading the second Confederate army out of Kentucky.

Morgan and 1,800 troopers headed northwest on the 17th. The force consisted of Lieutenant Colonel Basil W. Duke’s 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel Richard M. Gano’s 3rd Kentucky Cavalry, and Major William C. Breckinridge’s Kentucky cavalry battalion. Morgan’s first objective was to seize his vulnerable home town of Lexington.

Posing as a Federal colonel, Morgan had a Unionist guide him to the nearby camp of the 4th Ohio Cavalry, assigned to guard Lexington. The Ohioans were divided between a camp outside town and a camp near the courthouse. The Confederates attacked at dawn, hitting both camps from opposite directions and sustaining casualties from friendly fire in the process. After the confusion was sorted out, Morgan’s troopers captured about 125 Federals.

The Confederates left Lexington that afternoon to continue Morgan’s mission of encircling the Federal Army of the Ohio like Jeb Stuart’s ride around the Federal Army of the Potomac the previous week. As the Confederates camped near Versailles that night, Federals at Frankfort learned of their presence and moved to attack them in front and rear. Morgan found out about the surprise attack and avoided the trap by moving his force to Lawrenceburg.

Morgan entered Bloomfield on the 19th, where the pro-Confederate residents cheered his arrival and supplied his troopers with everything they needed. The horsemen then continued southwest toward Bardstown. Learning that a large Federal force was there, Morgan made camp about six miles away.

That night, Confederate foragers moving toward Louisville captured a Federal supply train consisting of nearly 150 wagons, along with the cavalry escort and some Federal stragglers. The Confederates burned every wagon except two, which, according to Colonel Duke, “contained everything to gladden a rebel’s heart, from cavalry boots to ginger-bread.”

After six days of hard riding, Morgan’s men ultimately reached Springfield in northern Tennessee, ending their second successful raid into Kentucky. The Confederates rode through six towns (Lexington, Lawrenceburg, Bloomfield, Bardstown, Elizabethville, and Litchfield), crossed two rivers (the Green and the Muddy), and encountered minimal Federal resistance. Although this raid was minor in terms of prisoners taken and casualties inflicted, it kept Federals on close guard in Kentucky.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 225; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 222-23, 227; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 279-80; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 511

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The Kentucky Campaign Ends

October 11, 1862 – Confederate forces ended their unsuccessful Kentucky campaign, and Federal Major General Don Carlos Buell came under harsh scrutiny for not pursuing the withdrawing enemy aggressively enough.

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

Following the Battle of Perryville, the two Confederate armies in Kentucky under General Braxton Bragg and Major General Edmund Kirby Smith finally linked near Harrodsburg. Smith urged Bragg, the ranking commander, to make a stand there because it offered good ground on which to meet a Federal attack. But Bragg had already directed his army to continue withdrawing toward Bryantsville.

The next day, Bragg dispatched scouts to find camping grounds around Bryantsville, indicating to the Confederates that they were leaving Kentucky. Bragg had learned of the Confederate defeats at Antietam, Iuka, and Corinth. He had sustained heavy casualties at Perryville, and he was running low on supplies after gaining hardly any Kentucky recruits. Thus, Bragg decided to retreat back to eastern Tennessee.

Bragg and Smith withdrew from Harrodsburg, leaving the town for the Federals to reclaim. Bragg’s army arrived at Bryantsville on the 13th, where he and Smith split up once again. Bragg moved toward Mount Vernon, and Smith moved toward Paint Lick. Smith reported the next day:

“My command from loss of sleep for five nights, is completely exhausted. The straggling has been unusually great. The rear of the column will not reach here before daybreak. I have no hope of saving the whole of my train, as I shall be obliged to double teams in going up Big Hill, and will necessarily be delayed there two or three days.”

Meanwhile, Buell expected Bragg to turn and attack Nashville. He moved his Federal Army of the Ohio to cut Bragg off at Crab Orchard, exclaiming, “Bragg’s army is mine!” But when Buell reached the town on the 15th, he found the Confederates had already passed through on their way to Cumberland Gap.

Buell sent Major General Thomas L. Crittenden’s corps in pursuit, but the Confederates had felled trees across the Wilderness road to block them. The Federals paved a new road and advanced to within a few miles of Mount Vernon by that night.

The next day, Bragg’s Confederates continued slowly withdrawing through the Cumberland Gap bottleneck without substantial Federal opposition. Crittenden’s Federals resumed their pursuit, but they lacked the speed or numbers to catch up to Bragg’s force.

Buell’s superiors pushed for a Federal invasion of eastern Tennessee, both to destroy the Confederates and to secure the predominantly Unionist region. Buell resisted, explaining to General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck, “You are aware that between Crab Orchard and Cumberland Gap the country is almost a desert. The limited supply of forage which the country affords is consumed by the enemy as he passes.” Buell continued:

“The enemy has been driven into the heart of this desert and must go on, for he cannot exist in it. For the same reason we cannot pursue in it with any hope of overtaking him, for while he is moving back on his supplies and as he goes consuming what the country affords we must bring ours forward. There is but one road and that a bad one. The route abounds in difficult defiles, in which a small force can retard the progress of a large one for a considerable time, and in that time the enemy could gain material advantage in a move upon other points.

“For these reasons, which I do not think it necessary to elaborate, I deem it useless and inexpedient to continue the pursuit, but propose to direct the main force under my command rapidly upon Nashville, which General Negley reported to me as already being invested by a considerable force and toward which I have no doubt Bragg will move the main part of his army.

“I shall throw myself on my wagon transportation, which, fortunately, is ample. While I shall proceed with these dispositions, deeming them to be proper for the public interest, it is but meet that I should say that the present time is perhaps as convenient as any for making any changes that may be thought proper in the command, of this army. It has not accomplished all that I had hoped or all that faction might demand.”

After offering to give up his command if his superiors were unhappy, Buell explained that his army “defeated a powerful and thoroughly disciplined army in one battle and has driven it away baffled and dispirited at least, and as much demoralized as an army can be under such discipline as Bragg maintains over all troops that he commands.” Buell did not mention that he failed to destroy an enemy he outnumbered three-to-one at Perryville, and only won because Bragg pulled out afterward.

Halleck sent a stern reply in opposition to Buell’s plan to return to Nashville: “The great object to be attained is to drive the enemy from Kentucky and East Tennessee. If we cannot do it now we need never to hope for it.” In another message on the 19th, Halleck reiterated what he expected of Buell:

“The capture of East Tennessee should be the main object of your campaign. You say it is the heart of the enemy’s resources; make it the heart of yours. Your army can live there if the enemy’s can… I am directed by the President to say to you that your army must enter East Tennessee this fall, and that it ought to move there while the roads are passable… He does not understand why we cannot march as the enemy marches, live as he lives, and fight as he fights, unless we admit the inferiority of our troops and of our generals.”

Meanwhile, Bragg continued moving his Confederate Army of Mississippi through Cumberland Gap virtually unmolested, despite having to slow his movement due to the long lines of wagon trains, cattle, and other supplies taken from Kentucky. Bragg’s army was still intact, but his optimistic hopes of claiming Kentucky for the Confederacy were gone.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 18173; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 225; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 739-41, 743; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 221-23; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 278-79; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 521; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: C.B. Richardson, 1866; revised version New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 508-09; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 80; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15

Kentucky: Buell Reaches Louisville

September 25, 1862 – Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Federal Army of the Ohio secured Louisville, but the Lincoln administration received several reports critical of Buell’s leadership.

Gen Don Carlos Buell | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

When Buell learned that General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Mississippi had captured Munfordville, he believed Louisville would be the next Confederate target and resolved to get there first. Bragg’s army was currently between Buell and the second Confederate army in Kentucky under Major General Edmund Kirby Smith. But Buell had more men, and once he reached Louisville, he could prevent Bragg and Smith from joining forces.

After capturing Munfordville, Bragg was unsure what to do next. He considered returning to Tennessee to try regaining Nashville, but that would leave Smith isolated in Kentucky. He considered going to Louisville, but he needed more men to take the city. He therefore resolved to join forces with Smith and try recruiting Kentuckians to join their cause. After writing his wife that “We have made the most extraordinary campaign in military history,” Bragg issued a proclamation asking for recruits:

“Kentuckians, I have entered your State… to restore to you the liberties of which you have been deprived by a cruel and relentless foe… If you prefer Federal rule, show it by your frowns and we shall return whence we came. If you choose rather to come within the folds of our brotherhood, then cheer us with the smiles of your women and lend your willing hands to secure you in your heritage of liberty.”

However, few Kentuckians joined the Confederates. Many knew (though Bragg would not acknowledge it) that the Confederates lacked the strength and resources to ever fully convert Kentucky into a Confederate state. As such, they feared that if they joined Bragg’s army, they would face Federal reprisals when Bragg ultimately returned to Tennessee.

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Bragg contacted Smith at Lexington and asked him to bring his 9,000 Confederates and all their supplies to Bardstown and join with Bragg’s 30,000-man army. Bragg explained that they needed to join forces because “this campaign must be won by marching, not fighting.” Bragg’s men began moving out of Munfordville on the 20th; the Federals reoccupied the town the next day.

Smith resisted Bragg’s call to join him at Bardstown. He saw Buell’s Federals as an impediment to recruitment efforts, and he responded that he considered “the defeat of Buell before he effects a junction with the force (of volunteers) at Louisville as a military necessity, for Buell’s army has always been the great bugbear to these people, and until (it is) defeated we cannot hope for much addition to our ranks.”

Buell, expecting Confederate opposition on the way to Louisville, was surprised to learn that Bragg was going to Bardstown, which was northeast of Munfordville and away from the Federals’ line of march. Even so, Louisville officials expected a showdown at their city, and they frantically evacuated women and children across the Ohio River. The Federal volunteers at Louisville under Major General William “Bull” Nelson dug trenches and awaited the enemy’s approach.

Many Federal officials were unhappy with Buell’s seemingly casual approach to the Confederate threat in Kentucky, and President Abraham Lincoln reviewed many reports questioning Buell’s abilities. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s appointed military governor of Tennessee, accused Buell of using the army as his personal bodyguard, and Republican Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan stated that the troops hated Buell. An editorial in the Indianapolis Daily Journal boldly asserted that Buell “richly deserves to be shot” for allowing the Confederates to slip past him and wreak havoc in Kentucky.

Buell may have reminded Lincoln too much of Major General George B. McClellan, who was also slow to confront the enemy. Finally losing patience, the president directed General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck to replace him with Major General George H. Thomas. But just after Halleck issued the order, Nelson notified him that Buell’s forward units were now joining with the volunteers outside Louisville: “Louisville is now safe. We can destroy Bragg with whatever force he may bring against us. God and liberty.”

Thomas asked Halleck to revoke the order, explaining, “General Buell’s preparations have been completed to move against the enemy, and I therefore respectfully ask that he may be retained in command. My position is very embarrassing.” Buell prepared to turn over command but received a message stating that Lincoln had “suspended” the order. Buell, now aware of the administration’s extreme dissatisfaction with him, responded, “Out of sense of public duty I shall continue to discharge the duties of my command to the best of my ability until otherwise ordered.”

Buell entered the city on the 25th, where Halleck confirmed that he would be the ranking commander over Major General Horatio G. Wright, the commander of the Department of the Ohio. The troops were met by jubilant residents who celebrated their arrival with brass bands and banners. They also provided the troops with cakes, pies, and other assorted dishes. Several thousand Federals left their posts and camps to take advantage of the city’s nightlife and other morally questionable amenities.

Neither Bragg nor Smith made any move to stop Buell from passing them and getting to the Ohio River. Bragg complained that his men were exhausted from “the long, arduous, and exhausting march” over Muldraugh’s Hill to Bardstown. He wrote his superiors at Richmond:

“It is a source of deep regret that this move was necessary, as it has enabled Buell to reach Louisville, where a very large force is now concentrated. I regret to say we are sadly disappointed at the want of action by our friends in Kentucky. We have so far received no accession to this army. General Smith has secured about a brigade–not half our losses by casualties of different kinds. We have 15,000 stand of arms and no one to use them. Unless a change occurs soon we must abandon the garden spot of Kentucky to its cupidity. The love of ease and fear of pecuniary loss are the fruitful sources of this evil.”

Suddenly, Bragg now considered “the most extraordinary campaign in military history” to be a disaster. He wrote, “Enthusiasm runs high but exhausts itself in words… The people here have too many fat cattle and are too well off to fight…”

Bragg hoped to inspire Kentuckians to join the cause by arranging a formal inauguration of a pro-Confederate governor. He met with Provisional Lieutenant Governor Richard Hawes, who had replaced Governor George W. Johnson after Johnson was killed at the Battle of Shiloh. Bragg wrote Major General Leonidas Polk, “The country and the people grow better as we get into the one and arouse the other.”

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 18157; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 217-18; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 660-61, 711-13, 715; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 213-15; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 268, 270-71; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 517-18; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: C.B. Richardson, 1866; revised version New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 504-05; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 517-18, 576-77; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 37, 54; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15

Bragg Enters Kentucky

September 10, 1862 – General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Mississippi entered Kentucky as thousands of men volunteered to stop the Confederates from crossing the Ohio River and invading the North.

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Bragg headed north from Chattanooga in hopes of drawing Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Federal Army of the Ohio out of northern Alabama in pursuit. This worked, as Buell headed to Nashville, believing Bragg was targeting that city. When Buell learned otherwise, he left three divisions to guard Nashville under Major General George H. Thomas and took the rest of his army toward Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Major General Edmund Kirby Smith’s Confederate Army of Kentucky continued operating in the Lexington area, awaiting Bragg’s arrival in the state. Smith and Bragg succeeded in diverting Federal attention from the Deep South to Kentucky. However, they also sparked a mass outpouring of men in Ohio and Indiana rushing to volunteer to stop the Confederate advance.

Bragg received word of the Federal advance on Bowling Green and veered east to enter Kentucky via Glasgow. This eastward shift caused the Lincoln administration to fear that Bragg might continue east and join forces with General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in Maryland. President Abraham Lincoln telegraphed General Jeremiah Boyle, commanding Federals at Louisville, “Where is General Bragg?”

Lincoln then wired Major General Horatio G. Wright, commanding the Federal Department of the Ohio at Cincinnati, “Do you know to any certainty where General Bragg is? May he not be in Virginia?” Lincoln also asked Buell, “What degree of certainty have you that Bragg with his command is not now in the valley of the Shenandoah, Virginia?” Buell responded on the 10th:

“Bragg is certainly this side of the Cumberland Mountains with his whole force, except what is in Kentucky under Smith. His movements will probably depend on mine. I expect that for the want of supplies I can neither follow him nor remain here. Think I must withdraw from Tennessee. I shall not abandon Tennessee while it is possible to hold on. Cut off effectually from supplies, it is impossible for me to operate in force where I am; but I shall endeavor to hold Nashville, and at the same time drive Smith out of Kentucky and hold my communications.”

Meanwhile, the volunteers being organized in Ohio and Indiana began gathering across the Ohio River from Kentucky. About 20,000 men arrived at Cincinnati, and Ohio Governor David Tod notified Wright that more “will pour in upon you by the thousands.” The Federals received information that E.K. Smith had about 30,000 Confederates in Kentucky, and although Smith only had about 9,000, Tod assured Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, “I shall send him (Wright) to-day and to-morrow at least 50,000.”

From Richmond, President Jefferson Davis sent messages to Generals Lee, Bragg, and Smith asking them to clearly explain to the people of Maryland and Kentucky that “the Confederate Government is waging this war solely for self-defence, that it has no design of conquest or any other purpose than to secure peace and the abandonment by the United States of its pretensions to govern a people who have never been their subjects and who prefer self-government to a Union with them.”

As Smith’s Confederates advanced to within about 60 miles of Cincinnati, Bragg’s army reached Glasgow, between Smith and Buell’s Federals. Bragg issued a proclamation in compliance with Davis’s request:

“Kentuckians, I have entered your State with the Confederate Army of the West, and offer you an opportunity to free yourselves from the tyranny of a despotic ruler. We come not as conquerors or as despoilers, but to restore to you the liberties of which you have been deprived by a cruel and relentless foe… Kentuckians, we have come with joyous hopes… If you prefer Federal rule, show it by your frowns and we shall return whence we came. If you choose rather to come within the folds of our brotherhood, then cheer us with the smiles of your women and lend your willing hands to secure you in your heritage of liberty.”

By mid-September, the Confederates were closer to either Louisville or Cincinnati than Buell’s Federals. Fearing that Bragg would target Louisville next, Lincoln asked city officials, “Where is the enemy which you dread in Louisville? How near to you?” But before Bragg moved toward Louisville, he sent a detachment of infantry under Brigadier General James R. Chalmers and cavalry under Colonel John S. Scott (detached from Smith’s army) to cut the Louisville & Nashville Railroad at Cave City, 10 miles north.

The Confederates cut the railroad as ordered, then exceeded orders by continuing north to the town of Munfordville, where the Louisville & Nashville Railroad crossed a bridge over the Green River. Munfordville was garrisoned by three Indiana regiments and four cannon under Colonel John T. Wilder. Scott reached Munfordville first and issued a surrender demand at 8 p.m. on the 13th. Wilder refused. The Confederate infantry came up shortly after.

At 5 a.m. the next day, Chalmers attacked with five regiments and Scott’s artillery, but the Federals repelled them, inflicting 288 casualties (35 killed and 253 wounded) while sustaining 72 (15 killed and 57 wounded). Chalmers contacted Wilder at 9:30 a.m., asserting that the Federals could not escape and must surrender. Again Wilder refused.

Meanwhile, seven Indiana companies from Louisville slipped into Munfordville to give Wilder about 4,000 total effectives. Bragg, still at Glasgow with the bulk of his army, brought wagon loads of rifles for the thousands of Kentuckians he expected to flock to his ranks. Not only were no volunteers forthcoming, but Buell was threatening Bragg’s western flank from Bowling Green, 35 miles away.

Buell had 56,000 men and estimated the size of Bragg’s force to be 60,000. Bragg probably had less than 30,000. Being so outnumbered, Bragg therefore resolved to lead his Confederates north to avoid clashing with Buell and help capture Munfordville as soon as possible.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 210-12; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 656-57; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 204, 206-08; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 263-66; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: C.B. Richardson, 1866; revised version New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 503; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 517-18; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 51

Kentucky: Smith Takes Lexington and Frankfort

September 3, 1862 – The Confederate incursion into Kentucky continued, with Major General Edmund Kirby Smith’s forces taking Lexington and the state capital of Frankfort.

Confederate General E.K. Smith | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Smith’s Confederate Army of Kentucky approached Lexington two days after their crushing victory at Richmond. The Unionist legislature approved a measure to relocate their body to Louisville as the Confederates spread out within the Lexington, Harrodsburg, and Frankfort area. Smith made no real effort to coordinate his movements with General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Mississippi, heading north from Chattanooga.

Pro-Confederate residents of Lexington celebrated Smith’s arrival to their town on the 2nd, and a group of ladies presented Smith with an embroidered flag. Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate cavalry joined Smith’s men in Lexington a couple of days later, riding through the streets to the sounds of ringing church bells and cheering spectators.

Smith set up headquarters at Lexington and began arranging to install a pro-Confederate governor in the hope that he would help recruit Kentuckians into Smith’s army. A portion of his command entered Frankfort on the 3rd, where more pro-Confederate citizens turned out to cheer their arrival. The troops raised the flag of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry, the only flag on hand, over the vacated state capitol building.

Further north, panic swept through the Ohio River towns in Indiana and Ohio because there was no substantial Federal force between them and the Confederates. Businesses shut down as civic officials declared martial law and called for volunteers to defend their homes. The governors of Ohio and Indiana called on the Federal government to provide military aid.

Back in Tennessee, Bragg’s Confederates were at Sparta, preparing to head north into Kentucky. Smith informed Bragg of the Confederate victory at Richmond and urged him “to move into Kentucky and, effecting a junction with my command and holding (Federal Major General Don Carlos) Buell’s communications, to give battle to him with superior forces and with certainty of success.”

After Buell’s Federal Army of the Ohio abandoned Alabama to pursue Bragg’s army, Bragg issued a proclamation declaring that Alabama was “redeemed. Tennesseans! your capital and State are almost restored without firing a gun. You return conquerors. Kentuckians! the first great blow has been struck for your freedom!” Various Tennessee politicians, including Governor Isham Harris, tried persuading Bragg to regain Nashville instead, but Bragg was determined to join Smith in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Buell worked to fortify Nashville against a possible Confederate attack. When Buell arrived at the city on the 2nd, Federal forces were using cotton bales to barricade the approaches. Military Governor Andrew Johnson declared that he would defend the city to the death, refusing to be taken alive. Major General Ulysses S. Grant sent 10,000 troops from his department as reinforcements, prompting Buell to report to General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck:

“I believe Nashville can be held and Kentucky rescued. What I have will be sufficient here with the defenses that are being prepared, and I propose to move with the remainder of the army against the enemy in Kentucky.”

Buell withdrew his army from northern Alabama to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When Buell learned that Smith’s Confederates had captured Lexington, he feared that Bragg may change his plan of invading Kentucky and instead turn on Nashville. As such, Buell pulled his Federals back closer to that city. But Bragg did not change plans. After mapping out a practical route to Kentucky, he directed Major General Leonidas Polk’s corps to move toward the Cumberland River via Gainesboro.

Panic continued spreading from Kentucky into the northern states. Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton called upon citizens to form militia units and prepare to defend their homes. An article in the Cincinnati Gazette declared, “To arms! The time for playing war has passed. The enemy is approaching our doors.” General Lew Wallace raised about 15,000 volunteers to help defend Cincinnati, including about 1,000 “squirrel hunters” from the Ohio Valley, and General Jeremiah Boyle raised another 25,000 Federals at Louisville. Boyle frantically reported, “The whole state will be in possession of Rebels if some efficient aid is not rendered immediately.”

E.K. Smith, whose force was too small to invade the North (unbeknownst to those preparing for defense), reported to the Confederate adjutant general:

“It would be impossible for me to exaggerate the enthusiasm of the people here on the entry of our troops. They evidently regarded us as deliverers from oppression and have continued in every way to prove to us that the heart of Kentucky is with the South in this struggle… If Bragg occupies Buell we can have nothing to oppose us but raw levies, and by the blessing of God will always dispose of them as we did on the memorable August 30.”

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 18148; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 209-10; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 653-57; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 202-04, 206; Linedecker, Clifford L. (ed.), The Civil War A to Z (Ballantine Books, 2002), p. 110; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 260-62, 264; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 517; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: C.B. Richardson, 1866; revised version New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 502; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 576-77; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 32, 50; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15

The Battle of Richmond

August 30, 1862 – Major General Edmund Kirby Smith’s Confederate army confronted a small Federal force in the first full-scale battle during Smith’s incursion into Kentucky.

Gen E.K. Smith | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Smith’s 9,000-man Army of Kentucky crossed the last mountain range on the way to Lexington, only to find the path blocked by 6,500 Federals under Brigadier General Mahlon D. Manson about a half-mile in front of Rogersville. The Federals belonged to the nearby Richmond garrison, and they had never seen combat before. Smith ordered his Confederates to attack.

General Patrick R. Cleburne’s division led the Confederate charge. The Federals initially held firm; Cleburne was shot through the face and replaced by Colonel Preston Smith. As the fighting continued, Colonel John S. Scott’s Confederate cavalry worked its way into the Federal rear. Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill’s Confederate division then arrived on the field and joined Preston Smith’s attack.

The Federals finally wavered and ran to Rogersville, only to be stopped by Scott’s horse artillery. The Federals rallied briefly but then broke again and fled toward Richmond. Major General William “Bull” Nelson, concerned about Manson’s leadership, traveled from Louisville to Richmond and rallied about 2,500 Federals atop a hill south of town. Nelson later reported that the Federals withstood three volleys before breaking and fleeing into Richmond. Nelson was shot through the leg, but he escaped to Lexington.

Gen William “Bull” Nelson | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

The Confederates trapped and captured “a ten-acre lot full” of enemy troops in the town streets, including Manson. They also took about 10,000 small arms and the entire Federal supply train. This was the most decisive Confederate victory of the war. The Federals sustained 5,194 casualties (206 killed, 844 wounded, and 4,144 captured or missing); those who escaped fled toward Louisville. Nelson eventually recovered from his wound and regrouped his command.

The Confederates lost about 451 (78 killed and 372 wounded, and one missing). E.K. Smith congratulated his troops and ordered: “Tomorrow being Sunday, the general desires that the troops shall assemble and, under their several chaplains, shall return thanks to Almighty God, to whose mercy and goodness these victories are due.”

The twin victories at Richmond in Kentucky and Manassas Junction in Virginia indicated a resurging Confederacy, with Smith having a clear path to the Ohio River just as General Robert E. Lee had a clear path to the Potomac.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 208; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 653; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 201; Hattaway, Herman, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 258; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 517; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: C.B. Richardson, 1866; revised version New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 498; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 523, 629-30; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 48; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15

Confederates Poised to Attack in Kentucky

August 29, 1862 – One Confederate army began moving north toward Kentucky, while another was already in Kentucky and preparing for battle.

Confederate General E.K. Smith | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

By August 20, Major General Edmund Kirby Smith’s Confederate Army of Kentucky had entered its namesake state and occupied Barbourville. General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Mississippi prepared to move out of Chattanooga and divert the attention of Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Federal Army of the Ohio while also heading north into Kentucky.

Smith informed Bragg that he would advance on Lexington to supply his exhausted and hungry army. Bragg hoped Smith would stay at Barbourville until Bragg could get his army moving, but he did not object. Bragg outranked Smith, but since this operation took place within Smith’s military department, the two commanders acted as equals. This compromised coordination between the armies.

Bragg’s Confederates began crossing the Tennessee River the next day. When Buell learned that Bragg was on the move, he thought Bragg would head for Nashville. To counter, he sent Federals to McMinnville and Sparta to block the Confederates’ path. But they were not heading that way.

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

As Bragg moved, he expected his two forces in Mississippi under Major Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price to hold Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s two Federal armies under Major Generals William T. Sherman and William S. Rosecrans at bay. He wrote Price:

“We move from here immediately, later by some days than expected, but in time we hope for a successful campaign. Buell has certainly fallen back from the Memphis & Charleston Railroad and will probably not make a stand this side of Nashville, if there. He is now fortifying that place. General Smith, reinforced by two brigades from this army, has turned Cumberland Gap, and is now marching on Lexington, Ky… We shall thus have Buell pretty well disposed of. Sherman and Rosecrans will leave to you and Van Dorn, satisfied that you can dispose of them, and we shall confidently expect to meet you on the Ohio and there open the way to Missouri.”

Bragg headed north, led by General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry. The 30,000 Confederates marched through the Sequatchie Valley and crossed Walden’s Ridge into central Tennessee on the 28th. Bragg’s route ran parallel to Smith’s but about 100 miles farther west. Bragg issued a proclamation:

“The enemy is before us, devastating our fair country… insulting our women, and desecrating our altars… It is for you to decide whether our brothers and sisters of Tennessee and Kentucky shall remain bondmen and bondwomen of the Abolition tyrant or be restored to the freedom inherited from their fathers.”

In Kentucky, Smith had to push his tattered army on to Lexington for much needed supplies. Cavalry under Colonel John S. Scott led the way and dispersed two Federal brigades atop Big Hill, south of Richmond. Scott learned that Federal reinforcements were on their way to Richmond. Smith, operating in Unionist territory, wrote Bragg, “Thus far the people are universally hostile to our cause. This sentiment extends through the mountain region of Eastern Kentucky. In the bluegrass region I have better expectations and shall soon test their loyalty.”

Smith’s lead division under Brigadier General Patrick R. Cleburne, along with Scott’s cavalry, crossed Big Hill on the 29th and entered Bluegrass country, moving northwest on the road to Richmond. Smith’s Confederates had marched a remarkable 150 miles through mountains and rugged terrain in just two weeks. Residents of Cincinnati, just 75 miles away, began panicking at the prospect of being attacked.

Brigadier General Mahlon D. Manson, commanding Federals outside Richmond, confronted Scott’s horsemen and drove them through Kingston, about eight miles south. Scott joined with Cleburne’s force, while the Federals fell back to Rogersville. Manson informed Major General William “Bull” Nelson, the ranking area commander at Louisville, of the action and blocked the Lancaster turnpike east of Richmond. With Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill’s Confederates hurrying north to join Cleburne, Smith planned to attack Richmond the next day.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 206-07; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 583; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 195-98; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 253, 256; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 516-17; Rutherford, Phillip R., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 171; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 517-18; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 44-45, 50; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 414-15