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Eastern Kentucky Civil War Battles

 

 

      Skirmish at West Liberty, October 23rd,

      1861—Colonel L. A. Harris’ 2nd Ohio Infantry regiment and a company of

      Union cavalry, part of General “Bull” Nelson’s command, skirmish with

      Captain Jack May's much smaller Morgan Guards, driving them out of Morgan

      County and back to Prestonsburg.

 

      Battle of Ivy Mountain, November 8th, 1861—Led by Captain May, three

      companies of the newly-formed 5th Kentucky Infantry, C.S.A., fight a

      delaying action against four Union regiments led by General “Bull” Nelson,

      slowing their progress so that the main body of the 5th, under Colonel

      John S. Williams, can evacuate Pikeville and fall back to Pound Gap. Union

      losses are eight killed and twenty-four wounded. Confederate losses are

      ten killed and fifteen wounded. For more information, click here.

 

      Sill's Occupation of Pikeville, November 9th, 1861--With Metcalf's

      Kentucky horsemen leading the way, Colonel Joshua W. Sill and several

      companies of Kentucky and Ohio infantry come down Ferguson Creek and

      advance on Pikeville. Along the way they exchange fire with the

      Confederate horsemen who are reconnoitering their advance. When they reach

      the mouth of the creek, Metcalf's men dismount, climb the hills flanking

      the road, and fire upon the Confederate horsemen gathered in the town's

      main street. Then Sill brings up his artillery and shells them, causing

      them to retreat up the Shelby Creek road. One Union man is killed in the

      action, and two Confederates are wounded. "Troops are very hungry," Sill

      later reports. "All that we can get is beef. There is a mill near here,

      which we will set in motion to-day, and get plenty of corn meal."

 

      Skirmish at Tom’s Creek, January 4th, 1862—Nine hundred Union infantry

      under Colonel James A. Garfield, having marched up the Big Sandy from

      Catlettsburg, skirmish with one hundred Confederate cavalry sent on a

      scouting expedition by Marshall, whose command occupies a fortified

      position at Hager’s Farm near present-day Hager Hill, Kentucky.

 

      Skirmish at Jenny’s Creek, January 7th, 1862—Three hundred Union cavalry

      (the 2nd Virginia Cavalry under Colonel William Bolles) attack two hundred

      Confederate cavalry which Marshall has posted at Jenny’s Creek, several

      miles west of Paintsville, and drive them off. Six Confederates are killed

      and several wounded. Union casualties are two killed and one wounded.

 

      Battle of Middle Creek, January 10th, 1862—Eighteen hundred Union troops

      under Colonel James A. Garfield fight a day-long battle with 1,950

      Confederates under General Humphrey Marshall. Garfield mounts several

      assaults and finally succeeds in driving one Confederate regiment from its

      entrenched position. When night falls, the Confederates retreat, burning

      some of their supplies and leaving their dead on the battlefield. Union

      casualties are three killed and eleven wounded. Confederate casualties are

      twelve killed and fourteen wounded.

 

      Garfield's Occupation of Pikeville, February 19th, 1862--With three Union

      regiments, Garfield takes possession of Pikeville and establishes his

      headquarters at Ratliff Tavern, located at the south end of the town's

      main street. A heavy rainfall on February 22nd causes the Levisa Fork to

      flood, and on the following day Garfield writes his wife: "The house where

      I am staying, which is sixty feet above the usual level of the river, is

      now surrounded. A wild river roars around it on all sides. Two large

      steamboats are up in the principal street of the village. Houses, stacks

      of wheat and hay, gigantic trees, saw-logs, fences, and all things that

      float are careening by with fearful velocity." Several days later Garfield

      receives word from the War Department that he has been promoted to

      Brigadier General. Since no superior officer is available, the swearing-in

      ceremony is conducted by Squire Charles, a local Justice of the Peace.

 

      Battle of Pound Gap, March 14th, 1862—Six hundred Federal infantry and one

      hundred cavalry led by Brigadier General Garfield attack the Confederate

      garrison at Pound Gap, consisting of five companies of Virginia State

      Militia under Major J. B. Thompson. After a twenty-minute fight, the

      rebels are routed and flee their fort, consisting of sixty log huts,

      commissary, hospital, and officers quarters. There are no Union

      casualties. Confederate casualties are seven killed and wounded.

 

      Menifee’s Raid on Pikeville, August 2nd thru 5th, 1862—Captain Nathaniel

      Menifee and his irregular band of Confederate guerrillas raid Pikeville,

      skirmishing several times with the town’s home guards. Nine Union men are

      killed and the rest are driven from the county. Menifee celebrates his

      victory by looting John Dils’s General Store, causing the proprietor, a

      well-known Union man, to flee for his life. The town’s stockyards are

      looted and a large number of cattle are driven back to Virginia.

 

      Marshall’s Invasion of Eastern Kentucky, September, 1862—Acting in concert

      with armies led by Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg, Humphrey Marshall comes

      through Pound Gap with Col. Robert C.. Trigg’s 54th Virginia, Col. Alfred

      C. Moore’s 29th Virginia, Col. Campbell Slemp’s 64th Virginia, and Col. J.

      W. Gillespie’s 43rd Tennessee. Leading the van is Brig. Gen. John S.

      Williams’s 5th Kentucky Infantry. They occupy Pikeville, Prestonsburg,

      Salyersville, West Liberty and other towns along the Mount Sterling-Pound

      Gap Road. Following the Battle of Perryville (October 8th, 1862), Marshall

      moves his army back to their base in Southwestern Virginia.

 

      Battle of Wireman’s Shoals, December 4th, 1862—While escorting several

      pushboats filled with military supplies up the Big Sandy from the Union

      base at Catlettsburg to the Union outpost at Pikeville, Lt. Levi Hampton

      and a small detachment of the 39th Kentucky Infantry are attacked,

      surrounded, and captured by 800 Virginia Partisan Rangers under Colonel

      John N. Clarkson. Union losses are 2 killed, 12 wounded, and 38 captured.

      The Confederates capture 500 Enfield rifles, 7,000 rounds of ammunition,

      and enough uniforms to outfit Clarkson’s entire command. After Lt. Hampton

      surrenders, Clarkson’s men murder him and strip his body of its clothing.

      For more information, click here.

 

      Marshall’s Raid Through Eastern Kentucky, March-April, 1863—On March 15th,

      1863,  Marshall comes through Pound Gap with 1,800 mounted men, including

      Col. Henry Giltner’s 4th Kentucky, Col. Thomas Johnson’s 2nd Kentucky,

      Col. Ezekiel F. Clay’s 1st Kentucky, Col. Ben E. Caudill’s 11th Kentucky,

      and a squadron of men under Captain G. M. Jessee. He is later joined by

      Colonel Jack May and his newly-formed 10th Kentucky Cavalry. After

      dispersing a Union force that has been harassing Colonel Roy Cluke’s

      cavalry at Salyersville, Marshall marches to Louisa, intending to capture

      Fort Bishop, but when he and his officers arrive on the scene and discover

      how well-defended it is, they decide to change their plans. After this

      fiasco, they move through Breathitt, Wolfe, and Owsley counties, burning

      and plundering 43 Wolfe County and Owsley County farms before returning to

      their base in Southwestern Virginia.

 

      Skirmish at Smokey Valley, March 24th, 1863—Eighteen hundred Confederate

      cavalry led by Marshall attack a defensive position held by 300 mounted

      men of Col. George W. Gallup’s 14th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, forcing

      them to fall back to Fort Bishop, the Union supply depot at Louisa. Union

      losses are one killed, two wounded, and four missing. On the following

      day, after inspecting the fort’s defenses with his telescope, Marshall

      decides not to attack it.

 

      Everett’s Raid through Eastern Kentucky, June, 1863—Three hundred

      Confederate cavalry under Col. Peter Everett pass through Eastern Kentucky

      in order to attack the Union supply depot at Maysville, where, on June

      14th, they capture 50 horses, 330 rifles, and 25 pistols. On the next day,

      near Olympian Springs in Bath County, they ambush Major R. T. Williams and

      thirty men of the 14th Kentucky Cavalry, killing eleven  and capturing

      twelve.

 

      Battle of Triplett’s Bridge, June 16th, 1863—Two battalions of the 10th

      Kentucky Cavalry led by Lt. Col. R. R. Maltby overtake Everett’s command

      at Triplett’s Creek Bridge near Morehead in Rowan County. Maltby’s men

      surround the Confederates, defeat them, and take 38 prisoners. When

      DeCourcey’s 8th Michigan Cavalry arrives on the scene, mistaking Maltby’s

      men for the enemy, Evertt and the rest of his men slip away and return to

      their base in Russell County, Virginia.

 

      Battle of Turman’s Ferry, January 9th, 1864—While camped for the night in

      a schoolhouse near Turman’s Ferry on the Big Sandy River fourteen miles

      above Catlettsburg, 75 men of the 39th Kentucky Infantry are surrounded

      and attacked by 150 Confederate cavalry under Colonel M. J. Ferguson.

      Awakened from their sleep, the Kentuckians flee in panic, running barefoot

      into the snow and sub-zero weather. Fourteen are killed or wounded in the

      attack and many others suffer frostbite.

 

      Battle of Laurel Creek, February 15th, 1864—Colonel Gallup, leading 275

      unmounted men of the 14th Kentucky Infantry and 150 mounted men of the

      39th Kentucky Infantry, launch a surprise attack on Colonel M. J. Ferguson

      and his 16th Virginia Cavalry, camped at the mouth of Laurel Creek in

      WayneCounty, West Virginia. Ferguson is captured, along with his surgeon,

      two lieutenants, and 38 privates. Confederate losses are ten killed and

      several wounded. Sixteen Federal prisoners held by the Confederates are

      freed, along with a large number of horses.

 

      Clay’s Raid into Eastern Kentucky, March-April, 1864—Six hundred 

      Confederate cavalry under Colonel Ezekiel F. Clay come through Pound Gap

      and march down the Big Sandy to Paintsville, where, on April 13th, they

      encounter four companies of Gallup’s 14th Kentucky Mounted Infantry and

      500 home guards. When the rebels attack the Union position, they are

      repulsed, suffering two killed, two wounded, and seven captured. Clay then

      sends Gallup a flag of truce, asking for time to bury his dead and exhange

      prisoners. Judging Gallup’s force to be stronger than his own, Clay

      decides to retreat to Salyersville.

 

      Battle of Puncheon Creek (Half Mountain), April 14th, 1864—Colonel Gallup,

      leading the 14th Kentucky Mounted Infantry under Lt. Col. Joseph R. Brown

      and the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry under Col. David A Mims, a total of

      800 men, launches a surprise attack on Colonel Clay’s 600 Confederate

      cavalry while they are camped at Half Mountain on the Licking River, three

      miles above Salyersville. A four-hour engagement ensues, during which

      Colonel Clay is wounded in the eye and captured. Confederate losses are 60

      killed and wounded and 60 captured, along with 200 horses, 400 saddles,

      300 small arms, and all their tents and equipage. Union losses are one

      killed and four wounded.

 

      Morgan’s Last Kentucky Raid, June 2nd-12th, 1864— Leading 1,400 cavalry

      and 800 dismounted men, Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan comes through Pound

      Gap, passes down Troublesome Creek, and raids Mount Sterling, capturing

      380 Union soldiers.  Brig. Gen. Stephen Burbridge is leading a large

      Federal force up the Big Sandy Valley, and the purpose of Morgan’s raid is

      to divert Burbridge from his objective, Preston’s Saltworks at Saltville,

      Virginia. At Mount Sterling Morgan’s men steal and plunder, taking $80,000

      from the Farmer’s Branch Bank.

 

      Battle of Mount Sterling,  June 9th, 1864—General Burbridge and his

      troopers make an extraordinary 90-mile march from the Forks of Beaver

      Creek to Mount Sterling, where they launch a surprise pre-dawn attack on

      Morgan’s dismounted men, trampling them as they are sleeping in their

      tents.  A desperate fight ensues, and the Confederates are defeated.

      Confederate losses are 54 killed, 120 wounded, and 150 captured. Union

      losses are 8 killed, 20 wounded, and 50 missing.

 

      Battle of Cynthiana, June 12th, 1864—After raiding Lexington, where they

      capture 2,000 horses, Morgan and his men march to Cynthiana, where, on

      June 11th, they defeat and capture the town’s 400-man Union garrison. On

      the following day, lacking ammunition for their rifles, they are attacked

      and routed by Burbridge’s troopers, who capture their baggage train and

      send them fleeing in several directions. On their way back to Virginia,

      Morgan and some of his men pass through Prestonsburg, where Morgan rests

      his mount and spends a pleasant hour drinking a glass of water and

      chatting with local ladies on the porch of the John Graham Johns House.

 

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