1862: The Civil War in Kentucky
The year 1862 was the zenith of Civil War conflicts in Kentucky. After 1862, the Civil War in Kentucky was limited to cavalry raids and guerrilla activity. Had the Confederates won a decisive victory in Kentucky and pushed on into Ohio or Indiana, President Abraham Lincoln might not have had the political strength on Jan. 1, 1863, to issue the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in the states then in rebellion.
Here's a look at the significant battles and other events from 150 years ago.
Jan. 10, 1862: Union Col. James A. Garfield (who would be elected U.S. president in 1880 and die of an assassin's bullet in 1881) confronts the Confederates between Paintsville and Prestonsburg in Floyd County. The battle was an indecisive tactical victory for the Union but proved strategically successful in compelling the Confederates to withdraw into Virginia.
Jan. 19, 1862: Confederate Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer mistakenly rode into enemy lines and was killed in this battle in Pulaski and Wayne counties. With this victory, the federal troops carried the war into Middle Tennessee in February.
July 4, 1862: Confederate John Hunt Morgan commences his first Kentucky raid, which covers 1,000 miles in more than three weeks, captures 17 towns and destroys extensive Union supplies. The raid compels an exasperated Lincoln to tell his advisers: "They are having a stampede in Kentucky. Please look to it!"
Aug. 29-30, 1862: Confederate Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith routs the Union soldiers from Richmond. The Rebels capture about 4,000 Yankees, and the way north to Frankfort is open. (The battle will be re-enacted Aug. 25 and 26. Battleofrichmond.org.)
Sept. 14-17, 1862: Confederates under the command of Gen. Braxton Bragg capture the railroad station and bridge at Munfordville, then an important transportation center in Hart County. But the capture is not the hoped-for blow to Union supply lines. (The battle will be re-enacted during Hart County Civil War Days, Sept. 7 to 9, in Munfordville. Visitmunfordville.com/cwds_sched.html.)
Sept. 27, 1862: Confederates led by Col. Basil Duke loot and burn parts of Augusta, an Ohio River town in Bracken County. But Confederate losses of men and ammunition force the abandonment of a raid into Ohio.
Oct. 4, 1862: The South's high-water mark comes as Richard Hawes is sworn in as Confederate governor of Kentucky in Frankfort. The celebration is brief. Union soldiers enter Frankfort late that afternoon and drive out the Confederates.
Oct. 8, 1862: The largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil occurs just west of Perryville in Boyle County. The number killed, wounded or missing is 7,407. The Confederate offensive is over, and the Union again controls Kentucky. (For events linked to the 150th anniversary Oct. 5 to 7, go to PerryvilleBattlefield.org.)
Greg Kocher, email@example.com
Sources: The Kentucky Encyclopedia, summaries of the American Battlefield Protection Program, Perryville Under Fire: The Aftermath of Kentucky's Largest Civil War Battle