Battle of Richmond

The Battle of Richmond, Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, fought August 29–30, 1862, was a stunning Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 victory by Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith
Edmund Kirby Smith
Edmund Kirby Smith was a career United States Army officer and educator. He served as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, notable for his command of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy after the fall of Vicksburg.After the conflict ended Smith...

 against Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 Maj. Gen. William "Bull" Nelson's forces, defending the town. It was the first major battle in the Kentucky Campaign
Confederate Heartland Offensive
The Confederate Heartland Offensive or Kentucky Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in East Tennessee and Kentucky in 1862 during the American Civil War...

. The battle took place on and around what is now the grounds of the Blue Grass Army Depot
Blue Grass Army Depot
Blue Grass Army Depot is a U.S. Army conventional munitions and chemical weapon storage facility located in east central Kentucky, southeast of the cities of Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky, operated by the United States Army. The site, composed mainly of open fields and wooded areas, is used...

, outside Richmond, Kentucky
Richmond, Kentucky
There were 10,795 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.6% were non-families. Of all households, 34.7% were made up of individuals and 8.8% had...



In the fall of 1862, two Confederate armies moved on separate paths into Kentucky, hoping to restore the Confederate government of that state into power, threaten Union cities along the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, and recruit men to join the army. First to move was Kirby Smith, leading the Confederate Army of Kentucky
Confederate Army of Kentucky
The Army of Kentucky was a Confederate army during the American Civil War.The designation "Army of Kentucky" was given August 25, 1862 to the field army Kirby Smith led into eastern Kentucky during the Confederate Heartland Offensive...

, whose ideas provided the initiative for the offensive. Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

, commanding the Army of Mississippi
Army of Mississippi
There were three organizations known as the Army of Mississippi in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. -Army of Mississippi :This army, at times known by the names Army of the West or Army of the...

, moved on a roughly parallel track to the west. Smith departed Knoxville on August 13, Bragg Chattanooga on August 27.


Brig. Gen. Patrick Cleburne
Patrick Cleburne
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was an Irish American soldier, best known for his service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, where he rose to the rank of major general....

 led Smith's advance with Col.
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 John S. Scott's cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 out in front. The Confederate cavalry, while moving north from Big Hill on the road to Richmond, Kentucky
Richmond, Kentucky
There were 10,795 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.6% were non-families. Of all households, 34.7% were made up of individuals and 8.8% had...

, on August 29, encountered Union troopers and began skirmishing. After noon, Union artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 and infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 joined the fray, forcing the Confederate cavalry to retreat to Big Hill.

At that time, Brig. Gen. Mahlon D. Manson
Mahlon Dickerson Manson
Mahlon Dickerson Manson was a druggist, Indiana politician, and a Union general in the American Civil War.-Biography:...

, who commanded Union forces in the area, ordered a brigade to march to Rogersville, toward the Rebels. Fighting for the day stopped after pursuing Union forces briefly skirmished with Cleburne's men in late afternoon. That night, Manson informed his superior, Bull Nelson, of his situation, and he ordered another brigade to be ready to march in support, when required.

Kirby Smith ordered Cleburne to attack in the morning and promised to hurry reinforcements (Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill
Thomas James Churchill
Thomas James Churchill was a Confederate major general during the American Civil War and the 13th Governor of the state of Arkansas.-Early life:...

's division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

). Cleburne started early, marching north, passed through Kingston, dispersed Union skirmishers, and approached Manson's battle line near Zion Church. As the day progressed, additional troops joined both sides. Following an artillery duel, the battle began, and after a concerted Confederate attack on the Union right, the Union troops gave way. Retreating into Rogersville, they made another futile stand at their old bivouac
Military camp
A military camp or bivouac is a semi-permanent facility for the lodging of an army. Camps are erected when a military force travels away from a major installation or fort during training or operations, and often have the form of large campsites. In the Roman era the military camp had highly...


By now, Smith and Nelson had arrived and taken command of their respective armies. Nelson rallied some troops in the cemetery outside Richmond, but they were routed.


Nelson and some of his men escaped, but the Confederates captured over 4,300 Union troops. Total casualties were 5,353 (206 killed, 844 wounded, 4,303 captured/missing) on the Union side, 451 (78 killed, 372 wounded, 1 missing) Confederate. The way north towards Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

 and Frankfort
Frankfort, Kentucky
Frankfort is a city in Kentucky that serves as the state capital and the county seat of Franklin County. The population was 27,741 at the 2000 census; by population it is the 5th smallest state capital in the United States...

 was open.

Civil War historian Shelby Foote
Shelby Foote
Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote's life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the...

 remarked that Smith "accomplished in Kentucky the nearest thing to a Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, which took place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius...

 ever scored by any general, North or South, in the course of the whole war."

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