The Battle of Richmond Continues

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The Battle of Richmond Continues


We told the story in last week's column of the invasion of Kentucky by the Confederate armies of Gen. Braxton Bragg and Major General E. Kirby Smith. Smith's troops took Barbourville, London and Mount Vernon, before moving on to Big Hill where they met heavy resistance north of that camp. A sharp skirmish between Union cavalry and Rebel infantry near Big Hill ended with the Northern soldiers withdrawing towards Richmond on the evening of August 29. At dawn the next day the Confederates moved a little north of Kingston, where the Federals joined battle at Mt. Zion Church. That afternoon the Union troops moved back to the outskirts of Richmond. Scouts reported that Gen. Lew Wallace, commander at Lexington, was sending reinforcements for the defenders. Wallace later became famous as the author of Ben-Hur. The Union line was on a ridge on the south end of town, with soldiers located behind a stone wall at the Richmond graveyard and in a thicket. The Confederates attacked and drove the blue-clad men out of their strong positions. Other southern troops entered Richmond from the Lancaster Pike. The Union line broke, retreating to the Lexington Pike. Two U.S. generals, Manson and Nelson, were captured, but Nelson later escaped. On September 1, Lexington surrendered to Kirby Smith and on September 3 the flag of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry was raised over the Capital at Frankfort. A Confederate Governor of Ken-tucky was sworn in. A dividend command led to the failure of the Confederate invasion of Kentucky. Communications between the armies of Bragg and Smith were bad. When Bragg lost the battle at Perryville, Smith was not even there. After Perryville, Smith tried to get Bragg to join with him to fight the troops under Buell. No battles ensued and southern troops withdrew back through London, Barbourville and Cumberland Gap. Kirby Smith later commanded the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department and was the last Confederate general to surrender his army. He then rode into exile in Mexico. Later he returned, took the loyalty oath and finished his life as a professor of mathematics at the University of the South in Tennessee. Madison County will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Battle of Richmond in August with a re-enactment at White Hall.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “The Battle of Richmond Continues,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 19, 2024,