Battle of Richmond

Battle of Richmond

By Phil Seyfrit

“General, I’ve got them! I haven’t counted them, but I have a ten acre lot full.” Confederate cavalry commander Col. John Scott reports overall Confederate army commander Edmund Kirby Smith late in the evening of August 30, 1862.

Battle of Richmond Visitors CenterThe drought stricken towns and farms of Madison County, Kentucky, experienced one of the fiercest battles ever fought in the Commonwealth, the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, on August 29 & 30, 1862.

Confederate Major General Edmund Kirby Smith and his experienced troops overwhelmingly defeated a hastily organized Federal force under the command of Major General William “Bull” Nelson. Fought over a day and a half, the Confederates either killed, wounded or captured nearly the entire Federal force of 7,000 soldiers. The Battle of Richmond is deemed by most Civil War scholars as the most complete victory one side had over the other during the entire conflict.

The Battle of Richmond was fought in three phases over an eleven mile expanse from the south moving north along what was then known as the Old State road, now US 25/421. It is a classic example of Civil war military tactics using flanking maneuvers to bring as much firepower to bear on weakened enemy.

Notable personalities at the Battle of Richmond include Confederate generals Patrick R. Cleburne and Thomas J. Churchill and Union generals Mahlon Manson and Charles Cruft.

After the battle, the battlefield at Richmond lay unprotected for nearly 140 years. Only a small number of Kentucky historical markers made any reference to the battlefield. Civil War historians gave only passing glance to the Battle of Richmond, if any at all.

But in 1997, long time Battle of Richmond researcher Dean Warren Lambert published the first definitive work on the battle, When the Ripe Pears Fell. Lambert work, as well as severe development encroaching pivotal parts of the battlefield, ignited serious interest in the battle.

In late 2001, an important Civil War structure and farm came up for absolute auction. Purchased by the Madison County Historical Society, the Pleasant View House and Farm was saved from sure destruction. The Madison County Fiscal Court purchased the property from the historical society and the preservation efforts at the Battle of Richmond began.

In early 2002, concerned citizens pooled their resources and established the Battle of Richmond Association in order to help the county preserve and properly interpret the battlefield. Since that time, these entities have saved nearly 600 acres of “bloody ground” at the Battle of Richmond.

In 2005, the U.S. Army, which operates an ammunition depot on part of the battlefield, turned over the Rogers House, which had served as the depot commander’s residence, to the Madison County Fiscal Court. This structure served as a headquarters and hospital during the battle. After renovations and interpretive displays, the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center opened in October 2008.

The Battle of Richmond sponsors an annual re-enactment of the battle on the last week-end in August nearest the battle’s anniversary. The association also sponsors Civil War Living History Days in mid-May each year.

For more information regarding the Battle of Richmond and its activities, please contact the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center, 101 Battlefield Memorial Highway, Richmond, Kentucky, 40475, or 859-624-0013. The battlefield friend’s group, the Battle of Richmond Association (BORA), may be contacted at the above address.

Battle of Richmond Visitors Center
101 Battlefield Memorial Highway
Richmond, Kentucky 40475
Ph. 859-624-0013, 859-624-0093 FAX

Battle of Richmond Association, Inc.
101 Battlefield Memorial Highway
Richmond, Kentucky 40475

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