Saturday, December 17, 2011

Civil 150 — Battle of Ivy Mountain

Battle of Ivy Mountain Nov. 8-9, 1861.

Another important border state to both sides was Kentucky. Here's an idea of what Kentucky went through during the war:

Citizens of the state of Kentucky were truly divided over issues that caused the Civil War. The Kentucky legislature did not vote to secede from the Union, but neither did it vote to raise troops to support the Union. Instead, the state declared neutrality. But this neutrality did not last long. Because Kentucky was a strategic border state dividing the South and the North, it was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. In 1861 and 1862, Kentuckians at home saw a number of battles and skirmishes. By the end of 1862, Confederate forces had been run out of the state. However, the destruction caused by war was not over for Kentuckians. From December 1862 to January 1865, famous Confederate raids by John Hunt Morgan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Quantrill, and "Sue" Mundy destroyed Union supply depots, bridges, and county courthouses. Kentucky also experienced a period of lawlessness in 1864, when "Bushwhackers" -- small bands of unruly soldiers from both sides -- looted small towns and robbed local farmers of produce and livestock.

This specific battle turned out better for the Union mostly because they controlled the field of battle at the end of the day due to a Confederate withdrawal.

Ivy Mountain is south east of Lexington not far from Prestonburg and the West Virginia border.

Details of the battle:

The Confederates had about 1,000 men, but were chased by a substantially larger Union force, elements of a dozen units.
US losses were about 30, against roughly 250 Confederate casualties.
While recruiting in southeast Kentucky, Rebels under Col. John S. Williams ran short of ammunition at Prestonsburg and fell back to Pikeville to replenish their supply. Brig. Gen. William Nelson sent out a detachment from near Louisa under Col. Joshua Sill while he started out from Prestonsburg with a larger force in an attempt to "turn or cut the Rebels off." Williams prepared for evacuation, hoping for time to reach Virginia, and sent out a cavalry force to meet Nelson about eight miles from Pikeville. The Rebel cavalry escaped, and Nelson continued on his way. Williams then met Nelson at a point northeast of Pikeville between Ivy Mountain and Ivy Creek. Waiting by a narrow bend in the road, the Rebels surprised the Yankees by firing upon their constricted ranks. A fight ensued, but neither side gained the edge. As the shooting ebbed, Williams's men felled trees across the road and burned bridges to slow Nelson's pursuing force. Night approached and rain began which, along with the obstructions, convinced Nelson's men to go into camp. In the meantime, Williams retreated into Virginia, stopping in Abingdon on the 9th. Sill's force arrived too late to be of use, but he did skirmish with the remnants of Williams's retreating force before he occupied Pikeville on the 9th. This bedraggled Confederate force retreated back into Virginia for succor. The Union forces consolidated their power in eastern Kentucky mountains.

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