The Civil War Discovery Trail
“Kentucky-born grandson of a Confederate sergeant”
guide to 52 sites in Kentucky that are part of a national network of over 500
Civil War sites
Kentuckians are natural-born fighters. From the War
of 1812 to Desert Storm, soldiers from the Bluegrass have battled with uncommon
But the War Between the States tore Kentucky asunder.
Brothers were sometimes in mortal combat with brothers.
Kentucky played a pivotal role as it was one of only
four border states and provided the nation with both the president of the Confederacy,
Jefferson Davis, and the president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
The echo from the last shot died over 135 years ago.
Most animosity has faded away. Today both Kentuckians and visitors are interested
in The Civil War Discovery Trail. The trail is not just a Kentucky program but
a national one that links over 500 sites in 28 states, set up by The Civil War
Trust in Arlington, Virginia.
There are an astounding 52 designated places to visit
in Kentucky as our part of The Civil War Discovery Trail, zigzagging all across
Kentucky, many along main routes and rivers.
We invite you to take the time to explore Kentucky’s
rich Civil War history. Eight locations covering 17 sites on The Civil War Discovery
Trail are highlighted below, and a sidebar listing the other sites in Kentucky
was strategically important to both Yankees and Rebels, being located where the
Cumberland River empties into the Ohio. Within recent years, preservationists
have made old Fort Smith—a star-shaped earthen fort that was part of fortifications
built by the Union to protect the mouth of the Cumberland—a spot to visit.
General Grant seized Smithland in September 1861. By
1864 it was manned by a detachment of African-American soldiers. A nearby cemetery
includes graves of many of these soldiers.
For more information, call (270) 928-2446.
greatest Civil War battle was fought outside Perryville on October 8, 1862.
This was the South’s last serious attempt to gain possession of the state. Visitors
to the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site will find a museum that interprets
the battle, and an annual re-enactment is held there.
The Town of Perryville has been a National Register
district since 1976. This village is one of the most intact 19th-century communities
in the state. The old Merchants Row along old US 68 features structures that
look much as they did during the Battle of Perryville in 1862.
For more information, call the Perryville Battlefield
State Historic Site at (859) 332-8631, or the Town of Perryville at (859) 332-1862.
to the Columbus-Belmont State Park, even as children, long remember the massive
chain and anchor used during the Civil War to block the passage of Union gunboats.
There is also a Confederate cannon, a network of earthen trenches, and a museum
that was a Civil War hospital.
The 1861 Battle of Belmont, fought to overtake the
Confederate stronghold, marked the opening of the Union’s Western Campaign.
It was General Grant’s first active engagement in the war. The site is where
19,000 Rebel soldiers, under control of General Leonidas Polk, “the fighting
bishop from Tennessee,” labored to turn Columbus into an impregnable fortress
to defend the Confederacy.
For more information, call (270) 677-2327.
Gap is the historic mountain pass on the Wilderness Road that opened the pathway
for western migration. During the Civil War, it was held by the South and then
captured by Union troops. Each side held the gap twice. Despite changing hands
four times, no confrontation took place. Its history has been called “waiting
for the battle that never came.”
Grant visited there in January 1864 and called it
“the Gibraltar of America.” Visitors to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
will find a museum, trails, and camping facilities.
For more information, call (606) 248-2817.
Hill Cemetery features the only memorial in the state to African-American soldiers,
one of only three in the country. There are 142 names engraved on the monument,
black men who fought for the Union.
At the Frankfort Cemetery a brochure gives the grave
locations of many Civil War notables, the Confederate monument, and surrounding
unknown graves. The cemetery is located on a bluff high above the Kentucky River
and offers beautiful views of the State Capitol and Frankfort.
Also atop a cliff overlooking Frankfort, Leslie W.
Morris Park at Fort Hill in-cludes Fort Boone, an 1863 earthen fort that was
attacked by a detachment of Morgan’s cavalry. Adjacent is the New Redoubt, a
second and larger fortification built to protect Kentucky’s pro-Union government.
Another must for Frankfort visitors is the Old State
Capitol. This 1829 Greek Revival masterpiece was the only Union Capitol captured
by Southern troops.
Within the rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol,
you can see beautiful statues of prominent Kentuckians, including a bronze Abraham
Lincoln and a marble Jefferson Davis.
The Kentucky Military History Museum is located in
the 1850 State Arsenal. It contains a large collection of Confederate memorabilia,
and an extensive research collection is housed there.
For more information, call Green Hill Cemetery, (502)
564-3265; Kentucky Military History Museum, (502) 564-3265; Old State Capitol
(502) 564-3016; Kentucky State Capitol, (502) 564-3449; Frankfort Cemetery,
(502) 227-2403; and Leslie W. Morris Park at Fort Hill, (502) 564-3265.
Fort Harrod State Park has a connection to President Lincoln. Located on the
grounds is the Lincoln Marriage Temple, a brick pavilion enshrining the cabin
in which Lincoln’s parents were wed on June 12, 1806.
The Mansion Museum features Confederate and Union
exhibits. The rooms contain paintings, photography, newspapers, diaries, and
While in Harrodsburg, visitors will want to see Shaker
Village of Pleasant Hill, a restored living-history museum interpreting the
Shaker lifestyle. Although the Shakers were strong Unionists and against slavery,
both Union and Confederate soldiers stopped to partake of the Shakers’ hospitality.
The only non-Shaker buried there is a Confederate soldier who died shortly after
the Battle of Perryville.
For more information, call Old Fort Harrod State
Park, (859) 734-3314, and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, (859) 734-5411.
Hall, (502) 348-2999, now a museum, was used as a hospital during the war. Today
it includes a room featuring Civil War artifacts and memorabilia.
Another interesting building in Bardstown is the
Old Bardstown Village Civil War Museum, (502) 349-0291. It focuses on the “War
in the West,” which witnessed the military beginnings of such Union generals
as Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.
Women of the Civil War Museum, (502) 349-0291, tells
the story of the over 400 women who disguised themselves as soldiers during
the Civil War. The collection portrays women as soldiers, nurses, spies, and
plantation and factory workers.
Homeplace re-creates life in Johnson County from 1850 to 1875 through a living-history
park. The historic buildings reassembled here include cabins, a one-room schoolhouse,
a blacksmith shop, barns, churches, and other buildings. An award-winning video
shown at the center features actor Richard Thomas and details the role of Kentucky’s
mountains during the Civil War.
For more information, call (606) 297-1850.
Civil War Monument in the Nation Rediscovered in Kentucky
by Michael A. Peake
December 1861 saw Union forces under Don Carlos Buell
move into the Green River town of Munfordville to face the army of the Confederate
Western Department under Albert Sydney Johnston. Within days of the move, elements
of the armies clashed in battle just south of Green River near the whistle stop
of Rowlett’s Station.
The sole Union regiment engaged was the 1st German,
32nd Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry under the command of Colonel August
Willich, detailed to guard work parties repairing the damaged L&N Railroad
bridge over Green River. Thirteen men of the 32nd died due to the December 17
The Union dead were buried on a small hill in sight
of the rail bridge just to the north of the river and a little east of the rail
line. While still stationed at Munfordville, Company F Private August Bloedner,
a survivor of the action at Rowlett’s Station, acquired a porous block of local
outcrop limestone and sculptured a beautiful monument that was placed on the
site in January 1862.
In June 1867, 14 sets of remains, along with the
monument, were moved to Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville in compliance
with directives to recover all Union dead for reburial in national cemeteries.
The limestone has suffered considerable damage over
the decades; today the German epitaph has nearly flaked completely away from
the face of the weathered tablet.
Plans are to raise funds to preserve the remaining
inscription and to place a bronze plaque at the site with the translation and
the names of the dead. A rededication of the monument will take place in December
2001, the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Rowlett’s Station.
For more information or to make contributions, contact
Mr. Trowbridge at the Kentucky Military History Museum, 100 West Broadway, Frankfort,
KY 40601-1931,(502) 564-3265, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Civil War Events and Activities
|April 7–8||First Battle of Richmond: Near
Mt. Zion Church in Madison County
|April 21||Grand Opening and Dedication
of Camp Nelson Heritage Park
|April 28–29||Annual Living History Weekend:
Camp Nelson Heritage Park
|May 5–6||Ft. Smith Re-enactment|
|May 18–20||Battle of Sacramento: 140th
|May 25–27||2nd Annual Ghost Road Homecoming:
Preston Plantation in Bedford
|May 26–28||Civil War Days at Fort Duffield:
West Point; also June 30–July 1, August 4–5, and September 2–3
|June 15–17||Morgan’s Raid on Georgetown:
Cardome Center, Georgetown
|August 17–19||Battle of Middle Creek Re-enactment:
|September 7–9||Hart County Civil War Days:
140th Anniversary of Rowlett’s Station
|September 21–23||Cynthiana Civil War Living History
|October 4–7||“Base Camp Frankfort” Central
Kentucky Civil War Experience
|October 6–7||Perryville Battlefield State
Historic Site: Commemoration and Re-enactment
|October 13–14||Columbus-Belmont: Living history
|October 19–21||Camp Wildcat: Living-History
Weekend and Re-enactment
|October 21||Kentucky Vicksburg Monument
Dedication: Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi
|November 8||Dedication of the Battle of
Ivy Mountain Monument
For more information, contact Thomas Fugate, Coordinator of Kentucky
Civil War Sites Preservation Programs at the Kentucky Heritage Council, 300
Washington Street, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 564-7005, or e-mail at email@example.com.
Kentucky Civil War Sites
Green: The capital of Confederate Kentucky, the Civil War Driving Tour of Bowling
Green and Warren County, (270) 782-0800, is recommended, along with a visit
to Riverview at Hobson Grove, (270) 843-5565.
Brandenburg: The scenic Ohio River country of General
John Hunt Morgan’s Brandenburg Raid, (270) 422-3626, a four-day raid that included
a skirmish on the river and burning of the steamer Alice Dean.
Campbellsville: Site of Tebbs Bend Battlefield, (800)
738-4719, a bend on the Green River, was an early omen to befall General Morgan.
Covington: Behringer-Crawford Museum, (859) 491-4003,
is located in the 1848-1880 Devou family home in 700-acre Devou Park.
Cynthiana: Battles of Cynthiana Driving Tour, (859)
234-5236, offers a self-guided driving tour of two battles General Morgan fought
Fairview: Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic
Site, (270) 886-1765, a 351-foot stone obelisk, marks where Jefferson Davis,
president of the Confederacy, was born.
Franklin: Here the Simpson County Archives &
Museum, (270) 586-4228, is housed in a brick house built in 1835 with charcoal
drawings depicting both Union and Confederate soldiers.
Glasgow: Fort Williams, at Glasgow Municipal Cemetery,
(502) 651-3161, is a fortification constructed following Morgan’s Christmas
Hazel Patch: It was the earliest major battle in
1861, Battle of Wildcat Mountain, (800) 348-0095, and has monuments and interpretive
signs located at U.S. 25 and at the nearby battlefield site.
Hodgenville: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National
Historic Site, (270) 358-3137, is a 116-acre park with an enshrined cabin traditionally
thought to be Lincoln’s birthplace. Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek, (270)
549-3741, is a replicated log cabin from another 1800 cabin, and the place where
the Lincoln family lived before moving to Indiana. Lincoln Museum, (270) 358-3163,
features a dozen scenes from Lincoln’s life using realistic wax models.
Lebanon: Historic Homes and Landmarks Tour of Lebanon,
(270) 692-9594, is a self-guided tour of where the war came to a severe blow.
Lexington: Ashland—The Henry Clay Estate, (859) 266-8581,
was the home of Henry Clay, “The Great Compromiser,” who helped hold the Union
together, and where a skirmish took place nearby; the home was used as a hospital
afterward. Hunt-Morgan House, (859) 253-0562, built in 1814 for John Wesley
Hunt, was later the home of General John Hunt Morgan, and includes period furnishings
and a Civil War museum. Mary Todd Lincoln Home, (859) 233-9999, the wife of
16th President Abraham Lincoln, lived here for seven years, and has collections
from both the Todd and Lincoln families. Lexington Cemetery, (859) 255-5522,
offers a self-guided tour of monuments of at least seven Civil War generals.
Waveland State Historic Site, (859) 272-3611, is an 1847 brick residence of
classic Greek Revival design offering interpretation of everyday antebellum
Louisville: Cave Hill Cemetery and Arboretum, (502)
451-5630, is a national cemetery with monuments and graves of three Union generals.
Farmington, (502) 452-9920, is an 1810 house built by plans designed by Thomas
Maysville: Mason County Museum, (606) 564-5865, located
in a picturesque town on the Ohio River, was naturally divided between the North
and South. A permanent exhibit, book collection, and video offer a significant
glimpse of regional Civil War history. National Underground Railroad Museum,
(606) 564-6986, includes memorabilia related to the secret operation that helped
thousands of slaves escape from bondage in the South.
Munfordville: The county seat was near the site of
two Civil War battles, the Battles of Munfordville and Rowlett’s Station. Hart
County Museum, (270) 524-0101, includes Civil War memorabilia on the battles
and local generals.
Nancy: Mill Springs Battlefield National Historic
Landmark, (606) 679-1859, was the first major Union victory of the war. Zollicoffer
Park, (606) 679-1859, is the scene of the battle’s fiercest fighting. It honors
Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer, who was mortally wounded in the engagement.
Nicholasville: Camp Nelson, (859) 881-9126, eight
miles south of town, was a major Union supply depot and was the third-largest
recruiting base for African-American soldiers in the country.
Paducah: Downtown Paducah Civil War Walking Tour,
(800) PADUCAH (723-8224), showcases eight sites. When Kentucky’s neutrality
was shattered in 1861 as Confederate forces took the river town of Columbus,
the Union responded by taking Paducah.
Pewee Valley: Pewee Valley Confederate Cemetery and
Monument, (502) 222-1476, is the final resting place for 313 Confederate veterans.
Prestonsburg: Samuel May House, (606) 889-9608, built
in 1817, is a Federal-style house and the boyhood home of Col. Andrew Jackson
May, the leading Confederate organizer in eastern Kentucky. Battle of Ivy Mountain,
(606) 886-1341, the first major clash in eastern Kentucky in 1861, was where
Confederate Captain Andrew Jackson May’s recruits took up positions and ambushed
Richmond: Battle of Richmond, (800) 866-3705, was
part of the important 1812 Perryville Campaign. It was the site of one of the
Confederacy’s greatest victories. A self-guided tour and audio cassette tape
detail the battle. White Hall State Historic Site, (859) 623-9178, an Italianate
mansion with period furnishings, and the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay, “the
Lion of White Hall,” an outspoken emancipationist and friend of Abraham Lincoln.
Sacramento: Battle of Sacramento Driving Tour, (270)
736-5114, the site of Lt. Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s first battle. A driving
tour highlights 10 stops re-creating the battle.
South Union: Shaker Museum of South Union, (270)
542-4167, is where scores of encampments occurred within this pacifist village,
and where it is estimated that over 100,000 meals were served to soldiers on
Washington: Old Washington, (606) 759-7411, once
the 1785 outpost for traveling the Buffalo Trace, Old Main Street provides several
Civil War sites. It was later the site of the slave auction that inspired Harriet
Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
West Point: Fort Duffield, (502) 922-4260, an 1861
Union fortification, is one of the best preserved and largest earthworks forts
in the state. Included is a self-guided tour and a cemetery with graves of 60
More Trail Information…
Kentucky Department of Tourism, 1-800-225-TRIP (8747), provides free copies
of Kentucky’s Civil War Heritage Trail,
a 36-page brochure on Kentucky’s 52 Civil War Discovery Trail sites.
The Civil War Trust, 1-800-CW-TRUST (298-7878) or www.CivilWar.org,
offers The Civil War Trust’s Official Guide to the Civil War Discovery Trail
for $13.95 plus $4 shipping, a Frommer’s Guide detailing the over 500 sites
in 28 states. Or request The Civil War
Discovery Trail brochure, which provides a map, locations, and phone numbers
for information to the nation’s sites. A $2 fee covers shipping.
The American Civil War Institute of Campbellsville University sponsors a wide
selection of symposia, battlefield trips, educational programming, college student
internships, The National Civil War Band Festival, and The Kentucky Heartland
Civil War Trails Commission. The Institute’s focus is on Kentucky and the Western
Theatre of the Civil War. For more information, contact Marc C. Whitt, acting
director, The American Civil War Institute, Campbellsville University, 1 University
Drive, Campbellsville, KY 42718-2799; (270) 789-5213; or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.