Friday, April 20, 2012

Civil War Battle of Middle Creek, Eastern Kentucky

(2240 present; 1967 effective Jan. 2)
US: Eighteenth Brigade - Col. James A. Garfield (At least 2100)
Casualties: CS: 10k; 14w; Total = 24
US: 2k; 25w; Total = 27
Confederate Units Present:
5th KY (Col. John S. Williams); 29th VA (Col. A.C. Moore); 54th VA (Col. R.C.
Trigg); 34th VA Cav Bttn (Lt.Col. W.E.Simms); VA Mtd Rifles Co (V.A. Witcher);
VA Battery (Capt. William C. Jeffress); Company (Holliday); Mounted Companies
(Captains Clay & Thomas)
Union Units Present:
14th KY (Col. L.T. Moore); 22nd KY; 40th OH (Col. Cranor); 42nd OH (Garfield's);
Squadron OH cavalry (Maj. McLaughlin); 1st KY Cav (6 co., Lt.Col. Letcher)

Advancing on December 23, 1861, Col. James A. Garfield led an expedition of over 2000 federals from Louisa toward Paintsville with the intention of driving Humphrey Marshall's Confederate force out of Kentucky. Monitoring the federal advance, Marshall posted his line of battle on the hills along Middle Creek to receive them. Garfield's force appeared about 10 am, but dispositions were not made and fighting did not begin until noon.
According to Marshall, Thomas' and Clay's companies were dismounted and posted on the Confederate left on the opposite side of the creek along heights commanding the plain of Middle Creek. Jeffress' four guns, supported by the 54th VA, Witcher, and Holliday, held the center. The 5th KY and 29th VA comprised the right of Marshall's line.
Three volleys from Jeffress' artillery scattered an early advance of Union cavalry on the center. They were not seen again, at least in mounted formation. The troops on the left were never threatened, and never fired a shot. Most of Garfield's efforts were against the Confederate right. Attesting to a supply of faulty artillery ammunition, Garfield stated that many of the Confederate shells did not explode.
The engagement lasted some four hours until Garfield withdrew down the creek, through Prestonsburg, and back to Paintsville from whence they had come. Garfield reported a successful campaign after retreating to the safety of Paintsville. He estimated Confederate losses at 60-85 killed besides the wounded. Marshall claimed victory, along with severe federal casualties, up to 550, well beyond their official reports. The casualties, as officially reported by each side, were 10 Confederates killed and 14 wounded; 2 federals killed and 25 wounded.
After pursuing Garfield a short distance, Marshall likewise retreated deeper into Floyd County starting the next day, in search of subsistence, which was scarce in the mountains that winter season. Also noteworthy, Marshall said that there were no overcoats and few blankets in the command.

My Great Great Grandfather Sylvester Manning fought in this Battle as a Private C S A

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