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Battle of Barbourville
Part of the American Civil War
DateSeptember 19, 1861 (1861-09-19)
LocationBarbourville, Knox County, Kentucky
Result Confederate victory
Belligerents
United States United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Isaac J. Black Felix Zollicoffer,
Joel A. Battle, commanding engaged detachment
Strength
300 Home Guardsmen 800 men engaged
Casualties and losses
1 dead
1 wounded
13 captured
7 dead


The Battle of Barbourville was one of the early engagements of the American Civil War. It took place on September 19, 1861, in Knox County, Kentucky during the campaign known as the Kentucky Confederate Offensive. The battle is considered the first Confederate victory in the commonwealth, and threw a scare into Federal commanders, who rushed troops to central Kentucky to try to repel the invasion, which was finally stopped at the Battle of Camp Wildcat in October.

Background[]

Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer's Confederates had moved from Tennessee to push from the Cumberland Gap into central Kentucky and gain control of the important border state. Ten days after his 5,400-man force left their base, Zollicoffer occupied the Cumberland Gap and took position at the Cumberland Ford (near present day Pineville) to counter Unionist activity in the area. For much of the summer, Federal sympathizers had been organizing and training recruits at Camp Andrew Johnson near Barbourville. Zollicoffer was determined to seize this camp and eliminate the threat. He also wanted to relieve pressure on the army of Albert S. Johnston and divert troops away from Johnston's command.

Battle[]

In a heavy morning fog, Zollicoffer sent forward about 800 men under Col. Joel A. Battle. Camp Johnson had largely been vacated, with the recruits moved to nearby Camp Dick Robinson, where several thousand Federal troops were gathered. As Battle's men approached the camp, they encountered a force of 300 pro-Union Home Guards under Capt. Isaac J. Black, who hastily removed the planking from the bridge to prevent the Confederates from crossing it. Sharp skirmishing broke out, but Battle's superior numbers prevailed and Zollicoffer won a victory. His men seized the camp, destroyed the buildings, and captured the arms and equipment left behind by the retreating recruits.

Aftermath[]

Black reported his casualties as 1 man killed, 1 wounded, and 13 captured. Fighting in the open, the attacking Confederates lost 7 men killed in the encounter.

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Coordinates: 36°51′40″N 83°52′46″W / 36.86111°N 83.87944°W / 36.86111; -83.87944

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