August 20, 1862 – The Day the FUN began

Many regiments can point to a particular day in their lives where the “Fun” began. Whether that was an important battle, the day their Colonel was killed/promoted/both, or the day they got their Regimental Colors…they all have “that day”.

The 7th Kentucky is no different and I would say that this day isn’t the day some of you folks might consider to be “the day”. Some might say it was the May 22nd 1863 General Assault on the works of Vicksburg. Others might say October 21st 1861 when the 7th(then officially called the 3rd) saw the elephant at Wildcat Mountain. Both of those dates hold a special place in the history of the 7th to be sure. I would wager, however, that August 20th 1862 is the day the real fun started.

General George W. Morgan said in his report of the evacuation of Cumberland Gap:

“In order to save the artillery, cavalry, and wagon horses from starvation, and for the further purpose of sending tried troops to re-enforce the column organizing at Lexington for our aid, I ordered 400 men of the Third Kentucky, under the gallant Colonel Garrard, to be mounted, and directed him to proceed, with Munday’s cavalry, to join the United States forces then en route for our relief.”

Brigadier-General, Commanding.
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME XVI/1 [S# 22][pg_992]

From our muster record transcription project we know these men were detailed on August 20th. These 400 men tend to get the glory because they ended up at Richmond:

I have neglected to state in the proper place that I was joined in the second engagement by a portion of the Third Kentucky Infantry, who had passed from General Morgan’s command at the Cumberland Gap with some Government horses. These men dismounted, hitched their horses, and did excellent service. I do not know the names of any of the accomplished officers who commanded this detachment, or I should gladly give them a place in this report.

-Brig. Gen. Mahlon D. Manson, U.S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
Report of Battle of Richmond, Ky., August 30, 1862

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME XVI/1 [S# 22][pg_915]

and later at Perryville:

“General Terrill, assisted by some of the officers, succeeded in rallying about 200 men of the One hundred and fifth Ohio Volunteers and One hundred and twenty-third Illinois Volunteers at a fence about 100 yards in the rear of our first position. Here the conduct of some of the officers, I am sorry to report, was disgraceful. The Eightieth Illinois and Colonel Garrard’s detachment behaved well.”
–Report of Capt. William P. Anderson, U.S. Army, Assistant Adjutant-General, Thirty-third Brigade.
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME XVI/1 [S# 22][pg_1063]

These four hundred men saw some pretty intense action over a month and half. That is nothing compared to what the other 700 or so went through however:

On October 3 my column reached Greenupsburg, on the Ohio River. I had sent forward Captains Garber and Patterson to procure transportation for the passage of the river, which was effected in good order. Colonel Byrd, of the First Tennessee, forded the river with the trains of Baird and Carter. To avoid too lengthy a report many incidents of interest have been omitted.
It affords me great pleasure to speak of the admirable bearing of my entire command, officers and soldiers, during that most difficult and trying march of 219 miles It was worthy of all praise and receives my sincere gratitude. Especial credit is due to Brigadier-Generals Spears, Baird, and Carter, and to Colonel De Courcy; to Lieutenant-Colonel Gallup and Capts. W. F. Patterson, M. C. Garber, and G. M. Adams; to Lieut. W. P. Craighill and Lieutenant Burroughs, engineers; to Captain Foster, chief of artillery, and Lieutenant Burdick, acting ordnance officer, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Ridgell and Lieutenant Reeder, Third Kentucky Volunteers.

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME XVI/1 [S# 22][pg_992]

Reports of Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan, U.S. Army, including operations August 16-October 3.

[full text of Gen. Morgan’s report may be found here]

General Morgan’s report states operations began on August 16th. For the sake of being complete I’m sure that is the case. No one can argue that the real action began on and after August 20th when that first detachment from the Third Kentucky left for Lexington.

I believe the experience of both parties(Colonel Garrard’s Detachment of August 20th and the others under Lt. Col Ridgell) during the six week period beginning August 20th paved the way for the rest of their service.

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