Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Battle for the Bridge

At the Battle of Munfordville, Kentucky

The next installment of the spring break history extravaganza took us to the unexpected stop to the battlefield outside Munforville, Kentucky. Known as "Battle for the Bridge" or the Battle of Green River, was fought from September 14 -17 (the same day as Antietam), 1862. According to the National Park Service:

In the 1862 Confederate offensive into Kentucky, Gen. Braxton Bragg’s army left Chattanooga, Tennessee, in late August. Followed by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Union Army, Bragg approached Munfordville, a station on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and the location of the railroad bridge crossing Green River, in mid-September. Col. John T. Wilder commanded the Union garrison at Munfordville which consisted of three regiments with extensive fortifications. Wilder refused Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers’s demand to surrender on the 14th. Union forces repulsed Chalmers’s attacks on the 14th, forcing the Rebels to conduct siege operations on the 15th and 16th. Late on the 16th, realizing that Buell’s forces were near and not wanting to kill or injure innocent civilians, the Confederates communicated still another demand for surrender. Wilder entered enemy lines under a flag of truce, and Confederate Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner escorted him to view all the Rebel troops and to convince him of the futility of resisting. Impressed, Wilder surrendered. The formal ceremony occurred the next day on the 17th. With the railroad and the bridge, Munfordville was an important transportation center, and the Confederate control affected the movement of Union supplies and men.

The battlefield has been largely preserved through a local grassroots organization known as the Battle for the Bridge Historic Preserve. I applaud this group for their efforts in saving this best kept secret of the Civil War's Western Theater. Above is a map of the park. We parked our Penn State van at the Woodson House. Click to enlarge the map and subsequent photos.

The Anthony Woodson Farmhouse (above) was rebuilt on the foundation of the Civil War era original due to the amount of damage it sustained. The closeness of the nearby strategic L&N Railroad led to the creation of fortifications in the Woodson's front yard and fields. The house faces the bridge, which is about a half mile away.

Additional information on the Woodson Farm. Click to read.

This marker (also seen at left in the first photo), describes the status of the war in Kentucky when the battle took place. The Battle of Woodsonville took place three days later.

Infamous Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan was also very active in the Munfordville, KY area by harassing Federal forces. The top of the L&N RR bridge can be seen in the very far distance of this photo.

Fort Craig was one of the Union fortifications guarding the L&N bridge. The Mississippians launched a direct assault upon it. The badly outnumbered garrison eventually surrendered on September 17, 1862.

The five-point star-shaped Fort Craig is on private property, but thankfully intact.

A more detailed view of the L&N with Munfordville behind the treeline. The stone buttresses are the originals. The rail line is still an active one.

This is the only visual representation of the battle I could locate. Take note of the bridge in the far left.

I'm not going to pretend I am an expert on this battle, so I will allow the maps and interpretive markers to speak for themselves. The bridge in relation to this sign is upper left direction.

Fort Dunham (or "The Stockade") was located on the high ground across the railroad tracks.

As with many Civil War battles, sequences of it were ill-advised and pell mell.

Unbeknownst to us, the famed Terry's Texas Rangers fought at Mundfordville and was the death site of the unit's commander, Colonel Benjamin F. Terry. This Texas monument was placed only a few years ago and denotes the place of Terry's wounding.

A few synthetic "Yellow Roses of Texas" even rest at the base of the monument. Munfordville, Kentucky - worth a visit for you history buffs out there. More from the History Palooza to come soon...

No comments:

Post a Comment