Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Nearest thing to a Cannae . . . "

While in Richmond for the talk by Richard Dawkins, we also took time to tour some of the sites of the Battle of Richmond. This battle was one of the most complete routs of the Civil War. As the historian and novelist Shelby Foote stated, "Kirby Smith accomplished in Kentucky the nearest thing to a Cannae ever scored by any general, North or South, in the course of the whole war."

The Civil War Trust lists the Battle of Richmond as one of the most endangered battlefields of the Civil War. Saving a good portion of this battlefield is a very difficult proposition for the area contested had such a large scope, and much of it took place in what is now an urban area (which is continuing to encroach upon the battlefield). And then a good part of what remains is off limits behind the fences of the Blue Grass Army Depot. So I must commend all of the organizations involved who have been able to preserve what little they have . . . including the ca. 1811 Rogers House (above), which now serves as the Battle of Richmond Visitor Center. It seems that there is a priority to save period buildings. You do what you can.

Just a wee bit of the displays at the museum . . . a bust of Bull Nelson looms over Dudeboy's right shoulder.

Pleasant View (ca. 1824), which served as a Confederate hospital . . .

In the room to the right in this photo, one can still see a stain in the wood floor believed to be blood.

This marker denotes the location of "Churchill's Draw." Here the Confederates used a hidden ravine to outflank the Union troops . . . which precipitated the collapse of their lines and retreat back towards Richmond.

The final stages of the battle actually took place at the Richmond Cemetery. Soldiers used the headstones as shields (some of the stones are supposedly pockmarked by bullets). It was here that William "Bull" Nelson, in "berserker rage," tried in vain to rally his fleeing troops. The above photo is of the monument which marks the mass grave of the Confederate soldiers who were killed in the battle. Nearby is a Union memorial, however those bodies were disinterred and reburied at the National Cemetery at Camp Nelson.

While at the Richmond Cemetery, we saw this very strange headstone arrangement. I know nothing about the particulars of these gravesites.

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