Battlefield ready

Civil War reenactors will camp in Prestonsburg this weekend for the annual Battle of Middle Creek.

Dozens of Civil War reenactors will travel to Prestonsburg this weekend for the annual Battle of Middle Creek. 

The three day event, coordinated by the Friends of Middle Creek, will feature a living history camp that will open at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Middle Creek National Battlefield in Prestonsburg. 

Local students are invited to visit the battlefield for School Days activities on Friday. Prestonsburg Elementary students will perform songs that morning at the battlefield, and vendors will offer demonstrations and items for sale throughout the day. 

Reenactments of the Battle of Middle Creek and the Battle of Ivy Mountain — two Civil War battles fought in Floyd County — will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and other activities are also planned. 

On Friday, reenactors will host the annual Rubber Duck Race at 5 p.m., starting at Town Branch and ending in the park behind Billy Ray’s Restaurant in Prestonsburg. At 8 p.m. on Friday, organizers will host a remembrance and luminary ceremony in honor of Floyd Davis, a Friends of Middle Creek member who died this year. His son, Patrick Davis reported that reenactors will wear black armbands this year to honor his father. 

On Saturday, local Boy Scouts will host a flag raising ceremony at 1:45 p.m., prior to the Battle of Ivy Mountain at 2 p.m. The battlefield will also be open to the public at 7 p.m. for an ice cream social and at 8 p.m., for a night battle event. That evening, a local paranormal group will also host a “ghost walk” on the battlefield for people over the age of 14. Registration will begin at 9 p.m. and the walk will start at 10 p.m.

On Sunday, reenactors will host a church service at 11 a.m. and the Battle of Middle Creek reenactment at 2 p.m. 

Admission is free to all activities except the ghost walk. 

The Battle of Middle Creek took place on Jan. 10, 1862, when Union soldiers charged the hillsides overlooking Middle Creek and clashed with Confederate soldiers.

According to information provided by the Friends of Middle Creek, the Confederate army, led by Brig. Gen. Humprey Marshall, had established camps at Hager Hill in Johnson County and at the mouth of Jenny’s Creek near Paintsville, and the Union army led by Col. James A. Garfield, worked to drive the Confederates back into Virginia in the winter of 1862.

Garfield ordered one of his regiments to march from Lexington to Prestonsburg to cut off the Confederate line of retreat, and he ordered other infantries to travel from their base in Catlettsburg to the Big Sandy valley. Several other regiments joined this group in Louisa and, led by Garfield, they continued toward Paintsville as Marshall and his Confederate troops traveled toward Middle Creek.

The battle began with a skirmish at around 1 p.m. on Jan. 10, 1862 and the fighting continued until around 5 p.m., when Marshall retreated via the left fork of Middle Creek. Garfield then traveled to Prestonsburg, where he commandeered a home owned by lawyer John M. Burns and used it as a temporary headquarters. 

An estimated 97 soldiers died in the battle. 

After winning the Battle of Middle Creek, Garfield was promoted to Brigadier General. Local historians say that win helped launched him to the presidency.

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