The Friends of Middle Creek commemorated the 158th anniversary of a Civil War battle at the Middle Creek National Battlefield on Sunday.
The battle between the Confederate Army, led by Brig. Gen. Humprey Marshall, and the Union Army, led by Col. James A. Garfield, occurred on Jan. 10, 1862. It ended when Marshall retreated via the left fork of Middle Creek.
Patrick Davis, president of the Friends of Middle Creek, described the day of battle.
“Right now, we’re dealing with a very mild day, but I want to put you into the ideology of what was happening at the time,” said Davis. “Right around the time, they had a large snow that had thawed and there was a freezing rain falling. This little creek over here had gotten to the point that it was so deep that when the Union tried to forward it, it was all the way up to their chests.”
He said the Confederates marched from Virginia to Johnson County to Prestonsburg and were up on the ridge above the battle field. The Union soldiers rode a flat boat from Louisa and marched to the battlefield, he said.
“The two sides were wet. They were tired, but they knew that each one was going to have to do their duty,” he said. “Today, we’re going to honor those men who fought in this battle, and we’re also going to honor the people that supported them. We’re going to honor the people who survived the fight themselves because armies and soldiers were not the only people that were affected by this conflict. You had the individuals who had to say goodbye to their family members as they marched off to war. You had the farmers who had their livestock commandeered ... You had farms that were destroyed. You had buildings that were burned. Hardship is not specific to the army, so we’re going to remember them today, too.”
Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty said it’s “vitally important” that residents “never forget what happened” on the battlefield.
“It’s important that we always remember that the ultimate sacrifice was made right here where we stand,” she said. “And we are blessed to have people locally who treasure this history and who are committed to serve it, such as yourselves. This battlefield is not only important to our community. It’s important to our heritage and it is a must-see location for anyone interested in Kentucky’s role in the Civil War.”
She explained that Kentucky was “somewhat of a linchpin” in the Civil War, talking about a quote reported to have been attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.”
Laferty displayed a musical instrument with the crowd, a fife that she said belonged to one of her ancestors.
“This little instrument, my many times grandfather also volunteered to serve in the Civil War, and he was elected to serve as a fifer for his unit, and this fife is a treasure to my family, just as the Middle Creek Battlefield is a treasure to Floyd County,” she said. “I appreciate all you do and I appreciate that you gather here today to remember what happened.”
The commemoration ceremony, which included volleys of gunfire and a prayer by the Friends of Middle Creek, was held in honor of the soldiers who died on the battlefield, those who survived the battle, Eastern Kentucky residents and farmers who were impacted by the war and local historians like Floyd Davis who died last year.
Friends of Middle Creek members also participated in the Old Christmas event at the Samuel May House in Prestonsburg on Sunday.