Middlecreek National Battlefield

Colonel James Garfield [US]

Brig. Gen. Humphrey Marshall [CS]

The Battle of Middle Creek, January 10th, 1862

Maintaining control of Kentucky, the Union’s ninth most populous state, was very important to President Lincoln, who had been born there and appreciated its strategic value. The Union campaign leading up to the Battle of Middle Creek, initiated under his leadership, was part of an overall strategy designed to keep his native state within the Union fold.

The Battle of Middle Creek was a tragic example of the fratricidal, neighbor-against-neighbor warfare that characterized the struggle for Kentucky. Men of the 14th Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A. and the 22nd Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A., charged up the steep hillsides overlooking Middle Creek and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with men of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, C.S.A.

The battle was also a testing-ground on which reputations were made and lost. The badly-needed Union victory brought
national attention to  an obscure Ohio preparatory school principal and teacher named James A. Garfield and launched him on a military career that led eventually to the White House. The precipitous Confederate retreat which followed the battle cast a shadow over Humphrey Marshall and called into question his competence as a military commander.

Estimated Casualties:

92 total (US 27; CS 65)