Civil War Sites I-75 and east
Directions: From I-75 exit 49 (Route 909); drive east 0.6 miles and turn right on US 25; drive 0.7 miles to Hazel Patch Road; turn left and continue 0.2 miles to site.
A rag-tag group of Union soldiers established Camp Wildcat in the fall of 1861 to defend a ford on the Rockcastle River on the important Wilderness Road, the primary thoroughfare in the area. Fortunately for the Federals, reinforcements, men and artillery, arrived at the camp in the nick of time before a large Confederate force under Gen. Felix Zollicoffer showed up Oct. 21. The now-strong Union presence easily turned back the planned Confederate offensive into Kentucky. A winding trail with interpretive signs passes still-visible trenches on the battlefield.
Middle Creek National Battlefield
West of Prestonburg on KY Route 114 near the intersection with KY Route 404. Brown direction signs help.
Two interpreted walking trails tell the story of the battle fought here Jan. 10, 1862, involving future president (then Colonel) James Garfield. Kentucky troops fought on both sides here as Union forces under Garfield turned back a half-hearted Confederate incursion into the eastern part of the state. Although the area never was really under Union control, Confederates never seriously threatened after this battle. See park website for specific directions and a map/brochure outlining Eastern Kentucky Civil War Battlefields and Skirmishes.
Battle of Ivy Mountain
Markers located just off US 23, 10 miles south of Prestonburg
Interpretive signs and a 14-foot obelisk stand on the site of a Nov. 8, 1861, action fought by a small group of newly organized Confederate infantry. The vastly outnumbered southerners held out for a couple of hours against Union Gen. “Bull” Nelson’s regiments before retreating to Piketon.
Civil War Fort at Boonesboro
South of Winchester off KY Route 627. Turn east on KY Route 1924 on the north bank of the Kentucky River and follow signs.
More info: Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission, 859-744-0556
Steep climb to the top of the palisades on the north bank of the Kentucky River gives visitors some idea of the effort required to build, equip and supply this Union fort commanding one of the river’s fords. Interpretive signs along the way explain the fort’s construction in 1863 to deter Confederate raiders. This is quite a climb. Open daily.
Gen. John Hunt Morgan visited Cynthiana twice during the war, once in July 1862 when the Confederate raider routed a small force of Union defenders. Morgan showed up again two years later and again easily defeated a small Union garrison July 11, 1864. Morgan met and captured most of another group of Federals who arrived by train shortly after. The next day, however, a large Union force arrived under Gen. S.G. Burbridge. The Confederate raiders were defeated in a sharp battle north of town. Morgan himself escaped but his men scattered. A driving tour is available at www.trailsrus.com.
Harrison County Chamber of Commerce
117 Court St, Cynthiana KY 41031
606-234-5236, open 9 am-4 pm
Cynthiana Harrison County Museum
122 S Walnut St, Cynthiana KY 41031
open Friday and Saturday 10 am–5 pm
Maysville and Washington
Kentucky Gateway Museum Center
215 Sutton St, Maysville KY 41056
Good place to begin a visit to Maysville and Washington. Exhibits tell the story of the area from pioneer days, including the Civil War. Open Tuesday–Friday 10 am–5 pm; Saturday 10 am–4 pm. $10/adult museum only.
The Old Washington Historic District includes authentic log cabins and buildings dating from the early 1800s. Tours begin at the log cabin visitor center (closed January-March). Call 606-759-7411 to make sure tours are available. Find information here about visiting the Albert Sidney Johnston House. Johnston, thought by many to be the best Confederate general, spent his boyhood years in Washington. He was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.
Underground Railroad sites
The area was one of the key stops on the Underground Railroad, transporting slaves across the Ohio River to freedom. More information, including a self-guided tour of the county’s Underground Railroad sites, available at the visitor center, 216 Bridge St, Maysville. Call 606-564-9419 extension 314.
- National Underground Railroad Museum at the Bierbower House, 38 W Fourth St, Maysville. Slavery artifacts and stories in this documented safe house. Call for hours. 606-564-3200.
- The Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum, 2124 Old Main St, Washington. Includes slavery artifacts and chronicles the life of Ms. Stowe, including her visit to Washington, Ky., in 1833. Open Saturday noon–4 pm, Sunday 1–4 pm. Call first. More information: 606-759-7411.
Website links to Kentucky places: Kentucky Links