The 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles: The Two Battles for Whitesburg Kentucky

The 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles would be a huge part of the two Battles for Whitesburg, Kentucky as they defended Letcher County from the Union Army.

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Here at Kentucky Tennessee Living, we strive to keep this site nonpolitical in nature. All historic events posted are those that changed the lives of future generations and have helped to give miners a voice in their working and living conditions. As well as we remember those who fought on both sides of the Civil War. All events posted are for the benefit of remembering who we are as the American Appalachian people. We will be covering all known events of the 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles and their defending of Whitesburg, Kentucky.

The Civil War

Civil War painting.   The artist and date are unknown
Civil War painting. The artist and date are unknown

Between the years of April 12, 1861, and May 9, 1865, America tore herself apart with the Civil War between the states. The peace of the Appalachian Mountains was broken as brother took up arms against his brother. Several battles were won and lost the area of Letcher County and we will try to cover as many of them as possible.

Several of the Generals and other significant military men who went on later to hold major positions in US politics after the War.

The Two Armies and Commanders

Civil War painting.   The artist and date are unknown
Civil War painting. The artist and date are unknown

December 13, 1862 would see two battles of the Civil War. One was the Battle of Fredericksburg which began on December 11th and ended on the 15th, and the smaller was the First Battle for Whitesburg. The Confederate States 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles were under the command of Lieutenant George Houck. The Company maintained a base camp at the mouth of Sandlick Creek. This was near the town of Whitesburg, Kentucky.

The Union States Harlan Battalion Kentucky State Guard was formed by three Companies on October 13, 1862. Major Benjamin F. Blankenship was in command during the time of battle.

The First Battle

The first Battle for Whitesburg happened on December 13, 1862. Major Blankenship of the Harlan Battalion marched toward Whitesburg, Kentucky. The Harlan Battalion crossed over Pine Mountain and attacked the base camp. The 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles had received reinforcements. Major Blankenship and his troops retreated after two men were killed in the skirmish.

The Second Battle

Civil War painting.   The artist and date are unknown

General Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 10, 1865. Days later on April 16, 1865, there was a second Battle for Whitesburg, Kentucky. This would be one of the last engagements of the Civil War and also occurred on the same date as the Battle of Columbus, Georgia, also known as Wilson’s Raid.

The very men who had faced each other during the first battle of Whitesburg were once again facing each other in battle. Their regiments names had changed, but they were still in the fight for the area just the same.

The 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles had their names changed to the 13th Kentucky Calvary. The Harlan Battalion became the 47th Kentucky Infantry then changing their name one more time to the Three Forks Battalion.

Another coincidence is that the two commanding officers were the same for both Battles. The only exception being that Major Blankenship received a promotion to Captain during the war.

The banks of the Kentucky river was swollen and one side of the river was the 13th KY Cavalry from the Confederated States. And on the other bank was the Three Forks Battalion from the Union States.

The Union Battalion was there to protect civilians from Bushwhackers that were operating in the area. After a fierce battle, the Confederates escaped after destroying al the boats and rafts in the area to prevent a pursuit by the Union forces. Several men were wounded in the battle but no men died directly.

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Second Battle of Whitesburg

Civil War Sites

Harlan County Battalion
Daily Reports©

The markers at the Civil War Memorial site at the Pound Gap site.

Letcher County Haunted History: Part Four

Kentucky Civil War Confederate Units 1st through 14th

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