Taking a step back into history, the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders Club held a celebration Wednesday afternoon at the Logan County Public Library, where the Kentucky Historical Society unveiled the states 2471st historical highway marker. This marker commemorates a Civil War skirmish that occurred a few feet from the library’s entrance on Sept. 30, 1862.
Pastfinder president David Guion said the idea of seeking a marker actually came from former educator Buddy Linton, who told him about a book to read. Guion said he learned of Colonel Benjamin Harrison- who later became the 23rd president of the United States- leading a skirmish in Russellville against the Confederate Army, becoming victorious sending John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry retreating.
“The Pastfinders discussed this historic event in our community’s history, and then decided to research it as much as we could,” said Guion. Then Carl Foster, the Pastfinder’s Historical Marker Chairman, went to work on making the marker a reality.
Approximately 75 attended the unveiling of the marker Wednesday. Those who came out joined with Representative Martha Jane King, former Representative Sheldon Baugh, Becky Riddle of the Kentucky Historical Society and Judge Executive Logan Chick, to listen to a brief synopsis of events which lead to the skirmish.
Barry Kennedy, Associate Professor at SKYCTC in Bowling Green, told of 600 Union troops lead by Colonel Benjamin Harrison coming to Russellville surprising Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry, which was lead by Captain John Baker Dortch. After a sharp skirmish, in which 35 Confederates were reportedly killed and wounded, Morgan’s troops retreated.
Harrison, whose troops were victorious in the skirmish here, was a 29-year-old Indiana attorney. The Russellville fight was his first engagement; his military career continued throughout the Civil War including service under Gen. W. T. Sherman in the Atlanta Campaign. In 1889, he became the 23rd president of the United States.
“We want to thank the library for their enthusiasm to this project,” said Guion. “We are standing on the very ground where this happen. We are thankful to all those who helped to get this marker here.”
Along with the marker dedication, numerous artifacts of the Civil War were on display inside the library Wednesday. From ammunition and arms, to belt buckles, canteens and bayonets, there was much to see. Barrett Rogers stood outside the library entrance playing a haunting Civil War song on his violin, which added charm to the event.
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