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Battle of Munfordville

American Civil War Battle (1862)

The Battle of Munfordville (during the Confederate Heartland Offensive) was a September 1862 engagement in Kentucky during the American Civil War. The victory allowed the Confederates to temporarily strengthen their hold on the region and impair Union supply lines.

In the 1862 Confederate offensive into Kentucky, Gen. Braxton Bragg's army left Chattanooga, Tennessee, in late August. Followed by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell's Union Army, Bragg approached Munfordville, a station on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and the location of the railroad bridge crossing Green River, in mid-September. Col. John T. Wilder commanded the Union garrison at Munfordville, which consisted of three regiments with extensive fortifications. Wilder refused Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers's demand to surrender on September 14. Union forces repulsed Chalmers's attacks that day, forcing the Confederates to conduct siege operations September 15 and September 16.

Late on September 16, realizing that Buell's forces were near and not wanting to kill or injure innocent civilians, the Confederates communicated still another demand for surrender. Wilder entered enemy lines under a flag of truce, and Confederate Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner escorted him to view all the Rebel troops and to convince him of the futility of resisting. Impressed, Wilder surrendered. The formal ceremony occurred the next day on September 17. With the railroad and the bridge, Munfordville was an important transportation center, and the Confederates' control of it affected the movement of Union supplies and men.

Two separate places on the National Register of Historic Places were derived from the battle. The Unknown Confederate Soldier Monument in Horse Cave was where a Louisiana soldier who was clearing timber for the Confederate advance was killed by the accidental firing of his rifle by a tree. The Col. Robert A. Smith Monument is the only one still on the battlefield.

Submitted By:  David Allison


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