By Fred Engle
RICHMOND — In 1886, E.A. Pollard published a Southern version of the Civil War, titled “The Lost Cause.” Eastern’s library has a 1994 facsimile copy of this book. I found it interesting to read what the author had to say about our local battle of Richmond. Gen. Braxton Bragg and Gen. Kirby Smith led a Confederate invasion of the border state of Kentucky. Smith’s forces outflanked the Union forces at the Cumberland Gap, maneuvering his troops through a little known and precarious side path over the mountains into Kentucky. Leaving enough forces to watch the Northern forces in the gap, Smith moved into Kentucky at Barbourville and headed north for Lexington. Richmond stood in his way. The first engagement in a running series of clashes was about six miles from the city. The Union troops retreated three miles and took a stand. They were driven from the field in confusion. Next, they formed a line of battle in the outskirts of Richmond. Preston Smith and Churchill led Southern attack and the Federals were utterly routed and retreated in terrible confusion. Confederate cavalry scattered them in all directions, capturing their artillery and supply trains. The Confederates lost 400 men, killed and wounded, Union losses were over 1,000 and 5,000 became prisoners. Smith captured nine pieces of artillery, 10,000 small arms and a large quantity of supplies. He was particularly happy with finding the rations, as his troops were not well supplied with provisions. The Confederates pressed on and captured Lexington and Frankfort. This then is Pollard’s recounting of one of the largest Confederate victories of the war, recounted some 124 years ago. Recall, his story is told from the Confederate point of view and may suffer from some of the defects of propaganda. At the closing of the war found Gen. Kirby Smith in command of the Trans-Mississippi area. After a final defiant proclamation, he surrendered his command in Texas. The last recorded action of the Civil war was a skirmish near Brazos, Texas — a long way from Richmond.