FRANKFORT — In little more than two years, the United States will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and a bill co-sponsored by state Sen. Ed Worley, D-Richmond, was voted Tuesday out of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Labor.
Senate Bill 129, also co-sponsored by Sen. Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, now moves to the floor of the state Senate.
The legislation would create a Kentucky Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission under the umbrella of the Kentucky Historical Society.
Prior to the committee’s Tuesday action, Worley and Philip Seyfrit, Madison County historic properties director, addressed the panel.
“It is important that we educate those who do not realize our state’s significance in this historic era and recognize our ancestors for their roles in the war and its aftermath,” Worley said.
“The Civil War is a defining event in our nation’s history, and our state played a pivotal role,” he said. “Among Civil War events that history has proven to be significant are the battles at Richmond and Perryville.”
Kentucky, a border state both geographically and politically, was located on the dividing line between the north and south and its citizens were intensely divided, with family members taking opposing sides over the issues and the war itself, Seyfrit said.
“Kentucky’s economy was dependent on the Mississippi River in the south and the railways in the north,” Seyfrit said. “Kentuckians even called both of the two Civil War presidents their own; Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were both native Kentuckians and born less a little more than 130 miles apart and within nine months of each other.
The state and nation are in the midst of observing the bicentennial of both leaders’ births.
The Battle of Richmond, Aug. 29-30, 1862, part of a Confederate invasion of Kentucky that year, was one the greatest Confederate victories of the entire war, Seyfrit. It resulted in more than 80 percent losses by the Union forces.
In Kentucky, the Battle of Richmond was the second in size and significance only to the Battle of Perryville, Oct. 8, 1862. It’s casualties numbered more than 7,400, he said.
“Many historians consider the Battle of Perryville to be part of a great turning point in the war,” Worley said. “The Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Richmond are just two standout moments in the war. Countless other events and stories need to be recognized and preserved for future generations.”
The commission would coordinate any federal, state and local sesquicentennial activities in Kentucky and seek federal grants and donations for activities.
The 25-member panel would be charged with studying and recommending activities to commemorate important events in Kentucky. The commission also would educate Kentuckians and the nation about the importance of the state in the struggle and its aftermath. Its work would continue through Dec. 31, 2015.
“This will not be a celebration of war, (but a) commemoration of what happened here,” said Seyfrit.
Worley said the commemorative events would attract visitors from across the nation, providing a great opportunity to showcase Kentucky.
Along with Seyfrit, Worley was accompanied at the committee meeting by Ed Ford and Paul Rominger, members of the Battle of Richmond Association.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.