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The Battle of Middle Creek was Eastern Kentucky’s most significant Civil War battle. It was fought during the first phase of the war, when the question of which government would control the region was still in doubt. The strategic advantage which the Confederates lost as a result of the battle was never regained.

Although Floyd County and the Upper Big Sandy Valley remained a no-man’s land for the duration of the war, the Battle of Middle Creek effectively ended the Confederacy’s first bid to gain control of the region.

For Kentuckians the battle was a poignant example of neighbor against neighbor. Floyd County men of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, C.S.A. and the 14th Kentucky Infantry, U.S.A. fired volleys at each other, charged each other’s lines, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat on the steep hillsides above the Forks of Middle Creek.

The battle’s outcome brought national attention to the Union commander and called into question the military competence of the Confederate commander. Former Ohio State Senator James A. Garfield would use his success at Middle Creek as a stepping stone to the White House, and Kentucky politician and Mexican War hero Humphrey Marshall would find Confederate authorities questioning his military judgment.
The Battle of Middle Creek: January 10th, 1862
Harper's Weekly illustration showing Union troops cheering Colonel Garfield. Before General Marshall retreated, he burned the supplies he wasn't able to carry off, rather than let them fall
into Union hands. For a larger image, click
Brigadier General Humphrey
Marshall, commander of
Confederate forces at
Middle Creek.
Colonel James A.Garfield, commander of Union
forces at Middle Creek.
Samuel May House
Archive Main Page

Middle Creek
Battlefield Foundation
Why They Fought Here
The Opposing Commanders
The Confederate Waiting Game
The Artillery That Failed
The Union Command Post
The Confederate Command Post
The Union Assault
Monroe's Bayonet Charge
A Desperate Fight, But Few Casualties
The Mount Sterling-Pound Gap Road
The John M. Burns House
The Samuel May Farm
The Middle Creek Battlefield Foundation
Colonel George W. Monroe
Colonel Ezekiel F. Clay
Colonel Lionel A. Sheldon
Colonel Don A. Pardee
Colonel Hiram Hawkins
Colonel John S. Williams
Colonel Alfred C. Moore
Colonel George W. Gallup
Dr. Stephen M. Ferguson
Eastern Kentucky
Civil War Battlefields
The Skirmish
at Abbott Shoal