History of Wildcat

In 1861, as most of the southern states were preparing to secede or have already done so, the Bluegrass state of Kentucky on the border of very pro-Union Ohio and Indiana held on to a pro-Union representation in the statehouse at Frankfurt.  

Unfortunately for the state there were just as many pro-Secession citizens within the state and that lead to the pro-Secession Governor, Beriah Magoffin to declaring the state a neutral entity between the old and new nations. 

Things were going quietly in the State for most of the spring and summer of 1861.  Many men were joining Kentucky Regiments who were training to fight for both the US and CS armies.  

Everything changed in September when Confederate General Pillow captured the city of Columbus, Ky on the 3rd. Us General H.U. Grant moved in and captured Paducah, KY on the 6th.   

War had come to Kentucky!

Normally the peaceful windblown grasses perfect for horse farms were quiet and full of beautiful steeds made for plowing AND showing off.  Now the horses were being conscripted as fast as the hardworking men of Kentucky into both armies.  

Confederates moved up into the state from Tennessee through the Cumberland Gap and held a fortified base of operations there.  Members of the 11th, 17th, & 29th Tennessee Confederate Infantries moved into Kentucky up into Laurel County and began dispelling pro-Union Homeguard militias.

In the mean time, and known to the Confederates, US Colonel T.T. Garrard set up an encampment at the base of Wildcat Mountain and began fortifying it.  He knew he was outnumbered with 3,000 men in the camp and about 5,500 Confederates under General F. Zollicoffer roaming around destroying the Union troop's supply routes.

Gerrard sent word to US General Schoepf that he was outnumbered and would have to withdraw his position.  Schoepf personally brought another 4,000 men to Gerrard's assistance.  Zollicoffer thought the column coming back into Camp Wildcat was Gerrard just re-occupying his position after a scouting excursion and his men began a little skirmishing wih the Union troops on the night of October 20th. 

October 21st Zollicoffer attacked with his Tennesseans but was outnumbered and forced to retreat back to Cumberland Gap.  This Battle of Camp Wildcat was a win for the Union troops of the 33rd Indiana Infantry and 1st & 7th Kentucky US Cavalries who's brothers in blue had experienced several defeats over the course of the first few months of the war, and it kept their foothold in Kentucky strong for the duration of the war.


Beriah Magoffin

21st Governor of Kentucky
August 1859 - August 1862


7th Kentucky Cavalry

One of the US Units
stationed at Camp Wildcat