RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX18) — RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX18) — In 90 degree weather amid a 4-month drought, the Battle of Richmond was fought between Union and Confederate troops in the American Civil War in 1862. 160 years later, that history came to life on a hot day in August at a reenactment in the city of Richmond.
According to the American Battlefield Trust, this battle was fought August 29-30, 1862, making this year the 160th anniversary of Confederate Gen. Kirby Smith’s victory here over Union Gen. William “Bull” Nelson’s troops.
In terms of significance, the Battle of Richmond was the second largest Civil War battle in Kentucky. Several days after the battle, Frankfort was overtaken by Confederate forces, the only Union capital to have done so during the war.
Organizers described Sunday's reenactment as living history, where families could see what camp life looked like, talk to soldiers, and learn about Richmond's past.
"You can read about this in textbooks all you like, but until you come out and put on a uniform and stand in 90 degree heat, you’re never going to fully understand what those guys went through, we’re never really gonna know, but we like to get to it as close as we can and let the general public experience it up close as well," said David Jones, past president of the Battle of Richmond Association.
For locals like Mayor Robert Blythe, the experience gives context to Richmond's roots.
"I serve as pastor of the First Baptist Church, which at one time was the United Colored Baptist Church," explained Blythe. "Our church has been on the same site since 1843, so before the war ended our church was formed and organized by slaves, so I’m here because this is Richmond’s history."
Blythe told LEX18 that the reenactment heightens his appreciation for life's privileges, and he hopes children left the event with new understanding.
"I’m happy to see young people and children here because even as for the other wars and conflicts, this lets you know how we came to where we are," said Blythe. "We’re enjoying wonderful things in our country, opportunities, privileges, benefits, but they didn’t come overnight and they didn’t come for free, so what we’re enjoying now shows us what was paid."
In addition to the reenactment, the Battle of Richmond event held a sock drive to aid flood victims in eastern Kentucky.