CommunitySpotlight Series


Prestonsburg's battle to keep Civil War history alive

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Aug 25, 2023

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — You'll find a piece of United States History about three miles outside of downtown Prestonsburg.

On January 10, 1862, Union and Confederate forces met in the Battle of Middle Creek.

Led by future President James Garfield, the Union army ended the reign of the Confederacy in the region.

161 years later, a portion of the Middle Creek Battlefield is open for the public to visit.

Patrick Davis, president of the Friends of Middle Creek, said his family fought on the battlefield, with a third-great grandfather fighting for the Union and a third-great uncle fighting for the Confederacy.

Like most family history, the stories have been passed down from generation to generation.

"Every story I know came from my father when we were traveling up and down the area. He would point out different places and tell me what my ancestors did."

Davis has been advocating for the preservation of the land for years.

He said he'd like to eventually see it become a federally recognized battlefield to protect it from future development.

"If the wrong thing were to happen, this could be a Walmart tomorrow, and this is too precious to let go."

The rich history of Prestonsburg extends down the road into downtown. Inside the Samuel May House, you'll find a home preserved for two centuries, built by the son of a Revolutionary War veteran.

Today, the house is open to visitors who can see pieces of the town's history, including a cannonball found on the Middle Creek Battlefield during a re-enactment on the battle's 150th anniversary.

"We have access to something that shows us our real history," Davis said.

"It's not something you read in a book. It's not something you see in a YouTube video. You can see it here, you can touch it, you can walk on it. This is a living history in our backyard."'

According to Davis, the battlefield hosts an annual re-enactment, attracting more than 1,000 spectators.

The subsequent re-enactment is scheduled for the weekend of September 8-10. More information can be found on the Friends of Middle Creek Facebook page.