Richmond, KY

Date(s): August 29-30, 1862


Campaign(s): Confederate Heartland Offensive [1862]

Battles in Campaign:


  • Union: Maj. Gen. William Nelson

  • Confederate:  Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith 

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 1st and 2nd Brigades, Army of Kentucky

  • Confederate: Army of Kentucky


  • In Maj. Gen. Kirby Smithís 1862 Confederate offensive into Kentucky, Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne led the advance with Col. John S. Scottís cavalry out in front.

  • The Confederate cavalry, while moving north from Big Hill on the road to Richmond, Kentucky, on August 29, encountered Union troopers and began skirmishing.

  • After noon, Union artillery and infantry joined the fray, forcing the Confederate cavalry to retreat to Big Hill.

  • At that time, Brig. Gen. Mahlon D. Manson, who commanded Union forces in the area, ordered a brigade to march to Rogersville, toward the Rebels.

  • Fighting for the day stopped after pursuing Union forces briefly skirmished with Cleburneís men in late afternoon.

  • That night, Manson informed his superior, Maj. Gen. William Nelson, of his situation, and he ordered another brigade to be ready to march in support, when required.

  • Kirby Smith ordered Cleburne to attack in the morning and promised to hurry reinforcements (Churchillís division).

  • Cleburne started early, marching north, passed through Kinston, dispersed Union skirmishers, and approached Mansonís battle line near Zion Church.

  • As the day progressed, additional troops joined both sides. Following an artillery duel, the battle began, and after a concerted Rebel attack on the Union right, the Yankees gave way. Retreating into Rogersville, the Yankees made another futile stand at their old bivouac.

  • By now, Smith and Nelson had arrived and taken command of their respective armies. Nelson rallied some troops in the cemetery outside Richmond, but they were routed.

  • Nelson and some men escaped but the Rebels captured approximately 4,000 Yankees. The way north was open.

Slide Presentation: None

Classification2: B


  • Union: 4,900

  • Confederate: 750

Results: Confederate Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Kentucky Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 10/19/2012