"A Ten Acre Lot Full"
In the early evening hours of August 30, 1862, the weary Union soldiers fighting a running battle from Kingston to Richmond were forced to stop. Confederate cavalry had blocked the roads leading out of Richmond - the Lancaster, Tate's Creek, and Lexington roads. As the light faded, Confederate cavalry and artillery crushed scattered Union resistance. The Union soldiers had little choice but to surrender.
The next day, the Union prisoners, captured wagons, and artillery were marched back into Richmond, where Col. Preston Smith's brigade was placed in charge of the prisoners. the defeated army was confined in the only place large enough to hold them, the courthouse lawn, which in 1862 was surrounded by a tall, ornate cast iron fence (that same fence now protects the Richmond City Cemetery). Inside this enclosure, 4,303 soldiers, nearly two-thirds of the Union force engaged in the battle, spent about a week before they were paroled and sent home.
The courthouse was also used as a hospital during the battle. Before the fighting started, Dr. Bernard Irwin, the Union medical director, took possession of the courthouse. Once the fighting began, Dr. Irwin reported that wounded were pouring in "as fast as our limited amount of transport would admit." In the days following the battle, the women of Richmond and Madison County came daily to this and other temporary hospitals to help care for the overwhelming number of wounded. In fact, in 1894 the veterans of the 71st Indiana sent a resolution to the mayor of Richmond thanking the townspeople for the kindness they showed the wounded in the days and weeks following the battle.
On reporting to Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith following the capture of the Union prisoners, Colonel Scott is said to have stated: "General, I've got them. I have not counted them, but I have a ten acre lot full."
"That night I was in charge of the guard and we had the prisoners in the courthouse building and within the enclosure that surrounded it, and it is fair to say we had more prisoners than we numbered men to guard them. There were few who escaped death, wounds or capture." Capt. Frank T. Ryan