— The Battle for Kentucky October 8, 1862 —
They were outnumbered, but they were ready. Watching from the top of the hill across the road, members of the 3rd Ohio Infantry Regiment saw waves of attacking Confederate infantry moving toward them. These Federal soldiers, anchoring the southern end of the Union defensive line, knew that they had to hold their position.
With a cheer, a Confederate brigade led by Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson charged the hill. The obstinate Union defenders halted the Confederate advance halfway up the slope, where the Confederates took shelter behind a stone wall. For more than an hour they battled, until the Confederates ran out of ammunition and withdrew.
The fight was not over for the stubborn Union troops. As Johnson departed, another Confederate brigade, led by Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne, entered the fray. With Southern artillery pounding the top of the hill, Cleburne's men attacked.
While the Union soldiers held, a Confederate artillery shell struck a hay-filled barn at the end of the Federal line. Within minutes, red and yellow flames shot out from the doors, windows, and rafters as a column of dark smoke coiled skyward. The fire gained in intensity, and several wounded Federal soldiers who had crawled into the barn perished in the flames.
As the smoke drifted down the Union position, another Confederate brigade led by Brigadier General Daniel Adams struck the right end of the Union Line. The intensity of the Confederate attack, combined with the heat and fire of the burning barn, forced the outnumbered Union soldiers back. The Confederates were hot on their heels.
"?it seemed as if all hell had broken loose; the air was filled with hissing balls; shells were exploding continuously, and the noise of the guns was deafening?"
—Union Colonel John Beatty, 3rd Ohio Infantry
"we held our position for two hours or more after Loomis was retired, and finally, being without our battery and exposed to a severe fire of artillery as well as that of an infantry force greatly superior in number, the brigade fell back in good order and reformed, as I am informed, in the neighborhood of the original line selected in the morning near Russell's house."
—Union Colonel William H. Lytle, Commanding 17th Brigade