— The Battle for Kentucky October 8, 1862 —
The inexperienced 80th Indiana Infantry Regiment was part of Union Colonel George Webster's brigade. This unit included the 50th, 98th, and 121st Ohio infantry regiments and the 19th Battery, Indiana Light Artillery, commanded by Captain Samuel Harris. The 80th Indiana was deployed here to support Harris's artillery, which was located on this ridge, in front of you.
When the Confederate attack began, the 80th Indiana lay down to await the Southern assault. The roar of musketry and cannon fire foreshadowed the ferocity of the fight, and some Hoosiers were killed and wounded when cannon balls bounced through the ranks.
Near 2:20 p.m., Confederate Brigadier General Daniel Donelson's brigade emerged from a belt of woods approximately 200 yards to your front.
Donelson's Tennessee troops, who had been hit hard by Federal artillery, marched toward a gap between Webster's brigade and Colonel Leonard Harris's brigade, which was deployed on the ridges to your right. The 80th Indiana had to prevent the Confederates from exploiting this gap.
The ripping volleys of musketry and booming artillery was deafening as Donelson's men clawed their way toward Samuel Harris's cannon. The 80th Indiana moved forward and helped repulse Donelson's men, who left their dead and wounded scattered in these fields.
The battle was not over. Under severe pressure from several rebel brigades, Leonard Harris's troops withdrew from the hills to your right-front. Harris's absence allowed more Confederate infantry to strike Webster. When rebel troops moved through a cornfield near Leonard Harris's former position, the 80th Indiana opened fire. Private Joseph Glezen remarked that they let loose "a destructive fire into their ranks," while another Hoosier wrote, "As they came through a corn field they were in plain view and we literally mowed them down."
Despite the fire, these Confederates, part of Brigadier General S.A.M. Wood's brigade, nearly surrounded Samuel Harris's cannon. The artillery fell back and the 80th Indiana followed, taking a new position along the Dixville Road, in the fields behind you. Colonel Webster was killed near the road, and, as daylight faded, the Union troops continued to move to the rear, where the fighting ended.
The 80th Indiana began the fight with 738 men. They lost 27 killed, 116 wounded, and 14 missing, representing more than 21 percent casualties. Sergeant George Washington Potter, Jr., later lamented, "The dead and wounded lay thick in all directions, friends and foes side by side." Here, and all across the battlefield, inexperienced Union troops faced the horrific realities of war for the first time.
"[I] found a 6 pound cannon ball about two feet from me at my left, having struck on the hill on the battery, and bounced coming angling and after striking my hat, mashed the head and killed Milton Spraggins, who was lying immediately at my left, and finally lodged against the side of his brother who was still at his left?now came the tug of war for at this time the bullets were whistling over me with such fury that it seemed as if no man could stand erect and alive?our bullets found them in their hiding places and strewed the ground with their mutilated carcasses—the legitimate fruit of [their] own treason and folly."
—Private, Jospeh P. Glizen, Co. H, 80th Indiana regiment