Civil War Occupations

Historical Marker #1024 in Warren County discusses the occupation of Bowling Green by Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War.

Although Kentucky officially adopted a position of neutrality at the beginning of the conflict, the policy lasted for less than five months. In September 1861, troops from both sides moved into Kentucky. Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner took Bowling Green on September 18. Because of its location on the Barren River and proximity to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Bowling Green was a major gain for the Confederacy.

By the middle of October, more than 12,000 Southern troops occupied a fortified Bowling Green. Several weeks later, Confederate sympathizers held a "Sovereignty Convention" in nearby Russellville. There, they created a provisional Confederate government and named Bowling Green as its capital.

The new government was short-lived, however, as nearby Union victories pushed the Confederates to leave the region in February 1862, after five months of occupation. The evacuation began on February 11, and, two days later, the remaining Confederate troops lit fires that swept the business district, train depots, warehouses, and bridges of Bowling Green.

Arriving Federal troops bombarded the city as the Confederates slipped off toward Nashville. Northern soldiers seized Bowling Green on February 14, after civilians alerted them that the Southern army had departed. Union General Ormsby Mitchel, placed in charge of Federal forces at Bowling Green, secured the Union defensive line. Bowling Green stayed under Union control for the remainder of the Civil War.

Images

Taking of Ft. Henry

Taking of Ft. Henry

Union troops bombarded Ft. Henry in Tennessee, capturing it in February 1862. The capture of Ft. Henry began a series of events in the Civil War, including the taking of Ft. Donelson, and the evacuation of the Confederates in Bowling Green. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Confederate Evacuation

Confederate Evacuation

When Confederate troops evacuated Bowling Green in 1862, they left a wave of destruction in their wake, burning bridges and other structures. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Union Army Entering Bowling Green

Union Army Entering Bowling Green

General Mitchel’s troops crossed into Bowling Green after they were alerted by citizens the last of the Confederate troops had evacuated. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

General Simon Bolivar Buckner

General Simon Bolivar Buckner

General Buckner and his Confederate troops captured Bowling Green on September 18, 1861. They Confederate force remained there until February 1862. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

General Albert Sidney Johnston

General Albert Sidney Johnston

One of the more famous Confederate generals, A. S. Johnston ordered the capture of Bowling Green in September 1861. Johnston also set up a Confederate headquarters in the city. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Ormsby Mitchel

Ormsby Mitchel

General Mitchel led the forces that secured Bowling Green for the Union after the Confederacy abandoned it in February 1862. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

McKenzie Martin, “Civil War Occupations,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/377.

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