Mission Accomplished

Historical Marker #556 in Johnson County remembers a Civil War skirmish at Paintsville, which led to the subsequent engagement at Half Mountain in Magoffin County.

On April 12, 1864, Union Colonel George W. Gallup arrived in Paintsville, determined to drive Confederate forces from the area. Although Gallup had a large number of Union troops at his disposal, he believed that a Confederate attack at Paintsville was likely. Col. Gallup reinforced the town and posted lookouts at every approach.

On the same day, Confederate troops also began moving toward Paintsville. Marching in darkness, they hoped to surprise Gallop's command. Conflict ensued when Confederate troops approached Union pickets just outside of Paintsville on the morning of April 13.

The Union forces resisted the attack at Paintsville, which caused Confederate Lieutenant Colonel Ezekiel Clay, a nephew of Kentucky emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay, to send in a flag of truce in order to retrieve the dead on the field. Following the truce, the Confederates fled with the Union troops in pursuit.

Finding the Confederates in the valley of the Licking River just south of Salyersville, Gallup ordered his men to attack, which they did "with a yell." The fight at Half Mountain, which lasted more than four hours, ended with the Confederates retiring from the field. Several rebels were wounded, included Ezekiel Clay, who was blinded in one eye.

By April 20, there were no Confederate forces of any considerable size left in eastern Kentucky. Only small-scale military actions occurred in the region following the withdrawal of the Confederate troops.

Images

Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay

Cassius Marcellus Clay, pictured here, was the uncle of Confederate Lt. Colonel Ezekiel Clay, who was wounded at the skirmish in Paintsville. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Main Street, Paintsville

Main Street, Paintsville

Main Street in Paintsville is shown in this postcard image from the late-nineteenth century. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Johnson County

Johnson County

Due to the mountainous terrain, Union and Confederate forces often followed the river valleys in eastern Kentucky in order to execute their movements. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Paintsville

Paintsville

This postcard shows the town of Paintsville in the early-twentieth century. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

McKenzie Martin, “Mission Accomplished,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed March 29, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/397.

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