Courthouse Burned

Historical Marker #592 in Owingsville notes the accidental burning of the Bath County courthouse by Union troops in 1864.

While the Civil War disrupted the lives of many Americans, those who lived in the border states, like Kentucky, often experienced a particularly savage conflict. Divided allegiances produced a level of personal violence not found elsewhere. And, by being a border state—both in sympathy and geographically—the state's towns and villages were subjected to periodic and destructive raids by both belligerent armies and guerrillas. Owingsville was no exception.

During the Civil War, Union troops used the Bath County Courthouse as work space for officers and barracks for enlisted men. On March 21, 1864, a Confederate attack on Owingsville caused the courthouse to be temporarily abandoned. During the excitement a camp stove was either left burning or was overturned, causing a fire in the building.

Some county documents apparently survived the blaze, because nine months later, Owingsville again was raided. These guerrillas ransacked the town's stores and robbed citizens. Before departing, the attackers located some remaining court records and burned them in the street.

Bath County's first courthouse was constructed in 1813, just two years after the county was founded. The structure was rebuilt in 1831 and survived until the fire of 1864. Because the fire was caused by Union troops, the U.S. government compensated the town of Owingsville and a new courthouse was constructed in 1868. Today, this structure still serves as county's center of government.

Images

Bath County Courthouse

Bath County Courthouse

This image shows the Bath County courthouse in 1964. The structure was rebuilt with federal funds in 1868, four years after Union troops accidently set fire to the original building. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Raiders

Raiders

During the Civil War, Kentucky towns and villages were often subjected to raids by cavalry and guerillas from both sides. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Raiders

Raiders

John Hunt Morgan's cavalry often made quick strikes at Kentucky towns disrupting Union army communications. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Guerillas

Guerillas

Although written about Allen County, this 1865 letter describes the atrocities committed by marauding guerrillas. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Katie Crawford-Lackey, “Courthouse Burned,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 24, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/471.

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