Explore KY's Civil War

Tour curated by: Kentucky Historical Society

This Kentucky Historical Society curated tour takes information from many of our Civil War related historical markers, adds artifacts and items from our digital collections and combines them to paint a more complete picture of the Civil War in our Commonwealth.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #534 in Louisville notes the birthplace of Robert Anderson, the commander of Ft. Sumter and the "first Union hero of [the] Civil War." Born in 1805 at "Soldiers Retreat" in Jefferson County, Anderson was a West…

Historical Marker #1218 commemorates Boyle County for being named after Judge John Boyle, a state representative, congressman, and prominent judge. Boyle's son--Jeremiah Tilford Boyle--became Union military commander of Kentucky for much of the…

Historical Marker #501 commemorates the Battle of Augusta, Kentucky. Although smaller than most battles fought that year, this action changed the course of a major military campaign. When Confederate armies invaded Kentucky in 1862, Confederate…

Historical Marker #951 in Clark County notes the fratricidal nature of Kentucky's Civil War. Five Hanson brothers fought on opposite sides, and two of them, Roger and Charles, attained prominence. Roger Hanson was born in Winchester on August…

Historical Marker #2160, placed near Munfordville in Hart County, notes the strategic importance of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Bridge over the Green River during the Civil War. An engineering marvel of its day, the 1,800-foot-long bridge…

Historical Marker #1910 in Christian County commemorates Kentucky governor Charles Slaughter Morehead, who practiced law in Hopkinsville prior to the Civil War. During the conflict, Morehead was arrested and imprisoned by Union authorities during…

Historical Marker #192 in Boyle County commemorates a Perryville resident who made great sacrifices during the Civil War. Henry Bottom was a farmer and justice of the peace whose home was caught in the crossfire of Kentucky's largest battle. …

Historical Marker #522 in Frankfort commemorates the installation of Richard Hawes as Kentucky's second Confederate governor. The ceremony took place at the Old State Capitol in Frankfort in 1862. That year, several Confederate armies invaded…

Historical Marker #2244 in Danville commemorates John Todd Stuart, who was Abraham Lincoln's first law partner. When Abraham Lincoln moved to Springfield, Illinois, Kentuckian John Todd Stuart encouraged Lincoln to study law. He also became…

Historical Markers #85 and #2093 commemorate the Battle of Middle Creek, fought near Prestonsburg on January 10, 1862. The battle was crucial in the struggle to control the Big Sandy Valley, and future U. S. president James Garfield won an early…

Historical Marker #1750 commemorates Camp Dick Robinson, a Garrard County recruiting camp that was instrumental in keeping Kentucky in the Union. Established on the farm of Richard Robinson in August 1861 by Union officer and Maysville native…

Historical Marker #1758 in Kenton County commemorates Union General Ormsby Mitchel, the namesake of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. During the Civil War, several dozen earthen fortifications were constructed to protect Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. …

Historical Marker #523 commemorates the Battle of Sacramento in McLean County. On December 28, 1861, nearly 300 Confederate cavalry led by Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked about 200 Union horsemen near Sacramento. The battle was Forrest's first…

Historical Marker #1846 in Richmond discusses James B. McCreary, a Confederate veteran who was twice governor of Kentucky. Born in Madison County in 1838, McCreary joined the Confederacy despite opposition from his family. He wrote, "I stand…

Historical Marker #963 in Paducah marks the death of Confederate Colonel A. P. Thompson, who was killed while attacking his hometown. Born in Green County on March 3, 1829, Thompson was a Paducah lawyer who served as McCracken County's…

Historical Marker #531in Clay County commemorates the Goose Creek Salt Works, which were destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War. Salt was a precious commodity to both armies. Therefore, these works, owned by Union Colonel T. T. Garrard,…

Historical Marker #863 in Pulaski County commemorates the Battle of Mill Springs. Fought on January 19, 1862, the battle was an early Union victory that helped break a Confederate defensive line that spanned across southern Kentucky. With…

Historical Marker #770 in Butler County notes the birthplace of Confederate soldier Thomas Henry Hines. Called the "most dangerous man of [the] Confederacy," Hines was born near Woodbury on October 9, 1838. A professor at the Masonic…

Historical Marker #528 at Columbus-Belmont State Park in Hickman County discusses Columbus's role during the Civil War. In early September 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk took Columbus. An important strategic location because of the…

Historical Marker #2247 in Greenup County commemorates Camp Swigert, a Union recruiting camp. In December 1861, the 22nd Kentucky Union Infantry Regiment organized at this camp. Recruits came from Louisville and Greenup, Franklin, Carter, Lewis,…

Historical marker #562 in Simpson County notes the burial location of Marcellus Jerome Clarke--known to history as "Sue Mundy"--one of Kentucky's most infamous pro-Confederate guerrillas. Born near Franklin, Clarke joined the…

Historical Marker #518 describes the Civil War in Barbourville in Knox County. At the beginning of the Civil War, Unionists established Camp Andy Johnson near Barbourville. Kentuckians and East Tennesseans were recruited there, and, on September…

Historical Marker #552 in Breckinridge County commemorates Joseph Holt, the Unionist judge advocate general who prosecuted the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Born in Breckinridge County in 1807, Holt practiced law in Kentucky and Missouri. A…

Historical Marker #862 in Bath County marks the birthplace of Confederate General John Bell Hood. Born in Owingsville in 1831, Hood graduated from West Point and served on the Texas frontier. When the Civil War erupted, he joined the Confederacy…

Historical Marker #524 in Monroe County notes when John Hunt Morgan struck Tompkinsville. In July 1862, Morgan raided Kentucky for the first time to disrupt Union lines of communication. On July 9, his two regiments hit Tompkinsville, where they…

Historical Marker #1160 in Marion commemorates the namesake of Crittenden County. John Jordan Crittenden was born in Woodford County in 1787. Called "one of Kentucky's great statesmen," he was governor of Kentucky, attorney general…

Two historical markers--#1515 and #2222---commemorate Camp Nelson in Jessamine County, where most of the state's African American Union soldiers were recruited. Established near Nicholasville in 1863, Camp Nelson was named for Union General…

Historical Marker #2283 in Shelby County commemorates the massacre of members of the 5th United States Colored Cavalry (USCC) near Simpsonville. On January 25, 1865, Company E of the 5th USCC was transporting a herd of 900 cattle to Louisville. …

Historical Marker #603 notes two Union generals who lived in Greensburg, William Ward and Edward Hobson. Born in Virginia, Ward moved to Kentucky where he became a prominent attorney, officer in the Mexican War, legislator, and congressman. When…

Historical Marker #786 in Magoffin County commemorates the county being named for Beriah Magoffin, one of Kentucky's Civil War governors. A Harrodsburg lawyer, Magoffin became governor of Kentucky on the eve of the Civil War. Although he…

Historical Marker #2234 in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery commemorates Kentucky Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, a Union veteran of the Civil War. Elected in 1863 after an active Civil War career as a Union colonel, Bramlette frequently tangled…

Historical Marker #2277 notes Lexington's First Presbyterian Church and one nineteenth century pastor, the Reverend Robert J. Breckinridge. During the Civil War, Kentucky Presbyterian minister Robert J. Breckinridge was an important advisor to…

Historical Marker #816 in Robertson County commemorates the naming of that county after George Robertson, a prominent judge who tangled with Abraham Lincoln about slavery during the Civil War. Born in Mercer County in 1780, Robertson was a lawyer,…

Historical Marker #1480 in Lexington notes the life of Dr. Robert Peter, whose daughter, Frances, was a unique chronicler of Civil War Lexington. Her diary, A Union Woman in Civil War Kentucky, was published by the University Press of Kentucky. A…

Historical Marker #604 in Adair County commemorates Union Colonel Frank Wolford, a Columbia native who had a controversial military career. Wolford was a vocal opponent of President Abraham Lincoln's policies in Kentucky during the Civil War,…

Historical Marker #1917 in Kenton County commemorates Fort Wright, a defensive position that was named in honor of Union General Horatio G. Wright. In August and September 1862, Confederate generals Edmund Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg invaded…

Historical Marker #706 in Taylor County notes the Battle of Tebbs Bend. There, on July 4, 1863, Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan's command ran into a much smaller Federal force on the Green River and was soundly defeated. This engagement…

Historical Marker #1919 commemorates the Battle of Camp Wildcat, which was fought near London, Kentucky, in October 1861. During the early stages of the Civil War, both sides actively recruited Kentucky's men of military age. Of particular…

Historical Marker #2312 commemorates two battles that John Hunt Morgan fought in Cynthiana during the Civil War. In the summer of 1862, Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan launched his first major raid into Kentucky. The famed "Thunderbolt of…

The summer before Abraham Lincoln was elected president, he wrote a response to Samuel Haycraft, who had asked Lincoln to return to Kentucky to visit his boyhood home. Although few Kentuckians supported Lincoln's bid for the presidency, the…

Historical Marker #923 in Danville commemorates Centre College, an institution of higher learning that the Washington Post has called "one of the premier intellectual gathering points in its region." Founded in 1819 by former governor…

Historical marker #756, located at the Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, commemorates the occupation of the structure as a field hospital during the Civil War. When the Battle of Perryville was fought ten miles from Danville on October 8, 1862,…

Historical Marker #754 commemorates the Danville Presbyterian Church, which was used as a hospital following the Battle of Perryville. When the Reverend David Rice traveled through pioneer Kentucky, he saw a need for churches. "I found…

Historical Marker #2005 in Danville commemorates Jacobs Hall, a structure at the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD). The marker also recognizes the namesake of the building, John A. Jacobs, who was "KSD's first trained teacher, principal,…

Historical Marker #24 commemorates Danville native Theodore O'Hara, a Civil War veteran and poet who wrote the famous poem "The Bivouac of the Dead." Today, O'Hara's poem is inscribed on monuments across the nation,…

Historical Marker #1442 notes that Trinity Episcopal Church is "one of the oldest church buildings in Danville." Constructed in 1830 by resident Robert Russel Jr., the early members of the church included Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who…

Historical Marker #1606, located at the Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, commemorates John Marshall Harlan, a Boyle County native, Civil War veteran, and U.S. Supreme Court justice. Born a few miles west of Danville in 1833, Harlan's family…

Historical Marker #12 in Fayette County identifies the birthplace of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. Mary Ann Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. She was the granddaughter of Levi Todd,…

Historical Marker #833 in Hardin County interprets the Helm Cemetery, resting place of Kentucky Governor John LaRue Helm and Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm. Benjamin Helm was a brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln, having married Emilie…

Historical Marker #2261 in Fayette County recognizes the Mary Todd Lincoln House, which is now a museum. Mary Ann Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. She was the granddaughter of Levi Todd, one of the founders of Lexington,…

Historical Marker 1324 in Bullitt County notes that General William T. Sherman brought a Union force to Lebanon Junction in September 1861 to counter the Confederate capture of Bowling Green. The end of Kentucky's neutrally in September 1861…

Historical Marker #637 in Carter County notes the route of retreat north from Cumberland Gap made by Union General George W. Morgan's Union force during the fall of 1862. That September, Confederate troops led by General Carter L. Stevenson…

Historical Marker #1413 in Bullitt County commemorates Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's raid into Ohio. Morgan's "Great Raid" in the summer of 1863 lasted more than forty-five days and covered nearly one thousand miles. …

Historical Marker #521 in Bell County notes the importance of the Cumberland Gap during the American Civil War. Cumberland Gap is located on the route of the famous old "Wilderness Road," one of the entry points into Kentucky during the…

Historical Marker #1127 in Bowling Green commemorates Riverview at Hobson Grove, which was occupied by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Built on high ground overlooking the Barren River, Riverview at Hobson Grove was the home of wealthy…

Historical Marker #780 marks the birthplace of Champ Ferguson, a Civil War guerrilla who was hanged by Union authorities after the Civil War. Ferguson was born in Clinton County, Kentucky, in 1821. By the time the Civil War erupted, he had already…

Historical Marker #2107 in Lyon County commemorates Andrew Jackson Smith, an African American soldier who won the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Civil War. Smith, the son of an enslaved African American and her white owner, was born in Lyon…

Historical Marker #147 in Calloway County commemorates Fort Heiman, a Confederate fort erected in 1861. Fort Heiman is the least well known of three Confederate forts that were built to guard the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Constructed in the…

Historical Marker #57 in Todd County marks the birthplace of Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis. Both Davis and his Union counterpart, President Abraham Lincoln, were born in Kentucky. Born on June 3, 1808, near the Fairview community of…

Historical Marker #215 in Vanceburg notes the Union monument placed there in 1884 by the citizens of Lewis County. Kentucky, like the United States, was divided during the Civil War. Although the commonwealth sent more than two-thirds of its…

Historical Marker #1481 in Mercer County recognizes the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. The Society of Believers, more commonly known as the Shakers, immigrated to America from England in 1774 to avoid religious persecution. By the early…

Historical Marker #2226 in Frankfort commemorates the only monument in the state that honors the nearly 25,000 African American Kentuckians who served in the United States Colored Troops during the American Civil War. Although Kentucky remained…

Historical Marker #2388 in Danville notes the community's African American contributions to the Union army during the Civil War. In many instances, slaves and free men of color who tried to join the Union army faced substantial danger. The…

Located in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, Historical Marker #2018 commemorates the Samuel May House. Built in 1817, the house was the hub of a 350-acre farm that served as a recruiting and supply post for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The…

Historical Marker #707 in Columbia notes Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan’s visits to the area when his rebel horsemen raided Kentucky during the Civil War. Morgan’s raids into his native Kentucky brought him though the same towns…

Historical Marker #1490 in Frankfort notes the location of the State Arsenal building, which now serves as the Kentucky Military History Museum. In 1836, a devastating fire and explosion that heavily damaged the state arsenal necessitated the…

Historical Marker #522 commemorates the Confederate occupation of Frankfort in September 1862. That summer, multiple Confederate armies invaded Kentucky in order to pull Union troops away from the vital railroad junction of Chattanooga, Tennessee. …

Historical Marker #2391 in Boyle County commemorates the site of the Kirkland Home, which was one of the homes used by soldiers during the aftermath of the Battle of Perryville. Charles King Kirkland and Caroline Purdom Kirkland lived between the…

Historical Marker #610 memorializes George W. Johnson, the first Confederate governor of Kentucky, at his home in Scott County. Born in 1811 in Scott County, Johnson practiced law in Georgetown after receiving his degree from Transylvania…

Historical Marker #718 in Scott County marks Cardome, the home of Governor James F. Robinson, who led the commonwealth through one of the most difficult periods in its history. Robinson was a true Renaissance man who farmed, practiced law, and served…

Historical Marker #1861 in Scott County remembers General Basil W. Duke, best known for his service to the Confederacy during the Civil War, but also his significant political and literary contributions to Kentucky following the conflict. Duke was…

Historical Marker #1734 in Scott County makes note of Ward Hall. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Ward Hall is a stately structure located one mile east of Georgetown. Colonel Robert Johnson, a member of the first Constitutional…

Historical Marker #828 in Paducah notes the location of Fort Anderson, a Union earthen fortification named for native Kentuckian Robert Anderson, the "Hero of Fort Sumter." When Confederate forces invaded western Kentucky in early…

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…

Historical Marker #608 in Johnson County commemorates arrival of Union troops in Paintsville in January 1862. That month, those soldiers fought in the Battle of Middle Creek in Floyd County, which proved to be an important Union victory. In…

Historical Marker #700 in Johnson County commemorates John Hunt Morgan's 1864 retreat through Paintsville to Virginia. This was during Morgan's last Kentucky raid during the Civil War. Morgan's command consisted of approximately…

Historical Marker #67 in Warren County discusses Bowling Green's role as the state capital of Kentucky's Provisional Confederate government. Few states were as bitterly divided as Kentucky during the Civil War. The commonwealth's…

Historical Marker #538 in Warren County commemorates the Union capture of Bowling Green on February 14, 1862. On September 18, 1861, Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner and nearly five thousand troops marched on Bowling Green. Capturing the…

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…

Historical Marker #517 in McCracken County recalls Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid on Paducah in March 1864. The journey to Paducah from western Tennessee began in the spring of 1864. Forrest was intent on reaching Kentucky to…

Historical Marker #1043 in McCracken County remembers Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman. Tilghman was born in Maryland on January 26, 1818. At age fifteen, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated five years later.…

Historical Marker # 1935 in Lewisport (Hancock County) commemorates the December 1864 capture of a Union mail packet steamboat at this Ohio River town by Confederate guerrillas. A sharp rise in pro-Confederate guerrilla activity in Kentucky…

Historical Marker #696 in Paris tells the story of famed Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, who rode into Paris on July 18, 1862, after a furious battle that defeated a larger Union force the day before, 14 miles north at Cynthiana. Morgan and…

Historical Marker #2361 in McCracken County notes the Civil War service of the 8th United States Colored Heavy Artillery. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln believed that Kentucky-a loyal, slaveholding border state-was critical to the…

Historical Marker # 1965 in Jessamine County notes the location of the Camp Nelson refugee camp, which housed the families of hundreds of African American soldiers. Camp Nelson was established in 1863 as a recruiting station and quartermaster supply…

Historical Marker #164 near Prestonsburg commemorates the Battle of Ivy Mountain, an early Union victory in the Civil War. The first year of the conflict brought several reverses to Union forces. In the summer of 1861, the first large battle of the…

Historical Marker #623 in Prestonsburg remembers Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's last raid into Kentucky during the Civil War. After Morgan was captured on an extended cavalry raid into Indiana and Ohio in the summer of 1863, he served…

Historical Marker #172 in Prestonsburg notes the location of the house built in 1857 by John M. Burns, which was used as a temporary headquarters for Colonel James Garfield after the Battle of Middle Creek. James Garfield was born into a modest…

Historical marker #2394 in Boone County commemorates a daring prison escape made by Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan. In November 1863, Morgan escaped from the Ohio State Penitentiary and crossed into Boone County, Kentucky. On July 31, 1863,…

Historical Marker #2416 in Frankfort commemorates the June 1864 Confederate attacks on Frankfort by elements of John Hunt Morgan's cavalry. In the fall of 1862, Frankfort had been captured by the Confederates—the only Union state capital to…

Historical Marker #504 in Frankfort notes the location where four Confederate men were executed in 1864, as an act of retaliation for the murder of a local Unionist by guerrillas. In the border state of Kentucky, allegiances were sometimes fluid and…

Historical Marker #1743 in Frankfort commemorates the Vest-Lindsey House, which was the home of notable nineteenth century personalities George Graham Vest, Thomas Noble Lindsey, and Daniel W. Lindsey. Much like the John J. Crittenden House only a…

Historical Marker #1154 in Frankfort notes the home of Kentucky statesman John Jordan Crittenden. John J. Crittenden was one of Kentucky's most accomplished and well respected politicians of the nineteenth century. His reputation came, in part,…

Historical Marker #1915 in Webster County notes a September 15, 1861, skirmish between local Confederate-sympathizing militia troops and a Union force. Although Kentucky had officially declared armed neutrality in May 1861, by early September…

Historical Marker #617 in Providence notes the movements of Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry as it passed through Webster County in the fall of 1861. The Kentucky legislature's declaration of allegiance to the Union in September…

Historical Marker #2438 commemorates the Cain’s Store Post Office, which was originally located at the junction of KY 80 and KY 37, about twelve miles east of Somerset in Pulaski County. In 1863, the U.S Post Office Department approved a post…

Historical marker #523 in McLean County recounts the surprise attack by Confederate forces on Union troops near Sacramento, Kentucky. The Battle of Sacramento was Confederate Colonel (later general) Nathan Bedford Forrest’s first significant…

Historical marker #830 in McLean County commemorates the Union camp site of the 35th Kentucky Infantry. On September 26, 1863, the 35th Kentucky (Union) Infantry was organized at Owensboro, Kentucky. Although the regiment was mounted, it was never…

Historic marker #665 in McLean County relates the reconnaissance mission Confederate Colonel Nathan B. Forrest led into the area. In the fall of 1861, Federal troops, led by Brigadier General Thomas L. Crittenden, took position in Calhoun. The Union…