Confederates Here

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. In early September, the Southern troops converged on Frankfort, the state capital. On September 2, Unionist Governor James F. Robinson fled to Louisville with his cabinet and many members of the state legislature. The move to Louisville was orderly and without incident, and the state records and archives were saved from falling into rebel hands. Soon, state government was open for business in Louisville.

The following day, Colonel John Scott of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry reached Frankfort. Scott's men, who had recently participated in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, placed their regimental flag on top of the state capitol. That evening, Scott rounded up 450 fresh horses and attacked Union troops that were withdrawing toward Louisville. At sunrise on September 4, Scott skirmished near Shelbyville and drove the Federal troops toward Louisville. Scott then returned to Frankfort, where his horsemen camped on September 6 and 7, before riding to Lebanon.

On October 4, Confederate generals Braxton Bragg, Edmund Kirby Smith, and other notable officers were in Frankfort with 12,000 Southern troops for the inauguration of Richard Hawes as the provisional Confederate governor of Kentucky. In his inaugural remarks, Hawes said, “I assume the duties devolved on me as Provincial Governor, to give you an opportunity to take your stand and make your choice in this Abolition War, and to decide fully and fairly whether you will cast your destiny with the North or the South.”

Shortly after the inauguration, Union troops, who had reorganized in Louisville, pressed on Frankfort and drove the rebels from the capital.


Tour of the Old State Capitol
Video of a school tour of the Old State Capitol in Frankfort. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.
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