Forrest Foraged

Historical Marker #598 in Simpson County notes the movement of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry while in the area during the Confederate invasion of Kentucky during the summer and fall of 1862.

In the summer of 1862, John Hunt Morgan made a raid into his native Kentucky. He returned to his superiors in Tennessee with news that the Bluegrass State was ripe for the picking if only a significant show of force could be made within the state.

Confederate commander of the Army of the Mississippi, Gen. Braxton Bragg, decided Morgan’s information was good and thus planned a two pronged advance into the Commonwealth with Gen. E. Kirby Smith. Bragg’s plan was to move into Kentucky via Middle Tennessee, and Smith would advance from East Tennessee into southeast Kentucky.

As the Confederates made their respective moves, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a cavalry officer, was ordered by Bragg to move in advance of the Army of the Mississippi and to harass and impeded the retreating Union army commanded by Gen. Don Carlos Buell.

During their September advance into Kentucky, Forrest’s men moved through the eastern part of Simpson County gathering food for the invading Confederate troops and forage for the army’s animals. Forrest’s Confederates stayed a few days in Simpson County before moving on as the rest of the army caught up and continued northward.

The Army of the Mississippi stayed in Kentucky for about a month. When Union army, who had retreated to Louisville, finally advanced and recaptured the capital at Frankfort, the Confederates chose to withdraw to Mercer County. On October 8, the Battle of Perryville was fought in Boyle County. After initial success in the battle Bragg did not feel confident of a total victory and decided to leave Kentucky via the Cumberland Gap.