Colonel Garrard meets the Rebels in Clay County

Clay County's Brigadier General Theopolis Toulmin Garrard, a celebrated, slave-owning officer in the Union Army (go figure!) was a man of uncommon abilities that were often recognized by his superior officers throughout the Civil War. When the Union Army, under command of General George W. Morgan, found itself surrounded by Confederates, under seige and facing starvation at Cumberland Gap in the summer of 1862, it was to then-Colonel Garrard that Morgan turned to get them out of their fix.

Gen. Morgan created a sort of ad hoc battalion of horse-riding infantrymen from Garrard's Seventh Kentucky Infantry, made up largely of Clay Countians, and sent the group of 400 or so soldiers off to find reinforcements in Lexington. Garrard sneaked his temporary command into Clay County at Phillips Fork of Red Bird and rode down the river to Flat Creek, where they crossed the mountain to the Goose Creek watershed on Martin's Creek.

There Garrard learned of a large group of Confederates under the command of Colonel Preston Smith in Manchester. Garrard's outnumbered troops turned and went back over to Red Bird and went down to Levi Hensley's farm near the mouth of Dry Branch. The next moring Garrard encountered a group of Rebel soldiers at the mouth of Bar Creek. In the ensuring skirmish Garrard lost one man, the Rebels two or three. The Rebels fled across Laurel Branch and Garrard, with an important mission entrusted to him, continued on down stream, then over to the "pike" that led north (present-day US 421) toward Richmond.

Unknowingly Garrard's men found themselves near Richmond on the eve of the famous battle that turned out to be the worst Union defeat of the entire war. The locals, though, were part of the very few who were singled out for praise by the Union command. Garrard and his men eventually found their way (via the Battle of Perryville) to Vicksburg, where they further distinguished themselves in numerous battles and where Garrard was promoted to brigadier general. But before the promotion, Garrard found himself back in Manchester. See story here.