Two (of many) incidents of Civil War action in Clay County

These Civil War era markers speak for themselves  . . . as far as they go. They just don't tell much of the stories. The first marker relates how the Goose Creek Salt Works were destroyed by the Union Army in 1862 in an effort to keep salt out of the hands of the Confederates. Actually, there were five salt works destroyed, one of them owned by the White family, located very near where this marker is located on KY 11 (Barbourville Road) near Garrard.

There was more than one ironic element in this destruction. The order to destroy the salt works was made by General Don Carlos Buell shortly after the Battle of Perryville, after which Buell was severely reprimanded and relieved of duty for his less than stellar performance on the battlefield. But not before giving the order, only days earlier, to destroy the Clay County salt works. Buell's officers in charge of the destruction, from generals on down, were uniformly against the order because the Rebels were already gone from the Manchester area, and they thought the Clay Countians had been punished enough by Confederate raiders. Nevertheless, the destruction was carried out in brutal efficiency. Another irony is that one of the main salt works, the Union Salt Works at Garrard, was owned by one of the few heroes of the Battle of Perryville, Clay Countian Brigadier General T. T. Garrard.

The second sign refers to the "Masterful Retreat" of General George W. Morgan's army from the seige of Cumberland Gap, a short time before the destruction of the salt works. What the sign doesn't say is that General Morgan had sent then-Colonel T. T. Garrard from Cumberland Gap through Clay County in an attempt to join up with the larger Union Army in Lexington, and to lead them back to Cumberland Gap to help the besieged Morgan. Garrard and his special detachment came through here in August 1862, and were successful in making their way to the Bluegrass. But the Battle of Richmond interfered with the plans and, instead of leading soldiers back through Manchester to Cumberland Gap to help Morgan, Garrard and his local men were forced to join Buell's army in the Battle of Perryville.

While Morgan's army was encamped in Manchester (some of them near the sign, many others in a field at Greenbriar) the general ordered Private Lewis Stivers, of Clay County, executed for having shot another Clay County soldier.