When the northern press celebrated the ‘great victory’ at Ivy Mountain (8 November 1861), the Cincinnati Gazette observed that it would have ‘no more permanent effect than the passage of a showman’s caravan’. So it proved. Within a few weeks, the Confederates were back in eastern Kentucky, General Humphrey Marshall’s forces occupying a strong defensive position on ridges encircling Middle Creek. The colonel sent to restore Union control was future President James Garfield, who ordered an uphill frontal assault on the Confederate positions. In response, Marshall’s four-cannon battery enshrouded the hill-top in gunsmoke and fire like the ‘mouth of a volcanoe’. This tactic was impressive, but largely ineffective. After a decisive bayonet charge by the 22nd Kentuckian infantry (pitted against fellow-staters, the 5th Kentuckians), the Union gained the ridge. Seeing Union reinforcements arriving, Marshall withdrew from the battlefield. Coupled with victory at Logan’s Cross Roads one week later, the Union now controlled Kentucky.
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