TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer
The battle lines are drawn in Knox County to celebrate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Barbourville, a historic event where the War Between the States claimed its first casualties on both sides in Kentucky.
The public is invited to attend the event and slip back in time to the day when 30 Barbourville Home Guards took a stand and tried to repel 800 advancing Confederate troops attempting to destroy Camp Andy Johnson, a Union recruiting camp located in the city.
The 13th annual Battle of Barbourville Civil War reenactment is slated for Sept. 21-22. The battlefield will be staged at Minton Hickory Farm, located a quarter-mile past Barbourville on KY 225 South. The gates open at 10 a.m. both days, with Saturday’s battle beginning at 2 p.m., and Sunday’s battle starting at 2 p.m. as well.
According to information provided on the event’s website page, the battle reenacts the day when the home guardsmen heard the approaching army and removed planks from the bridge leading into town, before firing their muskets into the fog and beginning the battle.
Over the past decade, the reenactment has brought thousands of visitors to the hundred acres along the Cumberland River. Many visitors come back year after year to watch the cavalry, infantry and artillery demonstrations and to see the camps set up by Confederate and Union army troops, or to buy items for sale related to the Civil War.
Ron Bowling, of Barbourville, who plays a field commander in the battles, says it’s an experience that’s breathtaking to witness.
“When people come here on the third weekend of September, they come for a lot of sights and sounds. They come to step back into 1861 and see what the armies went through. They come for the Civil War camps, the battles that we portray, and the skits we put on. They come here to see history come alive,” Bowling said.
Part of history coming alive for the two-day event includes presentations from period actors portraying historical figures. On Saturday at 1 p.m. during the Ladies Tea, Mary Todd Lincoln, portrayed by a member of Kentucky Chautauqua, part of the Kentucky Humanities Council, will speak. For both days of the event, Corbin area native Ancil Davenport will portray Abraham Lincoln and will present immediately following the battle on Saturday, according to Bowling.
“He will speak directly after the battle. He is quite a character and people will enjoy it I think,” Bowling said.
Also on Saturday night, the Period Ball will be held. There will also be fireworks, or “Night Fire,” featuring cannon fire during the nighttime, and some different presentations of persons involved in the battle.
The cost of the event is $2 per person, with children 6 and under getting in free.
The event is hosted by the 5th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Unit Company’s “D, E & F,” which is the largest re-enactor unit in the state, with 198 active members.
If you’d like more information on this weekend’s events, call Barbourville Tourism at 606-545-9674, or go to this website: www.battleofbarbourvilleky.com.