Wednesday, September 19, 2018


View from the cemetery
On September 27th, 1862, a small but vicious fight occurred in Augusta, Kentucky, as a portion of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, under Basil W. Duke, attacked the Bracken County Home Guards, some of whom had served at Cynthiana two months prior.  Duke was planning on crossing the Ohio River and raiding towards Cincinnati.  The home guards were successful in keeping the Confederates from crossing, but the town suffered the same fate as Cynthiana in 1864 as twenty buildings were burned by Duke's command, resulting in the loss of $100,000 of property value ($2.4M in today's currency).

I was working on a tour of Augusta, Kentucky for the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, but as I have moved on from that organization (something about progressing forward vs. living in the past) I have decided to contact
Typical tour stop sign
some folks in Augusta and see about developing a Civil War organization there, one that would encompass the elements of a round table, preservation group, and events (tours), all rolled into one.  Believe it or not, there is a decent bit of Civil War history in town, and some connections to other interesting periods in American history as well.*  There could be a quarterly speaker program (besides the several Civil War folks I know who would do talks, the Kentucky Humanities
Confederate monument in the Payne Cemetery along KY 8
organization also has several speakers that cover Civil War topics.  Augusta has a community center that looks to be suitable for these types of events, and could also be a place to hold organizational meetings.  There is already a small walking tour in place, which could be enhanced/expanded by adding more details and human interest stories, and adding a couple of stops that would cover the initial Confederate artillery position on the heights above town, the Confederate monument, and the Baker-Bird Winery as a place of refuge for some of the town's citizens.  Augusta also offers a couple of lodging options, as well as some tasty restaurants in the heart of town.  Alas, no brewery, but if I ever win the lottery....

The Official Records has three reports, two that cover the fighting at Augusta, one the covers the action at Brooksville the next day, and two pieces of correspondence, that vaguely refer to Augusta.  Not much to go on there, but Duke himself devotes several pages in his history of Morgan's Cavalry, and there are some other available snippets that include some of the details of the fighting and human interest pieces.  Might be enough to put together a small booklet/tour guide.  

*For example, Alexander W. Doniphan, who fought in the Mormon and Mexican-American Wars, leading expeditions against the Navajo and Mexicans in the latter conflict.  Doniphan graduated from Augusta College in 1824.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Part III - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

In this post we'll talk about some of the potential pitfalls to developing the Keller's Bridge area like East Cavalry Battlefield.

Of course, with any grandiose plan, there might be potential issues.  Here are a few to consider.

Notice the inadequate mowing
Mowing.  Take a look at the picture and you can see that even at Gettysburg things like grass cutting has become a half-assed proposition.  How do we ensure that not only the walking path (if not paved) but also the roadside and the battlefield area is kept in such a state that doesn't look like the area is not receiving the attention it deserves.  Appearance is everything.  If the area looks messy (overgrown, parking lots with weeds growing through cracks, etc.) then it is not inviting for visitors.  

Monuments.  Cost is very prohibitive.  It might be years before organizations could raise enough money to have a monument created and installed.  And oversight in terms of design would have to be worked out between the Foundation and the group raising the no way would we want to create a monument that would encourage vandalism.  And as the years go by, how are the monuments maintained?

A. Keller Road.  There is a large and active farm at the end of A. Keller Road.  Development of a battlefield area must take into consideration access for farm vehicles along the road.  We would need to work with the county and state to widen the road where it can be widened.  This will allow for better access as move vehicles visit the area and less chance of accidents or damage to signs along the road.

Whatever direction is taken at Keller's Bridge, we have to consider several factors.  Increasing tourism by modeling a national park will be expensive.  Keeping the area in such a state as to invite visitors will take a lot of labor each week.  Working with local land owners to ensure that increased visitation will not be a hindrance is a concern.  By my, oh my, think about how the area could look, and how this would bring numerous tourists to Cynthiana!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Part II - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

In this post I will talk about some of the ways that Keller's Bridge could be interpreted in a similar manner to East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg.

Developing a significant tourism destination in Cynthiana is going to take a lot of work, especially in terms of money.  First, battlefield ground would have to be purchased.  The American Battlefields Trust (formally known as the Civil War Trust and the Civil War Preservation Trust) will offer a land owner up to four times the value of a piece of battleground.  Knowing that, we will have to determine what ground we truly want to purchase, and then identify and contact those owners to see if they would consider selling their land.  Okay, let's say this comes to fruition.  What then do we do in the area to enhance interpretation and entice visitation?  Read on!

There are numerous Civil War sites out there, from national to state to local to private organizations.  In a previous post I had mentioned the excellent Tebbs Bend Battlefield as a potential model for Cynthiana.  There is a driving tour and an area to walk, and along both are interpretive signs, with a Confederate cemetery with a monument as one of the driving tour stops.  All in all a really excellent site in terms of interpretation.

But, what if the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation went BIG and developed Keller's Bridge more like a national battlefield?  

Just what am I thinking?  Imagine turn onto A. Keller Road and it has a fresh layer of blacktop.  After immediately turning onto the road, there is a tour stop on the right.  At this tour stop (which is also paved and large enough for a few cars or a tour bus) is a clear view to the river as well as the first of our interpretive panels that would explain the Confederate approach.  Okay, pretty standard stuff here.  Let's get back into our vehicle and drive on.

Within a few feet on the left is a metal sign, painted black with silver letters, that says "Giltner Avenue."  At Gettysburg the park roads are named after Federal officers or labeled "Confederate Avenue," I think this is an interesting concept that adds to the overall atmosphere.  In this case, we would name the avenue after the Confederate brigade commander in this area.

Driving along another few hundred yards will be another tour stop pull off on the left, this one denoting the first encounter between the forces.  Here would be another interpretive panel.  Again, fairly standard battlefield interpretation. 

Okay, now we get to the railroad crossing, where the current Chamber of Commerce stop is located.  This area needs a lot of cleaning and brush removal, but again we can create a pull off, an interpretive panel that talks about the railroad and Hobson coming to Cynthiana from Cincinnati.  From here as well we could create our first walking trail, a short (one tenth of a mile) walking path to the bridge area.  Here, yet another interpretive panel that would discuss the defenses of the railroad and details about the blockhouses built at the various bridges.  One can currently walk to the bridge on the rail ballast (larger rocks), but if we added something like a layer of mulch, or even better, a paved path, we would make it very easy for any visitor to access the bridge area.

Back in our cars, we now head to what I will call "Hobson Avenue", which at this time is nothing more than a lane that climbs up into a field.  But again, if this area was paved we could create an easy access to either a parking area at the top (for a walking loop) or create a driving loop.  Both ideas hold some merit, but I think a walking loop to be preferred as we can encourage folks to get a bit of exercise.  Hobson Avenue would have another metal sign to indicate its location.  At the parking lot would be another interpretive panel, and the start of the walking loop trail, which is only a half mile of fairly easy walking.  Again, this trail could be paved, but at the worst, be kept mown low while the area on either side could be planted with native grasses and flowers, making this area a nature preserve as well.

Now here comes the BIG idea...monuments.  Let's face it, places like Gettysburg and Chickamauga are cool not only because of the ground and the history made there, but the monuments on these battlefields have also become iconic in their own right.  Most folks take pictures of the monuments - they are what draws the eye.  What if we encouraged Civil War Round Tables, reenactment groups, heritage groups, and anyone else who wanted to raise money and have a monument installed?  We would put some parameters around the design, but we have the chance to create a visual display and have each unit that fought in the area represented.  Now of course monuments are expensive, but the sponsoring organization would be responsible for that.  Imagine walking along and seeing the 10th Kentucky Cavalry Battalion monument, or the 171st Ohio Infantry Regiment monument, or a monument to William McKinley's cousin, who was killed at Keller's Bridge.  What about a Kentucky or Ohio state monument?  There are several possibilities.

Sounds great, yes?  Next post will discuss some of the potential pitfalls of having a battlefield area.


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