Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Marion Lucas, Lowell Harrison, Crawford Crowe

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


On September 95, 1861, Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith reported to his new command at the Department of East Tennessee. It was a troubled command; Kirby Smith's insufficient army was pressed from the north by Brigadier General George Buell. of the Morgan, and from the west by Major General Don Carlos To save his command from certain defeat at the hands superior Union armies, Kirby Smith was able to convince General Braxton Bragg to move his army by rail to East Tennessee.

Through a series of political maneuvers, Kirby Smith obtained a portion of Bragg's army and entered Kentucky on August 14, 1862. Bragg, with the remainder of his army, was to follow. The plan was for the two Confederate armies to bring an indecisive Kentucky into the Confederacy, obtain Kentucky recruits, and combine to defeat Buell (who was of course obligated to defend Kentucky against the invading armies). At the same time, Major Generals Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn were to move eastward from West Tennessee and capture Nashville--the South would be free of Union forces.

Kirby Smith moved rapidly northward, defeating a small Union force at Richmond Kentucky on August 30. He continued on to capture Lexington and Frankfort on September 2 and 3. Bragg--with Buell closely behind--marched toward Bowling Green, and on to Munfordville, turning eastward off the Louisville road to Bardstown. Buell marched into Louisville on September 30 unopposed.

Not expecting Buell to leave Louisville for several weeks, Kirby Smith and Bragg delayed concentration to carry on the necessary administrative duties of occupying the state. But Buell was able to coordinate his forces and move out of Louisville in only three days. Buell's plan called for a feint to be sent toward Kirby Smith at Lexington to keep the two Confederate armies divided. The main Union army was to move in three parts, toward Bardstown. The plan was successful; the Confederate commanders were confused by the feint and remained divided. The Confederate main force at Bardstown retreated before the three pronged Union attack, taking a stand at Perryville on October 9. During the battle Bragg's army was able to push back a portion of the Union force, but-- finding that they were severely outnumbered—the Confederates left the battlefield the next day. Kirby Smith remained in and around Frankfort, unable to coordinate his army with Bragg's.

Finding that Price and Van Dorn had been defeated at Corinth Mississippi, out of provisions, and unable to recruit, Bragg and Kirby Smith decided to abandon Kentucky. The two armies retreated from the state, arriving in East Tennessee the last of October.


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