Preservationists Score At Richmond, Ky., Battlefield
By Ed Ballam
RICHMOND, Ky. - Members of the Battle of Richmond Association
(BORA) are delighted that they won the bidding on an 1825 homestead
and 63 acres of land that played a significant role in the Aug.
30, 1862, battle. The property went on the block Nov. 3 in three
separate parcels, said Rob Rumpke, executive director of the
Richmond Chamber of Commerce and a leader of BORA.
"We were hoping that we'd get at least part of it, but
we were very surprised that we got all of it," Rumpke said.
"The Battle of Richmond was one of the most decisive victories
for the Confederacy during the entire war." Now that the
association has all the property and the house, it plans to
preserve and interpret the battlefield and open a museum in
The property sold for a grand total of $564,764 as two separate
tracts of land and the house with 12 acres. "The house
was the real surprise," Rumpke said, selling for $201,000.
It was used as a Confederate hospital during the battle and
has slave quarters that BORA hopes to interpret as well.
Developers were bidding on the property and Rumpke said a significant
portion of the battlefield has already been developed as a golf
course and housing subdivision. BORA was a very discreet bidder
on the property, being represented by someone no one knew.
The elderly homeowner was thrilled to learn that a preservation
group had bought the homestead. "When she was told who
bought it and why, she started to cry," Rumpke said of
Mrs. Alex Herndon. "She said that was what her late husband
would have wanted."
The association was ready for the auction, which was conducted
by Rick Hayes Auctions/Century 21 Joyce M. Marcum Realty. Interested
citizens, the Madison County Historical Society, the Richmond
Chamber of Commerce and others put up the money. Now, BORA has
to come up with a plan to repay the loans.
Funds will be solicited from state and federal agencies as well
as preservation organizations, Rumpke said. Some of it might
come from tourism and economic development funds.
Auctioneer Hayes told the local newspaper that the Herndon home
was built in 1825 by Joseph Barnett, a surveyor who came to
Kentucky with Daniel Boone. It had been in the Gibbs family
for 115 years prior to the auction and was in remarkably good
In 1942, the 460-acre farm was divided in half when the Army
created the Bluegrass Supply Depot. In 1987, the farm was divided
in half once again and, finally, in 1993, all but the remaining
63 acres, which once produced tobacco, corn and Black Angus
cattle, were sold.
In addition to the Herndon property, which is known locally
as the Pleasant View Farm, BORA expects to receive a house and
a parcel of battlefield land which was taken over when the Army
created the supply depot. The house is strategically located
at a major intersection and will serve well as a welcome and
interpretive center for BORA activities. Rumpke said the Herndon
property is not far away and will be used for displays.
Parties interested in interpreting the Battle of Richmond are
now in the beginning stages of shaping an interpretive plan.
One element of it will include the Mt. Zion Christian Church,
built in 1852 and used as a Union hospital during the battle.
The active church is open for public viewing on a by-appointment
basis. With the development of the battlefield as a tourist
attraction, Rumpke hopes the church will be available for visitors
on a regular schedule.
Surgeons are said to have performed amputations inside the church
and bloodstains remain on some of the pews. Evidence of the
battle is visible on the brickwork high between two windows.
It was caused by fire from Capt. John T. Humphrey's Arkansas
The principal commanders of the Battle of Richmond, were Union
Maj. Gen. William Nelson and Confederate Maj. Gen. E. Kirby
Smith with the Union 1st and 2nd Brigades of the Army of Kentucky
and C.S.A. Army of Kentucky. The victory was clearly the Confederate's
to claim with the Union suffering 4,900 casualties and the Confederates
suffering only 750 during the two days of fighting.
The Confederate troops were headed for Lexington, Ky., under
the lead of Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne. Nelson sent generals
Malhon D. Manson and Charles Cruft to oppose the invasion. The
armies confronted each other six miles below Richmond, near
the Mt. Zion Church and the Herndon farm.
The Federals became a "retreating mob" and scattered
as the more experience Confederate forces overran them and the
CSA troops moved on to Lexington.
Rumpke thinks the Battle of Richmond area "could be as
big as Fort Boonesborough," a nearby Richmond state park
that interprets an area settled by Daniel Boone and the Transylvania
Company and the nine-day "Great Siege" attack by the
Indians and French. The state has a camping and recreation area
with miniature golf course, water park, gift shop and museum.
Rumpke hopes the battle interpretation will entice tourists
and people passing through to Berea, a college town and "craft
capitol" a short distance to the south.
"I feel that this has some major, major potential,"
he said. "This property and this area is a diamond in the
rough." He predicts, "once we get the program in place,
with docents in the buildings and the visitors center and the
museum operating, with some good basic marketing, I'm sure we
could get a lot of people to pull off Interstate 75 on their