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Middle Creek Battlefield In Kentucky Opens In July

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  • lilsteve68@aol.com
    Middle Creek Battlefield In Kentucky Opens In July By Kathryn Jorgensen - July 2004 PRESTONBURG, Ky. — The battlefield where future president Col. James A.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2004
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      Middle Creek Battlefield In Kentucky Opens In July

      By Kathryn Jorgensen

      -
      July 2004 PRESTONBURG, Ky. — The battlefield where future president
      Col. James A. Garfield made his name and earned promotion to brigadier
      general will open to the public this month.

      Middle Creek National Battlefield is the privately owned 450-acre
      battlefield where Union and Confederate Kentucky troops fought in
      hand-to-hand combat during the Jan. 10, 1862, action that drove
      Confederates back to Virginia.
      The site's expected June opening was delayed after one of the worst
      floods in history struck the battlefield over Memorial Day weekend.

      Frank Fitzpatrick is founder and president of The Middle Creek
      National Battlefield Foundation Inc., the nonprofit formed in 1998
      when the Fitzpatrick family donated the farm that their family owned
      since 1798.

      The farm, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992,
      "has had very little change in 142 years," says Fitzpatrick. He
      describes it as ridge and valley, hay fields and pasture. The house
      that sat in the middle of the farm during the battle is no longer there.

      High water isn't new to Middle Creek. It was high the night before the
      battle. Fitzpatrick recounts soldier reports about Union troops
      fording the chest-high creek and Garfield and his men being so wet and
      cold they slept leaning against trees. On Feb. 1, a few weeks after
      the battle, the area was under water from what Fitzpatrick calls a
      500-year flood.

      Middle Creek is the largest and most significant Civil War battlefield
      in eastern Kentucky, he says. It's within easy travel from major
      cities in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee and is included in the
      Kentucky Civil War Trail.

      The foundation has been working for two years to get the site ready
      for visitors with walking trails and interpretive panels.

      Tourists will find a parking lot large enough to accommodate buses and
      trucks. Four large double-sided panels "explain almost in its entirety
      about the battle, why it took place, where it did and who the players
      were and what it meant to either side," says Fitzpatrick. The panels
      also tell about the foundation and its preservation and interpretation
      efforts.

      Two trails, Union and Confederate, offer full interpretation
      explaining battle events and what occurred near each panel. The
      Confederate Loop Trail is a little less than a quarter-mile, while the
      Union Loop Trail is a little over a quarter-mile long. Together they
      have seven interpretive markers, and two more will be set within the
      battlefield.

      Three interpretive signs in Prestonburg mark the Samuel May House,
      which was a Confederate recruiting post; May's gristmill, which Union
      troops raided the night before the battle; and the Garfield Place, a
      home that Garfield used as headquarters after the battle.

      The foundation welcomes private and public donations, grants and
      members, as well as volunteers, now busy doing cleanup. The foundation
      is raising funds for a 9,000-square-foot educational facility that
      will include a research library, multi-media theater, restrooms and
      exhibit area.

      Information is available at www.middlecreek.org.






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