Sunday, August 30, 2009

One of Only Two Military Installations Built Upon a Battlefield

By Jo Adail Stephenson and Kevin Bennett

Blue Grass Army Depot Preserves Civil War Battle Site for Future Generations

Two historical markers now commemorate the area on Blue Grass Army Depot where the critical phase of the Civil War Battle of Richmond, Kentucky took place on August 30, 1862. An engagement resulting in more than 2,100 battle casualties, it was the scene of the most complete Confederate victory of the war. The crushing defeat of the Union Army opened up Kentucky and the Ohio River to the invading Confederates.

Laying fallow for over 60 years, a significant part of the battlefield lay within the bounds of the Depot, which was built in 1941-1942. One of only two military installations built upon a battlefield, it was not until recently that research and archeological surveys fully revealed the extent of what occurred on the property. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, the battlefield has yielded a wealth of artifacts associated with the battle which has contributed greatly to determining the movements and positions of the various units. Many of these artifacts are on loan to The Battle of Richmond Visitors Center/Museum, formerly Old Quarters 29 (the Depot commander's house), said Nathan White, the Depot archaelogist and cultural research manager. This building, which is listed on the National Register, had fallen into disrepair and was donated several years ago by the Department of the Army to Madison County as part of their effort to restore the battlefield.

More than 100 attendees participated in the recent dedication, which was the result of cooperative efforts of the U.S. Army, Madison County officials and a local group of historically-minded local citizens organized as the Battle of Richmond Association. "The Depot is very much a part of the local community and it was important for us to partner with local government and historical organizations to preserve this battlefield area," said Blue Grass Army Depot Commander Col. Joseph Tirone. "While this site represents a significant landmark of local and state history, it is more than that--the story of what happened here in August 1862 is also the Army's story," Tirone said.

"It is a story that began with the birth of our nation and continues to this day, a story of Americans, both men and women, who put on their country's uniform, follow its flag, perform countless tasks of selfless service and who are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their nation. It is only fitting and proper that the Army play a role in preserving this special piece of history and in helping ours and future generations remember what happened here," he said.

Funds used to pay for the markers and the restoration work were generated by recycling scrap metal at the Depot through the Qualified Recycling Program (QRP) managed by the installation's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Office.

"It's a success story of properly disposing of waste, benefiting the community and saving taxpayers dollars by being good environmental stewards of Depot land and resources," Tirone said. Plans are also underway to construct a recreation pavilion and interpretive walking trail near the battlefield.

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