Sunday, September 23, 2012

McCook's Division Near Fort Duffield

The official record does not tell us where the Seventeenth Kentucky and the rest of Alexander McCook's Division is on this day in 1862.  These few lines, however, do provide some insight to their location and state of mind.  They have been on the road for the past two weeks and the terse wording of General McCook's reply suggests that they are near exhaustion. 


SEPTEMBER 23, 1862.
General McCOOK:

March to the mouth of Salt River and cross to-morrow.


                              *  *  *

[SEPTEMBER -, 1862.]
Colonel FRY:

I will be at the mouth of Salt River to-night, but must march so as not to leave my men upon the road.


The Salt River drains a watershed southeast of Louisville and opens into the Ohio River at West Point, about 35 miles southwest of the city at the northern terminus of the Dixie Highway. McCook's reply indicates that his division is at or approaching Muldraugh Hill, site of Fort Duffield (1861) and the future Fort Knox Military Base, some 40 miles west of Bardstown and 10 miles south of the mouth of the Salt River.

Wright sends this message containing a message within a message to Halleck in Washington.  It illustrates the problematic communications created by Buell's being cut-off from his headquarters in Louisville by the advancing troops of Braxton Bragg.  Buell's forward troops are still nipping at the heels of the Confederate general.


Cincinnati, Ohio, September 23, 1862.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

The following dispatch just received from General Nelson at Louisville: 

Major-General WRIGHT: 

The advance of the enemy was at Bardstown yesterday. I cannot learn o their  having moved this way. Three young men arrived to-day from Munfordville with a letter without signature, but known by me the handwriting of a friend at Munfordville, which is as follows:

"WOODSONVILLE, KY., September 11, 1862.

"Bragg Buckner, Hardee, and, they say, Polk are here with about 30,000 a few more or less. They say they are going to Louisville. They report that Buell has attacked their rear. They are in line of battle between here and Horse Cave. Skirmish out there this evening. Say they have other troops coming on. Colonel Wilder fought them Sunday, and Tuesday, and was compelled to surrender at day-light. Look out; a large force is coming on you certain
January[end of message].

The troops are in the best of spirits possible, and I shall make good the defense. 

Very truly,
W. NELSON,General.

Major-General, Commanding.

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