The Anthony Woodson House and Farm during the Civil War in Munfordville, Hart County, Kentucky
Hart County was founded in the year of 1819 from sections of Barren and Hardin Counties. Hart County was named for Captain Nathaniel G. S. Hart, a Kentucky militia officer. During the War of 1812 Captain Hart was wounded at the Battle of Frenchtown and died in the Massacre of the River Raisin.
During the Civil War, the Battle of Munfordville was fought in Hart County in 1862. It was a Confederate victory.
The history and photographs that follow are about the Woodson plantation house in Munfordville and the Civil War Battles that were waged in 1861 and 1862 in autumn and winter.
Thomas Jefferson bestowed Thomas Woodson a large farm as a land grant, for his service in the Revolutionary War. His son, Anthony Woodson, eventually made his home on this site, developing a prosperous farmstead.
The Woodson Family could sit upon their porch in the evening and watch the L & N Railroad Bridge across the river. Unbeknownst to them, is that this bridge would be their undoing.
The historic, two-story plantation house in Munfordville, Kentucky, known as the Woodson House, was the home of Anthony L. and Eliza B. Chapline Woodson and their nine children. During the infamous “Battle for the Bridge” Colonel Robert A. Smith was gravely wounded on September 17, 1862. He was taken to the Woodson House to recover and Mary E. Brent, who was eight years old at the time, recollected Colonel Smith being brought to the house and placed on the front porch. Later that day her Aunt Eliza Woodson returned home. Eliza persisted that he be moved into the house and into a warm, clean bed to recover and rest.
Mary Brent said the Colonel lived through the evening while her Mother and Aunt Eliza ministered and watched over him but to no avail he passed on the following day, of September 18, 1862. Colonel Smith was placed in a rudimentary coffin to be buried in the corner of the Woodson’s garden. This garden area is near the existing flower garden located at the backend of the house. Later the body would be returned to Jackson, Mississippi for a permanent burial.
The Woodson’s house and farm received copious damage due to the strategic importance of the massive Louisville-Nashville Railroad Bridge over the Green River near Munfordville town. A mighty Union garrison was maintained to protect the railroad throughout the war; in fact, it was not until late September of 1865, five months after the end of the war, that the military hospital would close and the last soldiers depart.
When the military occupied the village, many of its citizens were disrupted and subjected to considerable monetary losses. There were many residents’ homes and buildings that were commandeered by the Union military.
Many acres of prime timber were cut for lumber and fuel, and for fortifications that would be built. A sizable network of roads would crisscross what used to be fertile fields.
One of the largest losses suffered was by Anthony Woodson and his wife, as it was on their farm (one of the greatest in the county) that the conflicts of December 17, 1861 and September 14-17, 1862, were fought. Fortifications were erected upon their land while barns and outbuildings were burned, timber was chopped, and all of Woodson’s rail fences were taken down and used for burning firewood.
It was told that the fences were torn down on several occasions throughout the entire war. The damages of this war deprived the Woodson family of all their farm income and caused much hardship to many families in the village.
The original Woodson house was burned, perhaps most likely destroyed following the “Battle for the Bridge,” because their home was not contained within the claim the family filed for reimbursement from the Federal Government.
In 1864, Congress had passed an enabling act to reimburse the loyal civilians for losses caused by the armies in battle and throughout occupation. Woodson’s family claim was for the amount of $12,126.00. Since many of the villagers considered Anthony Woodson “a Southern man,” the money was very slow in coming to them. The following years the family would finally agree and accept $4,594.00 in settlement.
The Woodsons finally rebuilt their home using the same foundation and pretty much the same design as the original. The old Summer Kitchen in the back of the house is the original.
Battle of Rowletts Station
December 17, 1861
Other Names of this Battle ~ Battle of Woodsonville,
Battle of Green River
Kentucky Confederate Offensive (1861)
131 total (US 40; CS 91)
In early November, after Brig. Gen. Don Carlos Buell took command of the Department of the Ohio, he attempted to secure control by unifying and sending troops into the field. He sent an order for Brig. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook, commanding the 2nd Division, to Nolin, Kentucky. In the meantime, the Confederates had been shaping a defensive line along the Green River near Munfordville.
On December 10th, McCook launched a movement towards the enemy lines, where Rebels countered by partially destroying the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bridge on the Green River. After this, the Union sent forward two companies of the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment across the river to avert a surprise and to begin construction on a pontoon bridge for the passage of trains and artillery.
On December 17 the bridge was completed. Four more of the 32nd Indiana companies were to cross the river. As the unified forces advanced closer to a hill south of Woodsonville they spotted enemy troops in the woods fronting them.
Two companies proceeded to move toward the enemy in forest, which receded back until the Confederate cavalry attacked. A general battle arose as eight Yankee companies fought a considerably larger Confederate force.
The Union troops then formed a classical “box” maneuver, being the first time cavalry had faced infantry in such a situation in the war. There was fear that the enemy might roll up his right flank, so Col. August Willich, commander of the regiment, ordered a withdrawal to a more advantageous position in the rear. Knowing of McCook’s approach, the Rebels would withdraw from the field, bearing the heavy loss of their leader, Col. Benjamin Terry.
The outcomes of the battle were indecisive, but the Union troops did occupy the area and insured further movement of their men and supplies on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.
CWSAC Reference #: KY004
Preservation Priority: III.4 (Class D)
Battle of Munfordville, KY
Sept. 14-17, 1862
Other Names for this Battle ~ Battle of Green River Bridge
Confederate Heartland Offensive (1862)
4,862 total (US 4,148; CS 714)
In 1862, Gen. Braxton Bragg’s army left Chattanooga, Tennessee, in late August with the Confederate offensive into Kentucky. Followed by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Union Army, Bragg and his men approached Munfordville; of which was an important station on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and the location of the railroad bridge crossing Green River, in mid-September.
Col. John T. Wilder was the commander of the Union garrison at Munfordville, which consisted of three regiments and extensive fortifications. Wilder rejected Col. John Scott’s demand to concede, which drew Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers and his forces to reduce the garrison. Wilder refused Chalmers’s demand to lay down arms on the 14th. Union forces repulsed Chalmers’s attacks on the 14th which forced the Rebels to direct siege operations on the 15th and 16th.
Late in the day of the 16th, with the realization that Buell’s forces were near and not wanting to kill or injure innocent townspeople, the Confederates conveyed still another demand for surrender. Wilder, who was hesitant on what action to conduct, entered enemy lines under a flag of truce, and asked Confederate Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner for his advice, being a soldier of honor. Wilder, who at first was taken aback and complained that “this is not how such things are done,” Buckner finally agreed, with Bragg’s consent, and was allowed to escort Wilder to view all the Rebel troops thereby convincing him of the futility of resisting. With this knowledge, Wilder surrendered.
A formal ceremony would occur the next day, on the 17th. Munfordville, with the advantage of the bridge and railroad as an important transportation center under the Confederate control, would greatly affect the movement of Union men and supplies.
Result(s): Confederate victory
CWSAC Reference #: KY008
Preservation Priority: II.2 (Class B)