Skirmishes at Lawrenceburg, Dog Walk
engagements ‘of which no one has heard’
Lawrenceburg re-enactor James Bowen doesn’t mince words.
“The skirmishes at Lawrenceburg and Battle of Dog Walk are probably the most significant Civil War engagements fought in Kentucky of which no one has ever heard.”
But Bowen a retired teacher - Robert Myles and others of the Lawrenceburg-Dog Walk Battlefield Association (LDWBA) are determined to remedy that situation. They formed the LDWBA in 2009 after conducting a successful living history event the previous year, have sponsored two re-enactments and are well on their way to making the Anderson County skirmishes a known commodity in Kentucky Civil War circles.
The Battle of Lawrenceburg occurred Oct. 8, 1862 on the same day as the Battle of Perryville. Union artillery and infantry confronted Confederate cavalry that was headed north. Following a brief exchange, the Confederates retired to the south, but were not pursued by Union forces that maintained their position.
The following day (Oct. 9), the retiring Confederate cavalry waited at the small community of Fox Creek (Dog Walk) for returning Union supply wagons. By the end of the day, 58 wagons were captured and burned and some 500 Federal prisoners were taken. The conflict resulted in a significant Confederate victory.
All the Anderson County activity was preceded by the Confederate occupation of Frankfort and instillation of Richard Hawes as Kentucky’s second Confederate governor on Oct. 4. Hawes’ inauguration was interrupted by Union artillery as Federal forces regained control of the capital under the command of Gen. Joshua Stills. The general remained in Frankfort until proceeding south to the then small farming community of Lawrenceburg.
The Dog Walk engagement was hard fought, according to one participant. Alpheus S. Bloomfield, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, wrote of his experience at Dog Walk in a letter to his father.
“This was a great deal harder fight than Shiloh was according to the number engaged,” Bloomfield noted.
“A large portion of the Confederate army was in and around the area of McCall's springs, southeast of Lawrenceburg, which was a major source of drinking water during the drought-ridden summer of 1862,” Myles, LDWBA director and Lawrencburg city attorney points out. “Legend has it that Confederates drank the spring dry during their encampment.”
And, there’s another interesting sidebar.
“Another local story has it that while the Confederates were at McCall's springs, a local pro-Union lady named Miss Daffren (whose family was very much pro-Confederate) was said to be entertaining a Confederate officer at her father's home. No doubt charmed by the young Miss Daffren, the officer apparently spoke in some detail about the deployment of Confederate troops in the area.
“Later that evening, Miss Daffren politely and discreetly excused herself, mounted a horse and rode to the advancing Union cavalry. She informed an officer of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry (U.S.) what she had learned. The grateful officer in turn passed the information up the chain of command; information which proved to be a major factor in the Union victory at Lawrenceburg.
“For her part, Miss Daffren not only informed but apparently charmed the Union officer as well. She and the officer were married one year later.”
In 2009, 75 re-enactors participated in the initial weekend event and some 150 were involved in 2010. The 2011 re-enactment is scheduled Sept. 25-27.