Skirmish at Simpsonville Memorial
The formal dedication of the Skirmish at Simpsonville Memorial will be held on April 10, 2011 at 3 p.m. That day is also the Sesquicentennial of the firing on Fort Sumter, recognized as the opening of hostilities in the Civil War, which also happened on a Sunday. The ceremony will be held at the site located at U.S. 60 and Webb Road, 1/2 mile west of Simpsonville.
The site memorializes the events of January 25, 1865, when elements of the 5th United States Colored Cavalry (USCC) were surprised by a band of Confederate guerillas while driving a herd of 900 cattle to Louisville. About twenty-two were killed and as many as twenty were wounded, six of whom later died of their wounds. Based at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, nearly all of the 5th USCC’s recruits were former slaves. The 5th USCC troopers “that were killed were buried in a long trench near where they were massacred.” News- paper accounts of the event referred to the “Skirmish Near Simpsonville” as a massacre, though military historians question the use of that term.
The nearby Highway Historical Marker is headed “Horrible Massacre” which was used in the headline to the January 26, 1865 article that appeared in the Louisville Courier. It is believed the USCC troopers fired only one shot in their defense before being overwhelmed. The area in which they were believed buried was later used as an African American cemetery. Members of Simpsonville’s Trim #2 United Brothers of Friendship Lodge, an African American fraternal organization, operated the cemetery until the last member died in 1965. Over 180 graves have been documented in the abandoned cemetery. This will become Kentucky’s third and largest memorial site dedicated to U.S. Colored Troops in Kentucky. The oldest is a marker in a Frankfort’s Green Hill Cemetery that was erected in the 1920s. The second monument to the USCT is at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County.
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