Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer's men occupied Cumberland Gap and took position at Cumberland Ford to counter the Unionist activity in the area. Brigadier General George H. Thomas sent a detachment under Colonel T.T. Garrard to secure the ford on the Rockcastle River, establish a camp at Wildcat Mountain, and obstruct the Wilderness road passing through the area.
Colonel Garrard informed Thomas that if he did not receive reinforcements, he would have to retreat because he was outnumbered seven to one. Thomas sent Brigadier General A. Schoepf with what amounted to a brigade of men to Colonel Garrard, bringing the total force to about 7,000. On the morning of October 21, soon after Schoepf arrived, some of his men moved forward and ran into Rebel forces, commencing a fight. The Federals repelled the Confederate attacks, in part due to fortifications, both man-made and natural.
The Confederates withdrew during the night and continued their retreat to Cumberland Ford, which they reached on the 26th. A Union victory was welcomed, countering the Confederate victory at Barbourville.
Result(s): Union victory
Location: Laurel County
Campaign: Kentucky Confederate Offensive (1861)
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Date(s): October 21, 1861
Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Albin F. Schoepf [US]; Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer [CS]
Forces Engaged: Camp Wildcat Garrison and Schoepf's Brigade (approx. 7,000 men) [US]; Zollicoffer's Brigade [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 78 total (US 25; CS 53)