The Battle of Leatherwood
October 19, 1862
Leatherwood Creek, Perry County, Kentucky

Co B, 13th Cav. CSA
Confederate Cavalry with Watermelon

Harlan Battalion USA

In 1835 the salt works at Brashearville (now known as Cornettsville, located at the mouth of Leatherwood in Perry County on Highway 699, just off Route 7) was established. The Salt works produced approximately 250 bushels of salt a week and was strategically important to both armies. It employed eleven workers. The price of salt was a dollar a bushel in the earlier days of business.

The owners were Hugh White and Robert S. Brashear. Mr. Brashear had migrated from Sullivan County in North Carolina in 1814. He was elected as one of the first magistrates and in 1825 as Sheriff. He also operated a general store and had 15 slaves working his farm. From the very start of the war, both armies recognized the salt works importance. Almost immediately, the 13th Kentucky Cavalry (known at that time as the 10th Kentucky) was assigned to defend it and use that area as one of their bases of operation in the fall of 1862. Of the ten companies that comprised Colonel Caudill's Army, most if not all were stationed at around that base camp area.

On October 19, 1862 Major Blankenship encamped his Harlan Battalion at the Lewis farm on Poor Fork. He ordered forty of his soldiers to the salt works to meet a group of home guards that wanted to join his outfit in that area. But a Lt. Clabe Jones states in his autobiography that the purpose was to drive the Confederates from Perry County. In any event, a full-blown fight was about to ensue.

Three sons of Mr. Brashear had joined the Confederacy. One son, Captain Samuel Ray Brashear, was the officer in charge of Company H, stationed at the Leatherwood Salt works. He was ordered into Whitesburg for training and Captain David J. Caudill (Colonel Ben Caudill's brother) moved Company B from Whitesburg to Camp Leatherwood to serve as vanguards over the much sought after salt. The actual accounts vary but the battle began when the Confederates were discovered procuring late season watermelons (supposedly from a deaf and dumb man's patch). Taken by surprise, Captain David J. Caudill's men found themselves on one side of the Leatherwood Creek with approximately 40 of Major Blankenship's men exacting "severe" fire in both directions. The smoke from the 140 guns created a rolling mist and the smell of black powder saturated the air. Clabe Jones stated about the intensity of the battle stating, "We had a hot time for awhile." The battle seesawed back and forth until Captain David J. Caudill received a severe wound in the hindquarters, rendering him unable to continue his leadership role or stay in the saddle. Captain George Hogg quickly consulted with his fellow officers and decided to evacuate the area.

Casualty estimates ranged from 1 dead on each side to 5 Confederates and 1 Union soldier dead. With that much-sustained firepower of 140 men, one must summate that there were several wounded during the interlude of battle. The Harlan County Battalion confiscated all the food and according to Lt. Clabe Jones, the, "Biggest pone of cornbread I ever saw. It would have weighed more than fifty pounds!" The watermelons also became the spoils of the war. But 2 days later, Colonel Ben Caudill led five hundred of his 13th Kentucky Cavalry on a raid of the main Harlan County camp and rescued most of the items borrowed by the Union boys.

(A Little Salt With Your Watermelon, The Battle of Leatherwood; Perry County's Biggest Civil War Fight; October 19, 1862; Sparkman, Faron; East Kentucky Magazine; July 2001) (Life of James Claybourn Jones ; Jones, Clabe)

The Anniversary Reeactment of the Battle of Leatherwood
Second Weekend of October

The Anniversary Reeactment of the Battle of Leatherwood Fourth Weekend of October 2006

Please join the people of Leatherwood and the members of the Ben Caudill Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and other reenactors at Leatherwood in October. We will commemorate the battle with reenactments, portrayals, displays of weapons and equipment, and other educational displays.

We will have food and drinks available for purchase at the battle site. We will have bleecher seating available but you might also wish to bring a lawnchair or blanket for your comfort. We will also have period items for sale, so come join us for the fun and learning

2006 Schedule 
Friday 27 October 

9:00-2:00  Living History Educational Days targeted for schools 

Saturday 28 October 
9:00...................Opening Ceremony, Drill, Demonstrations, Orations 
11:30 .................Ladies Tea 
12:00 .................Presidential Debate 
2:00...................Battle of Leatherwood 
TBD ...................Bible Study 
7:00 - 11:00 ..........Grand Military Ball at Calvary College (Stuart Robinson Campus) 

Sunday  29 October 
10:00 ..................Worship Service 
11:00 ..................Veterans Memorial Service at the Cemetery 
Noon ...................Opening Ceremony and Orations 
2:00...................Battle of Leatherwood 
3:00 ...................Closing Ceremonies 

Hosted by: *Leatherwood Reenactoment Committee

For More Information contact: Gary Begley, (606)476-8338, Jon Back@ 606-633-3331 or David Chaltas

Directions From Hazard go south on HWY 15S about 6 miles to Jeff and take HYW 7 for about 11 miles and turn right on HWY 699 and proceed about 1/2 mile to the Cornettsville Fire Department and Park -- You should see a large sign there designating the battle site. See map here Map