Battle of Leatherwood turns 10
by Bailey Richards
This year marks the 10th anniversary for the Battle of Leatherwood Reenactment in Perry County, and the 150th anniversary of the skirmish the annual event depicts. These historic anniversaries are being marked by a few changes at the battlefield in Cornettsville that organizers hope will bring about more educational opportunities for those in attendance.
The Battle of Leatherwood was a Civil War skirmish waged at the Brashearville Salt Works in what is now Cornettsville, Kentucky. Salt was important to the way of life during Civil War times as a preservative of food. Having salt could keep you fed and alive through out a long winter.
The salt works was being held by a Confederate group from Whitesburg when a group of Union Soldiers from Harlan fought to take it over, according to Kerry Crutcher, chairman of the Battle of Leatherwood Reenactment Committee. After the shooting ended, the Union had won the salt works.
This conflict is commemorated every year on the actual battle site with a reenactment. In the past 10 years both the battlefield and the event have grown, and this year is no different. Crutcher said that the committee moved two historic structures to the site this year. One of them came from Bull Creek, while the second was a cabin first built in the Gordon community of Whitesburg in 1935. The building from Bull Creek had been used to house various animals over the years.
Both of the structures had to be reconstructed at the battle site where workers gave the cabin a new wood shingle roof. Along with these buildings the committee has plans of turning the compound into a museum and adding even more period displays. “We have been collecting cut stones with plans for next year to build a stone blacksmith shop,” Crutcher added.
Another project they are hoping to complete is building a large structure on the site to house some of the annual events, such as the ladies tea, Crutcher explained.
An education day is also held each year for students across the region to learn how Kentuckians lived during the Civil War time period. This year they are expecting around 1,200 students from six counties. The students will have the opportunity to take part in several demonstrations like making soap, and listen to 25 lecturers and watch a cannon fire.
Saturday is the biggest day for the reenactment and kicks off with the opening ceremony at 9 a.m. followed by meeting of the presidents and generals at 11 a.m. A ladies tea is at noon and the battle at 2 p.m. Later that night a grand ball takes place at the Stewart Robinson College. Throughout the day the Battle of Leatherwood Committee will have period food for sale and the Cornettsville Fire Department will also have food and drinks for sale.
Sutlers, or tents, selling period clothing and goods will be set up at the site throughout the weekend.
The battle is a free event for the public, and Crutcher noted that the the Battle of Leatherwood Committee puts out an annual publication with articles about history and stories from the battle field. It is through the sale of ads in this publication and donations from tourism commissions and county governments that the battle is able to remain free to all attendees.
Crutcher said he and the committee are committed to keeping the history of the area alive both through the reenactment and through the work at the site to become a museum. They are interested in all history and not just that of the battle.
“I think it is interesting just in concept how our ancestors lived,” said Crutcher. “It is good for kids to see that, and to see the world as it was those days and get the feeling of the ancestors what they did and how they lived. They enjoyed just sitting on their porch and watching the sun set.”
The Battle of Leatherwood Reenactment will take place at the battlefield in Cornettsville near the Cornettsville Fire Department on Highway 699. All are welcome to this family friendly event which runs from October 26-28. More information about the battle and the reenactment can be found at www.BattleofLeatherwood.com.
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