Kentucky's economy was dependent on the Mississippi River in the south and the railways in the north.
One of the few slave states to stay in the Union, the Commonwealth's Civil War governor, Beriah Magoffin, was a Southern sympathizer, while the legislature supported the Union cause.
Kentucky was strategic to Union victory because it allowed the north to hold onto Missouri and Maryland, thus keeping the South regionally confined. Further solidifying Kentucky's significance was population and agriculture commodities. Geographically, Kentucky was critical to the South because the Ohio River would provide a defensible boundary along the entire length of the state and would allow a Confederate drive to the Great Lakes that would split the Union.
Lincoln is reported to have said that he hoped to have God on his side, but he had to have Kentucky. In a letter, Lincoln wrote, "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of the capital."
"The Civil War is a defining event in our nation's history, and our state played a pivotal role," said Worley. "Among Civil War events that history has proven to be significant are the battles at Richmond and Perryville."
The Battle of Richmond
The Battle of Richmond, a part of the 1862 Confederate invasion of Kentucky called the Perryville Campaign, was one the greatest Confederate victories of the entire war. The three engagements associated with this victory took place Aug. 29-30, 1862 and resulted in more than 80 percent losses by the Union forces. The first engagement took place at Big Hill, south of Richmond, and the second occurred at Berea.
The third engagement was at the Richmond Cemetery. When the cannons stopped firing and the smoke cleared, the Confederates had captured approximately 4,300 Union soldiers and the way north to Lexington and Frankfort was open. Civil War historians consider the Battle of Richmond an extraordinary tactical victory.
"The most complete victory of the entire war was in Richmond, Ky." Phillip Seyfrit of Richmond, a resurrectionist with the Battle of Richmond Association, said during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Committee.
The Battle of Richmond was the second largest Civil War battle in Kentucky. However, the largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil would occur just months later in October of 1862 in Perryville. The later battle would see more than 7,400 casualties.
"Many historians consider the Battle of Perryville to be part of a great turning point of the war," said Worley.
Seyfrit described it as the "greatest battle on Kentucky soil."
The Battle of Perryville, sometimes called the Battle for Kentucky, is considered a strategic Union victory. Afterwards, the critical border state would stay in Union hands for the remainder of the war.
"The Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Richmond are just two standout moments in the war. Countless other events and stories need to be recognized and preserved for future generations," said Worley.
"No state suffered more than this state during the American Civil War," said Seyfrit.
The commission would be charged with studying and recommending activities to commemorate important events in Kentucky during the Civil War. The commission also would educate Kentuckians and the nation about the importance of the Commonwealth's role in the Civil War as well as the effects and aftermath of the war on the citizens and the landscapes of Kentucky. The commission would encourage civic, historical, educational, economic and other entities to get involved in expanding the significance of the Civil War.