Battle of Ivy Mountain

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Battle of Ivy Mountain
Ivy Creek
Ivy Narrows

November 8, 1861


November 9, 1861


Floyd County, Kentucky


Western Theater


Operations in Eastern Kentucky


Union victory

33 star flag.png
Conf Navy Jack.png

Detachments from twelve
Ohio and Kentucky units

Nine infantry companies
Two cavalry companies


William Nelson
Briadier General, USA
Joshua W. Sill
Colonel, USA

John S. Williams
Colonel, CSA







While recruiting in southeast Kentucky, Rebels under Col. John S. Williams ran short of ammunition at Prestonsburg and fell back to Pikeville to replenish their supply. Brig. Gen. William Nelson sent out a detachment from near Louisa under Col. Joshua Sill while he started out from Prestonsburg with a larger force in an attempt to “turn or cut the Rebels off.” Williams prepared for evacuation, hoping for time to reach Virginia, and sent out a cavalry force to meet Nelson about eight miles from Pikeville. The Rebel cavalry escaped, and Nelson continued on his way. Williams then met Nelson at a point northeast of Pikeville between Ivy Mountain and Ivy Creek. Waiting by a narrow bend in the road, the Rebels surprised the Yankees by firing upon their constricted ranks. A fight ensued, but neither side gained the bulge. As the shooting ebbed, Williams’s men felled trees across the road and burned bridges to slow Nelson’s pursuing force. Night approached and rain began which, along with the obstructions, convinced Nelson’s men to go into camp. In the meantime, Williams retreated into Virginia, stopping in Abingdon on the 9th. Sill’s force arrived too late to be of use, but he did skirmish with the remnants of Williams’s retreating force before he occupied Pikeville on the 9th. This bedraggled Confederate force retreated back into Virginia for succor. The Union forces consolidated their power in eastern Kentucky mountains. (NPS summary)