Siege of Lexington, 18-20 September 1861

Captain Joseph A. Wilson, of Lexington, thus describes the Union position: “The college is on a bluff about 200 feet above low-water mark, and from 15 to 30 feet higher than North or Main street. Third street runs along the top of the bluff. Close to and surrounding the college building was a rectangular fort of sods and earth about 12 feet thick and 12 feet high; with bastions at the angles and embrasures for guns. At a distance of 200 to 800 feet was an irregular line of earthworks protected by numerous traverses, occasional redoubts, a good ditch, trous-de-loup, wires, etc., etc. Still farther on the west and north were rifle-pits. The works would have required 10,000 or 15,000 men to occupy them fully. All the ground from the fortifications to the river was then covered with scattering timber. The spring just north and outside of fortifications, was in a deep wooded ravine, and was the scene of some sharp skirmishing at night, owing to the attempts of the garrison to get water there when their cisterns gave out.”

Explanation of the Diagram of the Hospital Position: “a is the Anderson house or hospital; b a smaller brick house back of it; c an outlying low earthwork, projecting down nearly into the ravine, represented by the dotted line, while the inclosed earthwork was built up around the head of the ravine, as shown by the plain line; d the sally-port in the earthworks, about one hundred yards from the hospital; e a canal-like carriageway leading up to the house, and in which the sharp-shooters lay secure, only about eighty feet from the front door of the hospital; the brackets represent Federal picket-guard stations with a little dirt thrown up for protection; the dotted line sss shows deep gorge or ravine which was full of Confederate sharp-shooters.”

Map taken from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: I: Sumter to Shiloh, p.309


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