A golf course and some stately homes today cover a portion of the rolling landscape a few miles south of Richmond.
In the middle of this modern, tranquil scene sits a reminder of some turbulent times during the 19th century. When the Union and Confederate armies clashed there in late August 1862, they left a path of destruction. Dead and wounded men lay on the battlefield. Instead of a subdivision full of homes, only a few farmhouses dotted the countryside.
Some of the homes were damaged in the fighting, but even buildings that took direct hits from cannon balls were used to shelter the wounded.
At least one soldier sketched a portion of the battlefield from memory, but no known photographs were taken of the battle's aftermath.
The Thomas Palmer House, built in 1834, was damaged by cannon fire during the battle. After the battle had passed by, wounded men from both armies were carried inside. A few died there, including Gen. John Miller of Richmond.
That scene, and its many emotions, has been captured by Richmond artist Richard Deane in a 6x8-foot mural that now hangs in the Palmer House. The painting was unveiled Tuesday by officials of the Battle of Richmond Association and members of the Richmond Kiwanis Club, which commissioned the painting.
Today, the house is painted white and serves as the clubhouse for the Battlefield Golf Course.
The battlefield stretched for several miles south of Richmond into town. It was too big to be encompassed in a single mural, Deane said. While battlefield action is fleeting, its aftermath long enduring. That message comes through in Deane's painting.
A wounded soldier being carried on a stretcher towards the house represents Gen. Miller, Deane explained. Miller was a prominent descendent of Richmond's founding family. He had been a general in the Kentucky militia, but at the time of the battle he had been appointed by President Lincoln as the internal revenue commissioner for eastern Kentucky.
He volunteered to serve as a civilian aide-de-camp when the Confederates invaded Kentucky but ended up in the thick of the fight. He was wounded in action and died six days after the battle.
Barefoot Confederate soldiers depicted in the painting are realistic, Deane explained. According to the book When the Ripe Pears Fell, many Confederates wore out their shoes as they marched and dragged cannon and wagons through the mountains to reach central Kentucky.
The resolute Confederate officer directing action in front of the Palmer House is realistic, Deane said. The Confederate army had a professional officer corps. Many were trained at U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel in South Carolina.
Military uniforms portrayed in the painting are authentic, Deane said. Phillip Seyfrit of Richmond, who takes part in the annual Battle Richmond re-enactments, was the model for the officer. Deane did not copy Seyfrit's face, however, only his uniform.
A woman leading two children toward the house, even as wounded soldiers are being carried in, represents Elizabeth Armstrong, a neighbor who brought her children to the house for safety, Deane said. Two slaves accompany the Armstrongs, intimating that slavery was behind the bloody military strife.
A former Eastern Kentucky University art professor who still teaches privately, Deane completed the mural in about two months this spring, he said. Deane painted the mural in his teaching studio, and he benefited from comments and questions from his students, he said. "At least now they know I do paint," Deane joked at the unveiling.
The idea for the painting originated when Charles Hay of the Battle of Richmond Association approached the Kiwanis Club about supporting battlefield renovation, said former Kiwanis treasurer Brenda Blankenship. Blankenship and her husband, former Eastern Kentucky University assistant football coach Joe Blankenship, reside in Battlefield Estates. She also works at the clubhouse.
The Kiwanis Club donated $2,500 to commission the painting. The club also sponsored an interpretive marker that stands outside the Palmer House.
RICHMOND - When people view his Civil War mural hanging in the Battlefield Golf Pro Shop, Richard Deane hopes they remember the Union and Confederate soldiers depicted are Americans.
"Once the battle was over and the animosity was gone, we all took care of each other," said Deane, who painted a detailed scene of wounded soldiers from the Battle of Richmond being taken to the Palmer House hospital, now the pro shop.
Funded by the Richmond Kiwanis Club, the painting is one of the many steps the Battle of Richmond Association has taken to restore the historic area and raise public awareness of Madison County's past.
The association was founded in 2001, and has since bought hundreds of acres of land to preserve the battle site and Palmer House where the wounded soldiers received care, said historian Robert Moody.
The Battle of Richmond was the second-largest Civil War battle in Kentucky and one of the Confederate's most overwhelming victories, Moody said, and informing the public about its historic significance is crucial.
Deane, a retired Eastern Kentucky University art professor, researched and worked on the mural for over two months. Deane, whose great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, said his family history and connection with the city of Richmond made the project especially valuable.
"I wanted to put the Palmer House in historical perspective as an integral part of the Civil War," Deane said. "I didn't want the building to sink into obscurity."
Historical accuracy was an important part of the painting, even though artistic license was allowed, Deane said. He included details, such as the confederate artillery damage to the Palmer House, the Palmer's neighbor taking two of her children to safety, and prominent Richmond citizen John Miller being carried on a stretcher.
Members of the association were thrilled with the results of the painting, a project that cost the Kiwanis club $2,500.
"It's one of the first things I've seen that really tells the human side of what the Civil War was about," association president Ed Ford said.
Back to Richmond Kiwanis Introduction Page