The fate of Kentucky hangs in the balance. War among
States had occurred, and Kentucky desired, at least officially, to remain
neutral. Whoever stepped foot on her soil first would be her enemy. Even though
both sides violated this neutrality by recruiting in the State, it was the
events around Columbus, Kentucky that decided her loyalty. Here it was Ulysses
S. Grant facing off against Leonidas Polk in a relatively minor battle
engagement, that had far more consequential political effects. Kentucky would
officially join the Union, with a small factor declaring itself the rightful
government and aligning themselves with the Confederacy.
Within the lines of Grant’s army were the eager troops of
Company K, 31st Illinois Volunteer Infantry, known through-out the
ranks as the “Dirty-first”. This would be their first real taste of war, and
although their losses were small in comparison to other battles, it was here
that they learned the true lessons of war.