Fortifying Central Kentucky
The small earthwork above was just one part of an overall defensive strategy devised by the Union army to guard against Confederate raids. It was part of a grand plan put forth by Capt. Thomas B. Brooks.
In a letter to his commanding officer, Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, Capt. Brooks proposed that "...small defensive works be erected at the most important Fords, Ferries, Mountain Passes and Towns in this District South and East of this post [Lexington], or in other words that the present system for the defense of the Rail Road be extended southward."
The defense of the railroad Brooks alluded to was the systematic fortification of the railroad's most vulnerable spots - the bridges and trestles. Brooks envisioned a similar series of defenses for the protection of the fords, ferries, and bridges on the Kentucky River and other vulnerable areas.
Capt. Brooks' Plan
Brooks' plan called for the construction of a series of enclosed earthworks protected by stockades. Blockhouses in the center of the earthwork were designed to act as refuges in the event of an assault. Small numbers of Federal soldiers would garrison the forts. When needed, citizens and home guards would supplement the regular troops. Brooks saw these small earthworks not only as defensive positions but also as rallying points for the Union men of Kentucky.
At least part of the plan developed by Capt. Thomas Brooks was put into action. Earthworks were constructed along the Kentucky River at Boonesboro, Clay's Ferry, and Tate's Creek and overlooking the bridges at Frankfort and Camp Nelson.