Origin of the Army
On October 7, 1862, Major General Horatio Wright, commanding the Department of the Ohio, issued Special Order No. 51, assigning Major General Gordon Granger to command the newly created Army of Kentucky.
Wright’s orders specified that Granger’s command would include, “all of the forces now operating in Kentucky on the line of the Licking River, extending from the Ohio River southward in the direction of Lexington.” Wright went on to state that, “As new regiments, detachments, batteries, &c, arrive from the several states of this department they will be incorporated into and organized with the forces of his command already assembled.”
On October 31, 1862, Granger reported that he had 19,751 enlisted men and 939 officers present for duty.
Transfer to Department of the Cumberland
On January 20, 1863, Wright sent Granger and most of the Army of the Kentucky, “to the Department of the Cumberland, to operate with the forces within that department.” Brigadier-General Absalom Baird’s division fought at the Battle of Thompson’s Station in Williamson County, Tennessee on March 5, 1863. One month later, the Army of Kentucky defeated Confederate General Earl Van Dorn’s forces at the Battle of Franklin (also known as the Battle of Harpeth River) on April 10, 1863.
Dissolution of the Army
On June 8, 1863, Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Cumberland, issued Special Field Order No. 156, reorganizing most of the units comprising the Army of the Kentucky. Many of the soldiers remained under Granger’s command as the Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. Rosecrans reassigned others to various divisions of the 14th Army Corps. Rosecrans’ special order ended the brief eight-month existence of the Army of Kentucky.