In the early morning hours of December 30, 1862, three companies of Gen. John Hunt Morgans 9th Kentucky Cavalry, supported by a single 12-pounder mountain howitzer, demanded the surrender of the Federal garrison at New Haven, Kentucky. The garrison commanded by Capt. John K. Allen, consisted of Company H, 78th Illinois Infantry Regiment who occupied a small stockade at the west end of the L&N Railroad bridge at New Haven. The Union garrison,about 90 men strong, were outnumbered two to one by the 220 Confederates.
Col. William H. Benneson, commander of the 78th Illinois Infantry Regiment was in New Haven when the Confederates attacked. Benneson "respectfully declined " the Confederate demand for surrender. The fighting began with Confederate artillery fire 1000 yards northeast of the stockade. The Confederates shelled the Union troops for over an hour moving their gun several times to get closer to the Union defenders. When the Confederates had closed to within 800 yards,the men of the Union soldiers opened fire. The Union fire drew in the Confederate cavalrymen, they dismounted leaving their horses behind the Howell House, deployed and returned fire. After thirty minutes, the heavy fire from the Federal infantry drove off the main attack. The Confederates tried once more this time they attempted to flank the stockade by coming down the north side of the railroad embankment, Union fire again drove the Confederates off. The Southern troops withdrew taking their dead and wounded with them. The Union soldiers suffered no casualties, but the artillery fire damaged several buildings in New Haven, including both taverns. Confederate losses were reported as 2 killed and 10 wounded.
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