On September 23, distressing news for Union forces reached Camp Dick Robinson near Lancaster, Kentucky, where Colonel Garrard was just beginning to assemble his regiment. Advanced units of Zollicoffer's forces had already reached the Laurel River outside of London.
Garrard's poorly outfitted soldiers were rushed forward to the Wilderness Road. They were ordered to guard a ford across the Rockcastle River in the rugged Rockcastle Hills. The 1st Kentucky Cavalry, which was sent ahead of them, was also less than battle ready. Training had consisted of little more than instructions on how to shoot a musket.
Garrard's troops established camp on a ridge three miles above the south side of the Rockcastle River at a fork in the road. It was named Camp Wildcat. On September 29, Garrard reported that the Laurel County Home Guard had been routed at the Laurel River and were straggling into his camp. His report included evidence of the inadequate training given the new recruits.
The next day Garrard sent an urgent request asking for uniforms, blankets, and coats for his 975 men.
While Garrard was preparing Camp Wildcat, Confederate troops....