The battle of Somerset (or Dutton’s Hill) was a battle fought on March 31, 1863 during the American Civil War. General John Pegram led a Confederate cavalry raid into central Kentucky which was defeated by Union forces under General Quincy A. Gillmore.
In early 1863, Brigadier General John Pegram led a cavalry raid into Kentucky in the vicinity of Lexington. Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore sought permission from Department of the Ohio commander, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside to move against Pegram. Although Gillmore had gained a reputation in artillery and engineering service Burnside nevertheless authorized Gillmore to lead a mixed force of cavalry and mounted infantry.
By the time the Union forces responded, Pegram’s cavalry had rounded up several hundred head of cattle. Gillmore’s force caught up with Pegram outside Somerset on March 31. Gillmore drove Pegram’s skirmishers up Dutton’s Hill where the Confederates made a stand. Making no headway at first, Union artillery was brought forward. The 45th Ohio Infantry made a successful charge against the hill forcing the Confederates to retreat.
Pegram retreated south of the Cumberland River leaving behind horses and much of his confiscated cattle. The defeat brought a significant amount of tension between Pegram and his subordinates.
His first independent field command was a success, though Gillmore continued to express interest in artillery and coastal service. General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck transferred Gillmore to South Carolina for a proposed campaign against Charleston, South Carolina.