AUGUSTA, Ky. -- In a weathered cemetery crowning a hill, several American flags flutter in the breeze. They mark graves so etched by the winds of time that the names of the entombed are all but gone.
This graveyard overlooking Augusta is the final resting place of local Union soldiers who fought during the Civil War. Those they met in battle, also Americans but under the Confederate flag, are buried off the side of the road near the outskirts of town. Their names were never found.
The little-known Battle of Augusta was never supposed to happen. Caroline Miller, a local historian, said Confederate Col. Basil Duke was headed into Boone County but had no intentions of going into town when arrived on the outskirts of Augusta on Sept. 27, 1862. That all changed when a Union gunboat opened fire, Miller said.
The local militia, many sympathetic to the South, still had a job to do.
"You protected your town whether it were from the Union or Confederate," Miller said.
As the rebels charged Main Street, families put out their own white flags of surrender. Then, the hiding militiamen surprised the Confederate force. More than 30 lives were lost in the battle.
All told, some 650,000 Americans died in the Civil War. That's more than World Wars I and II combined.
Miller said many still tend to villainize solders from one side or the other, despite the fact all were Americans. She'd like to see that changed.
"It's to respect everyone with their differences, with their positives, with their minuses," she said.