Battle of Avondale

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The Battle of Avondale was actually a very brief skirmish between Union officers of Wilson's army and a local guard in the spring of 1865 at the home of Jefferson County Sheriff Abner Killough as it was reported in an 1885 story in the Weekly Iron Age and an 1893 story in the Birmingham Age-Herald.

The Killoughs had been granted 1,640 acres covering most of what is now Avondale and Forest Park in 1858. They built a home with a veranda perched on top of the hill next to an apple orchard in what is now Avondale Park and was then known as Big Spring for its cold spring-fed pool.

According the the 1885 account, Mrs Killough was home alone, knitting on her porch, when a group of U. S. Army officers who had been camped on the ridge of Red Mountain brought their horses down to the spring to water and stopped at the house to pass the time. They were laughing and singing when a unit of the home guard led by Captain James Truss of St Clair County, a veteran of the 10th Alabama Infantry, saw them gathered around the house and took them for looters, perhaps after the gold Killough was rumored to have stockpiled on the property. The guardsmen took aim and fired to disperse the Yankees, but Mrs Killough, standing to signal to them, was the only casualty, suffering the passage of a lead ball through her shoulder. The Yankees retreated to the ridge and were not pursued.

In the 1893 account, the Union officers were racing to rejoin their unit on the road South to Selma and stopped to water the horses at the Spring. The home guard, which had stationed themselves outside the Killough's house, spied the blue coats from about 300 yards away and took aim for a volley. The rifle balls hit the water like hail and prompted the Yankees to return fire, one of their bullets wounding Mrs Killough in the breast. Other neighbors appeared at the sound of firing, but before the conflict escalated, the officers beat a hasty retreat, resuming their Southward course.

As the story goes, Mrs Killough's injury was the only blood spilled in violence in Jefferson County during the war. She did recover from her wounds. The Kings sold the property to Peyton King in 1876 and moved to a new home near Montevallo. As long as the house remained standing, there were those who claimed to be able to show the hole in the porch siding where the bullet lodged itself.

References

  • "Battle of Avondale, 1865" (September 3, 1885) Weekly Iron Age
  • "Avondale - The Historic Spot" (May 25, 1893) Birmingham Age-Herald
- both reprinted in Browne, Catherine Greene (2007) History of Avondale. Birmingham: A. H. Cather Publishing Co.