Federal army medical director Dr. Bernard J.D. Irwin commandeered the courthouse (along with the Madison Female Institute) as hospitals in late August 1862.
On August 30, 1862, the wounded began to fill the courthouse early on that unrelentingly hot day. Medical personnel were quickly overwhelmed.
The panic stricken Union soldiers ran past the courthouse late in the day, only to be marched back to it after being captured north of Richmond. The courthouse served as a compound which many of the Union prisoners were kept awaiting release.
Townspeople brought food and water to the prisoners, and after a few weeks, the courthouse returned to its original purpose.
The building has had several renovations and additions over the years, the last significant one being in 1965. The marble and iron staircase in the front foyer was added in 1890s.
The iron fence in which the Union prisoners were kept was moved to in front of the Richmond Cemetery in 1906. An iron bandstand (that sat at the corner of West Main and North Second streets) fell victim to one of many of the metal collection drives during WWI and WWII.
The post-bellum Madison County jail sat behind the courthouse, but it was torn down in the early 1990s when it was replaced by a more modern facility on West Irvine Street.
The Madison County Courthouse still serves the residents of Madison County today. County offices, including the Circuit, County and Fiscal Courts, occupy the building. Although the interior has been extensively renovated and improved, the exterior (other than being painted white) remains virtually unchanged since the Battle of Richmond in 1862.
There are four historic buildings located in the Battlefield Park area where much of the 1862 Battle of Richmond took place.
The Madison County Courthouse was designed by Col. Thomas Lewinski and built in 1848/1852 at a cost of $40,000. It is an excellent example of an antebellum public building in Kentucky.
The courthouse square was originally surrounded by a wooden fence, but a wrought iron fence had been erected by 1855 at a cost of $3,000.00.