The William Butner-Thomas Palmer House is a brick, story and a half hall and parlor plan structure built prior to 1834. The residence was used as a field hospital and landmark during the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, on August 29 and 30, 1862.
There are four historic buildings located in the Battlefield Park area where much of the 1862 Battle of Richmond took place.
Now the pro shop/clubhouse for the Battlefield Golf Course, the Palmer House was the residence of the Thomas Palmer family at the time of the battle. It was severely damaged during the fight near Mt. Zion Church, probably by Humphrey’s Arkansas Artillery Battery, posted near the Pleasant View house. Much of the damage was to the south and southeast side of the house, near where the men’s restrooms are now. Originally, the entrance to the structure was on the west side, but later was reversed with the entrance on the eastern side of the building.
Some of the wounded soldiers from the 69th Indiana and 95th Ohio Infantry regiments were treated at the house, as was “General” John Miller (1798-1862), a prominent Richmond resident who volunteered prior to the battle to serve as a civilian aide-de-camp to Federal Brigadier General Charles Cruft. Miller, from one of Richmond’s founding families, was mortally wounded while trying to rally Federal troops who were fleeing the area north of Kingston and the Mt. Zion Church. He died six days later at the Palmer house. Reputable witnesses to the battle stated that Miller was struck down as he flourished the colors with valor. Miller died on September 7, 1862, and was buried in the Richmond Cemetery.
Several area families sought refuge at the Palmer House during the battle, including Elizabeth Armstrong, her children and slaves, from Pleasant View, 3/4 of a mile or so to the southeast.
The Palmer House was a key landmark for the Confederates under Brig. Gen. Thomas Churchill, who marched up a ravine undetected by the Federals near Mt. Zion Church. This maneuver flanked the Federals, causing their right flank to collapse, forcing a disorganized retreat northward.
Like Mt. Zion Church and many other buildings used as field hospitals, the Palmer House was probably marked with a plain yellow hospital flag, (possibly a red flag) when the wounded were being treated there. Both sides recognized these flags as denoting hospitals, and usually would not intentionally fire on a building flying it. According to one account, Federal troops discovered and drank whiskey they discovered on the Palmer farm.
The Madison County Fiscal Court bought the Palmer House and the Battlefield Golf Course at auction in 2003, with the intent to improve and preserve the golf course as well as saving the historic value of the Palmer House and the battlefield areas.