A camp of U.S. troops under Brigadier General Schoepf was established on Wildcat Mountain in Laurel County to secure a ford across Rockcastle Creek and to protect the Wilderness Road. Members of Brigadier General Zollicoffer's Confederate Army had moved north from Cumberland Ford in Bell County. The Confederates attacked in the morning under a sunny sky, were repelled by the outnumbered U.S. troops, and withdrew during the night. They arrived back at Cumberland Ford on 26 October 1861.
The Battle of Camp Wildcat in Laurel County, Kentucky was about to begin. In Boyle County, Professor Ormond Beatty at Centre College in Danville recorded that the night had been cool and by 7 a.m. the temperature was 52°F. No rain had fallen since that on the 16th and 17th. Since then, the warm days reached to or near 70°F during the afternoons and would have allowed the ground surface to dry. This morning (21 October 1861) the sun was shining with only a third of the sky covered with stratus clouds. The light surface winds were from the east but the clouds were moving from the southwest suggesting the approach of the system bringing the rain that would fall the next day. By 2 p.m., the temperature had reached 72°F. The barometric pressure had fallen to 29.00 inches after a steady decrease over the past 31 hours. As the Confederate force withdrew under cover of darkness, the temperature fell to 62°F under and overcast sky by 9 p.m. The rains began the next day (22 October) but only 0.083 inch fell in Danville. The temperature rose only to 68°F under a sky that was overcast. The rains were brief. By the morning of the 23rd, the temperature had fallen to 44°F as the west wind began to move the clouds away. By the morning of the 24th, temperature was 41°F under a clear sky and the frontal passage was apparent with the wind shift that brought cold air from the north and northeast. The morning temperature on the 25th was 45°F but, by the time the Confederate force reached Cumberland Ford in Bell County on the 26th, the morning low was 55°F.