Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Astounding Life of Bennett H. Young

I. Introduction

            Wednesday, October 19, 1864 was a quiet day, cool and overcast from a recent rain in the small Vermont town of St. Albans. The little town of 2,800 people was located only fourteen miles from the Canadian border. The day before the town was crowded due to the weekly “market day” but today there were few people on the streets.  The town clock had just struck 3 o’clock as a group of townsmen were talking in front of the American House Hotel on Main Street when a man rode up on a fine black horse and dismounted. Some of the men may have recognized the tall handsome young stranger who had been in town several days. Some had taken him for a minister as he was often seen reading his Bible and conversing on religious topics. Now they were astonished when he drew a pair of Colt Navy pistols and announced to them in a cool even voice, “Gentlemen, I am a Confederate officer, my men have come to take your town. Anyone who resists will be shot.” At that moment small groups of Confederate raiders were entering the town’s three banks and taking “in the name of the Confederate States Government and in retaliation for the treatment of Southern citizens by the Federals forces under Sherman and Sheridan” what later was declared to be over $200,000.00 in gold and silver coin, greenbacks and bank securities. The three groups of “bank robbers” then converged on the village green where their leader and other raiders held townsmen under guard. As other aroused citizens now realized what was happening they began to fire at the raiders with shotguns and squirrel rifles from doors and windows. The raiders returned fire, one raider would be wounded, one citizen killed and two wounded. The raiders began tossing bottles of incendiary “Greek fire” in an attempt to set fire to buildings as they galloped out of town on the toll road headed north to the border. They thundered through the toll gates, bringing the gatekeeper out screaming that they had not paid the toll. In less than thirty minutes it was over. Lt. Bennett H. Young and his twenty-one rebel raiders had brought the war to New England and fought the northern most land action of the Civil War.
             It is a difficult task to condense the life, character and accomplishments of Bennett Henderson Young into a manageable length for a short article. He was such a talented, many sided man of so many different activities. His biographer Dr. Oscar Kinchen called him “a man of many adventures”. Certainly he was.

II. Youth

            Born in Jessamine County, Kentucky on May 25, 1843 he was one of seven children of John Young and Josephine Henderson. His father was the successful owner of a hat factory in Nicholasville. Both grandfathers were veterans of the Revolutionary War. One of his great uncles was credited with killing Col. Patrick Ferguson, the Tory commander at the Battle of King’s Mountain. Bennett grew up on a large farm about six miles west of Nicholasville and attended nearby Bethany Academy. The Young’s were devout Presbyterians, his older brother Daniel was a prominent minister and Bennett was expected to follow him in the ministry.
            In the spring of 1861 Bennett was involved in an altercation at Bethany Academy over the flying of a Confederate flag at the school. In September 1861 he enrolled in Centre College in Danville. In October 1862 his studies were stopped by typhoid fever. After his recovery he left home to enlist in the Confederate Army. 

III. Morgan’s Cavalry

            In early 1863 Young left home slipping through enemy lines into middle Tennessee where he found the command of General John Hunt Morgan. The command had recently returned from a spectacular raid through Kentucky which would be known as the “Christmas Raid”.  Young enlisted as a private in Co. B of the 8th Kentucky Cavalry commanded by Col. Roy Cluke. This regiment had been raised in central Kentucky during the 1862 Kentucky Campaign and many of Company B’s men were Bennett’s friends and neighbors from Jessamine County.
            On February 14, 1863 Col. Cluke led a force of about 750 mounted men including his 8th Kentucky into south central Kentucky to disrupt enemy communications and destroy supplies. Despite the freezing temperatures and blinding snowfalls the raid was a success with Cluke’s force destroying over a million dollars of Federal supplies. Col. Cluke later described the raid as a game of cat and mouse with the Union forces.  Cluke’s force captured Mt. Sterling twice paroling nearly 300 Union troops. Young was learning how to operate inside enemy lines, lessons he would put to good use later. Cluke’s force returned to middle Tennessee in late spring and took part in the operations of Morgan’s command patrolling and skirmishing with Federal cavalry through the early summer.

IV. The Great Raid

            In the early summer of 1863 General Morgan was ordered by Army of Tennessee commander Braxton Bragg to make a diversionary raid into Kentucky to keep Union forces from interfering with Bragg’s move from middle to eastern Tennessee. Morgan asked for permission to extend his raid into Indiana and Ohio to be more effective. Bragg would not authorize Morgan’s foray north of the Ohio River but Morgan was determined to take the war into enemy territory. His division of two brigades of 2500 men headed north into south central Kentucky on July 2nd
            When the 8th Kentucky reached the Cumberland River near Burkesville they found the river near flood stage with a swift moving current.  Loading their arms and equipment on a ferry boat the men allowed their horses to swim and stripped off their clothes to keep them dry. Shortly after reaching the far bank they were confronted by a force of Union cavalry. Quickly retrieving their weapons the still naked rebels charged the Federals who quickly retreated, apparently the sight of hundreds of naked men firing and yelling was too much for them.
            The next day Bennett’s regiment, this time fully clothed, fought a skirmish at Columbia, Kentucky and moved on to the Green River. On July 4th, Morgan’s command reached Tebb’s Bend and was confronted with a well fortified stockade manned by the 25th Michigan Infantry. Morgan decided to attack instead of bypassing this force. Furious attacks by the Confederates which left over forty of the command dead were unable to take the stockade and Morgan was forced to move on toward Lebanon. The next day Morgan again attacked Federal infantry at Lebanon stationed in buildings near the railroad. Here Bennett witnessed the death of popular Thomas Morgan, the younger brother of General Morgan who was killed in one of the assaults. In one of the attacks Bennett’s best friend Vincent Eastham was severely wounded. Under fire, Bennett carried him back to a field hospital where he left him to return to the fight. Later he found that his friend had died from his wound.
            Morgan turned west bypassing Louisville and reached the Ohio River at Brandenburg on July 8 where he crossed his command into Indiana on two captured steamers. After defeating Union home guards at Corydon Morgan turned northeast toward the Ohio line. Bypassing Cincinnati on the north the Confederates were continuously in the saddle and being pursued by thirty thousand Federals. The command rode almost the entire width of the Buckeye State to Buffington Island on the Ohio River where Morgan intended to cross the river into Virginia. The men and horses were exhausted by 17 days of continuous riding and fighting.  Cluke’s regiment was part of the force that was assigned to hold back the Union pursuers to allow the rest of the command to cross to safety. After a brief but fierce fight the Confederates were scattered, a few crossing the river, many others captured and several hundred escaping north led by General Morgan. Young was among this group with Morgan and was in the vanguard for the next six days until finally the exhausted remnant of Morgan’s command was surrounded near Salineville, Ohio and surrendered on July 26. 1863. The longest cavalry raid of the war had come to an end. During the raid Young had demonstrated the courage and leadership skills which were noticed by his officers.
Prison and Escape
            Young was confined briefly at Camp Chase then moved to Camp Douglas in Chicago in August. Many of his comrades from Morgan’s command were imprisoned here. Conditions at Camp Douglas were among the worst of the Northern prisons. Bennett soon attempted an escape but failed and received a 30 day sentence in the underground dungeon as punishment. Later he was successful in bribing a guard and escaping in early 1864, making his way into Canada.
Secret Service
            In Canada Young went to Toronto where he enrolled as a student in the University of Toronto. He contacted Confederate agents there and met with Confederate commissioners Jacob Thompson and Clement C. Clay.  Clay was impressed with Young and his ideas and gave him letters of endorsement to the Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin.  Young left Halifax, Nova Scotia in June for Bermuda where he obtained passage on a blockade runner bound for the last open port of the Confederacy at Wilmington, North Carolina. At the mouth of the Cape Fear River the blockade runner came under heavy fire from Union gunboats. Young volunteered to take the place of a lookout that refused to stay at his post because of the danger. Bennett helped guide the ship to safety under the guns of Fort Fisher. Traveling to Richmond he met government authorities and received from Secretary of War James A. Seddon a commission of first lieutenant in the regular army and approval of his plans for retaliatory strikes in the North. Young returned to Wilmington and catching the same blockade runner outbound he sailed to Bermuda. Before leaving he met Capt. Moffitt, commander of the Confederate raider CSS Florida which was refitting in the port of St. George. Moffitt offered Young a place on his ship’s staff which Bennett turned down to return to Canada.
            Arriving in Toronto with his orders Young began gathering a group of escaped Confederate prisoners of war for his missions. Most of them were Kentuckians of Morgan’s command. Since inflicting retribution on the North for its treatment of the Southern people seemed one of the main reasons for his planning he named his unit the “5th Company Confederate Retributors”. While this band was forming in Canada in August and September, Lt. Young was sent on other missions where he worked with two former members from Morgan’s cavalry, Capt. Thomas Hines and Captain John B. Castleman. Hines had escaped with General Morgan and was now the leader of a network of agents whose plans included working with the Copperhead movement in the North and attempts to free Confederate POWs at Camp Douglas, Johnson’s Island and Camp Chase in Ohio. Young now became a secret agent carrying funds and information to Hine’s agents in Chicago and New York. These missions were dangerous and his fate had he been captured would have been execution or a long imprisonment. None of these operations were successful most of it due to Federal agents infiltrating the organization and discovering its plans and arresting Hine’s men.
The St. Albans Raid
            In September Young returned to his plans to raid the towns in Vermont. The objects of the raid were not only retribution but to scare the New England populace into asking for military protection which might divert troops from the front, to sow seeds of doubt in the Northern voter’s minds on the Lincoln administration’s handling of the war that might influence the coming presidential election and to use the money taken from Northern banks to finance Confederate operations in Canada.
             Bennett carefully chose twenty-one men, almost all Kentuckians from Morgan’s command, men he knew he could trust. He did not want a repeat of the problems that had plagued Hines operations. Young’s men began referring to the raid as the “Vermont Yankee Scare Party”. St. Albans was chosen because it was an important rail hub and for its proximity to the border. Young and his men began traveling in small groups to St. Albans beginning about a week before the raid. The raid was a desperate affair, many years later Young in reflection expressed that it was the reckless escapade of a youth burning with patriotism for the South and wondered that he ever undertook it. The raid did cause uproar along the border and for a while a tense situation between the United States and British governments brought the prospect of trouble. The raid had no lasting effects on the course of the war.
             But tactically the raid was a great success. It was as well planned and executed as any modern “special ops” mission such as the one that killed Osama Ben Laden. And as bank robbers Young and his men succeeded in doing something the James-Younger or Dalton gangs never did; the successful robbery of three banks simultaneously without losing a man. The amount of money taken would be equivalent to over 3 million dollars today. There were several comic incidents during the raid. In one of the banks a nearly deaf ninety years old sat complacently behind a newspaper during the robbery. After Bennett’s men left the man asked who those “rude young men” were. In one of the banks Young’s second in command Thomas Collins forced the bank tellers to raise their hand and swear an oath to the Confederacy. The town photographer mistook the firing for the celebration of a Union victory. Coming out of his business just as Young rode by he asked the raiders about the “celebration”. His answer was a shot over his head from a raider’s pistol. The Greek fire was great disappointment. Whether due to a faulty mix of ingredients or the damp condition of the buildings and bridges they attempted to burn only a single structure, an outhouse, was destroyed.
             The raiders rode north breaking into smaller groups and dividing the money as they crossed the border. Bennett left the others before they reached the border to take the one wounded raider, Charles Higbee to a local woman who that was either a Southern sympathizer or was paid to hide him. Young and his men were mistaken in the belief that any pursuit would halt at the border and they would be safe. The stubborn Vermonters formed two posses of citizens and discharged Union soldiers and pursued the raiders across the border. They alerted Canadian law enforcement officers who began arresting the exhausted raiders in the places they had stopped for the night. After leaving Higbee Young made his way by back roads, crossed the border then stopped at a farmhouse near Freligsburg. While warming himself at the fireplace he was surprised by the Vermonters. After a brief struggle Young was captured. The posse was preparing to take him back to St. Albans when he was rescued by Canadian constables who took into custody saving him from a possible lynching. Fourteen of the raiders were captured by Canadian authorities along with a considerable amount of the stolen money.
            United States authorities claimed the raiders were criminals guilty of murder and robbery. Young claimed that he and his men were Confederate soldiers involved in an act of war ordered by their government and had broken no laws in Canada.  The prisoners were removed to a British garrison at St. John’s to await an extradition trial. They were removed to Montreal in November. Canadian public opinion was very favorable to them as Young as his men were perceived not as the thugs represented by the US authorities but as articulate, courteous well bred gentlemen from good families in Kentucky. The prisoners became celebrities and were treated more as guests than prisoners by their captors.
            The trial was front page news. Eminent Canadian attorneys were hired by the Confederate commissioners. Ironically, much of the $40,000.00 turned over to the commissioners by the raiders who escaped capture was used to pay for the captured raiders’ defense. Young kept up the spirits of his men with tongue in cheek letters to St. Albans. In one letter, he requested copies of the town’s newspapers be sent to them since they so enjoyed their editorials on the raid. In another letter sent to the hotel where he had stayed he apologized for having left without paying his bill. He enclosed his payment in cash from the Bank of St. Albans.
            When the extradition hearings resumed on December 13th the defense lawyers had found a legal loophole. The extradition treaty between the Canadian government and the United States stated that only a warrant signed by the Governor General of Canada could be used to arrest and extradite the accused. Since the warrants were local, the court had no legal authority to try the defenders. Unexpectedly and over the angry objections of the U.S. attorneys the judge agreed and ordered the defendants released immediately. However Bennett Young and four of his men were arrested two weeks later under a charge of conducting “uncivilized warfare” during the raid. After documents received from the Confederate government were received which confirmed their status as Confederate soldiers under orders of their government the charge was dismissed but they were held under a new charge of violating Canadian neutrality. Young himself now acted as their attorney and claimed his men had no part in the planning of the raid, only himself. His men were released in April. Young was released on bond and spent the next six months awaiting trial in Toronto. The charge was finally dropped after the war’s end for lack of evidence in October, 1865.

Post War Career

            Young was finally free but was a man without a country. He could not return to the United States due to the St. Albans charges. During his time in Canada he had met and fell in love with Mattie Robinson. She was the daughter of Rev. Stuart Robinson of Louisville, a Presbyterian minister who had fled to Canada to avoid being arrested for his anti-administration and pro-Confederate views. They were married at Niagara Fall (on the Canadian side) in 1866. His wife died in 1881. They had one child, a girl Josephine who died at the age of 20.
            While in Canada Bennett Young had found another love; his legal struggles had kindled a desire to study law. Fearing he would not safe from the United States government who had offered a large reward for him he decided to move to Great Britain to study international law. He studied for two years at Queen’s University in Ireland and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Returning briefly to Canada in 1868 he read law under another pro Confederate exile from Kentucky, Judge Joshua Bullitt.  He was finally able to return to Kentucky under the amnesty offered by President Andrew Johnson in the summer of 1868. Bennett settled in Louisville and began his law practice.
            Bennett Young’s rise in the legal profession was extraordinary; in five years he was among the most prominent and sought after attorneys in Louisville. He would be in active practice for fifty years and would have one of the largest law practices in the South. Later at the turn of the century he would be legal counselor to Governors William Goebel and John C. Beckham. Young was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1890 and was instrumental in its construction.
            In 1872 Young partnered with another Louisville attorney and went into the railroad business. Buying a defunct line they turned it into a profitable business. In the 1880s he formed the Louisville and Southern Railway. He was often in conflict with the L&N railroad who was his bitter rival. Under his leadership two notable railroad bridges were built. One bridge over the Ohio River in Louisville was the largest of its kind at that time. It was instrumental in increasing Louisville’s commerce and prosperity in the next decades. The other bridge was an engineering marvel over the Kentucky River at Tyrone which still stands and has always been known as “Young’s High Bridge”.

Family Man and Author

 Young remarried in 1895 to Eliza Sharp. They had two children Eliza and Lawrence. They purchased an old estate south of Louisville naming it “Youngland”. During his spare time Young loved to garden and collect prehistoric Native American artifacts. He began writing, having countless articles published in magazines and journals on religion, law and history. He was the author of several books including his best known “Confederate Wizards of the Saddle”. His last book published posthumously was a collection of children’s stories about “Dr. Gander”, the goose who ruled the barnyard at Youngland. He was a founding member of the Filson Club. In his personal life he continued to be a devout Christian, serving as superintendent of his church’s Sunday School for fifty years. It was said of Bennett Young that he was never seen to drink intoxicating liquor, use tobacco in any form or utter a word that would offend a lady.


            Despite his success in the business and literary fields it was his charity work that shows the true greatness of his character. He took the lead in establishing the Colored Orphan Home in Louisville 1879 and served as its president for twenty-five years. He also helped establish and promote the Booker T. Washington Community Center for the social welfare of the city’s African American children. He was a leader in improving race relations and was concerned with the legal rights of African Americans, sometimes offering his services pro bono if they were too poor to obtain his services. He helped establish and served as finance manager of a Presbyterian school for orphan girls in Anchorage. He served as president of the Kentucky School for the Blind for many years and often entertained its young students with his stories of the Civil War and Dr. Gander. He helped rescue the Louisville Free Public Library from bankruptcy in the 1870’s.

Confederate Veteran

            In 1889 Bennett Young joined the United Confederate Veterans and for the rest of his life was active in all Confederate veteran affairs throughout Kentucky. He served as Commander of the Kentucky Division several times and became known as one of the great orators of the Lost Cause. S. A. Cunningham, the editor of the Confederate Veteran Magazine said, “no other speaker could move the Confederate heart as this Kentuckian”. He was the architect of the hugely successful reunions of the UCV which he brought to Louisville in 1900 and 1905 when the city received thousands of gray clad old veterans with great fanfare. Lt. Young now became “Colonel” and then “General” in the ranks of the UCV. In 1912 he was elected Commander in Chief and was reelected each year until he voluntarily stepped down in 1916. He was then made honorary Commander in Chief for life.
            He was constantly sought after as a speaker for veteran and memorial occasions. He was chosen to be the speaker for the South at the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the greatest gathering of Blue and Gray veterans ever held. His message was always one of reconciliation and a reunited country. He partnered with the United Daughters of the Confederacy on many memorial projects throughout Kentucky. Just some of the projects in which he was the driving force were: the Zollicoffer monument at the Mill Springs battlefield, the Nicholasville Confederate monument, saving the Jefferson Davis Home in Todd County and turning it into a state park, building of the Jefferson Davis Highway and his greatest monument work the Jefferson Davis monument at Fairview. This 351 foot high obelisk is second only to the Washington Monument.
              The establishment of Kentucky’s Confederate Soldiers Home in Pewee Valley would have not been possible without his efforts. During his lifetime Bennett Young was always concerned with those in life who could not help themselves. Seeing many of his former comrades in declining heath, financially unable to support themselves and many with no family to care for them he was determined to establish a home for them. In 1899 he proposed to the Kentucky Division of the UCV to establish such place. He was appointed chairman of a committee to raise the funds and secure the legislature’s approval for a state operated institution. Young used the success and enthusiasm from the 1900 UCV reunion as the springboard for establishing the Home. The Home opened in 1902 and until its closing in 1934 it provided comfort for over eight hundred needy Confederate veterans. From its opening till his death Young served as the President of the Board of Trustees. No group mourned his passing more than his comrades of the Home. He can certainly be called the “Father of Kentucky’s Confederate Soldiers Home”.
Last Days
            Bennett Henderson Young never retired. He was active in his career and his charities until his death. By his 76th birthday in 1918 he had accomplished more than most people will in several lifetimes.  In failing health that autumn he and his wife traveled to Florida for the winter but his health continued to decline. He felt the end was near and told his wife and doctor “I want to die in the Bluegrass State”. He returned to his home in Louisville where on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 23, 1919 he spoke his last words, an affirmation of his Christian faith; “I am ready. I am ready to cross the border and be with him I love so well.”
            There was a great outpouring of grief from the many people whose lives he had touched in his city, state and all over the South. One who knew him expressed it well,
            “The passing of General Young from our midst removes a mighty power, a pillar of strength and a man among men. His life was full of good deeds. He was a friend of the high and the mighty, saint and sinner, poor and humble. His heart went out to all men. His deeds of kindness will live in the hearts who are left to feel his loss… We shall never see his like again.”
            Upon his marker in Cave Hill Cemetery is the simple inscription “I have kept the faith”.

Sam Flora
Speech before Orphan Brigade Kinfolk Association Reunion at Pewee Valley, Kentucky on June 8, 2013.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kentucky Confederate Soldiers to Be Honored As Part of Tullahoma Campaign Sesquicentennial


Kentucky Confederate Soldiers to Be Honored As Part of Tullahoma Campaign Sesquicentennial

11 of the 13 Confederate states, including Kentucky, had soldiers die in hospitals or camps near Tullahoma, TN between October 1862 and July 1863, a time period which included the actions of the Tullahoma Campaign following the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River). Over 500 were buried in a mass grave in the cemetery on Maplewood Avenue in Tullahoma. In recent years efforts were made to memorialize the soldiers from the 11 states, with nine states thus far placing memorials. On June 28th, Kentucky and South Carolina representatives will be in Tullahoma to place the final two markers for their respective soldiers.

Kentucky will be represented by Kentucky Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander John Suttles, who said “It is our solemn duty to honor our fallen Kentucky heroes, and to memorialize their final resting place”. Kentucky contributed over 40,000 volunteers to the Confederate armed forces. “We will never forget our Confederate soldiers, these men of the First Kentucky “Orphan” Brigade, and their sacrifice in the defense of liberty”, Suttles continued.

The ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 28th at the Maplewood cemetery. There will be living history demonstrations of civilian and military life, a one-act play “Soldier, Come Home” and music concerts. The event is open to the public.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a fraternal, non-political, and non-partisan military and heritage organization founded in 1896 to perpetuate the honor of the fighting soldier of the Confederacy. It has over 30,000 members worldwide.

For more information, contact:

John Suttles, Cmdr. Kentucky Division SCV,

O.B. Wilkinson, Cemetery Trustee 931-571-7311

Friday, February 17, 2012

Moses Ezekial’s Gifts to the South - by Nancy Hitt and Maynard Poythress

The name Moses Ezekial is familiar to some Southerners, perhaps from viewing the Confederate Soldier’s memorial monument at Arlington he created (and is buried at the base of). However, far too few really know the story of this extraordinary artist’s life and his gifts to the South; something these few words will attempt to rectify.

Moses Jacob Ezekiel was born in Richmond, Virginia, on October 28, 1844. He was the sixth of fourteen children born to Jacob and Catherine de Castro Ezekiel.

In May of 1864 he was a 19-year-old cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, no doubt wearing the dove gray uniform with the white crossed bandoliers with pride.

Taking ourselves to mid-May in the year of ’64, crops have pushed themselves up well through the crust of the plowed fields in the Valley of Virginia. Union general Grant clearly knows that this valley is the breadbasket of Virginia and the Army of Northern Virginia. If he can destroy those young crops the Confederacy will suffer a hammer blow of starvation. Grant has sent General Franz Sigel with 10,000 fresh, well fed and heavily armed solders in blue to strike the blow of “total warfare”.

General Sigel points his army to the little hamlet of New Market, Virginia, a doorway to the valley. Waiting in opposition is Kentuckian Confederate General John C. Breckinridge who has 4,500 war-weary but still defiant men - all likely knowing the two-to-one odds they face. That is nothing new to them. As for their general, after a day of personal agonizing he sends word to VMI to ask for their cadets to march the 81 miles north and serve as a reserve behind his lines. The 257 schoolboys, including Company C Sgt. Ezekial, march the route in 3 days.

The battle is joined on May 15 following a night of heavy rain on the open and largely undistinguished plain. True to form, Breckinridge forces the offensive. By mid-day his losses gap 350 feet in the center of his lines. Advised by aides to send the VMI boys in, the General replies with vigor: “I will not do it.” The aides then plead “general, you have no choice.” With an obviously heavy heart, Breckinridge says “put the boys in and may God forgive me for the order.”

The boys move vigorously under their cadet leader across the rain soaked plain. VMI history today knows this movement as the “Field of Shoes” for the shoes left mud-sucked behind as the young men slogged forward. The cadets not only fill the gap but unexpectedly surge forward into Sigel’s center forcing a retreat that allows Confederate General Imboden to flank Sigel’s force on their left. Enfilading Confederate fire rolls up Sigel’s left and the rout is on. For the time being the valley is secured. Eleven of Ezekial’s schoolmates are killed or mortally wounded.

Since then, each year this day of sacrifice is commemorated with a full military service at the Virginia Military Institute. The roll call for each of the 11 youngster casualties is loudly answered by the adjutant: “died on the field of honor, sir!”


Fast-forwarding to the end of the War, and of his dutiful services there, young Moses Ezekiel returned to his studies to find VMI only partially restored from the work of federal arsonists. Moses was able to finish his studies in the unburned Richmond Almshouse and graduated in 1866.

Following his graduation Moses continued his education by studying anatomy at the Medical College of Virginia and later studied art in Cincinnati. In 1869 Moses Ezekiel traveled to Germany to study at the Royal Academy of Art. He was admitted to the Society of Artists in Berlin. Moses became the first foreigner to win the coveted Prize of Rome, his entry a bust of President George Washington, but that was just the start. In that day and time it was not uncommon for American artists of note to continue their studies and pursue their artistic careers in Europe. Rich patrons and financial rewards on the continent allowed these artists a marketplace, and Ezekial spent the remainder of his life in Europe.

In 1874 Ezekiel moved to Rome, no doubt because by now he was at leisure with with various patrons and aristocracy, and even the composer Liszt with whom he studied music. He was allowed to set up his Roman studio in the famous Baths of Diocletian. This site quickly became a meeting center of world renowned artists and the chief attraction for important American visitors.

At a later date, the City of Rome decided they wanted the Baths site back and Ezekiel was then given the tower of Belisario on the Pincian Hill overlooking the Borghese gardens. Under Ezekiel’s aegis, this site quickly became as famous as the studio he had vacated.

Moses Ezekiel’s fame and gracious hospitality seemingly never diminished. He was constantly honored for his continuing works of genius, with commissions for new works never far. Moses Ezekiel remained a socially prominent man in Rome until his death in 1917. He received a full page obituary column on page one of the New York Times, a journal respected in that day even if not so honored now.

Ezekiel was entombed in the crypt of the de Bosis family of Rome (Adolfo de Bosis being a noted Italian poet married to an American, Lilian Vernon). Moses Ezekiel and the de Bosis family were close associates and fast friends. It is no coincidence that Ezekiel himself designed the crypt for the de Bosis family, one of more than 200 pieces produced in his lifetime. The only existing account of his funeral is an essay named “Moses Jacob Ezekiel” by Rabbi David Philipson in 1922. It contains a transcription of a letter from Lilian de Bosis to Moses’ sister Hannah Workum in Cincinnati. There was every indication that the vault of the de Bosis family was only to be a place of temporary entombment as Ezekiel’s final instructions were that he was to be buried in the Southern Soldier’s Cemetery (at Arlington, VA) with simple Masonic rites.

Following “the Great War”, Ezekiel’s final entombment in 1921 was as he wished: at the base of the huge Confederate Monument at Arlington Cemetery which he himself had designed and sculpted.

A biographer states that Ezekiel’s work is to be found all over the world, “except it’s often in places one would not expect it to be.” For example, one major work is a huge monument titled “The Outlook” which honors the Confederate dead at the site of the infamous federal war prison of Johnson’s Island, not exactly a tourist Mecca of almost any period. At least the martyred veterans have Ezekiel’s virtually immovable memorial of their presence; our politically correct government will not allow their own flag to fly above these sleeping men today.

Important to our Confederate interests are his numerous works in that genre: busts of Lee and Jackson, another huge monolith at VMI titled “Virginia Mourning Her Dead” (the eleven VMI students) and many others.

Kentucky is also blessed with Moses’ work; prominent among them the huge bronze of Thomas Jefferson in front of the Jefferson County courthouse. Ezekiel designed Thomas Jefferson standing upon the liberty bell holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence, surrounded by four symbolic winged female figures. It was completed in 1901. Ezekiel also was  the architect for the Confederate Memorial Gateway at the Hickman Cemetery. In addition He executed a monument to President Lincoln in front of the public library in Louisville.

Moses Ezekial was a true gentleman and son of the South, whose sacrifice, service and immense talents should never be forgotten.

Thanks to the following for their contributions, research and encouragement in putting this all together: Peter Rossi, Susan Whitman, Leland Bell, Susan Fiorentino, Bill Hayes, Edna Macon.

From “Moses Jacob Ezekiel” by Rabbi David Philipson, published by the American Jewish Historical Society, No. 28, 1922. It contains the transcription of a letter from Ezekiel’s good friend Lilian de Bosis (Mrs. Adolfo de Bosis) to his sister Hannah E. Workum in Cincinnati, in which she describes his last days.  The letter is dated April 4, 1917.  

“‘…It was then decided to place him temporarily in the vault which he had himself built for the Family of Adolfo de Bosis in the city cemetery of San Lorenzo at Varnis.  There our little son Manlio and Adolfo’s brother Arturo, whom he had so dearly loved and cherished, awaited him…I am confident that not having left any instructions as to religious rites, simply stating he wished to be buried in the Southern Soldiers’ Cemetery, with the Masonic rites, we succeeded in interpreting the true spirit of his religious feeling essentially Jewish, yet appreciative of the beauty and helpfulness in all other religions…We simply felt that here his friends should gather round him and express each in their own way, their love and devotion. So a young rabbi from the Roman synagogue recited the ritual prayers on the day of his death; Catholic friends prayed by his side in their own way; Mr. Nathan representing the Free Masons and his Jewish friends, Mr. Lowrie his numerous Protestant friends.  We wanted the rabbi to accompany the hearse to the cemetery, but that it seemed he could not do.’”

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Story of Captain John Baker Dortch

Captain John Baker Dortch:
50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
Tennessee Partisan Ranger Company
3rd/7th (Gano’s) Kentucky Cavalry Regiment
2nd( Dortch’s) Kentucky Consolidated Cavalry Battalion.
8th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment

John B. Dortch was born May 11, 1830 in, and was a resident of, Port Royal, near Clarkesville Tennessee. Dortch was a grandson of former Tennessee Governor Willie Blount (1809-1815), and the nephew of Cave Johnson, Postmaster General (1845-1849) during President Polk’s administration.
In 1861, when the War Between the States came to Tennessee, Dortch enlisted in company E, of the 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. His company departed for Fort Donelson, Tennessee November 19,1861. He was promoted to Captain in December. Captain Dortch stood about 5foot 9 inches tall, had black eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion.
On January 19, 1862 his company was ordered to Fort Henry, then counter-marched back about ten days later. When ordered to return to Fort Henry on February 6, Captain Dortch learned it had been captured while in route.
The Battle of Fort Donelson took place February 14-15, 1862. On the 15th, four companies from the 50th were ordered to re-enforce the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment, which had taken severe casualties. The following day the garrison force surrendered. Captain Dortch and approx. fifty-five others from the Regiment escaped on the Wynn’s Ferry Road and made their way out. Captain Dortch told his men to return to their homes near Clarkesville and then report back to him at Nashville Tennessee. The Capital City fell so quickly that only a few men were able to comply with the order.

Captain Dortch filed a special requisition from Decatur, Alabama on March 23, for one pair of pants and shoes, one camp kettle, ten pans and twelve blankets. This was to replace items lost at Fort Donelson.
During the Battle of Shiloh April 6-7, 1862 Captain Dortch served temporarily with the 23rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment along with seven others from his company. On April 15,1862 Captain Dortch resigned his commission as a Captain in the 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He stated that his men had been allowed to join other commands, which resulted in him becoming a supernumerary officer. His intention was to return home and recruit another company.
Tennessee Governor Harris, by special commission in August of 1862, granted Captain Dortch authority to raise a company of Partisan Rangers for twelve months service. Kentucky General A. R. Johnson, in his memoirs, recalled that Captain Dortch brought two companies of cavalry to Camp Coleman—a recruitment center - near Hopkinsville Kentucky in Todd County. On August 25,1862 Captain Dortch was assigned to Company G, 7th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry which was being recruited by the Texan, Colonel R. M. Gano, Morgan’s Kentucky Cavalry Brigade.
Johnson ordered Captains Dortch and Page (company H, Gano’s Regiment) to burn the railroad bridge between Bowling Green and Russellville KY. Volume 16 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion contains a report by Colonel Bruce, 20th Kentucky Infantry, in which he acknowledges elements of the 17th Indiana Infantry and the 8th Kentucky Cavalry skirmished September 30th in that vicinity. There are several casualties listed for Dortch’s and Page’s companies in the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, on that date.
On November 5, 1862, Colonel’s John. H. Morgan and Nathan B. Forrest’s Cavalry commands were ordered to co-operate in an attack upon Nashville TN. Failing to attack simultaneously little damage was done by the attacking Confederates. Morgan did manage to burn a portion of the Edgefield railroad depot across the river from Nashville. After relocating to Tyree Springs and Lebanon, Morgan won a decisive victory at Hartsville, Tennessee on December 7, 1862 and afterwards was promoted to Brigadier-General C. S. A..
From December 21 through January 5, 1863 Captain Dortch and his company participated in Morgan’s Christmas Raid of Kentucky. Leaving Alexandria Tennessee on December 23, 1862 the Confederates set out to destroy the railroad from Muldraugh’s Hill, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee. Glasgow, Kentucky was entered on Christmas Eve.
Bacon Creek railroad bridge was burned on the 26th. On December 27, the Battle of Elizabethtown resulted in the shelling of the town from the city cemetery. Morgan’s strategy resulted in the capture of the town.
The bridges at Sulphur Fork Trestle and the fort on Muldraugh’s Hill were burned on December 28.
Lt. Colonel J.W. Huffman , Captain Dortch’s commanding officer was undergoing court-martial at Rolling Fork River, near Boston, Kentucky on the 29th, for violating parole terms offered to the Union soldiers of the 71st Indiana & 78th Illinois Infantry Regiments at Muldraugh’s Hill the previous day. Union troopers from the 10th, 12th, 13th Kentucky Cavalry Regiments attacked and wounded Colonel Duke, resulting in the cancellation of the proceedings. Afterwards a successful withdrawal to Tennessee was accomplished by January 5, 1863.
While Morgan was raiding in Kentucky, the Battle of Stones River,(12/31/62-1/02/63)Tennessee took place. Afterwards General Bragg re-organized his troops placing Morgan’s Cavalry under the control of General Wheeler. Subsequent Confederate troop movements resulted in Morgan establishing his headquarters in McMinnville Tennessee. There were numerous scouts and skirmishes during the Spring, along with two pitched battles nearby, Milton (3/20/63), and Snow’s Hill (4/03/63). In June of 1863, Morgan gathered his troops together at Alexandria Tennessee. Another excursion to Kentucky was in the works!
About the 2nd day of July 1863 General Morgan ‘s troopers began crossing the upper Cumberland River near Burkesville, Kentucky. Flooding from recent rains had swollen the river. Lt. H. C. Merritt, of Dortch’s company recalled “only those who were considered well mounted were allowed to go on the raid. It was most strenuous work on both men and horses. Those who were poor swimmers grabbed on to their horses tail, to be pulled across.” Lt. Colonel Huffman placed Captain Dortch in command of the troopers who were to remain behind. These men became the nucleus of Dortch’s 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Battalion.

Morgan’s Ohio Raid (7/2-7/26/1863) was the longest raid made by cavalry during the war. Although the troopers covered over 700 miles and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property the raid resulted in the
capture of most of Morgan’s command. As a result Gano’s Kentucky Regiment ceased to exist. Those men who escaped capture eventually made their way to Morristown Tennessee. where General A.R. Johnson had been ordered to gather ‘Morgan’s Men” for reassignment.
Captain Dortch and about 300 men were briefly associated with Colonel J. Q. Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Partisan Rangers. Eventually enough men were gathered to form two battalions of cavalry. Captain Kilpatrick led the 1st Consolidated Kentucky Cavalry Battalion and Captain Dortch led the 2nd Consolidated Kentucky Cavalry Battalion.
Bennett Young in ‘Confederate Wizards of the Saddle”, wrote that Dortch’s and Kirkpatrick’s Battalions “...were among the best that Kentucky furnished. They were largely young men from the Bluegrass, few of them exceeding twenty-five years in age. They came out of Kentucky in July1862 and October 1862, had now received more than a years seasoning, and were by their military experiences fitted for the hardest and fiercest conflicts. They had left Kentucky well mounted.”
On September 18,1863 Captain Dortch reported to General Forrest’s command for duty and was assigned to General Pegram. Dortch’s men were stationed in the vicinity of Chickamauga and Tunnel Hill GA. After the Battle of Chickamauga (9/19-9/20/63), Dortch’s Battalion paused at Bryd’s Mill to regroup and re-shoe their horses. Afterwards they moved up the Knoxville & Chattanooga railroad towards Charleston, TN. September 28,1863, General Bragg ordered General Forrest to turn over his troopers to General Wheeler.
During General Longstreet’s East Tennessee Campaign Dortch’s Battalion foraged and skirmished at Philadelphia, Loudon , Maryville and Knoxville. When Burnside’s Federal Army cut them off at Knoxville from the main Confederate forces, Dortch’s command made their way back to Confederate lines via Big Bend Mountain and Montvale Springs in Cherokee County North Carolina.
On November 24, 1863 Special Order # 102 placed Dortch’s Battalion in Grigsby’s Kentucky Brigade of General Kelly’s command in Wheeler’s Cavalry. On December 22,1863,Dortch petitioned to be allowed to return to Kentucky, where he hoped to recruit a regiment of mounted rifles. However the petition was denied in January of 1864.

There are a series of forage requisitions in Captain Dortch’s CSR files that indicate ongoing attrition (6.77%) in his ranks. In November of 1863 he requested forage for 300 horses and 60 mules, while stationed in the vicinity of Dalton Georgia. In December he requisitioned forage for 275 horses while stationed at Tunnel Hill GA. In January of 1864 the order had shrunk to 231 horses and 13 mules. On February 29,1864 Captain Dortch requested an axe and hatchet for himself and his staff, while stationed at Silver Springs Alabama..
In February of 1864 General Adam R. Johnson issued Special Order # 22 which allowed Kilpatrick’s and Dortch’s Battalions to return to south-.western Virginia. General Morgan had recently returned to this theatre after escaping from prison in Ohio in November 1863. However, on 3/12/64, General Wheeler chose to retain Dortch’s Battalion. Captain Dortch forwarded a petition 3/24/64 from his post at Childersburg, Alabama requesting that his command also be allowed to return to General Morgan’s Command. Captain Dortch pointed out that his Battalion consisted of not only the remnants of the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, but also elements of four other distinct Regiments that had formed one of the brigades in Morgan’s command. However permission was denied and in April Dortch’s Battalion was assigned to Humes’ Division, Grigsby’s KY Brigade. In May of 1864 the Battalion was stationed near Dalton, Georgia. A report dated 5/17/64, complained that Dortch’s troopers had abandoned their picket post on the Villanow Rd., near Dug Gap and were now camping with the infantry atop the mountain.
The 2nd Consolidated KY Cavalry Battalion was assigned to General J.S. William’s Brigade in June of 1864. This Brigade was composed of the 1st/3rd Kentucky Cavalry- Colonel Griffith, 2nd/15th Kentucky Cavalry-Major Lewis, 9th Kentucky Cavalry- Colonel Breckinridge , Allison’s Tennessee Squadron- Captain Reese and remnants of Hamilton’s Tennessee Battalion, a.k.a. 4th Tennessee Partisan Rangers- Major Shaw. The two Tennessee units were ordered to be merged 7/31/1864. Previously on July 7th, Captain Dortch had been ordered to proceed to Decatur Georgia and arrest deserters and stragglers from his Battalion.
In August of 1864 Captain Dortch ‘s Battalion followed General Wheeler in his last Middle Tennessee Raid 8/10-10/25./64. For William’s Brigade this meant an unplanned march to Saltville, Virginia after they were cut off from the main body of troopers in September. This occurred when General Williams obtained permission from General Wheeler to take two Brigades and half of the artillery to attack the Union garrison at Strawberry Plains near Knoxville. Federal troops were able to get in between him and Wheeler forcing Williams to leave the military department to which he was assigned. On September 21 Williams’ Brigade joined forces with Generals Duke and Vaughn near Rogersville, Tennessee. General Williams then went to Abingdon, Virginia in an effort to have his troopers re-assigned to the Department of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. After the Battle of Saltville 10/2/64, General Bragg ordered the arrest of General Williams. By this time Williams’ Brigade was camped at Liberty Hill, Virginia. The troopers were destitute, badly in need of clothing and shoes, and the horses were run down. Williams was to face a court-martial for his separation from Wheeler’s Command. However eventually the charges were dropped and Williams received the thanks of the Confederate Congress for his defense of Saltville. General Williams was restored to his command in February of 1865.
Meanwhile General Felix Robertson (himself under a cloud for his activities at Saltville) took over command and led the wayward troops back to the Army of Tennessee in Georgia. It appears that while in transit the command was ordered to return to Bristol and join General Vaughn’s Brigade. However Robertson chose not to obey the order. Apparently Captain Dortch had remained behind, still hoping for re-assignment.
Special Order # 286, issued 12/2/64 officially transferred Captain Dortch’s command into the Army of Tennessee. By January of 1865

Dortch’s Battalion had shrunk to less than 32 men and it was disbanded, near Abingdon, Virginia. Many from his command had already re-assigned themselves to General Duke’s Brigade.
Captain Dortch apparently joined the 8th Kentucky Cavalry but was unassigned to a company. He took the “Oath of Allegiance” in Nashville Tennessee on May 3, 1865. The Provost Marshal indicated that Captain Dortch had left the Confederate Army on April 23rd.
After the war Dortch returned to Tennessee and farmed at Parson’s Creek, near Port Royal. In 1880 he married Phoebe C. Brown. About 1895 he left to live with his children in Butler County Kentucky. He died at the home of his son, James 3/9/1910. I believe he is buried near Morgantown in the Lebanon Cemetery.
With this article I hope to attempt historical revision and correct an error. The Supplemental Series of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion erroneously record Captain Dortch as being one John Basket Dortch. In fact his true name is John Baker Dortch. This being confirmed by his wife in her Widow’s Indigent Pension request #1287 filed in Kentucky, June 5, 1912.

Stewart Cruickshank

1.Official Records of the War of the Rebellion & Supplemental series
2. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky (Confederate).
3. Partisan Rangers of the Confederate Army: Johnson
4. Confederate Veteran Magazine
5. Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Sifakis
6.Units of the Confederate States Army: Crute jr.
7.Confederate Veterans Association of Kentucky: reprint
8. A History of Morgan’s Cavalry: Duke
9. Winds of Change, Robertson County in the Civil War: Allen
10. Clarkesville Leaf Chronicle: March 15,1910
11.Confederate Wizards of the Saddle: Young
12.pamphlet;” Ride the Campaign Trail”: Elizabethtown KY. Tourism & Convention Bureau & KY Dept. Tourism
13. Consolidated Service Records ; microfilm:
I wish to thank the Tennessee State Library and Archives, The University of Western Kentucky and most importantly James Pritchard of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives for their assistance, gathering the various microfilm records made available to me.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Story of Confederate, Kentucky

Nestled between I-24 and Lake Barkley is a small community with a name that is hard to miss: Confederate, Kentucky. According to the Place Names Gazetteer, the only populated place in the nation named “Confederate” is this tiny community in Lyon County. There are variations, such as Confederate Ridge in Virginia, but the only community simply named Confederate is in the Bluegrass state. Among the homes and churches you’ll also find a vacant store building (much more on that later) and the Confederate Cemetery, with a nice gated sign saying “Confederate Cemetery”.
Naturally, our curiosity was aroused. What is the story of Confederate, Kentucky? It took a little digging to find out. An initial trip to Lyon County and inquiries there produced no solid information. Our subsequent research, though, led us to Deborah Atchley, who put us in contact with Mrs. June Thorpe, grand-niece of Confederate’s founder, Linn Gresham.

The history of Confederate most likely really begins with the story of the nearby Tennessee Rolling Works. While Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia is well known, there were a number of iron mills in Lyon County before the war. Describing the fledgling antebellum Southern iron industry, a copyrighted New York Times article published on November 15th, 1897, by J. E. MacGowan said, “The forges made a very fine grade of iron, resembling closely the soft and tough product of the Swedish forges and rolling works. It is probable that these furnaces...could have produced 75,000 tons of iron in the year 1860.”
Moved from Nashville in 1845-46 according to the Kentucky Historical Society, the Tennessee Rolling Works mill in Lyon County became the center of a community. According to the book One Century of Lyon County History, “ least 1,000 Negro slaves and 500-600 workers were employed at the Tennessee Rolling Mill during its operation. Hundreds of little houses stood on the hills around the mill…”. There was a company store, as well. One Century also says that in 1878 The community of Tennessee Rolling Mill still had over 200 inhabitants, a school and a church. The Mill was transferred to Louisville in 1884. It is likely the decline and demise of the mill led to the birth of Confederate.
One Century describes Confederate this way: “The history of Confederate is the history of (Linn) Gresham for it is his store that is the hub of activities from buying and selling during the day to the community center of Rook games and cracker barrel philosophizing at night. It was on Gresham’s land that that the spring was located and it was at Gresham’s house that the school teachers boarded.” One Century states that Gresham founded his store in the “middle 1800’s”, however June Thorpe says that her uncle built the store in 1882. The 1882 date would be significant since with the closing of the nearby Mill just two years later, and the closing of the company store with it, it made Gresham’s the natural place for people in the area to gravitate towards. June Thorpe feels that the Mill closing was possibly a catalyst in Gresham’s decision to open his store, perhaps Gresham anticipating the mill circumstances somewhat, or perhaps the company store closing before the mill actually did. Linn Gresham had at least two brothers in the Confederate Army, William and James. William is buried in Confederate Cemetery, and James across the street in Bethany Cemetery. The Adjutant General’s Report confirms that James served in Cobb’s Battery, and William in the 1st Kentucky Cavalry. Two other Gresham’s (more brothers, perhaps, but that could not be confirmed), John and M. C., enlisted in the 1st along with William.
Linn Gresham’s store operations grew through the years. Across from the store was a spring, in a grove of Maple trees. Traveling salesmen, known as “drummers” often availed themselves of the shade and water. This would prove significant. Initially the community became known commonly as Gresham. Some time after the store was founded, though, a post office was set up there, and a place name was needed. Apparently there was some discussion as to what to call the place. According to June Thorpe, it was one of the “drummers” who suggested the name Confederate.
Perhaps we’ll never know the exact reasoning behind this visitor’s suggestion, but it would seem reasonable to think it came from his perception of the place. There seemed to be no resistance in the community to the idea of being called Confederate, which would enforce the feeling of the salesman that it was a place of Confederates.
The Confederate post office survived until 1914 (postmarks from Confederate, Kentucky would likely be a hot collector’s item today if they could be found). The store passed to Leonard Gresham, June Thorpe’s father. He operated it from 1918 until 1959. In 1952, June joined her father in the business. She operated the store until it closed in 1974.
The store had to be moved in the 1960’s because of the construction of Lake Barkley, which now covers all of what was Tennessee Rolling Mill and much of what was Confederate (nearby Eddyville also had to be relocated in its entirety). Though closed since 1974, the building (after the move) is still standing.
So, there you have it; Confederate, Kentucky was founded by a family of Confederates, named by a visitor who saw something Confederate in the place, and after more than 125 years we still couldn’t imagine a better name.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 13, 2011

Burbridge the Extortionist

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the John C. Breckinridge SCV Camp #100 in Lexington, KY and was asked about the allegation of extortion that I made against Major-General Stephen Gano Burbridge of the Union Army.
Confederate Veteran Magazine 1911, volume 19, page 527, provides my best source of this allegation. Charlton G. Duke, wrote an accounting of the timely ransom payment that resulted in his death sentence being revoked. Rather than rewrite the tale, I ‘d rather you read it in its original form.

“ Personal Prison Experiences and Death.”
By: Charlton G. Duke, Hopkinsville, KY.

“ By request, I give a short account of my capture and imprisonment at Louisville KY. After the wounding of Gen. Adam Johnson at Grubbs’ Crossroads, our command crossed the river and went to Paris, TN. I was sent by Colonel Sypert, with my brother, John C. Duke, and cousin, Capt. Lindsey Buckner, back into Kentucky to gather up some of our men, who had been unable to cross with the command and to recruit as many more as possible. This we attempted to do, but, finding the whole country overrun with Federal soldiers, we thought it best to hasten back to our command. In endeavoring to cross the river at Hillman’s Rolling Mills, we were captured and sent at once to Louisville to a prison, which bore the significant, if not euphonious, name of “slaughter pen”. I will not speak of the many indignities heaped upon our men while in this prison, but will pass on to a period which I can never recall without emotions of deepest sadness.

We had been there some three or four weeks. We were coolly informed one morning that Captain Lindsey Buckner, B. P. Wallace, John Duke, and I would be shot the following day by order of General Burbridge in retaliation for a mail carrier who had been killed by a band of guerrillas, supposed to be the Sue Mundy gang. We did not spend that day with any degree of pleasure, for the thought of dying such an ignominious death at the hands of our enemies was indeed depressing, but we determined to meet our fate like men.

We were greatly surprised the next morning when several nicely dressed men in blue uniform, one of whom we recognized as Mr. Ed Baker, from our home at Princeton KY. came into the prison. He expressed pleasure at seeing me and my brother John, and informed us that it was his great happiness to convey to us the good news that through his influence and that of another prominent Union man of Princeton General Burbridge had been persuaded to countermand the order for our execution, and that we could have our choice of being sent to a Northern prison or take the oath of allegiance and return home. We thanked him and said we would go to prison. We asked if they could not influence General Burbridge to release our companions also. He replied that he could do nothing for Captain Buckner but that Captain Wallace would probably be released, which was afterwards done. Captain Lilly, Lieutenant Blincoe, and an old man named Halley were selected in our stead. We little supposed that the men who had interfered in our behalf were actuated by any but kindly motives in securing our release from death, but soon found that these expressions of friendship had cost our mother $2,000 in cash, which she promptly forwarded to Louisville. Our friend Wallace was also ransomed by his friends, and had Captain Buckner’s brother received in time the letter written him, his terrible fate would have been averted. But the letter was misplaced in some way.

In the afternoon of the next day the four men mentioned were placed in irons and taken out on the Jeffersontown road and shot to death. They requested that their eyes be not bound, and all refused to kneel when told to do so. Captain Buckner was one of the finest looking men I ever saw. He possessed an unusual degree of personal magnetism, was brave, as a man could be, but as gentle and affectionate as a woman. Just before the time appointed for the execution he was asked by one of his comrades to pray. I have never heard before or since such a prayer. He talked to the Lord in that calm beautiful way that made one feel as if in the presence of Jehovah, and as they passed out of the prison the last words I heard him utter were: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Shortly after this sad event I was sent to Johnson’s Island and my brother John to Camp Douglas, where we remained until the close of the war.”

Charlton G. Duke’s obituary in the Confederate Veteran Magazine Volume 30, 1922, page 30 also gives a shorter version of this same instance. There are some subtle differences in the recollections, however.
Fortunately there is another recollection by Charlton G. Duke in the “ Partisan Rangers of the Confederate States Army” Memoirs of General Adam R. Johnson, page 265, entitled “ Additional sketch of Colonel L. A. Sypert”. This recounting clarifies the activities of Duke’s military service up until his capture October 9, 1864.

Charlton G. Duke enlisted in Captain L. A. Sypert’s company in the Spring of 1864, at age 17. Sypert had a commission as Colonel dated 8/26/63, which gave him authority to raise a regiment of cavalry for the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. He actively recruited in Union, Henderson, Webster, Hopkins and Christian counties in 1864. After a brief period in Caldwell County, Duke crossed the Cumberland & Tennessee Rivers to recruit. Afterwards returning to Union and Hopkins Counties.
Near Morganfield at Blue Pond, his unit skirmished with the 17th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment Union Army. He also participated in skirmishes at Bell Mines and Old Salem. After merging into the Partisan Ranger Command of General A. R. Johnson, Charlton Duke held the rank of 1st Lt. Company A 13th (Syperts) Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. Only about 1/3 of these men were armed. During the fighting at Grubb’s Crossroads Johnson was blinded, and the command retreated into Tennessee. At some point Duke and the others fell in with Colonel J. Q. Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Cavalry, also of Johnson’s command. At Paris Tennessee, he was ordered to return to Kentucky and gather stragglers etc. and was captured. General H. B. Lyon replaced Johnson in command of the Brigade. After taking the oath in June of 1865, Charlton G. Duke was released from prison and returned to Kentucky owning a farm near Hopkinsville. He was a member of Camp #241 of the U.C.V.

Others mentioned; with historical corrections :

John W. Duke (his brother) was Sgt. Major of Company A, Sypert’s 13th Kentucky Cavalry.

B. F. Wallace was Captain of Company G, Sypert’s13th Kentucky Cavalry.

Lindsey Duke Buckner was a Captain in Colonel Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Cavalry. He was executed with three others, in Jeffersontown KY. October 25, 1864, by a firing squad from company B, 26th Kentucky Infantry (Burbridge’s own regiment). Historian, Nancy Hitt marked his gravesite in Green County with a Confederate headstone in 2001.

Wilson P. Lilly had formerly served in company G, 1st Missouri Volunteer Infantry. General Burbridge had ordered all Missourian’s in Kentucky to leave. Lilly most likely was arrested for failure to comply.
Executed 10/25/64.

Reverend Sherwood Hatley had been forwarded to Louisville after his arrest in Bowling Green, a month previously. Executed 10/25/64 (age 70?).

William C.” Dock” Blincoe served in Company D, 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. Executed 10/25/64
Historian, Nancy Hitt marked his grave with a Confederate headstone at the Bates burial-ground near Lewisport in 2001.

Further research is needed to identify Ed Baker.

Sources other than those mentioned above
Typewritten muster by S. D. Lynn, of Sypert’s and Chenoweth’s Kentucky Cavalry
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky civil war vol.2 Confederate
The Union Regiments of Kentucky: Captain T. Speed
The Atonement of John Brooks : J. Head
Research compiled by the author Stewart Cruickshank

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dozens of Markers, Monument Dedicated at Sandlick Cemetery

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, the Colonel Ben E. Caudill Camp No. 1629 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans hosted a military salute and dedication at the recently placed monument and restored graves of more than four dozen Confederate soldiers. The cemetery, located in Whitesburg of Letcher County, Kentucky, had remained hidden under thick foliage of undergrowth that prevented anyone from viewing the graves.

In January of 2006, members of the camp began to clear the brush and debris from the cemetery. After two weekends of backbreaking labor, the military style rows of graves began to appear. Now clear of the dense foliage, camp members grubbed out the stumps and roots plowed the area and then sowed grass.
Four soldiers already had Confederate tombstones and eight more were identified. The camp obtained tombstones for these eight men and placed thirty-six more unknown tombstones. A monument honoring the graves was designed by camp members and purchased by money raised in the community. A granite bench, flagpole to fly a Confederate flag, two informative stones, and a Confederate soldier statute were purchased as well.

The majority of these soldiers had died in a military hospital that was established near the cemetery in the fall of 1861 by orders of General Humphrey Marshall. The general’s army was referred to as the Army of Eastern Kentucky and consisted of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, 1st Kentucky Mounted Battalion, 21st, 29th and 54th Virginia Infantries, Jeffress’ Battery and several independent cavalry companies. Disease such as mumps, measles and dysentery ravaged the Confederate army, resulting in dozens of deaths. The majority of the men were buried in the Sandlick Cemetery though some were taken by loved ones back to be buried in family cemeteries. The Yankees burned the hospital in the fall of 1862, resulting in the loss of most records. Ongoing research by the Caudill Camp and historical societies in Virginia is being conducted in an attempt to identify the unknown soldiers.

Other News Items

The Letcher County High School’s Junior ROTC students conducted the presentation of the flags. Dozens of Confederate re-enactors from Kentucky and Virginia marched to the cadence of a drum corps into the cemetery. After opening remarks by David Chaltas, the commander of the Caudill Camp, Kentucky State Representative Leslie Combs and Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward both gave speeches commending the Caudill Camp on their efforts to honor these southern heroes. Local musicians from Kentucky and Virginia performed period music throughout the program. After presentation of wreaths supplied by the VFW and the OCR was completed, the Confederate re-enactors and a battery of cannon fired three volleys in honor of all soldiers buried in the cemetery. A Confederate re-enactor performed the mournful tune of Taps to close the program. Our special thanks go out to our brother camps that came from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida to assist with this historical dedication.

96 More Acres To Be Added to Perryville— The area known as as Sleettown will be added to the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. The $431,000 purchase was done with money from the Civil War Preservation Trust and a Transportation Enhancement grant. The cost includes an archeological study. Sleettown was an African-American community that ceased to exist after 1931. While preserving information about the Sleettown community is important, there is obviously a fear that political correctness will turn the new acquisition into some sort of “diversity” site that doesn’t include Confederates. In a release, state Parks Commissioner J. T. Miller said “We plan to use the property to tell the story of the Battle of Perryville as well as the history of Sleettown”. The area was a staging ground for Confederate forces.

Two More KY Camps Chartered—Two more Kentucky camps were chartered on June 17th, the Col. Alfred Johnson #276 and Kentucky Secession Site #2125.

Bad Yankee Shooting—The National Rifle Association is a powerful organization today; it was formed in 1871 by 15 New York National Guard officials who were all Union veterans. They formed the NRA “ promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” It turns out they thought the NRA necessary to correct the poor marksmanship of yankee troops during the war. Source: fwdailynews (Fort Wayne, IN)

Flag Finally Returned—Nebraska Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith returned the flag of the 1st Regiment Alabama Volunteer Infantry CSA to the state of Alabama in May. The flag had been in yankee hands since the regiment was surrendered at Tiptonville, TN in April of 1862.

From the Floyd County Times—June 29th, “Charges Filed” section: Ned B. Pillersdorf (the lawyer who lied about basketball incidents when his team played Allen Central - see our article on the Allen Central hoax), 52, of Van Lear, drinking alcoholic beverage in public place. We hope Ned knows a good lawyer. Note to Ned: if you move to rural Kentucky, a lot of the counties are dry. Most folks are also proud of their Confederate heritage. If you want to drink in public and curse the Confederate Battle flag, Floyd County is the wrong place to live. Go home. New York needs you.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader—A defendant represented by Ned Pillersdorf was recently not only convicted but received the maximum sentence in a scheme where the defendant—a prison guard—was smuggling drugs into the federal prison. The defense that Pillersdorf had presented was that the prison guard only did it because she had been threatened by an inmate if she didn’t smuggle the drugs, and not because of the thousand dollars she received each time she smuggled the drugs in. We repeat: hope Ned knows a good lawyer.

Pvt. Henderson Whisman, 5th KY Infantry Co D CSA will had a new gravestone dedication on Sept. 2nd, 2007 in Rowan Co. KY at the Whisman Cemetery located on Island Fork Rd. The 5th KY Camp # 2122 and the 5th KY Infantry Co's D E & F, Arthur Camp and Ben Caudill Camp assistied in this Confederate soldier’s long overdue ceremony.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause