Thursday, April 30, 2009

Henry Wirz, Martyr

   Henry Wirz was born Hartmann Heinrich Wirz in Zurich, Switzerland, the son of Hans Caspar Wirz, a tailor, in 1822. Wirz wanted to study medicine, but his family was too poor. Instead, he received commercial training at a Zurich firm and then worked for one year in Torino, Italy. In 1845 he married Emilie Oschwald. Shortly after his marriage Wirz experienced financial trouble which ended in a court ordering him to leave Zurich. Wirz agreed to emigrate, but his wife refused, and they divorced in 1853 (some sources state she died).

   After a year in Russia, Wirz came to the United States in 1849 and worked at a factory in Massachusetts, for a short time. He was employed as a doctor's assistant at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, by 1853 and moved to nearby Cadiz in 1853 or 1854. In 1854 he married Elizabeth (Savells) Wolfe. Wirz practiced homeopathic medicine in Cadiz for a year but moved to Louisville and became superintendent of a water cure establishment in 1855. There he met Levin A. Marshall, a planter from Natchez, Mississippi, who hired him to run Milliken's Bend plantation for Marshall as overseer/physician until the War came.

   On 16 June 1861, Wirz enlisted in the Fourth Louisiana Infantry as a private but was soon promoted to sergeant. He was wounded in the right arm at the Battle of Seven Pines on 31 May 1862; he lost the use of his arm and suffered great pain for the rest of his life. Promoted to captain, he was assigned to the staff of Brigadier Gen. John Henry Winder, who put him in command of the Richmond military prison. Called "Dutch Sergeant" by the prisoners because of his accent, he was not unpopular with them. In fact, when he was sent to the prison in Cahaba, Alabama later in 1862, he was liked so much  by the inmates there, they actually petitioned to keep him in command. 

   Wirz went to Europe sometime in 1863 and traveled for the rest of the year. He may have been on official Confederate business, or may simply have been seeking medical help for his wound. The Confederacy he returned to in February 1864 had fallen on hard times as he found out when Winder placed him in command of the stockade at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison in March of that year (Camp Sumter). The exchange of prisoners had ceased, and the overpopulated compound rapidly became a hell on earth for everyone there. The Confederacy was so short of the basic necessities that even Confederate troops in the field were near starvation. Wirz was lucky to be able to feed the prisoners anything at all. Food, medicine, housing, even water were in short supply by that summer. As Union prisoners died by the thousands, the northern press characterized both Winder and Wirz as "inhuman fiends.”  Wirz made every effort to improve conditions at Andersonville. He dammed the creek trying to collect clean water, built sinks, and nearly worked himself to death during August 1864. 

   Lincoln’s assassination further inflamed the North, already enraged over the prisoner issue, and the public demanded that someone  pay.  Winder died of a heart attack on 6 February 1865, thus depriving vengeful Union officials of any opportunity of trying him as a war criminal. That left Wirz, who was arrested in May 1865, after he had been paroled. The Wirz "trial" lasted for three months; he was charged with murder and abuse of prisoners and of conspiring with Jefferson Davis, James Seddon, and others to murder the prisoners en masse. Lies and distortions were accepted as fact, and Wirz was sentenced to hang "for impairing the health and destroying the lives of prisoners." 

   The night before he was to be executed Wirz was approached by a secret emissary from the War Department, who offered him a full reprieve if he would swear that Davis had headed a conspiracy to murder Union captives. Wirz indignantly refused.  

   There is no question that Wirz did not receive a fair trial. Obvious perjury and testimony by men who were not even at Andersonville was routine, accusations that he committed murder when he was not even there were accepted as unimpeachable facts, and he was not allowed to freely choose anyone testify for his defense. So it was that Wirz, poor and foreign-born, was sacrificed to satisfy the Northern thirst for revenge. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009 KY SCV Reunion: June 26-28 Bardstown


The 2009 reunion will be held in Bardstown, Kentucky on the weekend of 26-28 June.

The meetings will be held in the Kurtz Restaurant; lodging (while it lasts) is at the Parkview Hotel, which is adjacent to the Restaurant.  Both establishments are located directly across the road from "My Old Kentucky
Home". The host Camp is John Hunt Morgan, from Louisville.

On Friday evening, those of us driving in from a distance will meet at the Old Talbot Tavern  for  social interaction and then dinner at some local restaurant.  The Talbot does has one very nice restaurant too.

On Saturday, we'll meet at Kurtz Restaurant in the upper level meeting room.  The building will not be open until 0900 hrs, so registration will begin at that time.

The morning business session will be from 0930-1130.

We'll break for lunch from 1130-1230.

At 12:30, we'll resume the business session, lasting until 1400.  The last 30 minutes or so will be dedicated to Brigade meetings, which will focus on Elections for Brigade Commander.

After the business meeting, we'll plan to visit Bardstown's Civil War Museum (which is excellent!).

During the day there are tons of things that wives  or others could do. Heaven Hill Distillery runs a little trolley from downtown out to the distillery for a tour.  There is also an afternoon performance (indoors) of the Stephen Foster Musical.  Of course, the Civil War Museum and the Women of the Civil War Museum would also be open.
That evening those who are remaining in town could plan their own events, or could gather at another restaurant for dinner.  Plans are still underway for the evening.

On Sunday, there'll be a memorial service at the Confederate section of the cemetery at 0900.

Registration will cost $18.00; extra medals are available for $15.00 each. Meals and entertainment will be pay-as-you-go.  Early registrations at the hotel are suggested.

Much more to follow.

Thomas Y. Hiter Ph.D
The Kentucky Division

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kentucky's Elizabeth Wirz

By Nancy Hitt (originally published in the Winter 2006 The Lost Cause)

Most of us already know the sad story of Captain Henry Wirz, and his unjust execution at the hands of Yankee “fiends.” The lies, trumped-up charges and use of “charlatans” as government witnesses against Wirz  and his command of Andersonville are all too familiar to those who have studied the War for Southern Independence. These tactics were not unique in the mistreatment of Wirz (see “Walter G. Ferguson: Martyr for Kentucky” in the Fall, 2005, issue of The Lost Cause). Unfortunately, Captain Wirz, of Zurich, Switzerland, was foreign-born and more vulnerable to public outrage by Yanks looking for revenge.

My Confederate interests led me to an exchange of email with one of Captain Wirz’s collateral descendants in Europe. Colonel Heinrich Wirz of Switzerland often visits the States to do honor to his ancestor and to fight for justice for Captain Wirz even at this late date. Colonel Wirz has been active seeking a revocation of the Wirz sentence through the efforts by the SCV’s Committee to Exonerate Henry Wirz. For several years we have discussed the mystery of the location of the grave of Mrs. Elizabeth Wirz, who was a native of Trigg County, Kentucky. It had been understood that she was buried somewhere in an unmarked grave in Trigg County.

I had a good lead about two years ago when Linda Fritz’s mother told me at the Jefferson Davis Birthday Celebration in Fairview, Kentucky,  that she was related to the Wolfe family (Elizabeth’s first husband) and had been to the cemetery where Elizabeth Wirz was supposed to be buried, but I was unable to meet up with this lady in order to visit the cemetery and she was not able to describe the location to me so that I could find it on my own.

While doing research on a Confederate veteran for Rebecca Owen of the Hopkinsville Library, which is located in Christian County, adjacent to Trigg, I mentioned that I was anxious to find the grave of Mrs. Wirz and lo and behold she was kind enough to mail me a long article from the “Trigg County Historical Articles Vol. 2” by Don Simmons which actually stated in detail where Elizabeth Wirz was buried in Trigg County in an unmarked grave in the Fuller Cemetery at the Boyd Hill Church in Linton, Kentucky.

Additional information came to light from this material. We could deduct that Elizabeth was probably the daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Rhodes) Savells, but I needed more proof, so I obtained the “Savils/Sivils” booklet again from Don Simmons who is the former owner of the Simmons Historical Publications in Melber, Kentucky. I am using Savells as Elizabeth’s surname as this is the spelling on her marriage record. There are a variety of spellings for this surname even including the use of C as in Civils.

This booklet, by Barbara Smith, confirmed the fact that Elizabeth Wirz was Elizabeth C. Savells. She was born about 1824 and her father, Daniel, died February 4th, 1826, leaving Elizabeth, her sister and two brothers. It does not appear that her mother remarried.

Elizabeth Wirz’s mother appeared to have been founding member in 1845 of the Bethesda Methodist Church, which is now located at 5556 Highway 139 between Princeton and Cadiz, Kentucky. The current location dates from 1877. This date comes from the book about Trigg County by William Henry Perrin. The older frame church was bricked over and had recently received its very first steeple when Betty McCorkle and I stopped there in January of 2006.
The Savells’ home was to the West of the Church, somewhere between the Muddy Fork Creek and the Hurricane Church. A historic Indian fort was located on their property. Betty has been in contact with the current owner of the farm where the old fort was located on a hill near a spring for Revolutionary War use.

In Trigg County, on March 16, 1846, the marriage records show that Elizabeth C. Savells married Alfred C. Wolfe, who died sometime before the 1850 census, as Elizabeth appears back in the home with her widowed mother and other family members and her own two daughters, Susan Jane Wolfe, age 3 years and Cornelia A. Wolfe, age 2 years.

Again in Trigg County the marriage records show that Elizabeth (Savells) Wolfe married Henry Wirz on May 27, 1854. Henry Wirz was a physician and had a practice in Trigg County during his stay in that area. 

The family moved to Millikens Bend, Louisiana, where he was employed at the Marshall Plantation to tend to the sick and injured servants. Geneva Williams of the Madison (Louisiana) Historical Society believes that the Marshall Plantation is now part of the corporate-owned Ashley Plantation.

In the Madison Parish 1860 Census we find two daughters, Cora Lee, age 5 years born in Kentucky and an infant, Ida Wirz,  born in Louisiana. All historical reference works we’ve seen as to the offspring of Captain Wirz indicated that he had only one daughter by Elizabeth, so this youngster was a surprise to us and it appears that Ida did not live to adulthood. Due to encroaching waters, some of the dead at Millikens Bend were moved to the Silver Cross Cemetery. Geneva could find no record of Ida Wirz being buried in the Silver Cross Cemetery and if she did die in that area, she may have been buried at a location destroyed by the War, as only four buildings in the Parish remained standing after the Yankee invasion.

Elizabeth Wirz followed her husband to the Andersonville prison and was forced to suffer the same deprivations of food that the soldiers suffered at that time with the South was running out of supplies, men, money and time.

After the War she tried to save him from death at the hands of the “victors” to no avail. She was allowed little, if any, visitation, during his months of imprisonment. After his execution, she requested his body be returned to the family for a Christian burial, but was again refused. During Captain Wirz’s imprisonment, government officials tried to accuse Elizabeth of smuggling him poison in order to deny them their vengeance by hanging. Actually, she was home in Kentucky during the time she was supposed to have attempted this.

She returned home and appeared in the 1870 census of Trigg County with Cornelia Wolfe, age 21, who was teaching school, and Cora Lee Wirz, age 14. There is no mention of Ida Wirz in this census.

The Wirz Children, Mystery of Elizabeth’s Resting Place

Both of the Wolfe daughters who had been raised by Captain Wirz married Redd brothers and appear to have remained in the Trigg county area.

Susan Jane Wolfe was born July 10, 1847, and she married George L. Redd on September 29, 1867. They had nine children. Susan died November 15, 1915, and George died January 16, 1916. They are buried in a plot together with Oscar Redd, their son and Myrtle Violie Redd, their granddaughter. Amelia Eudora Redd, their daughter-in-law, is also buried in the same plot. Amelia was the mother of Myrtle and wife of Walker Redd, who was a son of Susan and George Redd. These folks are buried in the Fuller Cemetery four miles North of Linton, KY on Hwy 164. As you will recall, this is the same cemetery that was recorded as the place where Elizabeth Wirz was buried in an unmarked grave. This becomes more logical when we learn that her eldest daughter is buried there as well. I believe that Mrs. Elizabeth Wirz has finally been found! We may never be able to find the exact spot in the cemetery where she is buried, but it seems evident when one studies the facts of her life that she is buried in this well-cared-for cemetery. 

We were not able to locate the Boyd Hill Church, and we found out later that it burned in 1983. Apparently there was a family connection to Linton as Walker Redd worked on the John M. Boyd farm near to Linton for 22 years and his wife Amelia, was born and raised in Linton. I believe that John Boyd was the founder of the town, and probably the namesake of the Church. Betty McCorkle has researched the record of the Boyd Hill Church and was unable to find evidence that the Redd family were members of this particular church that was founded after the Baptist Church located on Donaldson Creek. A study of the records of the Donaldson Creek Baptist Church may shed some light on the year in which Elizabeth died, as this remains an unanswered question so far in our research. Written reports indicated that the Walker Redd farm was about two miles from the Fuller Cemetery and in the Donaldson Creek area. Both his parents lived with him when they became elderly. Actually, Walker Redd suffered many losses, inlcuding being exposed to rabies and requiring the Pasteur treatment in Bowling Green, KY. During this period his mother passed away and he was unable to attend the funeral. He lost both parents and his wife in less than one year. He was the victim of at least three very destructive fires at his residence. Walker Redd is buried in the East End Cemetery in Cadiz, KY. 

Cornelia A. Wolfe was born on November 3, 1848 and she married James W. Redd on January 1, 1871. She died on May 14, 1881, giving birth to a daughter also named Cornelia. Cornelia Redd and her husband, along with his second wife, Allie, and one of her children are buried in the Redd Cemetery in Cadiz. 

On October 23, 1871, Elizabeth Wirz sold the homeplace of her father, and appears to be residing with her brother, Daniel C. Savells, in Marshall County.

Cora Lee Wirz was born February 24, 1855,  in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. In 1874 she married J. W. Walker at the home of her uncle, Daniel, at Birdwell Landing which is now known as Altona in Marshall County, Kentucky.

Sometime around 1876 Cora was married to J. S. Perrin. The Natchez census of 1886 shows J. S. Perrin to be 39 years old and a machinery dealer, while Cora is 29 years old. They had three children living at that time; Sam, who was nine, Roscoe, age three and an unnamed female, who was one. I believe she is probably Fanny Maude.

Cora Perrin died June 19, 1928, in Natchez, Mississippi. Her death certificate shows that she died at the Natchez Sanatorium of cancer of the liver and stomach. She was 73 years old and her husband was still living at the time at 504 Madison Street in Natchez.  She was buried at the City Cemetery in Natchez, and yet the cemetery director, Don Estes, told me that there are no records for Cora, possibly due to a fire that destroyed many records for that time period.

It appears Cora had many children, but only a few survived. Listed as buried in the City Cemetery in the Perrins Lot, Fields addition, Lot #83, which had space for eight burials, are Cora Lee Perrin, one year old, who died June 5, 1894, J. S. Perrin, a female infant who died October 30, 1895, and Fannie Maude Perrin, 20 years old, who died of yellow fever on September 25, 1905.

Within the Fields plot there are no markers standing for the Perrin family. Perhaps they could not afford markers or they have been damaged by the ravages of time. Could they have been moved? Don Estes has dowsed the area and is not sure if there are any bodies buried in Lot #83. A marker to Harry Johnston, born June 15, 1885, in Boligee, Alabama, and died September 1, 1901, stands alone and is embedded in a tree on the Perrin lot, but we do not know how he was related to the Perrin family.

Roscoe Wirz Perrin, who died September 18, 1907, in New York City is the child mentioned in the 1886 census. Roscoe is buried in another section of  the Natchez City Cemetery, which is named the 1st Zurhellen addition Lot #6.

Cora Lee (Wirz) Perrin had at least one child who lived, and she was Mary Gladys. It is my understanding that Cora Lee was associated with the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Natchez and actively defended her father. Cora and Mary were both present at the dedication of the Wirz monument in Andersonville, Georgia, and Mary Gladys Perrin unveiled the monument to her grandfather on May 12, 1909.

Captain Wirz has four great-great grandsons today living in Louisiana. They are Perrin, Robert, William and John Watkins. Their grandmother was Mary Gladys (Perrin) Watkins. Someday I hope to meet them and perhaps they will travel to Kentucky and visit the Fuller Cemetery where their great-great grandmother is buried.

Kentuckians should be proud that our state holds the remains of such a brave lady, and it has been a personal honor to be part of this effort to expose some more of the tyranny imposed on the prostrate South. It has been a pleasure to finally locate the cemetery, if not the exact gravesite, of Elizabeth Wirz. It is possible she rests under a fieldstone, of which there are many at the Fuller Cemetery, but in the future we will install a memorial stone that will clearly define exactly who she was so others will not have to do this research again.

 We owe it to this Southern Lady who suffered greatly for the Cause to recognize her part in this conflict of which Kentucky and particularly Trigg County offered her sons and daughters in defense of their homes.

I hope that we can have a memorial service perhaps in November of 2006 at the Fuller Cemetery and have descendants of Henry and Elizabeth Wirz in 
attendance. Hopefully, Elizabeth Wirz will never be “lost” again!

In a letter to Louis Schade (the last of his attorneys to quit in protest over the mockery of a trial), dated the day of his execution, November 10, 1865, Capt Wirz wrote:

   Dear Sir: It is no doubt the last time that I address my
self to you. What I have said to you often as often I repeat. Accept my thanks, my sincere, heartfelt thanks, for all you have done for me. May God reward you, I cannot. I still have something more to ask of you, and I am confident you will not refuse to receive my dying request. Please help my poor family - my dear wife and children. War, cruelest, has swept everything from me, and today my wife and children are beggars. My life is demanded as an atonement. I am willing to give it, and hope that after a while, I will be judged differently from what I am
 now. If any one ought to come to the relief of my family, it is the people of the South, for whose sake I have sacrificed all. I know you will excuse me for troubling you again. Farewell, dear sir. May God bless you.

Yours thankfully,
H. Wirz."
Above: The Execution of Henry Wirz


Monday, April 20, 2009

Lost Confederate Cemetery Section Discovered: 72 Graves Uncovered

By Richard Brown, David Chaltas & Don Shelton (originally published in the Winter 2006 issue of The Lost Cause)

On January 7, 2006, sixteen men and women braved the cold to cut, clear and remove underbrush in an abandoned and overgrown section of the Westwood cemetery located at the mouth of Sandlick River, in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The cemetery was on property that had belonged to John Caudill (Colonel Ben Caudill's father) during the War for Southern Independence; John Caudill's gravesite is on the ridge next to the abandoned portion of the cemetery that was being cleared. Several years of research by the Colonel Benjamin Caudill Camp #1629 had led this group to believe their efforts at clearing the thickets might uncover a long-hidden mystery.

Several records, such as Edward Guerrant’s diary, George Mosgrove’s book, Kentucky Cavaliers In Dixie, and General Humphrey Marshall’s Adjutant General Reports all made mention of the treatment and deaths of Confederate solders in a hospital in Whitesburg. Guerrant described Whitesburg as a town “with a few houses and one large hospital,” and documented the hospital as being “at the confluence of the Sandlick Branch and the Kentucky River”. Official Records of the 5th Kentucky Infantry named at least ten soldiers that had died in Whitesburg and recorded the dates of their deaths. General Marshall’s reports stated that several men of the 29th Virginia Infantry and the 1st Kentucky Cavalry had died there as well, and other soldiers from units stationed in and around Whitesburg were thought to have been treated, and some to have died, at the hospital.

If so many had died in Whitesburg, though, where had they been buried? Certainly not all had been reinterred elsewhere. Attempts to solve the puzzle had gone on for several years; about five years ago Cmdr. David Chaltas was involved in a comprehensive survey with the Letcher County Historical society where over 20,000 area gravesites were plotted. While the hospital cemetery was not revealed in this effort, Chaltas said “the location of the Westwood cemetery was the one area we fell back to”. 

While not related to serious research, there were ghost stories from the area, as relayed in the records at; the “Woods of Westwood,” supposedly once called “Graveyard Holler,” had given rise to claims that if one went into the woods “you can sometimes hear noises like gun shots firing when no one is in the woods, then see what looks to be civil war soldiers running and disappearing.”

The researchers had several real clues for looking at Westwood, though. First was location; the Westwood cemetery is approximately 1000 feet northeast of where the mouth of Sandlick Creek empties into the North Fork of the Kentucky River, as Guerrant had described. Second was the fact that the property was owned by the father of Col. Caudill. Also, it was an existing cemetery; “we thought it strange that a prime piece of real estate was abandoned and no other graves were placed right in the heart of the cemetery”, said Chaltas. Finally, when interviews with some older members of the community revealed that they remembered being told Westwood was indeed the old hospital cemetery, it appeared to be the spot to look.

Armed with this information, the sixteen men and women endured the cold and wet weather on January 7th to begin clearing the thicket surrounding and covering the abandoned area of the Westwood Cemetery. Tons of underbrush was cleared and removed to a side road. County Judge Executive Carroll Smith promised to have the debris hauled off. As the brush and briars were removed from the area, several old tombstones and rock markers began to appear!

The graves were in six military style rolls, three feet apart with the rolls running through a new section of the cemetery back into the other section that had been abandoned.  On the north edge of the clearing was the grave of Lieutenant James Fitzpatrick, on the west side was the grave of Private Joseph E. Cornett, and to the south was the grave of Private Stephen Caudill, all of Caudill’s 13th Kentucky Cavalry. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the tombstones and rocks did not contain names or dates on them. In all, 72 unmarked gravesites were found along with a few forgotten stones marking the resting place of someone's loved one of yesteryear.  72 flags marking the grave locations were placed that day.  Adjutant Richard Brown organized the cleanup and worked beside the following individuals to confirm years worth of research: David Brown, Glenn Brown, Chad Brown, Danny Wright, Sandy Wright, Katie Cowden, Brook Cowden, Okie Blair, Tim Blair, Tabby Back, Willie Cornett, Willis Strong, Debbie Back, and John P. Back. The mission terminated with congratulations and a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for the rediscovery of the gravesites was offered by Kentucky Division Chaplain Chaltas.

On Saturday, January 28th, several Caudill camp members and their families returned to the cemetery to continue cleaning and searching the area. With most of the cemetery then cleaned, all clues provided by the tombstones along with the previously obtained information were proof that this was, indeed, the long-searched-for resting place of the forgotten Confederate soldiers who died at the Whitesburg hospital!

Research by Faron Sparkman has revealed the names of ten men from the 5th Kentucky Infantry buried at this site, and the research continues to find the names of the others, including planned attempts at ground-penetrating sonar and archeological research.

The Caudill Camp is actively designing a memorial stone to place at the location of these Southern heroes. This stone will honor both the known and unknown soldiers. The stone will also provide information about the nearby Confederate hospital that provided care for the unfortunate soldiers so many years ago. Hopefully the combination of Confederate tombstones and the monument will prevent the story of these long forgotten soldiers from being lost again.

For further information and updates, go to 
During the years of searching for this site, David Chaltas wrote the following article and adjacent poem in expression of the deep desire to locate these soldiers:

The Potters’ field is a Biblical term referring to a plot of ground for those who could not afford a place of burial. While researching the medical and death records of our area, my friend Richard Brown and I could not help but note the number of Civil War soldiers that had died in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Since we were from the area and knew it extensively, the research brought forth several questions: Where was the hospital? Why were they brought to our area to receive medical attention? Was there more action in the area than previously thought? If so many died, what did they do with the bodies? Did they send them home, and if so, how? If they buried them, where was the Potters’ Field? Somewhere within the confines of Whitesburg, Kentucky, lie the remains of numerous soldiers, and it has become our passion to locate their burial site. If any of you are aware of any information please contact us to help us mark the remains of all those asleep in a Potters’ Field.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Could Not Resist My Country's Call Part 2

The journal of James Paton is one of only a handful of surviving manuscripts written by a member of the Confederate First Kentucky Brigade, known to posterity as the “Orphan Brigade.” Paton and his comrades embraced the Confederate cause as their own and the Confederacy became their adopted country. Therefore, Paton felt “I could not resist my country’s defend her rights.”

James E. Paton was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1837, the son of James and Elizabeth Paton. Working as a clerk in Paris, Kentucky, he joined a group of friends who, in June 1861, went south to join their fellow Kentuckians at Camp Boone near Clarksville, Tennessee, who were enlisting in the Confederate army. On July 7, 1861, Paton and his comrades enlisted in the 2nd Kentucky Infantry. Their company, the Hamilton Guards, became Company G.

His journal, written in Camp Morton, Indiana, while a prisoner of war, covers his service from July, 1861, until his exchange from prison in August, 1862. It is not known if he continued his writing after this period. Original grammar has been left intact. In the first part we learned of the drudgery of training, six months of recuperation from a ligament tear, and then the start of battle at Ft. Donelson where the 2nd repulsed several enemy charges on February 13th, 2006. We pick up with his entry on February 14th. Under the Feb. 14 entry, the Union “Gunboats” were the ironclads Carondelet, Louisville, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Conestoga and Tyler. Under Feb. 16(15) the Union “two regiments” that companies B and G repulsed were the 11th and 31st Illinois Infantry regiments. The “two Batteries” mentioned was really one, McAllister’s Battery D, 1st Illinois Light Artillery. The “four Regts. Charging up the hill” were from Lauman’s and C. F. Smith’s brigades, 2nd and 7th Iowa, 25th Indiana, and 14th Missouri. Transcribed and edited by Sam Flora; original manuscript in the possession of Elizabeth Clay Witt.

Our position commanded a view of the attack. The Gun Boats advanced to within 300 yards of the fort. This was the most magnificent scene I ever beheld. The bursting of shells and the continual roar of the 64 and 130 pounders in the Fort almost deafened us. During this assault everyone of us stood anxious spectators deeply interested in the result.

About dark we (Co. G.) were ordered to our tents, where hungry, cold and thirsty we lay ourselves in the frozen earth to restore exhausted human nature – to dream of loved ones at home and of tomorrow’s Battle, everyone determined that victory should crown our arms, or that hospitable graves should welcome us home. Feby. 16th We were aroused from sweet slumber about 3 o’clock A. M. It was cold, bitter cold with snow on the ground, but we cared not for personal comforts. Our thoughts were of the conflicts of the approaching day. Breakfastless we were soon in the line of Battle, when we took up our march to a point two miles on the left, where we arrived about sunrise. The Ball had already commenced, the Battle was hotly raging and we were stationed on a hill-side as a reserve and here the bombshells bursted around, over and among us, killing and wounding several. It was here Lieut. Hill of Co. F received a mortal wound from a cannon ball. While here many distressing and heart rending scenes were presented. The wounded horribly mangled and carried from the Battlefield uttered hideous death cries, which was enough to make the blood of the stoutest heart curdle in one’s veins, the dead and dying were seen on every side and in our very midst and many things which the poverty of language prevents an adequate description. Scenes that would try the courage of the “Bravest of the Brave”.

Everyone seemed impressed with solemn thoughts, yet upon every countenance was depicted an unmistakable determination to conquer or fall. Genl. Buckner made his appearance and addressed us as follows, “ Fellow Kentuckians, can I trust the old 2nd today,” The answer was, “We will go anywhere you choose to lead us or may wish to send us” He then said, “ I hold you here as a reserve and around you shall rally and unless the fortunes of the day become doubtful, you shall not be called into action. But if it should, I want you to show some of the Old Blood. And I may ask you to go where I would not dare send another regiment and I will go with you.” The fortunes of the day did become doubtful and we were called into action and we did show them some of the “Old Blood” and some of Kentucky’s marksmanship too. For in ten minutes after this the fortunes of the day became desperate, the enemy exerting every nerve and preparing to charge Capt. Graves Battery. Capt. Graves was once the Adjutant and idol of the 2nd Ky. His well known voice was heard to call for the “2nd Ky”, he said “Go to the assistance of Col. Baldwin and save my Battery”. Without even awaiting the command of our Col. We were off at the double quick when all were halted save Cos. B & G, which were rushed madly on, eager to measure bayonets with the enemy. Here I made a very narrow escape, a ball from a six pounder striking and plowing up the earth within 3 feet of me and shells bursting over us almost every minute but miraculously none of us were hurt. On we rushed regardless of every danger until within a short distance of the enemy when we poured upon them volley after volley and the enemy’s bullets falling thick and fast among us. Here several of my comrades fell , four or five in arms length of me when shot. The enemy could not stand our galling fire and threw down their arms and fled in great confusion. Thus we, Cos. B & G saved Graves battery and drove two regiments from their entrenchment killing and wounding a great many. Again we were drawn up in line of battle and a messenger sent for the remaining part of the Regt. to help charge the enemy again in his new position and where he had been reinforced. But we soon saw the remaining part of the Regt. coming in full charge upon the enemy, surmounting every obstacle and impeded by nothing and soon were joined by Cos. B & G. Genl. Buckner asked Col. Hanson if he thought he could make a successful charge. The Col. Replied, “ There is no difficulty in getting my men started, the h—l will be to stop them.” The order was then given to “Fix bayonets, forward double quick march.” On we rushed scattering five Regts. helter, skelter, strewing the ground with their dead and wounded, taking about 200 prisoners and two Batteries. Thus ended the conflict on that part of the field.

By this time many of us were hungry, thirsty, fatigued and completely, physically exhausted. Never was victory more complete than the one we had just achieved. In their flight they threw their guns and equipment away. They were splendid arms and the same the enemy boasted of having taken from us after our surrender, but a great number had been sent south by the immortalized Floyd. The scenes that presented themselves on this part of the field were horrible, men and horses lay piled together, some with their heads shot off by cannon balls and others with their limbs torn from them.

We were then ordered back to our position on the right, where we had left that morning. I being completely exhausted and suffering a great deal from lameness, did not get there until some time after the Regt. did. The Regt. was still in line and were being congratulated by our Col. On our success and anticipating sweet repose that night. When we were informed that “there were four Regts. charging up the hill on us, at double quick, and fixed bayonets.” I shall never forget the feelings I then experienced, had I have heard my death warrant read to me I could not have felt worse, not through fear or timidity, but I could plainly see what was to follow. I knew many a brave one in the 2nd Ky. would fall. I was too much exhausted to go to our pits when the companies were ordered to them. Lieut. Spears knowing my condition told me to stay where I was on the reserve.
Our men had scarcely gained the intrenchments when the enemy was upon them. They fired a round or two, fixed bayonets and fought had to hand until ordered to rally behind our next intrenchments, two or three hundred yards to our rear. This was done under a heavy fire of the enemy. In this action we labored under many disadvantages. The enemy was fresh and his numbers greatly superior to ours, our guns out of order and ammunition nearly exhausted. In this struggle, Lieut.Hawes received two severe wounds and fell into the hands of the enemy and here the gallant Spears received a shot in the left arm, but could not be prevailed upon to leave the field altho suffering great pain.

The Regt. gained the intrenchments in the rear with some loss, but nothing to compare with that if the enemy. I started to the rear with the Regt. but finding myself unable to gain them, when about half way took shelter behind a fallen tree. Here my position was one of great danger. The bullets of the enemy and those of friends passing directly over me like swarms of bees and a shell would occasionally burst in close proximity, too close to be healthy or comfortable. The invincible Graves and gallant Porter had reinforced the Regt. with two guns and were pouring death and destruction into the ranks of the enemy. Firing continued until dark, which caused a cessation of hostilities. We lost our blankets and everything save what was about our persons. It was a bitter cold night, we were supperless and having eaten nothing all day were mentally as well as physically exhausted and having been five nights with but little sleep. The frozen ground our only bed and the northern blasts our unwelcome companions and Heaven’s canopy our only covering. All were cold and cheerless. I will not attempt to describe the sufferings of that night but leave it to your own imagination. Sunday, Feby. 17th At about 2 o’clock this morning the Regt. was called into line and informed by Col. Hanson that we were surrounded by at least sixty thousand men. That the fort had surrendered and that the only chance to save ourselves was to cut our way out. To this we were all willing, but Genl. Buckner opposed such a movement and the idea was abandoned.

At early dawn the white flag was seen waving from our breast works. This was an awful blow to the 2nd Ky. Sooner would they have died upon the Battlefield than have been there surrendered. Soon the Federals were seen to file in side of our breastworks and stationed as guards over our men. This was indeed humiliating and the blood of many Brave Kentuckians boiled with rage. We were treated with respect and kindness by the Federal Troops. Squads from each army were seen standing together talking over the Battle scenes. Thus the day passed off. Night came and a strong guard was placed around our camp. We were compelled to sleep in the open field again altho we were within 100 yards of our tents.

It rained nearly all night . My bed was on the side of the hill. When I awoke I found a stream of water running under me. I drew a wet blanket around me, fell to sleep again and slept soundly till morning Feby. 18th, 1862 About 10 o’clock we were ordered to fall into line and were marched to the boat landing in Dover. As we passed by the Headquarters of Gen. Buckner, the gallant Hero came out with hat in hand and as the men passed along he would take their hands, tell them goodbye, bid them be of good cheer, to hope for a better day and that he would be with them again. How our sympathies were aroused for our beloved and idolized General. He was the admiration of the entire Brigade. A man of the noblest impulses and worthy a better fate.

I will here remark that Gen. Buckner could have escaped with Floyd and Pillow if he had have been disposed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Editorial: A Familiar Story (Almost)

Originally published in the Spring, 2006 issue of The Lost Cause

It’s a familiar story: a school principal told students they wouldn’t be allowed to wear cherished symbols of their heritage. In a more famous incident a couple of years ago, it was over a dress at the school prom. In this case it was sashes at graduation ceremonies. Time after time, Southern students have faced heritage and viewpoint discrimination. We have fought tooth and nail to defend what should be obvious first amendment rights of all students, and yet even after the victories in Castorina and just recently Duty, some school systems still don’t get it. I’ve seen the sashes in question, and just like Jacqueline Duty’s prom dress, they were tastefully done, and obviously without intent to offend or disrupt. There was one difference in this case, though: the students were black and the sashes intended to reflect African heritage.

So who came to their rescue? Our good friend and key attorney on both the Castorina and Duty cases, Earl-Ray Neal from Richmond. He met with the principal of Lexington’s Tates Creek High School and used our Castorina precedent—yes the “Confederate Flag Case” - to convince the principal of these students’ rights to honor their African heritage, and they got to wear their sashes to graduation. One of the students, Kamisha Allen, detecting the media’s incorrect sense of irony in Neal defending African heritage right after winning settlement in the Duty suit, said “I feel that (Neal) is not (only) a lawyer for the Confederate flag, (he's) a lawyer for the First Amendment.” Congratulations, Kamisha, you’ve proven yourself smarter than many school principals. A prime function of the first amendment is defending speech and expression from the tyranny of the majority, the tyranny of the politically correct, and the tyranny of the school bureaucrat. All we’ve done in the Confederate heritage community is ask for fair treatment for everyone, and fair treatment for everyone’s symbols and heritage. It’s our heritage usually that takes the worst beating on the front lines of this onslaught against civil rights, but we are not alone and rejoice at victory for any ethnic group whose heritage and symbols come under fire.

So, it has to be asked, when this free speech infringement came about , where was the NAACP? Where was the Southern Poverty Law Center? Where was the ACLU? We know where the NAACP has been—pressuring the Ohio County school system to institute illegal bans on their students’ speech. Oops. The Southern Poverty Law Center? Too busy printing articles full of untruths, half-truths and misleading innuendo about the SCV. The ACLU? Frankly, they don’t yet seem to understand the severity of the problem, and I think don’t yet understand just exactly how hard we have to fight to win these situations, nor have what it takes to fight like that.

With the organizations one might expect to be the first to jump at this situation absent from the fray, what to do? Why, send in the Confederates of course! We’ve been at this long enough, and won enough precedents, that we’ve got anyone else’s school first amendment battles half-won already. While Earl-Ray Neal isn’t an SCV member, his experiences fighting along side us on the free speech front lines made him an imposing opponent for the school, and the principal caved faster than a cake falling in the oven. Earl-Ray didn’t have to call in the SCV reserves on this one, but it’s almost too bad we didn’t get a chance to mobilize. It would have been fun. So, to the students of Tates Creek High School: for Castorina, for Duty, for spending the last 8 years insuring your right to wear your sashes to graduation: you’re welcome.

I just hope that the next time students are mistreated for their Confederate heritage, though, that you’ll feel welcome to join us in the fight. Kamisha is right—Castorina and the first amendment are for everyone, and we welcome all sincere allies who will join us.

Don Shelton

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kentuckians at Rest in Tennessee

By Stewart Cruickshank

The Tennessee State Legislature passed “An Act for the Benefit of Disabled and Indigent Ex-Confederate Soldiers of Tennessee” in 1889. This allocated funding for the building of The Confederate Soldiers Home on the property of former President Andrew Jackson, “Hermitage” in Nashville, TN. The Confederate Soldiers Home functioned from 1892-1934. In 1935 the property was returned to the Ladies Hermitage Association and afterwards the Home was torn down. The Confederate Cemetery containing the graves of approximately 483 soldiers is all that remains today.

On June 3, 1941, Confederate Memorial Day, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Tennessee Division and the Tennessee General Assembly erected Memorial Gateposts for the Cemetery, which face Lebanon Road. State Highway Marker 3A54 also notes the final resting place of these Confederate Veterans. However, today the entrance to the cemetery is from Old Hickory Blvd.

There are fifteen veterans of Confederate Kentucky units buried in the cemetery. Their war-time service makes for interesting reading. Their service and personal sacrifices should be remembered always:

Robert Hocker Pride: Grave #409, Born 5/19/1834, Died 4/9/1924 Pride enlisted in the “Kentucky Minute Men”, 1st Kentucky Infantry Regiment, Co. K, in June of 1861, at Keysburg, KY. He contracted chronic diarrhea at Mannassas, Virginia and was hospitalized until his discharge 2/4/1862. He entered the Soldiers Home in April of 1907.

H. D. Bomar: Grave #436 Born 7/24/1840, Died 9/4/1926 Bomar, from Clinton County, KY originally enlisted in “The Kentucky Braves”, Co. F, 22nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment. In his Confederate Pension Application Bomar recalled fighting at Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Brice’s Crossroads, Harrisburg, Athens and Sulphur Springs Trestle. Near the end of the war Gen. Buford sent Bomar and 15-20 others itno West Tennessee to recruit and arrest deserters. When hearing of the surrender, Bomar’s squad disbanded and returned to their homes. After the war Bomar was a clerk in Shelby County, TN, until entering the Soldiers Home in April of 1903.

Jeffery T. Bynum: Grave #420, Born 2/25/1840, Died 1/20/1925 Bynum enlisted in Co. E, 12th Tennessee Infantry at Jackson, TN, on June 2, 1861. As a member of that organization he fought at Belmont, Shiloh, and Corinth. On May 15, 1862 Co. E was transferred to the 3rd KY Infantry, becoming Co. L of that regiment. Bynum recalled combat at Coffeeville, Vicksburg, Paducah, Brice’s Crossroads and Harrisburg. At the later battlefield also known as Tupelo, he was struck by grapeshot July 4th, 1864. When he heal one leg was shorter than the other. When he was discharged from the Confederate Army he held the rank of 1st Corporal. Bynum entered the Home in September of 1920.

H. Ewell Hord: Grave #442, Born 5/10/1846, Died 2/9/1927 Hord, from Union County, KY, enlisted in Co. D of the 3rd KY Infantry Regiment 9/1/1862, at Jackson, MS. He broke his arm while fighting in Paducah, KY in 1864, and was knocked down by an artillery shell concussion at Harrisburg. Hord was captured at Selma, AL. He was paroled at Nasvhille, TN, in May of 1865. He entered the Soldiers Home in February of 1901.

Zack R. Hutcherson: Grave #370, Born 6/11/1836, Died 12/9/1920 Hutcherson, or Hutchinson, from Green County, KY, originally served in the 8th KY Cavalry Regiment as a member of Co. K. He enlisted at Springfield, KY in September of 1862. He transferred to Co. E, 4th Kentucky Infantry Regiment 9/13/1862, at Lebanon, KY. He fought as a member of the 4th at Jackson, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Rocky Face Gap, Resaca and Dallas among other locations in Georgia. At Dallas on 4/28/1864, he was shot in the right shoulder and the bones were fractured. After healing he returned to the 4th and continued service until paroled at Washington, GA in 1865. He took the oath in Nashville and then returned home to Warren County, KY, where he farmed after the war.

Thomas D. Ruffin: Grave #264, Born in 1837 or 39, Died 1/1/1913 Ruffin enlisted in “The Pillow Guards”, Co. K, 21st Tennessee Infantry on June 13, 1861. This company was withdrawn in the Spring of 1862 to form Co. E, 1st KY Cavalry Battalion. This unit was also known as King’s Battalion, KY Cavalry. Its designation was later changed to “Kentucky Mounted Rangers”. Even later in the war it was designated the 12th Confederate Cavalry Regiment. Co. A of this regiment was composed of the original men from King’s Battalion. It was often on detached duty as escort for Generals Van Dorn and Forrest. Ruffin recalled combat at Fort Henry, Paris, Shiloh, Lockard’s Mill and Blackland. The later place is now known as Guntown, MS. His horse was shot frum under him at Guntown and he was discharged on July 13, 1862. He remained in Confederate hospitals until the Summer of 1863. He left Knight’s Mill near Tupelo and went home to finish recovering. Later he went to Panola, MS and attempted to join Gen. Chalmer’s Cavalry. Ruffin stated in his pension aplication that Gen. Chalmers commissioned him a Captain, and ordered him to purchase supplies in Northern Mississippi. Ruffin was captured at Coldwater in 1864. He was held as a P.O.W. in Memphis, TN. Due to his lameness from the horse falling upon him in 1862, he was released. Afterwards he made his way to the Confederate lines and served until paroled at Greensboro, NC, on April 25, 1865. His commission as Captain is unverified, however his parole shows him detached on Provost Duty. After the war Ruffin was a gunsmith in Shelby County, TN.

Robert Searcy: Grave #20, Born 1/21/1821, Died 12/21/1895 Searcy originally served in the “Oak Grove Rangers” a Tennessee State Guard unite let by Thomas Woodward. This organization later merged into Helms’ 1st KY Cavalry Regiment. Searcy chose to escape capture at Fort Donelson, TN, by riding out with Gen. Forrest. In December of 1863, Searcy was discharged from the Confederate Army with severe rheumatism.

Samuel Siminson Edmondson: Grave #406, Born 4/6/1844, Died 2/26/1924 Edmondson or Edmundson enlisted in Co. L Morgan’s 2nd KY Cavalry Regiment August 15, 1862, at Hartsville, TN. He was wounded at Augusta, KY 9/27/1862. He was wounded a second time, in the right foot at Knoxville, TN. He was discharged as a cripple in 1864.

William Samuel Holloway: Grave #478, Born 9/25/1842, Died 9/9/1933 Holloway enlisted in Co. H, Woodward’s 2nd KY Cavalry in October of 1862. He participated in combat at Trenton, Garrettsburg, and Hopkinsville. He was discharged in October of 1863. He took the oath in Williamsport, TN.

William H. Brewer: Grave #407, Born 6/24/1842, Died 3/21/1924 Brewer originally enlisted in Co. I, 30th Tennessee Infantry Regiment on November 22, 1861. He was captured at Fort Donelson and was sent to Camp Butler as a P.O.W. Suffering from piles and chronic diarrhea, he was released upon taking the oath. After recovering he joined Rogers’ 1st East Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. He was wounded in the right leg by a piece of artillery shell at Cumberland Gap. When captured again in 1863, Brewer was a member of Co. L, Woodward’s 2nd KY Cavalry. This unit was also known as the 15th KY Cavalry Regiment. He was exchanged on October 24, 1864. He rejoined the army, serving until paroled May 10, 1865.

Ashbell S. Brown: Grave #13, Born 12/1834, Died 7/21/1894 Brown enlisted in Co. A, 5th KY Cavalry Regiment 9/2/1862. He was captured in July, 1863 and remained a P.O.W. until March of 1865. He was a boat millwright after the war.

William B. Feland: Grave #476, Born 11/29/1846, Died 9/9/1913 Feland originally joined Co. A of the 7th TN Cavalry Battalion, October 9, 1861. After participating in the Battle of Shiloh, he was discharged as underage. Feland then joined Co. A of the 6th KY Cavalry Regiment. He fought with that unit at Hartsville, Green River, Lebanon and Mount Sterling. He was captured at Cheshire, OH, July 20, 1863. He was a P.O.W. in Camp Douglas thirty days later. On March 2, 1865, he was transferred to Point Lookout for exchange. On March 12, 1865, he was paroled on the James River at Boulware’s and Cox’s Wharves.

George Y. Harris: Grave #206, Born 12/12/1835, Died 1/19/1910 Harris enlisted in Co. G of Gano’s 7th KY Cavalry Regiment 8/26/1862, at Keysburg, KY. This unit is also known as the 3rd KY Cavalry Regiment. Harris was shot through his left lung at Mount Sterling, and was captured. After a period of time as a P.O.W. in Camp Morton he was released and hospitalized. He was paroled from a hospital in White Sulphur Springs (W.) Virginia.

Benjamin W. Herring: Grave #74, Born 8/28/1833, Died 1/4/1901 Herring enlisted in Co. K of the 14th TN Infantry Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant on May 28, 1861. At the reorganization of the Regiment on April 27, 1862, he was “thrown out of office”. He then joined Co. G, of the 7th KY Cavalry Regiment 8/25/1862 at Keysburg, KY. During combat at Milton, TN, he received a slight flesh wound. Herring was captured at Clarkesville, TN, while recruiting 10/31/1862. He remained a P.O.W. until February 21, 1865. He was paroled at Washington, GA as a 2nd Sergeant, May 9, 1865.

Daniel C. Whitney: Grave #322, Born 8/19/1839, Died 1/3/1917 Whitney originally served in Wheat’s Special Battalion of Louisiana Infantry. He enlisted in New Orleans April 25, 1861. His Company B, “The Tiger Rifles” was the only company to wear a full Zouave uniform. Sent to Virginia, Whitney participated in combat at 1st Mannassas, Kernstown, Winchester, Yorktown, Chancellorsville, Gaines Mill and the Seven Days Battles. At Gaines Mill a piece of artillery shell wounded him in the left kneecap. After being hospitalized at Chimborazo in Richmond he received a disability discharge. By that time Wheat’s Battalion had disbanded. At some point later Whitney enlisted in Co. E of the 11th KY Cavalry Regiment. He was captured at Mount sterling on March 30, 1863. On May 3rd he was exchanged at City Point, VA. Rejoining his comrades, he was recaptured at Jonesboro, TN, in the Fall of 1864.

Sources: The Confederate Cemetery Headstones at “Hermitage”, Tennessee Confederate Veteran Pension Applications, History of the 3rd, 7th, 8th, and 12th Kentucky C.S.A. by Henry George History of the Orphan Brigade by E.P. Thompson Sumner County, TN in the Civil War by Ferguson Parts 1 & 2 Confederate Veteran Magazine Ordeal by Fire by Cross, Louisiana Confederate Military Units 1861-1865 by Bergeron Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky: Confederate Vols. 1 & 2, Confederate Soldiers of Kentucky by S. Lynn

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Signs of the Times: State of the KY Historical Marker Program

(published in the Spring 2006 The Lost Cause)

By Don Shelton and Nancy Hitt

On August 15th, 1864, three Confederates — John Lingenfelter, William Lingenfelter, and George Wainscott—were executed in Grant County by order of Stephen “Butcher” Burbridge without trial as revenge for the deaths of two Unionists, one of whom was brother-in-law to the Lingenfelter brothers. Apparently one of the Lingenfelters was present at each of the killings, but neither confessed to murder. Years later a historical maker was placed near their graves in Owen County so that the executions and victims would not be forgotten. While the marker somewhat incorrectly identified the victims’ unit as the “ 1st Batt. Ky. Inf. CSA” (the unit was actually the 1st Battalion Kentucky Mounted Rifles), it made sure that the period of brutal military occupation in Kentucky by the federals, and the tragically fratricidal nature of the war in Kentucky, would not be lost to those concerned enough to stop and read in Owen County. Problem is, this sign is no longer standing, and the state didn’t seem to know it. In addition, there is another Owen County Confederate sign, about a stop John Hunt Morgan made at the home of J. Alexander after his prison escape, that is also down.

Last year the marker depicted on our cover (above), for John C. Breckinridge, suddenly disappeared. Alarmed, the members of the John C. Breckinridge Camp began to investigate. According to sources at the Lexington History Museum (which occupies the old courthouse next to the Breckinridge monument and marker) the sign had been pulled up by vandals, apparently by wrapping a chain around it and ripping it out. A sense of panic set in for camp members—just where was the marker? Could it be repaired? Would we face opposition to placing it again? Camp commander Sam Flora made contact with Stuart Sanders, manager of the Kentucky Historical Marker Program. Stuart had just recently been placed in that position, so this was one of his first “repair” issues to deal with. While determining exact location and status of a marker is apparently not very easy once it is returned to the Transportation Department’s hands, Sanders was aware the marker had been returned for repairs. Flora described Sanders as “someone I think we can really work with” on the marker program. In fact, Sanders brings an impressive resume’ to the post, including overseeing the large expansion acquisitions at Perryville as Executive Director of the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association, founding the Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail annual tour, and writing the 40-plus interpretive signs at Perryville, among other things. This past January, Flora received an email from Sanders informing him that the marker had been repaired and would be put back up within a few days. In the end, the marker was replaced just as we would have hoped, and the panic may have been without foundation. Sanders emphasized to Flora for the SCV to let him know “any time we see a marker missing or damaged,” and added that the Kentucky Historical Society wanted to make sure that War Between the States markers were in good shape for the upcoming sesquicentennial anniversary.

So, just what shape is Kentucky’s Historical Marker Program really in? With the quick action seen on the Breckinridge marker and yet the neglect on the ones in Owen County, one can see that the answer isn’t simple. It will require understanding the program’s structure and how it is intended to function. Begun in 1949 (marker #1 is for Ashland, home of Henry Clay), the program is administered jointly by the Transportation Department and the Kentucky Historical Society. There is a manager for the marker program, who is a paid staffer with the KHS, but who also wears many other hats (Stuart Sanders, for instance, is also the KHS Civil War History and Heritage Tourism Specialist, and a manager in the Community Services Program). Dianne Wells held the manager position for many years prior to Sanders’ appointment. The state, however, does not pay for the markers (typically a new marker costs $1,700 to $1,800), and generally doesn’t pay for repairs to the markers. Those costs are paid by private groups and individuals. In essence, the erection or repair of a sign requires a private sponsor. The Transportation Department does absorb some installation and storage (and occasionally very minor repair) costs, but that’s all. Today there are over 1,850 signs erected, according to the KHS. The program also calls for a volunteer coordinator in each county. The County Coordinator, according to Sam Hatcher, who serves in that capacity for Floyd County, is approved by the County Judge Executive, and upon appointment is given a loose-leaf binder with guidelines and applications—mostly concerning what to do to erect a new marker. The most visible aspect of the program to the public—other than the signs themselves—is a page on the KHS website where markers can be searched by county, subject or keyword. Dianne Wells has also compiled a book, Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers (2002), which is essentially the text of all the signs with information on their locations. So, while the program is administered by the state, it otherwise relies almost entirely on volunteers to pay for and coordinate the signs.

When Dianne Wells retired a letter was sent, according to Hatcher, letting the Coordinators know that the program was in “abeyance” for the time being, until another program manager could be found, but that otherwise there hasn’t been much communication from Frankfort to the Coordinators over the years. When asked if Frankfort checked with him as coordinator to make sure he was still living, still residing in his county and still willing to be the Coordinator, Hatcher said that it hadn’t been done in the several years since he was appointed. Then asked if there were signs missing or damaged in his county, “Oh, yes,” was his quick reply, and he named four signs which are down or missing entirely in Floyd County, and have been reported to Frankfort. One sign, which talks about the house that Colonel (and later President) Garfield used as headquarters after the Battle of Middle Creek has been missing “at least 20 years”. Another marker, which explains the “Little Floyd” section of the county has been missing since at least the mid-90’s, when Hatcher first inventoried the signs in the county. Markers for the Battles of Middle Creek and Ivy Mountain are both down also, though there are other signs and monuments now standing to denote the sites. However, when you go to the KHS website and look up all these signs, their text and locations are given as if they are still there.

In Meade County, Nancy Hitt found that a sign denoting the capture site of Sue Mundy (Jerome Clarke) is down. In discussions with Sanders, she found the sign is in storage, but could be restored if someone would pay for the $129 cost of a new post. The problem with a situation like this is that there is no mechanism in the Historical Marker Program to let the public know that a sign is down, or that it could be re-erected if someone would care enough to donate $129.

When asked about the condition of markers in Fayette County, Sam Flora was aware of three damaged markers at present, one of which (for John Hunt Morgan) he has reported to Sanders and is being looked into. The other two (one at the Hunt-Morgan House and the other at the old Jefferson Davis Inn denoting the President’s residency there while a student at Transylvania) have faded to the point of being illegible and need to be repainted.

With these anecdotal stories of markers down and damaged in several counties, the next step was to ask for an inventory of missing and damaged signs (focusing for now on Confederate ones) from current program manager Stuart Sanders, to measure the extent of the problem. After two months of research, Sanders has still not been able to finish compiling the list as of press time, and while that leaves us unsure as to the full extent of missing and damaged markers (but indeed suspecting that the problem is widespread with it taking this long), it points up a significant long-term difficulty: the program obviously doesn’t have a functioning mechanism for maintaining status conditions on the markers. When asked if the County Coordinator materials included a form for reporting missing and damaged markers, Sam Hatcher indicated that it did not. To complicate matters, the Transportation Department stores markers that are in need of repair, and the KHS often doesn’t know which storage facility they’re in without having to make their own inquiries of the Transportation Department (as in the case of the Breckinridge marker). The KHS thinks that it has 1,850 markers up, but the real number may fall far short. KHS records show 11 markers in Floyd County. With four of those being down the real number is 36% below what the KHS thinks it is. Is 36% being down typical across the state? If so, then the program would obviously be in real trouble
Getting New Signs
If it is difficult to get a handle on how wide-spread problems are with existing signs, how are things with getting new signs up? Sam Flora, Nancy Hitt and Sam Hatcher all have experience going through the process, but with somewhat different results. Sam Hatcher was involved in getting a sign erected for Col. Andrew Jackson May. Hatcher described the process as moving at a typically bureaucratic pace (indeed the process takes a year or even longer), and there was some back-and-forth on the wording before approval was granted, but that the procedure worked reasonably well. In fact, all applications now go before a review committee, currently headed by Dr. Nelson Dawson, a staff member at the KHS. Other review committee positions are rotated among KHS staff. A committee to approve the applications only meets every six months (application deadlines of 4/1 and 10/1), and is limited to approving a maximum of 15 markers at each meeting. In reality, the fiscal limitations of the Transportation Department may limit the number more than that.

Sam Flora reported no problems in getting markers erected for Gen. John Hunt Morgan at his statue on the old Fayette County courthouse lawn, and for Gen. Basil Duke at the Scott County courthouse. However, Flora recalled then-manager Wells expressing concern over accuracy and wording of the text, so—being experienced in many similar bureaucratic efforts—Flora enlisted respected historians James Rammage and Lowell Harrison to review, and then attach letters of endorsements to, the respective monument texts. This move apparently headed off any concerns and back-and-forth with the review committee.

Nancy Hitt worked for three years on the erection of three markers, but none was ever erected. She was able to raise the money for one marker—denoting the first burial site of William Quantrill in the St. Johns Cemetery in Louisville. The marker was actually approved and cast after a three-year wait, but a local persona became aware of the effort and began inserting himself into the project - apparently for self-promotion—to the point that he was asked to back off. At that point he became an avowed enemy of the marker placement, and stirred controversy with everyone he could. This included Rep. Paul Bather (infamous for introducing the resolution to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the capitol rotunda in Frankfort). The pressure became such that the Diocese withdrew its approval to have the marker placed in their cemetery. During this controversy, newly appointed Executive Director of the KHS, Kent Whitworth, took a neutral stance on the marker placement. Whitworth, of course, is now infamous for his vote on the Kentucky Military History Commission to not protect the Jefferson Davis statue in Frankfort. To Whitworth’s credit, though, when it became clear that the Diocese was not going to change its mind on granting permission for marker placement, he offered to have the KHS reimburse the money that had been raised to pay for the sign. The sign now languishes in storage. On two other signs, both for victims of Burbridge executions—one in Jeffersontown and the other in Osceola (see last issue) - Hitt ran into so much trouble with the review committee rewriting the proposed text that she felt the only text the committee would approve was too “politically correct” and eventually she dropped the applications. “There’s no point in raising $1,800 if the sign won’t say what it should,” she said, and opted instead to erect private signs.

Political Correctness?
In recent years the marker program has adopted “priority subjects” for markers, including “Women in Kentucky History”, “Kentucky African American History” and “Lewis and Clark in Kentucky”. The marker application states plainly that these “priority subjects” markers will be approved before all others if there is a conflict with the 15 marker limitation. While not expressed, obviously the limited Transportation Department funds will be used to erect “priority subject” markers before any others as well. It appears that this prejudicial policy has not yet caused a sign to be denied. While simply pointing out subject areas that need more emphasis to the public is a reasonably important function of the KHS in the program, this first step of political prejudicial preference is an anathema to serious historians. It also lends some credence to perceptions like Hitt’s, that the approval process may have developed PC problems.

Solutions to the Problems: What the State Can Do While the condition of Kentucky’s Historical Marker Program is mixed, it is far from all bad, as the current manager displays a sincere desire to work towards good maintenance of the markers, and the good news is that many solutions can be arrived at without expending much of the one thing the program doesn’t have: money.

* The first and most important thing for the program to do is get a firm grip on the status of its markers. This can be achieved by sending a notice to all County Coordinators that they need to do a physical inventory of every marker in their county within a reasonable period of time. The inventory needs to include notations on the condition of each marker, and any imminent threats to the marker (tree roots pushing on it, etc.). This should be repeated on a regular basis, probably every two or three years at least.

* Replace County Coordinators that don’t follow through on the physical inventory. While it’s a volunteer position, it doesn’t help if the volunteer is no longer able or willing to do something that can probably be done in one or two afternoons.

* Use the power of the internet. The marker application form says to contact the local County Coordinator when interested in placing a marker, but the KHS does not publish this list anywhere. They should simply put contact information for County Coordinators on the KHS website so they can be contacted by people interested in new signs, or who have seen a maintenance issue with an existing one.

* Really use the power of the internet: The searchable database of markers on the KHS website is a great tool. It needs to be made even better by informing of the status of markers and what can be done to improve the status of damaged/missing markers. For example, the information on the Sue Mundy surrender marker in Meade County should have, in addition to text and location, information about its currently being in storage, the need for repair, and what someone can do to help (in this case, cut a check for $129). This simple step will get the public involved. If people can see that their help is needed, they are likely to respond. If this website information is kept up-to-date, it becomes an always available inventory and status report.

* Really, really use the power of the internet: put an easy-to-find link on the KHS website where County Coordinators and citizens can report problems with the markers. There is an e-mail link to Stuart Sanders, but it’s not clear that the KHS is inviting the public to report on the marker conditions. An announcement asking for the public’s help and a link to a simple form that asks basic questions about the type of damage, time noticed, and contact information for the person reporting the problem, etc. will make sure that the County Coordinator and Program Manager get all the information needed the first time around.

* Ask the Transportation Department to develop a more responsive method of inventory tracking for signs in storage. Surely in our computer age a bar code printer and reader or something similar could be used to give the program manager instant information on what storage facility the markers are in. It wouldn’t hurt to physically inventory these signs occasionally as well. Things can disappear from storage warehouses.

* Drop the budding political correctness. Encouraging signs for under-covered subjects is great; granting favored status for some historical subjects over others is pure poison that can lead people to mistrust motives and lose faith in the program. It’s also quite possibly illegal (14th amendment) because the KHS is a government actor in what amounts to viewpoint discrimination.

* Explore the possibility of insurance for markers that have been stolen. Until we inventory missing markers and compare that with what the Transportation Department has in storage, it can’t be known if any have been stolen, but the possibility seems likely since the program does not do physical inventories. A fund could be established where insurance could be purchased for markers (again by private individuals and groups), and replacement costs for signs that are stolen or damaged beyond repair can be taken from this fund.

Solutions to the Problems: What the SCV Can Do It’s only fair if we’re constructively criticizing the program, that we examine what the SCV can do to help:

* Get involved by volunteering to be County Coordinators.

* If the KHS isn’t able to get its County Coordinators to physically inventory markers regularly, then we should help out by simply doing it for them, and turning the information over to Stuart Sanders. There are, according to the KHS, 300 “civil war” related markers and 122 of those specifically have the word “Confederate” on them. There are around 800 members in our division; inventorying these 300 markers is something we’re capable of doing.

* Then follow through by raising funds for repairs, and working with Sanders. We may have to be squeaky wheels (polite, but squeaky) a little bit, but if a sign is down and one of us isn’t “riding” the situation as a local contact for the state, it may get lost in the shuffle of so many other priorities.

* If the state won’t use the KHS website to post up-to-date marker conditions, then we should use our division site to help them out and provide it there. At the least, we can post articles about the most dire situations needing help for Confederate-related markers.

* Politely complain to the KHS and our legislators about the “priority subjects” political correctness.

* Appoint a division Historic Marker Coordinator, if necessary, to organize our efforts at inventory, fundraising and working with Stuart Sanders.

It’s very likely that every camp in the state has at least one (and more likely several) Confederate/WBTS markers in need of repair in their area. Repairing a marker is an ideal camp project; it’s good public relations, it’s a task that can be undertaken by any size camp, it’s true to our mission, and can often be done for relatively small sums—what camp couldn’t raise $129 to get a marker back up? It’s time for our division to become active in the “private” side of the program, and help the state do its part, or the memory of our Confederate heritage in the Kentucky Historic Marker Program is indeed in danger.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Confederate Images: Major Rice Evans Graves

By Joey Oller

One of Daviess County's sons who distinguished himself in the war for Southern Independence was Rice Evans Graves who gave his life in that struggle that claimed the lives of many Orphan Brigade men, including General Ben Hardin Helm.

Graves was born in Rockbridge, Virginia but grew up near Yelvington, Kentucky, after a near tragedy in 1844 interrupted his family's planned move to St. Louis. His parents, Rice Sr. and Amelia Rucker Gregory Graves had booked passage on the "Star of the West" and with their young family and all their worldly possessions on board, they began the journey to Missouri and a new life. Just below Breckinridge County, KY. their boat collided with another vessel and was sunk. It was all the frantic parents could do to save themselves and their eight children one whom was a baby. All of their household goods sank into the Ohio River as the parents guided their family to shore in their nightclothes.

Missouri was forgotten. With a large family and no property, they decided to remain in Cloverport, where Graves Sr. rented a farm on which to raise his children. His example of hard work, honesty and devotion to duty over the next three years must have had a tremendous impact on his sons. Ambition, perseverance, and purity of character was passed to all of them, especially the subject of this account.

When they felt themselves beginning to regain their financial standing, the Graves family moved to Daviess County where eventually they were able to purchase land of their own and gradually improve it until it became one of the finest estates in the neighborhood. By that time, the number of children in the household had increased to eleven and with so large a family, education opportunities were limited. All of the children were expected to help out with the farm work, so their schooling was done locally.

Rice Jr. was not content with the neighborhood school and spent all his free time poring over books in an effort to improve his mind. He spent three semesters at the Owensboro Academy, then after a year of working on his father's farm to secure tuition, he applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point through a scholarship presented by Congressman S. O. Peyton. The two years he spent in that place set the standard for his later military career. He was diligent, studious, respectful to superiors, with strict attention to detail and adherence to regulations which would become his trademark in the Confederate Army.

Leaving West Point to return to his beloved Kentucky, he set about preparing for defense in the State Guard, then enlisted in the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment., serving as Adjutant until November 1861. Soon after, he was promoted to Captain of the artillery and served as such at Ft. Donelson, attracting the attention and commendation of Union General U. S. Grant, who, after the surrender, made a special inquiry as to the identity of the officer whose guns had troubled him so. Months of confinement in a Federal prison camp did nothing to break the spirit of this gifted young man. Upon his release, he was appointed Chief of Artillery with the rank of Major, and returned to duty with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

He was twice wounded during the battle of Murfreesboro and such was the esteem in which he was held by Gen. John C. Breckinridge that the General arranged for his own wife to nurse the noble artillerist. Graves attributed his recovery to Mary Breckinridge's skill and tender care and she in turn loved him devotedly.

Less than a year later, Rice Graves would be wounded again, this time at the battle of Chickamauga which proved so devastating to the Kentucky Brigade. When Gen. Breckinridge realized that his young friend was down, he rode immediately to his aid. Witnesses to that pathetic scene were struck by the tenderness between the two men, almost as if father were bending over the fallen form of his son. Later, as Graves lay dying in a local farmhouse, Gen. Breckinridge would come once more. Graves, whose suffering from the bullet to his bowels was intense, attempted to ease the commander's worry by telling him that if Mrs. Breckinridge were here to nurse him, he would certainly recover. In spite of his brave words, both men knew that they were saying goodbye for the last time in this life.

Another wounded soldier lay dying next to Major Graves. The man writhed and cried out in his agony, and it was proposed that he should be moved to another room so that Major Graves could rest. Graves was appalled that they could consider causing the poor fellow any more pain on his account and he spoke sharply to the nurses, forbidding such action. The man lived only a few more hours, his last moments eased as much as possible by his fellow Kentuckian who would not survive long himself.

Little was recorded of Maj. Graves after the first night at the field hospital, but it is thought that he lived longer than hours after his wounding. Apparently he was still alive when Breckinridge's troops left the area or else his body would have been transported along with Gen. Helm to Atlanta for burial. There were several hospitals set up in the nearby town, Ringgold, and he most likely perished in one of them a day or two later. He was buried in the Citizen's Cemetery in Ringgold. Sadly, the exact burial location of Maj. Graves was lost through the years. On the anniversary of his death in 1996, members of the General Ben Hardin Helm Camp erected a military grave marker in the center of the Ringgold cemetery.

Gen. Breckinridge wrote in his report of the battle of Chickamauga: "One member of my staff I cannot thank; Major Rice Graves received a mortal wound on the 20th. Although a very young man he gave promise of the highest distinction. A truer friend, a purer patriot, a better soldier, never lived".

One who knew him from his childhood said, after his death, " I feel that I can say, without exaggeration, that, take him altogether, I have never known his equal. He was remarkable for his virtue, honesty, and integrity. To his parents he was always dutiful, loving, and obedient; to his brothers and sisters affectionate and kind. For age and superiority he entertained the greatest reverence. He was upright and correct. I never knew of his contracting a bad habit, or being guilty of a dishonorable action. I stood by his side as he took leave of the family, when about to repair to the seat of war. One by one he bade adieu. Last of all he turned to the fond mother, who, with her overburdened heart, had reserved the privilege of the last embrace; and while his bosom heaved with deep emotion and his manly cheeks were wet with tears, he exclaimed, though scarcely able to articulate. 'Mother, I will return for your sake' ".

That heartbroken mother would live on for 11 years after the death of her noble son. The darkness of those years would have been unbearable if not for the religious conviction they both shared, the certainly of being reunited in heaven.

After the war, several former comrades of the Major came to offer their respects to the Graves family in Yelvington. These soldiers assured the sad parents of the courage and gallantry of their son. It was these soldiers who had borne his body from the battlefield to the hospital. Mrs. Graves would later send bed linens to the home where her son had been cared for.
On September 21, 1900, the Breckinridge Chapter of the Owensboro UDC unveiled the first Confederate monument by the organization in Kentucky. The dedication date chosen was in honor of Daviess County hero Maj. Rice E. Graves, whose memory highlighted the ceremonies. C.H. Todd, Commander of the Rice E. Graves UCV Camp #1121 said that he could recall no other solider that he met during the war who so impressed him and so rapidly won his confidence and friendship.

Owensboro, although once known as "The Southern Gateway" today has no UDC or SCV organizations, having disbanded years ago. The Mollie Morehead Chapter UDC and the Forrest-Orphans Camp SCV which are both chartered in the nearby town of Calhoun have kept the Confederate history alive in Owensboro, especially the memory of Rice Graves—A Kentucky Hero.

Note: A Confederate Monument is located on the Daviess County Courthouse Lawn in Owensboro. Dedicated in 1900 by the UDC to a crowd of 5,000 spectators, it has undergone several restorations through the years. The Mollie Morehead Chapter of te UDC held a rededication service for the monument in 2000. At one time several cannons were also positioned on the Daviess County Courthouse lawn. The U.S. Government needed iron during WWII to produces weapons. The ladies of the Owensboro UDC are said to have donated these cannons for the war effort. Some believe these cannons were those belonging to Grave's artillery. Also there was a beautiful portrait of Maj. Graves displayed inside the courthouse at Owensboro,but when a new building was erected in the 1960's the portrait mysteriously disappeared after being stored for safekeeping.