Thursday, May 28, 2009

Walter G. Ferguson: Martyr for Kentucky

By Sam Flora

Winter came early, and in a most cruel fashion, to the South in November of 1864. A cold mid-November rain turned to ice that hampered Hood’s plans to invade Tenn
essee, and on the 15th Sherman burned Atlanta. In Lexington the afternoon of the 15th, it was more than just the miserable weather which chilled the soul, though, as Walter Ferguson and William McGhee were taken from the Water Street Prison which had held them, to the Fairgrounds (a Union encampment near where the University of Kentucky Administration building now stands). There they were to be hanged by order of Gen. Burbridge (see Terror in the Bluegrass, Summer ’04 issue),  McGhee for “murder” and Ferguson as a “spy”. George Ranck in “A History of Lexington” wrote of the macabre march:
   “Many a door and window was tightly closed that dismal day to shut out the horrible sights and sounds of that funeral march, and it was not without the sacred tribute of tears and prayers of the deepest sorrow that the soldiers died.”

   After their sentences were read there was a brief service by the Union post chaplain. Ferguson was “bold and composed” as he spoke, and protested again his innocence of the spying charge. An eyewitness recorded that he met his death bravely that bitter day, even as another victim of the Burbridge occupation and “justice”. The path which led to this horrid fate was not one which could have been easily guessed early in Ferguson’s life.

   Walter Garth Ferguson was born in Galena, Illinois on Feb. 20, 1841. He came to Lexington as a boy to live with his older sister Emily, wife of dry goods businessman William. E. Bell whose store was located on Main Street across from the courthouse. In 1860, he joined the local state guard unit, the Lexington Chasseuers. The Bell family was Unionist in sympathy, as were the majority of the Chasseuers (as opposed to Morgan’s Lexington Rifles who were mostly Confederate). Nothing is left to us to indicate what were Ferguson’s thoughts in going against family and military sympathy, but like so many Kentuckians caught in similar dilemmas, his decision to join the new Confederacy had to have been bittersweet.

   Ferguson enlisted at Camp Boone, Tennessee (the site, just across the state line, where so many Kentuckians went to enlist), on July 5, 1861 in Company B of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry. Company B was made up primarily of men from Fayette County (Lexington), commanded by Captain Robert J. Breckinridge (cousin to John C. Breckinridge). The 2nd Kentucky stayed at Camp Boone in training until ordered to take Bowling Green, Kentucky in September of 1861.

   On February 8th, 1862, the regiment was ordered as reinforcements to Fort Donelson. From February 10th through 16th the regiment fought in the trenches, in bitter cold and snow. The 2nd Kentucky was in the heaviest fighting of the battle and acquitted itself well despite being armed with inferior converted flintlock rifles.

   Ferguson was captured along with the rest of the 2nd Kentucky on the 16th when Fort Donelson was surrendered. Shortly after they were shipped by steamboat and train to Camp Morton in Indianapolis. Ferguson escaped “by walking past the guards” in March or April; likely in disguise, but how he was able to “borrow” the disguise isn’t known. He made his way back to Confederate lines where he joined Morgan’s command in Company A of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. Later he was selected for Quirk’s Scouts under Captain Tom Quirk. This was Morgan’s select company of scouts for his command; only the most daring and capable men were chosen for these “special forces”. Indeed, a comrade described Ferguson as “one of the most daring and fearless men I ever knew.”

   Ferguson served with Morgan in all his raids and campaigns in 1862 and ‘63. He was wounded while scouting near Crab Orchard, Kentucky on July 21st, 1862 on Morgan’s first Kentucky raid.

   During Morgan’s great Indiana-Ohio raid on July 5, 1863 at Lebanon, Kentucky, Ferguson performed an act of heroism that today would earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. General Basil Duke witnessed the feat and recorded it in his History of Morgan’s Cavalry. Morgan’s command had attacked Federal forces lodged in a strong position in the railroad depot from where they poured a heavy and sustained fire on the attackers of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. Duke reported:

“A gallant deed was performed, on that day, by private Walter Ferguson, one of the bravest men I ever knew; … His friend and messmate Logwood lay helpless and wounded not far from the depot, and Ferguson approached him and under the galling fire from the windows, lifted and bore him off.”

   Ferguson was captured again at the Battle of Buffington Island at the end of the Great Raid on July 19, 1863. He entered Camp Douglas in Chicago as a prisoner. Federal records do not indicate when, but Walter Ferguson had managed to escapedfrom yankee imprisonment once more before the year was over.

   He accompanied Gen. Morgan to Richmond in February and March of 1864, and seems to have been unofficially elevated by Morgan to Lieutenant (informal commissions being a standard operating procedure for Morgan).

   On Morgan’s last raid into Kentucky in June, 1864, Ferguson was cut off from the scattered command following the defeat at Cynthiana. With fellow scout James Elbert, they decided to don civilian clothes and make their way into Louisville where they hoped to garner enough money from friends to make their way North into Canada—believing their chances of successfully rejoining their command were going to be better through that long route rather than trying to pass through the heavily patrolled Union lines in Kentucky and Tennessee.

   Arriving in Louisville they registered at the St. Cloud Hotel under assumed names. However, they fell under the suspicions of under-cover Federal detectives (being travelers with no luggage) and were arrested by U.S. authorities while walking down Jefferson Street on the afternoon of July 5th, 1864.
   Ferguson and Elbert at first denied they were Confederate soldiers, but soon decided to tell the truth and sign statements that they are Confederate soldiers cut off from their command and have dressed as civilians in order to make their escape. To their surprise, instead of being treated as POW’s, they are soon charged as spies and sent to Lexington to await trial.

   Arriving as a prisoner in his hometown in early August Ferguson was lodged in the main Federal prison on Water Street near the Central Kentucky Railroad. The prison was formerly a three-story warehouse with iron shutters. The prison held Confederate regulars, suspected guerrillas, and political prisoners as well as Union deserters. A Confederate Colonel, John D. Morris, who was confined there at that time described it thus:

“A more filthy, loathsome, and uncomfortable place could not be well conceived, full of filth and swarming with vermin.”

   Disease was rampant and many of the prisoners were kept in irons. It was out of this prison that many of the victims of “Butcher” Burbridges’ retaliation executions were chosen.

   Ferguson’s “trial” before a military commission began on August 12th, 1864 and concluded the next day. His defense lawyer, Prewitt Morris, put up a spirited defense against the military prosecutor and officers of the court-martial. The prosecution called only two witnesses; the arresting officer and a William Owens who was either a Union spy or Confederate deserter (perhaps both), who testified that he saw Ferguson with Morgan in Atlanta in February of 1864. The prosecution rested, without having presented any positive evidence to support the spying charge.

   The defense called three witnesses; the first was W. H. Munday, clerk of the District Court. He had been serving on the staff of Gen. Burbridge at the Battle of Cynthiana on June 12, 1864 when he was captured near Cynthiana by two Confederate scouts on horseback—one of whom was Walter Ferguson. Munday stated that they kept him in with them until they heard that Morgan had been defeated and released him on the condition that he remain where he was for two hours. This testimony—from a Union officer—established Ferguson as a Confederate combatant.

   The second witness for the defense was Ferguson’s brother-in-law William Bell who testified that Ferguson was a regular enlisted soldier in Morgan’s command and that he had talked with Fergusoon in Lexington on June 10th, 1864. After this testimony the tribunal adjourned for the day.

   On the next day, the 13th, the third witness for the defense took the stand—another Union officer, Lt. Richard Vance was adjutant of the 26th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry (US), who had taken Ferguson’s sworn statement in Louisville after his arrest. This document stated that Ferguson had confessed to being a Confederate soldier, was cut off from his command after the Battle of Cynthiana and had donned civilian clothes in order to make his escape through Union lines and that he was in Louisville solely to obtain funds to make his way to Canada.

   Defense attorney Morris then produced this document and asked that it be entered as evidence. The prosecution objected and, after a brief discussion, the tribunal ruled the document inadmissible due to a technicality “that it lacked the proper stamps”, even though Lt. Vance had testified it was indeed the same document signed by Ferguson and witnessed by Vance. With this defeat, the defense rested.

   In the prosecution’s final statement, the Judge Advocate claimed that military law was clear that any enemy soldier found within the lines wearing civilian clothes was judged to be a spy and the law stated he should suffer death by hanging.

   In the defense’s long statement—which covered 22 hand-written pages—Morris looked more closely at the law, and quoted United States military law and Congressional acts:

“in time of war all persons, not citizens of, or owing allegiance to the United States of America who shall be found lurking around as spies in or about the fortifications or encampments of its Armies of the United states shall suffer death by sentence of General Court Martial.”

   Morris argued that the prosecution had not presented a shred of evidence indicating that Ferguson had been “lurking” around or attempting to gain any information on Federal military movements or sites. He argued that every witness had stated essentially the same facts that Ferguson had claimed; that he was a regular enlisted Confederate soldier cut off from his command and was attempting to pass Union lines by dressing as a civilian.

   With the climate of governance by terror instituted by Burbridge, it is not surprising that justice was subverted by the tribunal. Despite the prosecution presenting no evidence of spying, despite the defense presenting testimony from Ferguson’s enemies in the Federal forces proving him to be a regularly enlisted soldier, the court voted after deliberation to find him guilty and sentenced him to death. Perhaps the surprise was that the vote was not unanimous (it was 2-1).

   Ferguson, though, wasn’t through serving the Confederacy. Incredibly, he and Elbert (who was also, not surprisingly, convicted of spying) escaped the Water Street prison before the sentence could be carried out. One has to wonder if they had help; Ferguson was in his hometown, with family of Unionist persuasion vouching for him, and Unionist Kentuckians from many quarters beginning to chafe at the brutality and lack of justice under Burbridge. Ferguson may have had a number of “friends” in positions to help him escape at the prison, but however he did it, Ferguson had escaped for an incredible third time from Federal imprisonment.

   Ferguson found and joined Col. George Jessee’s 6th Battalion of Kentucky Cavalry (see the article on Jesse—an amazing man himself—on page 17) who were operating as partisan rangers at that time in various parts of central and eastern Kentucky. In Col. Jessee, Ferguson found a kindred adventurer renowned for daring. He served as a scout with them until captured again in Henry County in early November.

   This time there was nothing left to chance with Ferguson—already having escaped his yankee captors thrice—kept under close confinement until he met his death on November 15th. Among those who pleaded for his life against the false spying conviction was Miss Kitty Todd, a half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln, and Kitty’s mother Elizabeth (Mary Todd’s step-mother). Another story relates that Ferguson’s sister Emily begged on her knees for his life. However, by this time in the war, Lincoln needed cruel men willing to commit acts of injustice to crush the spirit of the Confederacy, and Burbridge was giving him what he needed. Lincoln later found Burbridge to have gone too far (after Unionist Kentuckians were declaring outrage), but not before his reign of terror had taken the lives of Ferguson and so many others. In November of 1864, though, Lincoln wasn’t about to intervene. 

   Walter Ferguson’s body was taken by his sister and laid to rest in the Bell family plot in section D of the Lexington Cemetery. Around 1904, the Lexington Chapter of the UDC decided to erect a suitable marker over his grave and placed a handsome granite marker there and upon the top were engraved the famous words of Revolutionary hero Nathan Hale: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

   Whether Ferguson spoke these words from the gallows or in a last letter to his family is not known, but they have been associated with his death in several sources.

      While Sam Davis of Tennessee is celebrated as a hero in his home state, Walter G. Ferguson is largely forgotten in Kentucky. Ferguson’s military record would overshadow Davis’s, and Davis was carrying sensitive information when captured, while Ferguson was no doubt innocent. Our failure to remember Walter Ferguson and his sacrifice should be a concern to all Kentuckians.

   When the Kentucky Confederate Soldier’s Home at Pewee Valley was opened, many of the rooms were named by the different UDC chapters for Confederate heroes. The Lexington chapter chose Walter Ferguson. Two men who would be residents there would have felt especially touched by that act of remembrance. One was James Elbert, who after his escape from the Lexington prison with Ferguson, successfully made his way into Canada, ran the blockade back into the South and rejoined his command before the war’s end. The other was Tom Logwood, the messmate whom Ferguson risked his life to save at Lebanon. Logwood recovered from his wound, survived the war, and was a businessman in Lexington and Chicago. He died at the Pewee Valley Home in 1930 at the age of 90.

   Such are the ironies and fortunes of war, where sometimes fate intertwines cruel destinies with the coincidence of later lives touched by fond remembrances of  sacrifices made “when we were soldiers, and young” .



Monday, May 25, 2009

Confederate Images: The Daring Jesse - Col. George M. Jessee

By Nancy Hitt and Porter Harned

   His rather insignificant flat marker at the New Castle, Kentucky cemetery reads: “George M. Jessee, 1830-1896, Col. Confederate Army.” Not many folks in Henry County can recall the facts about Colonel Jessee’s life, but it started with a daring elopement and carried on to acts of bravery during  the War for Southern Independence. He was a farmer before and after the War and served Kentucky in the state legislature both before and  after the conflict (elected in 1857 and 1869).

   In the Spring of 1862, George Jessee of Henry County recruited a company of 100 gallant men from Henry, Carroll and Trimble Counties. Before getting out of the state, the Company was captured by the enemy, but Jessee made his escape and recruited another Company which did manage to get to Knoxville, Tennessee where his men were mustered into the Confederacy.
   Colonel Jessee saw action at Big Creek Gap, Tennessee where he escaped again after his company was captured. He was at Perryville, and held the rear at the defeat of the 2nd Battle of Cynthiana. Adjutant-General Edward O. Guerrant paid special compliments to the holding actions of Jessee. After Cynthiana, Jessee was detached to gather up the scattered forces in Kentucky.

   George Musgrove, who knew Col. Jessee, wrote in “Kentucky Cavaliers of Dixie” that “The hair-breadth escapes of Jessee and his men, and the thrilling episodes that went to make up their career in Kentucky, would of themselves, furnish material for a most interesting and romantic chapter of partisan warfare.”

   On November 3, 1864, there was an execution of four innocent Confederate Prisoners of War as part of Burbridge’s reign of terror and military occupation in Kentucky (see “Terror in the Bluegrass” in the Summer 2004 issue) near the Pleasureville Railroad depot. It was Jessee’s band of Partisan Rangers which were a part of the Sixth Confederate Battalion that raced into Pleasureville sixteen hours after the poor men had been shot. These soldiers carried the bodies of the martyrs to Eminence where the rest today under a monument in the Eminence Cemetery (one was reinterred by his family in the Maysville area).  One of the victims was William Darbro, who was in Jessee’s command. Jessee was mentioned in the Louisville Journal during 1864 as “that guerilla chief”.

   In the 1860 census of New Castle, Jessee was recorded as having three children—he had eloped at the age of nineteen with Betty Foree who was then only fourteen. He was to eventually have ten children; three of his sons became medical doctors and his daughter, Rose, became the first female superintendent of schools in Henry County. A historical marker stands at the junctions of Highways 421 and 202 which reports some of his exploits. The Drennon Road (which is Hwy 202) is where his home place was located near to the Mt. Gilead Church.

   After the war he was elected to the state Senate. Betty Layton Warren, his Great-Granddaughter wrote: “After his term in the Senate, Jessee farmed quietly until his death in 1894. He felt his Cause was just, and he never regretted his part in the war…” Nor should we!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Could Not Resist My Country's Call Part I

   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.” This brigade was composed of Kentuckians who joined the struggle of the Southern states for independence even though their own state had, at the time, taken a stance of neutrality. They saw the was as a struggle between a tyrannical Federal government attempting to destroy the constitutional liberties established by their forefathers and a Confederate government attempting to establish an independent nation based on those same constitutional principals.

   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.

   Under the February 13th entry, the Confederate battery Paton mentions is Capt. Thomas Porter’s Tennessee Light Artillery. The Union battery was Battery D, 1st Missouri Light Artillery. The “several regiments” were the 25th Indiana, 7th Iowa, and 14th Iowa Infantry regiments, of Lauman’s brigade. “Nelson” who was killed was the first 2nd Kentucky soldier killed in the war.

   Under the February 14th entry, the Union “Gunboats” were the ironclads Carondelet, Louisville, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Conestoga and Tyler.

   Transcribed and edited by Sam Flora. Original manuscript in the possession of Elizabeth Clay Witt.
July 1, 1862 With one remark – or rather a request, I will enter upon these annals, which probably may interest some one, or serve for an interesting perusal in years to come. It is to ask your indulgence for the frequent occurrence of the first person singular, which owing to some incidents detailed in this “journal” cannot well be avoided. I can only say if you knock out my I’s what is the use of me?

In the year 1861 about the first of July, I found our once beloved and happy country convulsed from her centre to her most distant limits with all the horrors of a civil war. A number of aggressive measures on the part of the North or “Administrative Power” had long been advancing to that awful crisis, when an appeal to the power of arms was inevitable. I could not resist my country’s call and at once volunteered to give all the aid I could in the cause of freedom from Northern tyranny and despotism and to help drive back the invader and despoiler of Southern homes and institutions and to battle for those inestimable and priceless rights which were fought for and obtained by our forefathers and bequeathed to us.

The first encampment of the Regt. which I joined (2nd Ky Col. R. W. Hanson) was in Tennessee a few miles from the Ky line and about 9 miles from Clarksville, Tenn. Here I commenced studying the art of soldiering. There was nothing serious eloquent or interesting in my introduction to the camp kettle and coffeepot and I soon became acquainted with Mrs. Washtub and her family of Soap Suds. The art of standing guard of rainy nights was soon attained and the mysteries of running the guard lines after “taps” were learned with a progress and promptness that was very satisfactory to the Scholar.

 Our schoolhouse was a broad treeless field where in the hot days of August, our military ingenuity began to develop itself. After attending a term of about two months schooling we received our diplomas and were marched off to practice our professional pursuits. 

The number of sixty from each company were sent to Bowling Green, Ky. The remainder were ordered to Nashville, Tenn. I was with the latter. Two quite unfortunate incidents occurred while at Nashville, the most melancholy of which was the death of one of our fellow soldiers named Frank Clark, than whom there was no braver man in the Regt.. A kind, unoffending, unassuming young man and liked by all who knew him. He was mercilessly shot  by 2nd Brevet Lieut. Skillman, without cause or provocation. I was with him when he died like a Christian forgiving as I had thought it impossible for one to forgive.

The next was a misfortune to myself, the result of which was a six month lameness caused by the rupture of the ligaments in my left foot. For six weeks I was unable to leave my room and for four months unable to perform the duties of a soldier. Consequently the time from the 12th of  Sept. 1861 to the 1st of  Feby. 1862 was spent in Nashville, in the meantime the Regiment performed some very heavy marches and in the most inclement weather. I would not feel satisfied to close this Journal without referring to the kindness and sympathy shown me by the residents of Nashville, among whom were the Rev. Mr. Falls & lady, Dr. J. F. Robinson, Mrs. L. Stone, Mrs. John M. Hill, Mrs. John Bell, Mrs. Ewings and Miss Maggie Shields whose kind attention and consoling words to me, which among strangers and debarred from all communication with friends at home can never be forgotten, but do long as reason remains, they will be remembered with the liveliest gratitude.

I remained in Nashville till finding that a battle at Fort Donaldson was inevitable and that the Regiment would be in the engagement, altho lame I determined if possible to share their fate or enjoy their victory and immediately set off to join the Regt. at Russellville, Ky. When I arrived there Lieut. Spears ( who was then commanding Co. G ) at first refused to let me go to Fort Donaldson saying, “We may have to retreat and you cannot stand a march,” but I insisted, and he at length gave his consent that two days afterwards I could join him at Ft. Donaldson.

Feby 12th, 1862 
I arrived at Ft. Donaldson and found about 13,000 soldiers, among them Floyd’s & Buckner’s Brigades – the 2nd Ky in Gen. B’s command – which was placed on the extreme right of the column and intrenched, the boys all lively. The only fears expressed was that there would not be a fight and all eager for the fray we remained in the intrenchments all night. 

Feby 13th

We distinctly heard the enemy’s drums and the music of their bands and we felt that our long cherished hopes of meeting the enemy would soon be realized . Firing commenced on our left about daylight and soon the gunboats opened on the Fort, which responded gallantly. Also Porter’s battery and one of the enemy’s exchanged several shots. The very earth trembled and the air was filled with music. The boom of cannons, the hiss of minnie balls as they passed harmlessly over our heads, the bursting of shell high up in the heavens together with the shouts of the contending hosts, constituted a scene better imagined than described. We were not long permitted to remain as mere spectators but were soon to play our hand at what were their trumps (bullets) and to act our part in the drama. Soon the sharpshooters made their appearance in our front sheltering themselves behind trees, stumps and beyond the reach of our muskets, we being in rifle pits, their fire did us but little damage. In a short time several regiments made their appearance at about 300 yards distant, where they formed and moved toward us, intending to take our pits at the point of the bayonet. We knew then that bloody work alone could save us. We waited cooly  until they were within 100 yards of us and then opened a volley so destructive that no mortal foe could have withstood it, like grass before the newly whetted blade they were mown down. On they came, still attempting to take us but under our heavy and incessant fire they were compelled to seek shelter behind logs until they could fall back and reform under the cover of the hill.

They again charged and were again repulsed. To the best of my belief, three regiments made the charge on our (2nd Ky) pits. We had but 600 men, one half of whom were held in reserve. The main charge of the enemy was directly upon our (Co Gs) pits. During the engagement we were cool and fired with deliberation.

In the afternoon the enemy again charged and were repulsed with great loss. Thus thrice today did the old 2nd Ky repulse an enemy several times their superior in numbers and generally superior arms. Here four of Co. G were pierced with the enemy’s bullets. Here the brave Nelson fell and the unfaltering and daring Purnell received a mortal wound, while fighting for the country they loved and the principles they avowed. Long will they live in the memory of their fellow soldiers. During the day, Gen. Floyd on the left was attacked. The enemy being repulsed with heavy loss and the Gun Boats were driven back having done but little damage. Night came and with it only ceased the carnage of the day, our arms having been successful at every point of attack. Those who slept, lay upon their arms expecting an attack any moment. At about 12 o’clock at night, an alarm was given by two separate volleys of musketry in the direction of the Fort, when we rushed to arms in line of battle, snow falling fast and the winds howling the coldest of the season. It proved a false alarm and we were again permitted to snatch an hours hasty repose of which we were so much in need and which none but a wearied soldier can rightly appreciate.

Feby 14th   Weather – Cold and Snow
With the morn’s earliest dawn we were in line of battle awaiting the enemy, but they did not attack us on the right, heavy firing all day on the left. They threw shells at us but did no damage. The enemy’s sharpshooters kept up an incessant fire all day. The enemy was in sight of us all day but did not attack us. The Gun Boats made a desperate charge on our batteries in the Fort. The cannonading was very heavy on both sides and it appeared that each minute would seal our fate, for nearer and nearer the Gun Boats advanced. But finally they were seen to recede from our destructive fire and were eventually repulsed without damaging us in the least.              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.

We were marched aboard the steamer “Dr. Kane”, all ignorant of our destiny, guarded by a Co. of the 20th Ohio – Capt Updegrass – who did all in his power to make us comfortable. This however was policy on his part, for if we had been so disposed we could easily have taken the Boat and would have done it, had not Col. Hanson and other commissioned officers of the 2nd Ky opposed it. Nothing of importance transpired on our passage. The Boat landed at Paducah, Ky., Cairo, Ill. and just before day on the morning of the 22nd Feby. We landed at the wharf in St. Louis, Mo. At the break of day the roar of cannon and the music of a dozen bands greeted our ears – Not in honor of our arrival. But in celebrating the birthday of the one who set an example in bursting the bonds of tyranny – Geo. Washington.

From almost every window and every house waved the once honored and beloved, but now forever desecrated and dishonored Stars and Stripes. I conversed with gentlemen on the wharf in St. Louis who expressed the warmest Southern sentiments and assured us that the majority in that city were with us in our views.

We remained on board the Boat at the wharf in St. Louis until the following morning – Saturday – when we were taken to the Ill. Side and landed at Illinoistown, a small town opposite St. Louis, where we took the cars and on Sunday evening arrived at Indianapolis, Ind. Via Terre Haute. That night we remained in a large Depot where we obtained repose which we so much needed, having been six days traveling and having had but very little sleep during the time. 

On the morning of the 24th Feby., we were marched to “Camp Morton”(that Hell on earth) about one mile from the city. There never was a more broken down and dejected set of men than we both physically and mentally. Here for the first time since leaving home I felt the hand of disease laid upon me , which lasted for about ten days, at the end of which time I was so reduced that when I looked into a glass, I often wondered if “this was Geems”. The weather was the gloomiest I ever saw. But spring, after wading through two months of almost incessant rain and mud, made her appearance and with it came recruiting health.

About this time the darkest cloud that ever overhung a new-born Nation, was plainly visible hovering over the South. Nashville had surrendered to the Federals, York Town evacuated and New Orleans surrendered. News from every source was of the most discouraging kind to the Confederates, but we never for a moment lost the confidence we had placed in our Generals and army and would find great consolation in the old adage that “The darkest hour is just before the break of day.” 

Altho under a heavy guard and under the strictest orders, the brave spirit of the 2nd Ky was never known to droop. We claimed the right of expression of opinion and exercised it freely. Every conceivable idea of making an escape was adopted and in many cases executed. Numbers ran the guard lines of nights and were almost invariably fired at, they would frequently, after being fired upon tantalize the guard about their bad markmanship. Several escaped by obtaining Federal uniforms and passing the guard in the day time. Those caught trying to escape were always sent to jail and kept in close confinement. The guard was constantly on the alert for a chance to shoot into our camp, which they did a number of times. A prisoner was seen looking through a crack in the fence and without a word the guard fired , the ball striking in a few inches of his head. Another time a prisoner was shot in the head for the same offense. Another time at night some one of the prisoners, without thinking of the consequence, threw a bone over the fence. The guard reported that the rebels were stoning them. They were ordered to fire into the camp which they did, wounding three men who were lying in their beds asleep, one of whom died. For a while not a night passed that minnie balls were not heard whistling through our camp. At this time I did not consider my life my own, but entirely at the disposal of the guard. (The 60th Ind. Regt., mostly Dutch.)

Being goaded almost to desperation and maddened by the many wrongs that we have received here at their hands, we will if ever released fight them with a desperation heretofore unknown to a civilized world.

Time passes. The pleasant days of spring are gone and the warm days of July are 
upon us. Yes, today is the 4th, the Federal National birthday. Is just one year ago today 
since I left home. Since I left those I loved to enlist in the cause of the glorious South. As 
I sit and think over the past year, sad thoughts intrude themselves upon me. How many 
family circles have been broken! How many firesides, that just one year ago today were 
cheerful and gay, now present a scene of sadness and mourning! And how many friends
have gone to “That bourne from which no traveler returns.”

This is a dry old 4th with the prisoners. The Federals around camp (of whom there 
are about 1200) are exceedingly jubilant and all the artillery in the surrounding country 
are belching forth their thundering notes. Fears are entertained in camp that the battle so
long impending before Richmond has finally been fought and that the Federal arms were
victorious. Painful thoughts to us!

July 5th

Not a yell is heard from the Federals. A melancholy silence pervades their camp. The guard with a down cast look walks slowly and silently upon his “beat”. Soon the Cincinnati papers arrive in camp. The mysterious silence is soon explained. Long details of a great battle before Richmond are found in the papers. Defeat of the Federals acknowledged and McClelland retreating. It was our time to exult. As long accounts of the battle and McClelland’s inglorious defeat were read, prolonged cheers of the Rebels filled the air. The Rebel Camp throughout the day was a scene of tumultuous uproar. From all we can learn of the battle, we are led to believe that the federal lion has been bearded in his den. That the “Grand Army of the Potomac” had been put to flight and that the Confederates had won a most brilliant and glorious victory.

The prisoners had placed such confidence in the success of our arms at Richmond, that they for days past had been saving candles with which to illuminate the camp when the announcement was made and as soon as night came thousands of lights were seen scattered promiscuously over the camp – a more beautiful sight never met my eye and until “taps” loud cheers for our army and Confederacy filled the air.

July 14th

If I had ever wanted to commit some startling act or create great alarm & excitement, I should have selected just such a night as last night was. The heavens were a vast sheet and one continual blaze of lightning and the almost incessant peals of heaven’s artillery presented altogether a scene of almost inexpressible terror. At about ten o’clock when the thunder pealed the loudest and the lightning flashed most vivid, a number of at least fifty musket shots in quick succession were heard on the guard lines. A number of prisoners had attempted to escape and had been betrayed by someone in camp, a trap had been set for them, into which they unfortunately ran, altho finding themselves foiled they rushed past the guard. One was brought down by a musket shot, the rest pursued one was killed and another severely wounded. Several however made good their escape. I suppose there were not less than 50 who made the attempt to escape.

I will here remark that there are traitors and spies in camp who watch the movements of the prisoners and keep the Federal officers posted. They will meet with but little mercy at the hands of the prisoners if they are found out.

July 24th

This morning about 9 o’clock two more prisoners were shot. In fact shooting inoffensive prisoners has become almost an every day occurrence. Without the slightest provocation they are fired upon, insulted in almost every conceivable way and treated with all the inhumanity that a savage would scorn to resort to. Clothing sent to prisoners stolen and scarcely enough rations issued to sustain life tell me you admirers of Christian virtues , you lovers of justice and humanity, if any tortures are too great to be inflicted upon such tyrants! Tis useless to tell me that we will not reap a tenfold vengence. That the day is now fast approaching when we will breath upon them the sweet spirit of revenge.

A telegram in this mornings paper announces that “arrangements have been effected for the immediate exchange of prisoners. Our almost stifled hopes and drooping spirits are again cheered and we look forward with many anticipations when we will bid a farewell to Northern polluted atmosphere and when we shall again arrive in the consecrated land of Dixie.

August 4th

The rumors, probabilities of an exchange are now reduced to a certainty. Gladly we hail the happy day!

I willingly go again to mingle in the bloody scenes of the battlefield and I now say to the Indianaians  Beware of the 2nd Ky. They know how to resent the many wrongs they have received from you and they will do it.

The oath of allegiance is again offered. But I am happy to say that there are very few here who will resort to such depths of degradation & cowardice as to accept the offer.

Friends in Kentucky, adue for a while, I willingly go again to lend a helping hand for Southern rights, Southern independence, Southern Liberty. Should I fall bleeding upon the altar of my adopted country, I do so knowing that I fall in defense of southern homes, of honor and of all that is just & right, battling against a merciless and invading foe. But I hope soon to hail the happy day when National troubles will have ended when the “Confederate States of America” will be a victorious Nation & the brightest star among all the great Nations of the earth and when honest men can live in Kentucky free from the clanking chains of Northern despotism.

James E. Paton
Indianapolis, Ind.
August 4th 1862

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Lost Town of Osceola and Its Forgotten Injustice

Below: Osceola, Kentucky circa 1900. Gooch Mill is located in the center. The lost town of Osceola was located on the east side of the Little Barren River, between Greensburg and Horse Cave. Thanks to a high number of saloons, the town became known as "that wicked little river town" by residents of neighboring communities. No trace, other than a few remains of the mill, of Osceola exists today. From Postcard History Series by Carl Howell and Dixie Hibbs.

By Stewart Cruickshank

   On November 19th, 2005, my colleague Nancy Hitt placed a small memorial marker near the bridge over KY Hwy 88, on the Little Barren River. The marker recalled the November 19th, 1864, reprisal execution of six men, Confederate prisoners of war, shot by order of Union General S. G. Burbridge. Burbridge’s long list of atrocities is covered in the Summer 2004 issue of the Lost Cause. Sadly, like the long gone town of Osceola, Kentucky, where the execution took place, the marker placed by Nancy soon disappeared. The unmarked grave site for five of these Confederate martyrs is nearby, where the old Dishman Road meets an abandoned crossing to the old ferry. Today this is on private property.

  The town of Osceola was founded in the early 1860’s, on the east side of the Little Barren River, along the Green County/Hart County line. Gooch’s Mill provided employment, and later Joseph Cunningham built the first store, located across from the mill. At one point in its history Osceola boasted four saloons. Eventually flooding forced the abandonment of the town in the 1890’s.

The Crime Committed

   1864—A young boy staying with his uncle in Osceola recalled that on a sunny Sunday morning, a few weeks previous, he’d been robbed of a coveted 10-cent scrip that he had earned. Five rebel soldiers rode into town and took it at gunpoint. After robbing the Cunningham Store, they shot two men and rode away.

   Judge Roy A. Cann’s papers held by the Hart County Historical Society, record that some Confederate soldiers came to Osceola; they were looking for Billie Lile and Jeff Ralston. When they interrogated Billie Lile, he lied and claimed to be his brother James. Billie then hid out in the garden of Henry Bale’s house. The soldiers then detained and killed Billie’s brother James and Jeff Ralston. After both men had been shot, the bodies were dragged together and placed with one man’s head upon the other, a final shot being fired into their heads.
“It was said that Ralston and Lile had given some information, that would have been best not to have (been) revealed, and they were shot to seal their mouthes (sic) as well as put fear in the citizens”

   Interestingly, several of the newspapers recorded the victim’s names as James F. Tyle and G. W. Roylston. The identities of the killers is unknown; in all accounts these men were not seen before or after the incident. While they may have been partisans or guerillas, they may have simply been renegades whose agenda was self-serving. It is clear, though, they were looking for Billie Lile.

The Union Men

   Further investigation reveals why Billie Lile would have been a subject of interest to the Confederates. Ben W. “Billie” Lile was a member of company B, 21st Kentucky Infantry Regiment (US). On October 6, 1862 he was reported as A.W.O.L. Billie failed to return until December 23, 1863. There is no record of his activities during that period in the file. He was allowed to re-enlist as a veteran at age 26. Billie was detailed as a teamster in 1865.

   James F. Lile had formerly served as a private in the same company as his brother. At age 28, he was discharged at Nashville, Tennessee with rheumatism on June 10, 1862.

  George J. Ralston had previously served in the County Militia.  He enlisted September 25, 1861. At Age 32 he was discharged with a hernia, October 27, 1862 at Louisville, KY.

The Confederate Martyrs

   Under Burbridge’s policy (Order #59) , innocent prisoners were killed in retaliation for the deaths of Lile and Ralston. The Nashville Daily Times and Union newspaper dated November 18, 1864 reported that eight guerrillas were executed on the 17th of November, by order of General Burbridge. It was further recorded that, “Burbridge will soon be as great a ‘monster’, ‘inhumane wretch’, etc. as General Butler or General Paine.”

   The Louisville Daily Democrat, on November 19, reported that the men sent to Munfordville, Kentucky, to be shot were “W. C. martin, A. B. Tudor, John Tomlinson, Sanford Turley, W. B. Dunn, John Edmonson, J. M. Jones, and W. L. Robinson”. The November 20th edition corrected the originally published list to read “W. T. Thornton, W. B. Dunn, Jacob Baker, Lycurgus Morgan, John Henn, A. B. Tudor, and two others named Tomlinson and Martin”.

   The Louisville Journal on the 21st reported the same revision. The newspaper stated that publications of the earlier list had caused the execution to be delayed. So then four of the men sentenced  were actually replacement victims! Here is clear proof of the arbitrary selection of innocent victims from the military prison pool of prisoners of war held by Union authorities.

   The eight men were placed in irons at the Exchange Barracks. Twenty men from the Union army escorted them to Osceola. Along the way, a telegraph was received ordering Martin and Tomlinson returned to the prison in Louisville.

   James L. Bale, a citizen of Osceola, recalled encountering six Confederate prisoners under Union escort at the Little Barren River near town. He was ordered by the Union soldiers to go into town and bring back citizens to witness the reprisal execution. When he returned the prisoners were seated on their coffins. He recalled that one of the Confederate soldiers was permitted to speak. The prisoner requested that he be buried separately from the others, as he was sure his relatives would be coming to claim the body. Bale recalled that they did come and remove the remains. The five others remained on a westward hill, east of the old Good Home, in an unmarked grave.

“A Desperate Man”

   November 25, 1864, the Nashville Daily Press republished the account of the execution from the Louisville newspapers:

On Saturday six Confederates were executed at or near Osceola Kentucky by order of Major General Burbridge, in retaliation for the murder of two Union men. One of the number was a most desperate man. His name was Lycurgus Morgan, and whilst being conveyed to the spot where he was soon to be ushered out of this world into the great sea of eternity, he cursed the guards and himself, one black oath after another coming from his lips until the moment he died. Upon arriving on the grounds he coolly (sic) walked to his coffin, cursing all the time, and heavily dropped himself astraddle (sic) of it, looking boldly and defiantly at the soldiers before him. The others were moved to tears. They seemed to feel the awful and sad situation in which they were placed, and of the God in whose presence they must soon appear; but Morgan was careless as to his fate. He seemed to defy God and man. Four men were to fire upon each of the prisoners; and three white soldiers and one black were to fire upon Morgan. When the word was given to “fire” all took deliberate aim and fired. While all the others fell pierced with bullets, and without a murmur, strange to say, the caps snapped on the guns pointed at Morgan, with the exception of the negro’s and he missed his aim. At the report of the guns, Morgan fell backwards on his coffin, and lay as if he had been killed, without murmur, and none suspected until the Lieutenant in charge approached him and examined his body closely, and finding that he escaped being shot, he drew his piston and shot him in the breast, the ball passing up his ribs and lodging in the back of his neck. When the ball struck Morgan his whole person sprung three feet above the coffin upon which he was lying upon his back. This closed the scene, and thus ended the life of a bold, desperate person, who seemed to be unacquainted with fear.”

   The Kentucky historian, Richard H. Collins, also recorded this execution and noted Lycurgus Morgan was purportedly “one of the boldest, most desperate and perfectly fearless men in the world”.

   Newspapers from this period often contain misspellings, and in the style of the times often romanticized and exaggerated their reports. However, this tragic story of military injustice is worthy of remembrance.

   Perhaps this account of it shall result in an authorized historical marker from the Kentucky Historical Society, and the preservation of an unmarked cemetery, where five Confederate men lie after being shot without trial or representation, near the ghostly remains of Osceola.

Correspondence with Nancy Hitt, Newspapers listed
Green County Review, April 1987, Vol. 10 #3
Kentucky Union Army Consolidated Records of the Civil War
Hart County Cemeteries, R. Cann
The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 69 #2, Louis De Falaise

If you have information about the victims of the Osceola executions, please contact the author at: 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Commander's Call...

This editorial originally published in the Winter, 2006 The Lost Cause

Feb 2006 —  Lately, I’ve been learning New Testament Greek.  I finally got fed up with people telling me what it said “in the original Greek,” and decided that I would learn to read it myself.  It was a good decision, but it didn’t solve very much.

   You see, just knowing the original word doesn’t necessarily explain what that word meant then.  It certainly doesn’t have much to do with what the word may mean now.  Just one example:  In the opening verses of the Gospel according to Matthew, several variations on just one word are used to mean “generations”, “it came to pass”, and “begat”, as in “fathered.”  In other cases, very different words are used to mean, essentially, the same thing, in English.  The bottom line is that, even if I become proficient is ancient Greek, there’ll still be huge holes in my knowledge of what the Church Fathers were trying to tell me.

   The same caution applies today.  Take, for instance, General S.D. Lee’s charge to the SCV.  In it, he said “To you, sons of Confederate veterans (today, we capitalize all that, but in those days, he probably did not), we submit the vindication of… the cause for which he fought.”  Vindication.  That’s our mission.  That’s why we exist as an organization.  To “vindicate the cause for which he fought.”  What does that mean?  What is “vindication”?  Recourse to a dictionary doesn’t help a whole lot.  There are several meanings for the word “vindication”, including “revenge”, which I don’t think many of us can wholeheartedly sign on for.  Perhaps the better definition is “justify”.  Our mission, then, is to “justify” the War, or at least “the cause for which he fought.”

   What was that “cause”?  Many today say it was the maintenance of slavery.  Others respond, “no, it was states rights”.  Others argue that he was simply defending his homeland from invasion by yankee invaders.  I don’t think any of those truly capture the “cause” referred to by General Lee.  I think it was something far bigger.

   I think the “cause” was freedom.  Look:  if you’re in a place that you don’t want to be, you have the freedom to do what?  Leave.  It’s that simple.  If you are not free to leave a place, or a group, or a situation that you’re in, then you are not free.  You are a slave.  That’s how our ancestors saw it, and it’s how some still see it today.  Certainly it’s how we see oppressed minorities in other countries around the world. 

   In 1861, the government of the United States underwent some fundamental changes.  Several states could no longer support that government, so they tried to leave.  They tried to exercise their freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution, as they read it.  The end result was war and reconstruction, but the Cause was freedom.  I believe it’s our mission to point that out at every opportunity.  After all, if we don’t, who will?

Dr. Tom Hiter