Friday, July 3, 2009

Captain/Representative Bart Jenkins - Three Amazing Escapes & More

By Stewart Cruickshank

Barton Jenkins was born near Versailles, Kentucky January 5, 1832. His parents were John I. and Susan A. Jenkins. When the War Between the States broke out, Bart pledged his allegiance to the South. When the status of Kentucky’s neutrality came into question Bart was already a vocal supporter of the Confederate Army.

Early in the war the Union Army Provost Marshal of Henry County, accompanied by a number of home guards rode to Bart’s home with the intention of arresting him. Bart was said to have placed his horse’s reins in his mouth and with a pistol each hand, he rode the length of their line, escaping arrest without a shot having been fired. Shortly thereafter Bart gathered with 28 others at Lusby’s Mill in Owen County and began making their way to the Confederate Army. Along the way these men were merged into what would become the first organization of the “Buckner Guards”.

General S.B. Buckner ordered Bart detached and appointed him Chief of Secret Service. Bart was ordered to hand-pick some men and scout the Union Army position in Lebanon Kentucky. When he reported back to the General, he accepted a commission as 1st Lieutenant, and was ordered to report to General Humphrey Marshall. From January of 1862 until June 1863 Bart Jenkins served as Captain and Aide de Camp on Marshall’s staff. This position allowed him to bring his wife and two children from Kentucky to the relative safety of Southwestern Virginia. At this time General Marshall was encamped at Castlewoods in Russell County. In March of 1862, Captain Jenkins was instrumental in removing Confederate supplies from Pound Gap to Gladesville Virginia.

Another member of the General’s Staff, Edward Guerrant, recalled in the style of the times that “Capt. Bart W. Jenkins, Aid de Camp has few equals in true nobility of souls, knight errant chivalry & Murant-like daring and bravery. Quick & impulsive in his action, but cool & cautious in his preparation: with more prudence than he has credit for. His great characteristics high & rigid interpretation of the code of honor to which he strictly conforms his speech & actions. He is always ‘responsible’ for everything & weighs that responsibility in the balances of fate—of life & death.”

Jenkins reported as sick with the mumps at Hansonville, Virginia, on May 4, 1862. However, he seems to have recovered in time to arrange for the exchange of prisoners taken in the combat at Princeton, later that month. In June, he accompanied General Marshall to Richmond, Virginia. His arrival during the Seven Days Campaign, June 25-July 1, allowed him to serve as a volunteer aide to Generals Hood and Magruder. In recognition of this service, Jenkins was commissioned a Captain of Cavalry with authority to recruit an independent command. However, Jenkins accepted General Marshall’s pleading that he remain on his staff. During the subsequent Perryville Campaign in the Fall of 1862 that authority was used to recruit what would later become the 4th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. Jenkins would be closely associated with this regiment for the remainder of the War.

On November 22, 1862, Captain Jenkins was active in a small skirmish which took place near Abingdon, Virginia. General Marshall’s headquarters was in Jonesville Virginia. While there Captain Jenkins inspected the “nighthawks” of Lt. Colonel Witcher’s 34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, before they were detached for temporary service in Staunton, Virginia, in January of 1863.

Guerrant recorded in his diary that Jenkins and Marshall “had words” over Bart’s desire to resign and recruit a Battalion of Cavalry. On March 27, 1863, Bart Jenkins tendered his resignation—however Marshall refused to accept it when he got around to reading it on April 3rd. Still chaffing to be free from headquarters duty, Jenkins accompanied a small detachment that skirmished with bushwhackers in Harlan County, Kentucky on April 16th. His apparent break would finally come on April 28th, 1863 when General Marshall was relieved from command and ordered to report to General Johnston for assignment. Instead, with Jenkins in tow, Marshall went to Richmond to appeal the order. During the month of May Jenkins left Richmond, traveling to Danville and Lynchburg before returning to Abingdon, Virginia, where his family was staying. Meanwhile, General Marshall had lost his appeal and General William Preston assumed command. After attempting to follow General Marshall on his way to Vicksburg, Mississippi, Jenkins and Guerrant learned while in Mobile, Alabama, that General Marshall had resigned his commission on June 17, 1863.

Returning to Abingdon, Virginia, Jenkins accepted a position on the staff of General John S. “Cerro Gordo” Williams as Assistant Adjutant General. On August 17, 1863, Jenkins was involved in a dispute with Captain Rowan of Colonel Jesse’s 6th Confederate Cavalry Battalion. Unfortunately Guerrant’s diary does not record the details that almost led to a duel occurring between these officers.

On September 8, 1863 General Williams led a diversionary force towards Greeneville, Tennessee. His command included Carter’s 1st TN Cavalry, the 4th KY Cavalry, General A. E. “Mudwall” Jackson’s Infantry, and the artillery batteries of Burroughs and Schoolfield. The latter actually commanded a battery of Williams Guns which were breech-loading and ideally suited to support cavalry. Lt. J. J. Schoolfield would also become closely associated with Bart Jenkins for the remainder of the War.

At Limestone Creek, near Teleford Station Tennessee General J. S. Williams defeated the 100th Ohio Regiment. The Enfield rifles they captured were issued to the 4th Kentucky Cavalry. Captain Jenkins was instrumental in providing the tactics which led to the defeat and surrender of the Ohio Regiment. He had the artillery shell the Union position from he front while he led the 4th Kentucky in an assault upon the rear of the Union position.

On September 28 and October 2, General Williams defeated elements of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry at Blountsville and advanced towards Blue Springs Tennessee. After probing the Union positions at Bulls Gap on October 5, Williams set up camp at Blue Springs. When the Battle of Blue Springs opened on October 10, 1863, General Williams was unaware that Cumberland Gap had surrendered to the Union Army and that his small diversionary force actually faced most of Union General Burnside’s Army.

After valiantly holding their position, the center of the Confederate lines was broken at approximately 5:00 p.m. Schoolfield’s Battery of Williams Guns was instrumental in slowing the Union advance. Canister and grapeshot were rapidly fired into the ranks of the 7th Ohio Cavalry. However, about to be flanked, General Williams withdrew towards Greenville during the night.
On October 11, an engagement took place at Henderson’s Mill. Successfully pushing the Union troopers from the 5th Indiana Cavalry aside, Williams continued towards Rheatown and went into camp. However, the artillery had mistakenly taken the wrong road. Capt. Jenkins led them back some 18 miles, guided by the sound of the firing. Upon his return it was apparent that General Williams was incapable of command. Some thought him to be drunk but most likely he was in some form of diabetic shock from a lack of food. In any event, Captain Jenkins with Schoolfield’s Battery and the 4th Kentucky Cavalry set up a defensive position on Pugh’s Hill approximately 2 1/2 miles to the East of Rheatown. This engagement on the 12th lasted for more than three hours as the rest of Williams’ men retreated to Jonesborough, and Blountville. Skirmishing in Blountsville on the 13th and 14th, the Confederate forces left East Tennessee, returning to the relative safety of Abingdon, Virginia.

Upset with the lack of support he had received from the other Confederate forces during his diversionary campaign, General Williams requested relief from duty on November 4, 1863. Remaining in the vicinity of Abingdon and Saltville Virginia, his independent command eventually merged into Major General Ransom’s Division in January of 1864. On November 6, 1863 the 4th Kentucky Cavalry and other units from the Brigade defeated the 2nd Tennessee (US) Mounted Infantry and the 7th Ohio Cavalry in the Battle of Rogersville, TN. Soon afterwards General Breckinridge assumed command and Colonel Giltner of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry assumed command of the brigade in March.

On April 14, 1864 Captain Jenkins and Schoolfield’s Battery joined General John Hunt Morgan’s Command. The little battery was disbanded shortly thereafter, the men becoming members of Captain Bart Jenkins Independent Company of “Special Detachment”. This company usually acted in conjunction with the 4th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment; however, it was an independent command.

Jenkins Company participated in a small affair at Cove Gap/Crockett’s Farm near Wytheville Virginia on May 10. Meanwhile General Morgan was organizing his command for what would be his final raid into Kentucky. Captain Jenkin’s Company was used as scouts in advance of Giltner’s Brigade when the raid began in June. After skirmishing with Union troops at Pound Gap, Jenkins was ordered to scout the Union troops retreating towards Piketon (now Pikeville), Kentucky.

On June 6, Jenkins Special Detachment augmented by men from Captain Willis’ Company of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry was ordered to destroy the railroad in the vicinity of Frankfort, Kentucky. By some accounts they reached as far as Smithfield, Kentucky. On June 10, orders were issued to recall Captains Jenkins’ and Willis’ men to Cynthiana where the main body of Morgan’s Raiders was rendezvousing.

Captain Jenkins, under the authority granted him in 1862, officially enrolled his Company on June 11, 1864 as Company A, 7th Battalion Mounted Infantry Kentucky Volunteers. However, in the field it was still commonly referred to as Captain Jenkins’ Cavalry Company or Bart Jenkins Special Detachment. In any event the Raid ended in defeat when the Union army led by General Burbridge defeated the Confederates at Cynthiana. Captain Jenkins and his men made their way back to Virginia on the run.

On August 11, 1864, Captain Jenkins Company escorted Union families into their lines (Bulls Gap, TN) under a flag of truce. He returned to Confederate lines from New Market, Tennessee on August 18.

On September 1, 1864 General Morgan was killed in Greeneville Tennessee and General Echols set about reorganizing the remnants of Morgan’s command. On September 16th Jenkins’ Company was issued clothing; they were then detached to scout near Jeffersonville in Tazewell County, Virginia on September 30. Advancing Union Army troops cut them off from rejoining the main army during the Battle of Saltville, October 2, 1864. However Jenkins led a surprise attack on the retreating Union troopers at Pearson’s Gap which spread additional panic upon the rear guard.

On October 20, 1864 General Breckinridge ordered General G. B. Cosby to take available troops to the support of General Early in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The troopers of Captain Jenkin’s Company reached Luray on October 30. November 12 they were picketing the river fords near Front Royal, and occasionally skirmishing with Union cavalry. Cosby was ordered to return to Wytheville on November 24. General Early’s March on Washington, D.C. having been repelled. Wytheville was reached on December 12.

Captain Jenkins was briefly captured twice, most likely on the 15th of December while trapped inside a home. He managed to kill both of his captors at different times and escape. This allowed him to participate in the Battle of Marion, Virginia on the 17th and 18th of December. After the second Battle of Saltville on December 20, 1864, Jenkins Company was detached for service with General Basil Duke, who planned to recruit and gather horses in Kentucky.

On January 21, 1865, Captain Jenkin’s Company was stationed in Russell County, Virginia. An inspection of his company reported 56 men and 60 horses, of which only 10 were serviceable. However, on March 27, 1865, Guerrant recorded from Abingdon, in his diary that “Jenkins came with his white battle flag (2nd National) floating in the mountain breeze, followed by 100 trusty sons of Kentucky.” On the 29th he was ordered to proceed within 7 miles of Bristol. On April 3rd the company was stationed at Dickensonville, in Scott County Virginia. On the 4th they were ordered to Wyheville where they later skirmished with Union troops. On April 7 Captain Jenkins was reported as sick with inflammatory rheumatism at Fort Chiswell, Virginia. Lt. Freeman, Adjutant of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry was in command of the 101 men.

On April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia near Appomattox Court House Virginia. Soon afterwards word reached the troops in Southwestern Virginia, and General Echols disbanded his troops. Most of the Kentucky men from Giltner’s Brigade accompanied him to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky where they were surrendered April 30, and later paroled to their homes on May 10, 1865.

Some sources refer to Bart Jenkins as Major in postwar accounts. However, this does not seem to have been officially approved by the Confederate Government. After the War Bart Jenkins briefly served in the Kentucky House of Representatives, as a member from Louisville (1873-75), which had been allowed separate legislators since the 1830’s.

Barton W. Jenkins died November 20, 1910 He is buried in the City Cemetery of Eminence Kentucky in grave 6611. His modest tombstone gives no hint of his remarkable service in the Confederate Army. On September 24th this year his grave was memorialized with a Southern Cross of Honor and a dedication service by the John Hunt Morgan Camp #1342.

The author wishes to thank Nancy Hitt of Louisville and Jim Prichard of Frankfort Kentucky for their assistance in compiling data for this manuscript.

Bluegrass Confederate: The Headquarters Diary of Ward O. Guerrant
Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman, by G. D. Mosgrove
War of the Rebellion: Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies
Report of the Adjutant General of the Sate of Kentucky: Civil War
Southwest Virginia in the Civil War: The Battles for Saltville, by William Marvel
Confederate Veteran Magazine

1 comment:

The Gray Ghost said...

A Memorial page for Barton W. Jenkins is being constructed on Please visit this site and leave a virtual flower.