Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Captain "Black Dave" Martin

David S. Martin
8th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry

6 Battalion Confederate Cavalry
Born 1/19/1828, Died 8/1/1896
Buried: Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Kentucky

Dave Martin enlisted in the 8th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry as a 4th Sergeant in Company H on August 1, 1862. Colonel R. S. Cluke commanded the unit, which was assigned to Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s Cavalry Brigade. Martin was known as "Black Dave" due to his dark complexion.

Morgan’s Cavalry Brigade 10/31/1862
nd Kentucky Regiment: Colonel Duke
th Kentucky Cavalry: Colonel Gano
th Kentucky Cavalry: Colonel Cluke
th Kentucky Cavalry Colonel Chenault
th Kentucky Battalion: Major Breckinridge
Captain Arnett’s Howitzer Battery

In September the 8th was ordered to proceed towards Irvine, Kentucky. Subsequently it was sent to harass the rear of Federal General George Morgan’s forces that were retreating from Cumberland Gap.

On November 20,1862, Martin was promoted to 3rd Sergeant of Company H. Sergeant Martin’s story can best be told by following the movements of Colonel Cluke’s Regiment.

Colonel Cluke’s Regiment participated in the Battle of Hartsville Tennessee December 7,1862. The Confederate victory resulted in Colonel Morgan being promoted to Brigadier – General. Casualties in the 8th Regiment were 2 killed, 24 wounded and 6 missing.

From December 23, 1862-January 1,1863 Morgan conducted a Christmas Raid into Kentucky. After capturing Glasgow, the Confederates burned the L&N RR Bridge across Bacon Creek. On the 27th Elizabethtown was captured after the town was shelled. The next day Morgan’s men burned two trestles at Muldraugh’s Hill. Colonel Cluke was ordered to burn the railroad bridge over the Rolling Fork River on the 29th. Before he could complete the task, Federal troops attacked. During the fighting Colonel Duke was wounded. The Confederate troopers managed a successful withdrawal to Bardstown. The Confederate raiders reached Columbia on the 31st. Morgan crossed the Cumberland River into Tennessee on January 2, 1863.

Colonel Cluke was granted permission to lead a raid into Kentucky in February of 1863. Approximately 800 men crossed the Cumberland River at Stigall’s Ferry below Somerset Kentucky . The purpose of the raid was to gather horses and mules as well as recruit troopers. General Marshall was to come into Kentucky from Pound Gap and cross through Hazel Green to unite with Cluke. General Pegram was to also cross later at Stigall’s Ferry and gather cattle and forage. All would then move south with badly needed supplies for the Confederate Armies.

On February 21, Cluke’s command was at Mt. Vernon, 28 miles from Richmond KY. After a brief skirmish at Comb’s Ferry the Confederates passed through Winchester and camped at Stoner’s Bridge. During a night attack on the 23-24th, the Confederate troopers withdrew through Mt. Sterling. Tick Town a.k.a. Jeffersonville was reached on the 25th. During the fighting numerous horses and mules were captured by the Federals. On the 26th Cluke’s men camped at Slate Creek approx. 13 miles from Mt.Sterling. They were attacked there on March 2. Losses were 10 killed and 16 men captured. The rear guard retired to Howard’s Mill. Afterwards while camping near Saylersville an epidemic of erysipelas (fever with chills, headaches and vomiting) decimated the command. Realizing that Marshall was not coming to his aid Cluke baffled the Federals by moving towards Mt. Sterling. His troopers covered 60 miles in 24 hours! On the 22nd of March he captured the town, lightly garrisoned by members of the 10th and 14th Kentucky Cavalries. They were guarding an immense commissary depot. After paroling approx. 300 men and occupying the town for 6 hours, Cluke withdrew towards Owensville, unmolested. During the occupation of Mt. Sterling, Cluke allowed his men to supply themselves with needed goods before destroying over $500,000 in supplies. He drove between 450-500 horses and mules as he withdrew. He reached Rockville in Rowan County on the 24th. When safely underway Cluke dispatched a portion of his command, Steele’s Battalion and company A of the 2nd KY Cavalry to the aid of General Pegram who would soon be fighting the Battle of Dutton’s Hill near Somerset KY. Subsequently he withdrew through Beatyville and Manchester back into Tennessee.

Brigadier General Morgan’s Cavalry Division April 1863

1st Brigade - Colonel Duke
2nd KY. Cavalry: Major Webber
5th Kentucky Cavalry: Colonel Smith
6th KY Cavalry :Colonel Grigsby
9th KY Cavalry: Colonel Breckinridge
9th TN Cavalry Colonel Ward

2nd Brigade-Colonel Cluke
7th KY Cavalry: Lt.Colonel Huffman
8th KY Cavalry: Major Bullock
10th Kentucky P. R.: Colonel Johnson
11th KY Cavalry: Colonel Chenault

In April of 1863 Colonel Cluke was camped in the vicinity of Celina Tennessee. Attempts to merge Tennessee Colonel O. P. Hamilton’s Partisan Rangers into newly formed, Colonel R.C. Morgan’s 14th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry met with failure. Federal troops were active in the vicinity of Jamestown and Scottsville Kentucky.

Federal troops attacked Morgan’s forces 4 miles south of Monticello on May 1 driving them back 3 miles towards Albany. Confederate losses were 8 killed. Morgan’s men withdrew to Livingston Tennessee shortly afterwards.

On May 4th, General Morgan ordered Colonel Cluke to send the 10th Partisan Rangers to Colonel Chenault so that he would have enough strength to reoccupy Clinton and Wayne Counties in Kentucky. On the 8th of May Colonel Cluke departed from his camp on the Obey River accompanied by Colonel Chenault on the Monticello road and advanced to the Wolf River in Kentucky.

Sergeant Dave Martin’s company H led the advance towards the mouth of Greasy Creek a.k.a. Horseshoe Bottoms, on the 9th of May. Learning of a Federal force with civilian prisoners a short distance ahead of them, companies H, I, and K raced to engage them.

Skirmishing took place at the Alcorn Distillery and lasted to nightfall. Confederate troops camped at Beaver Creek. On the morning of the 10th fighting resumed on the Coffey farm. After a spirited engagement the Federals withdrew to Columbia KY. Confederate losses were 1 killed and 15 wounded. They withdrew to Gainesboro Tennessee.

In July of 1863 General Morgan departed from Tennessee for what would become the longest cavalry raid of the war. The raid through Kentucky Indiana and Ohio resulted in the disintegration of Morgan’s Cavalry Brigade. The General and the majority of his troopers were captured. Colonel Cluke died in a POW camp.

Sergeant Martin was captured July 11,1863 at 12 mile Island in Ohio. He was confined at the McLean Barracks in Cincinnati on the 13th. Martin was forwarded to Camp Chase on the 19th. Curiously his rank is reported as private. On August 24, 1863 Martin was transferred to Camp Douglas. He is reported as escaping in December of that year. Apparently he made his way to Confederate lines and was promoted to 2nd Sergeant in January of 1864.

Shortly afterwards he was granted permission to return to Kentucky to recruit and remount. This ends his career with the remnants of the 8th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry.

Dave Martin’s activities in Kentucky appear to be undocumented until mid-August of 1864. It is thought that he and about 25 others were operating as an independent cavalry company in Henry and Shelby Counties. Martin’s company was credited with derailing a train on the Louisville & Frankfort rail road near Bagdad on August 25, 1864. The following morning "Black Dave" led his men on a raid to Shelbyville.

Captain Martin rode in from the north on the Burkes Branch Pike and then rode down Main Street and through 7th & 8th streets to the courthouse. Inside weapons and ammunition were stored. Martin proceeded to the back of the building, where he was berated by the jailer's wife for endangering the lives of civilians, including Martin's own wife and children who were sheltering in town. Meanwhile troopers with Lt. Veach dismounted and forced a black employee from James Hickman’s Blacksmith Shop named Owen to hold their horses while they proceeded to force entry into the building.

Two citizens of Shelbyville, Thomas C. McGrath a merchant and J.H. Masonheimer a tailor, began firing on the Confederates. McGrath’s store in the Market House overlooked the courthouse, and he opened fire from a third story window. Masonheimer stood in the street. He is credited with killing 4 horses and accidentally killing Owen who he had not recognized. Three of the raiders were killed, Lt. Joe Veach formerly a private in company C of the 8th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, had escaped Camp Douglas about the same time as Martin. Sergeant Bird M. Smith , formerly in company H of the same Regiment. The third man’s name was thought to be Dale. During the combat McGrath received a slight wound to his scalp. Captain Martin withdrew unsuccessful in his attempt to capture the weapons and ammunition.

During this time Confederate Colonel George M. Jessee was operating in Henry, Carroll, Owen, and Trimble Counties. The 6th Confederate Cavalry Battalion was divided in June of 1864. The Virginia companies were part of Cosby’s Cavalry Brigade temporarily operating in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Three Kentucky companies were with Jessee as ordered by Colonel Grigsby. Jessee was to gather stragglers and return them to Confederate lines.

David S. Martin enlisted in Jessee’s command near Springport as Captain, Company G, 6th Confederate Cavalry Battalion on October 16, 1864. On the 18th Jesse’s men were charged with firing on a train near Lair’s Station, nine miles from Paris KY. On the 19th the Confederates skirmished at Mudlick Springs in Bath County.

Confederate Colonel Morris, a POW, recently captured reported that six of Jessee’s men were taken from prison and executed by order of Federal General Stephen Gano Burbridge in October of 1864.

In November approx. 30 of Jessee’s men raided Clay Village a few miles from Shelbyville, robbing Mr. Walsh’s store. That same evening stores in Eminence were robbed.

Federal authorities were becoming concerned over reports that The Sons of Liberty, a secretive movement in sympathy with the South, was planning raids to free Confederate POWs in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Colonel Jessee was thought to be in communication with Confederate Agent Jacob Thompson, in Canada and Captain Hines, of the Confederate secret service.

On December 1,1864 Captain Bridgewater, of the Kentucky State Scouts reported that Jessee and 75-100 men were recruiting in Henry, Shelby, and Washington Counties. On the 8th, the steamer Bostonia #1, and another vessel reported men from Jessee’s command had fired upon them near Carrollton KY. Captain Bridgewater supported by the Henry County Home Guard attacked Colonel Jessee’s men at New Castle on the 13th. Jessee’s men numbering about 50 faced 140 of the Federals and were driven through Port Royal at a gallop. Jessee’s Command was reported at Milton on the 16th with about 100-150 men. Later in the month he was reported to be in Owen County.

Captain Bates of the 30th Kentucky (Mounted) Infantry (US) reported executing a Lt. Whetmore and several other of Jessee’s men in accordance with General Burbridges Order #8 on January 19,1865. He reported plans to shoot another at Lusby’s Mill.

General Palmer replaced the despised General Burbridge, in February of 1865. After the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia but prior to the surrender of the Army of Tennessee, General Palmer offered the disgraced General Burbridge authority to act as his agent to negotiate a surrender of Jessee’s men on April 14,1865. A few weeks later General Grant offered the same terms that had been given to General Lee. Confederate troops surrendered at Louisa on April 27. Others surrendered at Mt.Sterling on the 30th. Some of the 6th Battalion surrendered in May of 1865 at Port Royal.

Captain Martin returned home and lived peacefully until July of 1865 when he was arrested and charged with having been a guerrilla during the war. In a military court martial he was found guilty and was sentenced to two years hard labor. The Louisville Daily Journal of 7/19/1865 reported his detention in the Second Street Prison. General Palmer released him showing compassion for a Confederate soldier who had a family dependent upon him. No doubt public opinion which was weary of the post war retribution influenced his decision.

Side Bar Note

Thomas C. McGrath the merchant who had fired on Martin’s men during the Shelbyville raid did not survive long after the war ended. On May 19,1865 he was murdered by Private John Lewis, Company E, 13th Heavy Artillery USCT. McGrath was shot in the back while attempting to prevent damage to his implement shop. Just after the murder the feared guerrilla hunter Captain Ed Terrell rode into town and took Lewis from the jail and attempted to lynch him. Terrell was in the employ of General Palmer as a secret service policeman. Other Union troops intervened and Lewis was later tried by court martial on June 4th and found guilty of murder "with malice afterthought". Lewis was hung in Louisville on June 13, 1865. McGrath is also buried in the Grove Hill Cemetery.

Photos by Nancy Hitt and Mark Brooks
History of Shelby County: Wiilis
The New History of Shelby County: Shelby County Historical Society
Official Records war of the Rebellion
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky (Confederate).
Confederate Soldiers of Kentucky: Lynn
A History of Morgan’s Cavalry: Duke
6th Battalion Confederate Cavalry: Weaver
Confederate Guerrilla Sue Mundy: Watson & Brantley
The Civil War in the Big Sandy Valley: Preston
Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: Mosgrove
Other notes and documents in the author’s collection.

Researched and written by Stewart Cruickshank

Above: Martin's grave markers

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