Friday, November 19, 2010

Found: The Lost Cause - Its Origins as a Phrase

By Don Shelton

Most of us have wondered at some point about the origin of the phrase “The Lost Cause”, or even why it is the title of this journal. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the use of “Lost Cause” to refer to the Confederacy’s bid for independence began in the 1860’s; indeed, by the time Sam Watkins published “Company Aytch” twenty years later he used the term with such familiarity and pride that it had obviously been an established part of the Southern lexicon for quite some time. The subtle but crucial transformation in usage happened almost immediately after the War—the struggle for Southern Independence was no longer “a lost cause” in the colloquial, but instead became “The Lost Cause” in reverential reflection on the idealism of defense of home and constitution from invasion—both physical invasion and invasion of philosophies repugnant to the agrarian, traditionalistic South and to the original intent of the Constitution. To stand against these invasions was seen as a victory unto itself; using “The Lost Cause” a backhanded way to recognize the military reality of defeat while saying that The Lost Cause was also The Right Cause to a Southern nation which placed honor above life itself—a conceptuality which is foreign to the modern mind saturated with Jerry Springer and Howard Stern.
Our Southern ancestors were also much better trained in literary allusion and historical reference than we are today. When Moses Ezekial created the Confederate monument at Arlington cemetery, he inscripted upon it the Latin phrase: “Victrix Causa Diis Placuit Sed Victa Caton” which translates to “The Victorious Cause was Pleasing to the gods, But the Lost Cause to Cato.” This is a quote from Lucan’s epic Pharsalia (Civil War) written about Julius Ceasar’s Roman civil war with Senator Pompey. The phrase doesn’t mean much, though, without knowing who Cato was. In his 1999 address given at the Arlington monument, Rev. Fr. Alister C. Anderson, Chaplain (Colonel) U.S. Army (Ret.) and Chaplain-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans explained:
You may remember that Julius Caesar made himself dictator of the Roman Empire for life and he marched against Pompey and the republican forces who resisted Caesar’s military and political grab for absolute control and power. Pompey was an admirer of Cato the Younger, who lived one hundred years earlier and was devoted to the principles and virtues of the early Roman Republic. Cato had one of the greatest reputations for honesty and incorruptibility of any man in ancient times, and his Stoicism put him above the graft, bribery and mad despotic ambition so prevalent in Roman politics of his day. Pompey’s army, however, was defeated by Caesar's legions at the Battle of Pharsalia in the Balkans, and Caesar went on to become what can be called the first of the Roman Emperors.
The Latin quote illustrates the truth of an historical and political continuum from the time of this ancient war to that of the War for Southern Independence. “Victrix Causa,” “the victorious cause”, referring to Julius Caesar’s inordinate ambition and his lust for total power and control, is compared with President Lincoln and the federal government’s desire for power to crush and destroy the South. Next we read “diis placuit” which translates “pleased the gods”. In this context, gods are with a small “g” and refer to the gods of mythology; the gods of money, power, war and domination, greed, hate, lust and ambition. Next we come to the noble climax of this quotation, “sed victa catoni” which translates “but the lost cause pleased Cato.” Here Lucan, the poet, refers to Pompey’s fight to retain the old conservative, traditional republican government of Rome. Even though Pompey was defeated by Caesar’s greater military power, his defeat, nevertheless, pleased the noble Cato. And here, of course, Cato represents the noble aims of the Southern Confederacy. The South fought politically to maintain the Constitution which had guided her safely for eighty-seven years. She merely wanted to be left alone and be governed by it.
In this context the use of “The Lost Cause” by Southerners becomes much more clear. The allusions to the virtuous cause of Pompey in fighting to save traditional values against overpowering tyranny would have instant appeal to Southerners, and taking into account Lucan’s Pharsalia would have been familiar reading to educated Southerners like Ezekial, this two thousand-year-old quote has to be considered the leading candidate as origin for usage of “The Lost Cause” term by Confederates.
The phrase has not, though, had universal acceptance among Southerners, with some feeling it to carry a negative or defeatist connotation; the most notable critic of the phrase was the renowned S. A. Cunningham, publisher of the original Confederate Veteran magazine. His criticism has been taken to heart by some in support of their disdain for usage of the phrase. In the December, 1902 issue of Confederate Veteran Cunningham called the term “detestable” in complaining that correspondents were using it in submitted articles. Cunningham said it “assuredly originated in the minds of prejudiced Northerners”. However, few people who quote Cunningham are aware that the original Confederate Veteran magazine and the original Lost Cause magazine were competing publications, and occasionally sparred with each other in print (as Stewart Cruickshank’s accompanying article will show). Taken in that light, it is possible that Cunningham’s criticisms may have had less than completely altruistic motivations (after all, Cunningham was a shrewd and experienced businessman), and such context should be taken into some consideration by those who base their dislike for the phrase solely on Cunningham. Ironically, a biography of Cunningham was published in 1994 and when it was reviewed by Book News Inc. the reviewer’s first sentence called Cunningham “a central figure in the Lost Cause movement in the post-Civil War South” and that quote now accompanies virtually every site listing the biography for sale. That a reviewer would use a term to describe a man who found it so detestable he refused to print it in his own magazine is a posthumous insult no one should have to suffer, especially a man who did so much for Confederate heritage as S. A. Cunningham.
When the Kentucky Division of the SCV was re-formed in 1983, choosing the name of a turn-of-the-century Confederate publication originating in the Bluegrass State as the title for the division newsletter seemed only natural to the division leadership (just as the national SCV had taken up the title for its magazine from Cunningham’s). While publication of The Lost Cause has been somewhat erratic in the twenty-two years since, the current magazine format is a serious effort by the Kentucky division to carry out the mission of the original publication: “to be a(n) illustrated journal of history”, both of our Kentucky Confederate ancestors, and our SCV today.
Originally published in the Spring 2005 issue of The Lost Cause.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Recounting of The Lost Cause, 1898-1904

By Stewart Cruickshank

In June of 1898 The Lost Cause began circulation from its offices at 328-338 W. Green Street in Louisville, Kentucky. The magazine was printed by the Courier-Journal Job Printing Company. Editor Ben La Bree, an entrepreneur, offered a year’s subscription for 75 cents and single copies for 10 cents.

The original masthead featured the Confederate Battle Flag with a broken staff imposed upon a black moon with 13 stars and the motto “Defeated but not dishonored”. A headliner regarding the War with Spain promised “This Journal will also contain a description of the battles and events of this war, fully illustrated with large Battle scenes, portraits, etc.” However, by the September issue the Spanish-American War had ended and this subject was no longer a feature.

The mission statement of The Lost Cause promised “An Illustrated Journal of History, devoted to the collection and preservation of the record of the late ‘Confederacy’ and to the recording of Humorous Anecdotes, Reminiscences, Deeds of Heroism, Terrible Hardships endured, Battles on Sea and Land and the noble Deeds Accomplished by the faithful and loyal Southern Women.”

A fire at the printing plant resulted in no issue being published in December of 1898. Publication resumed in January 1899. The June, 1899 issue was the last one to be edited by Ben La Bree. Due to a change in ownership no issue was circulated in July 1899.

The Lost Cause resumed publication in August. The new owners were the Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Mrs. (General) Basil Duke was editor and Miss Florence Barlow the UDC chapter recording assistant secretary was the associate editor and manager.

This business venture of the Kentucky UDC placed it in direct competition with a rival publication produced by a former Confederate Army Sergeant Major, S. A. Cunningham, The Confederate Veteran. He was a veteran publisher who had learned some valuable lessons in the 1870’s competing for newspaper subscribers, and would be a strong competitor for the UDC to contend with.

A small ad in the August, 1899 issue revealed that over 1,500 subscriptions had expired with the August issue. “True Friends” were invited to re-subscribe to “Confederate History”.

The masthead was also changed to the one replicated in the previous issues of the modern-day version of The Lost Cause that we have been enjoying. The amended mission statement of the publication promised “A Confederate War Record”. “The Lost Cause is a monthly Illustrated Journal of History, devoted to the collection and preservation of the records of the Confederate States, Humorous Anecdotes Reminiscences, Deeds of Heroism, also devoted to the work and interest of the ‘Daughters of the Confederacy’”.

The Confederate Veteran, Cunningham’s publication, had by now become the largest distributor on the subject of the War Between the States. Cunningham was also the General Agent for the Jefferson Davis Monument Fund. The June 1899 issue of The Lost Cause featured “spicy reading” rebutting an editorial published in Cunningham’s magazine which had attacked the Financial Director of the Confederate Memorial Association, John C. Underwood. This feuding and debating was continued through the September 1899 issue.

The Lost Cause embraced marketing concepts in an effort to attract female subscribers. For example, a 100-piece Princess China Set was offered free to anyone who sent in 25 yearly subscriptions. Another ad revealed that “Every dollar made by The Lost Cause goes to help Confederate Veterans, their families, widows, and orphans. This fact ought to be sufficient to enlist the interest of every veteran, son and daughter.”

The April 1900 issue announced a price increase to one dollar yearly. A single issue remained ten cents. The yearly subscription included, for a limited time, an 8” x 12” silk Confederate Flag. A subscription agent sending six (later five) yearly subscribers received a silver Kentucky souvenir spoon.

The November 1901 issue announced that “The Lost Cause is owned, controlled and edited by women—Daughters of the Confederacy—who are as loyal to the Southern Cause and the Confederate Veterans as any soldier who bore arms. No ‘Yankee’, as has been maliciously reported (apparently a reference to Cunningham) has any connection whatever with this journal. The Veterans can trust their interest into our hands with the assurance that it will be well guarded with the same devotion and loyalty which characterized the women in the ‘60s.”

The continuing sparing between the Nashville Tennessee published Confederate Veteran and the Louisville Kentucky published Lost Cause is also apparent in the following statements: The Lost Cause has the advantage over other similar publications in having access to historical matter and over 20 thousand cuts illustrative of Confederate history that no other publishing house possesses. This collection represents the work of one man for 30 years and an expenditure of over $100,000.00”

The April 1902 issue also stated that “The Lost Cause is the only journal published in the United States that is purely Confederate. No matter how Southern an article may be unless it relates in some way or has some bearing upon the Confederacy or its organizations we reject it. There are other Southern Journals but The Lost Cause is the only purely Confederate Journal.” The ladies of the UDC were apparently quite unafraid to mix things up with Cunningham.

However, the financial obligations had to take their priority. In a small ad that issue it was stated that an agent sending in four subscriptions would receive one year free. However, “credit would not be welcomed”. Later that year $50.00 cash was offered to anyone providing 100 subscriptions.

The July, 1902 issue was not printed. No reason was given. Publication resumed in August 1902. Beginning in October of that year an ongoing series which listed by state the “Regiments and Battalions of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Engineers (including Indians) and their Field Officers in the Confederate States Army 1861-1865” was undertaken. This outstanding series was not completed though, as the final chapters of this tale will reveal.

The April, 1903 issue was not printed. Again no reason was given. Publication resumed in May. The September issue revealed that Mrs. Duke had gone abroad and would no longer be associated with the journal. Miss Barlow was now the Editor and Proprietor. She often traveled to various UDC and UCV camps speaking about Southern chivalry and the mission of The Lost Cause. A small ad stated that “those indebted to The Lost Cause for past years subscriptions will please remit. We can not keep up the good work we are doing without collecting what is due us.”

In January, 1904 the bargain rate of fifty cents for one year was offered. The March issue was delayed due to a printer’s strike at the publishing house. The Lost Cause ceased publication with the April, 1904 issue. Miss Barlow announced that ownership would be transferred to Mrs. J. T. McCutchen of Jackson, Tennessee. With that announcement a chapter in Kentucky publishing of Confederate history came to an end.

Today The Lost Cause has returned as the “Journal of the Kentucky Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans”. Your subscription and advertising support to The Lost Cause will continue the mission of honoring and remembering Kentucky Confederate history started years ago by Ben La Bree, Mrs. Duke and Miss Barlow.

Originally published in the Spring, 2005 The Lost Cause

Friday, November 5, 2010

UDC Beats Vandy

We’re not talking about a sporting event; shortly before going to press we received the powerful news that the ladies of the Tennessee United Daughters of the Confederacy had beaten Vanderbilt University’s attempt to get the courts to overturn contract law to satisfy their political correctness.

In 2002 Vanderbilt announced that the dormitory named “Confederate Memorial Hall” would have the word “Confederate” stricken from its name and inscription out of “sensitivity”. Unfortunately for Vandy, the UDC had donated $50,000 toward the construction of the building with the contractual agreement for the “Confederate Memorial Hall” name. The UDC filed suit to protect the name. The Chancery court sided with Vanderbilt, ruling that the emotions associated with the word “Confederate” were too much to inflict upon students no matter what the contract from the 1930’s said.

However, the appeals court judged otherwise. The panel ruled that basic contract law cannot be ignored, and that Vandy had to either let the name stay, or compensate the UDC for the $50,000 it raised to help pay for the dormitory. The appeals court sent back to the Chancery court the task of determining what $50,000 in 1930’s dollars is worth today, but some estimates were in the range of $700,000.

The other option for Vanderbilt would be to appeal to the Tennessee State Supreme Court; legal representatives for Vandy indicated that decision had not yet been made.

The SCV donated $10,000 in 2002 for the UDC’s legal costs in the suit; then Heritage Defense Chief for the SCV Allen Sullivant called the donation one of the best things done by the SCV during his term.

Beyond merely ruling in the UDC’s favor, one judge wrote a 23-page concurring opinion in which he scathed Vandy for their political correctness and ignorance of history; “A great majority of those who fought in the Confederate armies owned no slaves. Their homeland was invaded, and they rose up in defense of their homes and their farms,” wrote judge William B. Cain. “They fought the unequal struggle until nearly half their enlisted strength was crippled or beneath the sod. The dormitory is a memorial to them…”

Judge Cain went on to say, “It is to the memory of these men that Confederate Memorial Hall was built and, to that end and at great personal sacrifice in the midst of the Great Depression, that the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised and contributed to Peabody College (Vanderbilt’s predecessor) more than one-third of the total cost of the construction of the dormitory.”

Common sense still exists in the Tennessee judiciary, and hopefully this costly lesson learned by Vanderbilt will serve as a warning to other institutions which somehow mistakenly think they are above the law in their fanatical pursuit of political correctness.

Originally published in the Spring, 2005 The Lost Cause

Friday, October 29, 2010

Corydon - Going North

By Don Shelton

Gen. Robert E. Lee certainly understood the powerful psychology of what a Confederate victory North of Mason and Dixon's line could potentially do: demoralize the Northern populace, thus robbing Yankees of their will to wage war after seeing it in their own back yard, and also perhaps get England and France to get off the sidelines (England, certainly, would want to show support to the Confederacy if it became apparent they were winning—for economic reasons if nothing else). Such psychology was the driving force behind the Gettysburg campaign. While Lee had obviously invaded Maryland once already, taking the war into territory actually above the Mason-Dixon line was a powerfully tempting objective, and had happened on a small scale before Lee marched into Pennsylvania. In September of 1862 Gen. Albert G. Jenkins led his Confederate cavalry forces into southeastern Ohio on a two-day raid that is little-known today, but generated considerable excitement at the time. John Hunt Morgan was destined, of course, to make a somewhat more famous visit to Ohio, via Indiana. Morgan knew of Jenkins’ raid, and had displayed a mastery of the psychology of warfare many times himself. He was certainly observing with keen interest the reaction Lee was getting in Pennsylvania. Morgan wanted to prove that he, too, could use Northern panic and alarm to force the enemy to react to him. Lee wanted Meade to react by bringing his army out into the open where Lee could destroy it. Morgan wanted to draw troops away from Rosecrans, so that Gen. Braxton Bragg could make a similar attempt on Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland in the western theater.

Morgan’s Great Indiana-Ohio Raid left Kentucky by crossing the Ohio River at Brandenburg, and going into Harrison County, Indiana on July 8th, 1863. On July 3rd the fighting ended at Gettysburg, and news of Lee’s defeat, along with the surrender of Vicksburg a day later, somewhat diverted national attention from what Morgan was shortly to accomplish at Corydon; the largest engagement North of the Mason-Dixon won by the Confederates. Had Lee prevailed at Gettysburg, Morgan’s victory at Corydon and his seeming unstoppability in his travels through Indiana and Ohio would have overshadowed the fall of Vicksburg and given the instant appearance of a two-pronged—east and west—surge of Confederate fortunes. Even with the Confederate misfortunes in Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Morgan’s adventures on his Raid proved to be rather an alarming and electrifying poke into the psyche of the Northern citizenry; it takes little imagination to see the full potential effect of Morgan’s plan had Lee been successful.

By crossing into Indiana, Morgan was defying the orders of Bragg. According to Morgan’s brother-in-law Gen. Basil Duke in “A History of Morgan’s Cavalry”, Bragg gave Morgan “carte blanche” to do whatever he wanted in Kentucky, but “Bragg refused him permission to make the raid as he desired to make it and ordered him to operate in Kentucky.” Bragg’s plan was for Morgan to cover the retreat of the Army of Tennessee across the Tennessee River, with the intention of fighting near Chattanooga (which indeed occurred with the battle at Chickamauga). Bragg also wanted Morgan to attempt the capture of Louisville if possible, thus drawing Union troops away from Rosecrans for that decisive battle. Morgan argued that capturing Louisville was unlikely, but by going into Indiana and Ohio “the scare and clamor in the states he proposed to invade would be so great, that the military leaders and the administration would be compelled to furnish the troops that would be called for.” Morgan told Duke shortly after his meeting with Bragg of the order confining him to Kentucky, and of his intention to disobey it. Ultimately Morgan’s plan was to join with Lee in Pennsylvania after his grand tour of Indiana and Ohio, putting a finishing touch on the invasion psychology.

The order confining Morgan to Kentucky is a singular example of Bragg’s command abilities; while his generalship did sometimes rise to competency, it never achieved the inspired brilliance required (or demonstrated repeatedly by Lee, Breckinridge, Jackson, Forrest, Morgan and others). Bragg failed to recognize the importance of psychology in warfare—on his own troops (whom he too often mistreated), on the enemy, and on the general populations of both sides. When Bragg invaded Kentucky in 1862, he did so tentatively, thinking that the mere presence of his army would cause Kentuckians to flock to the recruiters and swell the Confederate ranks enough to secure the state. True, Morgan had proclaimed to him often of Kentucky’s strong Confederate desires (helping Bragg’s overestimations), and while a good many Kentuckians did join the Confederate Cause, Bragg overlooked the simple need for many Kentuckians to see the ability and determination of the Confederates to fight the federal forces off from the state before committing; if the Confederates were just passing through in 1862, the families and property of Confederate Kentuckians would fall to the harshest retributions of Yankee occupations. If, instead of wandering aimlessly in 1862, Bragg had shown an inspired plan—such as laying siege to Cincinnati as Morgan urged him to do—the results could have been dramatically different, at least to Morgan’s thinking.

With the situation in 1863, Bragg was correct (and Morgan recognized it) that he needed to retreat across the Tennessee River, and that a diversion was necessary to keep Rosecrans from full strength for the battle Bragg conceived taking place afterwards. However, Morgan obviously saw in Bragg once again the lack of vision for truly taking a calculated risk with great potential reward. Morgan had to feel that his plan in 1862 to lay siege to Cincinnati would have succeeded in drawing the federal army in Louisville northward, (at least more so than Bragg’s bumping into them on a search for water at Perryville, south of Louisville) allowing the Confederates relatively little resistance in occupying large swaths of the state for a longer period of time. Morgan was not going to let what he must have considered to be short-sighted orders get in the way this time. He knew that with only 2,500 men he could not take (and certainly could not hold for any length of time) Louisville or Cincinnati, nor would he make such a suicidal attempt, but there were much easier targets for creating havoc across the Midwest, and Morgan intended to do as much so as possible.

But before he could do any of that, Morgan had to cross the Ohio River at Brandenburg, and that was accomplished with some degree of excitement. Captain Thomas Henry Hines had already taken a liberal interpretation from some of Morgan’s orders and been in Indiana leading a detachment which had stirred the reactions of some militia. Hines rejoined Morgan in Brandenburg on July 7th, and Duke reported Morgan to be satisfied with Hines’ explanation (after all, Morgan was disobeying orders, Hines had merely stretched them).

However, just as Morgan’s command was beginning to cross the river with the clearing of the morning fog the next day, they were fired upon. Morgan had to wonder, at least to some degree, just how much Hines had aroused the militia.

We have the luxury of two personal accounts of the actions at the Brandenburg crossing and Corydon; one from Duke of course, but the other from Simeon K. Wolfe, editor of the Corydon Weekly Democrat, who also participated in the Battle of Corydon. Wolfe is much more prone to hyperbole and exaggeration than Duke, but he provides interesting and colorful contrast and more description of the battle itself. For instance, Duke matter-of-factly reports that the musketry from the opposite shore at Brandenburg produced no effect, and the artillery shelling injured a captain and scattered the party around him. Wolfe’s account (based on information from Col. Irvin of the Indiana Legion—or militia) says the shelling caused “the rascals to skedaddle to the rear of the town in fine style but before getting out of the way some thirty of them were killed and wounded.” Wolfe also estimated Morgan’s command at nearly twice its actual size.

When Morgan had Lt. Elias D. Lawrence fire his two Parrotts in answer by shelling upon the Indiana side of the river, the Hoosier contingent abandoned their position, and found themselves unable to remove their artillery piece. The 2nd Kentucky and 9th Tennessee were then immediately ferried across the river, with their horses left on the Kentucky side.

At that time, though, a Union river gunboat, Springfield, approached and fired at Morgan’s troops on both sides of the river. The 2nd Kentucky and 9th Tennessee were able to take a ridge sheltered from the gunboat's shells (the Hoosier militia had abandoned the area entirely and were apparently falling back to Corydon). An hour-long duel ensued between Morgan’s Parrotts and the Howitzers on the Springfield. This had to be a tense moment; Morgan had two regiments on the other side of the river, dismounted, and he could not know if Hines’ previous excitement had brought down a superior force to engage them, and the gunboat prevented any further assistance. Duke described Morgan during this time as exhibiting “an emotion he rarely permitted to be seen.”

After an hour of shelling which produced little if any damage on either side, the Springfield retired, and the ferrying continued at once, the first order being to bring horses to the men already across. The gunboat returned about 5 p.m., but artillery fire kept it from interfering with the crossing. Morgan’s 1st Brigade finished crossing about dark, and the 2nd Brigade took until nearly midnight to finish.

Duke commanded the 1st Brigade, and the camped about six miles north of the river that night. Duke reported the eerie scene of houses throughout the area abandoned at a moment’s notice: “they had left their houses with open doors...and had fled to the the houses at which I stopped, every thing was just in the condition in which the fugitive owners had left it, an hour or two before. A bright fire was blazing upon the kitchen hearth, bread half made up was in the tray, and many indications convinced us that we had interrupted preparations for supper.”

The next day, Wolfe reports that “about 11 1/2 o’clock...our scouts brought the report that the enemy was approaching in strong force up the Mauckport road toward Corydon”, which generated obvious alarm. Wolfe went on to report of Morgan’s trip through the county “their principal depredations being in horse stealing and robbing houses and citizens of everything valuable”. Of course, to steal a horse, a trooper had to leave his behind, and later in many cases the farmers in Indiana realized that instead of being stolen from, they were trading up to Kentucky thoroughbreds.

In his book “The Longest Raid of the Civil War”, Lester Horwitz describes the defensive position for the 450 or so home guards protecting Corydon under Col. Lewis Jordan as being a breastwork made of logs, stones and especially Wormwood rails, placed about a mile south of the town. Horwitz delineates the line of battle for the defenders as about 2,000 feet across, running from Amsterdam Road on the west to Laconia Road on the east.

to the east of Mauckport Road, upon which Morgan’s main force arrived at Corydon, to Laconia road Wolfe described the terrain as uneven and heavily wooded—not conducive to a cavalry charge, which was apparently thought to focus Morgan upon their front and right. There was, however, a severe problem with the position. A young Corydon defender, W. B. Ryan, described the failing; “Our position was unfortunate because the brow of the hill obscured our field of vision so that it was impossible to see the enemy until he was upon us.” Wolfe also complained about the visibility, saying that the defensive line was “at least fifty yards too far north”.

Though there were woods to the east, and poor visibility in the center, the west—Union right—had superb visibility near the Amsterdam Road with a complete view of the approaching Confederate by 12:30 p.m. The Ellsworth Rifle company (including Simeon Wolfe) was posted on this federal right flank, and they were equipped with Henry repeating rifles, which would prove a somewhat difficult obstacle. There was, however, a problem with this position also in that the Ellsworth company had virtually no cover. They opened fire as soon as Morgan’s troops came within range, checking the Confederate advance for the moment.

Morgan’s superior numbers allowed him to keep fire on the center while commencing with flanking movements. On the Confederate left, Col. W.W. Ward’s 9th Tennessee moved around the Ellsworth rifles, and on the Confederate right Major T. B. Webber led the 2nd Kentucky in a similar flank.

Elements of Col Richard Morgan’s recently formed 14th Kentucky Cavalry then charged the breastworks. Col. Morgan was Gen. Morgan’s brother, and had been Assistant Adjutant General on Lt. Gen. A. P. Hill’s staff, but according to Duke wanted a “less monotonous life in the cavalry”. He was about to get his wish.

The defender’s barricade was too high for many of the horses to jump, and some fell headlong into a “violent melee”. Lt. Leland Hathaway and some others displaced the top rail to open a more manageable hurdle for a second charge.

However, the Ellsworth company, with their Henry repeating rifles, were able to hold Morgan’s men off for fifteen minutes more, under ever-increasing pressure of the flanking movements by the 2nd Kentucky 9th Tennessee.

Col. Adam R. “Stovepipe” Johnson ordered Lt. Lawrence to fire his Parrotts, which greatly unnerved the Yankee militia. Wolfe described it: “making the shells sing the ugly kind of music over our heads”. Federal commander Col. Jordan wrote, “When the enemy opened with three pieces of artillery, with shell and shot, and they appearing in such overwhelming number, seeing my forces could no longer successfully contend against such odds, I gave the order to fall back to Corydon.”

The retreat turned into a rout, with the Yankees racing down the hill, across Big Indian Creek and toward town. Wolfe conceded, “This was done, not with the best of order it is true, for our forces were mostly undrilled, but with excellent speed”. Having taken the field, the Confederates planted their battery on the hill south of town and fired two shells into it. Both struck near the center of town, one exploded but did no damage. Seeing it was hopeless, Col. Jordan “wisely” surrendered the town. While a few cavalry and mounted citizens were able to get away, Morgan paroled three hundred and forty-five men. Wolfe then records that about 5 o’clock, “the King of American Freebooters left, moving north on the Salem road”, and Wolfe records a long list of businesses in town which he claimed were imposed upon to support the Southern Cause.

Duke only records one paragraph about the battle at Corydon, saying “(Col. Morgan) charged them, but they resolutely defended their rail piles, killing and wounding several men...A demonstration was made upon the flank of the enemy...and Col. Morgan again advanced upon their front, when, not understanding such a fashion of fighting upon two or three sides at once, the militia broke and ran, with great rapidity, into the town, their progress accelerated (as they got fairly into the streets) by a shot dropped among them from one of the pieces.”

In all, the battle and retreat lasted about half an hour, with nearly 3,000 combatants engaged. Certainly not a battle to be compared in any scale to what Lee was attempting in Pennsylvania, and an event quickly put to the back of the ever more wearying minds of Morgan and his men over the following days of the Raid, so it is understandable that the Corydon battle was not thought of at the time as so significant (except to the terrified citizens of southern Indiana, and its impact was further negated with Morgan’s failure to escape the raid successfully into western Virginia. The Confederates needed a much larger victory on Northern soil to sufficiently meet Lee’s goal of impacting the psychology of the war, but nonetheless, it was Kentucky’s John Hunt Morgan who gave the South her largest victory north of the Mason-Dixon.

Official records (Northern, so possibly high numbers) state that Morgan lost eight killed and 40 wounded at Brandenburg and Corydon. Known dead are Pvt. Albert Womack, Pvt. John Dunn, & Pvt. Greene Bottomer.

Yankee casualties list eight dead, including one man who died of a heart attack in the running retreat. Cordon residents also try to include two ladies in the list of casualties, stating both deaths were due to related hardship, stress and exhaustion from the battle.


Today a portion of the battle site is preserved as five-acre Corydon Battle Park, a county park, on Business Route 135. There is a monument to the Confederate dead at the park. There is also a reenactment held nearby; this year it will be July 9th & 10th at the Hayswood Nature Reserve in Corydon. For more information about the park, go to

Originally published in the Spring, 2005 The Lost Cause

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Coup That Failed

by Don Shelton
Forget watching the West Wing; SCV national politics of late has had more intrigue and twists than anything television show writers could ever dream up. Board of Director removals, lawsuits, temporary restraining orders, a coup d’etat, and historic first-ever special convention of the entire SCV are the highlights (lowlights?) of this tale.

The SCV has always had its share of squabbles to keep things interesting. About 15 years ago a personality conflict between two Past Commander’s-in-Chief became so involved that large segments of the SCV were being forced to choose sides until then Commander-in-Chief Hawkins had to settle things down. The current brouhaha is somewhat more driven by policy differences and power than personality clashes, but cults of personality still weigh heavily. Conflict came to a head during Ron Wilson’s administration. Wilson, certainly not a weak personality in this drama, delineated the struggle; the SCV must adapt to the unprecedented modern challenges we face by becoming more aggressive in areas of recruiting, legislative battles, legal battles and heritage battles in general. The problem, Wilson contended, was the exclusive “country club” atmosphere preferred by most of the Past Commanders-in-Chief (who, with their lifetime appointments to the SCV’s board of directors known as the General Executive Council nearly controlled the SCV no matter who was voted into the elected positions) could no longer be the SCV’s method of operation. In addition, he pointed out many of the PCIC’s had not kept current enough on issues and developments in the years since they were CIC’s that they were informed to make board of director decisions. Wilson led an effort to have the constitution changed to only include the most recent three PCIC’s on the GEC.

Amendments require a 2/3 majority and it fell just 4% short of the 67% needed. This amendment effort was a throwing down of the gauntlet for both sides; the acrimony and intensity of response continued to escalate in each round from then on.

The next major development was the revelation that PCIC Hawkins, an attorney, had stipulated in Missouri court to billing fraud of over $30,000 and had entered into an agreement—in the face of disbarment—where he gave up his law license. Hawkins had also been Executive Director of the historic Beauvior home of Jefferson Davis, but was no longer after the suspension of his license. PCIC Hawkins did not reveal this event to the GEC, but eventually when CIC Wilson discovered it, he felt that Hawkin’s presence on the GEC created a moral dilemma for the SCV and suspended Hawkins. Hawkins responded by filing suit. The suit was dropped after discussions in the post-convention GEC meeting which reinstated Hawkins for dismissal of the suit.

Meanwhile, supporters of the PCIC’s (the term ‘Old Guard' has been applied, apparently without offense, so we will use it here, and will use the term ‘Reformers’ for the other side) threw their efforts into getting Troy Massey elected last year at the Dalton reunion. It was Massey’s third attempt to win the CIC spot, but it wasn’t the charm as Denne Sweeney prevailed. However, Dr. Anthony Hodges, who had run as a moderate, but was clearly the choice of the Old Guard, won the Lt. CIC spot thus setting the stage for the takeover attempt.

CIC Sweeney knew there were fences to mend, and he attempted to work with the Old Guard at the Fall GEC meeting; the reception was described as hostile (as reported by the CIC in the Confederate Veteran).

By the first of this year a petition was circulating among officers and members calling for the removal of PCIC Hawkins over the billing fraud issue, and threatening a derivative lawsuit to have Hawkins removed if CIC Sweeney did not do so. Sweeney responded by suspending Hawkins again, and he also suspended PCIC Orlebeke for alleged voter fraud at the Dalton reunion. Apparently PCIC Orlebeke cast votes for a camp in which he was not enumerated as a member. This was apparently the result of the habit of some members of the Old Guard to transfer into camps just before the convention and then transfer back afterwards (Orlebeke contends it should be allowed, but the Judge Advocate General-in-Chief had ruled such actions to be, indeed, prohibited proxy voting), and CIC Wilson had ordered transfers held until after the convention to prevent proxy voting.

The suspensions of Hawkins and Orlebeke were too much for the Old Guard, and the plans to oust CIC Sweeney and other members of the GEC were soon formulated.

At the next scheduled GEC meeting in December, the Old Guard members of GEC mounted a boycott of the meeting to deny a quorum. In order to conduct business, CIC Sweeney temporarily suspended the boycotting GEC members for the day so that a quorum could be declared. While unusual, the temporary suspension move was based on a precedence set by PCIC Orlebeke when he was CIC and suspended hundreds of SCV camps for a few days so a quorum could be declared at a national convention. AoT Commander Tarry Beasley did not make the December GEC meeting as he had scheduled a meeting with heritage leaders in Georgia. He was not included in Sweeney’s temporary suspensions.

As events unfolded, it became clear that the primary architects of the takeover were two attorneys from the Oklahoma division, Mark “Beau” Cantrell (who was Army of Trans-Mississippi Commander) and Jeff Massey (brother of CIC candidate Troy), with help from Hawkins and others. The takeover plan was very slick (no surprise, with so much attorney brainpower behind it), and very nearly succeeded.

The first phase of the plan was to set up a “meeting” of the GEC under circumstances the Old Guard could control (a conference call). They did so by having three members of the GEC “call” for a GEC meeting, and the three calling members also set the time, place and manner of the meeting in their call. The did this despite the fact that there was already a GEC meeting scheduled just a few days later, and despite the fact that the Commander-in-Chief sets the time and place of a meeting when three GEC members call for it (according to the constitution).

The conference call meeting was recorded, and can be heard on the internet at:

The recording reveals several disturbing items: 1) AoT Commander Tarry Beasley saying he was tricked into being on the conference call by being told it was a discussion about resolving the differences on the GEC. “I’m not part of this” Beasley stated when it became obvious the that the call was for the purpose of a coup d’etat unseating CIC Sweeney. Beasley’s presence was required to create a quorum. 2) That other than a need for Beasley to make quorum, the meeting was for those participating in the coup only, as Adjutant-in-Chief Jim Dark’s recorded attempts to gain access to the meeting (to lodge protest) show. When he was finally allowed onto the call, Dark found someone else acting as Adjutant (Jeff Massey). 3) That Army of Trans-Mississippi Commander Beau Cantrell is prone to vulgar outbursts at GEC meetings, as he told Dark to “shut up”, referred to CIC Sweeney as a “gorilla” and told Dark that they were there to “throw you out on your a—”.

After Dark and Beasley both declared that they were not part of the meeting , were not to be included in any quorum (but Beasley had said “I’d have to vote no” on the first resolution, and the judge later ruled that voting made him part of the quorum) and left the call, the coup meeting continued, with resolutions passed by number reference only with no discussion. All resolutions “passed” with only PCIC Shaw voting against.

The coup members did not stop at voting to oust CIC Sweeney, though they stated only had complaints with his actions, but also voted to remove his appointees from the GEC. They even voted to remove two members of the GEC whom they had previously voted to place on the GEC, which are the Editor-in-Chief and Adjutant-in-chief (those are only nominated by the CIC, they must be approved by the GEC). Even more, they voted to remove from the GEC the councilman from the AoT.

The next phase of the plan was to approach Maury County, TN Chancery Judge Robert Jones, with a suit against (if their conference call meeting was indeed legal, the now former) CIC Sweeney in order to get the court’s blessings on their takeover. The complaint was presented in an ex parte hearing. Ex parte means that only one side is heard, and in many, but not all, cases ex parte is not allowed because of the inherent unfairness. CIC Sweeney had virtually no notice of the hearing (and of course, he was in Texas), so an attorney was hastily put in front of the judge to represent him, but had little or no preparation time and the judge did concede the hearing to be ex parte in fact. The Old Guard had a litany of complaints against the CIC, but the “double jeopardy” of suspending PCIC Hawkins after his reinstatement deal in Dalton was what appeared most to strike the judge as potentially improper. Judge Jones issued a temporary restraining order which removed CIC Sweeney from office, and as a consequence elevated Lt. CIC Hodges to acting CIC, and set a date for a hearing to determine if the TRO would become a permanent injunction.

Later that day, in Atlanta where the physical meeting of the GEC had been scheduled by CIC Sweeney, a number of members and GEC members had already gathered when the startling news of the coup’s successfully being blessed by the courts was announced. Most of those gathered were stunned and angry; a few were jubilant. Apparently in a mood to gloat, ATM Commander Beau Cantrell stood on a chair in the hotel and addressed those present in a speech on the “Rights and Entitlements” of the GEC Old Guard members.

Because the Old Guard petitioners in the suit were members of the board of directors (GEC), the suit was filed as being on behalf of the SCV against Sweeney. This incensed the Reformers, as they pointed out that the Old Guard was voted against by nearly two-thirds of the membership and were not truly representative of the SCV. In addition, while the suit being styled as it was made sense legally, it also put Sweeney in the position of having to pay for his own legal defense, while the Old Guard intended to use the SCV treasury to pay for their side of the legal battle (which incensed the Reformers even more, if that was possible).

The result of the TRO was like an electric shock to the SCV. Within a short time 21 divisions (which is most all of them), including Kentucky, had issued resolutions condemning the actions of the Old Guard and tens of thousands of dollars came pouring in from the membership to pay for Sweeney’s defense.

Meanwhile, acting CIC Hodges and the other members of the coup quickly went about acting as a new administration—filling positions, making committee appointments, etc.—trying to create a sense of business as usual in the face of open revolt by overwhelming numbers of divisions and camps which refused to recognize their ascension to power. Beau Cantrell then went to the media and said that divisions and camps should mind their own business, and let them (the post-coup GEC) take care of national SCV business. He also said through the media that members who were upset at the coup should leave the SCV, but that suggestion was universally ignored.

Rumors began circulating that the Old Guard had proof of financial malfeasance by Sweeney (and in some rumors Ron Wilson also), and also had proof showing Sweeney was about to facilitate a takeover of the SCV by the political and modern-day secessionist League of the South. Giving the appearance of some credence to the rumors, acting CIC Hodges ordered an audit of SCV finances (even though there is an annual independent audit of the SCV finances anyway). However, the rumored evidence never materialized in the hearing or in any evidentiary submissions to the court.

Overall reaction to Hodges and the coup was so strong in terms of protest via email and phone, an announcement appeared on the SCV website stating “CIC Hodges is unavailable during the current crisis”.

Attorneys for both sides began running up large amounts of billable hours in preparation for the court hearing on March 9th that would decide if the TRO would become a permanent injunction removing Sweeney. On the 9th about 65 Sweeney supporters (wearing “Denne Sweeney is My Commander-in-Chief stickers) filled the Maury County courtroom. A few of the coup members along with a handful of supporters and AoT Commander Beasley sat to the side in the jury box.

A full description of the day-long hearing is beyond our scope to portray here, but in the end the judge ruled that the telephonic GEC meeting which removed Sweeney and other members of the GEC was not valid due to a lack of notice and care required for such an important decision. He did rule that their telephonic meeting would have been legal otherwise, stating AoT Commander Beasley’s presence did establish a quorum, and he told Beasley, “as an attorney, you knew what was going on”. He also ruled that the CIC does not have the power to suspend “designated directors” (which is what he ruled the lifetime appointed PCIC’s to be) for any reason, making it clear that he felt CIC Sweeney’s suspensions were detrimental to the SCV, and he returned the two suspended PCIC’s to the GEC. While the Old Guard took some solace in being vindicated by the court on the suspensions, clearly the ruling fell far short of what they needed for the coup to hold or to be successfully attempted again. With all the players put back in their original positions by the judge—thus returning to the stalemate status— it was time for the membership to weigh in with their opinions on where for the SCV to go next. The reaction was swift and strong; within a few days over three thousand members had submitted petitions invoking powers provided under Mississippi corporate law for the membership to call itself into convention. With the law only requiring about 1,600 petitions to call a special convention, the course was set. The Amendments and Resolutions Committee reported favorably on two amendments submitted by Chris Sullivan to be considered at the special convention. One would limit Past Commanders-in-Chief on the GEC to the last three, and the other would eliminate the non-voting Commander-General of the MOSB (who had participated in the coup) from sitting on the GEC.

Before the special convention, though, the attorneys for the GEC “coup” members who filed suit against CIC Sweeney had a “present” for the SCV—their legal bill of $45,859.07. CIC Sweeney’s legal bill was even higher, but he had never asked for the SCV national treasury to be used in paying it; instead it was paid with private donations and his own funds. His attorney quickly pointed out to the “coup” attorney that because the judge had ruled their telephonic coup meeting invalid, the corporate resolution they passed at the meeting making the SCV party to the suit didn’t happen and the legal fees would have to be collected from the individuals who filed the suit. Obviously, this meant that if the coup were successful, the SCV would have had its treasury lightened by more than $45,000, which gave the Reformers one more hot button issue to press. As this news spread in the days before the convention it appeared to bring camps normally not involved in national politics to pre-register, and dashed the hopes of the Old Guard of swaying any significant numbers of undecided camps to their arguments.

The special convention in Concord, North Carolina (suburb of Charlotte) arrived April 23rd with much anticipation. Early fears there might not be enough camps for a quorum had mostly faded—although internet traffic indicated some of the Old Guard thought there might be a chance of quorum failure (20% of all camps is a quorum). Instead, the short-notice low-cost convention turned out to be the largest in SCV history with 379 camps represented— nearly half of all SCV camps and in excess of 60 more camps than attended in Dalton last year.

Once standing rules were adopted, with only two questions before the membership things proceeded quickly. A tremendous amount of preparation had gone into making sure parliamentary procedure was followed. Not one but three professional parliamentarians oversaw conduct of the meeting, and a half-dozen parliamentary procedure students aided as microphone monitors and other jobs. The result was a very smooth flow to the meeting, and within about an hour debate had ceased and voting began. When the votes were all counted 90 minutes later the results were stunning. On the first amendment the ayes were 1565, nays 74 with 11 abstentions—an incredible 96% yes vote. The second amendment was nearly as impressive, with a 93% yes vote. All 16 camps in the Kentucky delegation voted for both amendments. A thunderous ovation greeted the voting report, and after a few more housekeeping matters the truly historic special convention of the SCV had ended—however there was a GEC meeting scheduled later that afternoon, so the day still had some SCV history to be made.

In the time before the GEC meeting, some small excitement centered around Beau Cantrell, the only coup leader who came to Concord. After the convention adjourned a member from North Carolina stood on a chair in obvious mockery of Cantrell’s Atlanta “Rights and Entitlements” speech. Cantrell took extreme exception to it. The member described the events thus:

While standing on a chair speaking to a group of compatriots at one table, I was rudely interrupted by Mark (Beau) Cantrell who had been seated at the end of another table in that area. Well, it seemed that my opinions on "Rights" and "Entitlements" conflicted with his and his violent nature erupted by him reaching out and choking me by grabbing the lanyard holding my Credentials Committee ID tag.

I told him to let go of me and he refused saying “no” and jerking tighter on the lanyard again. While not hurt in any manner by his grasp and assault and realizing (though) that he could have me seriously injured by causing me to fall from the chair to the cement floor I managed to get the violent brute to let go of me by an effective use of the English language without profanity. I never uttered a profane word to Beau.

A crowd quickly gathered, and while it was obvious that Cantrell was extremely upset, there were no punches thrown, but what exactly was being said in heated exchanges for several minutes was difficult to ascertain. Shortly a deputy sheriff arrived to investigate a disturbance. Determining that Cantrell was the source of the disturbance, the deputy asked him to leave. Cantrell refused (he was still ATM Commander and there was a GEC meeting scheduled there in an hour). The deputy then ordered him to leave and physically began moving him towards the door. Amidst some hoots from the crowd, Cantrell made an obscene gesture towards them. Someone asked the deputy if he had seen the obscenity and the deputy responded “yes, does anyone want to press charges” to which a quick “yes” was replied. Cantrell was then handcuffed and placed in the back of the cruiser, to be charged with causing a disturbance.

Soon CIC Sweeney and PCIC Wilson came outside in an effort to intervene on Cantrell’s behalf, explaining to the deputy that there was indeed a GEC meeting in a few minutes and that Cantrell was entitled to be there. The deputy released Cantrell, but stayed throughout to ensure his good behavior. No witnesses could ever recall seeing a GEC member acting thus, nor being detained so by authorities, and several expressed hopes it is never seen again.

Things were no more pleasant for Cantrell at the GEC meeting. Among the first orders of business was to deal with discipline of remaining GEC members (most of the PCIC’s now being removed by the amendment) who participated in the coup. A motion was made to remove Lt. CIC Hodges from his office. It passed with only Cantrell voting against and AoT Commander Beasley abstaining. CIC Sweeney then appointed Chris Sullivan of South Carolina to serve out the Lt. CIC term. Next up for removal was Cantrell and the vote was the same, thus ending one of the most contentious and ungentlemanly GEC terms ever. Next came AoT Councilman John French, who had been a vocal supporter of the coup. Only Beasley abstained, all others voted for removal.

Then a motion was made to censure AoT Commander Beasley for his actions during the coup crisis. Specifically it was believed by PCIC Ron Wilson that Beasley had conveniently arranged in December to be at another meeting so he could quietly support the GEC boycott but have an excuse, and Wilson believed the judge’s criticism that Beasley knew his presence on the conference call would give the coup plotters the quorum they needed. Wilson also took great exception to Beasley’s abstaining on the three previous votes in the face of the overwhelming reaction by the membership to the damaging coup. For several minutes Wilson, Army of Northern Virginia Councilman Randy Burbage and Lt. CIC Sullivan grilled Beasley about his stand (or lack thereof) during the coup, questions ranging from why Beasley sat with the Old Guard in the court hearing to conflicting stories as to why Beasley didn’t attend the December GEC meeting. The point of the line of questioning obviously being to elicit from Beasley something along the lines of a repudiation of the coup. Beasley refused to take the “bait” and either dealt with specifics of his actions, or stated that he always did what he thought best for the SCV. Finally, not getting what he was looking for from Beasley, Wilson offered a substitute motion to remove Beasley from the GEC. The motion passed, but Adjutant-in-Chief Jim Dark, Editor-in-Chief Frank Powell and PCIC Ed Deason voted against.

The sense in the room was nearly unanimous on the removals of Hodges, Cantrell and French, but was mixed concerning Beasley. In discussion allowed from the membership after the vote, several expressed opinions that Cmdr. Beasley—whatever the politics of the coup—has been an active and supportive army commander, pointing out his corporate restructuring proposal, extensive AoT traveling, Kroger fundraising program efforts and bringing informational AoT meetings to two locations.

Cmdr. Beasley has since announced that he will stand again for the AoT commander position in the special election to fill the vacancy in Nashville. At press time no other candidates had announced. Kelly Barrow of Georgia and Kevin Spargur of Florida have both announced candidacies to replace AoT Councilman French.

The GEC went on to a number of other items, including removing Beau Cantrell and Ed Cailleteau as chairmen of the Nashville reunion committee. Most important to Kentucky among the other business, though, the GEC voted $25,000 of heritage defense money to pay for legal expenses in the Jacqueline Duty case.

Finally, a long and historic day in the SCV came to an end. The Old Guard’s move to take power had backfired (barring another court ruling in their favor), and the question is what they’ll do next. There have been indications that John French (who is still Mississippi division cmdr. though removed from the GEC) will attempt to lead his division into a “secession” from the SCV. However, such reactionary moves seldom succeed fully and most members seem to be more interested in what the Reformers will do with the fact they now have the reigns. There was certainly damage done to the SCV—the coup left in its wake more than $100,000 of legal bills, tremendous resource drains on SCV manpower, the cost of the special convention, some inevitable loss of membership with such in-fighting, and traditional SCV enemies in the media have had a heyday. However, never has the SCV been so united. If that unity is focused on the true issues facing the organization, there could be a strong surge forward unlike has been seen before. Clearly the reformers have little time to celebrate: they have their work cut out to move the SCV ahead, and all eyes will be on their leadership in Nashville.

Originally published in the Spring 2005 The Lost Cause

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Confederate Images: Henry C. "Billy" Magruder

By Nancy Hitt

“He was buried in an unmarked grave”, “His body was moved to the other Magruder cemetery”, “He was buried on the Hilltop cemetery”, were some of the tales handed down over the years, but just where was the Confederate Partisan Henry C. “Billy” Magruder buried?

Billy joined the Buckner Guards at age 17, was at Fort Donelson and was part of the surrendered troops. Made a prisoner, he managed to escape and fought at Shiloh. He was with General Albert Sidney Johnston when Johnston was killed.

Billy joined up with Gen. John Hunt Morgan and was on the Great Raid into Ohio where Morgan was captured, but Billy was able to escape again. This time he returned to Kentucky and began a guerilla career which would lead to the gallows.

He was active in Bullitt, Breckinridge and Meade Counties during 1864 in which old scores with Unionists were settled at the end of a gun. When William C. Quantrill and his band came into Kentucky they fought side-by-side with Magruder and his men.

Near Cloverport, Kentucky the Home Guards wounded Billy. He aid Marcellus Jerome Clarke (a.k.a. Sue Mundy) along with Henry Medkiff were overtaken and captured in a barn near Webster on March 12, 1865. The Yankees gave a guarantee to Clarke to treat him as a Pris oner of War, but they broke their word and executed him in Louisville on March 15! Henry Medkiff served some time, but was paroled. Billy suf fered a wound to the lung, and was taken to Louisville and placed in the military hospital where Quantrill also lay, dying.

On June 6,1865 Quantrill died after being paralyzed in a gunfight at the Wakefield Farm on May 10th. Billy lingered and lingered while the Yanks waited for him to recover enough to be able to walk to the gal lows. He was given a sham trial and convicted on eight counts of mur der. However, the research of Stewart Cruickshank points to the fact that these ‘victims’ were either present or former Federal solders.

Billy’s mother, aunt and some other family members came to Louisville in a wagon to plead for Billy’s life, but to no avail. Gen. Palmer had his execution carried out on October 20,1865—which was more than six months after Appomattox. Poor Billy suffered from March until October in the hospital with little medical aid and yet he managed to walk on his own to his death, at the end of a Yankee noose. It is interesting to note that Catholic Father Brady ministered to both Quantrill and Magruder and may have converted both before their deaths. Father Brady was with Magruder at the scaffold and they were allowed to pray together before the execution— which took place at the same location as that of the Clarke execution, 18th and Broadway in Louisville. Today there is an his torical marker at this site.

Billy’s mother took him in the wagon to be buried, but where was that cemetery? Over 70 years ago Porter Harned, a re nowned historian of the War, was told by his older brother that Henry Magruder was buried on property which joined the Harned land on Wilson Creek between Lebanon Junction and Boston, Kentucky. This was a valuable lead in finding Billy.

Archibald Magruder was a solder of the American Revolution and Great-Grandfather to Billy. Archibald is buried in a family cemetery in Guerilla Hollow at the Bernheim Forest on Hwy 245 as this property was the original homestead before being sold to Bernheim.

Ezekial Magruder, a son of Archibald, settled South of Lebanon Junc tion and was to become a guardian of Billy along with his maternal Un cle, William Magruder. I first looked at the Magruder Cemetery at Bernheim Forest for clues, but it was confusing until I obtained a family re cord of the Magruders and was able to single out the individuals who composed the family, but Billy did not appear to be there.

Along with Betty Darnell and Steve Masden, we investigated the Ma gruder Hilltop Cemetery which is on the North side of Hwy. 61 just out of Lebanon Junction and were sur prised to find such fine monu ments, although in need of repair. We were able to determine his burial site as a space between the graves of his Aunt and Uncle (there was a squared off blank stone placed there for him). With the graciousness of the property owners, Lisa and Keith Haley, I was able to order a VA marker for Billy.

Curt and Ruby Carter with their son Travis cleared the overgrown cemetery and installed the stone in 2000. That was my very first “find” and I want to encourage everyone to keep looking for our unmarked heroes!

Originally published in the Spring, 2005 The Lost Cause

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Minstrels of Death The Orphan Brigade's Suicidal charge at Murfreesboro as recorded by Capt. Dan Turney

Introduction by Sam Flora


Sgt. Dan Turney in the uniform of the Hamilton Guards, Co. G, 2nd Kentucky Infantry commanded by Capt. Edward Spears. This picture may have been taken at Camp Morton after his capture at Ft. Donelson.

Daniel E. Turney was born on his parent’s home in Bourbon County, Kentucky on May 6, 1837. After growing up on the family farm, Turney embraced the cause of Southern independence in 1861. On July 22, 1861 he left Paris with nine friends, waving a new Confederate flag out the window of his railroad car over the heads of admiring Southern sympathizers and scowling Unionists. His destination was Camp Boone near Clarksville, Tennessee where like-minded Kentuckians were forming regiments to fight for the Confederacy.

Only July 24, Turney was sworn into the Confederate Army as a private in the Second Kentucky Infantry. The Second was the first regiment formed of the First Kentucky Brigade, later to known as the “Orphan Brigade”. Turney was attached to Company G, the Hamilton Guards, men recruited mainly from his home county. On August 10, 1861 Turney was elected second sergeant of the company.

The brigade went north to Bowling Green, Kentucky on September 18, 1861 to help defend the central part of the Confederate defense line in Kentucky. The Second Kentucky was sent to Fort Donelson, Tennessee to reinforce that vital link in the Confederacy’s defense of middle Tennessee. Here Turney saw his first combat as his regiment distinguished itself in its baptism of fire. On February 16 Turney became a prisoner of war when the fort was surrendered. Sent north to Indianapolis, Indiana, he would spend the next six months at Camp Morton until the regiment was exchanged in August 1862.

Rejoining the brigade at Knoxville on October 12, the Kentuckians were too late to take part in the Kentucky Campaign. On December 7th the Second was engaged in the victory at Hartsville, Tennessee under the command of John Hunt Morgan.

The last week of 1862 found Turney and his comrades near Murfreesboro as part of General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Here they awaited the Federal army advancing from Nashville.

During most of his service Daniel Turney kept a diary of his experiences. The following is his account of the Battle of Stones River.

Sgt. Turney does not record that he was elected to the Confederate Roll of Honor for gallantry in the charge of January 2, 1863. He was promoted to second lieutenant of the company on February 27, 1863. He left Company G, when he was promoted to first lieutenant of Company I on October 5, 1863. He was later promoted to captain of that company.

Turney went on to fight with the Second Kentucky at Jackson, Chickamauga, Rocky Face Gap, Resaca, Dallas, Peachtree Creek, Intrenchment Creek, Utoy Creek and Jonesboro where he was slightly wounded and captured but exchanged shortly afterward in Georgia. He commanded Company I through all the mounted engagements of the brigade and was present at the brigade’s surrender at Washington, Georgia on May 6, 1865.

Capt. Turney returned to his home in Kentucky and opened a dry goods business in Paris. He married Mollie Mitchell in 1867 and they had six children. In 1869 he went into the livery and stock trading business. He later owned and operated “The Arlington”, a summer resort at Blue Licks, Kentucky.

Turney was an active member of the Orphan Brigade Association and the Confederate Veteran Association of Kentucky.

Daniel E. Turney died on March 18, 1899 at the age of sixty-two. A large crowd followed his remains to his resting place in the Paris Cemetery. The burial service of the Confederate Veteran Association was conducted at his graveside.

On the occasion of his death his old comrades and neighbors remembered him as “an honorable and upright citizen, who was generous and kind to everyone. He was always congenial, yet bold, free and outspoken on all subjects. The brave and independent spirit he showed in the war was evidenced in his successful business life. He was a popular man; few men in Bourbon had more genuine friends than he. His standard of manhood was the old time Kentucky one that measured a man by his quality and not his wealth or station.”


Firing was heard in the direction of Nashville 26th Dec./.62, also the 27 th – it now became evident that the Federal Army was advancing to attack us & that a general engagement was no longer doubtful.

On the morning of (the) 28th our Division was moved to the front. We saw no enemy that day but he made his appearance on the 29th but the day was spent in skirmishing & artillery fighting. On the 30(th) matters grew still warmer – the Artillery fighting increased, skirmishing continued – our position was in range of one of the enemy’s batteries and shell burst around us sufficient to intimidate those who had not already more than once faced the foe and experienced the horrors of a battle – in truth it was amusing to see many of our boys scampering out of range of their shot, sheltering behind trees &c. Our Comp’y was in front as skirmishers all night the 30th – it was one of the coldest nights I ever experienced, we were not allowed to have fire, I was without a blanket – the suffering of that night I cannot describe, nor can your imaginations conceive it, none can know it save those who experienced it.

No enemy made his appearance during the night – all was quiet except the frozen wind.

Dec. 31st 1862 –

The proceedings of this day, the horrible scenes enacted on the grounds about Murfreesboro, will be recorded in American History, in the history of this, the greatest of all civil wars. To use a Soldiers’ expression, “the Bell” was opened about daylight, we moving out and attacking the enemy. The artillery fighting was very heavy but the musketry firing surpassed anything I had ever witnessed – On our side were engaged the divisions of McCown, Cleborn, Cheatam & Withers, under Gen’l Bragg as commander in chief, and Gen’ls Hardee & Polk as commanders of corps, Hardee on the right, Polk on the left.

In the evening Gen’l Breckinridge was ordered out on the left with his Division, (except the 1st Brigade,) made three charges driving the enemy to an impregnable position. Night closed in, the darkness alone stopping the carnage of the day and the wholesale slaughter of man.

The days’ work ended amounted as near as I can certify as follows; - we drove the enemy about five miles, captured 4000 prisoners, among them several Generals; 22 pieces Artillery; several thousand small arms; their killed and wounded was very great and supposed several times our own; We also destroyed several hundred wagons, stores, &c. The first Ky. Brigade, commanded by Gen’l. R. W. Hanson, was not in the engagement being left to support some batteries and hold a certain piece of ground, - one of the most responsible positions of the whole field – from this position we could look upon the opposing hosts as they neared each other and poured into each others’ columns the missiles of death – all stand in breathless anxiety – the booms bursting around us in our exposed position are unheeded – every moment expected to decide the fate of the day; now a yell goes up from the boys of freedom; the charge with a desperation bordering on madness; our would-be subjugators give way, they fly in wildest confusion before our rapidly advancing columns; the shouts of our brave boys go up louder and clearer than before and many a one of the retreating foe are made to bite the dust – a just fate.

Thursday, Jan. 1st 1863

The day was spent in skirmishing, artillery firing & feeling of the enemy’s position along the whole line, clearing the fields of the trophies of yesterday’s victory & burying the dead.

Jan 2d

Besides skirmishing & throwing a few shell now and then all was quiet until about 3 1/2pm when Gen'l Breckinridge moved his division

out to attack the enemy who had crossed the river on our right and taken a strong position in a woods. Little was known of the nature of the ground the enemy occupied & we were in total ignorance of his strength or position. The General commanding was certainly much to blame for not being perfectly familiar with the battle ground for he had ample time to examine it before the fight began.

Gen’l Hanson’s Ky Brigade (except 9th Ky. Reg. Which was left to support Cobb’s Battery) was the left wing of the front line, a Tenn. Brigade the right wing – two other Brigades formed the second line of battle.

Our orders were to move upon the woods occupied by the enemy at a double-quick and to rush upon them at a charge bayonet – the orders were strictly obeyed but there not being room for the line to maneuver between the bends of the river some confusion arose from being crowded en masse but nothing daunted, all went in with a yell and drove the enemy before them in the wildest confusion – the slaughter was great, many being left dead & wounded on the field and many killed in the fight, several hundred are taken prisoners, some cross the river and many shelter themselves under he cliffs. The rout was complete and our loss thus far was trifling. The orders were to halt at the edge of the woods beyond the range of the enemy’s grape and canister but the race was too exciting and our boys too impetuous, we could not hold, must still pursue; as well might you ask the winged lightnings to quit their celestial course or the planetary worlds to change their orbits as to bid the Southern patriot to withdraw from the slaughter of the destroyer of his peace, despoiler of his land and desecrater of his home. No; revenge was in his heart & vengeance was in his eye and he sped recklessly on regardless of his own safety’s fate.

Having advanced as far as possible for the River which left us in the form of a “V” we halted when the enemy opened several masked batteries upon us, mounting near 100 guns, at a distance of about 200 yds, and they advanced several divisions of infantry which poured upon us an enfilade fire. With the river in front we could not advance to storm their batteries nor could we reach them with our small arms from the low position we occupied; we were being flanked on our right, there was no alternative but to fall back but there was a general rally as soon as we were beyond the reach of their grape and canister when the enemy were checked by Breckinridge’s Division.

We accomplished the object of our battle – drove the enemy across the River but were unable to hold the ground taken from him owing to his strong commanding position.

There never was a more gallant charge than that of this evening – the only possible fault was the too great impetuosity of the troops which cost many a brave life.

After the fight we held the same position as previous to it. We lost three pieces of Artillery and 1700 men in killed, wounded and missing. Loss of the enemy supposed equal, if not greater than ours, with several hundred prisoners.

After successfully checking the enemy our (Hanson’s) Brigade was moved back to our former position on “the Hill”. We spent a most uncomfortable night being visited by a cold rain to which we were horribly exposed.

Saturday – Rained almost incessantly all day & we had no shelter to protect us from the falling torrents and freezing winds.

About 8 p.m. the enemy made a charge upon a portion of our line – and heavy firing continued for some time. From our position we could witness the action by the light of the discharged pieces. I have no words To describe the grandeur of the scenes – it beggars description. From each side went up an almost solid flame of living fire and the cannons were belching forth their deadly missiles, red with burning rage; and the bacchanalian yells of the contending forces were given freely to the breeze. The heavens were lighted up by the minstrels of death and night rendered hideous by their awful sounds. ‘Twas a grand, a sublime but a horrible sight – there was eloquence even in the bleak darkness which followed when we were left awhile to our meditations.

When the engagement begun we were ordered into our pits which were several inches in water and we were compelled to remain there until all was over; almost unconscious of our own situation so deep was the interest we took in the engagement progressing on our left.

Sunday – Were called into line at 1 O’c A.M. & immediately commenced a retreat, our Brigade being in rear. Rained until daylight. We made a slow retreat as far as Alizon where we arrived Jan. 7./ 63. and remained until 9th when we moved back to Tullahoma, where Hardee’s corps was camped while Polk’s was at Shelbyville.

Our suffering upon this retreat was very great. It was in midst of winter and I had no blanket. During the day I would drag wearily along & when night came I would lay me down with no bed but the wet, cold ground; no covering but the bleak, frozen clouds; the chilling winter winds & an icy atmosphere as constant companions and an unappeased appetite a faithful fried, but tired and exhausted I would sleep and sleeping dream of home and all its comforts, - perhaps never more to be enjoyed by me, - of flaming fires – just beyond my reach – of sumptuous feasts – but not set for me – ‘Twas only a dream.

Originally published in the Winter, 2005 The Lost Cause