Friday, April 30, 2010

Unknown Confederate Soldier

by David Chaltas and Richard G. Brown

On route 80, bordering the boundaries of Breaks Interstate Park, as you begin the ascension up the beautiful mountains of Appalachia from Kentucky into Virginia, rests a soldier only known to God. The plaque reads:

Known But To God

Here rests the body of a soldier of the Confederacy, struck down by an unknown assassin in May of 1865-apparently on way to home in the South. He was buried in a coffin made of boards rived from a great oak by four men of this community. After the turn of the century, a rose bush marked this final resting-place of a soldier who is “Known but to God”.

When I initially encountered the roadside marker, my Confederate American blood became saddened with a longing that I have rarely encountered. I wondered who was this individual that now walks upon the wind? I imagined the families’ broken heart as the mother sat on the porch every evening looking for her son. I could feel her anxiety whenever a person was seen walking over the horizon, as she wondered was that her boy or the bearer of tragic news. I heard the last words of the pitiful little mother and forlorn father as they wondered where their son had fallen. But I could have sworn I heard on the whisper of the wind the joy of the reunion across the shore of that great river between this world and that one that knows no sorrow. My longing has compelled my search in finding more about this man and his family in hopes that closure will be afforded one soldier “known but to God”.

The families of Richard Potter, Henry Potter, George Potter, Zeke Counts and Lazarus Hunt have preserved and passed down the story of this unknown Confederate on his way home. The families were the descendants of the original settlers in the area and possessed a deep pride in their beloved Kentucky and Virginia. The story portrayed a lonely soldier in May of 1865 that stopped at the home of Richard Potter and asked for a drink of water. Mr. Potter obliged the man, as was (and still is) the custom of hospitality in Appalachia. As they talked for a few moments it was revealed that he was making his way home to Carolina (whether North or South Carolina has been lost over the years). After a period of time, the man thanked Mr. Potter and continued on his journey. Shortly George Potter, Henry Potter, Lazarus Hunt and Zeke Counts came to Richard Potter’s home stating that a Confederate soldier had been bushwhacked down the road apiece.

As was the custom of the day the body was brought to someone’s home and the ladies cleansed and prepared the corpse for burial. A watch, cap and a handkerchief were all of the man’s earthly possessions and a kindly old lady was entrusted with the watch in hopes that, “One day his family will come and you are to give them his watch when they do.” One of the misfortunes of the time was that upon the kindly grandmother’s death, vandals entered her cabin looking for loot and then burnt it to the ground. Ironically the path of this heroic lady crossed the same level of low life that assassinated the unfortunate soldier trying to make it home.

The sainted ladies washed his shirt as the good Samaritans felled an oak tree to make the planks for the unfortunate man’s coffin. The funeral was attended by those that not only mourned the passing of an unknown man but the passing of the South. “The families that lived in the Flats were the mourners for this unfortunate son of the South. It is for this reason that he became one of our own. He was entrusted to us for the care and maintenance of his memory.” The care of the gravesite has been passed down from generation to generation. In 1900 Harve, the son of Henry Potter planted a rose bush as a memorial to the unknown soul. On every visit that I have made to that beautiful area, I have noted that a memorial wreath, flower or flag has been placed at the location. To me this is not only a tribute to that unknown man of the South but also one to the family and descendants of those brave men and women that offered a lasting mark of respect of their character as true Confederate Americans. Lest we forget, we must honor all of the brave men and women of yesteryear. Their names and memories must be preserved.

We will never know where he served or with whom. We can only imagine that he served bravely with his pardners and was returning to the sanctuary of his home with dignity and honor. Such a tragedy to have endured the horrors of war only to be struck down by the vultures of society as he tried to make it home to his loved ones. Let us recommit our efforts and endeavors at finding the home place of this man so his spirit can finally be at rest in the sweet confines of the Carolinas.

Originally published in the Spring, 2004 The Lost Cause

Monday, April 26, 2010

Independent poll shows that overwhelming majority of Virginians support Confederate History Month

From Sons of Confederate Veterans Headquarters, Elm Springs, Tennessee

News Release - April 25th, 2010 - For Immediate Release
News Release in PDF format

For more information contact: (more contacts below)
J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia

   An independent survey poll conducted April 20-21, 2010 reveals that the recent controversy over Virginia Gov. McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation was manufactured by a small group attempting to besmirch and censor an important part of Virginia's history and indeed, America's history. The survey was conducted by the Conquest Group and commissioned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). "The poll results cut through the smoke and expose the falsehood of a popular outcry against Confederate History Month," said SCV Commander-In-Chief Charles E. McMichael. "A substantial majority of both native and transplant Virginians have rejected the attempted manipulation---they support more education not less. We stand ready to help," McMichael said.
   The survey showed that 66% of Virginians agreed that Confederate History Month (CHM) could encourage more tourism to the state during the upcoming Sesquicentennial. But even more, 69%, believed it could create more educational opportunities for Virginians to more deeply study the complicated historical, cultural and economic issues that led to a war that killed more Americans than all other American wars combined.
   "The Sons of Confederate Veterans stand ready to work with Gov. McDonnell and Virginia’s educational system--- or anyone else ---to meet the public demand for greater understanding and perspective," McMichael said. "It is long past time for a balanced presentation of this period without the hyperbole and censorship of the 'Confederate history deniers' who insist that Virginia's history during the period does not merit our interest or study. The poll proves that their simplistic smears and hostile vitriol have been rejected by Virginians," McMichael added.
The poll shows a whopping 86% of Virginians want Confederate memorials and monuments protected by law from the divisive hard core 4% who want them removed. Only 16% of Virginians had an unfavorable opinion of CHM. The SCV believes this can be reduced down to the 4% of hard core heritage deniers through the better education mentioned above.
   The corporate media has earned its reputation as anti-Confederate and anti-Southern by its inclusions and exclusions. The poll reveals that 31% view the media as "anti-Confederate" where only 28% saw media coverage as 'fair and balanced.' Hysterical claims of pro-Confederate media bias came in at 13%. These figures demonstrate that most people see that the hard core heritage deniers are attempting to play the victim when they are in fact the aggressors. "Southern heritage advocates do not lobby governors to edit any other group's history month proclamations, nor do we go on TV to insult and smear their sponsors. People of goodwill generally demonstrate better manners," adds McMichael.
   "I'm happy to report that this year’s Confederate History Month has been the most successful ever with a record number of proclamations, observances and memorials taking place," McMichael said. "The 50 million Confederate descendents all over America, and especially those fighting in our distant wars, can rest assured that the Sons of Confederate Veterans will fight all attempts to smear the good name of the Confederate soldier who has been honored and studied in military college’s all over the world for 150 years. We welcome all Americans to visit us at or and join with us in honoring the struggles and sacrifices of our ancestors through the ongoing Sesquicentennial commemorations," McMichael added. The 150th anniversary of the war commences in 2011.
   Many states (AL, FL, GA, MS, TX) officially observe April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day. In Tennessee, the governor proclaimed April 26th as “Confederate Decoration Day.” Virginia observes Confederate Memorial Day in May with the federal holiday, however North Carolina and South Carolina observe it May 10th (the date Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson died in 1863). Kentucky and Louisiana observe it with Jefferson Davis' birthday on June 3rd.

For more information contact:
J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia
News Release in PDF format
Charles E. McMichael
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Shreveport, Louisiana

Bragdon R. Bowling, Jr.
Commander Army of Northern Virginia
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Richmond, Virginia

B. Frank Earnest
Chief of Heritage Defense
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Virginia Beach, Virginia


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Kentucky Military Heritage Act: Putting It to Work Preserving History

On March 12th, 2002, surrounded by SCV members, legislators and others interested in our military and historic preservation, Governor Patton signed into law the Kentucky Military Heritage Act. It was the culmination of two years’ hard work by many people, and signing day was truly a celebration. However, the really hard work remains before us. Historic objects and sites must be nominated for preservation and voted on by the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission.

Almost two years after the signing, the vast majority of our Kentucky Confederate objects and sites remain unprotected. Partly this is due to the lengthy “promulgation” process required by law to set up the regulations for the commission. But it is also due to the fact that very few objects have been nominated for protection. Our camps must make this a high priority over the next few months and years, for it is inevitable that threats from environment to political correctness will come.

The form for nomination is available from Kentucky Civil War Sites Coordinator Tom Fugate at:, or Kentucky Heritage Council, 300 Washington Street, Frankfort, KY 40601

The form is not short (21 pages); the reason for this is that protecting our historic objects and sites goes beyond just fending off people afflicted with political correctness; time and the elements also take a toll in addition to people who want to move statues for construction projects and other non-politically correct reasons, and the KMHA is intended to be a complete preservation program. That means detailed information on ownership, exact (as in UTM) position, composition etc. are required to do the job right. The best general advice is to fill out the form to the best of your ability— if there are items like the position numbers that you can’t provide, the staff at the Kentucky Heritage Council (which handles the administrative aspects of the KMHA) will take it from there. A few points to keep in mind:

¨ Permission— proving ownership of the object or site, and gaining permission from the property owner is the single most important task. It is possible under the law for the commission to protect without the owner’s permission, but it is much less likely that they will do so. Typically a statue is on the county courthouse lawn, making the county the owner, meaning that you must approach the Judge Executive or a county commissioner or appropriate county official. There is an area in the form for the owner to sign, but obtaining a separate letter of support from the owner is also very helpful. If you are dealing with a local government and you aren’t sure of what support you will get, do a little leg work. For instance, if you find out that the mayor isn’t interested in signing (maybe reelection is coming up and he/she wants that NAACP endorsement), but the parks commissioner thinks it’s a great idea, have the parks commissioner sign it—as long as it is an official who could reasonably be said to represent the local government. It is better to emphasize when talking with local officials that this is an effort to preserve an important object of local art and history (and that if the state ever provides funding for preserving these types of objects they will most likely use the KMHA registration to determine who gets money) - rather than saying you want to snub the politically correct.

¨ Depending on whether you are submitting an object or a site, some of the questions on the form won’t apply, so don’t worry about them. If it is a site, then you have considerations like legal descriptions of the property boundaries, chain of title, deed restrictions, etc. (which, KMHA registration in effect becomes a deed restriction itself).

¨ Pictures—take plenty of pictures from different angles to give a complete view of all sides, the condition, etc. Put the pictures in a plastic photo sheet and number them. Then give corresponding detailed descriptions on the application.

¨ The form no longer has the question about “what are immediate threats” to the object or site, but there is a section to describe the significance of the object or site which is important not to understate. The Commission should be given a clear reason why this object/site is significant enough to preserve.

Now—get out there and get those important statues, monuments, flag displays and other objects and sites nominated!

Originally published in the Spring 2004 The Lost Cause

Monday, April 19, 2010

SCV Rejects False and Unfair Smears of SCV and their Kinfolk

Sons of Confederate Veterans
Sons of Confederate Veterans Rejects False and Unfair Smears of SCV and their kinfolk, the late Confederate Veterans

From Sons of Confederate Veterans Headquarters, Elm Springs, Tennessee

Press Release - April 18th, 2010 - For Immediate Release
Press Release in PDF format
For more information contact:
J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the historical truth have come under attack from media outlets like MSNBC, CNN, syndicated columnists such as Roland S. Martin ( and Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Miami Herald. They are attempting to lynch Virginia Gov. McDonnell and others of goodwill who recognize April as Confederate History Month --- which has been observed for many years in states across the country.

We applaud the recognition of various groups and organizations interested in the study of their heritage and their part in American history. Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), Native American History Month (November), Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep.15-Oct.15) and many others stand as examples.

Governors and mayors often issue proclamations observing such events and virtually always without controversy of any kind. Why is it that a Virginia governor is singled out for public pillory and character lynching for recognizing Confederate history? Where is the “tolerance” for diversity these malicious voices profess to revere?

The SCV is a strictly historical and educational organization, and neither embraces nor espouses acts or ideologies of racial and religious bigotry. Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans is open to all male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Our Jewish SCV members, like the rest of us, take exception to being labeled as ‘Nazis.’ Our SCV members of Native American, African and Hispanic ancestry, like the rest of us, take exception to being called ‘racists’ and having our ancestors falsely called ‘terrorists.’

CNN’s Roland Martin has repeatedly referred to Confederate soldiers and officials as “terrorists,” both on televised talk shows (CNN) and in syndicated columns ( Martin’s April 9th column was entitled, “Confederates, Al-Qaida are the Same: Terrorists.” Comparing Confederate soldiers, recognized as American veterans by an Act of Congress (1958), to Al-Qaida terrorists is over-the-top, absurd and offensive. All Americans of goodwill should condemn this outrage, but it seems that too many media outlets consider it acceptable discourse to smear certain groups.

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Miami Herald, recently authored a commentary contending that “The South fought to keep slavery, period.” In it, Pitts refers to the Confederate government as a “white racist government” guilty of “high treason.” Pitts’ assertions are as false as they are malicious. Pitts cannot explain why President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress repeatedly asserted that the purpose of the war was to “preserve the Union” and denied any linkage to slavery. Pitts makes no effort to explain why Confederate President Jefferson Davis was held in prison for two years without trial after the war. The U.S. government realized that it could NOT convict Davis of treason in a public trial without convicting the Founders of treason for the Declaration of Independence.

In letters to various newspaper editors, SCV Commander in Chief Charles E. McMichael directly refutes Pitts’ nonsense:

“Pitts projects a biased and false motivation on the part of Confederates and their union attackers which is not supported by the historical record. The South did NOT fight to preserve slavery nor did the North attack to abolish it. Despite the relentless repetition of absurd distortions by Pitts and other revisionists, the truth doesn’t change.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans stands ready, willing and able to defend the true historical record and the good name of Confederate soldiers who are officially American veterans by Act of Congress. We unequivocally refute and condemn any suggestion that they were “traitors” or “terrorists” as recent revisionists have maliciously asserted.”

The complete letter from Commander McMichael is reproduced below.

McMichael adds, “My great grandfather was a poor Georgia farm boy of 16 whose family owned no slaves and who endured four years of disease, starvation and deprivation, not to mention being shot at. It borders on the absurd to suggest that he suffered the ordeal of war to defend slavery for the benefit of six percent of the population. “

“The 30,000 members of the SCV will never accept the falsehoods of these malicious revisionists seeking to smear Confederate soldiers as ‘traitors’ or their proud descendants as ‘racists,’” McMichael said. “We challenge media outlets to give the SCV fair opportunity to respond to such smears and distortions with equal space and air time,” McMichael added.

For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans, its members, and activities please visit:

Charles E. McMichael
Sons of Confederate Veterans

For more information contact: J. A. Davis
Public-Media Relations Committee
Sons of Confederate Veterans
770 297-4788
Gainesville, Georgia
Press Release in PDF format


Sons of Confederate Veterans

Sons of Confederate Veterans
General Headquarters
P.O. Box 59
Columbia, Tennessee 38402-0059

April 17, 2010

Dear Editors:
Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald opines that “The South fought to keep slavery, period.” Please indulge a contrary view.

Confederate soldiers fought to defend their families and homes from an invading and destructive army. President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress made clear that the purpose of their invasion and blockade was to “preserve the union” and preserve federal revenues.

Lincoln in his first inaugural address expressed support for the constitutional amendment to permanently preclude federal legislation abolishing slavery. He stated that he had no intent or desire to interfere with slavery where it existed. The only thing not negotiable to Lincoln was payment of the newly doubled federal tariffs of which the South paid over eighty percent.

The British and European press saw Lincoln’s invasion of the south for what it was, “a fiscal quarrel” and the north’s desire “for economic control of the South.”

The U.S. House passed a resolution July 25th, 1861 to specify the war’s purpose. It explicitly stated the war’s purpose was NOT to interfere with “established institutions” of the states, but rather to “preserve the Union”---meaning tariff revenues.

Lincoln, in letters to Horace Greeley in August 1862, again reiterated that his war’s purpose was to “preserve the union” and that slavery was not a priority issue. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it,” Lincoln wrote. With the Emancipation Proclamation published Sept. 1862 (well over a year into the war), Lincoln essentially promised that slavery would continue in all states(including union slave states) IF the seceded states would merely rescind their secession and return to the union before January 1st 1863. The Confederate states declined – clearly indicating motivations more involved than Pitts’ simplified fabrication.

Everyone is thankful that chattel slavery ended in America, but no war was necessary to end it. No other country in the world required war to abolish it. America certainly didn’t.

Pitts projects a biased and false motivation on the part of Confederates and their union attackers which is not supported by the historical record. The South did NOTfight to preserve slavery nor did the North attack to abolish it. Despite the relentless repetition of absurd distortions by Pitts and other revisionists, the truth doesn’t change.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans stand ready, willing and able to defend the true historical record and the good name of Confederate soldiers who are officially American veterans by Act of Congress. We unequivocally refute and condemn any suggestion that they were “traitors” or “terrorists” as recent revisionists have maliciously asserted.


Charles E. McMichael
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Friday, April 16, 2010

Frederick C. Hibbard—Master Sculptor

Frederick C. Hibbard was born June 15, 1881, on a farm in Canton, Missouri. The farm was near the banks of the Mississippi River. As a child, Hibbard spent a great deal of his time exploring the area, pausing to explore sticky clay that he found in nearby muddy ditches. Working with the clay, he sculpted some of his favorite animals. The clay ignited his fascination for the art of sculpture, a passion that remained with him for the rest of his life.

In spite of having landed his first job as an electrician, Hibbard's interest did not lie in this area. He wanted to become a sculptor and, at that time, there was no better place to study than in Chicago. In 1901, at the age of twenty, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago to study under Lorado Taft, a master sculptor. He became an assistant to Taft and by 1904, had established his own studio in Chicago.

One of Hibbard's first major successes came during World War I when he was selected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to erect a monument on the battlefield at Shiloh.

Hibbard's prolific career spanned almost a half a century, from 1904 until 1948. During this time he produced over seventy sculptures for the American people to enjoy. One of these masterpieces is a twelve-foot statue of Jefferson Davis unveiled in 1936 in Frankfort, Kentucky, of course, but this would not be the only statue of the Confederate president by Hibbard. In 1940, a second statue of Jefferson Davis was unveiled - this one in Montgomery, Alabama

Originally published in the Spring 2004 The Lost Cause

Friday, April 9, 2010

Camp Feature: Camp 1834

   Fort Heiman Camp No. 1834, S.C.V. started 2003, as usual, with our Lee-Jackson supper in Murray. This year, our speaker was Dr. Lonnie Maness, professor emeritus of History at the University of Tennessee at Martin. His topic was Forrest’s career and the missed opportunities when the Confederate high command ignored his advice It was an excellent talk and a fine potluck supper.
   Much of our effort all year was devoted to the preservation of Fort Heiman. On several occasions, political figures visited Murray and brought checks. The last was for six hundred thousand dollars. To call us pleased is an understatement. Later in the year, we met in the Courthouse to watch as the Fort Heiman property was purchased (with that six hundred thousand, plus some more) from the major landowner. At approximately the same time, a local resident was moved to donate an acre of land near the entrance to the proposed park to the Fort Heiman Camp and the SCV, for future use as a Confederate visitor’s center. Work progresses on this.
   We marked a number of graves in Marshall, Calloway, and Graves Counties. Perhaps the largest single event was the marking of Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Johnston’s grave. Lt. Col Johnston was the highest ranking citizen of Marshall County on either side of the late unpleasantness. More than 200 people attended the ceremony. On the 4th of July, we set up a booth on the square in Murray during Amerifest, and represented the organization there. Later in July, we marked the grave of the Adjutant of the 7th Kentucky, Lt. Roulhac, who was murdered by Union guerillas after the Battle of Paducah.
   We also participated in a major grave marking effort in Fulton, at Confederate Memorial Day, and we co-ordinated the annual memorial service at Columbus during the re-enactment there, in October, and continued to find and mark the graves of members’ ancestors.
We added several new members during the year, and are currently engaged in an effort to get everyone re-enlisted before the end of the year. Our meeting attendance has been fairly constant, but we have not yet outgrown our room at the Murray First United Methodist Church, for which we continue to be eternally grateful.
   Several members continue to be active re-enactors, and this gives us a fairly regular firing squad for ceremonies. Most also remain active in “living history” efforts among local schools. Speaking of schools, with the help of our Brigade Commander, we were able to score one heritage violation victory in our local Middle School, this year, getting a ban on Confederate symbols removed. Deo Vindice!

Originally published in the Spring 2004 The Lost Cause

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SCV on Confederate History Month Proclamations

Sons Of Confederate Veterans
Columbia, Tennessee

For Immediate Release


Commander-in-Chief Chuck McMichael of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans issued the following statement in light of the recent proclamation by the governor of Virginia restoring the observance of Confederate History Month in Virginia.

"While we are pleased to see heightened media attention to Confederate History Month resulting from the proclamation we are dismayed to see political implications or political correction zeal placed on it. We applaud Govenor McDonnell for his courage to do the right thing, as well as all the other officials across the country who have done likewise.
"The SCV is non-political with a primary interest in seeing to it that the accurate history of the Confederacy is observed along with proper respect shown for the
Confederate Military personnel who served and died during four years of war against overwhelming odds of more than three to one."

"These observances have been going on for more than a hundred years so it should be no surprise to anyone they continue to grow in scope with each passing year."

"Several states by state law observe a state holiday for Confederate Memorial Day.  Others have state laws establishing Confederate History and Heritage Month.
Still others set forth Confederate History Month by proclamation."

"The SCV has set a goal of over one thousand instances of observance of Confederate history in states, counties, parishes, cities and towns throughout America. In some cases beyond the boundaries of the original Confederacy.
These events include proclamations at all levels of government, parades, banquets, balls, re-enactments, school living histories, radio and television interviews, newspaper articles and a series of historical minutes for the media which include each day of Confederate History and Heritage Month.
There are observances at cemeteries where Confederate soldiers graves are decorated.  Many of our local camps participate in securing proclamations in several communities in their individual areas.


Contact information:

J. A. Davis,  Chairman,  Sons of Confederate Veterans Public Relations and Media Committee
770 297-4788

Monday, April 5, 2010

Commander in Chief Patrick J. Griffin, III visits Louisville

By Gary Davis

Due to the invitation of Jim Hicks, past commander of the John Hunt Morgan Camp and presently the Aide to Camp of the international SCV headquarters, The Commander in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was the quest speaker at the annual Lee / Jackson Dinner of the John Hunt Morgan Camp in Louisville on January 15, 2000. The Commander-in-Chief was meet at the airport by Central Brigade Commander Curt Carter, Past Commander Jim Hicks and Commander Gary Davis. They all enjoyed a light lunch and escorted the commander to his suite at the Executive Inn in Louisville. The commander was presented with a “Blue grass is gray” T-shirt and a “ Morgan’s raid on Georgetown “ T-shirt. Commanders, Carter, Hicks and Davis were about to supply refreshments to the commanders room. At 5 PM the Commander-In-Chief we escorted to the main dinning room at the Executive Inn where the dinner was to take place. A casual cocktail hour was held, and the C-I-C was introduced to those attending. The C-I-C was very impressed with the flag collection of John Bersot, Commander of the Capt. Thomas Henry Hines camp of Westpoint. Over 100 regimental battle flags adorn the room. State Division Commander Sam Flora was in attendance as well as commanders Tim Bowmen and Jim Bowen. The Commander in Chief was fresh back from the flag rally in Columbia South Carolina the weekend before. A large contingent of Kentuckians were at the rally and enjoyed rehashing the events of the weekend before. The Commander spoke on the SCV, where we came from, where we are now, and the future of the SCV. The Commander was presented a plaque to remember his visit to Kentucky and a bottle of Confederate Makers Mark whiskey from our 1993 convention in Lexington. State Commander Sam Flora spoke about our Confederate Kentucky Monument project in Vicksburg. However, I think the biggest rebel yell came after Central Brigade Commander Curt Carter gave his “ Hit’em again” speech. A hospitality room was rented at the Executive Inn and everyone was invited to come and enjoy the fellowship after the dinner. The C-I-C was in attendance and enjoyed conversation with everyone there. Commander Griffin was one of the last to leave the party and really enjoyed our Kentucky hospitality. Jim Hicks meet Commander Griffin for breakfast the next morning, and was escorted back to the airport. A letter was received by Commander Gary Davis a few days after his visit again thanking us for the Kentucky hospitality, the accommodations and professional way that the Kentucky Division is run. He also looks forward to coming to Kentucky in the future. As a foot note, commander Griffin had contacted the people in South Carolina who are hosting the convention and insisted that Commander John Bersot’s flag collection be there. After a few phone calls and E-mails with the Commander in Chief and the people in South Carolina, Commander Bersot’s entire regimental battle flag collection will line the main room at the convention and will be marched in during the opening ceremonies. Kentucky is on the move!

Originally published in the Spring 2000 The Lost Cause

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kentucky at Chickamauga

By Joey Oller
   On January 31, 1863 President Davis ordered Ben Hardin Helm to replace General Roger W. Hanson, a Kentuckian who had been killed at the battle of Murfreesboro. Now Helm commanded 2nd, 4th, 6th and 9th Infantry Regiments, the 41st Alabama and Cobb's Kentucky battery. Upon taking command Helm selected a staff of 7 Kentuckians.
    For several months the First Kentucky Brigade was camped in Middle Tennessee drilling under their new commander. The men developed a great affection for this 32-year-old Bluegrass general. He had a sense of humor and out-going personality matched by few leaders during this time of war. During Breckinridge's absences, Helm was given command of the entire division, nurturing his leadership qualities and strengthening the bond between him and his men.
    Moving on to Jackson, Mississippi in June of 1863, the Kentuckians spent long hours in camp and built fortifications to guard a position that would never be attacked. Finally on August 25th Breckinridge's division was ordered towards Chattanooga to reinforce General Bragg. Arriving the first week of September, Helm's Brigade went into camp and waited for a battle to materialize, but within two weeks found itself on the march again, this time 
towards a creek called the Chickamauga (in Indian language it means the "River of Death" ).

    On the morning of the 19th, The Kentucky Brigade forded the Chickamauga. They were advancing when the Federals began firing into their lines. Luckily there were few casualties among the Kentuckians as a result of this encounter.
    That evening Breckinridge's division was placed on the extreme right of the Confederate battle line, Helm's Brigade holding the extreme left of the division. The next morning at 9:30 the Confederates advanced within 700 yards of the Federal battle line. The Sixth Kentucky Regiment on the extreme right of the brigade fired the first shots of the battle as the Kentuckians charged furiously. The 4th and 6th Regiments swept everything in front of them, capturing a battery on Lafayette Road. Several men of the Fourth Kentucky dragged the cannons away with their hands. The 2nd and 9th Kentucky Regiments, along with three companies of the 41st Alabama also charged, but were forced to halt by several lines of Federal infantry at an angle of the breast works .
    Fallen Kentuckians covered the dusty road which separated the opposing armies. General Helm rode his horse up and down the line amid the shot and shell, urging his men forward. Taking his hat from his head he stuck it on his sword and pointed the way to the front "This is the road to Kentucky" he cried out.
      At that moment a bullet from the ranks of the 15th Kentucky U.S. Infantry pierced his side and he fell to the ground. Immediately he was rushed to a nearby farm in the rear of the lines where the brigade had established a hospital. For those witnessing the scene it was heart-rending-- their beloved young commander cut down in the prime of his life. His clothing was quickly removed and the wound probed by the surgeon. "Is there hope?" the wounded general asked. The surgeon was forced to answer sadly, "My dear general, there is no hope."  According to his physician, Dr. John A. Hickman, the general was told that the bullet had passed through his liver. He asked the time and quietly calculated the probable length of time he could live with such a wound.
      Then, with the dignity of a southern gentleman, Ben Hardin Helm closed his eyes to await his death. He lay silent and suffering while the battle raged on. Through-out the day messengers traveled back and forth to carry word of the general's condition back to the battlefield. Around midnight the hospital received word that the Federals had been driven from the field. The news of the triumph was whispered in the dying Helm's ear. He smiled, murmured his last word "Victory!" and soon after, left his Kentucky Brigade orphaned once again.
      Helm’s death was commented upon by his brother-in-law, Abraham Lincoln, "I feel as David of old when he was told of the death of Absalom", which sounds nice until one realizes that Absalom was a rebellious son who had committed murder and overthrown the government, not someone bravely giving their life resisting an invading tyrant.
   The 5th Kentucky Infantry from Eastern Kentucky was also at Chickamauga, but had not yet been brigaded with the rest of the Orphans. The 5th Kentucky "Sangdiggers" were with Kentuckian Generals Preston and Buckner. Although the highlighted view of the Kentuckian’s role at the battle of Chickamauga often centers around Breckinridge and Helm - mostly because of the great loss of life taking place at the breastworks -  "victory" of the battle was actually achieved as the sun set on Snodgrass Hill and the 5th Kentucky Sangdiggers were in that charge, massing through the famous breakthrough, where the Union made a drastic mistake by leaving a huge gap in their lines. The Confederates charged through not stopping until they ran the Yankees over Snodgrass Hill towards Chattanooga.
    After the battle of Chickamauga, the 5th Kentucky was placed with the Orphan brigade. The 41st Alabama was sent elsewhere, but they considered themselves as Orphans!
     Many sons of Kentucky gave their lives at Chickamauga, Capt. Peter Daniels of Breckinridge County, Capt. James Hewitt of Jefferson County and Capt. Gus Dedman of Anderson all were killed while leading their regiments in the assaults of the enemy breast works. Major Rice E. Graves of Daviess County was also mortally wounded while directing the Washington Artillery. He would die a few days later and was buried in an unmarked grave in Ringgold, Ga.

originally published in the Winter 2004 The Lost Cause