Friday, May 27, 2011

The Story of Captain John Baker Dortch

Captain John Baker Dortch:
50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
Tennessee Partisan Ranger Company
3rd/7th (Gano’s) Kentucky Cavalry Regiment
2nd( Dortch’s) Kentucky Consolidated Cavalry Battalion.
8th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment

John B. Dortch was born May 11, 1830 in, and was a resident of, Port Royal, near Clarkesville Tennessee. Dortch was a grandson of former Tennessee Governor Willie Blount (1809-1815), and the nephew of Cave Johnson, Postmaster General (1845-1849) during President Polk’s administration.
In 1861, when the War Between the States came to Tennessee, Dortch enlisted in company E, of the 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. His company departed for Fort Donelson, Tennessee November 19,1861. He was promoted to Captain in December. Captain Dortch stood about 5foot 9 inches tall, had black eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion.
On January 19, 1862 his company was ordered to Fort Henry, then counter-marched back about ten days later. When ordered to return to Fort Henry on February 6, Captain Dortch learned it had been captured while in route.
The Battle of Fort Donelson took place February 14-15, 1862. On the 15th, four companies from the 50th were ordered to re-enforce the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment, which had taken severe casualties. The following day the garrison force surrendered. Captain Dortch and approx. fifty-five others from the Regiment escaped on the Wynn’s Ferry Road and made their way out. Captain Dortch told his men to return to their homes near Clarkesville and then report back to him at Nashville Tennessee. The Capital City fell so quickly that only a few men were able to comply with the order.

Captain Dortch filed a special requisition from Decatur, Alabama on March 23, for one pair of pants and shoes, one camp kettle, ten pans and twelve blankets. This was to replace items lost at Fort Donelson.
During the Battle of Shiloh April 6-7, 1862 Captain Dortch served temporarily with the 23rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment along with seven others from his company. On April 15,1862 Captain Dortch resigned his commission as a Captain in the 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He stated that his men had been allowed to join other commands, which resulted in him becoming a supernumerary officer. His intention was to return home and recruit another company.
Tennessee Governor Harris, by special commission in August of 1862, granted Captain Dortch authority to raise a company of Partisan Rangers for twelve months service. Kentucky General A. R. Johnson, in his memoirs, recalled that Captain Dortch brought two companies of cavalry to Camp Coleman—a recruitment center - near Hopkinsville Kentucky in Todd County. On August 25,1862 Captain Dortch was assigned to Company G, 7th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry which was being recruited by the Texan, Colonel R. M. Gano, Morgan’s Kentucky Cavalry Brigade.
Johnson ordered Captains Dortch and Page (company H, Gano’s Regiment) to burn the railroad bridge between Bowling Green and Russellville KY. Volume 16 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion contains a report by Colonel Bruce, 20th Kentucky Infantry, in which he acknowledges elements of the 17th Indiana Infantry and the 8th Kentucky Cavalry skirmished September 30th in that vicinity. There are several casualties listed for Dortch’s and Page’s companies in the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, on that date.
On November 5, 1862, Colonel’s John. H. Morgan and Nathan B. Forrest’s Cavalry commands were ordered to co-operate in an attack upon Nashville TN. Failing to attack simultaneously little damage was done by the attacking Confederates. Morgan did manage to burn a portion of the Edgefield railroad depot across the river from Nashville. After relocating to Tyree Springs and Lebanon, Morgan won a decisive victory at Hartsville, Tennessee on December 7, 1862 and afterwards was promoted to Brigadier-General C. S. A..
From December 21 through January 5, 1863 Captain Dortch and his company participated in Morgan’s Christmas Raid of Kentucky. Leaving Alexandria Tennessee on December 23, 1862 the Confederates set out to destroy the railroad from Muldraugh’s Hill, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee. Glasgow, Kentucky was entered on Christmas Eve.
Bacon Creek railroad bridge was burned on the 26th. On December 27, the Battle of Elizabethtown resulted in the shelling of the town from the city cemetery. Morgan’s strategy resulted in the capture of the town.
The bridges at Sulphur Fork Trestle and the fort on Muldraugh’s Hill were burned on December 28.
Lt. Colonel J.W. Huffman , Captain Dortch’s commanding officer was undergoing court-martial at Rolling Fork River, near Boston, Kentucky on the 29th, for violating parole terms offered to the Union soldiers of the 71st Indiana & 78th Illinois Infantry Regiments at Muldraugh’s Hill the previous day. Union troopers from the 10th, 12th, 13th Kentucky Cavalry Regiments attacked and wounded Colonel Duke, resulting in the cancellation of the proceedings. Afterwards a successful withdrawal to Tennessee was accomplished by January 5, 1863.
While Morgan was raiding in Kentucky, the Battle of Stones River,(12/31/62-1/02/63)Tennessee took place. Afterwards General Bragg re-organized his troops placing Morgan’s Cavalry under the control of General Wheeler. Subsequent Confederate troop movements resulted in Morgan establishing his headquarters in McMinnville Tennessee. There were numerous scouts and skirmishes during the Spring, along with two pitched battles nearby, Milton (3/20/63), and Snow’s Hill (4/03/63). In June of 1863, Morgan gathered his troops together at Alexandria Tennessee. Another excursion to Kentucky was in the works!
About the 2nd day of July 1863 General Morgan ‘s troopers began crossing the upper Cumberland River near Burkesville, Kentucky. Flooding from recent rains had swollen the river. Lt. H. C. Merritt, of Dortch’s company recalled “only those who were considered well mounted were allowed to go on the raid. It was most strenuous work on both men and horses. Those who were poor swimmers grabbed on to their horses tail, to be pulled across.” Lt. Colonel Huffman placed Captain Dortch in command of the troopers who were to remain behind. These men became the nucleus of Dortch’s 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Battalion.

Morgan’s Ohio Raid (7/2-7/26/1863) was the longest raid made by cavalry during the war. Although the troopers covered over 700 miles and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property the raid resulted in the
capture of most of Morgan’s command. As a result Gano’s Kentucky Regiment ceased to exist. Those men who escaped capture eventually made their way to Morristown Tennessee. where General A.R. Johnson had been ordered to gather ‘Morgan’s Men” for reassignment.
Captain Dortch and about 300 men were briefly associated with Colonel J. Q. Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Partisan Rangers. Eventually enough men were gathered to form two battalions of cavalry. Captain Kilpatrick led the 1st Consolidated Kentucky Cavalry Battalion and Captain Dortch led the 2nd Consolidated Kentucky Cavalry Battalion.
Bennett Young in ‘Confederate Wizards of the Saddle”, wrote that Dortch’s and Kirkpatrick’s Battalions “...were among the best that Kentucky furnished. They were largely young men from the Bluegrass, few of them exceeding twenty-five years in age. They came out of Kentucky in July1862 and October 1862, had now received more than a years seasoning, and were by their military experiences fitted for the hardest and fiercest conflicts. They had left Kentucky well mounted.”
On September 18,1863 Captain Dortch reported to General Forrest’s command for duty and was assigned to General Pegram. Dortch’s men were stationed in the vicinity of Chickamauga and Tunnel Hill GA. After the Battle of Chickamauga (9/19-9/20/63), Dortch’s Battalion paused at Bryd’s Mill to regroup and re-shoe their horses. Afterwards they moved up the Knoxville & Chattanooga railroad towards Charleston, TN. September 28,1863, General Bragg ordered General Forrest to turn over his troopers to General Wheeler.
During General Longstreet’s East Tennessee Campaign Dortch’s Battalion foraged and skirmished at Philadelphia, Loudon , Maryville and Knoxville. When Burnside’s Federal Army cut them off at Knoxville from the main Confederate forces, Dortch’s command made their way back to Confederate lines via Big Bend Mountain and Montvale Springs in Cherokee County North Carolina.
On November 24, 1863 Special Order # 102 placed Dortch’s Battalion in Grigsby’s Kentucky Brigade of General Kelly’s command in Wheeler’s Cavalry. On December 22,1863,Dortch petitioned to be allowed to return to Kentucky, where he hoped to recruit a regiment of mounted rifles. However the petition was denied in January of 1864.

There are a series of forage requisitions in Captain Dortch’s CSR files that indicate ongoing attrition (6.77%) in his ranks. In November of 1863 he requested forage for 300 horses and 60 mules, while stationed in the vicinity of Dalton Georgia. In December he requisitioned forage for 275 horses while stationed at Tunnel Hill GA. In January of 1864 the order had shrunk to 231 horses and 13 mules. On February 29,1864 Captain Dortch requested an axe and hatchet for himself and his staff, while stationed at Silver Springs Alabama..
In February of 1864 General Adam R. Johnson issued Special Order # 22 which allowed Kilpatrick’s and Dortch’s Battalions to return to south-.western Virginia. General Morgan had recently returned to this theatre after escaping from prison in Ohio in November 1863. However, on 3/12/64, General Wheeler chose to retain Dortch’s Battalion. Captain Dortch forwarded a petition 3/24/64 from his post at Childersburg, Alabama requesting that his command also be allowed to return to General Morgan’s Command. Captain Dortch pointed out that his Battalion consisted of not only the remnants of the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, but also elements of four other distinct Regiments that had formed one of the brigades in Morgan’s command. However permission was denied and in April Dortch’s Battalion was assigned to Humes’ Division, Grigsby’s KY Brigade. In May of 1864 the Battalion was stationed near Dalton, Georgia. A report dated 5/17/64, complained that Dortch’s troopers had abandoned their picket post on the Villanow Rd., near Dug Gap and were now camping with the infantry atop the mountain.
The 2nd Consolidated KY Cavalry Battalion was assigned to General J.S. William’s Brigade in June of 1864. This Brigade was composed of the 1st/3rd Kentucky Cavalry- Colonel Griffith, 2nd/15th Kentucky Cavalry-Major Lewis, 9th Kentucky Cavalry- Colonel Breckinridge , Allison’s Tennessee Squadron- Captain Reese and remnants of Hamilton’s Tennessee Battalion, a.k.a. 4th Tennessee Partisan Rangers- Major Shaw. The two Tennessee units were ordered to be merged 7/31/1864. Previously on July 7th, Captain Dortch had been ordered to proceed to Decatur Georgia and arrest deserters and stragglers from his Battalion.
In August of 1864 Captain Dortch ‘s Battalion followed General Wheeler in his last Middle Tennessee Raid 8/10-10/25./64. For William’s Brigade this meant an unplanned march to Saltville, Virginia after they were cut off from the main body of troopers in September. This occurred when General Williams obtained permission from General Wheeler to take two Brigades and half of the artillery to attack the Union garrison at Strawberry Plains near Knoxville. Federal troops were able to get in between him and Wheeler forcing Williams to leave the military department to which he was assigned. On September 21 Williams’ Brigade joined forces with Generals Duke and Vaughn near Rogersville, Tennessee. General Williams then went to Abingdon, Virginia in an effort to have his troopers re-assigned to the Department of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. After the Battle of Saltville 10/2/64, General Bragg ordered the arrest of General Williams. By this time Williams’ Brigade was camped at Liberty Hill, Virginia. The troopers were destitute, badly in need of clothing and shoes, and the horses were run down. Williams was to face a court-martial for his separation from Wheeler’s Command. However eventually the charges were dropped and Williams received the thanks of the Confederate Congress for his defense of Saltville. General Williams was restored to his command in February of 1865.
Meanwhile General Felix Robertson (himself under a cloud for his activities at Saltville) took over command and led the wayward troops back to the Army of Tennessee in Georgia. It appears that while in transit the command was ordered to return to Bristol and join General Vaughn’s Brigade. However Robertson chose not to obey the order. Apparently Captain Dortch had remained behind, still hoping for re-assignment.
Special Order # 286, issued 12/2/64 officially transferred Captain Dortch’s command into the Army of Tennessee. By January of 1865

Dortch’s Battalion had shrunk to less than 32 men and it was disbanded, near Abingdon, Virginia. Many from his command had already re-assigned themselves to General Duke’s Brigade.
Captain Dortch apparently joined the 8th Kentucky Cavalry but was unassigned to a company. He took the “Oath of Allegiance” in Nashville Tennessee on May 3, 1865. The Provost Marshal indicated that Captain Dortch had left the Confederate Army on April 23rd.
After the war Dortch returned to Tennessee and farmed at Parson’s Creek, near Port Royal. In 1880 he married Phoebe C. Brown. About 1895 he left to live with his children in Butler County Kentucky. He died at the home of his son, James 3/9/1910. I believe he is buried near Morgantown in the Lebanon Cemetery.
With this article I hope to attempt historical revision and correct an error. The Supplemental Series of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion erroneously record Captain Dortch as being one John Basket Dortch. In fact his true name is John Baker Dortch. This being confirmed by his wife in her Widow’s Indigent Pension request #1287 filed in Kentucky, June 5, 1912.

Stewart Cruickshank

1.Official Records of the War of the Rebellion & Supplemental series
2. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky (Confederate).
3. Partisan Rangers of the Confederate Army: Johnson
4. Confederate Veteran Magazine
5. Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Sifakis
6.Units of the Confederate States Army: Crute jr.
7.Confederate Veterans Association of Kentucky: reprint
8. A History of Morgan’s Cavalry: Duke
9. Winds of Change, Robertson County in the Civil War: Allen
10. Clarkesville Leaf Chronicle: March 15,1910
11.Confederate Wizards of the Saddle: Young
12.pamphlet;” Ride the Campaign Trail”: Elizabethtown KY. Tourism & Convention Bureau & KY Dept. Tourism
13. Consolidated Service Records ; microfilm:
I wish to thank the Tennessee State Library and Archives, The University of Western Kentucky and most importantly James Pritchard of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives for their assistance, gathering the various microfilm records made available to me.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Story of Confederate, Kentucky

Nestled between I-24 and Lake Barkley is a small community with a name that is hard to miss: Confederate, Kentucky. According to the Place Names Gazetteer, the only populated place in the nation named “Confederate” is this tiny community in Lyon County. There are variations, such as Confederate Ridge in Virginia, but the only community simply named Confederate is in the Bluegrass state. Among the homes and churches you’ll also find a vacant store building (much more on that later) and the Confederate Cemetery, with a nice gated sign saying “Confederate Cemetery”.
Naturally, our curiosity was aroused. What is the story of Confederate, Kentucky? It took a little digging to find out. An initial trip to Lyon County and inquiries there produced no solid information. Our subsequent research, though, led us to Deborah Atchley, who put us in contact with Mrs. June Thorpe, grand-niece of Confederate’s founder, Linn Gresham.

The history of Confederate most likely really begins with the story of the nearby Tennessee Rolling Works. While Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia is well known, there were a number of iron mills in Lyon County before the war. Describing the fledgling antebellum Southern iron industry, a copyrighted New York Times article published on November 15th, 1897, by J. E. MacGowan said, “The forges made a very fine grade of iron, resembling closely the soft and tough product of the Swedish forges and rolling works. It is probable that these furnaces...could have produced 75,000 tons of iron in the year 1860.”
Moved from Nashville in 1845-46 according to the Kentucky Historical Society, the Tennessee Rolling Works mill in Lyon County became the center of a community. According to the book One Century of Lyon County History, “ least 1,000 Negro slaves and 500-600 workers were employed at the Tennessee Rolling Mill during its operation. Hundreds of little houses stood on the hills around the mill…”. There was a company store, as well. One Century also says that in 1878 The community of Tennessee Rolling Mill still had over 200 inhabitants, a school and a church. The Mill was transferred to Louisville in 1884. It is likely the decline and demise of the mill led to the birth of Confederate.
One Century describes Confederate this way: “The history of Confederate is the history of (Linn) Gresham for it is his store that is the hub of activities from buying and selling during the day to the community center of Rook games and cracker barrel philosophizing at night. It was on Gresham’s land that that the spring was located and it was at Gresham’s house that the school teachers boarded.” One Century states that Gresham founded his store in the “middle 1800’s”, however June Thorpe says that her uncle built the store in 1882. The 1882 date would be significant since with the closing of the nearby Mill just two years later, and the closing of the company store with it, it made Gresham’s the natural place for people in the area to gravitate towards. June Thorpe feels that the Mill closing was possibly a catalyst in Gresham’s decision to open his store, perhaps Gresham anticipating the mill circumstances somewhat, or perhaps the company store closing before the mill actually did. Linn Gresham had at least two brothers in the Confederate Army, William and James. William is buried in Confederate Cemetery, and James across the street in Bethany Cemetery. The Adjutant General’s Report confirms that James served in Cobb’s Battery, and William in the 1st Kentucky Cavalry. Two other Gresham’s (more brothers, perhaps, but that could not be confirmed), John and M. C., enlisted in the 1st along with William.
Linn Gresham’s store operations grew through the years. Across from the store was a spring, in a grove of Maple trees. Traveling salesmen, known as “drummers” often availed themselves of the shade and water. This would prove significant. Initially the community became known commonly as Gresham. Some time after the store was founded, though, a post office was set up there, and a place name was needed. Apparently there was some discussion as to what to call the place. According to June Thorpe, it was one of the “drummers” who suggested the name Confederate.
Perhaps we’ll never know the exact reasoning behind this visitor’s suggestion, but it would seem reasonable to think it came from his perception of the place. There seemed to be no resistance in the community to the idea of being called Confederate, which would enforce the feeling of the salesman that it was a place of Confederates.
The Confederate post office survived until 1914 (postmarks from Confederate, Kentucky would likely be a hot collector’s item today if they could be found). The store passed to Leonard Gresham, June Thorpe’s father. He operated it from 1918 until 1959. In 1952, June joined her father in the business. She operated the store until it closed in 1974.
The store had to be moved in the 1960’s because of the construction of Lake Barkley, which now covers all of what was Tennessee Rolling Mill and much of what was Confederate (nearby Eddyville also had to be relocated in its entirety). Though closed since 1974, the building (after the move) is still standing.
So, there you have it; Confederate, Kentucky was founded by a family of Confederates, named by a visitor who saw something Confederate in the place, and after more than 125 years we still couldn’t imagine a better name.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 13, 2011

Burbridge the Extortionist

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the John C. Breckinridge SCV Camp #100 in Lexington, KY and was asked about the allegation of extortion that I made against Major-General Stephen Gano Burbridge of the Union Army.
Confederate Veteran Magazine 1911, volume 19, page 527, provides my best source of this allegation. Charlton G. Duke, wrote an accounting of the timely ransom payment that resulted in his death sentence being revoked. Rather than rewrite the tale, I ‘d rather you read it in its original form.

“ Personal Prison Experiences and Death.”
By: Charlton G. Duke, Hopkinsville, KY.

“ By request, I give a short account of my capture and imprisonment at Louisville KY. After the wounding of Gen. Adam Johnson at Grubbs’ Crossroads, our command crossed the river and went to Paris, TN. I was sent by Colonel Sypert, with my brother, John C. Duke, and cousin, Capt. Lindsey Buckner, back into Kentucky to gather up some of our men, who had been unable to cross with the command and to recruit as many more as possible. This we attempted to do, but, finding the whole country overrun with Federal soldiers, we thought it best to hasten back to our command. In endeavoring to cross the river at Hillman’s Rolling Mills, we were captured and sent at once to Louisville to a prison, which bore the significant, if not euphonious, name of “slaughter pen”. I will not speak of the many indignities heaped upon our men while in this prison, but will pass on to a period which I can never recall without emotions of deepest sadness.

We had been there some three or four weeks. We were coolly informed one morning that Captain Lindsey Buckner, B. P. Wallace, John Duke, and I would be shot the following day by order of General Burbridge in retaliation for a mail carrier who had been killed by a band of guerrillas, supposed to be the Sue Mundy gang. We did not spend that day with any degree of pleasure, for the thought of dying such an ignominious death at the hands of our enemies was indeed depressing, but we determined to meet our fate like men.

We were greatly surprised the next morning when several nicely dressed men in blue uniform, one of whom we recognized as Mr. Ed Baker, from our home at Princeton KY. came into the prison. He expressed pleasure at seeing me and my brother John, and informed us that it was his great happiness to convey to us the good news that through his influence and that of another prominent Union man of Princeton General Burbridge had been persuaded to countermand the order for our execution, and that we could have our choice of being sent to a Northern prison or take the oath of allegiance and return home. We thanked him and said we would go to prison. We asked if they could not influence General Burbridge to release our companions also. He replied that he could do nothing for Captain Buckner but that Captain Wallace would probably be released, which was afterwards done. Captain Lilly, Lieutenant Blincoe, and an old man named Halley were selected in our stead. We little supposed that the men who had interfered in our behalf were actuated by any but kindly motives in securing our release from death, but soon found that these expressions of friendship had cost our mother $2,000 in cash, which she promptly forwarded to Louisville. Our friend Wallace was also ransomed by his friends, and had Captain Buckner’s brother received in time the letter written him, his terrible fate would have been averted. But the letter was misplaced in some way.

In the afternoon of the next day the four men mentioned were placed in irons and taken out on the Jeffersontown road and shot to death. They requested that their eyes be not bound, and all refused to kneel when told to do so. Captain Buckner was one of the finest looking men I ever saw. He possessed an unusual degree of personal magnetism, was brave, as a man could be, but as gentle and affectionate as a woman. Just before the time appointed for the execution he was asked by one of his comrades to pray. I have never heard before or since such a prayer. He talked to the Lord in that calm beautiful way that made one feel as if in the presence of Jehovah, and as they passed out of the prison the last words I heard him utter were: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Shortly after this sad event I was sent to Johnson’s Island and my brother John to Camp Douglas, where we remained until the close of the war.”

Charlton G. Duke’s obituary in the Confederate Veteran Magazine Volume 30, 1922, page 30 also gives a shorter version of this same instance. There are some subtle differences in the recollections, however.
Fortunately there is another recollection by Charlton G. Duke in the “ Partisan Rangers of the Confederate States Army” Memoirs of General Adam R. Johnson, page 265, entitled “ Additional sketch of Colonel L. A. Sypert”. This recounting clarifies the activities of Duke’s military service up until his capture October 9, 1864.

Charlton G. Duke enlisted in Captain L. A. Sypert’s company in the Spring of 1864, at age 17. Sypert had a commission as Colonel dated 8/26/63, which gave him authority to raise a regiment of cavalry for the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. He actively recruited in Union, Henderson, Webster, Hopkins and Christian counties in 1864. After a brief period in Caldwell County, Duke crossed the Cumberland & Tennessee Rivers to recruit. Afterwards returning to Union and Hopkins Counties.
Near Morganfield at Blue Pond, his unit skirmished with the 17th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment Union Army. He also participated in skirmishes at Bell Mines and Old Salem. After merging into the Partisan Ranger Command of General A. R. Johnson, Charlton Duke held the rank of 1st Lt. Company A 13th (Syperts) Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. Only about 1/3 of these men were armed. During the fighting at Grubb’s Crossroads Johnson was blinded, and the command retreated into Tennessee. At some point Duke and the others fell in with Colonel J. Q. Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Cavalry, also of Johnson’s command. At Paris Tennessee, he was ordered to return to Kentucky and gather stragglers etc. and was captured. General H. B. Lyon replaced Johnson in command of the Brigade. After taking the oath in June of 1865, Charlton G. Duke was released from prison and returned to Kentucky owning a farm near Hopkinsville. He was a member of Camp #241 of the U.C.V.

Others mentioned; with historical corrections :

John W. Duke (his brother) was Sgt. Major of Company A, Sypert’s 13th Kentucky Cavalry.

B. F. Wallace was Captain of Company G, Sypert’s13th Kentucky Cavalry.

Lindsey Duke Buckner was a Captain in Colonel Chenoweth’s 16th Kentucky Cavalry. He was executed with three others, in Jeffersontown KY. October 25, 1864, by a firing squad from company B, 26th Kentucky Infantry (Burbridge’s own regiment). Historian, Nancy Hitt marked his gravesite in Green County with a Confederate headstone in 2001.

Wilson P. Lilly had formerly served in company G, 1st Missouri Volunteer Infantry. General Burbridge had ordered all Missourian’s in Kentucky to leave. Lilly most likely was arrested for failure to comply.
Executed 10/25/64.

Reverend Sherwood Hatley had been forwarded to Louisville after his arrest in Bowling Green, a month previously. Executed 10/25/64 (age 70?).

William C.” Dock” Blincoe served in Company D, 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. Executed 10/25/64
Historian, Nancy Hitt marked his grave with a Confederate headstone at the Bates burial-ground near Lewisport in 2001.

Further research is needed to identify Ed Baker.

Sources other than those mentioned above
Typewritten muster by S. D. Lynn, of Sypert’s and Chenoweth’s Kentucky Cavalry
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky civil war vol.2 Confederate
The Union Regiments of Kentucky: Captain T. Speed
The Atonement of John Brooks : J. Head
Research compiled by the author Stewart Cruickshank

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dozens of Markers, Monument Dedicated at Sandlick Cemetery

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, the Colonel Ben E. Caudill Camp No. 1629 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans hosted a military salute and dedication at the recently placed monument and restored graves of more than four dozen Confederate soldiers. The cemetery, located in Whitesburg of Letcher County, Kentucky, had remained hidden under thick foliage of undergrowth that prevented anyone from viewing the graves.

In January of 2006, members of the camp began to clear the brush and debris from the cemetery. After two weekends of backbreaking labor, the military style rows of graves began to appear. Now clear of the dense foliage, camp members grubbed out the stumps and roots plowed the area and then sowed grass.
Four soldiers already had Confederate tombstones and eight more were identified. The camp obtained tombstones for these eight men and placed thirty-six more unknown tombstones. A monument honoring the graves was designed by camp members and purchased by money raised in the community. A granite bench, flagpole to fly a Confederate flag, two informative stones, and a Confederate soldier statute were purchased as well.

The majority of these soldiers had died in a military hospital that was established near the cemetery in the fall of 1861 by orders of General Humphrey Marshall. The general’s army was referred to as the Army of Eastern Kentucky and consisted of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, 1st Kentucky Mounted Battalion, 21st, 29th and 54th Virginia Infantries, Jeffress’ Battery and several independent cavalry companies. Disease such as mumps, measles and dysentery ravaged the Confederate army, resulting in dozens of deaths. The majority of the men were buried in the Sandlick Cemetery though some were taken by loved ones back to be buried in family cemeteries. The Yankees burned the hospital in the fall of 1862, resulting in the loss of most records. Ongoing research by the Caudill Camp and historical societies in Virginia is being conducted in an attempt to identify the unknown soldiers.

Other News Items

The Letcher County High School’s Junior ROTC students conducted the presentation of the flags. Dozens of Confederate re-enactors from Kentucky and Virginia marched to the cadence of a drum corps into the cemetery. After opening remarks by David Chaltas, the commander of the Caudill Camp, Kentucky State Representative Leslie Combs and Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward both gave speeches commending the Caudill Camp on their efforts to honor these southern heroes. Local musicians from Kentucky and Virginia performed period music throughout the program. After presentation of wreaths supplied by the VFW and the OCR was completed, the Confederate re-enactors and a battery of cannon fired three volleys in honor of all soldiers buried in the cemetery. A Confederate re-enactor performed the mournful tune of Taps to close the program. Our special thanks go out to our brother camps that came from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida to assist with this historical dedication.

96 More Acres To Be Added to Perryville— The area known as as Sleettown will be added to the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. The $431,000 purchase was done with money from the Civil War Preservation Trust and a Transportation Enhancement grant. The cost includes an archeological study. Sleettown was an African-American community that ceased to exist after 1931. While preserving information about the Sleettown community is important, there is obviously a fear that political correctness will turn the new acquisition into some sort of “diversity” site that doesn’t include Confederates. In a release, state Parks Commissioner J. T. Miller said “We plan to use the property to tell the story of the Battle of Perryville as well as the history of Sleettown”. The area was a staging ground for Confederate forces.

Two More KY Camps Chartered—Two more Kentucky camps were chartered on June 17th, the Col. Alfred Johnson #276 and Kentucky Secession Site #2125.

Bad Yankee Shooting—The National Rifle Association is a powerful organization today; it was formed in 1871 by 15 New York National Guard officials who were all Union veterans. They formed the NRA “ promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” It turns out they thought the NRA necessary to correct the poor marksmanship of yankee troops during the war. Source: fwdailynews (Fort Wayne, IN)

Flag Finally Returned—Nebraska Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith returned the flag of the 1st Regiment Alabama Volunteer Infantry CSA to the state of Alabama in May. The flag had been in yankee hands since the regiment was surrendered at Tiptonville, TN in April of 1862.

From the Floyd County Times—June 29th, “Charges Filed” section: Ned B. Pillersdorf (the lawyer who lied about basketball incidents when his team played Allen Central - see our article on the Allen Central hoax), 52, of Van Lear, drinking alcoholic beverage in public place. We hope Ned knows a good lawyer. Note to Ned: if you move to rural Kentucky, a lot of the counties are dry. Most folks are also proud of their Confederate heritage. If you want to drink in public and curse the Confederate Battle flag, Floyd County is the wrong place to live. Go home. New York needs you.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader—A defendant represented by Ned Pillersdorf was recently not only convicted but received the maximum sentence in a scheme where the defendant—a prison guard—was smuggling drugs into the federal prison. The defense that Pillersdorf had presented was that the prison guard only did it because she had been threatened by an inmate if she didn’t smuggle the drugs, and not because of the thousand dollars she received each time she smuggled the drugs in. We repeat: hope Ned knows a good lawyer.

Pvt. Henderson Whisman, 5th KY Infantry Co D CSA will had a new gravestone dedication on Sept. 2nd, 2007 in Rowan Co. KY at the Whisman Cemetery located on Island Fork Rd. The 5th KY Camp # 2122 and the 5th KY Infantry Co's D E & F, Arthur Camp and Ben Caudill Camp assistied in this Confederate soldier’s long overdue ceremony.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, April 29, 2011

Marked at Last

Marked at Last: Left, some Confederate graves are harder to get properly marked than others. When Richard P’Pool found out that Pvt. Robert Forsythe, Co. C, 1st Kentucky Volunteer Infantry CSA had an unmarked grave, he decided to do something about it. That led to a long trail of detective work and research. Ultimately it resulted in finding Works Progress Administration records which indicated that Forsythe was buried in the Hematite Cemetery , in the area now know as the Land Between the Lakes. Left, Robert Brooks and Tony Merrick pay tribute at the grave marker for Forsythe, while three of Pvt. Forsythe’s descendants, Elwood, Ferrell and Ovid Forsythe, look on. The Times Leader ran a detailed story covering the search and service in their 05/30/07 edition.

Left: The E. F. Arthur camp made quite an impression marching in the annual NIBROC parade in Corbin.

Below Left: Dr. Hiter at the dedication of a new Iron Cross marker for Gen. H. B. Lyons

Below Right: A poignant scene from a recent induction ceremony of the 5th Kentucky Infantry Camp #2122

Vicksburg Monument
17 November 2007 may be a special date for which you may want to mark your calendars. That date is the planned dedication of a monument that is 104 years overdue. In 1903 I am told, the Kentucky Confederate veterans who fought at Vicksburg, Mississippi picked the spot at the Vicksburg National Military Park for their monument. The Kentucky Division over the last few years has labored mightily to erect the monument they wished to have on that ground.

The effort began back in 1997 when the Division first voted to pursue the endeavor (Joey Oiler perhaps being the most outspoken for same back then). With fund raising fervor from across the Division, Mike Gevedon being an example, $20M was raised within 3 years. With that amount raised a potential contractor was found that would require another $30M to be raised to erect the monument. Another obstacle surfaced when the wording for the monument, the first drafts of which were written by Geoff Walden, became an issue with the National Park Service (NPS) insisting historically inaccurate information be included in the wording.

By 2002, those two issues, one involving the extent of the necessary fund raising and the other the stubborn insistence on their views by the NPS brought the project to a near standstill. The Division however, being descended from Southern Warriors, did not give up. Since 2002 the Division took a second look at cost issues and has subsequently entered into contracts that will set the monument in place for the money now on hand. Any contractual obligations that had existed between the first proposed contractor have been extinguished by mutual agreement.

The Division has also compromised with the NPS on wording issues and at this point work is proceeding at Vicksburg by the park service to prepare the site and a dedication tentatively scheduled for 17 November 2007 is now on the schedule. So reserve that date on your calendars so you can be present at a very special and historic service for our Kentucky Confederate forbears.

Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, April 22, 2011

Confederate Images: the MMA Collection: Capt. Robert D. Logan

On May 20, 1910 a large crowd gathered in McDowell Park in Danville, Kentucky to dedicate a memorial to the Confederate soldiers of Boyle County. Erected by the Kate Breckinridge Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the local Confederate veterans the handsome granite monument was crowned by the figure of a Confederate officer. The man whose figure had been chosen by the local community to exemplify the qualities and virtues of the Confederate soldier at his best was Capt. Robert D. Logan.

Robert D. Logan was born on January 20, 1829 to Beaty and Patsy Everheart Logan, a pioneer family of Lincoln County in what was later part of Boyle County. Before the war Logan was a single farmer who lived at the family farm with his two single brothers, Mathew and Allison.
Logan was described by his neighbors and friends as a man of “striking individuality, one who attracted more than passing notice of any assemblage. He was a magnificent specimen of manhood, rugged, robust, courageous and honest in physique, mental traits and personal convictions. Without apparent appreciation of fear, without compromise on questions of political importance, and with stern and prompt expression of opinions, he was a fair fighter and a forgiving friend…as a companion and neighbor he was hospitable and generous, as a citizen, he was patriotic, and as a man he was big-hearted, genial and kindly.”
On September 2, 1862 Logan enlisted in the 6th Kentucky Cavalry which was being raised in central Kentucky for service in the Confederate Army. Logan was elected captain of Company A. The 6th was commanded by Col. J. Warren Grigsby and placed under the command of Abraham Buford. The 6th saw its first action in the Perryville Campaign helping to cover the retreat of Bragg’s army from Kentucky. The regiment participated in the Battle of Murfreesboro and in March, 1863 was assigned to the command of Gen. John Hunt Morgan. The 6th served with Morgan in operations in Tennessee and was part of his command on the Indiana-Ohio raid which would be the longest cavalry raid of the war. The 6th was given the advance of the column near the end of the raid in southern Ohio. Closely pursued by several columns of Federal troops, Morgan intended to cross the Ohio River at the fords near Buffington Island.

The 6th was in the thick of the fighting at Buffington Island and formed part of the rear guard allowing Gen. Morgan and a large part of his command to escape capture there. Logan and part of his men were cut off and surrounded at Cheshire, Ohio where they were captured on July 20, 1863. As one of Morgan’s officers he was denied status as a regular prisoner of war and sent with his commander to the State Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio where they were treated as convicts. Following Morgan’s escape in November, he was transferred to nearby Camp Chase and again to Ft. Delaware, Maryland in March, 1864.

In August he was sent to Charleston, South Carolina among a group of 600 Confederate officers who were placed in a crowded open stockade on Morris Island in front of Union batteries in retaliation for the keeping Union officers in the city of Charleston which the Union batteries were shelling. Exposed to the elements and on near starvation rations the officers became known throughout the South as the “immortal 600” for their suffering and refusing to take the oath of allegiance. After 45 days under fire they were sent to Ft. Pulaski and on December 15, 1864 Logan was exchanged at Charleston harbor.

Logan returned to the remnant of Morgan’s men taking a command in Basil Duke’s brigade of cavalry. In April 1865 he accompanied Jefferson Davis and the Confederate government south into the Carolinas and Georgia. At Charlotte, North Carolina Duke asked and received permission from President Davis to promote Logan to Lt. Colonel. Logan surrendered with Duke’s command in May in Georgia. Of his service his comrades said, “As a soldier he was brave and chivalrous…he never shrank from duty.”

Logan returned to his farm along with his brothers who had also served as officers in the Confederate Army. He joined the J. Warren Grigsby Camp of the Confederate Veteran Association of Kentucky when it was formed in 1890. One of his favorite pastimes was fishing. From the silver coins he had received as his last payment from the Confederate Treasury he had a silver fishing reel made which was one of his prize mementos of his service.

After a short illness, Logan succumbed to heart problems at his home on June 25, 1896. His doctor reported his last words, which he stated he was aware of his condition, which he knew his time was short, that he had lived as best he could and if the Lord wanted to take him he was ready and satisfied to go. His old comrades conducted his graveside ceremony at his burial in Bellevue Cemetery in Danville. The memory of his life and service were still fresh in their memories fourteen years later when they unveiled his figure atop the Confederate monument.

"Originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pride of the Purchase

Kentucky gathered in Paducah for the annual reunion this year, and how fitting after the national SCV’s purchase of land adjacent to the Tilghman house has ensured the long-term preservation of this important Confederate site. Political correctness prevented the memorial service from being held at the Tilghman statue, so the service was moved to the land the SCV owns next to the Tilghman House. Nice to have a place of our own. Continued on the next page. Photos © Don Shelton

originally printed in the Fall 2007 publication of The Lost Cause

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Allen Central Confederate Boycott Hoax Exposed

In much of life we are content with a false comfort that there is a certain randomness to that which befalls us. We know that difficulties and disasters will come our way. We are prepared to accept a certain amount of such as simply fate or an act of God. The best example of this is that every time an accident or disaster occurs such as a plane crash, our first question is “was it terrorism”, and—for some reason—we feel a palpable sense of relief when confirmation arrives that it was not an intentional act, and though the loss of life remains unchanged by this news, we are more able to accept the event as a necessary trial of this mortal life.
   It is apparently part of our human nature, on the other hand, not to be content to simply accept a bad occurrence if it turns out to be the design and intent of men (or women).
   As Americans with Confederate ancestry, we are discovering more and more the intent of some to rob us of our heritage, and paint us and our ancestors as societal pariahs to be shunned and silenced. Attacks on Confederate symbols and heritage are not, primarily, due to any random shift or drift in society, but are calculated incursions by bigots with hate in their hearts towards us and our heritage. Let us take the Allen Central Confederate Boycott Hoax as our most recent example.
   Allen Central is a public high school in Floyd County, the town of Eastern, Kentucky (which yes, is in eastern Kentucky) with about 400 students. It was formed in 1972 from four small high schools (Garrett Devils, Martin Purple Flashes, Maytown Wildcats, and Wayland Wasps), and the students at the new Allen Central were given the chance to choose a new mascot. They chose the Confederate soldier, and have proudly been the Rebels ever since. While there are a number of high schools in Kentucky that are also Rebels, it is safe to say that none of them embraces Confederate heritage as an integral part of their school’s identity more than Allen Central. You are greeted by a Confederate soldier at the entrance to the school, the centerpiece of the cafeteria is a large Battle Flag, surrounded by pictures from athletic events, usually with Battle Flags prominent, a large Battle Flag is in the gym, and even the courtyard is laid out in a St. Andrew’s Cross. In all likelihood, Allen Central is the most Confederate public high school in the nation.

   Nestled into the mountains of eastern Kentucky, far from the Meccas of political correctness in Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, Allen Central’s celebration of Confederate heritage has remained unmolested for more than three decades; but, four “missionaries” of political correctness recently have launched a coordinated attack to try to put Confederate heritage to an end at ACHS.
   The affair began in November 27th, 2006, when attorney and outgoing school board member Mickey McGuire made derogatory comments about Allen Central displaying the flag. The Floyd County Times ran an article on the McGuire’s denunciations on November 29th. McGuire, who was not seeking re-election, waited until his last meeting as a board member to say anything like this, and no other board members joined in supporting McGuire. McGuire’s parting shot was soon picked up by AP reporter Samira Jafari. Jafari is a journalist with a history of reporting on stories that appeal to the politically correct, including an editorial which was passed off as legitimate reporting on Alabama’s prison sentences being too harsh, and a story with a mildly positive spin on an utterly bizarre YMCA camp that makes children be “slaves” for a day, including being yelled at by an “overseer” until they cry, and then being forced to try and “escape”.
   On December 9th the Associated Press ran a slanted “expose’ ” by Jafari on Allen Central. This article had prejudicial angles in it such as “The black students who have encountered Allen Central's school spirit don't accept such views, though they do little to fight back,” which makes it sound like all black students who have played against Allen Central feel that way. In fact Jafari had only a quote from one black student, and the Floyd County Times was easily able to find black students who had played against Allen Central who felt quite differently.
   An Allen Central cheerleader who defended the school in Jafari’s article was ridiculed on national TV by MSNBC commentator Keith Olberman.
   Next enter Ned Pillersdorf, another Floyd County attorney and his version of “Glory Road”.

The Glory Road Fantasy
   In the recent movie, “Glory Road”, about the first NCAA basketball team with an all-black starting line-up to win a championship, a scene depicted Kentucky Wildcat fans taunting African-American players with Confederate flags. However, even though the movie was supposed to be based on real events, the flag-waving incident never occurred. When confronted about the deception, the movie producers simply said it made for a better story.
   Ned Pillersdorf was the source for the next Associated Press story by Jafari on December 24th – which was carried nationally and internationally – about a small high school basketball team that was going to boycott a game against Allen Central High (ironically, scheduled on Robert E. Lee’s 200th birthday, January 19th), because of Allen Central’s use of the Confederate Battle Flag, and its fans taunting an African-American player in last year’s game with Confederate flags.
   Was this really life imitating fictionalized art? Pillersdorf, a transplanted New Yorker who has decided to live in Floyd County and who is volunteer basketball coach for the tiny private David school that was supposed to boycott Allen Central for the flag waving, claimed it was. Pillersdorf specifically claimed that Allen Central fans at last year’s game had taunted an African-American player on his team with Confederate flags when he shot free throws, and that his players had voted to boycott this year’s game. For some reason, Pillersdorf hadn’t complained about anything last year, and he had waited until after the Associated Press ran an article about Allen Central’s Confederate mascot to announce a boycott by his school.
   It turns out, though, that Pillersdorf’s flag-taunting incident was just as fictional as the one in “Glory Road”. The problems for Pillersdorf began when David school officials held a press conference to announce that there
was no boycott, and that Pillersdorf hadn’t gone through channels to ask for one. This means that Jafari, the AP reporter who worked with Pillersdorf to create the faux boycott story, didn’t corroborate it with school officials, a basic requirement of journalism, before sending the inflammatory piece over the wires.
Jafari running an uncorroborated story was really the lynchpin, as various versions of the Confederate boycott article reverberated through the media for days and even weeks. The Lost Cause contacted Jafari to ask her why she ran such an inflammatory story without corroboration. Jafari declined to comment.
   It got worse for Pillersdorf, though, when the Allen Central athletics director pulled the records from last year’s game, and the records showed that the player in question hadn’t shot any free throws in that game. That problem for Pillersdorf’s story was nothing, though, compared to when his own players spoke. They revealed to the Floyd County Times that they had not wanted to boycott the game with Allen Central, that they had not taken a “boycott” vote, and even supported Allen Central’s use of Confederate symbols.
Finally, the African-American player in question in the flag-taunting story drove the ultimate stake into the heart of Pillersdorf’s fabrications when he flatly stated that the incident never happened.
   Eventually the two school principals decided to postpone the game, with all the emotions that Pillersdorf and the media had created over the fictional flag taunting, and the Floyd County superintendent wanting there to be no flags at the game if it did happen.

   It’s bad enough that a movie would pass off such a fabricated event as taunting players as real, but Ned Pillersdorf pretending that such a thing happened in real life wasn’t just coming up with a “better story” to make some sort of personal statement of his dislike for Southern heritage; it was very disruptive to the community, and on January 27th, the SCV issued a press release demanding apologies from Pillersdorf and the Associated Press, and demanding that the AP run a story correcting its bogus “boycott” article. With the damage the AP article caused, and its wide distribution, a correction would be a minimal response, but even after the hoax was revealed and reported on by the Floyd County Times, and even obliquely covered in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the AP has declined to run a correction.
   During all this, local reaction against Pillersdorf and McGuire ran strong, with websites and ad hoc committees quickly formed to fight the apparent attempt to change Allen Central’s flag and mascot. One of the most active citizens locally was Ronnie Parsons, who worked with the SCV to coordinate an effective counter-campaign, including a large ad paid for by the SCV featuring Parsons in the Floyd County Times. The SCV also ran a “Thank You” ad in the school paper at Allen Central.

The Circus Comes to Town
   On December 18th, Louis Coleman, a media-hungry “civil rights” nudnick from Louisville suddenly showed up in Floyd County, to hold a “private” meeting and hold hands with superintendent Paul Fanning, urging Fanning to get rid of Allen Centrals’ flag. Interestingly enough, this “private” meeting was attended by Samira Jafari, who promptly ran a sizeable story on it again over the AP wires, complete with hateful quotes from Coleman—”this community is in the past” and “these symbols have been eliminated.” etc. The article did admit that the school had been flooded with messages of support for the flag, but somehow failed to check with the SCV for a counter comment, despite efforts by the SCV to get the media to carry its responses. Telling all about Louis Coleman would be a whole article in itself, but he is a master of quick publicity (he has friends in the media, obviously Jafari among them), and is a master of squeezing money from businesses and local governments, apparently for them to prove their support of his agenda, and perhaps to avoid being on the receiving end of one of his many protests and quick-strike media blitzes (a la’ Jesse Jackson), according to an expose’ on Coleman by Louisville TV station WLKY.
   The real point, though, is that Jafari either invited Coleman to Floyd County, or Coleman set up the media coverage with Jafari. Either way, when combined with the “boycott” story to come a few days later where Jafari worked with Pillersdorf, a pattern begins to emerge. Jafari was “creating” news by working with the likes of Coleman and Pillersdorf, rather than being a journalist, all the while ignoring calls from the SCV to make corrections.

The First Meeting
   Superintendent Fanning’s response to the “controversy” was to say that McGuire’s suggestion would be open for discussion at the next school board meeting. To add to the confusion, though, there were two “next” meetings, one on the 17th of January and one on the 22nd. Apparently the first meeting usually is for the purposes of setting the agenda at the second. Mickey McGuire, no longer a member of the board, wasn’t at either meeting to hear the reactions to his earlier anti-Southern comments.
   The consensus of those working the case for the SCV, which included division staff, members from the two Floyd County SCV camps, SCV Chief of Heritage Defense Darryl Starnes and SCV national heritage defense committee member Billy Bearden along with Ronnie Parsons and the local group of concerned citizens, was that a full turnout for both meetings was essential, prepared to stare down Coleman if necessary.
A rumor began circulating that the school board would turn the matter over to the School Based Decision Making Council at Allen Central (which turned out to be true). In anticipation, the School Council met before the school board meetings, and unanimously voted to keep the flag in anticipation. The SBDMC would not meet again until late February, where this decision could truly be made offical (to the satisfaction of the superintendent).
   At the school board meeting on the 17th, over 100 turned out, all in favor of keeping the flag at Allen Central. The Kentucky Division’s “I Support Confederate History Month” stickers were passed out, with virtually all present wearing one. First to speak on the matter was Sam Hatcher, commander of the Col. Andrew Jackson May camp, who eloquently defended Confederate heritage and Allen Central. Afterwards, Hatcher was interviewed by WYMT television, and the Herald-Leader. Typically, the Herald-Leader didn’t use any of Hatcher’s or the SCV’s statements. Ultimately, the school board declared that any mascot issue belonged to the School Council and referred it to them (fully aware that the SBDMC had already voted to keep the flag and soldier).
   This school board meeting was probably the first news-worthy event in the entire scenario—it showed a community speaking clearly to its elected officials in support of Confederate heritage despite a media barrage against them. McGuire’s unsupported comments, the slanted article on Allen Central, the Coleman PR-seeking private meeting, the Pillersdorf boycott hoax were all “created” news of a sort - much ado about nothing. So, with this strong public reaction certainly the media—and especially the Associated Press and Jafari—had an obligation to report this community outpouring at the board meeting. However, after all the previous anti-Confederate stories on the AP, this apparently wasn’t worthy of mention.
   Instead, the next day—the 18th—the media picked up on a story that the game would happen, but that the Superintendent was going to ban Allen Central—as a school, but not any individuals— from having any Battle Flags at the game, so after ignoring the story of the overwhelming support at the school board meeting, the Associated Press went with the flag ban story instead, and the Herald-Leader expanded it into a full feature. The AP quoted superintendent Fanning as saying school displays of the flag would be banned to defuse the situation (while admitting individuals couldn’t be stopped). If Fanning truly thought this, he needed a quick education, because all he did was give the media more fodder to keep pouring fuel on the fire, and it’s doubtful he had any real authority to make such a proclamation. Besides, the “school displays” of the Flag are permanently attached—as in painted on the walls. Even if the school, say the cheerleaders, weren’t going to wave a particular flag per se, the Flag would still be everywhere.
   Fortunately for all concerned, the two school principals involved had more sense, and rather than play a game with a “ban” (which would have been the beginning of a terrible slippery slope for Allen Central), they agreed to postpone the game. This decision was carried again by the Associated Press, but with the angle that the “flag flap” controversy had caused the game to be postponed, rather than being truthful that biased and inaccurate media reporting—specifically the Associated Press—was responsible for the schools having to delay the game.

The Second Meeting
   The second, “full” meeting of the school board occurred on January 22nd and had many similarities to the first: over a hundred showed up to support the flag in case the issue came up and in case Louis Coleman showed up. Coleman didn’t show (it’s not really his style to face a hostile crowd), but he did leave copies of a letter from his “Justice Resource Center” - filled with factual and grammatical errors, even getting the name of the school district wrong—explaining to the good folks in Floyd County why they were bigots for having a Confederate high school. The superintendent made copies of the Coleman letter available, but the crowd had no interest in it. Sam Hatcher again eloquently spoke on behalf of the SCV, joined by local citizens like Ronnie Parsons. The superintendent addressed the issue by explaining the matter had already beenreferred back to the SBDMC, and was not being considered by the board.
   This second meeting was the media’s chance to atone somewhat for their mishandling of things by at least reporting the final outcome. We are still waiting for that to happen, though. The AP ran a total of 5 biased and inaccurate stories on Allen Central before the second meeting, but couldn’t bother to even report the outcome of the “controversy” they created.

More Coleman
   Louis Coleman’s antics weren’t done just with his little collaboration with the AP. On January 9th he also picketed (probably for just long enough to speak to a reporter he arranged beforehand to be there) in front of the Kentucky Department of Education building in Frankfort, complaining about Allen Central (and all other “Rebel” schools in Kentucky), and demanded to be placed on the agenda of the state school board’s next meeting (February 7th). Coleman had previously spoken to the state school board several years prior and as a response the state board sent letters to all school systems recommending they study the issue of insensitive mascots. The truth is, though, that under KERA (the Kentucky Education Reform Act) the state school board has no power over local schools’ mascots. In response to Coleman’s request, Kentucky Division Commander Tom Hiter also formally requested to be on the agenda to counter Colemen. The reply from the board was that since the board had no authority to address the question, it would not take sides, and would not allow either Coleman or Hiter to speak. It seems a little late to pretend to be neutral after sending the politically correct “offensive mascots” letter to schools earlier, though.

More Nonsense
   The nonsense wasn’t over yet, though. As a follow-up to all this, the SCV arranged for H. K. Edgerton, a noted black Confederate activist who, among many other things, has marched 1,600 miles across the South carrying a battle flag for Southern heritage, to speak at Allen Central on February 9th. It would be a perfect educational opportunity during Black History Month. However, a few days beforehand, Superintendent Fanning ordered that he not be allowed to speak at the school. Having had enough of the nonsense, Division Cmdr. Hiter called for a press conference/protest to be held across from the Lexington Herald-Leader building in Lexington’s Thoroughbred park on the 9th, and have Edgerton speak there.
   The SCV sent press notices to all area media, especially the Associated Press and A. P. writer Jafari who was behind most of the biased, erroneous and inflammatory reporting. Jafari sent back an apparently automated response saying she would be out of the office until May.
   Thursday night, February 8th, Allen Central and David finally played their basketball game, but Superintendent Fanning prohibited the press and public from attending, an apparently unprecedented event in Kentucky high school athletics (there have been instances where flu outbreaks have caused athletic events to be played behind closed doors, but nothing like this). Fanning claimed he wanted the situation to go away quietly, which brings into question his intelligence, since his over-the-top banning actions again drew the immediate attention of the media and the SCV. The Associated Press ran yet another story on Allen Central, this one taking the angle that the flag “controversy” (not the taunting hoax) caused the superintendent to ban the press and public. The byline on this A. P. story was the same as the others: Samira Jafari, the reporter supposedly “out of the office until May” who was refusing to answer questions about her role.
   The SCV news conference the next day was held under beautiful but cold skies on the high ground of Thoroughbred Park. Three TV stations and the Herald-Leader did send reporters. They got an earful from Cmdr. Hiter and Edgerton, focusing on the flag taunting hoax and denial of Edgerton’s speaking appearance. The TV stations provided brief coverage, but didn’t get beyond the typical “Confederate flag causes controversy” sound bite. One of the stations even managed to cover it without mentioning or showing Edgerton. The Herald-Leader and Associated Press did briefly cover it, but were still more fascinated with the closed-doors basketball game than anything else. They briefly visited the issue of Pillersdorf’s faux flag-taunting, but treated it more like a disagreement than a hoax. Then Channel 36 (ABC affiliate) put together a 4-night hatchet-job on Edgerton and the SCV, ignoring again the real story of the Pillersdorf fabrication and media culpability.

Even More Nonsense
   Finally, on that same Friday, the state school board issued its earlier “offensive mascots” letter to school systems again, telling the media it was in response to the Allen Central “controversy”. This action came after directly telling Cmdr. Hiter that the board was neutral. So now we have even the state school board dealing in actions that fall short of truthful.

The Result
As we were going to press on Monday, February 25th, the School Based Council met again in the afternoon and voted to let the students decide whether to keep the flag. The positive outcome of this student vote is somewhat easy to predict. It’s also predictable that proper media coverage of this decision won’t happen, though.

What Now?
The victory in Floyd County—and it was a victory, no matter the biased media coverage—was coordinated by a winning combination of local citizens, local SCV camps, division and national. All worked together and all contributed. There was a big difference in addition, though; in this case the school—especially the principal “Sis” Hall—was with us, and the school board was with us (even if the superintendent wavered to very bad effect). This was a fight on good ground; but we’ve always known Floyd County was good Confederate territory, from the days of the 5th Kentucky Infantry drilling in the fields by the May house in Prestonsburg.
The antagonists of this hoax will probably take a breather for the moment; Jafari still isn’t responding to questions about her role, Pillersdorf now wishes it would all go away, McGuire hasn’t been involved since his hate-filled comments in November, and Coleman may temporarily run out of ways to get some media face time. However, these four were able to orchestrate a tempest in a tea cup that took a large-scale mobilization of local and SCV resources to counter. Even though they lost, they enjoyed a lot of attention for little effort; they (and more like them) will be tempted to try similar things in the future.
   The SCV’s job is not over. We have several areas to address. First, the controversy has generated interest locally in the SCV despite the fact the media (other than the Floyd County Times) refused to carry SCV press releases and statements, and this is a recruiting opportunity. Second, the SCV needs to insure that those responsible for this hoax are held accountable. The Associated Press perpetrated a lie and refused to speak to it, correct it, and discipline the reporter responsible. Pillersdorf fabricated events. McGuire did harm to the school system he was elected to serve. These parties need to be reminded as much as possible when appropriate of their responsibility for the entire affair, and others tempted to try the same need to see that there will be strong and long-lasting resistance to such perpetrations. Finally, the SCV needs to recognize that we don’t have many public schools where Confederate heritage is celebrated, certainly not to the degree at Allen Central. Even the other schools with “Rebel” mascots in Kentucky are skittish to some degree. Allen Central needs to be adopted, both by our division and the national organization, as a public service project. The staff and students need to know that the SCV will be there to help, not only in a scrap like this, but also when they need some money for academics or sports, or to provide living history demonstrations and other Confederate-related education. The SCV needs to be involved with Allen Central, a public high school that celebrates and fights for Confederate heritage like no other.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Fine Place

Elbridge Gerry Littlejohn was a typical Confederate soldier. He was born near Gaffney, South Carolina, on January 3, 1841. The young Elbridge received the proper education for an antebellum Southern gentleman, attending an academy at Limestone Springs, South Carolina, where he learned to read both Latin and Greek classics “with a considerable degree of accuracy.” The headmaster of his school, J. Banks Lyle, commented that “few young men leave our Academies with morals so correct” and “with minds so well trained” as E.G. Littlejohn. In late November 1860, while all across Dixie stunned Southerners were considering how to respond to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, “with much pleasure” Lyle commended the young man “to the consideration of any Southern community.” Just eight days after South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, several prominent citizens of Spartanburg also recommended Littlejohn as a “young man of good morals and in good standing in our District.”

E. G. Littlejohn was soliciting these recommendations at the end of 1860 for he was about to move to Texas. Apparently, as soon as school let out for the Christmas holiday, Littlejohn jumped on his horse and headed for the Lone Star state. His fiancée and her family had moved to Texas earlier in the fall, and the attraction of love persuaded the young man to leave home and family behind and seek his fortune out west. By his wedding date, January 19, 1861, Littlejohn was already living in Smith County, Texas. For a little over a year, Littlejohn enjoyed his new married life, but the crisis of the times soon caught up with him, and in March 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army. Littlejohn joined Company G of the 10th Texas Cavalry, a regiment that just a month after his enlistment was dismounted and fought the remainder of the war as an infantry unit. From the spring of 1862 until May 1865 Littlejohn faithfully wrote his young wife, Sarah—or, “Sallie,” as he called her—telling her of his life as a Confederate soldier. Among those letters are two written from Kentucky, for the 10th Texas was among those Confederate forces that invaded the Bluegrass State in the fall of 1862.

Before the Kentucky invasion, Littlejohn’s regiment had not seen much action. After spending some time in central Arkansas, Littlejohn had joined thousands of other Confederates from the trans-Mississippi who were transferred across the river to help defend the vital rail junction of Corinth, Mississippi. After the battle of Shiloh, Corinth had become the headquarters for Confederate forces seeking to blunt the Union move through Tennessee and down the Mississippi River. However, General Beauregard soon decided the position was indefensible, and in late May he evacuated the city. While the boastful Confederate commander regarded the retreat as “equivalent to a great victory,” Private Littlejohn had another perspective. He wrote to his wife that while he expected the newspapers to describe the evacuation as “magnificent” and a “Glorious Retreat,” he assured her “it [was] anything else.” The inexperienced soldier confessed that he had never witnessed “any suffering” until his experiences in Corinth. The treatment of the sick and dying caused him special consternation.

Like many soldiers, Littlejohn encountered much sickness in the army camps. On June 3 he wrote that “our regiment has not more than 200 men able for duty,” for “everybody has the Diarrhea.” The young Texan admitted that even he had had “a mild form.” The rigors of camp life, he said, had produced “great dissatisfaction among the Texan boys;” they were sure it was the “water and the climate working upon them” to produce such sickness. Littlejohn advised his wife to tell her brother, Benton, “never to go to the army…as long as he can keep from it.” After what he had seen, the distressed young man assured his wife that her brother had no idea “about the hardships of military service.” Benton Jefferies, however, disregarded his brother-in-law’s words of caution and joined the Confederate Army; in November 1862 he succumbed to the sicknesses that Littlejohn warned of and died in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Invariably, when Littlejohn wrote to his wife he implored her to “earnestly pray” for him. The homesick soldier assured his wife that he kept her in his prayers, and he wanted her to so remember him. Like so many Southerners who served in the defense of their country, Littlejohn realized that both the fate of the nation and its cause as well as his own personal destiny was in the hands of a God who “directs all things for the better.” Thus, he comforted his worried wife with the promise that if they “should not meet [again] on earth,” they should “meet each other in heaven, where we will not have to shake parting hands any more.” On a more practical note, Littlejohn counseled his wife that he was committed to seeing the war through to its conclusion and that in this resolution he was determined “to keep good spirits and then go ahead,” for he said, “what good would it do to become despondent and low spirited?” Later in the War, when many Confederate soldiers were giving up and deserting the ranks, Littlejohn refused the temptation telling his wife that to leave the ranks would dishonor his name forever.

By July 1862, Elbridge Littlejohn was in Chattanooga. For the moment, Confederate forces there were immobilized, as was the Army of Mississippi now commanded by Braxton Bragg, while Union forces slowly worked their way down the Tennessee River and across northern Mississippi towards the strategic city. On the twentieth of the month, Littlejohn exulted to his wife over the “signal victory of Gen. Forrest at Murfreesboro and around Nashville, and those of Morgan in Kentucky.” Indeed, all the Confederacy took hope at the daring cavalry raids of the intrepid Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Hunt Morgan. These raids not only slowed the Federal advance but they also planted an idea in the strategic thinking of the Confederate high command. General Bragg decided to move the Confederate armies northward into Kentucky, duplicating on a larger scale the cavalry operations, and hoping that this move would not only relieve Tennessee but also gain Kentucky recruits for the Southern cause and perhaps even bring the Bluegrass State into the Confederacy.

Elbridge Littlejohn entered Kentucky as a part of Ector's Brigade, McCown's Division, Confederate Army of Kentucky. While marching from the Cumberland Gap towards Richmond, the Texas soldier reported that the Confederates “did not meet with many friends.” However, he said, as they “advanced farther into the state, the friends of secession became more numerous.” News of a “federal force ahead of us” must have made the young man anxious, for he had never been in battle yet. “Early in the morning” of August 30, 1862, Littlejohn and his messmates caught the sound of “heavy artillery firing;” then, as they hurried forward, “soon we heard the small arms open.” At this point, he confessed “I knew that the long expected moment was near at hand.” Littlejohn’s account of the Battle of Richmond follows closely the later official reports. While the 10th Texas was involved in “trying to flank them on the right,” the men of General Patrick Cleburne’s brigade “were pouring it to them on the left. They could not stand the fire and broke to run. Our brigade outflanked them and commenced firing on them as they run. They could not stand this and soon surrendered. Another part ran on farther and formed a line of battle behind a little hill. Our men advanced on them slowly until we came in sight of them….The Feds fought bravely,” he conceded, “but could not stand the charge of our boys, in which we took one battery. They ran then in every direction.”

Like so many soldiers in the War Between the States, Littlejohn became a casualty in this battle. After the first charge, he could not continue and had to “sit it out.” His inability to continue the fight was not the result of a wound, however, but the result of diarrhea. This scourge of both armies took more lives over the course of the War than did battlefield wounds, and it temporarily incapacitated many more, both during battle and at other times. Littlejohn frequently reported to his wife of his bouts with the illness. He seemed to feel no shame in confessing to his wife that the attack on his bowels was so severe “that I could not keep up. We had to run so much and being unwell I gave out just before the second fight commenced.” However, he was close enough to the fighting that “the balls fell around me where I was sitting as thick as hail.” At some point he was able to regain his feet and catch up with his company. All in all, he admitted that the “day’s labor was the hardest ever I went through with.” Certainly the Texans did their part, for Littlejohn reported that the 10th Texas Dismounted Cavalry suffered fifty-two of the seventy-five killed and wounded in Ector’s Brigade.

After leaving Richmond the Confederates marched northward and “passed through several towns of importance…among which was Lexington.” The young man from Texas was much impressed with the city, declaring it a “fine place” that provided “the grandest display of secession feeling” he had ever seen. “The streets were thronged with men and women.” In addition, he related that the hoped for recruits from the Bluegrass State were “volunteering rapidly.” The 10th Texas ultimately reached the approaches to Covington before having to retreat “owing to the superior numbers of the enemy.” In spite of this setback, Littlejohn was sure the Confederates would once again “attack them in a few days,” and he promised his wife that he would write her all the details, “if I live.”

Like so many soldiers who wore the gray, Littlejohn seemed to take the horrors of war and difficulties of army life in stride. In his letters he commented matter-of-factly on the deaths of his comrades (including one killed at Richmond), and then he would turn his attention to more mundane matters. From Covington he informed her of his diet—“eight days without tasting bread, eating nothing but roasting ears, poor beef, and apples, and not half enough of that;” the condition of his clothing—“tolerable…with the exception of shirts,” but wearing “Yankee socks…which I took out of one of their knapsacks;” his health—“not been sick at all, only with the diarrhea, which is very common in camps;” and, his thoughts of home—“Sallie, I would like to hear from you very much.” Although his enlistment period would soon be completed, he expected he would have to “stay on a while longer.” He reassured his worried wife, however, that he would “come out safe and sound” and that she should not be “uneasy” about him.
Littlejohn’s Division did not participate in the Battle of Perryville, “a fortunate thing for us,” he admitted. Before he departed Kentucky, he had a chance to write one more letter detailing his experiences in our fair state. This letter is dated October 27, 1862, and was written from the Cumberland Gap. Although he said he could not give a “full account of our perambulations through the State of Kentucky,” he did give his wife some more highlights. He was disappointed that he had missed seeing Frankfort, but he went to some lengths to describe the hospitality and enthusiastic support of Kentuckians for the Confederacy. Littlejohn worried about these “zealous lovers of the Southern cause,” for he feared they would “suffer the malice and fiendish propensities of the infuriated clan that will follow us.” He was convinced that the depth of feeling he witnessed among Kentuckians—“I saw some men and women so rejoiced that they even burst into tears and shouts”—was the result of their having been “bowed down by oppression so long.” These people “were the kindest in the world to soldiers,” he said. “No matter what they had was not too good for the poor private.” He related how one Sunday morning he and another soldier had approached a house where they found “a very old woman sitting alone reading her Bible.” To their relief, they found her to be “true secession.” She invited them in, served them a meal, and then filled their canteens with milk and gave them “as much butter as we could carry.” They offered to pay her, but she would not take “one cent.” The homesick young husband told his “dear Sallie” that he had not “met with a better dinner since I left home.” The meal and the “kindnesses” of this unnamed Kentucky grandmother and the many others who made the soldiers feel welcome in the bluegrass made Littlejohn “think more of home than I had done for a long time.”

So, Elbridge Gerry Littlejohn took with him from Kentucky cherished memories of a kind and generous people. The young Texan would be wounded twice at the Battle of Murfreesboro, but would recover from his wounds and return to the ranks to serve to the end of the War. Although his name does not appear in the histories of the Confederate Kentucky campaign, he and many other largely anonymous soldiers in gray did what they could to bring the Bluegrass State into the Confederacy. Although their efforts were not successful, they could take pride in having done their duty and given their best in the cause of liberty.

Glen Spann, associate professor of history at Asbury College, is a descendant of Private E. G. Littlejohn.

Originally published in the Winter, 2007 issue of "The Lost Cause"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Remembering Elizabeth

After weeks of balmy Fall, a deep Winter’s chill set in on the morning of Veterans’ Day, 2006, but it did not stop over a hundred from gathering in a small Trigg County cemetery to pay respects to Elizabeth Savells Wirz, the Kentucky wife of martyr Capt. Henry Wirz. Elizabeth’s final resting place was unmarked and largely unknown for decades, until a research effort led by Nancy Hitt and Betty McCorkle found Elizabeth (see the Winter 2006 Lost Cause for the full story). The time had come to remember Elizabeth, and the suffering she endured as her husband was falsely imprisoned, charged and executed as a scapegoat for the South. Capt Wirz’ only request was that the South take care of his family. In a small way, that is what we did under the cloudy, frigid skies of November.

Folks came from near and far, including groups from Georgia, South Carolina and Switzerland (that’s Col. Heinrich Wirz, great-nephew of Capt. Henry Wirz, in the beret). Nancy Hitt and the ladies of the UDC went to great pains to make the service solemn and special, and then treated all to a wonderful buffet afterwards.
Photos © Don Shelton originally published in the Winter, 2007 issue of The Lost Cause