Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My, Major Kalfus How You Have Changed!

I recently finished reading, The Battle Rages Higher: The Union's Fifteenth Kentucky Infantry, by Kirk C. Jenkins. Although I had read a significant amount about Kentucky's Confederate soldiers, I honestly had not read much about the Union fighting men of the commonwealth. The book provided good background information on how at least a portion of Kentucky's majority Unionist population experienced the war, which I think will be helpful if I continue to pursue my research on white Kentuckians' opposition to black enlistment.

The 15th Kentucky was raised from men that came from a number of different counties. Soldiers from Jefferson, Bullitt, Shelby, Nelson, Hardin, LaRue, Hart, and Spencer, among others, signed up to fight to save the Union. One soldier in particular had an especially interesting story.

Henry Frederick Kalfus was born on April 14, 1832 in Shepherdsville, Ky (Bullitt Co.-highlighted on map above) and was educated at Hanover College (Indiana), and the Kentucky School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree in 1860. He had married Elizabeth Birkhead in 1854, and raised Company D of the 15th Kentucky after the war broke out. He was elected its captain, and was promoted to major of the regiment on October 9, 1862, a day after the unit had fought at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.

The 15th Kentucky fought too at Murfreesboro, [Stones River] Tennessee. During the winter battle (Dec. 31-Jan.2, 1862), their young colonel, James Brown Forman was killed. Promotions appeared to be available for almost all of the officers in the regiment, but opposition to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (to take effect on Jan. 1, 1863) prompted fifteen officers in the regiment to tender their resignations in late January. Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, the army's commander, rejected them all.

In early February, five officers again attempted to resign, but also were rejected by Rosecrans. Kalfus, expecting a promotion was denied when the resignations were rejected and retained his rank of major. Disappointed in the status quo, he wanted out of the service, but he apparently did not want to lose honor by making it look like he resigned due to not being promoted. So, he resigned...but based his stated decision on opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Louisville Democrat published his stated reason for resigning on March 14, 1863:
"That I am painfully convinced that the war is not prosecuted by the present party in power [Republican] in accordance with the principles and policy under which I enlisted eighteen months ago; that I enlisted to fight rebellion, to fight treason, to fight for a reconstruction [emphasis in original] of the Union as it was, but not for the degradation of the white man to an equality with the negro; and being unwilling to sacrifice my liberty of opinion, and more unwilling to encourage insubordination by the utterance of sentiments while in the service which might be considered inconsistent with good order and proper discipline in the army, and as I could not as conscientiously and as zealously discharge my duties as formerly, I respectfully desire that my resignation be accepted; and moreover, that the service would not suffer, because the vacancies of the regiment were now filled, and a competent senior Captain ready to take my place."

A few days earlier Kalfus helped ensure that his resignation be accepted when he did just what he stated he would not do in his letter to the Louisville Democrat. While working on earthworks, and observing African Americans labor at the task, he said so as to be heard by others that, "I am willing for negroes to be employed for such work as this, but when guns are put in their hand we are all going home." Kalfus was arrested and then given a dishonorable discharge. Col. Beatty, who commanded the brigade the 15th was in, wrote in his diary that Kalfus, "will, I doubt not, be a lion among his half-loyal neighbors when he returns home."

Beatty was correct. Kalfus well knew the sentiments of the majority of his fellow Kentuckians about Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and thus the possibility of arming African American slaves for combat. The Louisville Democrat wrote about the Kalfus's discharge on March 14. "Had Captain [Major] Kalfus acted with more shrewdness and less honesty he could have withdrawn easily with high honor. Had he resigned on some hypocritical pretense, it would, no doubt, have been more in accordance with official custom and dignity, besides there would have been nothing like treason in the case." Flirting with treason would be in near future for Kalfus.

In August of 1864 Kalfus was arrested for conspiracy with members of the Sons of Liberty to aid the Confederate cause by releasing rebel prisoners and committing terrorist acts in the North. Kalfus was released from incarceration in a prisoner exchange, but upon returning to Louisville found that he was to be arrested again and made his escape to Canada. He returned to Kentucky after the war was over and went back to practicing medicine. He died in Louisville in 1890.

Although the details of the Kalfus story are quite unique, his change in sentiment after the Emancipation Proclamation is representative of a significant portion of Kentucky's white male population, and yet another reason that Kentucky became so identified with the Confederacy after the Civil War was over.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Only One Killed"

The following poem was written by Julia L. Keyes (1829-1877), an Alabama woman, after she read a notice in a newspaper during the Civil War under the headline "Only One Killed." It speaks of the disregard for the preciousness of human life that that terrible war brought; a callousness that developed in people, both North and South, with the loss of so many lives.

Only one killed -- in Company B;

'Twas a trifling loss -- one man!

A charge of the bold and dashing Lee --

While merry enough it was, to see

The enemy, as he ran.

Only one killed upon our side --

Once more to the field they turn.

Quietly now the horsemen ride --

And pause by the form of the one who died,

So bravely, as now we learn.

Their grief for the comrade loved and true

For a time was unconcealed;

They saw the bullet pierced him through;

That his pain was very brief -- ah! very few

Die thus, on the battle-field.

The news has gone to his home, afar --

Of the short and gallant fight,

Of the noble deeds of the young La Var

Whose life went out as a falling star

In the skirmish of that night.

"Only one killed! It was my son,"

The widowed mother cried.

She turned but to clasp the sinking one,

Who heard not the words of the victory won,

But of him who bravely died.

Ah! death to her were sweet relief,

The bride of a single year.

Oh! would she might, with her weight of grief,

Lie down in the dust, with the autumn leaf

Now trodden and brown and sere!

But no, she must bear through coming life

Her burden of silent woe.

The aged mother and youthful wife

Must live through a nation's bloody strife,

Sighing, and waiting to go,

Where the loved ones are meeting beyond the stars,

Are meeting no more to part.

They can smile once more through the crystal bars --

Where never more will the woe of wars

O'ershadow the loving heart.

Lest We Forget!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Circular No. 8, March 1, 1864

While doing some preliminary research on my new area of study - white Kentuckians opposition to black Union army enlistments - I ran across a letter from Kentucky Governor Thomas Bramlette to President Lincoln voicing his opposition and that of the state as a whole.

The first part of the letter reads:
"I see the Provost Marshall General U. S has issued his circular for the enrollment of slaves preparatory for draft. I had hoped that nothing would be done to disturb the confidence and good feeling which was being rapidly established in your Administration of the Government; and that nothing should occur to change a friendly support to an active hostility of your Administration, by those who have already endured much and suffered greatly for their Country. My earnest desire has been to unify the sentiment of my people in harmony with the legitimate measures of the Administration for the suppression of the rebellion. I had hoped for the sympathy and cooperation of the Administration. This hope cannot survive the attempt to inflict this wrong upon us."

Naturally, I was curious about what this circular said, so I referenced The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion - or the O.R. as historians refer to it. On March 1, 1864 the Provost Marshal General's (James B. Fry) Office issued Circular No. 8. It consisted of 6 points:

1. Pursuant to section 24 of the act approved February 24, 1864, amendatory of the act of March 3, 1863, boards of enrollment in districts in which there are any colored persons held to service will without delay proceed to enroll all such persons as are liable to military duty.
2. Enrolling officers will conduct the enrollment in the manner prescribed by existing orders and regulations and such other directions as the acting assistant provost-marshalls-general of the States may give.
3. Enrollment lists will be made upon the printed forms (Nos. 35 and 36), altering the heading to suit, and in the column headed "Former military service" the name of the person to whom service is owed is written.
4. A list, with a recapitulation of the number enrolled, will be made for each sub-district, and as soon as the enrollment of the district is completed these lists will be forwarded to the acting assistant provost-marshal-general for transmission to the Provost-Mashal-General. Copies of the list will be kept in the offices of the district provost-marshal. Those lists by sub-districts will not be consolidated.
5. The provost-marshal will furnish each person to whom the persons owe service a list of those owing service to him who have been enrolled, specifying their names, ages, and date of enrollment.
6. It is made the duty of the acting assistant provost-marshal-general to superintend this enrollment, and to give such orders and directions as may be necessary to make it accurate and complete.

While the other points are largely tedious instructions, the first point obviously is quite significant. It referred directly to the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware. While it also referred to some areas where the Union army occupied territory in the Confederacy, in many of those places, by the time this circular was issued, slavery was in fact dead on on its death bed.

Slavery was not dead in Kentucky. The Bluegrass state, along with her sister border states, was not subject to the Emancipation Proclamation, and men, women and children continued to be bought and sold and worked without compensation.

Slaves serving in the Union army was probably the last thing on Kentuckians' minds in 1861 when hostilities started. But, by 1864 Kentuckians knew that if slaves were allowed to enroll in the Union army, that would be the beginning of the end of slavery in the Commonwealth. The end of the practice of slavery meant the loss of millions of dollars in property and production. White Kentuckians also knew that if blacks were allowed to serve in the military it would be a step toward citizenship and social equality...something that they did not want to consider and something they would not have imagined three short year before.

Governor Bramlette continued his letter by stating:
"We offer freely our own Sons for the defence of the Government. You may call out as many as you choose by draft or otherwise and Kentuckians will obey the call without a murmer

Surely this should satisfy the demands of all whose object is the defence and preservation of our government. If you require a soldier we offer you a Kentuckian.-- Will nothing but a Negro satisfy the Administration? What superiority has the slave over the Kentuckian that he should be prefered? I beg you to pause, consider and weigh well the consequences, before you spring a mine the awakened thunders of which may crash upon the ear of the present and coming generations. Kentuckians will obey willingly any law requiring their services in defence of their Government -- for this they hold to be their duty -- but they will not obey a law violative of their Constitutional rights as Citizens, which dishonors them by preferring the slave to the loyal Kentuckian and which takes private property for public use without just compensation, and without any necessity or excuse. Such law can only be enforced by a hard and dangerous constraint .. Kentuckians will sacrifice every thing for for principle -- but principle for nothing."

Bramlette's claim that white Kentuckians would willing serve the Union army if called on apparently does not hold water. It is true that more Kentuckians served in the Union army than in the Confederate army. Historian Anne E. Marshall, in her book Creating a Confederate Kentucky, claims that between 66,000 and 76,000 men served in the Union army while between 25,000 and 40,000 served the Confederacy." But, of those that served in the Union army, 24,000 were African American soldiers. Marshall also contends that, "Of Kentucky's eligible white males, 71 percent chose not to fight at all." African Americans proved more committed, as "40 percent of Kentucky's able bodied African American males served the Union." Only the state of Louisiana sent more blacks to the Union than Kentucky.

In the spring of 1864, to paraphrase a song from one hundred years later, the times, they were a changin', but most white Kentuckians did not want to see or believe it.

For Bramlette's complete letter go to: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:@field(DOCID+@lit(d3136600))

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Last Full Measure at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress web site (www.loc.gov) is quickly becoming my favorite place to find primary sources. It is simply amazing how much historic information on almost any subject in America's past can be found over there.

Their Civil War photograph collection has always been top notch, and a first place stop for historians to find illustrations to their texts. But, there has been an recent addition to this fine collection. On exhibit now, not only in their Washington D.C. facilities, but also online, is The Last Full Measure, the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War era photographic portraits. The following is the description that the Library of Congress provides about the collection:

The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection

The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection presents a stunning array of Civil War-era ambrotype and tintype photographs that associates human faces, often startlingly young, with statistics on both sides in this wrenching conflict. This exhibition features portraits of enlisted men in uniform—both Union and Confederate—and serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the war by displaying images of 360 Union soldiers in uniform—one for every thousand who died—and 52 rare images of Confederate soldiers—one for every five thousand casualties. More than 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Civil War, a greater number of deaths than occurred in all other American wars combined through Vietnam.

Surrounding visitors to the exhibition, these portraits invite quiet contemplation of the human costs of the war and the courage and determination that characterized the people on both sides. The names of most of those pictured have been lost during the passage of time. As it preserves these portraits, the Library of Congress is also using the power of electronic media to recover as much information as possible about these individuals and to add details about their uniforms, hats, guns, swords, belt buckles, canteens, musical instruments, and the other items that surround them. A digital comment book at the end of the exhibition allows visitors to post their thoughts about individual photos and to reflect on the Civil War.

The Last Full Measure also tells the story of the family that has built the powerful collection of Civil War portraits, now numbering more than 700 images, from which this exhibition is drawn. As they continue adding to the collection, Tom Liljenquist and his sons Jason, Brandon, and Christian seek to inspire in others an interest in the amazing personal stories that are at the heart of all history. The Last Full Measure marks the beginning of the Library’s sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, in which three million Americans donned uniforms and countless others provided support on and off the field of battle—each person making a contribution to this defining chapter in the continuing story of the United States of America.

Take a few minutes to browse through this treasure trove of history. The faces of these men and women, both black and white, both Union and Confederate, are the faces of a generation that experienced the most trying time in America's history.

Here's the link: http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/civilwarphotographs/Pages/Default.aspx

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On To New Things

Courtesy Library of Congress-American Memory

Well, I submitted my article, "'Principles Opposed to the Public Peace:' Kentuckians' Reactions to John Brown's Raid" on Tuesday. I certainly do not think I have seen the last of the paper since I am sure more editing will be needed if it is accepted, but I have already started thinking of my next study.

Initially I thought about doing something on one of the United States Colored Troop regiments that was raised in Kentucky, but that would most likely require significant research time at the National Archives in Washington D.C. And, while I am certainly not opposed to spending as much time as possible in the nation's capitol deep in research, it is probably not realistic at this point.

I also thought about working on a string of studies about how Kentuckians experienced other national issues in the 1850s. Starting with the Compromise of 1850 (including the Fugitive Slave Law) and the Nashville Convention and going through John Brown's raid. These studies could be a number of articles that would probably turn into chapters, but obviously a study such as this would require it being book-length. Chronologically, other topics that would be of interest to me in this particular study would be Kentuckians' responses to: Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Kansas-Nebraska Act, The Margaret Garner case, Brooks's caning of Sumner, Bleeding Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates and end with my work on John Brown's raid. The only problem with this idea is that would require a significant commitment and would take a long time.

But, I believe that I have decided on something different. Piggybacking off of my previous work on Kentuckians' reactions to John Brown's raid, I think I might continue to explore the Bluegrass state and race. After recently reading Anne E. Marshall's Creating a Confederate Kentucky it reminded me of how vehemently Kentuckians opposed African Americans enlisting in the Union army. Although this topic has been touched upon in recent scholarship it doesn't appear that anyone has explored it in depth. Another positive to this particular topic is that there should be no shortage of sources from all across the state and from numerous perspectives.

One primary source I easily found at the Library of Congress is pictured above. Although it is not from a Kentuckian (it is from native Hoosier Ambrose Burnside) it does mention how he thought Kentuckians would respond to the issue of African American enlistments in the Commonwealth. It reads:

The following Telegram received at Washington 320 PM. June 26 1863,

From Cincinnati 2 PM.

Dated, June 26 1863.

Prest Lincoln

I am satisfied from my knowledge of Ky that it would be very unwise to enrol the free negroes of that State It would not add materially to our strength and I assure you it would cause much trouble I sincerely hope this embarassment to the interests of the public service will not be placed in our way Please Answer at once1

Very Resp'y

A E Burnside

Maj Genl

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shots of Fort Sumter...150 Years After

Today, in honor of the sesquicentennial of Fort Sumter, I thought I'd share some images that I took while in Charleston last week. Being in Charleston a week before the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Sumter was a real special treat. I had been to Charleston three times in the past, but I had never had the time to take a trip out to the historic fort. To say the least, standing on that historic ground was quite a moving experience.

To get out to the fort we had to take a boat ride from Liberty Park at the Aquarium thorough the harbor that lasted about 3o minutes. There was some recorded narration available on both the trip to the fort and on the way back, but when we boarded we went to the lower deck, so we only found that out on the way back.

It was a beautiful day for a cruise out to Fort Sumter. It was breezy, but nice and sunny. The view from the water level deck was amazing. The fort is visible over my left shoulder.

Native Kentuckian, Major Robert Anderson, the U.S. commander, moved his force from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter on December 26, 1860. Provisions ran low for the garrison over the next three months as South Carolina refused efforts to resupply the force. After the bombardment began on April 12, Anderson and his men lasted 34 hours until he finally capitulated.

There were no reported casualties in this the first battle of the Civil War, but Pvt. Daniel Hough was killed instantly when a cannon went of prematurely on shot 47 of a planned 100 gun salute during the surrender ceremony. The 100 gun salute was reduced to 50.

On April 14, 1865, Anderson returned to Fort Sumter to re-raise the flag he had lowered 4 years before. President Lincoln was assassinated later that evening back in Washington D.C.

This shot is from inside one of the surviving casemates. Our interpretive ranger explained that construction on Fort Sumter was started in 1829 by importing granite, much of it from New England, and building an island on which the masonry fort was built. Unbelievably, when the fort was bombarded on April 12, 1861, it still was not fully completed. Most of the masonry work was completed by African American slaves and free men of color and the bricks were made on local plantations. During the bombardment over 3,000 shots were fired at the fort!

The interior of Fort Sumter looks much different than it did 150 years ago. Battery Huger, a Spanish American War era installation now dominates much of the grounds, but it is easy to get a feel for what the fort looked like by viewing the surviving walls.

Michele and I on very historic ground.

It was possible to see Morris Island (about a mile away) quite clearly from Fort Sumter. Morris Island is where the famous 54th Massachusetts (African American soldiers) attacked Battery Wagner on July 18, 1863 and is depicted in the motion picture Glory.

Also clearly visible on the ride back to Charleston was Castle Pinckney. Pinckney was built by the U.S. government in 1810 and named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. This fort was the first federal installation in Charleston that fell to South Carolina's forces. During the Civil War this fort held Union prisoners taken at First Manassas for a short time.

On our return to the National Park Service Visitor Center at Liberty Park we had the opportunity go through the excellent exhibits that told the story of this American treasure. I highly recommend taking some time to visit Charleston during the Civil War Sesquicentennial and learn more about this opening round of the war.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dixie, Where is Dixie?

Courtesy Library of Congress-American Memory

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hemp for Traitors

Courtesy Library of Congress-American Memory