Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Frankfort's Colored Soldiers Civil War Monument

It has been said in jest that Kentucky didn't secede until after the Civil War. There is no better proof for that comment than the great disparity in the number of Union and Confederate monuments within the Commonwealth's borders. Kentucky never left the Union and sent over twice as many men to fight for the Blue than the Gray, but if post-war monuments had equalled war-time military victories then we might be paying our taxes to Richmond and not Washington.

One of few monuments to the Union in Kentucky, and the only one to Kentucky African American Civil War soldiers, is in the capital city of Frankfort, in Greenhill Cemetery. This ten-foot limestone pillar as it says on the front, was erected on July 4, 1924, by the "Women's Relief Corps No. 8 GAR" (Grand Army of the Republic. The monument was dedicated, "In Memory of the Colored Soldiers Franklin County, Kentucky Who Fought in the Civil War 1861-1865." On the other three sides of the monument there are 142 soldiers' names.

Around 25,000 Kentucky African American soldiers served in the war; almost one-third of the total Union soldiers from the state. More probably would have served if they had been allowed to enlist before March 1864. Almost half of these soldiers were recruited and trained at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County, and a large number of those soldiers saw combat at Saltville, Virginia, the 1864 Nashville Campaign, and the Petersburg/Richmond Campaign.

The day before the monument was dedicated the Frankfort State Journal ran the following short article:
"Colored Soldiers Monument to be Unveiled- The monument, which has been erected to the memory of the Colored Soldiers of the Civil War from Frankfort and Franklin County, will be unveiled at Green Hill Cemetery tomorrow afternoon at four o'clock. Short and appropriate exercises are to be held. This monument has been erected at the cost of several hundred dollars under the direction of the Colored Women's Relief Corps, and each soldier's name has been cut on the stone. Contributions are being made to the fund by patriotic and public spirited citizens of both races."

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