Saturday, August 31, 2013

Zooming In on More Dutch Gap, Virginia Images

If you have looked through Civil War photograph books the cover United States Colored Troops you have probably come across the above image. It appears to be a staged photograph of two soldiers firing from protected positions beside an abandoned house.

The soldier to the left wears his forage cap with chinstrap in place and is holding a Springfield rifle musket with attached bayonet. It seems unusual that the bayonet would be fixed on the rifle for any other reason than show. He is wearing a cartridge box with sling, bayonet scabbard, and waist belt, but is not carrying a canteen or haversack. A cap pouch is not visible. There is a tear in his four-button fatigue blouse.

The kneeling soldier to the right is holding a British Enfield rifle musket and has similar equipment as his comrade, but this soldier has his cap pouch behind his bayonet scabbard and on his back, where it would be difficult to reach. Perhaps he just buckled on his equipment for the picture without paying attention.

A picture that appears less in publications than that at the top provides a different look at the same scene, and possibly leads to a somewhat different interpretation.

The man in the above cropped picture appears to be the soldier shown in the first image kneeling. He has on a hat with chinstrap and seem to be the same height. One of his trouser legs has a hole in the knee.

Is the man standing on the right in this cropped image the soldier kneeling in the first photograph?  I am not sure. This soldier wears his hat much differently ans has on a greatcoat. Neither man in these particular cropped images have soldier accouterments on, but those could have easily been taken off or put on - as could the greatcoat. A third man is shown who does not appear to be in soldier clothes. He wears a slouch hat and a civilian coat and  may or may not have on military trousers.

Zooming in to the left of the structure one easily observes a photographer's wagon with camera pieces on the ground and in the bed of the wagon. Is it possible that these men were not soldiers at all, but rather photographer's assistants? I would say it is quite possible. That interpretation would make good sense of why they were not wearing all of the equipment soldiers usually carried, were wearing some of their equipment incorrectly, and were equipped with different makes of rifled muskets. The men that are wearing soldier clothes could have been given them for working for the photographer or could have picked them up as army discards.

Images courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"You Have No Idea of the Number That are Leaving"

On June 24, 1864, D. C. Humphreys wrote to his former son-in-law Alexander "Alec"John Alexander in Chicago to update him on happenings on the farm at Spring Station in Woodford County, Kentucky.

Humphreys opened his letter by explaining that both men had avoided losing "horse flesh" to John Hunt Morgan and his raiders in a recent excursion through the area. Alec's older brother, Robert A. Alexander, is remembered in history as the father of the thoroughbred industry in Kentucky. Robert owned Woodburn Farm in Woodford County where he kept and studded the famed race horse Lexington, which he purchased in 1858, for $15,000; the most ever paid for a horse in America to that point.  He also owned Asteroid (pictured), who was foaled in 1861. In 1864, Asteroid was stolen by Confederate guerillas, but was later redeemed. More prime horses were stolen from Woodburn in February 1865, which prompted Alexander to move his best horses to Illinois for the remainder of the war.

Humphreys moved from news of horses to news of slaves. And, although his handwriting is difficult to make out at several points, it is quite clear that their and neighboring enslaved workers were leaving for Camp Nelson in droves.

About half way down the first page Humphreys stated his concern:

"I wish I could give you as good news about our [?] by the Federal troops under orders from the Secretry of War = we are in danger of loosing every hand on our farms before harvest. there is a perfect stampede of "darkies" in Franklin and Woodford [counties]. Just before [John Hunt] Morgan reached Lexington, Charborn, Quillen & Beverly put out & then Henderson, Samuel, Chase & William (Josephine's husband) & Washington from Summers Forest, then Harry, Sanford & your Boy Charles, then Gilles & little George Canada (Ismelda's? son) and then your valuable negro man Armstead. Cotters [?] young boy left with Gilles. all have gone to Camp Nelson, which is a safer place than Canada ever was - & they are fed clothed & paid wages by the Government, and I am told have order, there to receive all that pay out the [?] of both sexes. Bernard Gratz & his father has lost I believe 15, James McKee had 5 go off the other day. thought Dr. Hurt 2 or 3. William has lost all of his. you have no idea of the number that are leaving = I don't know your Boy Dick would have done [gone] if he had been well. When Charley left he had been sick for several weeks but was never able to go about to do some work. Joe has been quite sick. he is able now to work some and commenced cutting your Barley yesterday. I requested your Brother [Robert] to send George home to plough and expected David Sargent yesterday to pay back some of [?] work by sending two hands today which if he does will finish your barley."

It is unfortunate that Humphreys handwriting in the letter is so difficult to read, but even so, it bears solid evidence of the area's enslaved people's strong desire for liberty and compensation for their labor.

The letter can be found on the digital collections of the Kentucky Historical Society here.

Photograph of Asteroid courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christian County Citizens Petition Governor Bramlette about Runaway Slaves

In January 1864, a group of Christian County, Kentucky, citizens wrote to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette vexed over their runaway slaves and asking him to help "arrest the evil." Included in the signers were some of the most prominent citizens of the county, including Albert Wallace, the husband of noted diarist Ellen Wallace.

Enslaved people made up about 45% of Christian County's population in the 1860 census, so it is easy to see their concern.  I found it interesting the number of times the authors included the word "citizen" in the letter. It is as if they wanted to beat that word into the governor's head as a reminder that the state's executive worked for them.

The document reads:

Hopkinsville Ky
Janury 23rd 1864

To his Excellency
Gov Bramlette

The undersigned loyal Citizens of Christian County who have always been and expect ever to be for putting down the rebellion represent, That our County is suffering evils ruinous to our Citizens and incalculable in their consequences, some time since two of our Citizens were sent to represent to your Excellency the serious loses of our Citizens from slaves leaving & going to Clarksville [Tennessee] & Fort Donelson.  No relief had been obtained but the evil is rapidly on the increase.  Some of our largest farmers & best Citizens (loyal men) are losing all except the helpless ones.  In a word our County is ruined if the evil is not stopped.

Ruin drives to desperation, Shall we take the law in our own hands; or can the Executive of our state do anything to arrest the evil.  We feel that loyalty & protection should be inseparable & hope his authority will be used for our relief.
E. H. Hopper
A. Palmer
G. B. Long
P.W. Dryden
I. F. Ellis
John M. Ginan
R. S. M. Reynolds
A. V. Long
John C. Durett
Lucius Jones
E. L. Foulks
James F. Buckner
E. R. Cook
A. Wallace
James Casky  
Chad McKee
 T. L. Starling
W. B. Jones
Rich Durrett
Geor. Poindexter
V. W. Crabb
H. J. Wyatt
Edmund B. Younglove
D.J. Hooser

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A 5th USCC Soldier Airs Grievances about His White Officers

If any USCT unit deserved its fair share of respect it was the 5th United States Colored Cavalry. Raised in Kentucky and trained at Camp Nelson the unit had barely been in the saddle when it was thrown into combat at Saltville, Virginia, in October 1864. There they fought on foot, attacking up a steep mountainside. Many of the men that were wounded ended up being killed after they had surrendered. If that horrific incident was not enough, in late January 1865, they were attacked by Confederate guerrillas near Simpsonville, Kentucky, while herding cattle from Camp Nelson to Louisville. Over 20 men were killed.

After the war the 5th served in Kentucky and then were sent to Arkansas. There they were mustered out in March 1866.

In the fall of 1865, while still in Kentucky, one disgruntled member of the unit wrote to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton about the regiment's white officers. It must be remembered that at the time the letter was written, slavery had not officially ended in Kentucky; that would not come until December, when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified.  The letter follows in full. Some punctuation and paragraphs have been added to help clarify.

Bryant Station Lexington Ky
Oct the 22. 1865

Mr E M Stanton
We are here and our wives and children are laying out doers [doors] and we have no chance to get home for them[.] we havnt had Six days furlough to See our wives and we have been in the army fourteen months[.] these [the 5th's white] officers are laying here and learning us nothing[.] instead of them learning us Sometheing they are Robing [robbing] us out of our money[.] they are taken [taking] our rations and Selling them and are Keeping the money[.] i think it is mighty hard for us to Stand that after coming from under bondage[.] their are men that has never had the chance to learn anything[.] they will give them change for one a one dollar for a fifty dollars[,] in Stead of teaching them better[.] that is the way they treat them[.]

we come in three years or Sooner discharge[d.] we would be willing to Serve three years longer [but] under these circumstances it would disheartin any one and [to] haf [have] to pay thirty dollars for a ten days pass when our wives comes to the camp to see us[.] they are not allowed to come in[to] camp and we are not allowed to go and See them[.] they are drumed of[f] and the officers Says ["]go you damed bitches[."] you know that is to[o] much[.] they [the wives] are treated So by these officer[s.] they ought to be a friend to us and them [wives] to[o.] the major makes his Brages [braggs?] that he will keep those dam niggers [soldiers] in [the service] until he makes a fortune[.] they have us cleaning up farms and cutting up Stumps for these citizens and they pay the officers for it and they allow these citizens to run over us[.] if we Say any thing to them we are put in jail and two or three months pay docked from us.

if you please[,] allow us the privelege of going home to Situate our familys for the winter[.] we hate to See them laying and Stroling around[,] but we cant help our Selves[.] we are able to Situate them by labor if they [officers] will allow us the privelege[.] we have payed nine hundred dollars for the raising of our brass band[,] now they want to claim the instruments off of us[.] its now more than what i [our] masters would have done[.] the loss of this fifth regiment is over thirteen hundred dollars by these officers[.] i think it is mighty hard for us to lay here and they fool with us that way[,] and when they hear of us being mustered out [of service] they Says that they will right to washington and they will holde us[.] they Say if they cant holde us any other way they will move us out of the State[.]

Shame[,] Shame[,] Shame,] how we are treated[.] they will not let us trated [trade or buy] out Side of the Sutlers[.] if we do they want to punish us[.] things that the Sutler has got that is only worth a dollar[,] they charge us Seven or eight dollars[.] if you want to b[u]y any thing out Side they Say ["]know [no] god dam you [,] go to the Sutlers and b[u]y[.] I must bring my letter to a close[.]
5 US "C" Cav
Your most devoted Soldier until death

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Secret Six Member Turned USCT Recruiter

When the Civil War came, a couple of John Brown's Secret Six supporters anted up. One, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, became the colonel of an African American regiment in South Carolina. Another, George Luther Stearns, became a recruiter of black troops in Tennessee and held the rank of major.

In November 1863, Stearns was interviewed by a representative of the American Freedman's Inquiry Commission in Nashville.

When asked how Stearns currently found slavery in Tennessee he responded that he believed it was dead, but thought the U.S. government was not treating the slaves fairly. Asked to elaborate, Stearns replied that when called to work on fortifications, roads, and other projects, blacks were not properly provided for. They were given inferior food, clothing, and shelter - if any shelter was provided at all. Additionally, and in his opinion, the men were also not properly paid for their labor.

Stearns was next questioned as to how the government should assist the slaves' transition to freedmen. He first recommended making them soldiers. Stearns was confident they would make excellent troops - troops the Union army needed and that were more readily willing and available there in the South, much more so, than in the North. He next recommended taking care of the the soldiers' families. He continued that the men wanted to be officially married and have their families recognized as legitimate.  This done and there could not be found a better soldier. "The value of the negro to us, at this moment, is in his enthusiasm, which far exceeds that of the white; in his cheerfulness . . . especially under privation; in his capacity to bear hardships, and in his capacity for discipline. You can discipline colored troops in half the time that you can white. The negro gives his whole attention to the work, and takes a pride in it. They want to enlist," Stearns said. But, "They do not feel themselves to be soldiers, until they get muskets," he clarified.

The inquisitor next asked Stearns if the men preferred to be soldiers or laborers.  Stearns said that "two-thirds" want to be soldiers instead of workers. He elaborated that if when as soldiers they were asked to work, that they would work willingly. He explained that he had no doubt that they would make soldiers equally good to white troopss and at the present time he had about three regiments (3,000 men) ready.

Stearns was asked what was to be done with the families of the soldiers while the men were in the ranks. He contented that confiscated land should be set aside for the families to work and that they should be paid for their labor. "The negro is very anxious to know what will become of his family if he enlists, and would be very glad to allot his pay for their support," explained Stearns.

Stearns closed the interview by stating: "I find that the prejudice of color fades away before negro recruiting, whereever it is tried. I believe the enlisting of the negro as a soldier will do more to elevate the negro character than any other influence - more probably, than all other influences combined. I think that, in the end, the two races will harmonize, and my opinion is that the black man will elevate himself faster than the Southern white, especially that class called the poor whites of the South. Before the war, there were no negro schools here; but now there are ten or twelve such schools established in this city, and all of them supported by blacks."

Stearns was perhaps a little too optimistic in his racial harmony timeline, but it can be of little doubt that service in the Union army provided African Americans with opportunities and a solid basis for claiming the rights granted by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Zooming in on the Faces of Quartermaster Mechanics

When it comes to Civil War soldiers, too often overlooked are the vital support troops. Without the services of these men the Union and Confederate armies would have be virtually useless. The army quartermasters kept the infantry, artillery, and cavalry, armed, fed, clothed, and sheltered. They fixed wagons, shod horses, doled out uniforms, and generally kept the armies moving and supplied.

The above photograph is an excellent image of a group of quartermaster mechanics from the 1st Division of the IX Corps, Army of the Potomac, near Petersburg, Virginia, in August 1864. Some hold their various trade implements such as hammers and horseshoes; some have on work aprons, and they sport a variety of hat styles - only one man appears to be hatless. Pipe smoking must have been a trade standard, as most of the men have one clenched in their teeth. Without a doubt they are a tough looking set of men that saw their own share of challenges and demands. 

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden's Frankfort

Gen. Thomas Leonidas Crittenden (pictured above) was the second son of politician John J. Crittenden, and is often noted as being the most successful of his father's children. Thomas was born in Logan County, Kentucky, in 1816, but moved with the family to Frankfort as an infant.  

Thomas was raised in the house pictured above, which is on the corner of West Main Street and Washington Street. He attended Frankfort Academy and later Centre College in Danville, where he learned with fellow Kentuckian - and future Confederate general and Secretary of War - John C. Breckinridge.

After a brief stint in the military in 1836-37, Thomas returned to Kentucky and worked for a brother-in-law in Louisville. While in the River City, he began studying law. He returned to Frankfort and married Catherine Lucy Todd, his step-sister. The couple had three children. Thomas's son, John Jordan, who was named after his grandfather the politician, was born in 1854, and died at the Battle of Little Big Horn with George Armstrong Custer.

In the 1840s, Thomas served as the commonwealth's attorney and participated on a committee that saw the remains of frontiersman Daniel Boone reinterred in the Frankfort Cemetery.  When the Mexican War broke out, Thomas eagerly joined with other Kentuckians. He landed on the staff of his relative Gen. Zachary Taylor.

In the late 1840s, Thomas served in a consulate position in Great Britain, but in 1852, he resigned the position and came home to Frankfort and practiced law. In 1855, he purchased the house pictured above, but the family only lived there about four years.

Thomas's family connections and military experience in the Mexican War, and in the Kentucky militia, virtually ensured that he would participate in the Civil War. Being the son of a noted politician though did not necessarily determine which side he would end up fighting on. John J. Crittenden's oldest son and Thomas's older brother, George Bibb Crittenden, chose to serve the Confederacy.  But Thomas decided to fight for the Union that his father so loved.

In the fall of 1861, Thomas was made brigadier general and commanded a division in the Army of Ohio at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. A promotion to major general saw his elevation to corps command. He was at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, but his corps was largely held in reserve. At the Battle of Stones River in December 1862, his corps, now in the Army of the Cumberland fought hard and Thomas received much deserved credit. He led the XXI Corps through the Tullahoma Campaign and fought at the Battle of Chickamauga, where he was censured for leaving the field of battle and relived of command.  However, Thomas later was able to clear his name and returned to command.  

In 1864 Thomas landed in the Army of the Potomac and led a division in part of the Overland Campaign. He participated it the Battle of Cold Harbor, but resigned soon thereafter.

After the war Thomas served briefly as the state treasurer back in Kentucky, but soon returned to the military and service in Arizona, and then Dakota Territory. He retired from the army in 1881 and settled in New York. He died in Staten Island in 1893. His body was brought back to Kentucky and buried in the Frankfort Cemetery near the Crittenden family plot.

Also buried near the patriarch politician is Thomas's brother George, the Confederate general. Like so many other families in Kentucky - famous and not so famous - the Crittendens were divided by the war. The Crittenden family, like the Clay and Breckinridge families, too, served as a microcosm of the state, which in turn served as a microcosm of the nation.  

Senator, U.S. representative, governor, and U.S. attorney general, John J. Crittenden is buried near his sons on the high banks of the Kentucky River. His final resting place is in view of the current Kentucky state capitol building, which is barely visible in the left background of the above photograph.

Thomas Crittenden photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

An Early, Committed, Confederate Kentuckian

It is common knowledge that Kentucky delayed its involvement in the Civil War due largely to its unenviable geographical position and its attempt to serve as a mediator between the North and the South.  A brief attempt at neutrality (May-September 1861) ended with the Confederate invasion and capture of Columbus, Kentucky, and thus the state legislature chose to remain in the Union.

However, less known are those Kentuckians that committed to their respective cause before the state officially made its decision.  Men that were unconditional Unionists did not wait for the state to make its declaration; rather they crossed the Ohio River to Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois and joined up with regiments forming in those states.  Some Confederate Kentuckians, too, mustered into regiments soon after Fort Sumter.  One such individual was Joseph Desha, Captain of Company C, in the 1st Kentucky (CSA).  Desha was the grandson of former Kentucky Governor Joseph Desha.  The 1st Kentucky left the state by train to Nashville, Tennessee, then to the seat war in northern Virginia in the spring of 1861. 

In a letter written just a month after the Battle of First Manassas or Bull Run, and now housed in the Special Collections of the Kentucky Historical Society, Joseph Desha wrote home to his brothers Cave and Lucius in Harrison County.  The letter shows Desha’s concern for his family and the men in his command, his commitment to his cause, hatred for his enemies, and even a touch of humor.  The letter serves as an excellent example of the many things Civil War soldiers thought about while at war.

Writing at Camp Bartow, about four or five miles from the battlefield at Manassas,  Desha explained “in these troublous times . . . one feels a satisfaction in knowing that his friends hear from him, altho’ he may feel anxious for weeks, not having heard from his friends.”  He mentioned that he understood things were changing fast and that at anytime “War & battles . . . may be by this time right among the people at home.” Desha also wrote about the deaths caused by disease in his regiment.  One soldier, L. D. Taylor, had died of typhoid fever.  Taylor’s death made the third man lost to sickness in the unit.

Desha’s early commitment to the Confederate cause is witnessed by his strongly written words. “Every good & brave man – aye & boy too – will stand up square & meet . . . and fight the invaders and the cowards & dogs who sympathize with them.”  He explained that as long as there were cartridges to ram and bayonets to be fixed, and as long as there were “rifles & shotguns - & knives [,and] pistols” the men of Harrison County would “defend their rights.”  Desha also described seeing the aftermath of the First Battle of Manassas, where the “stench was insufferable” from “dead horses and blackened Yankees.” He felt little pity after viewing a Union soldier only partially buried in a gully.  The inveterate Confederate wished “everyone of the infernal heathens meet the same fate.”

Captain Desha also brought a bit of levity to his otherwise passionate letter.  Near the end of the missive he explained that attempts to find musicians for his unit had proved to be in vain.  After advertising for field musicians all the regiment had to show for its effort was one man, who made “such execrable racket” on a “tenor drum,” it made the would-be musician the “laughing stock of the whole brigade.”

The captain however, finished with a flurry of advice to his apparently younger brothers that sought to reinforce the all important ideals of southern honor. “Boys act right all the time – no matter where you are or how situated – Tell the truth & fear no man – Act Right – Let consequence go to the devil.” 

These closing sentiments bear firm witness to Desha’s early and strident commitment to his cause.  When the twelve month enlistments of the 1st Kentucky ran out and the unit disbanded he formed Company I of the 9th Kentucky Infantry, which was later transferred to the 5th Kentucky Infantry.  He fought at Stones River and Chickamauga among other battles and somehow managed to survive the war.  In 1866, still firm in his idea of southern honor, he fought a duel with a former Union soldier.  Desha survived the altercation and lived until 1902, when he was buried in the same Harrison County cemetery as his duel opponent.

Image courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hometown Hero: Sgt. Conway Madison, Co. D, 116th USCI

In 1939, Orson Welles wrote these lines in "Marrakech:" "The people have brown faces - besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil."

With these "Hometown Hero" profiles it is part of my intention that the men buried in Greenhill Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky, and who served in the United States Colored Troops, will not be nameless. These profiles will prove that they were of the same flesh and are noticed - that they will not sink back into nameless mounds of the graveyard that nobody notices - that these men were individuals - individuals who had names and stories. These men deserve to be remembered; but not only remembered, honored, too, for their service. May their graves never fade back into the soil, but let their grave markers stand as testament to liberty.

Before the Civil War - and even during the first years of the war - Conway (or Conaway) Madison labored as an enslaved man on the farm of Harrison Martin in Scott County, Kentucky. In 1860, Martin, a 60 year old farmer, lived with his wife Sallie (61) and a 10 year old girl named Annie Nichols. I am not sure what relation Annie was to the Martins.  Was she a granddaughter? Or, was she some other adopted child?

Martin was quite wealthy. He claimed $21,000 in real estate, and $20,000 in personal property. Much of that personal property was invested in 33 enslaved individuals that ranged from 65 years old to 2 years old. The average Kentucky slaveholder in 1860 had about 5 or 6 slaves, so Martin's large number put him in select company.

Conway Madison appears to have been born in Scott County. Whether that was on Harrison Martin's farm or if Martin came to own Madison later is not known. Interestingly, Madison enlisted in the 116th United States Colored Infantry in Lexington the day after Independence Day, 1864. He was 37 years old. His enlistment papers indicate that he had Harrison Martin's permission to enlist. Madison's service records also state that Scott County, in District 7, was to be credited toward the county's quota for his enlistment. In other words, since Madison was serving, a white man would not have to serve from Scott County.

Like most Scott County men that served in the USCT, Madison was forwarded to Camp Nelson in Jessamine County for training. The 116th was ordered to Virginia in the late summer of 1864 and joined the Army of the James, which was commanded by Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. It participated in combat during the Petersburg Campaign, served fatigue duty at Dutch Gap Canal on the James River, and was part of the Appomattox Campaign after Petersburg and Richmond fell to Union forces in early April 1865.

In the fall or early winter of 1864 Madison's records show that he was charged for "1 set tin plate, cup, knife, fork and spoon, 1 canteen & 1 unpainted haversack." This was about the time the 116th was stationed at Dutch Gap Canal. But, later while participating in operations around Petersburg, Madison must have shown some leadership and military ability, because on March 9, 1865, he was promoted to corporal. Promotion from private to a non-commissioned officer position (corporal or sergeant) was usually conferred upon black soldiers by their white commissioned officers (lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel or colonel).
In June 1865, the 116th was sent to Texas for duty. Madison received promotion again, this time to sergeant on February 1, 1866.  The 116th remained in the Lonestar State, on the Mexican border, until finally mustered out in New Orleans on January 14, 1865.

Conway Madison's history gets quite murky after he mustered out of the army. I was unable to locate any federal census record for him the in years following the war. However, I did find a "C. Madison," a laborer, who was listed as a 45 year old African American man that was born in Kentucky in the 1875 Kansas state census.  He was living in Levenworth with his wife M. Madison (23), and B., a 6 year old male, R., a 3 year old male, J. a 1 year old male. Wife M. was born in Kentucky, too. All of the children were shown as born in Kansas. Previous residence was listed as Missouri.

Was this man Conway Madison? Had he left Kentucky, lived briefly in Missouri, and moved on to Kansas, like other so-called "Exoduster" Kentucky African Americans - many of which came from Madison's own home county of Scott?  I believe it is more than quite likely. However, if the records are correct and the oldest child, who was 6 in 1875, was actually born in Kansas, that would have placed Madison in Kansas by 1869 - much earlier than most Kentucky Exodusters.  Still it is more than possible that Madison was mustered out of the army in 1867, moved to Missouri for a short time and then on to Kansas by 1869, and started a family.

Madison apparently filed for a service pension with the federal government in 1889. If those records were to be obtained, many of the questions I have posed could probably be answered. Regardless, Madison must have moved back to Kentucky at some point since he is buried there. The problem with many of these early veteran headstones is that they don't provide a death date. If one contacted the Veteran's Administration, the branch that issued the stones, it might be determined when Conway Madison passed away.

More important than dates, though, is the evidence that survives. His headstone is certainly there in Greenhill Cemetery and his service records corroborate that he was a dependable and conscientious soldier - a soldier who served his country even before that country recognized him as a citizen.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen. Boyle's General Orders No. 41

General Orders No. 41 was made by Gen. Jeremiah T. Boyle on August 10, 1863, and was issued from Louisville. It sought to impress African Americans to build military roads for the army.  I first ran into General Orders No. 41, while doing research on slavery advertisements, when I found the below notice informing owners of how they could apply for compensation for the service of their enslaved people.  I found the order interesting to read so I am posting it in full:

General Orders No. 41
I. The construction of military roads in the State being a necessity, by the order of the Major General commanding the department [Ambrose E. Burnside], six thousand laborers from the negro population of the country through which the roads pass will be impressed.

II. The negro laborers will be impressed first from the following counties: Harrison, Bourbon, Scott, Clarke [sic], Fayette, Woodford, Jessamine, Mercer, Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln, Marion, Washington, and Nelson.

III. Male negroes from the ages of sixteen to forty-five both inclusive, are subject to this impressment.

IV. In order that the impressment may not hinder and materially injure the cultivation of and the harvesting and gathering the crops for the subsistence of the country, it is ordered that when a citizen has but one male negro laborer he will not be impressed under this order. In case a person has more than one and less than four, one is to be impressed. In case a person has four male laborers and over, one-third of them are impressed by this order.

V. Brig. Gen. S. S. Fry [pictured above] is charged with the execution of this order, and is directed to appoint officers from the 1st Division of the 23d Army Corps to assist him, and to employ citizens to take charge of said negro laborers.

VI. The negroes hereby impressed are required to be delivered by the owners at the points to be designated by the 20th August inst[ant], or at such time thereafter as Brig. Gen. S. S. Fry shall appoint officers or persons to take charge of them. Persons failing to comply with this order will have taken all their negroes of the ages designated.

VII. He will concentrate the negroes impressed by this order at Camp Nelson, or such other place as may be directed, and have them subsisted as laborers in the Quartermaster's Department; requiring complete rolls to be kept, with the names of the negroes, their owners, and place of residence.

VIII. All owners will be paid for the services of the laborers, and at the expiration of each month proper vouchers will be furnished to the persons entitled thereto. The negroes taken under this order will be delivered to their owners after the expiration of the time for which they are impressed.

IX. Brig. Gen. Fry is ordered to take immediate action for the execution of this order, and report to these Head Quarters the number of laborers collected, for information, that further orders may be issued to secure the quota of laborers required, and to distribute the impressment as equitably as practicable over the country to be mainly benefited by the proper improvement. By order of Brig. Gen. Boyle.

The above notice ran in May 1864 and reference's Boyle's General Order No. 41.  I wonder how many of those enslaved men that were impressed in 1863 ended up in USCT units in 1864?  Although they did not receive wages at this point surely they understood how important their labor was to the Union war effort.

Gen. Speed Fry image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Be Removed and Settled Beyond the Limits of the State

In the fall of 1863, General Jeremiah T. Boyle (bust image to right) requested permission from Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to enlist "two to three thousand negroes as teamsters" to transport supplies from Kentucky to Knoxville for the campaigns going on in East Tennessee.

Stanton approved the request but made a few stipulations. First, "loyal owners" had to be paid $300 and sign a deed of manumission; second, the enlisted teamsters had to be paid $10 per month, and finally, "slaves so enlisted" were "to be forever free at the expiration of their term of enlistment."

About a month after receiving Stanton's approval and demands, Boyle wrote back explaining, "I am not so sanguine of the success [of finding teamsters] as I was then. One problem was finding the required "loyal owners." Another was how and when the slaves were to be paid for. Boyle said though that some owners seemed ready to at least receive some compensation rather than see their slaves run off and not get anything.

Before Boyle had responded to Stanton, he had asked Kentucky Governor Thomas E. Bramlette's opinion on the matter.  Bramlette responded that the request had been received and considered. He further explained that it was the owners' decision, not the governor's, to hire their slaves or "dispose of them to the Government upon the terms and for the purposes set forth in your letter." However, owners doing such should understand that the Constitution of Kentucky and the laws of the state made it clear "with view to his freedom at the expiration of the service [that the slave was] forbid that he shall remain in Ky after his discharge."

Bramlette believed that "many [slaves] will refuse to accept freedom upon the only terms admisable [sic] under our laws. Where no other provision is made for the removal and settlement of emancipated slaves, our laws require that the slave shall be hired out until a sufficient fund for his removal and settlement is raised, and then be removed and settled beyond the limits of the state, Whatever may be the views of others as to the policy or humanity of this law, as Chief Executive of the State I shall enforce it without the slightest scruple or relaxation."

Apparently, due to a combination of difficulty in finding willing owners to sell their slaves to the government for $300, and a lack of willingness on the part of slaves to agree to the the state laws of removal, not much interest was expressed by either and the plan to enlist teamsters ended in failure.

Bust image of Gen. Boyle  courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My "Galvanized Yankee" Ancestor

Back on July 1, I posted on my ancestral first-day Gettysburg connection, Hardy Estep, who served in the 26th North Carolina Infantry. Hardy was killed in battle that first day of fighting in Pennsylvania. It is not known for sure, but his younger brother Doctor, who was in the same regiment and company likely saw his sibling killed that day. What impression did Hardy's death make on the 23 year old Doctor? That, we do not know either. 

Doctor was drafted along with Hardy into the 26th North Carolina. They were enlisted at Camp Mangum in Raleigh on September 21, 1862. Conscription had been passed by the Confederate congress in April 1862, which in turn brought a flurry of initial enlistments as recruits signed up to avoid the stigma of being drafted. In western North Carolina though, as in some other places, conscription turned many citizens against the Confederacy.

Doctor and Hardy's politics are not known, but by not enlisting immediately after conscription was instituted, and only when it was enforced, leads one to suspect that they were reluctant Confederates. However, as mentioned in the post on Hardy, the brothers could have attempted to evade conscription by hiding out in the western North Carolina mountains as many did; they instead went to war.

Doctor's Confederate service records show that he was captured at Falling Waters, Maryland, on the Potomac River, during the Confederate army's retreat back to Virginia. His capture occurred on July 14, 1863, two weeks after his brother's death at Gettysburg. Doctor was first sent to Baltimore, and from there to Point Lookout, Maryland, a military prison on a peninsula of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Between 1863 and 1865, almost 4,000 Confederate prisoners died at Point Lookout, which was the largest Union-run prisoner of war camp.

Sometime in the fall of 1863 or winter of 1864, Doctor took the oath of allegiance. Did he do so willingly? Did he have some reservations? Did he feel that by taking the oath he could improve his present condition? Regardless, on February 10, 1864, he went a step beyond "swallowing the dog" - as some called taking the oath - and enlisted in the 1st Regiment U.S. Volunteer Infantry for three years. He was 24 years old at the time.

Those Confederates that took the oath and enlisted in the Union service were labeled "galvanized Yankees," by their former comrades. The term of deprecation came from the process of galvanizing metal, where a coat of zinc was added to the top layer to prevent corrosion. 

These men were most often shuttled to the far West to garrison frontier forts and prevent Native American raids. So was the case with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Infantry. After initial provost duty in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, the 1st was ordered to Wisconsin. On the trip west six companies (including Doctor's company) were rerouted to St. Louis and then by steamboat and foot to Dakota Territory. Apparently Doctor garrisoned Fort Rice, near present day Bismarck, North Dakota. 

Doctor Estep's Union service proved shorter than his enlisted three year commitment. On November 27, 1865, his company was mustered out at St. Louis.

How was Doctor received back in the mountains of western North Carolina? Did his family and neighbors care that he had switched sides. And even though he never fought against his former comrades in battle, did the stigma of transferring allegiance bother his conscious? 

Doctor is buried in the same Brushy Mountain graveyard that contains his brother Hardy's memorial. Doctor died in 1872; he was only two months shy of his 33rd birthday. Interestingly, those that have chosen to mark his grave have selected a new Confederate headstone as opposed to honoring his last service as a Union soldier.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hometown Hero: James Butler, Co. I, 114th USCI

I have been thinking of ways that I might honor the men that fought in various United States Colored Troops units and that are buried in the Greenhill Cemetery here in Frankfort. I came to the conclusion that there is probably not a better way than to try and tell their stories with what bits of information I can find. So, over the next few months - and maybe longer, as there are quite a few buried there - I am going to, from time to time, feature a soldier so that he may be remembered. It is my hope that these posts may be some source of information that a descendant may find and thus connect with these men that fought for the United States and their freedom.

The first soldier in my "Hometown Heroes" profile is James Butler of Company D, 114th United States Colored Infantry. In a past post I featured William Wright who served in Company H of the 114th. Many of the men in this regiment came from Franklin County as Wright did, and from Woodford County, as Butler did.

Woodford County, just south of Franklin County and was the only county in Kentucky that had an African American majority in the 1860 census. In that year's count about 52% of the county was black. Over 5,800 of those people were slaves, and only 114 were free people of color. The county's 704 slaveholders owned on average, just over 8 slaves each. Over 400 USCTs indicated Woodford County as their home.

One Woodford County slave in 1860 was James Butler, who was owned by Hezekiah Winn. Butler, born about 1842, would have been only around 18 years old in 1860. Hezekiah Winn is listed in that 1860 census as a 46 year old farmer who owned real estate worth $25,000, and personal property worth $11,800. I was unable to locate Winn in the county's 1860 census slave schedules to find out how many individuals he owned, but it is assumed that a large part of his worth was tied up in human property. Winn lived with his wife Matilda (33 years old) and children: Fannie (8), Sallie (7), Charles (5), Thomas (2), and Henrietta (8 months). Also living with the family was a young man named William Lewis (22) with the occupation of laborer.

Jason Butler's service records indicated that he was 23 years old when he enlisted on June 27, 1864, in Lexington.  It appears that he signed up with the consent of Hezekiah Winn. Butler was 5 feet 8 inches tall, had black hair, eyes, and complexion.

Butler's service record is exemplary. He was reported present at each roll call. And the only possible blemish on his record is a brief note that he was charged $.06 for losing a letter ornament that was affixed to the soldier's headgear.

Like many USCT units - especially those that were enlisted late in Kentucky due to the state's sensitivity on the issue - the 114th saw extended service into the Reconstruction years. After being trained at Camp Nelson they departed for the fighting front at Petersburg, Virginia. After the surrender of Lee's army they were sent to guard the Texas-Mexican border. They were finally mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas (near Brownsville), on April 2, 1867, Butler with them.

Fortunately, I was able to track James Butler beyond his USCT service. What mode of transportation he used to return to Kentucky is unknown, but likely most of the way was by steamboat up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Three years after the 114th was mustered out, Butler was back in Woodford County and listed in the 1870 census. He was married to Jane Lewis (28) and listed as a "farmhand." Apparently Butler either did not find or perhaps take advantage of educational opportunities while a soldier in the 114th, as the census indicates he was illiterate.

In 1880, Butler was still in Woodford County and working as a farmhand, but now was married to Nelly (28), a cook. Also in the household was a daughter Fannie (2 months) and three boys listed as "sons," who may have been Nelly's boys from a previous relationship, as they had the last name of Thomas. Edwin Thomas was 11 years old, Richard Thomas was 8, and Sam Thomas was 6. Butler was still listed as illiterate.

Sometime between 1880 and 1910, Butler moved to Ward 3 in Frankfort. This section of town was part of what was known as Crawfish Bottom. The Bottom, or the "Craw," as it was sometimes called, was a low-income residential and business district that flooded frequently when the Kentucky River swelled its banks. James Butler is listed on the 1910 census as 68 years old and living with a third wife, Susan, who was 64.

One last record was found on the former soldier. Butler's death certificate indicates that he was 76 years old when he passed away on January 23, 1918. His cause of death was indicated as "paralysis." Susan was listed as his wife, but where it had space to indicate the name of Butler's mother and father, it was marked as "unknown." Did Butler actually not know his parents? Was he separated from them as a slave boy? Or, did Susan just not know his parents' names to indicated such on the death certificate? We will likely never know.

What is known though is that this man, James Butler, spent three years in the service of his country. He likely suffered the hardships of bad food, difficult weather, endless frustrations, deadly illnesses, an enemy's hatred, and at times extreme boredom to keep the United States together, earn his freedom and a chance at citizenship and equality.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Kentuckian Finds Hell on Belle Isle

Searching for Kentucky Civil War images last evening on the Library of Congress website, I came across the disturbing photograph above. It was taken at Annapolis, Maryland, on June 1, 1864, at a United States hospital and shows the emaciated form of Private William M. Smith, Company D, 8th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. 

Smith was from Owsley County in the eastern Kentucky mountains. His service records indicate he enlisted at Beatyville, Kentucky, on September 24, 1861, for three years. For some reason the army waited until January 15, 1862, to muster some of the 8th's men into service at Lebanon, Kentucky. He only 18 years old when he signed up. 

The 1860 census shows William Smith in the household of his father John (42 years old), and mother Lucy (37 years old), and with a string of younger brothers; Milton (14), Harrison (12), George (10), John (6), and James (4), and a baby sister, Nancy (2).  William's occupation, like so many other Civil War soldiers, was farmer. His father John was a blacksmith, but only had $500.00 valued in personal property at time of the census. No real estate was indicated. Interestingly, his nearest aged brothers (Milton, George, and John) were all noted as having attended school in the last year.

The 8th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was organized by Colonel Sidney Barnes, a slave owning Unionist from Estill County. In the spring and summer of 1862, the 8th was in Nashville and other locations in Middle Tennessee. That fall they moved back into Kentucky, where they were present but did not engage the enemy at the Battle of Perryville on October 8. During the campaign back in their native state, and near home, many soldiers of the 8th took the opportunity to leave the ranks and visit friends and family. With many men back in the ranks, the 8th fought bravely at Murfreesboro (Stones River) and operated in Middle Tennessee. That spring Smith received a promotion to corporal. Summer brought a new campaign and the Union army maneuvered the Confederates toward Chattanooga. They engaged Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19 and 20, 1863.

It was at Chickamauga that William Smith became a prisoner. He was captured on the second day of fighting and was sent to Richmond, Virginia, where records indicate he arrived on September 29. Smith must have suffered from ill health before being captured and imprisoned, as his service records indicate that he had been in a "convalescent camp" in Nashville earlier in the fall. 

Smith's illness was a common one among Civil War soldiers: diarrhea. In many instances the illness turned out to be just as deadly as any minnie ball or artillery shell.

While Smith was incarcerated in Richmond, apparently on Belle Isle in the James River (pictured above), he was sent to a Confederate hospital at Danville, Virginia, for treatment for his diarrhea on February 23, 1864. It might say something about a certain level of compassion on the part of the Southerners that they would take the trouble to send an enemy soldier to a distant hospital for treatment. However, Smith was returned to prison a few days later. His terrible condition must have quickly returned, as his records show that he was admitted to Hospital 21 in Richmond about a month later (April 24, 1864). 

Smith's time in Confederate hospitals and prisons would be short though, as on April 30, 1864, he was transported to City Point, Virginia (near Petersburg) where he was paroled. On May 2, 1864, he was reported as being at College Green Barracks, Maryland, which was on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis. This is likely here where his emaciated image was taken.

Was Smith's skeletal condition due to his experience in a Confederate prison, where rations were likely few and far between, or was it due to his chronic diarrhea? I would guess a combination of the two worked to leave him existing as skin and bones.

Smith was able to make his way back home to Kentucky on the government's dime. Actually the record indicates it cost $12.50 to transport the soldier from Annapolis to Cincinnati. How Smith got to Owsley County from Cincinnati is a mystery. Likely he walked.

Unlike many Civil War soldiers who suffered from diarrhea and dysentery, Smith survived the immediate post war years. He was located in the 1870 census for Lee County, which was carved from part of Owsley County that year and named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee who had died that year. How ironic! In the five years since the war's end, Smith, now 28 years old, had married his wife Amanda (22), and his younger brother Harrison (23) was living with the couple. He is listed as a farmer, like his prewar occupation indicated. He is shown as owning $500 in real estate and $250 in personal property.

The trail for Smith gets colder for 1880. There is a divorced William Smith in nearby Jackson (Breathitt County), who was 38 years old and living with a 14 year old nephew named Thomas Combs, but I could not verify that this was the former 8th Kentucky Infantry soldier and prisoner of war.

Images courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Documents courtesy of the National Archives.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kentucky Defiance to the Emancipation Proclamation

An Act to prevent certain negroes and mulattoes from migrating to or remaining in this State.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

1. That it shall not be lawful for any negro or mulatto claiming or pretending to be free, under or by virtue of the Proclamation of the President of the United States, dated 1st January, 1863, declaring free slaves in certain States or parts of States, or any similar proclamation, by order of the Government of the United States, or any officer of agent thereof, to migrate to or remain in this State.

2. Any negro or mulatto who shall violate the provisions of this act shall be arrested, dealt with, and disposed of as runaways, and the proceedings shall conform to the laws in existence, at the time they are had in relation to runaway slaves.

3. The purchaser of any such negro or mulatto sold under and by virtue of such proceedings shall, by virtue of such purchase, acquire and have the same right to, the same property in, and control over such negro or mulatto as masters have over their slaves under existing laws, subject to the provisions in relation to slaves sold as runaways, and shall in all respects be by the law in relation to master and slave.

4. The purchase money for such negro or mulatto shall not be paid into the public treasury until the right of redemption shall have expired or been finally determined by adjudication, in case the same be put in litigation, as provided in relation to slaves sold as runaways, and the court shall have power to loan the same, in the meantime taking bond and security for the same.

5. It shall be the duty of all peace officers to see that the provisions of this act are enforced.

6. This act will take effect from its passage.

Approved March 2, 1863.

From: Acts of the General Assembly of Kentucky; 1861, 1862, 1863

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Zooming in on USCTs Learning

When enslaved African American left their enslavers and joined the Union army they not only found the opportunity to labor and fight for their freedom, they also sometimes found opportunities to received an education.

During the antebellum years the majority of slave states made it illegal for the enslaved to learn to read and write. Being long denied an education only made some new black soldiers all that more thirsty for knowledge. In many recruiting, enlistment, and training camps organizations, both civil and religious in nature, such as freedmen's aid societies and the American Missionary Association sent teachers to work with soldiers and their refugee families.

This cropped image, possibly taken on the South Carolina coast, shows a group of 6 of the 18 African American soldiers sitting with uniforms on and books in hand. It must have opened up a whole new world to those that had previously only learned through hearing and observing. Two men, the one of the far left and the second from the right appear to be wearing a cravats.

In this view two white men, who appear to be officers and two white women, who are likely teachers, appear behind the middle group of six soldiers. Like those to the left, most have books in their hands. The majority of the soldiers wear four-button fatigue blouses, while the man second from the right has a nine button frock coat and the man on the far right has his blouse open showing a multi-button vest. Hair styles vary from close cropped to long.

The final grouping, too, shows the men with reading material. A white man, who appears to be a civilian, stands behind the soldier on the far left. One soldier, the second from the right, appears to be mixed race as he has a lighter complexion and seems to have straighter hair than his comrades.

Abolitionist John G. Fee, an employee of the American Missionary Association and who had ministered in Kentucky before the Civil War but had been exiled from the Bluegrass State after John Brown's raid, wrote the following after observing the soldiers at Camp Nelson and their thirst for knowledge:

"Here are thousands of noble men, made in the image of God, just emerging from the restraints of slavery in the liberties and responsibilities of free men, and of soldiers.  I find them manifesting an almost universal desire to learn; and [in] that they do make rapid progress . . . . When we consider that this people have great physical strength, are manifestly capable of rapid intellectual development, that they are humble, grateful, trusting, religiously inclined – that they are destined to occupy an important place in the army and agriculture of this nation, I feel that it is blessed to labor with such a people.  The Lord help"

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.