Friday, November 29, 2013

Zeb Ward's Slaves Run Off to Join the Union Army

Above is the 1860 census list of 27 slaves owned by Woodford County, Kentucky resident and former warden of the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort, Zeb Ward. Ward had the notoriety of being quite sadistic toward his abolitionist inmates. Ward also proudly supplied a hemp rope to Virginia's governor, Henry A. Wise, and suggested it be used to hang the famous John Brown. 

Ward's attitude toward those attempting to free enslaved people would lead one to believe that he was likely not the kindest master. That speculation might be strengthened by knowing that at least seven of his personal enslaved work force ran away during the Civil War and joined the Union army 

Clay Ballard was noted as 28 when he joined Company G of the 116th United States Colored Infantry (USCI). Born in Madison County, Kentucky, the 5' 5" Ballard was mustered in at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County.

Weston Toles was listed as 30 years old and a native of Woodford County. Woodford County had the highest percentage (a slight majority) of African Americans in Kentucky in the 1860 census. He enlisted at Camp Nelson and was placed in Company I of the 12th United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA).

Tillman Toles may have been a brother or cousin of Weston Toles, although he was only 18 when he enlisted in Company H of the the 12th USCHA. He spent much of his Civil War service sick in various hospitals. 

37 year old William Simmons enlisted on June 7, 1864, at Camp Nelson. He was assigned to Company E of the 116th USCI. The 5' 3" Simmons stated he was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky. 

Mat Haggins was born in Jessamine County, and like fellow Ward slave Tillman Toles, was placed in Company H of the 12th USCHA. Haggins was 36 upon enlisting.

Lewis Wilkinson was yet another Ward slave in Company H of the 12th USCA. The three men formerly owned by Zeb Ward in this unit must have formed a close bond from knowing each other although they joined on different days.

Another soldier, George Washington, is also noted in the muster and descriptive roll book held in the Kentucky Historical Society's collections, as being formerly owned by ZebWard, but I was unable to find his service records.

As one might expect none of these men who have surviving enlistment forms were given permission by Ward to enlist in the Union army. Likely they slipped off one-by-one from their Woodford County home and made their way the short distance to Camp Nelson as each one had different enlistment dates.    

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