Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pensions for Militia and State Troops

The following report, made in the second session of the Fifty-second Congress from the House Committee on Invalid Pensions on bill (H. R. 7554) to grant a pension to survivors of certain battalions of Kentucky Militia, etc., contains much information regarding a number of Kentucky State troops that were in service during the war and the orders and State laws under which they were raised:

"The Committee on Invalid Pensions have considered the bill (H. R. 7554) granting a pension to survivors of certain battalions of Kentucky Militia, etc., and submit the following report, recommending the passage of the accompanying substitute for the bill under consideration.

"The object of the bill, as introduced, is to place those who served in the organizations named under the provisions of the act of June 27, 1890, which requires a service of 90 days and a present disability, not due to vicious habits.

"In considering the bill these questions arise:
"(1) Under what authority were the said organizations raised and paid?
"(2) Were they subject to the orders of United States officers, and  what was the character of the service performed?

"On these points the following facts and arguments have been presented to the committee:
"The Frankfort, Paducah, and Sandy Valley Battalions, which were known as the Capital Guard Regiment, were intended to aid and assist the Federal troops, and were to be held subject to the call of the district commander for any service in Kentucky, and they were raised by order of the governor of Kentucky, under sanction of an order dated July 11, 1864, and signed by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

"The North Cumberland, Three Forks, Halls Gap, Green River, Middle Green River, South Cumberland, and Frankfort Battalions, and First Kentucky State Cavalry and Frankfort Battalion were raised under an act of the Kentucky Legislature approved January 26, 1864, entitled 'An act empowering the governor to raise a force for the defense of the State.'

"The Harlan County Battalion was raised under the militia laws of the State and was mustered into the State service October 13, 1862, and was mustered out January 13, 1863. It comprised seven companies, of 494 men, and performed service in eastern Kentucky, along the Tennessee and Virginia borders, affording protection to the loyal people of that section and preventing the destruction of property by the evil inclined, and at the same time acting as an advance guard for the Federal troops.

"The Casey County State Guards, and Captain Bussey's Bath County Rangers were organized under the militia laws of Kentucky, and, being  ordered on duty, the former was assigned to and performed duty with the First Kentucky Cavalry, whilst the latter after having performed service from December 11, 1863, to April 1, 1864, was assigned to and  performed duty with the Capital Guard Regiment, and was then known as Company F, of the Frankfort Battalion of that regiment, and was mustered out February 6, 1865.

"It may be proper to state that the Halls Gap Battalion also included the Mercer County State Guards, which organization was raised under the  militia laws of the State, and that the Frankfort Battalion was a distinct organization from that of the same name raised under the order of Secretary Stanton, heretofore referred to.

"It appears from the records in the Third Auditor's Office that the State of Kentucky made a claim against the United States on account of expenses incurred in behalf of the organizations mentioned in the bill  and was reimbursed therefor, and that the United States reimbursed Kentucky, on account of expenses incurred in raising volunteers to the amount of $3,504,466.77, being a greater amount than was paid to any other State, except the States of Missouri, New York, and Illinois.

"The said organizations performed the same character of service in the State of Kentucky as was required of United States troops. They were in the service not less than 90 days, some for six months, others for about one year. They rendered valuable and efficient service to the State and General Government, and cooperated with the forces of the  United States, and were subject to the orders of United States officers for services to be performed within the State.

"Hon. John M. Palmer, now United States Senator from Illinois, and formerly department commander of Kentucky, under date of January 21, 1863, says:
"'The Kentucky State troops, as a rule, were under my command in the  department of Kentucky, and I treated them as troops subject to my command. Some of the organizations performed valuable services, and ought to be provided for by the pension laws.'

"Gen. Green Clay Smith appeared before the committee and stated that at times during the war he commanded Federal troops in Kentucky; that he was then a resident of the State, and a native thereof, and well acquainted with the conditions prevailing therein at that time, and he had no doubt whatever that the organizations mentioned in the bill were at all times subject to the orders of the department commander, and rendered important service in behalf of the United States in protecting and guarding its property, its lines of communication, and aiding in driving its enemies from loyal territory.

"Kentucky furnished three classes of troops in behalf of the General Government during the late war—those that were mustered into the United States service, those that were known as the State militia proper and which did not perform service for 90 days, and those mentioned in this bill.

"A table is appended hereto showing the number and when mustered in in  each organization mentioned in the bill, the whole number being 4,983, and the number mustered out being about 4,200. But as many of these performed military service in other organizations, which service placed them within the provisions of the pension laws, it is thought that not more than 2,500 would be placed under the provisions of this bill, as originally presented, should it become a law.

"Having directly sanctioned the organization of some of these troops, and having accepted the services of all of them, they having been subject to the orders of the commander of the Department of Kentucky, and having reimbursed Kentucky for all expenses incurred in their organization and maintenance, it seems that the General Government, so far as its military, executive, and ministerial officials had power so to do, have regarded the organizations mentioned in the bill as if they had been mustered into the United States service for all practical purposes. And that being true, it would be fair dealing to place them, as far as this bill can do so, upon an equal footing with the same class of troops furnished by the States of Missouri and Pennsylvania, which have been placed under the provisions of the pension laws.

"Following is the table above referred to, compiled from the report of  the adjutant general of Kentucky: (click on image to enlarge)
"In view of the facts shown, your committee have been unwilling to recommend the passage of the bill as presented, for the reason that to  do so would be to assume to determine that the organizations named were essentially in the service of the United States during the entire period of their service. It does seem proper, however, that these troops should be placed in a position as good as, but no better than, that given to the Missouri State Militia, and your committee therefore report the accompanying bill as a substitute for the bill H. R. 7554, and respectfully recommend that the substitute do pass."

This bill failed of passage and no pensionable rights accrue on account of service in these organizations. The period of service of these troops was generally about six months, though a few of them served about one year. The earliest period of service was from the first part  of 1864. The following is taken from the published report of the adjutant general of the State of Kentucky, dated September 1, 1867,  volume 2, pages 825, 826, as showing something of the service of these organizations:

"All these troops did valuable and efficient service to the State and  the General Government, as the history of the time would fully show. The Sandy Valley Battalion rendered most important service during the Saltville raid.

"The Frankfort Battalion protected the capital from the frequent incursions of guerrilla forces. The Paducah Battalion protected the southwestern portion of the State. Shortly after the muster out of this battalion, the gallant Capt. Thomas J. Gregory, Company A, was killed in action while leading a charge against a guerrilla force.

"The troops raised under the act of January 26, 1864, were enlisted subsequent to the muster out of the Capital Guard Regiment and were located as follows:

"The Three Forks Battalion in the extreme southwestern portion of the State, with headquarters at Booneville.

"The Halls Gap Battalion in the locality between Stanford and Halls Gap; headquarters at Stanford.

"The Green River Battalion in the counties between the Ohio and Green  Rivers, with headquarters at Calhoun.

"The Middle Green River Battalion in the southern portion of the State, with headquarters at Rochester.

"The South Cumberland Battalion also in the southern portion of the State, with headquarters at Burksville.

"The First Kentucky Cavalry in the central part of the State, with headquarters at Lebanon.

"The Frankfort Battalion was assigned to duty in guarding the Louisville & Lexington Railroad and the country adjacent thereto.

"All of these battalions performed the most valuable service against  the rebels and guerillas under Morgan, Johnson, South, Lyon, Mundy, Gentry, Jesse, etc., and for some time freed the State from the incursions of these troops (the acts of many of whom were barbarous in  the extreme). This was accomplished notwithstanding their efficiency was somewhat crippled, first, by the then military commander of the district of Kentucky, and, second, by partisan feeling and prejudice."

This report does not give any particulars of service rendered by these forces under command of United States officers or in connection with United States troops. It shows, however, that 66 of them died and 27 were killed, some of these being killed in action.

Kentucky had another body of State militia, State guards, and home guards that were on active duty at various periods during the war. The published report of the adjutant general of the State of Kentucky, volume 2, page 903, shows the designations and strength of the organizations composing this force to have been as follows:

Home-guard companies called out by Gens. Anderson and Sherman 1,534
Police guard Kentucky Central Railroad 1,470
Oldham County State Guard 63
Shelby County State Guard 35
Spencer County State Guard 56
Nelson County State Guard 49
Flower Creek Home Guard 33
Martin's company Home Guard 57
Ohio County Home Guard 155
Leonard's company, Home Guard 60
Forty-first Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 1,096
Forty-second Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 1,393
Frankfort Union Guards 57
Rockcastle and Lincoln County Home Guard 304
Twenty-second Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 112
Sixty-eighth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 615
Sixty-fifth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 347
Thirty-sixth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 280
Peak's Mill Rangers  51
Fleming County State Guard 102
Hardin County State Guard 42
Capt. R. R. Bacon's company, State Guard 26
Capt. Greenbery Reid's company, Kentucky National Legion 84
Capt. H. H. Johnson's company, Kentucky National Legion 87
Lieut. George W. Burchett's company, Kentucky National Legion 14
Harlan County Battalion 494
Bath County Rangers 88

These militia and home guards served short terms at various intervals during the war, beginning in the fall of 1861; some of them were in  service as late as in November, 1865. A great many of them served less  than 20 days, some served 1 and 2 months, and but very few, if any,  were in service 3 months. Their principal duty was the guarding of  railroads, bridges, locks, etc. The Forty-first and Forty-second  Regiments, Kentucky Enrolled Militia, were 30-day men, called out at  the time of Bragg's Invasion. The Sixty-eighth Regiment Kentucky  Enrolled Militia, 30-days' service, is recognized by the War Department as having been accepted into the military service of the United States  and the members thereof have pensionable status under the general law for disability or service origin only. They have no status under the act of June 27, 1890, as their service was less than 90 days. None of the other Kentucky State organizations has pensionable rights under existing laws.

Many of these troops served out of the limits of Kentucky and the report of the adjutant general of Kentucky mentions that 1,534 of the home guards of that State were called out by Gens. Anderson and Sherman. The home guards, so called, were on active duty in the fall of 1861, a few serving a little over 1 month, but the majority less than 15 days. The Thurston Guards, called out by Gen. Anderson, served 12 days in September, 1862.

Source: Congressional Edition, 66th Congress, 2d Session, Dec. 1, 1919 - June 5, 1920, Volume 7653, pp. 27-31

Transcribed by Marlitta H. Perkins, July 2013.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dear John ~ The Hazards of Mail Delivery

Patriotic cover, postmarked April 14 (1862) at Catlettsburg, KY 
The Post Office Department of the Confederate States of America was established February 21, 1861, by an act of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. On March 6, 1861, former U.S. Congressman John Henninger Reagan was appointed postmaster general of the Confederate States of America by President Jefferson Davis.

Reagan instructed southern postmasters to continue to render their accounts to the United States as before until the Confederate postal system was organized. In May 1861, Reagan issued a proclamation stating that he officially would assume control of the Post Office Department of the Confederate States on June 1, 1861. US Postmaster General Blair  responded by ordering the cessation of United States mail service  throughout the South on May 31, 1861. This also included mail going from North to South and vice versa.

After this time, private express companies, such as Adams Express, American Letter Express, and Whiteside's Express, still managed to carry the mail across enemy lines, until the U.S. Post Office ordered an end to such traffic, effective August 26, 1861.

Mail delivery was carried out by private contractors. Transporting the mails was filled with danger, particularly along the Kentucky and Virginia border which was infested with bushwhackers. Interrupted service, robberies and guerrilla sniping were a common occurrence. On Sept. 5, 1861, the Daily Louisville Democrat reported that, "In the counties along the Kentucky and Virginia line, several mails have been robbed by men, who came from Virginia, across the line, for that purpose."

One such incidence took place on Wednesday, August 21, 1861, when the mail from Louisa to Warfield, via Cassville (VA), was robbed. Nathan Holt, a wealthy Wayne Co. VA farmer and one of the first local constables, was the mail contractor. The mail boy, his 17 year old son Bernard P. Holt, had left Warfield at 6 o'clock in the morning with the mail and was travelling on the Virginia side of the Big Sandy River toward Cassville. About 5 o'clock in the evening, Bernard arrived within 1 1/2 miles from town when he noticed two men, Alex. Vinson and John Walker, on the road side waiting for him. The boy was knocked from his horse by Vinson and Walker who swore that they were going to have that Lincoln mail. Bernard Holt engaged in a fight with Walker while Vinson cut the mailbag and took out and destroyed all the mail matter, and then took the horse from the boy. Both men left together.

Bernard P. Holt alerted the citizens who made pursuit and captured Vinson about three miles from the place of the robbery. He was brought back to Cassville, and had a hearing before Justice James Stone, who held him over for further trial. Vinson was then put in custody of Constable Bow, who summoned two citizens as guard to watch Vinson through the night. He however made his escape before morning. The Sandy Valley Advocate noted, "He and Walker are now at large. From what we can learn, all the officers were secessionists, as well as the guard, and therefore do not wonder at the escape of the prisoner."

Within days after the incident, Bernard P. Holt was fired on by someone in ambush near Taber's creek, between Turman's Ferry and Cassville. The constant threat of rebel incursions made it increasingly difficult to safely maintain postal service in the area, which may have contributed to the closing of the Falls of Tug (William Ratcliffe, post master) and Palmetto Post Offices on Sept. 3, 1861. David Holt, Bernard's older brother, had held the position of post master at Palmetto since March 9, 1858.

 Nevertheless, Nathan Holt entered into another contract with the US post office on April 24, 1862, to carry the mail twice a week between Warfield and Louisa, KY. In the end, however, Holt failed to execute the contract.

Instead, Nathan Holt joined Union Capt. David Bartram Company, 167th Militia, on June 2, 1862, together with his sons William, David, John W. and Bernard. The Holts continued in the militia service until 1864, in Capt. William Bartram's Wayne County Scouts. 

Sanford Scott, who was contracted to carry the mail six times a week between Guyandotte to Catlettsburg, failed to arrive at Catlettsburg on May 4 and June 28, 1861 and 8 times in July of 1861. Scott completely omitted service for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 1861. Deliveries were resumed by John H. Ford, of Catlettsburg, beginning February 21, 1862.

Catlettsburg Postmark, March 14 (1862)
The situation in Kentucky along the Big Sandy River was very similar.  Stephen Bartram who was contracted to carry the mail twice a week from  Catlettsburg to Prestonsburg, a distance of 73 miles one way, encountered similar problems. Bartram failed to arrive at Catlettsburg with the mail on July 24, Sept. 12 and 26, 1861. After being robbed several times, mail service was finally suspended until the end of December of 1861 when the presence of Union troops along the Big Sandy River made it to a degree safer again to carry the mail.

During the first week of November 1861, the Grand Jury, United States Court, in session at Frankfort, KY, found indictments against Harvey T. Hawkins and Milton J. Freese, for robbing the mail. Bail was set at $ 3,000 each, and $3,000 surety.

Cincinnati Postmark, May 13 (1862)
At the beginning of fall 1861, safety concerns led to the discontinuation of mail service on several Eastern Kentucky routes, under act of Congress of February 28, 1861. The act authorized the Postmaster-General to discontinue the postal service on routes where, in his opinion, it "can not be safely continued, or the postal revenues collected, or the postal laws maintained, by reason of any cause whatever, till the same can be safely restored."

Effective Oct. 17, 61, Route # 9555: Mt. Sterling/Piketon, 2 weekly round trips, D. Cooley (contractor)

Effective Oct. 17, 61, Route # 9556:  Mt. Sterling/West Liberty, 2 weekly round trips, H. C. Berkley (contractor)

Special Agent Miller was authorized to employ service upon the above mentioned routes "as far as safety would permit, at not exceeding the rate of the old pay, from Nov. 11, 1861."

Effective Oct. 17, 61, Route # 9578: West Liberty to Louisa, 1 weekly round trip, Wm. P. Davis (contractor)

Effective Nov. 29, 61, Route # 9569: Greenup Court House/Louisa, 1 weekly round trip, Charles Callahan (contractor)
Louisa Postmark, August 13 (1862)
Several Post offices were discontinued in Eastern Kentucky during the Civil war. Given are the dates of closing name of the post masters and date when the post office was re-established, if applicable.

Cherokee, Sept. 13, 1861 (William W. Graham), re-est. Sept. 10, 1867
Warfield, Nov. 4, 1862 (Mark Dempsey) re-est. Aug. 29, 1870
Bolton, Nov. 2, 1861 (Greenville Bolt) see Boyd Co. KY
Riffe's X Roads, June 25, 1863 (Isaac Belcher)
Georges Creek, July 31, 1863 (Thomas P. Salyer)
Lockwood, Dec. 8, 1865 (Jacob Lockwood)
Buchanan (formerly Round Botton, Wayne, VA) est. Sept. 3, 1861 (George Buchanan, followed by Joseph F. Hatten, Sept. 29, 1863)

Coal Grove, Feb. 28, 1863 (Stephen Ferguson)
Lanesville, July 31, 1863 (James S. Layne), re-est. Oct. 27, 1865

Breckenridge, July 21, 1863 (William R. Bevins)
Democracy, Feb. 28, 1863 (William H. Johnson)
Lonville, Oct. 10, 1862 (Thomas L. Marrs)
Piketon, May 20, 1864 (Lewis C. Dils), re-est. Oct. 28, 1865
Robinson Creek, Nov. 5, 1861 (Samuel Keel), re-est. Sept. 28, 1866
Hamilton's Store, July 31, 1863 (Nelson Hamilton)

Grass Land, Jan. 30, 1862 (William Davis); re-est. Aug. 28, 1862 and discontinued Feb. 28, 1863 (Madison M. Hensley), re-est. June 11, 1875
Sandy Furnace, Feb. 28, 1863 (Pleasant Barber)
Amanda, Aug. 22, 1862 (George P. Walker)
Bolton, July 21, 1863 (John W. Bolt)

Three Prong, Nov. 2, 1861 (J. R. Warnock), re-est. Jun 23, 1866 (Mrs. Martha Warnock)
Truittsville, May 30, 1862 (George W. Truitt)
Callahan, Dec. 2, 1861 (John R. Callahan)
Argylite, Oct. 26, 1861 (James Lampton), re-est. June 24, 1874 (as  Argilite)

Bell's Trace, April 15, 1863 (Nelson T. Rice)
Bruin, July 31, 1863 (John Hood), re-est. Jan. 16, 1867
Estill Flats, June 4, 1863 (Wesley Fults), re-est. Sept. 10, 1863
Rice's X Roads, July 31, 1863 (Paris Rice)

Clarksburgh C. H., Feb. 8, 1864 (Isaac Bassett)

Black Water, July 21, 1863 (John C. Dennis), re-est. Feb. 1, 1866
Caney, March 20, 1862 (David F. Lykins), re-est. July 7, 1874
Christy's Fork, Feb. 26, 1862 (Thornton W. Sanford)
Grassy Creek, July 31, 1863 (Thomas Goddwin)
Hampton's Mills, March 20, 1862 (George M. Hampton)
Johnson's Fork, Sept. 10, 1862 (Eli Williams), re-est. in Magoffin Co. KY Jan. 9, 1863 (Mrs. Lodicky Denham)
Little Sandy, Jan. 9, 1864 (William B. Wheeler)
Relief, July 31, 1863 (Wallace W. Brown)
Devil's Fork, Jan. 9, 1864 (George W. Stamper)

Still Water, Feb. 14, 1865 (Wm. W. Waterman)
Devil's Creek, July 31, 1863 (Sandford R. Shackelford)
Hazel Green, Nov. 8, 1865 (Addison H. Tracey), re-est. Feb. 1, 1866

Blue Rock, Oct. 10, 1863 (Wm. H. K. Garvin), re-est. in Carter Co. Feb. 9, 1864

Gill's Mills, July 31, 1863 (William M. Ragland), re-est. Sept. 23, 1865, in Rowan Co. KY
Laurel Fork, April 15, 1863 (Andrew J. Connoy)
Rockhouse, Dec. 14, 1861 (Thomas N. Perry), re-est. Feb. 6, 1867
Bald Eagle, Jan. 21, 1863 (Joseph Willson), re-est. Jan. 21, 1874

Pleasant Grove Mill, Dec. 15, 1864 (Squire A. Day)
White Oak Hill, Feb. 26, 1862 (Benjamin G. Johnson)

Cornett's Mill, Oct. 10, 1863 (Peyton M. Duke)
Indian Bottom, July 31, 1863 (John Dickson), re-est. Aug. 25, 1868

Brasherville, Juy 31, 1863 (Robert S. Brashears)
Cutshin, Juy 31, 1863 (James C. Brewer), re-est. Aug. 22, 1872

Frozen Creek, July 31, 1863 (Samuel H. Holmes)

There were no closings in Johnson and Magoffin County, KY, during the Civil War.

Paintsville Postmark, August 27 (1862)

Links of Interest

Article researched and written by Marlitta H. Perkins, July 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication, including images, without express written notice by the author is strictly prohibited. © 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Ticktown Murders and Fiery Retribution

Map of the Ticktown and Camargo area, Montgomery Co. KY (1879)
Source: Library of Congress

In the fall of 1863, the small village of Ticktown in Montgomery County, Kentucky, was burned to the ground by Unionists. What led to this event?

Ticktown, also known as Jeffersonville, began as an important trading center for cattle in Eastern Kentucky during the mid-19th century. It was located roughly eight miles southeast of Mt. Sterling, KY. The origin of the name is obscure but it is believed that the town was either named after the tick grass grown in the area or the ticks found in the cattle stalls. During the Civil War, the town became known as a safe harbor for rebel guerrillas such as the notorious Tom Greenwade.

Several incidents preceded the burning of Ticktown. On Sept. 28, 1863, some twenty or thirty guerrillas made a raid on Sharpsburg, Kentucky and stole fifteen horses as well as other items and subsequently  escaped army scouts. Oneof the units in pursuit was Captain Simon Cockrell, 47th Ky. Mounted Inft. (US) who, with a detachment of 15 men, was searching for the guerrillas in the farmland east of Mt. Sterling. At one point, Cockerell sent five of his scouts, namely Pleasant  Martin, Asbury Nickell (son of Spaniard Nickell), Charles Little, (son of Phillip Little), Reason Grayson and Robert Nickell, off on their own search. Most of these men were friends and nearby neighbors of Captain Cockerell who lived in Morgan County, with the exception of Reason Grayson who was a resident of Bath County.

When the small group reached the vicinity of Camargo, they were surprised by a party of a dozen guerrillas and taken prisoner. After their capture, the prisoners were disarmed and stripped. The rebels then marched them a half a mile to Sycamore bridge near Ticktown. Here the men were drawn up in line and told they were going to be paroled.

Henry C. Hurst, one of the local home guards, later related, "They had  them cross their hands on their breasts, telling them they were about to administer the oath; but instead they placed their guns against them  and fired. All were killed dead except Robert Nickell who was shot near  the right nipple, the bullet came out about five inches lower in the back. He fell off into the creek and they fired three more shots at  him, one bullet struck his arm. He played off dead and they left him." As soon as the guerrillas disappeared, Nickell managed to drag himself  to the house of J. R. Shubert where he was taken in by the family who attended to his wounds.

Meanwhile, the guerrillas continued on their killing spree and reached the home of Jacob Stephens. He was robbed of his pocket book with about $30.00 and shot dead in his own home. Next, the guerrillas captured a man by the name of Jenkins. Hurst noted, "The treatment they gave him was much worse than death. They took all privileges from him that was allowed a man by nature and told him that if that did not kill him they would come back and finish the job."

The morning following the raid, Shubert managed to take Nickell to Mt. Sterling and alert Union authorities about the murders. During the pursuit that ensued, the guerrillas made their way to James Gibbs' on Dry Ridge. Here they successfully escaped the grasp of the federal troops. Lt. Col. C. C. Matson of the 6th Indiana Cavalry, post commander at Mt. Sterling, noted in his report to General Boyle, "I fear the murderers have escaped."

The brutality of the murders triggered much anger and outrage among the citizens in the area. The fact that the depredations continued just added oil to the fire. Consequently, a decision was made to inflict  severe penalties upon the rebels and those who shielded and spied for them in order to curb outrages of this nature in the future.

Accordingly, on October 6, 1863, Lt. Col. Matson ordered a company of  the 6th Indiana Cavalry under the command of Captain E. W. Peck to Olympian Springs. Here they found one of the barns destroyed by the rebels. Following their trail, and passing by the ruins of a residence  belonging to a Union man by the name of Hall, Peck pursued the rebels to Thomas Greenwade's at Old Beaver Furnace in Bath County. His home was a known resting spot and hiding place for guerrillas. Peck ordered the house burned, as well as those belonging to two other rebels, including Isaac Ingram's.

Guerrilla infested Ticktown fared no better and received the same treatment at the hands of a detachment of the 47th KY Mtd. Infantry under command of Captain Simon Cockrell. On October 12, 1863, the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth reported that Union men of Mt. Sterling had recently burned the village to the ground and killed a resident by the name of Greenwade, who was charged with harboring  guerrillas and desperadoes. Incidentally, Thomas Greenwade survived and  remained at large until well after the Civil War, holed up in a cave with his followers, and refusing to surrender.

We have only limited information as to the identity of the guerrillas responsible for the Ticktown killings, except for one man - Jacob L. Edwards. On January 28, 1864, a Union scout pursued a group of guerrillas to the home of Big Jim Stamper on Grassy Creek in Morgan County, KY. The Union soldiers surrounded the house but the guerrillas showed fight and a fiery exchange began. When finally a door was torn  down, the guerrillas surrendered and threw their pistols into the yard. Among the captured was Jacob L. Edwards, who, according to an eye witness, was, "the man who led the squad, who killed the four men at  the Ticktown Bridge and wounded Robert Nickells. They were all tied  together and taken to our camp. We were all very happy over getting  Edwards in our custody. Many of the boys wanted to kill him on the spot; but our Captain would not permit it. He said not to worry that he would get what was coming to him when we turned him over to the proper  authorities."

Edwards was a former member of the 5th KY Mtd. Infantry (CSA) and a deserter from the 1st Battalion KY Mounted Rifles (CSA). He was taken with the other prisoners to Mt. Sterling on the charge of murder and forwarded to the  Military Prison in Louisville. On February 12, 1864, Edwards was sent  to Rock Island Prison, Illinois, but was turned over to civil authorities on March 11, 1864, to be tried for murder. He eventually escaped on October 20, 1864. Nothing further is known about him.

List of prisoners, including Jacob L. Edwards,
arrested in Morgan Co. KY, Jan. 28, 1864.
Robert Nickell, the only survivor of the Ticktown murders, eventually recovered from his wounds. He might be the same man who enlisted a  month later in the 47th KY Infantry. He lived a long and productive
life and died on May 21, 1924, in Rich Hill, Bates County, Missouri. He was 83 years old.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Unpleasant Scene ... Vanceburg in the Fall of 1861

Vanceburg, ca. 1912
Late summer and early fall of 1861 was a time of great struggle and turmoil for Kentuckians. The Civil War left the state divided in sentiment. Although sympathetic to the South, Kentucky was traditionally loyal to the Union. Her citizens showed strong patriotism and were reluctant to abandon the old flag and the Union their grandfathers had fought and died for. On the other hand, there was resentment over coercion of the seceded States by the federal government. The issues of states' rights and slavery helped drive the wedge even deeper.

Families, friends and neighbors found themselves on opposite sides, but holding firmly to their viewpoints. Sometimes, the feeling of animosity was bitter and manifested itself in unpleasant scenes.

One such incident took place in Vanceburg, Lewis County, Kentucky. Situated on the Ohio River 20 miles above Maysville, at the junction of Salt Creek, Vanceburg was a town of roughly 200 inhabitants. It had a  post office, four hotels, several stores and a salt-works nearby. Over the past 13 years the population had quadrupled, mostly due to the influx of new settlers from Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts  who came down the Ohio River and settled here. Among the inhabitants  were a number of lumber merchants and sawyers, a land agent, steamboat  pilot and flatboat man, physicians, lawyers, blacksmiths, carpenters, a  saddler and miller, brick makers and layers, teamsters and seamstresses. By all appearances, Vanceburg was an up and coming town at the beginning of the Civil War.

One of the more recent arrivals was 30 year old Francis L. Shaw and his family. Francis occupied a home next to the residences of his brother William Y. Shaw and his brother-in-law Killian K. Mann. A near neighbor was Hiram T. Rowley, a merchant who operated a store on Second Street in Vanceburg. As far as current political issues were concerned, Shaw and his family strongly supported the Union cause.

On the evening of September 1, 1861, at 7 p.m., Shaw was sitting in his house with his wife Mahala, and the couple's two young children, eight year  old Oliver and four year old Mary. Also present were Shaw's younger brother Lorenzo and one of his wife's sisters. Suddenly, they heard the foot steps of men walking up the sidewalk in the direction of their  house. When in front of their house, a man by the name of Henry Pell  called to Shaw, and told him that, "Mr. Rice" wanted to see him down town immediately. Mr. Rice in this case may have been Francis H. Rice, a 42  year old land agent from Massachusetts who was boarding at police judge William S. Parker's house, six households from the Shaw residence. The men then turned and walked directly across the Street as Shaw was able to determine by the sound of their feet.

Francis L. Shaw was reluctant to leave the house as he believed from the indications that Pell and the men with him "designed some evil" toward him. An hour later a small stone was thrown against the house. For the next three hours all was quiet again until about 11 o'clock when Mahala went into the backroom where the children were sleeping and  moved the curtain at the window. She quickly stepped back and remarked that she heard men running and just at that instance, "the report of a gun and the crashing of the window and the lumbering of stones on the floor filled the house."

Shaw stated that, "My family were so much alarmed as to cry out which together with the report of the gun alarmed many of the citizens who were yet not retired to bed and within Five minutes a number of citizens were at my house, when we proceeded to examine the affect of the assault, and found two stones in the room one weighing about Four and a half lbs; the other about Three lbs. One of the stones had struck the far side of the room cutting through the ceiling; the other had struck the floor cutting quite a gash in it. The charge in the gun being shot, had taken effect in the wall and in the head board of the Bedsted near the head of one of my children who was sleeping there. Another stone had struck the meeting Rail of the Window Sash, when it broke and scattered over the room. The glass was nearly all broken out of the window."

While Shaw and some of his neighbors were examining the damage in the house, others proceeded to scout in different directions in search of  the mob, and in a few minutes one of the scouts came upon three men sitting by the road side about Two Hundred yards from Shaw's house - one of them being Henry Pell. One of the scouts asked him if he knew anything of the disturbance to which he replied he had not heard of any disturbance.

Shaw immediately procured a writ and charged Pell and his companions with assault on his home and shooting into the house with intent to kill. Consequently, Pell's two companions were arrested, as well as a  third man who had been seen running away from Shaw's house immediately after the firing was heard. Pell, however, was not taken. A court of inquiry was called immediately and proceeded to try the men arrested.

One of the men turned States evidence and testified that Pell induced him and the other two men referred to, to go with him to try and lure Shaw out of the house for the purpose of robbing him. After failing in any way to get him out they went and made the assault, thinking that Shaw was at the window, as they had seen the curtains moved by some one.

Shaw stated in regard to Pell that, "I have no knowledge of any insult of any kind that could have actuated him, only as I was told that he said I was a damned Lincolnite and a damned Abolishionist."

Soon after the incident, Francis L. Shaw moved with his family to Fleming County. He enlisted in November 1861 in the 24th KY Infantry and thus had no further chance to prosecute the case.

Pell remained at large but was eventually arrested within two months after the incident. Police judge William S. Parker investigated and tried the case "according to law" but amazingly, cleared Pell of any wrong doing. Parker reasoned that, "there was no evidence implicating  him in said charges and I found there was no course for sending him on for trial in the Circuit Court."  Clearly, Parker ignored the fact that Pell had been named as the main instigator by one of his companions.  Furthermore, Parker called none of the witnesses in the case, namely Socrates Holbrook, County Attorney of Lewis County and Dr. Robert G. Barber, one of the physicians in Vanceburg, nor Francis L. Shaw's  brother Lorenzo Dow Shaw or William Schiffbower who was rooming at one of the hotels in town at the time of the incident.

After the proceedings, police judge Parker enlisted in the 16th KY Infantry and left the docket and papers in his bureau drawer. By 1864, when called  upon, all pertinent documents had been conveniently lost or misplaced. Clearly, for unknown reasons, justice had not been served. Nevertheless, although the law failed to prosecute him for his misdeeds in the fall of 1861, Pell eventually ran into trouble a few short years later ... which will be the subject of another article.

  ~ To Be Continued ~

Monday, January 28, 2013

Henry Biggs alias Henry Holms, 100th USCI

One of the African American soldiers from Greenup County, KY who served their country during the Civil War was Henry Biggs. He was born in Greenup County between 1825 and 1827, the son of a man by the last name of Holmes. Henry was the slave of William Biggs who lived on a farm situated near the Ohio River, about three miles from the town of Greenup.

Once part of the William Biggs farm
William Biggs was a self-made business man who maintained a line of keel boats on the Ohio and Big Sandy Rivers and owned interests in iron furnaces in Ironton, Ohio as well as in Kentucky. In 1850, he bought a hotel in Portsmouth Ohio, which came to be known far and wide as the "Biggs House." He maintained a woodyard on the banks of the Ohio river in Greenup which was supplied from his heavily timbered farm. Biggs was also a substantial slave holder. In 1850, he owned 19 slaves and 24 slaves in 1860. He was characterized as a "kind and indulgent master" who, during the 1830's, allowed his slaves to cross the Ohio river, and work in the state of Ohio. It has been said that none of his slaves ever tried to escape. This may have been partially due to the fact that, beginning in 1856, slave patrols were employed for which the state legislature appropriated $1200 annually to Greenup County for wages.

As Henry grew to manhood, he was married to Rosa Philips, also a slave, about 1845/1846. She was born in Kentucky between 1820 and 1824. The ceremony was performed in Greenup County by Charles Howard, a "Colored Minister." After their marriage, the couple lived on the William Biggs farm and during the course of the years five children were born to this union:

Charlotte/Lottie, b. abt. 1846

Jackson/Jack, b. abt. 1850

Sophy/Sophia, b. March 2, 1851

Henry, b. May 15, 1853

Harrison, b. April 15, 1855

In addition to their five children, the couple also cared for a young slave girl named Maria. Despite her young age, being only between 7 to 9 years old, Maria was of great help to Rosa and assisted in nursing her "during her sickness resulting from her being confined" by giving birth to her last two children, Henry and Harrison.

When the Civil War began, African Americans were not permitted to enlist in the military service to serve their country. As the war progressed, attitudes began to change. The first official authorization to employ African Americans in federal service was the Second Confiscation and Militia Act of July 17, 1862. This act allowed President Abraham Lincoln to receive into the military service persons of African descent and gave permission to use them for any purpose "he may judge best for the public welfare." However, the President did not authorize use of African Americans in combat until issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

To facilitate recruiting in the states of Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, the War Department issued General Order No. 329 on October 3, 1863. Section 6 of the order stated that if any citizen should offer his or her slave for enlistment into the military service, that person would, "if such slave be accepted, receive from the recruiting officer a certificate thereof, and become entitled to compensation for the service or labor of said slave, not exceeding the sum of three hundred dollars, upon filing a valid deed of manumission and of release, and making satisfactory proof of title." Further, every owner was required to sign an oath of allegiance to the government of the United States.

Nevertheless, open enrollment did not begin in Kentucky until Burbridge issued GENERAL ORDERS No. 34, dated April 18, 1864. It directed the assistant to the provost-marshal-general of the State, the provost-marshals of districts, and the deputy provost-marshals in each county, " to receive and regularly enlist as soldiers in the service of the United States all able-bodied negro slaves and free colored persons of lawful age who may apply to them to be enlisted, and in case of slaves whose owners may request the enlistment."

A month later, on May 22, 1864, Henry Biggs appeared at Greenupsburg and signed a declaration, that he desired to volunteer as a soldier in the Army of the United States, for the term of three years, which was witnessed by J. W. Henderson. The following day, he enrolled as a private in Capt. Hamlin Rockwell's Co. H, 100th US Colored Infantry. Henry was examined by Surgeon A. Spaulding and declared "free from all bodily efects and mental infirmity" which in turn qualified him for military service. His physical description was given as follows: Age 37, occupation farmer. He was 5' 4" tall, had black eyes, black hair, and a copper complexion.

Henry Biggs Enlistment Paper
Henry Biggs was mustered into the US service on June 1, 1864, by Captain William C. Grier, Provost Marshall, 9th Congressional District of Kentucky. The absence of any type of manumission documents in his service records seem to suggest that he volunteered without permission (or blessings) by William Biggs.

According to Col. Reuben D. Mussey, 100th USCI, Commissioner, Organization U. S. Colored Troops, "the people of Kentucky did not seem to be willing there should be armed negroes in their State." Burbridge's order specified that as soon as mustered,"and squads of such recruits are collected, they will be at once forwarded to the general rendezvous at Louisville; thence forwarded by the commandant of the rendezvous to the nearest rendezvous or camp of instruction outside of the State, for the purpose of being equipped and assigned to companies and regiments." Burbridge made note that, "recruits will, in all cases, be forwarded as herein directed with all practicable dispatch."

Accordingly, within a few days of muster, Henry Biggs, along with a detachment of other recruits, boarded a steamboat for Louisville. As they departed Greenup, the recruits may have felt a sense of relief. While in camp and without weapons, the raw recruits manifested, "some alarm lest the guerrillas should come in and massacre them after the manner observed at Fort Pillow." On June 4, 1864, the Portsmouth Times (OH) reported that a "Boat-Load of negro soldiers passed down the river on the Market Boy, yesterday morning." The Market Boy was not a fancy boat by any means. It was formerly in use by the Kanawha Salt Association to transport salt. The recruits arrived at Louisville on June 6, 1864, and were quickly loaded onto a train to Nashville, Tennessee.

Ohio River at Greenup, near the steamboat landing
Henry Biggs was among the first several hundred African American recruits from Kentucky thus received at Mussey's headquarters in Nashville. Military authorities were encouraged and decided to expand their recruiting efforts in Kentucky. By mid-June, the number of recruiters were increased and eight camps were authorized to receive US Colored recruits which would include Camp Swigert in Greenup County. The Ironton Register (OH) reported that, "The negroes of Greenup and adjoining counties in Kentucky are enlisting into the United States Service very rapidly. At last accounts one hundred and fifty of them were encamped near Greenupsburg." When the 100th USCI was organized at Nashville, recruits from Greenup as well as a number from neighboring counties accounted for most of the rank and file of Cos. F and H through K, 100th USCI.

The regiment was immediately assigned to guard duty on the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad where it was involved in a skirmish on Sept. 6, 1864. The regiment saw action at Johnsonville on November 4-5, particpated in the Battle of Nashville, TN, December 15-16 and Overton Hill, December 16. Immediately therafter, the 100th USCI took part in the pursuit of Hood to the Tennessee River, from December 17-28, 1864.

Their hard service as well as a lack of tents and blankets and exposure to the elements led to widespread sickness among the soldiers in the regiment. It was during this time, that Henry Biggs contracted a severe cold which quickly turned into pneumonia. He died from the effects on Christmas Day 1864, while on a train between Huntsville and Stevenson, Alabama. Sadly, his burial site could not be ascertained by the writer and seems to be lost. Henry Biggs' name is displayed on the African American Civil War Memorial, Plaque Number C-99.

Henry's enlistment did not automatically free his family who remained in servitude until Congress passed a resolution on Mach 3, 1865, that freed the wives and children of U.S. Colored Troops. It can only be speculated how Rosa and the children were treated during their remaining days in Greenup County. By the time the Civil War was over, they had left the Biggs farm and were living in Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio. On Sept. 6, 1865, Rosa applied for a widow's and minors' pension before Probate Court Judge John Walker.

Rosa applied under the surname Holms, rather than Biggs. In order to explain this discrepancy, two of Henry Biggs' former comrades, Corporal Harvey Kouns (listed as Karnes on the regimental rolls) and Richard Johnson, both Co. H, 100th USCI,  testified on July 13, 1866, before William Corum, Greenup County Clerk, that Henry enlisted with them and was mustered into the service, "under the name of Henry Biggs, the Surname Biggs being the surname of his master and by which he was known here, that after he became free, he assumed the surname of his Father which was Holmes and called himself Henry Holmes and that the said Henry Biggs alias Henry Holmes continued with them in the service till his death."

After producing supporting affidavits in regard to her marriage to Henry and the birth dates of her children, Rosa Holms alias Biggs was granted a pension for herself and sons Henry and Harrison at the rate of $8 per month, beginning Sept. 21, 1866 (Cert. # 83.944).

Rosa Holms' Widow's Claim for Pension
Rosa never re-married and continued to live with her children in the 3rd Ward in Circleville. According to census records, she owned  her own home. Also living with her for some time were Maria and her husband James Rollins. In 1872, she applied for an increase in pension which was not granted. Rosa died on Nov. 29, 1882. Her last known residence was 254 Canal Street, 3rd Ward, Circleville, OH, which was in close proximity of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Links of Interest
Resolution Freeing the Families of Black Soldiers
Published by Freedmen & Southern Society Project

THE BLACK SOLDIERS OF KENTUCKY: Over Twenty Thousand Negroes Furnished to the Armies of the Union More than a Hundred Thousand Slaves Made Free.
Article by the New York Times, published August 10, 1865.

Freedom by the Sword- U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867, by William A. Dobak.

African American Civil War Memorial
Photo Gallery (NPS)

Article researched and written by Marlitta H. Perkins, January 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express written notice by the author is strictly prohibited. © 2013. All Rights Reserved.