Clark County’s Confederate soldiers

Published 8:47 am Friday, November 24, 2017

The Local History Room at the Clark County Public Library contains “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.”

One of the more curious is a volume entitled, “The Confederate States of America Roll of Honor.” It consists of 212 pages of application blanks filled out in pen or pencil and bound in alphabetical order. There are listings for 144 Confederate veterans. The first entry gives an example of the type of information provided for each:

“Name— Richard Add; Company— A; Regiment— 11th Kentucky Cavalry; Command— J. H. Morgan; Enlisted— September 10, 1862; Age— 18; Died in Service; [Information] Entered by— E. G. Baxter; Date— February 9, 1906.”

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Ellis G. Baxter filled out forms for a number of soldiers who served in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry. The few applications with dates are all from 1906, apparently the year this project unfolded. Many of the applications have a handwritten narrative attached, such as the following for Ellis Baxter:

“I inlisted the 15 of June 1862, before I was 13 [on] the 10 of September 1862, in the 2 Kentucky Cavelry, Morgans old ridgement. I was transferd to the 11 Kentucky, same brigade, the first of October 1862. Was mayed 2 leutenant of Company A of that ridgment in July 1863. I was parled [paroled] at appomattix, when Lee surrenderd, to go home and stay til duley exchanged. I have never bin exchanged and I stil have my parale.”

Baxter’s application states he was twice wounded, captured during Morgan’s Indiana-Ohio Raid in 1863 and imprisoned in the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus.

I gathered the following statistics from the 144 applications: 130 of the total served under Gen. John Hunt Morgan — six served in the Orphan Brigade, three in Gen. Humphrey Marshall’s brigade. The most populous regiments listed was 11th Kentucky Cavalry which drew many Clark County men — 48 enlisted when they were teenagers, under the age of 20. A total of 87 were captured during the war, most during Morgan’s ill-fated Indiana-Ohio Raid. Thirty-seven died in service, a few in battle but most while imprisoned.

The narratives that go with some of the applications provide personal descriptions of the veterans’ wartime experiences. Such accounts for soldiers, North or South, are quite rare for Clark County. Some are brief — “Joe Hampton was the first Confederate soldier buried in the county.” E. G. Baxter, who filled out the application, added that Hampton was killed in a skirmish at Red River on Oct. 22, 1862. According to official records, Hampton enlisted at Richmond, Kentucky, on Sept. 10, 1862, was wounded on Nov. 17 and died Nov. 30.

John S. Gamboe: “He was the son of William Gamboe. Was born July the 6th, 1842. In 1863 he was drowned while out swimming with several soldiers in a pond near Monticello, Kentucky. He was buried nearby in Mr. Williams’ garden.”

Many soldiers described their capture and imprisonment. Few were more descriptive than Lt. William Berry Ford of Roy Cluke’s regiment.

“He was captured at Bluffington Island, Ohio, with Morgan’s command then taken to Cincinnati and confined for a few days in a station house in that city. From Cincinnati he was taken to Camp Chase near Columbus. Being an officer, he was sent to Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie. From there he was taken to Alleghany City, Pennsylvania, where he was confined in the penitentiary at that place. From here he was taken to Fort Delaware, Pennsylvania, and thence to Fort Lookout, Maryland, and then to Morris Island near Charleston, South Carolina. From here he was transferred to Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Georgia. Here he suffered from want of food, and he was very glad when the order came for removal to Fort Delaware. Here he remained until after Lee’s surrender when he came back to his old Kentucky home in Clark County.”

John D. Duvall was taken prisoner at the same place and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio — “Was taken sick and the vigilance of the guards being somewhat relaxed, he made his escape through the wall, but was so weak he got but a short distance. An old gentleman & his wife saw his distress, took him in, secreted him, wrote to his father of his condition saying if he was sent back to camp he would die. He was paroled & returned home.”

Francis Jones enlisted at 17, served in Cluke’s regiment, was captured and imprisoned at Camp Douglas in Illinois. “After the war he studied medicine and in 1872 graduated an MD with honorable mention at the University of Louisville. He located in Clark County near Winchester and continued the practice of his profession with increasing and gratifying success. He died July 28, 1898.”

Obediah Tracy, one of the eldest soldiers in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, enlisted at the age of 65. He was captured during Morgan’s raid in 1863 and died in prison at Camp Douglas the following year. “He was a brave old soldier. A parole was offered him on account of his feeble health, which he refused.”

Orlando Hensley participated in the battle of ironclad vessels in Hampton Roads, Virginia, in 1862. “I Desire to say that [Edward A.] Pollards Description of the Battle of the Virginia, also called the Merrimac, against the men of war ships the Congress, Cumberland & Monitor and other war vessels and gun boats, that I witness the Battle, being at Sewells point. Battery Company F of the 41st regiment, the same regiment that I belong to, Served the hot shot gun that set the Congress afire and Burned her up.”

George Crutchfield described his experiences serving in the Orphan Brigade: “Lived in Clark County but enlisted in Shelby County under Capt. James Johnson, and was with his company when it was reorganized at Bowling Green under Ben Hardin Helm. Surrendered at Fort Donaldson but escaped. At Laverne next and then at Shiloh. Heard [Albert Sidney] Johnston’s famous command to his men, ‘Cavalry, water your horses in the Tennessee river tonight. Infantry, sleep on its banks.’ Was at the battles of Richmond and Perryville and for 45 days in the saddle, fighting every day. In Tennessee next and at the 3 days battles of Murfreeborough. Next in Georgia & around old Lookout [Mountain]. Was captured on Peachtree Creek & carried to Nashville, Louisville, Camp Chase & last to Fort Delaware.”

The little volume contains many more personal accounts, some quite lengthy, but space permits only a sampling here.

Harry Enoch, retired biochemist and history enthusiast, has been writing for the Sun since 2005.