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´╗┐Title: Sketch of the First Kentucky Brigade
Author: Hodge, George B.
Language: English
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                  OF THE

                  BY ITS

              FRANKFORT, KY.
            MAJOR & JOHNSTON.

                  TO THE
                AND TO THE
             OF THE BRIGADE,
               THIS SKETCH


In the general history which will go down to posterity of such immense
bodies of men as were gathered under the banners of the Confederate
States of America, it is not likely that more than a brief and cursory
reference can or will be made to the services of so small a force as
composed the First Kentucky Brigade. Yet the anomalous position which
it occupied, in regard to the revolution, in having revolted against
both State and Federal authority, exiling itself from home, from
fortune, from kindred, and from friends--abandoning everything which
makes life desirable, save honor--gave it an individuality which
cannot fail to attract the attention of the calm student, who, in
coming years, traces the progress of the mighty social convulsion in
which it acted no ignoble part. The State, too, from which it came,
whatever may be its destiny or its ultimate fate, will remember, with
melancholy and mournful interest, not, perhaps, unmingled with
remorse, the career of that gallant band of men, who, of all the
thousands in its borders inheriting the proud name and lofty fame of
Kentuckians, stood forth fearlessly by deeds to express the sentiments
of an undoubted majority of her people--disapprobation of wrong and
tyranny. Children now in their cradles, youths as yet unborn, will
inquire, with an earnest eagerness which volumes of recital cannot
satisfy, how their countrymen demeaned themselves in the fierce ordeal
which they had elected as the test of their patriotism; how they bore
themselves on the march and in the bivouac; how in the trials of the
long and sad retreat; how amid the wild carnage of the stricken field.
Fair daughters of the State will oftentimes, even amid the rigid
censorship which forbids utterance of words, love to come in thought
and linger about the lonely graves where the men of the Kentucky
Brigade sleep, wrapped in no winding-sheets save their battle-clothes,
beneath no monuments save the trees of the forest, torn and mutilated
by the iron storm, in which the slumberers met death. It has seemed to
me not improper, therefore, that the story should be told by one
possessing peculiar facilities for acquiring knowledge of the
movements of detached portions of the force, and who, in the capacity
of a staff officer, under the directions of its General, issued every
order and participated in every movement of the brigade, who had not
only the opportunity but the desire to do justice to all who composed
it, from him who bore worthily the truncheon of the General, to those
who not less worthily in their places bore their muskets as privates.
A deep interest will always be felt in the history of the effort which
was made, by men strong in their faith in the correctness of
republican forms of government, notwithstanding the tyranny which the
great experiment in the United States had culminated in, to
reconstruct from the shattered fragments of free institutions upon
which the armies of the Federal power were trampling, a social and
political fabric, under the shelter of which they and their posterity
might enjoy the rights of freemen. When the first seven Southern
States seceded, and President Lincoln took the initial steps to coerce
them, the Legislature of Kentucky, by an almost unanimous vote of the
House of Representatives, declared that any attempt to do so by
marching troops over her soil would be resisted to the last extremity.
The Governor had refused to respond to the call of the Executive for
troops for this purpose. The Legislature approved his course. But here
unanimity ceased; effort after effort was made in the Legislature to
provide for the call of a sovereignty convention. The majority
steadily resisted it. As a compromise, the neutrality of the State was
assumed, acquiesced in by the sympathizers with the North because they
intended to violate it when the occasion was ripe; acquiesced in by
the Southern men because, while their impulses all prompted them to
make common cause with their Southern brethren, they believed that the
neutrality of the State, in presenting an effective barrier of seven
hundred miles of frontier between the South and invasion, offered her
more efficient assistance than the most active co-operation could have
done. The Legislature adjourned; the canvass commenced for a new
General Assembly; delegates were elected, pledged to strict
neutrality; the Northern sympathizers had been vigorous, active, and
energetic, and unscrupulous. They had in every county organized "Home
Guards;" arms were, by their connivance, introduced by the Federal
Government in large quantities. On the first Monday in September the
Legislature met, the mask was thrown off; neutrality was scouted;
troops were openly levied for the Northern army, and the outraged
Southern men revolted.

Early in the summer of 1861, bodies of the young men of the State had
repaired to Camp Boone, in Tennessee, near the Kentucky line, where
were forming regiments to be mustered into the service of the
Confederate States. Most of these had been previously members of the
State Guard of Kentucky, and consequently had enjoyed the advantage of
systematic and scientific drill. They were rapidly organized into
three regiments of infantry, known as the 2d, 3d, and 4th Kentucky
Regiments of Volunteers, the 2d having as its Colonel, J. M. Hawes,
recently an officer of the United States Army, but who, with a
devotion which almost invariably manifested itself among the officers
of Southern birth, promptly and cheerfully gave up the advantages of a
certain and fixed position in a regularly organized army, to offer his
sword and military knowledge to the cause of Southern independence. He
was soon succeeded by Colonel Roger Hanson. The 3d had as its Colonel,
Lloyd Tighlman, the 4th Robert P. Trabue. Colonel Tighlman, before his
regiment was actively in service, was made a Brigadier, and its Lieut.
Colonel, Thompson, succeeded to the Colonelcy. These three regiments
formed the nucleus of a brigade, to the command of which Brigadier
General S. B. Buckner, recently Inspector General and active Commander
of the Kentucky State Guard, was assigned by President Davis. To this
command were afterwards added the 5th Kentucky, commanded by Colonel
Thomas Hunt, the 6th, commanded by Colonel Joseph Lewis, Cobb's
battery, and Byrne's battery of artillery.

On the 17th of September, 1861, General Buckner, with some Tennessee
troops and the Kentucky regiments, moved to Bowling Green, in
Kentucky, and occupied it, fortifying it and fitting it for the base
of active operations of the Confederate armies in Kentucky, which it
became for some months. One regiment of infantry and a battery of
artillery was thrown forward to the bridge on Green river, under
command of Colonel Hawes--the bridge, shortly after, was burned by the
Confederate troops. Capt. John Morgan, a few days subsequently to
this, reached this command with one hundred men from the interior of
Kentucky. These men were mounted, to serve as scouts; and here
commenced that career which afterwards gained for their fearless
leader a continental reputation as a bold, daring, and effective
partisan officer. Few men, indeed, with means so limited, and in the
midst of movements so grand and stupendous that the career of general
officers have been lost sight of, have won such a name and reputation.
Of a mild and unassuming demeanor, gentle and affable in his manners,
handsome in person, and possessed of all that polish of address which
is supposed to best qualify men for the drawing-room and parlor, no
enterprise, however dangerous, no reconnoissance, however tiresome and
wearying, could daunt his spirits or deter him from his purpose. For
months, with his handful of men, he swept the northern bank of Green
river, cutting off the supplies of the enemy, destroying bridges
necessary for their transportation, capturing their pickets, and
harassing their flanks, moving with a celerity and secrecy which
defied pursuit or detection. No commander of a detached post or guard
of the enemy could flatter himself that distance from Bowling Green or
disagreeableness of weather could protect him from a visit from
Morgan. He was liable to be called upon at any hour, in any weather,
or at any point beyond the intrenched camps of the Federal army. The
earth might be soaked with rain, which for days had been falling, the
roads might be impassable, the Green and Barren rivers with their
tributaries might be swollen far beyond their banks, but over that
earth and across those rivers, when least expected, came Morgan as
with the swoop of an eagle; and, after destroying the munitions of the
enemy, or capturing his guards, was away again, leaving behind him a
polite note intimating he would call again soon, or perhaps
telegraphing a dispatch to the nearest Federal commander, giving him
full and precise particulars of the movements he had just made, and
most provoking details of the damage he had just committed. Long after
the Confederate army had retired from Kentucky, when the entire State
was in undisputed possession of the Northern armies, many a Southern
sympathizer found immunity and protection from maltreatment and
outrage by the significant threat that Morgan would visit that
neighborhood soon. And, indeed, during the disastrous retreat from
Nashville, the tireless partisan, passing through Eastern Tennessee
and Kentucky, far in the rear of the Federal army, fell upon their
train at Gallatin, Tennessee, and lit up the spirits of the despondent
Tennesseans by one of his bold and daring strokes. Even when the
Southern army had passed the Tennessee river, when every available
soldier of the South was supposed to be at Corinth to meet the
overwhelming hosts of the invader, Morgan, gathering three or four
hundred of his men, recrossed the river, fell upon the railroad train
at Athens, Alabama, captured two hundred and eighty prisoners, and
destroyed the cars. Ambushed, defeated, cut to pieces, and routed by
greatly superior forces a few days afterwards, hardly had the news
reached Louisville of his disaster, when, collecting two hundred of
his scattered command, he fell like a thunderbolt upon the railroad
train at Cave City, in the centre of Kentucky, capturing many
prisoners, thousands of dollars in money, and destroying forty-three
baggage cars laden with the enemy's stores.

Early in November, 1861, the Hon. John C. Breckinridge arrived at
Bowling Green, when he resigned his seat as Senator from Kentucky, in
the Federal Congress, and was immediately commissioned as Brigadier
General, and assigned to the command of the Kentucky Brigade, General
Buckner assuming command of a division of which the Kentucky Brigade
was a component part. He assumed command on the 16th of
November--having as his Chief of Staff and A. A. General, Captain
George B. Hodge, and Aid-de-Camp, Thomas T. Hawkins. The brigade was
ordered to Oakland Station, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad,
where, in connection with Hindman's brigade, it remained in
observation of the movements of the enemy on the north bank of the
Green river, who was known to be in great force at Munfordsville, and
in his cantonments extending back towards Elizabethtown, and was
supposed to be only waiting the completion of the Green river bridge,
which he was repairing, to advance his entire column, estimated at
80,000 men, on Bowling Green and Nashville. Behind the curtain of the
brigades of Hindman and Breckinridge, Gen. Johnston was rapidly
pushing on the fortifications at Bowling Green; and by the latter part
of January, 1862, they had become quite formidable.

It had, however, become doubtful whether the enemy would attempt the
passage of the Green river. It was certain, if he did so, his true
attack would be developed in a flank movement, by way of Glasgow and
Scottsville, on Nashville, while there was left him the alternative of
massing his troops at Paducah, then in his possession, and availing
himself of his enormous supplies of water transportation, of moving by
the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on Forts Henry and Donelson, by a
successful attack on those works, turning the flank of the Confederate
forces at Bowling Green, opening the way to Nashville, and possibly
enabling him to interpose between the Southern armies and their base
of operations. To guard against this latter movement, the divisions of
Generals Floyd and Pillow, and a portion of the division of General
Buckner, were, about the 20th of January, moved, by way of
Clarksville, to the support of Donelson. With this force marched the
2d Kentucky Regiment, which, after covering itself with imperishable
glory in the terrible combat, of three days, at Fort Donelson, was, on
the 16th of February, surrendered to the enemy; and passing into
captivity, ceased to participate in the campaign of the spring and
summer of 1862.

By the 10th of February, definite information had been obtained by
General Johnston of the movements of the enemy. He was convinced that
an overpowering force had moved upon Forts Donelson and Henry; that a
heavy column was pursuing Crittenden, after defeating and routing him
at Fishing Creek, threatening Nashville on that flank; and that a
force almost as large as the Confederate force at Bowling Green was
held in hand by the enemy, to be poured across Green river and attack
him in front, while the two bodies on his right and left united at
Nashville and closed upon his rear. With the promptness and decision
which characterized his high and serenely courageous mind, General
Johnston determined to retire from Bowling Green and fall back on
Nashville, where, uniting with the garrisons and troops in defense of
Forts Donelson and Henry, should those places be found to be
untenable, he could hold the divisions of the Federal General, Grant,
in check, while he went to the assistance of Crittenden, and crushed
the Federal column advancing by way of Cumberland Gap. The
fortifications of Bowling Green were with every expedition
dismantled; the government stores shipped as rapidly as possible to
Nashville, and on the 9th of February an order was issued by Major
General Hardee, commanding the central army of Kentucky, directing
Generals Hindman and Breckinridge to repass the Barren river and be in
Bowling Green by the night of the 10th. The admirable discipline which
General Breckinridge had exercised and maintained in and over his
command, enabled him to comply promptly with the order, without
confusion and with no loss of stores, equipments, or supplies. His
brigade, marching at 8 o'clock A. M., on the 10th passed Barren river
bridge at 3 P. M., and bivouacked three miles south of Bowling Green
for the night. Hindman, being farther in the rear, lost a few of his
scouts, and had hardly time to blow up the bridges over Barren river
when the head of the enemy's column came into sight, and immediately
commenced shelling the railroad depot and that portion of the track on
which were lying the freight trains. These they succeeded in firing

When the retreat of the army commenced, Breckinridge's brigade was
constituted the rear guard--General Hardee, however, being still in
rear with the cavalry and light artillery. Notwithstanding the fact
that cold, freezing, and intensely inclement weather set in;
notwithstanding the fact that evidences of the demoralization which a
retreat in the presence of an enemy always produces were too apparent
in many divisions of the army, yet the soldierly manner in which
Breckinridge brought off his brigade, losing not a straggler from the
ranks, not a musket or a tent, speaks more creditably for him and for
them than the recital perhaps of their deeds of daring in the field
could do.

In truth, history records no sadder tale than the retreat of the
Kentuckians from their native State. For the rest of the army there
was yet hope. Far to the South lay their homesteads, and their
families rested still in security. Between those homesteads and those
families and the advancing foe were innumerable places where battle
might be successfully offered, or where at least the sons of the South
might rear a rampart of their bodies over which the invader could not
pass. Time, political complications, mutations of fortune, to which
the most successful commanders are liable, might at any time
transform the triumph of the Northmen into disaster and defeat. Months
must elapse before the advancing columns of the enemy could reach the
South, and ere that time arrived pestilence and malarious disease
would, amid the fens and swamps of the gulf States, be crouching in
their lair, ready to issue forth and grapple with the rash intruders
from a more salubrious clime. But for the Kentuckians all was
apparently lost. Behind their retiring regiments were the graves of
their fathers, and the hearthstones about which clustered every happy
memory of their childhood; there, in the possession of the invader,
were the rooftrees beneath which were gathered wives who, with a
wifely smile gleaming even through their tears, had bidden their
husbands go forth to do battle for the right, promising to greet them
with glad hearts when they returned in the hour of triumph; there were
the fair faces which for many in that band had made the starlight of
their young lives; there were young and helpless children, for whom
the future promised but suffering, poverty, destitution, and want;
there, too, were the thousands who had with anxious and waiting
hearts, groaning beneath the yoke of the oppressor, counted the hours
until the footsteps of their deliverers should be heard. On the 13th
of February the brigade crossed the line between Kentucky and
Tennessee; a night in which rain and sleet fell incessantly was
succeeded by a day of intense and bitter cold. Everything which could
contribute to crush the spirits and weaken the nerves of men, seemed
to have combined. But for those dauntless hearts, the bitterness of
sacrifice, the weakness of doubt and uncertainty had passed, when, by
a common impulse, the General, his staff, and the field officers
dismounted, and, placing themselves on foot at the head of the column,
with sad and solemn countenances, but with erect and soldierly
bearing, marched for hours in the advance; and then was observed, for
the first time in that brigade, through every grade and every rank,
the look of high resolve and stern fortitude, which, amid all the
vicissitudes of its fortunes characterized the appearance of its
members, and attracted the attention and comment of observers in every
State through which it passed. Henceforth for them petty physical
discomforts, inconveniences of position, annoyances of inclement
weather, scantiness of supplies, rudeness of fare, were nothing; they
felt that they could not pass away until a great day should come which
they looked forward to with unshaken confidence, and with patient
watchfulness. They might never again dispense in their loved native
State the generous hospitality which had become renowned throughout
the continent; what remained to them of life might be passed in penury
and in exile. Their countrymen might never know how they had lived or
where they had died; venal historians might even teach the rising
generation to brand their memories with the stigma of treason and
shame, but a day was yet to come of the triumph of which they felt
they could not be deprived; days, weeks, months might elapse, they
could bide their time. State after State might have to be traversed,
great rivers might have to be passed, mountain ranges surmounted,
hunger and thirst endured, but the day and the hour would surely come
when with serried ranks they should meet the foe, and their hearts
burning with the memory of inexpiable wrongs, should, in the presence
of the God of battles, demand and exact a terrible reckoning for all
they had endured and all they had suffered.

The night of the 14th was passed at Camp Trousdale, where summer
barracks, which had been erected to accommodate the Tennessee
volunteers stationed there for instruction, afforded but inadequate
protection against the bitter cold of the night. These were the next
night burned by the cavalry which covered the retreat, and afforded to
the people of Tennessee the first evidence that their State was about
to be invaded. The spirits of the army, however, were cheered by the
accounts which General Johnston, with thoughtful care, forwarded, by
means of couriers, daily, of the successful resistance of Fort
Donelson. The entire army bivouacked in line of battle on the night of
the 15th at the junction of the Gallatin and Nashville, and Bowling
Green and Nashville roads, about ten miles from Nashville. It was
confidently believed that by means of boats, a large portion of the
force would be sent to the relief of Fort Donelson. But on the morning
of the 16th, it began to be whispered, first, among the higher
officers, spreading thence, in spite of every precaution, to the
ranks, that Donelson not only had fallen, but that the divisions of
Floyd, Pillow, and Buckner had been surrendered as prisoners of war.
Rumors of the wildest nature flew from regiment to regiment, the enemy
were coming upon transports to Nashville--the bridges were being
destroyed--the forts below the city were already surrendered--the
retreat of the army was cut off--and as if to confirm the rumors,
during the entire morning, the explosion of heavy artillery was heard
in front and in the direction of Nashville. This proved to be caused
by the firing of guns at Fort Zollicoffer, which, after having being
heavily charged, were, with their muzzles in the earth, exploded to
destroy them. At 4 P. M., on the 16th, the head of the brigade came in
sight of the bridges at Nashville, across which, in dense masses, were
streaming infantry, artillery, and transportation and provision
trains, but still with a regularity and order which gave promise of
renewed activity and efficiency in the future. At nightfall General
Johnston, who had established his head-quarters at Edgefield, on the
northern bank of the Cumberland, saw the last of his wearied and tired
columns defile across and safely establish themselves beyond.

Amid all the disasters and gloom of the retreat, the great captain had
abundant cause of self-gratulation and confidence. He had reached
Kentucky in October of the previous year to find the plan of
occupation of the State to be upon three parallel lines of invasion,
and yet all dependent upon a single point as the base of operations
and the depot of supplies. Vicious and faulty as these unforeseen
events proved it to have been, he had made the most of the situation.
He found an army of hastily levied volunteers, badly equipped,
miserably clad, fully one half stricken down by disease, destitute of
transportation, and with barely the shadow of discipline. Never able
to wield more than eighteen thousand fighting men at and around
Bowling Green, with these men he held at bay a force of the enemy of
fully one hundred thousand men. The Southern States were protected
from invasion. Time was obtained to drill and consolidate the
volunteer force. The army was sustained in the fertile and abundant
grain-producing regions of Kentucky, transportation gathered of the
most efficient character, immense supplies of beef, corn, and pork
collected from the surrounding country and safely garnered in depots
further South for the coming summer campaign; and when, finally, the
defeat of Crittenden, and the overwhelming attack on Donelson had
apparently cut off his retreat, leaving him eighty miles in front of
his base of operations and his magazines, he had with promptness,
unrivaled military sagacity, and yet with mingled caution and
celerity, dismantled his fortifications at Bowling Green, transmitted
his heavy artillery and ammunition to Nashville, and extricated his
entire army from the jaws of almost certain annihilation and capture.
The enemy came from the capture of Fort Donelson, in which he had lost
in killed and wounded a force equal to the entire garrison of the
place, to see, to his astonishment, an army in his front undismayed,
and held in hand by a General who had just displayed to the world
military qualities of the highest order, and a genius for strategy
which seemed to anticipate all his plans and as readily to baffle
them. In the capture of the army defending Donelson the Confederacy
lost, as prisoners of war, the gallant and idolized Buckner, Hanson
and his splendid regiment, and many Kentuckians connected with the
staff of those officers.

The night of February 16th found the army encamped safely upon the
Murfreesboro and Nashville road; but it found the city of Nashville in
a condition of wild and frantic anarchy.

The Capital of Tennessee, Nashville, contained, ordinarily, a
population of about 30,000 souls. The revolution had made it the
rendezvous of thousands fleeing from Kentucky, Missouri, and Western
Virginia. So great was the throng of strangers, that lodging could be
with difficulty procured at any price. Every house was filled and
overflowing, boarding was held at fabulous prices, and private
citizens whose wealth would, under most circumstances, have secured
their domesticity from intrusion, were, perforce, compelled to
accommodate and shelter strangers whom the misfortunes of exile and
persecution had thrown upon the world. Many business houses and
warehouses had been transformed into hospitals for the sick soldiery
of the forces in Kentucky. So great was the influx of invalids that in
many private families as many as three and four of the sick were to be
found. Here, too, were brought hundreds of artificers and artisans,
the government having established manufactories of various kinds to
supply the wants of the army. In no single city of the Confederacy was
to be found so large and so varied a supply of all those articles
which are essential to the maintenance of a large and well-appointed
army. During the fall and winter, under government patronage and
assistance, many thousands of hogs and bullocks had been slaughtered
and packed. These were stored in the city. Immense magazines of
ammunitions, of arms, large and small, of ordnance stores, of
clothing, of camp equipage, were located here. Capacious warehouses
were filled with rice, flour, sugar, molasses, and coffee, to the
value of many millions of dollars. The Chief Quarter-Master and
Commissary were accustomed to fill at once the requisitions of the
armies of Kentucky and of Missouri, of Texas and the Gulf. It may be
safely estimated that, at the fall of Donelson, Nashville had crowded
within its limits not less than sixty thousand residents. It never
seems to have occurred to the citizens, or, indeed, the government,
that Nashville was really in danger. A few unimportant and valueless
earth-works had been thrown up, looking to its defense, but no
systematic plan of fortification had been fixed upon or followed up;
nothing but the situation of Fort Donelson, on the State line,
prevented the enemy's gunboats, or even his unarmed transports, from
coming up to the city and mooring at its wharves.

On Sunday morning, as the citizens were summoned by the church bells
to the various houses of worship in the city, congratulations were
joyously exchanged upon the successful defense of Fort Donelson. Ere
the hours of morning devotion had expired, the news of its fall came
like a clap of thunder in a summer sky. The most excited and
improbable stories were circulated, yet no exaggeration, no
improbability, seemed too monstrous to command credence. Donelson was
more than an hundred miles down the river, yet it was insisted that
the enemy's boats were within a few miles of the city. The passage of
the army across the Cumberland and through the town added to the
general panic and confusion. Consternation, terror, and shameful
cowardice seemed to have seized alike upon the unthinking multitude
and the officers who were expected to evince fortitude and manliness;
and now commenced a wild and frantic struggle for escape. Thousands
who had never borne arms, who were, by all the laws of civilized
warfare, exempt from the penalties of hostilities, were impressed with
the conviction that the safety of their lives depended upon escaping
from the doomed Capital. On all the railroads from the city trains
were hourly run, bearing fugitives a few miles into the interior. The
country roads were thronged with vehicles of every character and
description; the hire of hacks rose to ten, twenty, fifty, even an
hundred dollars for two or three hours' use. Night brought no
cessation of the tumult. It rained in torrents, but all through the
night might be seen carriages, wagons, drays, and tumbrils crowded
with affrighted men and their families. Tender and delicate women,
feeble and carefully nurtured children, were to be found, exposed to
the inclemencies of the weather, in open carts and wagons, abandoning
luxurious and costly houses for the precarious sustenance of doubtful
and uncertain charity in their flights. Nor was the disgraceful panic
confined to non-combatants or timid citizens. Men who had gained high
reputation for courage and presence of mind seemed to have ignored
every sentiment of manliness in their indecent haste to secure safety;
nay, some who were high in military position, whose province and whose
duty it was, peculiarly and particularly, to guard public property and
protect government stores, used their official position to obtain
trains of cars upon which were packed their household furniture, their
carriages, their horses, and their private effects; and having
effected this, they made haste to be gone.

Troops were left in the city by order of Gen. Johnston, but the mob
spirit rose triumphant. For many days the store-houses of the
government stood open and abandoned by their proper custodians. Every
one was at liberty to help himself to what he desired; and it may well
be supposed that the thousands who crowded the streets were not slow
to avail themselves of the privilege. Not only were hundreds of
thousands of dollars' worth of provisions carried away and
sequestered, but the very streets and highways were strewn with bales
and packages of raiment and clothing hastily taken away and as
recklessly abandoned. It was currently estimated that public property
to the value of at least five millions of dollars was dissipated and
destroyed in a few hours. There were not wanting, however, noble and
brilliant examples of firmness, courage, and forethought. On Tuesday
following the surrender, the wagonmaster of the 2d Kentucky Regiment
reached the head-quarters of the Kentucky Brigade with fourteen empty
wagons with which he had escaped from Fort Donelson. These the gallant
Breckinridge loaded with supplies of subsistence and clothing, which
were the means of comfort to his command months after the abandonment
of Nashville. Even when the enemy was hourly expected in the city he
might have been seen on the northern bank of the Cumberland
superintending the transit of herds of well kept cattle brought from
Kentucky, that his command might be furnished with fresh rations
during their further retreat.

Slowly and steadily the army fell back from Nashville until, on the
22d of February, it reached Murfreesboro. Effecting then a junction
with the army of General Crittenden, which had retreated from Fishing
Creek, and for the first time since the departure from Bowling Green,
General Johnston found himself in condition to offer and accept battle
from the enemy.

It was evident to the great man who commanded the department of the
West that he could not linger in Tennessee. He was doubtless able to
successfully resist the force under Gen. Buell which had now occupied
Nashville, but it was well known that none of the force occupied in
the reduction of Donelson had ascended the river. With unlimited
supplies of water transportation, nothing was easier than for them to
pass round the peninsula, and, ascending the Tennessee river, land a
force in his rear and place him in the same dilemma from which he had
just so skillfully extracted his army. A retreat behind the Tennessee
was inevitable, and the strategical position he occupied at
Murfreesboro opened to him three routes. He might pass over to the
turnpike road from Nashville, through Columbia and Pulaski, parallel
with the railroad, and cross at Florence, or, throwing himself into
the mountain passes of Eastern Tennessee, in their wild gorges and
rugged ravines, he might defy pursuit and retreat upon Chattanooga.
This, however, would have been a virtual abandonment of the
Mississippi and its valley. Still a third route was open. Due south
from Murfreesboro ran a road through a comparatively unfrequented
country, passing directly through Huntsville to Decatur, on the
southern bank of the Tennessee river. While this route offered the
advantage of a middle course between the two great lines of
macadamized roads east and west of him, enabling him, in case of
necessity, to pass over to either; it was not without objections.
Lying, for the most part, through cultivated and deep bottoms, on the
edge of Northern Alabama, it rises abruptly to cross the great plateau
thrown out from the Cumberland Mountains, here nearly a thousand feet
above the surrounding country, and full forty miles in width, covered
with dense forests of timber, yet barren and sterile in soil, and
wholly destitute of supplies for either man or beast. Two weeks of
unintermitting rain had softened the earth until the surface resembled
a vast swamp; but along this route the Commander-in-Chief determined
to pass; and, after occupying a week in reorganizing his army, a cloud
of cavalry, consisting of Morgan's Squadron, the 1st Kentucky Cavalry,
the Texas Rangers, Wirt Adams', Scott's, and Forrest's regiments were
thrown out in the direction of the enemy, with orders, as they fell
back, to burn the cotton and destroy the bridges; and the further
retreat thus commenced.

History records no example of a retreat conducted with such success
under such adverse circumstances. Rain continued to fall almost
without intermission; it was spring, the season most unpropitious for
transits over country roads, and the passage of such numbers of horses
and wagons, rendered the route literally a river of liquid mud. For
miles at times the wagons would be submerged in ooze and mire up to
the hubs of their wheels, while the saturated condition of the earth
rendered comfortable encampments impossible. The ascent of the
plateau, although only about two miles of distance, consumed a day for
each brigade, and time was everything to men in their condition; yet
steadily, earnestly, hopefully, they toiled on until, on the 10th of
March, the head of the army had reached a point within three miles of
Decatur, but with the Tennessee swollen far beyond its banks, flooding
the country for miles in every direction, and sweeping with resistless
force over the roads and fords. Happily, at this point, the Memphis
and Charleston Railroad crossed the Tennessee; and, as a precaution
against its freshets, the railroad company had constructed an
embankment fifty feet in height and two miles in length on which were
laid their rails; this embankment was still ten or twelve feet above
the surrounding waters, and reached to the terminus of the bridge. Its
narrow width of seven feet precluded the possibility of anything like
orderly movement; but over it were passed the infantry and cavalry
without cessation either day or night. The artillery and
baggage-wagons were placed on platform cars, and at a given signal the
track was cleared while they were run to and over the bridge.
Patience, perseverance, and indomitable will finally accomplished the
work, and on the 16th the Kentucky Brigade, bringing up the rear of
the army, marched through Decatur. A month had elapsed since the fall
of Donelson, but the army was at last behind the Tennessee, and all
was not yet lost. Still the danger was not yet over. The enemy
commanded the river and might, by vigorous movements, prevent the
junction of the army of Central Kentucky with that of General
Beauregard, which had fallen back from Columbus, in Kentucky, and was
now endeavoring to unite with that under General Johnston. In truth,
it seemed that, if the enemy was prompt and vigorous in his movements,
this would be impossible. The Memphis and Charleston Railroad runs
nearly due east and west, pursuing for ninety miles an almost parallel
course with the Tennessee river--never diverging from it more than
twenty miles, and in many places approaching to within eight or ten.
Numerous streams which drain the country and empty into the main river
were crossed by it, and on the margins of these streams are almost
invariably found swamps requiring heavy trestle-work to support the
rail. A little celerity on the part of the enemy might at any hour
enable him to destroy a section of this trestle-work, and thus cut off
the communication. To transport the army by the country roads was
impossible, the torrent-like rains which had impeded the progress of
the army through Tennessee had continued to fall after the passage of
the river. In many places the country was covered with sheets of water
too deep to be forded, while the roads, not thus submerged, were
impassable for horsemen. It was difficult for the various corps to
pass far enough from Decatur to find encampments. Within a mile of the
town might be counted scores of wagons, on the various roads, sunk to
their beds in mire, and which the quagmire of oozing earth around them
prevented the possibility of unloading. Hindman's brigade of Arkansas
troops was thrown forward by rail to Courtland immediately. Crittenden
was pushed beyond him to Iuka, and on the 21st the Kentucky Brigade,
under General Breckinridge, was dispatched, with its field pieces,
ammunition, and baggage, to Burnsville, within fifteen miles of
Corinth, by cars, while the horses and wagons were sent to struggle
through as best they could on the dirt roads.

The remainder of the army was gradually pushed on to Corinth, meeting
there the army of Beauregard, and confidence and hope were once more
restored. The danger of an immediate surprise was over; but the
greatest vigilance was necessary to meet and prevent the enemy from
landing in force, and, by strength of numbers, accomplishing that
which he had failed to do by celerity of movement. For several days
his gunboats swept up and down the Tennessee river, shelling the
banks, and apparently seeking a favorable point to disembark from his
transports. The little village of Eastport, situated some eight miles
from Iuka, it was supposed, offered him peculiar advantages, and
preparations were made to resist him by throwing up earth-works, and
placing in position two thirty-two pounders. He continued, however, to
make feints, landing a few regiments at various points, but almost
immediately withdrawing them, until information was received, which
convinced the Commander-in-Chief that the attack of the enemy would be
on Corinth, where is located the junction of the Mobile and Ohio
Railroad with the Charleston and Memphis Railroad. Meantime, the
greater portion of the division of General Crittenden, composed of
Statham's brigade and Bowen's brigade, was sent forward to Burnsville,
and ordered to report to General Breckinridge. Hindman's force had
passed on to Corinth, and was now incorporated with, and formed part
of, the corps d'armee of General Hardee. Scouts were kept constantly
reconnoitering the roads leading to the Tennessee river, and vigorous
efforts made to bring the army to a high state of efficiency in
discipline and equipment. The enemy, it was now known, had landed
seven divisions of his army, amounting to about forty-two thousand
men, at a point on the Tennessee river, near Pittsburg Landing, and
was now encamped in position, his right resting on a small stream
called Owl Creek, and his left on Lick Creek, the streams running
nearly parallel to each other, four miles apart. To meet and crush
this force, or cripple it before General Buell, with his army, which
was advancing through Tennessee, could reinforce it, was the object of
the Commander-in-Chief, preparatory to which, his army was
re-organized and cast into four divisions or corps.

The first, under General Bragg, consisted of 9,422 men.

The second, under General Polk, numbered 4,855 men.

The third corps was commanded by General Hardee, 15,524 men.

And the reserve, consisting of the Kentucky Brigade, Statham's
brigade, and Bowen's brigade, amounted, according to the returns in
the Adjutant General's office, on the night of April the 5th, to 6,894
men, commanded by Brigadier General John C. Breckinridge. The cavalry
amounted to three thousand.

Two roads, the one from Corinth, the other from Burnsville, lead to
Pittsburg Landing; they unite on a ridge four miles from the river,
and thence the road, gradually descending a long slope, leads to the
Tennessee, along a spur of the hilly range, with lateral slopes, to
Lick Creek on the one side and Owl Creek on the other. The whole
tongue of land between these streams is densely wooded with unbroken
forests; and as it approaches within a mile of the river, is covered,
in addition, with a thick mass of undergrowth sweeping to its banks.
On this unfavorable ground the battle was to be fought. On the morning
of April the 4th, at 3 o'clock, A. M., the reserve corps marched from
Burnsville, by way of Farmington and Monterey, expecting to reach the
point of junction of the two roads that night. A heavy rain storm,
however, obstructed its progress, as well as that of the other
divisions of the army, and it was not until the night of the 5th of
April that it reached the junction. Rations had been provided for
three days, but no tents and no baggage were taken--the want of which
added greatly to the discomfort of the commands, and rendered many
unfit for duty. The delay and the tired condition of the troops on the
night of the 5th caused a difference of opinion to prevail at the
council of war as to the propriety of attacking; but General Johnston
determined to proceed. The other divisions had, on the night of the
5th, reached the positions assigned them, and were posted thus: the
third corps formed the first line of battle, its right resting on Lick
Creek and its left on Owl Creek, and bivouacked in order of battle
within half a mile of the enemy, who seems to have been unconscious of
the blow about to be struck. In rear of that the first corps, under
General Bragg, bivouacked in order of battle a quarter of a mile
distant. The second corps, under General Polk, was massed in column of
brigades on the road from Corinth, immediately in rear of the junction
with the Monterey road, and had orders to move up and form in line of
battle as soon as the troops in advance had moved on sufficiently,
while the reserve corps, under General Breckinridge, was massed in
column of brigades on the Monterey road, with orders to move when
General Polk's corps had passed, and hold itself subject to the
contingencies of the day. At 5 o'clock, A. M., on the morning of April
6th, General Hardee drove in the pickets of the enemy, and the
terrible battle of Shiloh commenced. Steadily and irresistibly he
swept on, driving the enemy before him, until the camps were reached,
where the resistance became most desperate. The second line of battle,
under General Bragg, had by this time been brought up and intermingled
with the first line, and the central advanced camp of the enemy was
abandoned by him only, however, that he might make the more stubborn
resistance behind it and in front of the others. Observing an attempt
of the enemy to flank on the extreme left, General Beauregard sent
orders to detach the Kentucky Brigade, and send it to that point. This
was done--the command now devolving upon Colonel Robt. P. Trabue,
Colonel of the 4th Kentucky and senior Colonel of the brigade. During
the whole of that bloody day, from 9 o'clock, when it became engaged,
it maintained the reputation of its native State, and slowly but
surely pushed back the force opposed to it. It never gave way or was
broken, though terribly cut to pieces; it never charged that it did
not break the ranks of the army; and it was found, when the action
closed in the evening, after ten hours of continuous fighting, in the
front rank of the army. It will be necessary to refer more
particularly to its movements as we progress. Owing to the dense mass
of the undergrowth the troops were brought in close proximity to each
other, and the firing was consequently destructive, murderous, and

Two o'clock had arrived; the whole army was and had been engaged for
hours, with the exception of Bowen's and Statham's brigades of the
reserve corps. The enemy had been driven through, and from half of his
camps, but refused to give back further. Giving way on his right and
left wings, he had massed his force heavily in the centre, and poured
an almost unintermitting hail of fire, murderous beyond description,
from his covert of trees and bushes, when General Breckinridge was
ordered up to break his line. Having been most of the day in
observation on the Hamburg road, marching in column of regiments, the
reserve was now moved by the left flank, until opposite the point of
attack, rapidly deployed in line of battle, Statham's brigade forming
the right and Bowen's the left. The long slope of the ridge was here
abruptly broken by a succession of small hills or undulations of about
fifty feet in height, dividing the rolling country from the river
bottom, and behind the crest of the last of these the enemy was
concealed; opposite them, at the distance of seventy-five yards, was
another long swell or hillock, the summit of which it was necessary to
attain in order to open fire; and to this elevation the reserve moved,
in order of battle, at a double-quick. In an instant the opposing
height was one sheet of flame. Battle's Tennessee regiment, on the
extreme right, gallantly maintained itself, pushing forward under a
withering fire and establishing itself well in advance. Little's
Tennessee regiment, next to it, delivered its fire at random and
inefficiently, became disordered, and retired in confusion down the
slope. Three times it was rallied by its Lieutenant Colonel, assisted
by Colonel T. T. Hawkins, Aid-de-Camp to General Breckinridge, and by
the Adjutant General, and carried up the slope, only to be as often
repulsed and driven back--the regiment of the enemy opposed to it, in
the intervals, directing an oblique fire upon Battle's regiment, now
contending against overwhelming odds. The crisis of the contest had
come; there were no more reserves, and General Breckinridge determined
to charge. Calling his staff around him, he communicated to them his
intentions, and remarked that he, with them, would lead it. They were
all Kentuckians, and although it was not their privilege to fight that
day with the Kentucky Brigade, they were men who knew how to die
bravely among strangers, and some, at least, would live to do justice
to the rest. The Commander-in-Chief, General Albert Sidney Johnston,
rode up at this juncture, and learning the contemplated movement,
determined to accompany it. Placing himself on the left of Little's
regiment, his commanding figure in full uniform, conspicuous to every
eye, he waited the signal. General Breckinridge, disposing his staff
along the line, rode to the right of the same regiment, and with a
wild shout, which rose high above the din of battle, on swept the
line, through a storm of fire, over the hill, across the intervening
ravine, and up the slope occupied by the enemy. Nothing could
withstand it. The enemy broke and fled for half a mile, hotly pursued,
until he reached the shelter of his batteries. Well did the
Kentuckians sustain that day their honor and their fame. Of the little
band of officers who started on that forlorn hope, but one was
unscathed, the gallant Breckinridge himself. Colonel Hawkins was
wounded in the face; Captain Allen's leg was torn to pieces by a
shell; the horses of the fearless boy, Cabell Breckinridge, and of the
Adjutant General, were killed under them, and General Johnston was
lifted dying from his saddle. It may well be doubted whether the
success, brilliant as it was, decisive as it was, compensated for the
loss of the great Captain.

Few men have moved upon the stage of public life who have been the
peers of Albert Sidney Johnston. Tall and commanding in person, of
gentle and winning address, he was the most unassuming of men; yet his
mind was cast in nature's largest mould; possessed of that high and
serene courage which no reverses or trials could overcome, patient in
difficulties, earnest in effort, firm in purpose, he had been invested
by the President with the powers of a Pro-Consul. His sway extended
from the Alleghenies to the western confines of Texas. Supervising the
movements of five separate armies, in countries hundreds of miles
apart, his capacious mind embraced the details of all, while
exercising almost unlimited authority over four millions of people. No
stain of personal or selfish ambition rests upon his noble character.
The nation and the army felt that there was always hope while Sidney
Johnston lived, and yet his death was not without a grand and crowning
triumph. Well he knew the battle must be won; fully as well he knew,
to win the battle, that charge must be successful. The last vision
which fell upon his glazing sight was the flying ranks of the enemy;
the last sound which struck upon his ears, now sealing in death, was
the exultant shouts of his army, telling him that the field was won,
which he believed secured the triumph of the cause for which he
offered up his life.

    Pure and lofty had been the great soldier's life;
    Grand and worthy even of himself was his death.

The general repulse of the enemy had now thrown the reserve on the
extreme right of the Confederate line. Far on the left might be heard
the musketry of the Kentucky Brigade and the roar of its artillery as
it pushed its columns forward. It was fighting its way to its gallant
General, and the hour was drawing near when they were to meet in the
pride of glorious success. General Bragg, observing that behind the
right flank of the enemy dense masses of troops were massed, from
which reserves were drawn to sustain his line, concentrated the fire
of his batteries, loaded with spherical case and shell, upon them. The
effect was magical. The right of the enemy broke and fled, the centre
followed, then the left wing; and charging along the whole line, the
Confederate army swept through the camps of the enemy, capturing three
thousand prisoners and driving the Federal force cowering beneath the
shelter of the iron-clad gunboats; and then and there, in the full
fruition of success, the Kentucky Brigade and its General met for the
first time during that bloody day since their separation in the
morning, both covered with glory; both proud of and gratified with
each other. The terrible day of reckoning so long and so patiently
waited for had come at last; and as they strode over the field of
blood their pathway to vengeance had been lit by the gleam of bayonets
and the lurid glare of the cannon's flash. The greatest conflict which
as yet had taken place between the sections had been won by the
scorned and despised "Southern mob." For fifteen hours they steadily
drove before them the finest army of the Federal Government. Superior
in numbers, in discipline, in arms, and equipments, the army of Grant
had lost its camps, its baggage, provisions and supplies, and the
panic-stricken remnant of it huddled cowering under the banks of the
Tennessee, only protected from total annihilation by the gunboats
lying in the stream, a disorganized and terror-stricken mob, while
its dead and wounded lay in thousands for miles behind the Confederate
army. By some fatal misapprehension of those in authority, which it is
useless now to discuss, the full fruits of the victory were not
gathered. The Confederate army paused when it had only to stretch
forth its hands and grasp as prisoners of war the whole hostile force.
Night fell quickly over the scene of carnage, and the tired heroes,
worn out with the long and harassing march of the preceding days, and
the fifteen hours of mortal combat, sank, by regiments and brigades,
upon the blood-soaked earth, amid the dead and dying, to sleep--a
sleep so deep and profound that not even the groans of the wounded, or
the deep boom of the heavy guns of the enemy, which were fired during
the whole night, could break or disturb it. No record exists of a
contest between such numbers of men in a country so densely wooded and
in a space so confined. Brilliant generalship General Johnston
undoubtedly displayed in surprising the enemy, and in the skill with
which he handled raw troops, hurling mass after mass upon the enemy
and beating him in detail; but there was neither room nor opportunity
for strategy or maneuvre--it was a death grapple of man to man--stern
and deadly combat in which the men of the South maintained their long
and proud pre-eminence.

During the night, General Buell with a fresh army of twenty-five
thousand men, nearly as large as the Confederate army originally was,
came up, hastily crossed the river, and threw himself in front of the
army defeated on the 6th. The Confederate army, in the meantime, after
despoiling the Federal camps, had been withdrawn beyond them and
formed anew in order of battle. Skirmishing commenced at 6 o'clock,
A. M., but the engagement did not become general until 9 o'clock,
A. M., from which time, until 2 P. M., the Northern armies were again,
as on the day before, steadily driven back through its camps and
forced towards the river. A heavy and continuous rain had commenced
falling at midnight after the battle of the 6th, and continued until
near daylight. The effect of this upon men wearied and exhausted, as
was the Southern army, was terrible. The wounded who had fallen late
in the evening, and near the enemy's lines, could not be recovered;
they were consequently exposed during the entire night, and endured
sufferings of the most agonizing character. It was impossible, too, in
the darkness and confusion, to reform the lines for a night bivouac
with that accuracy desirable in such critical circumstances, and the
proximity of the abandoned camps of the enemy afforded a temptation to
straggling which, in too many cases, proved irresistible, and, as was
seen during the battle of the next day, demoralized many corps, and
impaired the efficiency, to a great extent, of the army, and it may,
with truth, be said, led to the loss of the second day's battle. So
great, indeed, had been the diminution of the ranks by death, wounds,
and straggling, that at no time during the contest of the 7th was
General Beauregard enabled to bring more than fifteen thousand
effective men to hand in battle. The army of the enemy under General
Grant had been totally defeated, and had only escaped complete rout
and annihilation by its inability to cross the Tennessee river, and
the protection of the gunboats; thousands had been slain, thousands
wounded, thousands captured, and thousands demoralized, but in a force
so large as it originally was (estimated by its own officers at
forty-two thousand men) there were, of course, large masses capable of
effective service on Monday; to these was to be added the force of
Buell of twenty-five thousand fresh troops, and it may be safely
estimated that, notwithstanding the reverse of Sunday, and the immense
loss of the enemy on that day, he took the field on Monday with quite
forty thousand combatants, or nearly three times the Southern force.
The leaders of the Confederate army were fully advised of the
reinforcement, and of the peril which threatened the Confederate army
in a second conflict in its exhausted condition, but they deemed it
necessary to cripple this force before withdrawing from the field.

The Kentucky Brigade which had preserved, to a great extent, its
organization and discipline, was again stationed upon the extreme
left. Its battery of artillery, commanded by Capt. Byrne (Cobb's
battery having on Sunday been destroyed in battle), was engaged for
three hours with two batteries of the enemy--firing during the duel
more than one thousand cartridges, and finally silenced both. The
infantry, drawn up in order of battle as a support to the battery,
stood enthusiastic spectators of the tremendous cannonade; and,
although frequently suffering severely from the grape of the enemy,
more than once broke spontaneously into a shout of encouragement and
admiration at the gallant manner in which Byrne handled his guns. The
enemy hurled charge after charge of infantry against it, but
unsuccessfully. The fifth regiment of infantry, commanded by Col.
Thos. H. Hunt, charged in turn, routing the opposing force, but with
some loss to its force, losing many valuable officers. Colonel Robert
Trabue, of the 4th Kentucky Regiment, as senior Colonel of the
brigade, commanded it on this, as on the preceding day, with
conspicuous gallantry and marked soldiery ability.

But there is a limit to human endurance. The battle of the 7th was
fought by General Beauregard with but fifteen thousand men. Exhausted by
the struggle of the preceding day, he had received no reinforcements,
and he determined, at 2 o'clock, P. M., to withdraw. In good order, and
with the precision of a parade, division after division was withdrawn.
General Breckinridge, with his own brigade and Statham's brigade,
bringing up the rear, and bivouacking at the summit of the ridge, during
the night, within sight of the enemy's lines. A soaking rain fell all
night upon the wearied troops of the rear guard, while the rest of the
army slowly made its way to Corinth.

Many of the noblest of the sons of Kentucky had fallen; but
conspicuous in position and character were two men who, in the same
discharge, in the same regiment, and within a few feet of each other,
fell mortally wounded.

George W. Johnson, of Scott county, Kentucky, had passed more than
forty years of his life in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture.
Singularly modest and retiring in demeanor, he had seemed to scorn the
turmoil of public life and the undignified contest for public place.
The soul of honor and high integrity, he was respected by all who came
in contact with him. Earnest and sincere in purpose, his course in all
things was open, to a proverb; cultivated in mind, he was a profound
thinker, if not an active participator, in national politics. Early in
the history of secession he had arrived at the conclusion that the
separation was final; and with all the earnestness of his
straightforward nature he had urged that Kentucky should share the
fate and cast her fortunes with the South. When it was evident that
the Legislature of Kentucky had sold and bartered her honor to the
Federal Government, he promptly abandoned home and its tranquil
enjoyments to cast his lot with those of his countrymen, who were
gathering at Bowling Green to resist the attempt at coercion; and yet
in an act of revolution, the strong reverence of the man for law,
order, and regular government, manifested itself. Mainly and almost
wholly to his efforts is due the formation of the Provisional
Government of Kentucky, of which he was elected the head; and when the
army retreated from Kentucky, gathering his Council around him, he
accompanied it in all its vicissitudes and movements. On Sunday,
during the battle of Shiloh, he served as a volunteer Aid-de-Camp to
the commanding officer of the Kentucky Brigade, until his horse was
killed under him, when, seizing a musket, he took his place in the
ranks of the 4th regiment and fought on foot during the remainder of
the day. Monday morning found him in the same humble position,
assuming all the duties and sharing all the dangers of a simple
private in the ranks. At eleven o'clock he fell, shot through the
body, remaining alone and unaided on the field while the army fell
back, and during the long and inclement night which succeeded. He was
found on the morning of Tuesday by the enemy, and died in his camp.
None who knew him can doubt that through the long hours of that day of
agony, and the silent stillness of that night of suffering and pain,
his great heart was consoled by the conviction of the swift coming
independence of his country.

Thos. B. Monroe had early entered public life. His firmness of
character, depth of information, and brilliancy of talent, indicated
him as a leader of men in the first hours of his manhood. Called
before he was thirty years of age to the Secretaryship of State, he
had zealously and determinedly advocated the secession of the State.
Disappointed, as were thousands of others, at her lukewarmness, he had
resigned the Secretaryship, and, making his way through the lines of
the Federal army to Bowling Green, had been appointed Major of the 4th
Kentucky Regiment. The promise of his military career equaled that of
his civil life. A few weeks only was necessary to place him high in
the estimation of the senior officers of the army, and to win for him
the unbounded confidence of his men. He fell, mortally wounded, within
a few feet of Governor Johnson, and died on the field of battle,
bequeathing his sword to his infant son, and with the last breath,
requesting he might be told "his father had died in defense of his
honor and the rights of his country."

The morning of the 8th of April was consumed in falling back to the
junction of the Corinth and Burnsville roads, where General
Breckinridge stubbornly took his stand, with his force bivouacking in
the open air, sinking often to their boot-tops in mud, drenched
nightly with the rain, he and they obstinately refused to move an inch
until the wounded in the hospitals were removed. Again and again the
enemy sent out strong columns to dislodge him. Sometimes these were
charged by the cavalry under Forrest and Adams, and driven back in
disorder, losing many prisoners; sometimes, overawed by his firm and
dauntless front, they retired without attacking. For five days he thus
held his position, his whole force subsisting on rations of damaged
bread and raw pork. When he did move every wounded man had been sent
forward; the army was safe in its lines at Corinth. On the 13th of
April he marched, at the head of his band of heroes, wasted now to
spectres, haggard with hunger and suffering, into Corinth. He had won
for himself, throughout that entire army, the reputation of a skillful
General, a brave and courageous captain, and had now the ardent love
and devotion of strangers as well as friends, and was the idol of the
Reserve. At Corinth he received the just reward of his high and
soldierly conduct, the commission of a Major-General, and passed to
the command, permanently, of a division. Here appropriately ends the
history of these troops as a brigade. They served throughout the war
in other brigades and divisions, but no longer continued to act as one

The cause of Southern independence has gone down in blood. These men
and their compeers had elected to try their cause in the tribunal of
last resort, the forum of battle. The verdict has been rendered
against them; there is no expectation, or, perhaps, wish, for further
appeal. Hanson fell mortally wounded at Murfreesboro, Helm died at
Chickamauga, Thompson was slain on the very spot of his birth and his
infancy in Kentucky, to which he had returned after three stormy years
of absence. Buckner surrendered his sword, last of all of the
commanders of the South, in the extreme western confines of the
Confederacy, and only when the advancing wave of Federal conquest,
after sweeping across the face of the continent, had borne to his very
feet the wreck of the nation whose soldier he deemed himself.
Breckinridge, in exile with saddened eyes, strives through the mists
of the great lakes of the north, to catch some glimpse of the land he
loved so fervently and served so faithfully. Of their less
distinguished comrades, hundreds are lying all along the route of the
sad retreat from Bowling Green, consigned to unconsecrated earth,
their requiem the sighs of their sorrowing comrades. Many are resting
by the lonely banks of the Tennessee and beneath the deep shadows of
the tropical foliage of Baton Rouge. They will sleep none the less
tranquilly in their quiet and unmarked graves because the dear land
for whose deliverance they fought so long and so well, is ground by
the heel of centralized power. Some survive, their mutilated forms
monuments of a heroism which would have illustrated the days of Bayard
or of Coeur de Lion. The memory of neither the living nor the dead
"will be rendered infamous" until the peoples of the earth have ceased
to honor manliness of spirit, freedom of thought, and heroism of
deeds. Imbued with the loftiest sentiments which ever animated the
bosoms of men, they went forth to poverty, to exile, to suffering, to
battle, and to death, for what they believed to be the maintenance of
constitutional liberty and free government.

Selfish ambitions and personal aspirations had no abiding place in
their world. Men bore the firelock and served as subalterns, who
could, with brilliant genius, have wielded the baton of Generals.
Among them but one ambition existed, who should most faithfully serve,
who should most steadfastly die. Kentucky has no cause to blush for
them. The principles they upheld had been taught them on her soil;
they are embalmed in the archives of her Legislatures, enunciated in
manifestoes of her conventions. Wayward though she may deem these
children in the assertion of her rights, they are still her sons. Not
now, perhaps, but in the fulness of coming time, the proud old mother
will, with an eager zeal, gather these her offspring to rest in the
only fitting place, her honored bosom. Not now, perhaps, but in the
coming time, on that monument which she has erected at her Capital to
those who have in the past, and will in the future, serve her, she
will inscribe their names and write beneath them, "these, too, were my
children, and died in what they believed was the defense of my honor."
We who saw the gallant dead shrouded in their gory cerements, await
with calm confidence the coming of that time.

Transcriber's Note

Variable spelling is preserved as printed.

Capitalisation of place names is preserved as printed.

Page 5--the author refers to Colonel Lloyd Tighlman, rather than the
more usual spelling, Tilghman. This is preserved as printed.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page 5--Byrnes' amended to Byrne's--"... and Byrne's battery
    of artillery."

    Page 7--Hawkin amended to Hawkins--"... and Aid-de-Camp,
    Thomas T. Hawkins."

    Page 7--conection amended to connection--"... where, in
    connection with Hindman's brigade, ..."

    Page 24--vengence amended to vengeance--"... their pathway
    to vengeance had been lit ..."

    Page 29--Murfresboro amended to Murfreesboro--"Hanson fell
    mortally wounded at Murfreesboro, ..."

    Page 30--requium amended to requiem--"... their requiem the
    sighs of their sorrowing comrades."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sketch of the First Kentucky Brigade" ***

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