Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A House Divided: Bath County's Involvement in the Civil War

The Confederate Seal of Kentucky
The Kentucky State Seal


"I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. ..." -President Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Orville Browning, 1861.



  Throughout history, Kentucky's natural resources and location among major waterways have been a catalyst for contention.  Early native people used the land to hunt and gather necessities for survival and used the Ohio, Big Sandy and Mississippi Rivers for trade routes, creating social and economic impacts for the entire Eastern third of the United States.  When early settlers from New England and other colonies began to explore and occupy Kentucky, the native people felt threatened due to the infringement on their ways of life.  There are many well documented accounts of skirmishes between settlers and natives; and a few major encounters near Bath County, such as The Battle of Blue Licks, The Siege of Boonesboro and The Battle of Little Mountain, also known as Estill's Defeat.  When the secession of the states began in 1860-61, Kentucky was tossed into a crossfire between the Union and Confederacy and was once again, a hotly contested landmark.

The event we know as the American Civil War began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861.  Kentucky was a vital border state and was initially neutral, but after a failed attempt at Confederate control, the state was provided Union protection upon orders from President Lincoln.  Union fortifications were established across the Ohio River north of Newport and Louisville, with Confederate fortifications established in Tennessee along Kentucky's far western border and within 50 yards of the Cumberland Gap.  In August 1861, The Union gunship USS Lexington captured the steamer W B Terry near Paducah, and was the first military engagement in or near Kentucky.  That September, Confederate troops under the command of General Gideon Pillow entered the state near Columbus and constructed Fort DuRussey, occupying the town, securing the railways and access to shipping ports along the Mississippi River.  Regardless of the assumption of neutrality, the war had found its way into Kentucky.

Bath County was, and is, a vital crossroad in the route of trade and economics.  The first stagecoach routes to Lexington and Maysville wound through Bath County along the Midland Trail and the Maysville-Mount Sterling Turnpike.  Strategically, the roads, Licking River and Slate Creek provided a vital supply link to any occupying force that would have been able to control the area.  The resources such as iron ore, thick forest, and good soil would have been another lure for an occupying force, but the county wasn't considered for occupation based solely on those conditions.  In fact, only one true encampment was based in Bath County, which will be discussed later.

 It is often said that the Civil War was based on slavery.  While that is partially true, it certainly was a factor in the secession of the Southern States.  A census from 1860 lists 2,500 slaves in Bath County, and while most of the population favored the Southern cause, many more felt the Union cause was  far greater.  The Stone Family from Owingsville is probably the most prominent example of the division the war caused within families.  Henry Lane Stone was born in Bath County and lived with his family until the age of nine near Owingsville.  His family relocated to Putnam County, Indiana, and Stone was practicing law at the onset of war. In October 1862, Stone enlisted at Sharpsburg in Captain G. M. Coleman's company that ultimately became the Confederate Army's 9th Kentucky Cavalry, Company D, under the command of John Hunt Morgan. Three of Stone's siblings joined the Union Army, one being Major Valentine Hughes Stone of the Fifth US Artillery.  Valentine Stone was a decorated officer and was personally appointed to the command at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Gulf of Mexico, by General Ulysses S. Grant.  All across the divided nation, stories like this were all too common; brother pitted against brother.  Henry Stone moved back to Owingsville after the war and was elected County Attorney in 1866.  After a four year term, Stone practiced law with Judge N.P. Reid and was elected as a Representative for the Bath-Menifee Congressional District.  He later practiced law and became the city lawyer for Louisville, where he died on May 21, 1922.

 Virginia Hunt, an Owingsville native and former teacher, wrote a research project for a college class that is now housed at the Bath County Memorial Library.  The research states that the first action related to the Civil War in Bath County occurred October 14, 1861 at the home of James Warren in Polksville.  Major William Sudduth was killed while defending himself from a group under the command of Captain George Ewing.  While details of the actual events have been lost to history, it is at least documented.

According to  Captain Thomas L. Speed’s Union Regiments of Kentucky (pp. 525-535), The 24th Kentucky Infantry was organized early on in the war under the act which created the Reserves to counteract the State Guards, what eventually became Company I was organized in Bath County, in July of 1861. Other companies were later organized and armed with "Lincoln Guns": Company K from Montgomery County (Captain Halley Smith), Company C from Powell, Company E from Bath, and Company D from Fleming County. One of the regiment’s first important assignments was as a security detachment for Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson as he passed from Mt. Sterling to Owingsville. In September, the organization was established at Olympian Springs, and to that place volunteers came from Rowan, Lewis, Carter, and Morgan Counties.

In October, the future 24th was with General Nelson on his expedition into Eastern Kentucky, driving the Rebels from Prestonsburg to Pikeville and beyond. In December, the majority of the regiment was sent to Lexington, where it was joined by Captain Smith’s company, Captain Hall’s company out of Bath County, Captain Schoville’s company from Laurel, and Captain Jones’ company from Rockcastle. Being ten companies, the regiment was mustered into the service of the U.S. Army.

After moving around Kentucky a bit, the 24th was sent to Tennessee where it took part in the Battle of Shiloh. From there it went to Corinth, marching afterward through Iuka, Tuscumbia, Decatur, Huntsville, and to the railroad leading to Chattanooga. When Bragg marched into Kentucky, the 24th was shipped back to Nashville and marched to Louisville. From there the regiment made it to Perryville to be only slightly engaged in the fighting. The 24th was involved in the pursuit of Bragg out of the state, being involved in heavy skirmishing at Stanford. In February of 1863, the 24th was thrown into the unsuccessful pursuit of cavalry under the Rebel Colonel Cluke of Morgan’s command.

In February, 1863, Colonel Grigsby resigned and John S. Hurt assumed command of the regiment and retained it until it mustered out the service. Through May, the 24th was on outpost duty at Mt. Vernon and Wildcat. In June, John Hunt Morgan threatened the state with his ride to the Ohio and beyond and the 24th was held at Lancaster in readiness again for the purpose of his pursuit. In November, Colonel Hurt’s veterans were engaged in actions against Wheeler’s cavalry near Knoxville, and heavy fighting and the seige at that place all through late 1863.

The 24th was involved in the hard fighting for Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Twelve men were killed and seventy-seven wounded in that campaign. After the fighting for Atlanta was over, the 24th was held at Decatur. In October it went to Lexington, Kentucky, and was held in readiness while Hood made his move on Nashville. The regiment mustered out of the service on January 31st, 1865.

Marlitta Perkins, a Kentucky author and Civil War Historian, sheds some light on Bath County's only established encampment known as Camp Gill.  Camp Gill was located in the Olympian Springs area on property belonging to Harrison Gill, who owned the famed Olympian Springs Resort.  On September 29, 1861, the company of Captain Roy D. Davidson from Owingsville, as well as those of Captain Lafayette North and Captain George R. Barber, concentrated at Camp Gill.  The three companies that made camp numbered about two hundred and fifty men and were soon joined by about three hundred unarmed recruits, making a total of around five hundred men.  The men, commanded by Colonel Lewis Braxton Grigsby from Clark County and Major John Smith Hurt, would eventually form the 24th Kentucky Infantry. Harrison Gill’s son John Menifee Gill served as 1st Lieutenant in Company E, 24th Kentucky Infantry.  The men were mustered into military service October 8, 1861 for one year.

In mid-September 1861, General William "Bull" Nelson had received orders to organize the US Expeditionary Force in Maysville as part of the Big Sandy Expedition.  Organized as a brigade sized element, the Expedition Force would eventually consist of 5,500 volunteers from Ohio and Kentucky.  Their goal was to stop the mobilization of Confederate Forces under the command of John S. Williams, which consisted of nine infantry companies and five mounted infantry companies, and to protect the Big Sandy River where it emptied into the Ohio River.  The expedition was also designed to protect the right flank of General William Rosecran's West Virginia Army and Wildcat Mountain.  The mobilization phase was September 21-October 20 and the operation would be conducted in three parts, with Camp Gill being the central staging point for the Union Army.  On October 8, General Nelson arrived at Camp Gill, choosing this location due to the proximity of the Mt Sterling-Pound Gap Road, now known as US 460, and McCormick's Gap in nearby Frenchburg, which was long considered the 'Gateway to the Mountains'.  The mountain gap was secured on October 8 to insure the pass wouldn't fall into Confederate hands, which could cut off the Expeditionary Force's advance.  Here are a couple of letters from the Official Records of the United States and Confederate Armies regarding troop movements into Camp Gill:


 Cincinnati, October 7, 1861. 

Brigadier-General THOMAS, Commanding Camp Dick Robinson:

SIR: Your telegram of the 6th is received. At the earnest solicitation of Brigadier-General Nelson I have ordered the Second Ohio Regiment, Colonel Harris, to take position at a place called the Olympian Springs, about 20 miles east of Mount Sterling, in order to close the mountain gorge through which small bands of the enemy are constantly passing to Prestonburg to re-enforce a camp forming at that place. I have General Anderson’s authority for sending this regiment to the point already named.
I look upon it as a strategic point of great importance in the contemplated advance towards Cumberland Gag.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. M. MITCHEL, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

CAMP GILL, October 10, 1861. 

Brigadier-General NELSON, 
Maysville, Ky.: 

I arrived at this point this evening with my command 900 strong. I found Colonel Grigsby with 300 men.
From reliable information just received I have no doubt that there are now at the rebel camp at Prestonburg, at the very lowest calculation, at least 4,000 men. They are very well armed and well mounted, and are receiving constant accessions from above and below. They have also two pieces of artillery, an 8 and 6 pounder, that we know of.
Colonel Grigsby has been very active in procuring information, and there can be no doubt of the correctness of it. It is absolutely impossible for them to subsist their force in that region for any length of time, and I feel assured that unless a sufficient force is rapidly concentrated at this point they will be down upon us in less than five days.
From information brought this evening I believe that their forward movement will commence on the 12th instant.
We will push a force of 200 men into the mountains to-night after a detachment on their way to join them. I cannot impress upon you too strongly the necessity of pushing forward as rapidly as possible, and to bring along a section, if not a full battery, of artillery of light pieces. If you have no artillery, I think by telegraphing General Mitchel you can be supplied. I know that he will cheerfully accede to almost any request I may make; I also know that artillery in this region is very, very essential.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, 

L. A. HARRIS, Colonel Second Regiment
 O. V. M. L. B. GRIGSBY, Colonel [Kentucky Militia]. 
JNO. S. HURT, Major [Kentucky Militia]. 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, troops from the 21st and 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiments grouped at Camp Gill and prepared for the next phases.  Meanwhile, near Prestonsburg, John Williams, Captains Andrew May and John Ficklin, who was a Bath County native, organized the Confederate 5th Kentucky Infantry with 1,010 men, munitions and two pieces of artillery.  The group was so badly clothed and ill fitted for warfare that it was called the "Ragamuffin Regiment" by some.

 The Union Expeditionary Force moved out on October 21, 1861 and split into two divisions; one moving toward Hazel Green in Morgan County, the other toward West Liberty. In a letter from General W.T. Sherman to General L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C., Sherman states: "General Nelson is operating on the line from Olympian Springs, east of Paris, on the Covington and Lexington Railroad, towards Prestonburg, in the valley of the Big Sandy, where is assembled a force of from 2,500 to 3,500 Kentuckians, waiting re-enforcements from Virginia. My last report from him was to October 28, at which time he had Colonel Harris’ Second Ohio, 900 strong; Colonel Norton’s Twenty-first Ohio, 1,000; and Colonel Sill’s Thirty-third Ohio, 750 strong, with two irregular Kentucky regiments, Colonels Marshall and Metcalf. These troops were on the road near Hazel Green and West Liberty, advancing towards Prestonburg."   After a brief fight, Hazel Green and West Liberty were secured by Nelson's Army and the force regrouped in Licking Station, now known as Salyersville.  The Expeditionary Force captured Prestonsburg November 6th, then moved on to Piketon, which is now Pikeville.  The Ivy Mountain Battle began on November 8, and by the next morning, the 5th Kentucky Infantry was routed and retreated through Pound Gap into Virginia.  Piketon was secured by Union forces November 10, thus securing the Big Sandy Valley and surrounding mountains.  Camp Gill in Olympian Springs proved to be a vital link in securing Kentucky's southeastern flank from Confederate occupation. 

Mount Sterling, ten miles west of Owingsville, was a hotly contested city during the war.  According to Marlitta Perkins' blog (, Mount Sterling was important for its strategic location and abundant resources.  The Union Army established a base near present day Macpelah Cemetery that served as a critical supply point and base of operations for units deployed into Eastern Kentucky.  As early as 1862, guerrilla raiders gained the attention of Union commanders when they attempted to intercept and disrupt supply wagons that traveled into Mount Sterling via the Old Midland Trail, now known as US 60.  A group of these raiders and Union Cavalry squared off in July 1862 between Owingsville and Mount Sterling, with the Union Army sending the guerrillas scattering, capturing their artillery and horses.  While the exact location isn't told, the skirmish was more than likely near the area of Flat Creek and US 60 West.  Another incident in August that year resulted in the surprise and capture of seven men of the Bath County Home Guard, commanded by a Captain Warren, by eighteen rebels.  Again, the exact location isn't provided, only stating 'between Owingsville and Mount Sterling.'

 The Midland Trail from Owingsville into Montgomery County was considered a vital route for armies operating in Mount Sterling, Paris and surrounding strongholds.  The guerrilla concerns became gravely apparent when, in October 1862, Colonel William Henry Wadsworth, a veteran of the Ivy Mountain Battle and Big Sandy Expedition, formally requested mounted infantry support to clear the area between Mount Sterling and Owingsville.  He wrote, "Unless you order a force of mounted men, supported by some infantry, to clear out the region beyond Mount Sterling and Owingsville all this part of the State will be infested and plundered all fall and winter...Troops at Mount Sterling, Owingsville, and West Liberty will protect and relieve a third of this State."  Troops from the 10th Kentucky Cavalry were stationed in and around Owingsville, patrolling the area while staying in revolving camp sites in the area.  When Mount Sterling was invaded and captured in 1863 by the Confederate Armies, the Union Cavalry used Owingsville as a rallying point.  One can just imagine the scene on Main Street during that era;  everyday citizens doing their daily routines as Union troops marched in organized lines and conducted their military affairs along side.

General John Hunt Morgan
Bath County was home to nine Union companies or parts of them; elements of the 13th, 14th, and 10th Kentucky Cavalries operating along with the 7th Ohio Cavalry, the 2nd and 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiments, 21st Massachusetts Infantry, 51st New york Infantry, 6th Indiana Cavalry, 45th US Army Infantry Regiment and 1st US Cavalry, staged or participated in engagements within the county.  The Confederacy only had one true organized military unit operate in Bath County, that being Company C, Fifth Kentucky Infantry Regiment.  Bands of rebels were scattered around the area, with many farmers and citizens sympathizing with the rebel cause.  One famed group of Confederates that passed through Bath County was Morgan's Raiders.  Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his army of nearly 900 rode through Kentucky on their first raid from July 4-28, 1862.  During that time, Morgan's Raiders captured nearly 1,200 soldiers, then paroled them, took several hundred horses and destroyed a large amount of supplies.  The raid gained attention in Washington, causing President Lincoln to become overwhelmed with pleas for assistance from beleaguered unit commanders.  Morgan organized more raids during the winter of 1862-1863 and it was during this time his army camped overnight near Salt Lick at the home of Dr. H.H. Lewis.  There is a historical marker just across the Rowan County line on US 60, near the Kentucky 801 crossroads, that tells of Morgan's pass through the area.  Morgan's last raid into Kentucky was during the spring of 1864 and came to a climactic end at Cynthiana when his army was torn apart, leaving Morgan and some of his officers on the run.  John Hunt Morgan was killed September 4, 1864 near Greenville, Tennessee, and is buried in Lexington Cemetery.  The saddle that he rode upon during his raids is now on display at the Mount Sterling History Museum, along with other artifacts related to the Civil War in the Gateway Region.

Montgomery Co Courthouse, 1863 with Federal Troops camped on the lawn.
During the sieges and battles for Mount Sterling, there were several skirmishes that spilled into Bath County. No direct military conflicts occurred in the city of Owingsville, but 1863 was an active year for Bath County in general.   Marlitta Perkins' Eastern Kentucky and the Civil War recounts an encounter March 2, 1863 east of Mount Sterling along Slate Creek, involving the 10th Kentucky Cavalry, the 7th Ohio Cavalry and  a regiment commanded by Colonel Leroy Cluke of Morgan's Cavalry.  The Union force of approximately 350 was routed by Cluke's army resulting in 50 men captured, along with their supplies.  Another skirmish occurred near Owingsville March 31, 1863 and another along Slate Creek in the Howard's Mill vicinity that ended at the old tan yard near Peeled Oak.  April 13-14, the 21st Massachusetts Infantry and the 51st New York Infantry arrived in Sharpsburg to capture a suspected guerrilla force.  None were found, however several citizens were arrested on suspicion of being rebel sympathizers. A member of the 51st NY recounted," A number of citizens were arrested on suspicion of being sympathizers with the Rebels. The horses which were pressed, were brought to camp. The citizens were released, and the horses returned, excepting in one or two cases where they were bought." A 21st Infantry soldier wrote, "I felt heartily ashamed of being connected with the affair, particularly with the disregard of the humane principle that allegiance and protection go together."

The only battlefield that is marked in Bath County is near the intersection of Mud Lick Road and Kentucky 36 East.  A skirmish occurred June 15, 1863 at Olympian Springs during what is known as Everett's Kentucky Raid.  Major R.T. Williams and 30 men of the 14th Kentucky Cavalry were camped at Mud Lick Springs, as it was then called, near the resort and hotel; quite possibly at or near Camp Gill's location.  Confederate Captain Peter Everett of the 8th Kentucky Infantry, with a force of around 300, had engaged a portion of the 14th Kentucky Cavalry at Slate Creek along the Bath and Montgomery County border on June 11.  The fight lasted around three hours and resulted in a Union retreat back toward Mount Sterling.  Everett's Army continued on, regrouped near Preston, and marched toward Mud Lick Springs.  Virginia Hunt's narrative cites a citizen of Preston watching the army march along what is now Old State Road as she was outside preparing chickens for a meal.  One soldier called out to the young lady, saying, "Make sure you have them chickens skinned and ready when we get back".  Major Williams' detachment was in camp when the 8th Kentucky ambushed them on the 15th of June.  The battle was swift and decisive with Everett's Army killing 11 and capturing 12.  Five more men from Williams' Army were injured in the fight.  During the fight, several cabins and outbuildings at the Olympian Springs Resort were burned by the Confederates to prevent their use as Union quarters. The following day, Everett and his army met battle at Triplett's Creek in Rowan County.  Two battalions of the 10th Kentucky Cavalry attempted to take Everett's 8th Infantry, but during the confusion of battle, Everett and his men slipped away and returned to Virginia.  A historical marker stands across from the Mud Lick Store on Kentucky 36, at the intersection of Kentucky 3290, that only briefly mentions the Battle of Mud Lick Springs.

As the Civil War progressed, the Confederate Armies pushed the Union forces back and forth through Kentucky, but were never able to establish a firm hold.  On January 13, 1864, Colonel Jim Brown of the 45th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry dispatched 12 men commanded by Lieutenant Robert Wilson from Mount Sterling to Ragland Mills in Southeastern Bath County in an attempt to locate a group of guerrillas reportedly camped near the Licking River. At the time, Ragland Mills was a small community near the border of Bath and Menifee Counties.  There were oil and gas fields in the area, along with an abundance of timber that provided the economic means for the residents in the area.  That cold winter morning, Wilson's men encountered a group of 35 rebel guerrillas, catching them by surprise.  A short skirmish ensued, resulting in the capture of 13 rebels and the loss of one horse.  The remaining rebels scattered into the dense woods and disappeared.  Ragland Mills and the associated battlefield, is now under the waters of Cave Run Lake near the Zilpo area.

Kentucky had twenty-two courthouses burned during the Civil War.  Most were burned by Confederate troops or guerrilla forces, with nineteen burned within the final fifteen months of the war.  Bath County's courthouse wasn't spared; however, it wasn't due to hostile action.  On March 21, 1864, Federal troops were temporarily quartered in the courthouse, which was a two story wood frame structure that stood where the present day courthouse is located.  It was a cold night and the soldiers had the coal stove fired up as they settled in.  Soon, word came that Confederate troops were on the move toward Owingsville and the Federals hastily prepared themselves to engage the incoming rebels.  In their haste, the overheated stove was turned over, starting a fire.  The wood frame building became quickly consumed and was destroyed as the Union soldiers marched on.  Several vital records were lost in the fire; records that reflected back to Bath County's earliest days.  Rueben Gudgell and J. Monroe Nesbitt petitioned the Federal Government to replace the courthouse, and the present day building was erected in 1866, at a cost of $34,000.00.  Court was held in the Methodist Church on West Main Street in Owingsville until the courthouse was completed.

Original home of John Bell Hood (JA Richards, 1961)
A large white two story house sits on East Main Street in Owingsville across from the post office.  It is occupied by Owingsville's Mayor, Gary Hunt, and is not a uniquely ornate house, and not even a house of Civil War importance since it wasn't built until the early 1900's.  The Civil War connection isn't the house, but the property it stands on.  Confederate General John Bell Hood was born on or near, depending on which source you ask, the spot of Mayor Hunt's home June 1, 1831.  It was a simple house built of log with plank weather boarding and a large stone chimney.  Hood graduated West point in 1853 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th US Infantry stationed in California.  Soon afterward, he transferred to Texas and the 2nd US Cavalry where one of his commanding officers was Robert E. Lee.  While on the Western Frontier, Hood was injured during an Indian attack and lost use of a hand.  When the Civil War broke out, Hood joined the Confederacy and was promoted to colonel with the 4th Texas Infantry, later known as the Texas Brigade.  It was with this brigade that Hood gained the Confederacy its first major victory at Gaine's Mills in Hancock County, Virginia in June, 1862.  General Hood's Brigade fought at Gettysburg, then at The Battles of Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee, where Hood was now the Commander-in-Chief of the Tennessee Army.  During the Battle of Nashville, Hood lost a leg and resigned his command January 23, 1865.  He retired to San Antonio, Texas and died of yellow fever in New Orleans August 30, 1879.  On a personal note, it is interesting that my third great-grandfather fought against Hood's Army at Franklin and Nashville.  Laban J. Kiskaden was a private with the 175th Ohio Volunteer Infantry who fought on the same soil as Hood's men.  He was wounded during the battle, losing sight in his right eye and nearly losing a leg.

The Hood House was torn down around 1920; an editorial in the Bath County News Outlook during that time tells of the "disregard for our town's history and value of the older places that are being torn down and erased from memory".  A bronze historical marker stands along the street marking the location of the Hood House, but the marker's placement has been a cause for some debate over the years.  Ginger Kincaid, a local blogger and historian who authors, tells me that her husband's family once lived in the Hood House before it was razed, and that the historical marker is quite possibly not at the correct location.  Could it be that someone opposed the marker due to the Southern connotations?

The winter of 1864 brought action to Sharpsburg and Bethel; the first occurring in Bethel on the night of December 4.  Rebel guerrillas raided and plundered the town, burning stores and damaging property as terrified residents fled into the street.  The rebels gathered the people in the middle of the street and held them at bay while the clerk's office was ransacked.  Vital records from the clerk's office were piled in the street and lit on fire; meanwhile, County Judge Thomas B. Hamilton was dragged out into the street and whipped by a leather strap by the marauders.  The horrified residents were set free after some time and the rebels rode off unscathed toward Sharpsburg.  On December 31, Union forces encountered a group of rebel guerrillas near Sharpsburg, sending the rebels scurrying off in all directions.  The Sharpsburg community had its share of notable veterans during the Civil War.  Edward Owings Guerrant was born in Sharpsburg and was a Confederate captain under General Morgan, and later served on General Humphrey Marshall's staff in Virginia.  After the war, he became a doctor, then a Presbyterian minister in the mountain counties in Eastern Kentucky.  Guerrant wrote an account of his time with General John Hunt Morgan, along with a few theological works.  William Sharp, a direct descendant of the founding fathers of Sharpsburg, served as a captain in the Union Army and Doctor John Thruston Catlett, also a Sharpsburg native son, was a surgeon in Robert E. Lee's Army and was at Gettysburg.  These two examples showed the deep divides among neighbors of small town Kentucky, and throughout the nation during the American Civil War.

As the war came close to an end, skirmishes and raids throughout Bath County dwindled.  A skirmish along Slate Creek near Peeled Oak and Howard's Mill is recorded on March 9, 1865, but nothing of significance followed. A few isolated incidents are recorded during and after the war years in Bath County; tales of lynchings and of division among those who supported their respective side.  One incident near Wyoming, seven miles northeast of Owingsville, was the attempted lynching of Thomas Dawson.  A group of Union troops accused Dawson of knowing the whereabouts of some rebel sympathizers and was hanged for not disclosing their alleged location.  A short time later, Dawson was cut down, but bore a scar from the rope for the rest of his life. There was a public execution of a guerrilla on February 10, 1863, in Owingsville. Major Stivers (Union) had Levi Green Sexton, a member of the 2nd Battalion Kentucky Mounted Rifles, shot, with little, if none, fanfare. Near Reynoldsville, A. Powers, a private in the Confederate Army, had came back home during the war.  He hid out from Union troops near White Oak and was only captured when his sisters were followed while bringing him food.  Powers was killed by the Federal troops; his gun, which was hidden in a tree, was recovered by the sisters and kept within the family until the late 1800's when the family home burned.  Another incident was when guerrilla rebels found and killed Sanford Shackleford near Preston for being a Union sympathizer.  Even after the war, tensions among the populace were high, even in the Bath County area.  Virginia Hunt's writings tell of John Barber who served in the Confederate Army being killed while working on his farm by a group of masked men, simply for his service and alignment with the Confederacy. 

Below is a list of some other Bath County notables, not previously mentioned, who served in the American Civil War.:

- David A. Trumbo from White Oak, Quartermaster, 24th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment, later became a prominent lawyer in the Sharpsburg and Bethel area.  He was twice elected sheriff of Bath County before the war.

 -Dr William E. Phillips was a surgeon with the Union's 39th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. He was involved in the Battle of Cynthiana and prevented the amputation of Judge Charles Hargis' arm.  Hargis was then a Captain in the 10th Kentucky CSA Infantry and was always grateful for the doctor's regard and treatment for his dire wound.  Dr. Phillips practiced medicine in Stepstone and later Wyoming. He was widely respected as a doctor in Bath and Fleming Counties.  On twist of fate, Judge Hargis, the man injured at Cynthiana, came to Owingsville to represent a neighboring county sheriff who was charged in killing the same county's clerk.  Dr. Phillips approached Judge Hargis and asked if he had been at the Battle of Cynthiana.  The judge raised his sleeve and showed his scar, acknowledging he was the doctor's wartime patient.  The two became friends and Dr. Phillips visited Judge Hargis many times throughout the remainder of their years.

-Colonel Lafayette North from Salt Lick was a Union veteran of several battles and was with Grant at the Appomattox Surrender. He was a Captain  with Company E, 24th KY Infantry, later promoted to Lt. Colonel.

-James K. Jackson, Sgt. Co. I, 24th KY Infantry, of Olympia was the Union color bearer and led the charge at Resaca, Georgia, displaying great valor while under intense fire.  He also saw action at Shiloh and Perryville.

-C.H. Hoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, Kentucky Mounted Rifles (CSA) was attached to General John Hunt Morgan's Army, later became a prominent Owingsville businessman and jailer for Bath County.  Hoon operated the undertaker and hardware store that stood on the spot of the Citizen's Bank in downtown Owingsville.

-William Washington Rogers, 2nd Lieutenant, Compay L, 2nd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry.  He was at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Stone River, Bardstown, two battles at Chickamauga River, Kennesaw Mountain, Big Shanty and was part of Sherman's march to the sea and Battle of Atlanta.  Rogers was taken prisoner at Bardstown, but was soon returned to his command.  After the war, Rogers, stayed in the Army and served on the Western Plains.  He relocated to Wheeling, West Virginia in 1870 and became a prominent businessman.  

-John S. Anderson of Odessa (White Oak Community), Company B, 10th Kentucky Cavalry (USA) later became postmaster for the Odessa community.

-Confederate Captain George W. Conner, Co. I, 5th KY Mounted Infantry, later appointed Lt. Col. of the 5th KY Mounted Infantry, fought at the Battle of Middle Creek.  He was captured by the Union Army commanded by future president James A. Garfield in Prestonsburg, January 11, 1862 while in a hospital suffering from typhoid fever.  He later rejoined his unit and was severely wounded at Jonesboro, Tennessee August 10, 1864.  Conner was elected to State Senate in 1869, serving Bath, Bourbon, Montgomery and Clark Counties.  He died from injuries he sustained from a fall at the courthouse March 21, 1894.

-Captain Fountain Goodpaster, Corporal and later Captain, Co. I, 24th KY Infantry, served with the Union Army and fought at Shiloh, Resaca, Atlanta, and Knoxville.

- Hiram Hawkins was born on September 9, 1826, near Owingsville.  He was the son of Thomas and Mary Dean. In 1852, he was elected Colonel of the Bath County Militia. In 1855, he was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives. After selling his farm in 1859, he established a sheep ranch in Texas. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederates at Prestonsburg and organized a company for the 5th Kentucky Infantry. In 1863, he was promoted to Colonel of the regiment. After the war, Hawkins settled in Alabama and purchased a farm in Barbour County. In the 1870s, he was elected to the Alabama State Legislature, where he spearheaded the effort to establish the Alabama Department of Agriculture. 1882, Col. Hawkins was elected a member of the lower house of the Alabama legislature, as a democrat, and re-elected in 1884. He died in 1914 and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Eufaula, Alabama.

The Confederate Monument in Owingsville Cemetery
It is a fair bet that many present day Bath Countians have some connection with the American Civil War and just haven't researched far enough.  The cemeteries in Bath County are dotted with graves of veterans from both sides of the war; some within close proximity, which is a stark contrast to the division among the souls under the Earth.  I spoke with a man named Jamie from Frenchburg who has located the site of the Mud Lick Springs battle and has recovered some artifacts such as buttons, buckles and spent bullets, so at least some of the sites are still yielding hidden archaeological treasures.  Other sites have been lost to farm lands, development and to Cave Run Lake.  On August 3 1907, a monument was dedicated in the Owingsville Cemetery to the Confederate Sons of Bath County, one of sixty throughout the state.  The monument is that of a Confederate soldier standing, leaning on his rifle, looking to the North, and is thirteen feet tall.  It was erected by the Bath County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated by Colonel W.T. Ellis of Owensboro.  Around the statue are the graves of several Confederate Bath Countians.  The monument was dedicated as a National Historic Site in 1997 and has weathered many storms and seasons.  Another monolith stands in the cemetery that belongs to Lieutenant James Willeroy, who was with Company A, 13th Virginia Volunteers and killed in action at the Second Battle of Bull Run at Manassas in 1862.  This is the only grave I have found in Owingsville Cemetery that belongs to a soldier killed in action during the Civil War, although I'm sure if I looked around a little better there and at other county cemeteries, I'd find more.

The Civil War left many people and communities divided, not only during the conflict but for generations after.  In the forty years of my existence, I haven't directly seen that division in Bath County, but occasionally there are some who still have that rebel soul among them.  These days, there are some who wish to push away the war and keep it 'out of sight, out of mind' due to the debate over slavery and the racial undertones.  To do so would nullify those who fought for either side for their cause and lessen their achievements or legacies.  Form your own opinions, but don't ignore the history and tales of bravery and courage under fire.  If you, the reader, should get the chance to attend a battle reenactment, I encourage you to do so.  There are reenactments held annually at nearby
Richmond, Perryville and Wildcat Mountain that are surprisingly realistic.  Take the time to visit a museum, like the ones at Mount Sterling or Perryville, or explore your local library archives to learn about where you are just may be surprised what event in history happened right where you stand.

Special thanks to Marlitta for helping me correct some inconsistencies and help fleshing out the stories of some of the Bath County veterans who served on either side.

 For information about the Mount Sterling History Museum, visit

 Other links to battlefield reenactments:



 - by Marlitta Perkins
 -An Illustrated History of Bath County, Kentucky by John Adair Richards, (c) 1961, Southwest Printers, Yuma, Arizona
 -A History of the Civil War in Bath County, Virginia Hunt (housed at the Bath Co Memorial Library)
-The Paper Trail of the Civil War in Kentucky 1861-65, compiled by Col. (Retired) Aramndo Alfaro
-Wikipedia searches of The Battle of Ivy Mountain, Kentucky in the Civil War, John Hunt Morgan, John Bell Hood
-Morgan's Men: A Narrative of Personal Experience by Henry Lane Stone, (c) 1919 Louisville Brandt & Fowler


  1. This blog caused my eyes to water and created a lump in my throat! This entry is well researched, factually correct and covers just about any and everything. Rob is a talented writer, and this entry simply drives his gift home. Always looking forward to the next entry, keep up the great work.

    I will 'second' Rob's encouragement to attend a Civil War re-enactment! The Battle of Richmond Ky re-enactment is one of the best. Hard to beat a volley of 20 cannons!


    Jamie Wexler
    Frenchburg, Ky

  2. For those of keen interest of Bath County's role in the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a soldier stationed at Olympia Springs..."Incidents & experiences in the life of Thomas W. Parsons, from 1826 to 1900" written by Thomas W. Parsons is a must read. The Bath and Montgomery County libraries have "read only" copies of it. It can also be purchased from various on-line retailers for less than $20.

  3. My fifth x great grandfather (Henry Cassity)was in the 5th Mounted Ky Inf. and I was happy to find your detailed description of the battles and information of the area. Thank you very much, B.Spaw