Sherman and Kentucky

On October 16th  of 1861, General William Tecumseh Sherman met with Secretary of War Simon Cameron at the Galt House in Louisville.  Sherman was new to his position as Department Commander and wanted to brief his boss on the situation in Kentucky.  As Sherman entered the room he was greeted by an entourage of reporters and the Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas.  Sherman seemed reluctant to begin his briefing but Cameron told him they were all “family” and he could “speak your mind without restraint.”  Sherman did just that.  He spread a large map of the United States across a desk and pointed to Northern Virginia.  He explained that General McClellan had a front of roughly 100 miles with the enemy and about 100,o00 men at his disposal.  He then pointed to Missouri where General Fremont reigned and explained that he also had about 100 miles of frontage with the enemy and about 60,000 men.  Meanwhile, Sherman had 300+ miles of frontage with the enemy, from General Johnston in Columbus to General Zollicoffer at Cumberland Gap,  and something like 20,000 effective, armed troops to work with.  He went on to say that the men of Kentucky were being offered Belgian smoothbore muskets as weapons.  These same weapons were being refused by Ohio and Indiana troops in favor of the Enfield rifled musket.

Cameron was shocked.  “Great God, where are they to come from?!” he exclaimed from his bed as Sherman mentioned the 200,000 troop number.  Clearly, Cameron had no idea of the dire situation facing the middle of his strategic line in this civil war.  Cameron immediately had orders issued for more troops to be sent to Kentucky and some better weapons be sent to the department as well.  Too little, too late I fear.

The newsies ran with the story at least as far as their journalistic, and decidedly not Military, minds would allow.  First in the northern press and then it spread, complete with editorial comment, to the western papers.  Sherman was mocked as being “crazy, insane, etc” in the press.  On November 11th, Sherman mentions to General George W. Thomas:

My expression of dissatisfaction at the publication of Thomas’ report and request to be relieved from this charge has led to the assignment of General Buell, of whom I have not yet heard.

I have to ask, what part of Thomas’s report to the Secretary of War was substantially different than what Sherman wrote in his Memoirs?  I will gladly give the position that the Memoirs were written much later but Sherman himself notes that Thomas J Wood offered a statement as to the accuracy of Sherman’s Memoirs, he being present during the meeting.

I believe that Sherman was wrong labelled by the Newsies of the time.  While I haven’t been able to find a copy of a paper calling him “insane, crazy, etc”, he has clearly been slapped with that by history and that is a serious shame.  His condition in Kentucky was exactly as he stated.  Buell’s incompetence had nothing to do with the success at Perryville.  That is solely due to a stubborn defense by Starkweather and a poorly planned attack resulting in exhausted Confederate troops.   Had Sherman’s request been at least considered seriously, things may have been quite different.  Especially considering the September 1861 meeting between Lincoln, Seward, and Reverend William Blount Carter in Washington…but that is for another post.

Genealogy Jamboree 2013

I will be back at the Genealogy Jamboree at Cumberland Gap this year.  The dates are June 6, 7, and 8 2013.  I will be talking about ways to better understand Civil War Muster Records on Thursday the 6th at 2:30p and Friday the 7th at 1p in the Visitor Center Auditorium.

The presentation can be found here.




Tales from the Ranks

August 19, 1861 was an exciting day on the farm of William H Crook of Clay County Kentucky. Hundreds of people had gathered to hear the pontificatin’ and chest thumpin’. At that point everyone knew that Theophilus Garrard was raising a regiment to help preserve the Union and this rally would result in the enrollment of about 3 companies of recruits. James H Hensley was there most probably with his family. He was married two years prior and now had a young daughter. The reason Mr. Hensley enlisted will probably never be known for certain but he did enroll in what would eventually come to be known as the 7th Kentucky Volunteers, Company B.

According to Private Hensley, his wife accompanied him and the Regiment from December of 61 until the Regiment boarded the Steamer Dic Vernon at Memphis on December 21, 1862. It was at this point that point Private Hensley’s story became most interesting.

It seems that women, laundresses, and all “other attached others” would not be allowed on board the Dic Vernon and Mrs. Hensley was escorted off the boat. She was “an utter stranger” in Memphis and Lt. Colonel Ridgell told Private Hensley to go into town and “procure a place for his wife to stay for a while”. The good Private, and loving husband, did just that. What was Lt. Col. Ridgell thinking? The following is from an affidavit filed in Private Hensley’s record:

…And affiant did as directed by Lieut Col JH Ridgell. It was quite late before he found a place and had made the necessary arrangements for her. This affiant made an attempt to return to the boat and regiment but the streets were filled with guards and they would not let him pass during the night and the boat with the Regt left the wharf and was gone before he could reach the place where he had left. After day light next morning and before another boat left and he could procure transportation to his regt and within a week after being left affiant was taken down in the back and remained in charge of different Army surgeons. there duty at Memphis until about the last of Feby 1863 when he was sent to his regt and he joined his regt as soon as he could at this place about the 12th day of March 1863.

Given under my hand the place and date above mentioned.

James H Hensley

Now, let’s take a look at this and attempt to place ourselves in the mind of a 24 year old man. He has permission from the Lieutenant Colonel of his Regiment to escort his wife through the city. Private Hensley had to know that it could be years before he saw his wife again, if ever. The fact that it was “quite late” before he had made the “necessary arrangements for her” should come as no surprise to anyone. The late hour obviously didn’t prevent this dedicated soldier from attempting to get back to his regiment but those darn pesky Guards blocked his way. For a soldier, veteran of Wildcat Mountain, Cumberland Gap, and Richmond, he simply had to understand Guard Mount and what would be necessary to get past them. Having just completed the “necessary arrangements” for his wife, again, it comes as no surprise that he didn’t press the matter with the Guards. He couldn’t be expected to sleep on the street like a vagabond, so he returns to his wife. The next morning he tried again but the boat had left before he could get there. Within a week, he “was taken down in the back” and fell under the care of “different Army Surgeons”. All those “necessary arrangements” caught up with him. No names are given for the “different Army Surgeons” and there are no hospital records of any nature in the record.

Private Hensley saw no promotion until the last two months of his service when he found himself in Corporal stripes. Here we have a young, literate, and reasonably articulate man yet he wasn’t promoted from the ranks until such time that a promotion would do little benefit or harm to the service. It is the opinion of the author that the exploits of December 1862 through February 1863, while perfectly plausible, were also perfectly transparent and those in his Company and Regimental command could see through it thus doing great harm to his upward mobility.

Here is a more thorough look at James Hensley’s adventures that should be published soon in the Kentucky Historical Society’s genealogical quarterly sometime.

Transcribed Muster Record of James H. Hensley, Private, Co B:

Original scans of Muster Record:

Brother John Hensley:

Brother William Washington Hensley:


Newspapers – same today as yesterday

When a newspaper today publishes something having to do with the war d’jour or some foreign policy decision or indecision there are howls of protest from one side or the other of the political spectrum and sometimes both.  Either the paper shouldn’t have published this because it endangered operations or the paper was insensitive to the dead of another operation.  It usually comes down to the scoring of some political point or another.  Sometimes, however, you just have to sit back and wonder, “What were they thinking?”

In early October of 1861, no one was really sure what horrors the Civil War were going to bring to Kentucky.  Both Federal and Confederate forces were forming in and around the state and every man joining these organizations were chomping at the bit for their own bit of glory.  General Sherman assumed command in Kentucky with the retirement of General Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame and quickly set to work organizing the mess.  This mess was not at all General Anderson’s fault but…it was still a mess.

On October 16th General Sherman met with Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas at the Galt House in Louisville.  Secretary Cameron brought with him something of an entourage of reporters which, when General Sherman questioned their attendance for the discussion, Cameron said:

They are all friends, all members of my family, and you may speak your mind freely and without restraint.

That should have been a clue to General Sherman.  Chalk it up to Sherman’s exhaustion or excitement but he missed the clue and would pay dearly for it just two weeks later.

The discussion, as related in General Sherman’s Memoirs, was quite frank and direct.  Sherman laid a map of the United States on a table and explained his situation.  General Fremont in Missouri had a 100 mile front with the Confederate Forces and had 60,000 men for his operations.  General McClellan in Northern Virginia had about the same 100 mile front with Confederate Forces and had 100,000 men for his operations.  General Sherman had a 300 mile front, from the Big Sandy River valley to Paducah, with only 18,000 men and weapons that the Indiana and Ohio Governors had rejected for their own troops.  He outlined where his troops were, where he wanted more troops, and suggested just where those troops would come from.  He discussed his plans for operations, weaknesses in his line, and his thoughts on the movements of Confederate Generals Zollicoffer, Buckner, and Johnston.  He felt his position so weak that “…if Johnston chose, he could march to Louisville any day.”  Secretary Cameron was “astonished” by some of these facts.  He ordered Adjutant-General Thomas to make notes of this so he could attend to them upon his return to Washington.

On October 31st, the New York Times reported the entirety of Thomas’ report to Secretary Cameron.  The same report that would allow General Buell to build his Army that would defeat Zollicoffer at Mill Springs, help save Grant at Shiloh, and ultimately save Kentucky for the Union at Perryville(no thanks to Buell’s personal efforts).  The same report that would find its way into the Official Record of the War of the Rebellion some 20 years later.  How could such critically dangerous information find its way into a national newspaper just 2 weeks after the meeting took place?  With a room full of reporters during the discussion it shouldn’t be any real surprise but there were two others in the room as well and one of them had a penchant for story telling.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, offers a bit of insight useful for our purposes.  It seems that Secretary Cameron had something of a checkered past.  She said, “For years, charges of bribery and bad dealings with the Winnebago indians had sullied Cameron’s name” and “Considering  Lincoln’s ‘well known rigid adherence to honesty,’ it seemed impossible to Villard(a correspondent following the newly elected President) that Honest Abe would besmirch his cabinet with someone of Cameron’s unsavory reputation.”  When President Lincoln offered the post of Secretary of War to Cameron, Cameron asked Lincoln to put it in writing.  When Cameron returned home to Pennsylvania,  Goodwin writes “he brandished the offer among his friends like ‘an exuberant school boy.'”  With this in mind it isn’t difficult to see Cameron offering some long winded tale as one of his reporter “family members” scarfed up Thomas’ report.

Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas was also quite the character.  Gabor Boritt in his book Lincoln’s Generals appears to make the claim that Thomas was responsible for efforts to label General Sherman as “insane”.  He was arrogant and power hungry so it doesn’t seem to much of a stretch that he could have leaked the report himself.

Who leaked it wasn’t nearly as damaging as that it was leaked at all.  The New York Times is the earliest publication I can find of the report and they attribute their source to “The Tribune”.  I don’t know if that is a paper in New York called “The Tribune” or some other “Tribune” across the country.  On the same day the report was published the Times also offered an editorial where they state:

The report of Adj.-Gen. THOMAS to the Secretary of War, in regard to the condition of the Western Military Department and the manner of conducting business under Major Gen. FREMONT’S administration, which we publish in the TIMES to-day, is certainly the most remarkable document that has seen the light since the beginning of the present war. We allude not so much to the matter of the report, though that is astounding, perplexing and painful enough; but to the  fact that such a document, so singular in its details, so damaging, if true, to the National cause in its revelations of our weakness to the enemy, and so  disgraceful to one of the first officers of the country and to his aids and  associates, was permitted to be published at all, in the informal and unsustained shape of the diary of a traveling Adjutant.

So, they understood the damage this report could inflict on the “National cause” yet they publish the report anyway in a superficial effort to score some points against the Tribune:

If the TIMES’ publication of the power of the American fleet, sailing to an unknown shore, excited
the “surprise and indignation” of the Cabinet and of the Tribune, what will their verdict be on this
unparalleled exposure of the inefficiency of our Generals and their armies, and the indication of
their plans of moving through the enemy’s country?

Is it just me…or could there be a better way of dealing with this, still score your petty coup, and at least make an effort to limit the potential damage caused?

Buell and East Tennessee

If a modern General took 4 months to show ANY SIGNS of movement toward a military objective he would be replaced forthwith and that is even discounting our modern communications. General Buell had been given explicit orders to move on East Tennessee SIX TIMES from assuming command on Nov 15, 1861 through February 1862 but Buell ignored or circumvented the orders by suggesting, for example, on November 27, a well concieved, simple, and easy to remember plan to move on….NASHVILLE? All the OR citations are below.  Will TRY and link them to Cornell’s site but…we’ll see. :)

Buell’s Ploys

11/15 Buell assumes command.

11/16 Buell gets reinforcements from Western Virginia with the implied suggestion that McClellan “expects you will be able to organize a proper force for immediate operations in the direction of Cumberland Gap”. Buell takes immediate offense and suggests McClellan “has seen cause to curtail his discretion”
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME IV [S# 4] CHAPTER XII. p358

11/22 Buell describes his plans to McClellan with all the appropriate butt kissing. This message is a masterwork of passive aggression. He does, however, say that the East TN campaign is being prepared for and “I have by no means abandoned the idea which you put forward prominently; on the contrary, I am studying it carefully and preparing for it, for I find some attraction in it; but neither have I determined on it absolutely, unless I am to understand that the Adjutant-General’s letter absolutely requires it. If it does, I shall execute it carefull and with all my might.” This Adj-Gen letter he speaks of is the one from 11/16.
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p443

11/23 Buell, while sending intelligence on the whereabouts of Zollicoffer, breaks down and asks “have you seen cause to curtail my discretion?”
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p445

11/25 McClellan tells Buell that the move on E TN is imperative and that only an emergency should prevent it.
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p447

11/27 McClellan asks about Buell’s seeming reluctance to move on E TN
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p450

Buell responds with a well thought out, robust, simple and easy to remember plan for….Nashville.
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p450

11/29 McClellan agrees to Buell’s overall plan but stresses the importance of E TN as the primary objective
6111 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p457

12/3 McClellan again begs Buell to move on E TN
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p468

12/5 McClellan adds Piketon, where Humphrey Marshall is causing trouble, to the list of ignored imperatives
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p473

12/7 Horace Maynard and Andrew Johnson both pleading Buell for a move on E TN
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p480

12/8 Buell reports to McClellan on his plans, not a word on E TN or Piketon
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p482

Buell responds to Maynard and Johnson claiming he has “no higher honor than that of rescuing our loyal friends in TN”
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p483

Maynard sends a chilly message to Thomas about the failure to move on E TN
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p484

12/10 BG Buell writes to McClellan, again focusing primarilly on the west, leaving E TN folks with “The allegiance of such people
to hated rulers, even if it could be enforced for the moment, will only make them the more determined and ready to resist when the hour of rescue comes.” Wow
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p487

BG Buell sends a portion of Wolford’s Cav to Prestonsburg\Piketon in response to Col Moore’s note on the 9th perhaps?
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p489

AC Haun ordered to be hung for his part in the bridge burnings of Nov 7
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p754

12/17 US BG Buell lays out positions of Garfield’s BDE to War Dept
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p501

12/23 BG Buell forwards summary of activities to MG McClellan…moans about the loss of Carter’s BDE by Schoepf. “The brigade which I had organized in
the Cumberland Gap route has been partially deranged by the unauthorized call of General Schoepf on it to re-enforce Somerset. I shall reinstate it
as soon as possible.” He hadn’t TOUCHED this BDE since taking command.
6112 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p511

FHMason, 42OH, on Buell:
“This command was designated the Eighteenth Brigade, Army of the Ohio. The advanced and exposed position of Marshall offered at that time one of the few opportunities open to the Union Army to strike a direct and effective blow, and Gen. Buell, who had accomplished little or nothing, since taking command of the Department, attached no small importance to the favorable result of the expedition up the Big Sandy.”
FHMason – Pg56

1/4 BG Buell seems disinterested in East TN Campaign. MG McClellan adjusts his attitude on the matter
6201 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p530

1/7 BG Buell continues to suggest the ‘concert of action’ against the western CS Line being the most important
6201 – O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 7 [S# 7] p535

2/10 Buell wants to see his wub-wub McClellan
6202 – O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME LII/1 [S# 109] p208

2/15 McClellan wishes to speak with Buell direct. A response to the plea from Buell the 10th?
6202 – O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME LII/1 [S# 109] p212

Never a truer word has been written

Short of the Gospel of course…

General William Tecumseh Sherman on the state of affairs in Kentucky in October of 1861:

I was unnecessarily unhappy, and doubtless exhibited it too
much to those near me ; but it did seem to me that the Govern-
ment at Washington, intent on the larger preparations of Fre-
mont in Missouri and McClellan in Washington, actually ignored ^
us in Kentucky.

Memoires, Pg 307

Signals at Tazewell

So, I have found myself with an intense interest in the Signal Corps of late.  I have known about the legendary George Ellsworth of John Hunt Morgan’s Cavalry for a while.  I have also read about various telegraph operators and flag waiving Signal Corps soldiers in the past.  My interest now, however, has turned to the more technical side of the craft.  While perusing Albert Myer’s _A Manual of Signals_ I was reminded of an incident that took place during the 1862 Cumberland Gap Campaign.  While not officially Signal Corps, two men from the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry made great use of the skill and daring nature of the men of the Signal Corps.

August 7th, 1862 found the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on the east side of Tazewell Tennessee in an attempt to secure provisions for the hungry forces at Cumberland Gap.  Colonel DeCourcy had started this expedition the day previous and marched through Tazewell unopposed.  I’m sure he found this strange and expected to stumble upon a large Confederate force at any moment.  Sergeant Owen Hopkins* and Private Joseph Andrews both of Company K were detailed for a little adventure that is worth sharing.  The following is from Otto F. Bond’s book, _Under the Flag of the Nation_ which is a collection of diary entries from Sgt. Owen Hopkins:

Lieut.-Col. Pardee of the Forty-second ordered the
writer and a private, Joseph Andrews, of the same company,
to crawl quietly to a high ridge covered with young shrubbery
and blackberry bushes, a quarter of a mile in advance of the
skirmish line, and to watch the Rebels’ movements and communicate
by certain signals the same to him.

He cautioned us against making ourselves visible to the
enemy and to use every care against capture, but, if captured,
to remain stubbornly reticent with regard to the exact number
of our force. We were not to fire unless absolutely necessary
to preserve our lives.

The code of signals was unique in the extreme. If the enemy
were cavalry alone, we were to get down on our hands and
knees. If cavalry and infantry both, one was to stand while the
other remained on all fours. If advancing, we were to make
a feint of retiring to the rear. If stationary, a drop of the
cap so denoted.

On reaching the designated spot, we suddenly caught a
startling view of the whole Rebel army, cavalry and infantry.
The former were dismounted at a farmhouse by the roadside
nearly a mile away, their pickets stationed a good distance in
advance at a spring, from which we could see men filling their
canteens. At some distance to the right and in the rear of the
cavalry, was the infantry force of the Rebels; their arms
stacked at the edge of a wood glistened in the sun, and the
dirty gray uniforms flitting here and there were plainly distinguishable
with the naked eye.

Keeping close under cover, we signalled all this to the rear,
where Colonel Pardee was now reading out our signals to
De Courcy, surrounded by other officers. The breaking of a
twig to be held up was the signal in case the enemy had artillery;
this also was communicated, as we could discern several
pieces of brass ordnance planted near the farmhouse.
This piece of news was scarcely necessary, for we had no
sooner imparted it than one of the guns was manned and
trained in our direction. A curl of white smoke wreathed
from its muzzle, and a shot came whizzing high over our
heads, and striking the ground in our rear, burst and scattered
dust and dirt in all directions. This was apparently fired to get
the range, and seemed satisfactory, for it was not tried again
while we were on the lookout. As near as we could make out,
the enemy were about 5,000 strong, infantry and cavalry, with
a battery of field pieces. Watching their movements for nearly
two hours, we at last saw about 200 of the cavalry mount and
ride towards us. Making the fact known by moving to the
rear on all fours, we saw our men hastily form into order of
battle. Lanphear’s battery was placed into position, supported
by the Sixteenth Ohio, while the Forty-second on the left
guarded the road leading up the valley.

Private Frank Mason of Company A, 42nd Ohio witnessed this event and writes in his Regimental History:

In order to improve his opportunities for observation Col Pardee detailed
Sergeant OJ Hopkins of Company K, a zealous and clever soldier, to ascend
a high hill to the left and front of the main position, and communicate the
results of his observations by means of signs previously agreed upon. Certain
gestures and attitudes were specified to indicate the approach of infantry,
cavalry or artillery. Hopkins climbed to his perch and mounted watch. This was
shortly before noon. About one o clock he began to display extraordinary
activity. First he made the sign to indicate the approach of cavalry, then infantry
was signalled, and finally artillery. All the signals were repeated with great vigor
for some minutes when a column of cavalry appeared winding down the road to
where Company C was posted.

I can only imagine the spectacle of these two men, well in advance of their own pickets, trying to communicate back that the whole Confederate Army was not more than a mile away from them…and then advancing!

* I’m guessing on the rank of Hopkins at the time of the Tazewell Expedition.  While Mason clearly states Hopkins was a Sergeant I like to get followup with proper documentation if I can find it.   The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1866 (you don’t find titles of books like that anymore do you?) has Hopkins mustering out as  Quartermaster Sergeant having been promoted from Sergeant of Company K on September 14, 1864 which matches what Mason mentions so I went with it.

Update to Mutiny in Company D, 7th Kentucky!

Thanks to the kindness of a friend I will be getting my grubby hands on the Court Martial records regarding the mutiny of some of the men in Company D!  The whole kit and the kaboodle!  Can. Not. Wait!  Will post here once we get it all together.

Kentucky Union Muster Records

All kinds of bigtime KUDOS to the Allen County Indiana Public Library for scanning in Kentucky’s Union Civil War muster records!  Why in the world they did Kentucky and not Indiana I don’t know and maybe they did…really need to find them if they did. :/

It takes some work to effectively BROWSE the records but I’m not going to argue that point against them.  Having them available at all is a HUGE blessing.  Here’s how to make good use of these records.  First, click here to get to the records themselves.

Notice the page has two main blocks of information.  The large one on the right entitled “Compiled service records…” has the bibliographic information followed by a Description area which is essentially the index for the records.  An example of the contents of the Description area:

reels 1-13. First Cavalry — reels 14-24. Second Cavalry — reels 25-37. Third Cavalry — reels 38-49. Fourth Cavalry — reels 50-59. Fifth Cavalry — reels 60-75. Sixth Cavalry — reels 76-86. Seventh Cavalry — reels 87-94. Eighth Cavalry — reels 95-99. Ninth Cavalry — reels 100-105. Tenth Cavalry — reels 106-113. Eleventh Cavalry — reels 114-122. Twelfth Cavalry — reels 123-127. Thirteenth Cavalry — reels 128-133. Fifteenth Cavalry — reels 134-136. Sixteenth Cavalry — reel 137. Seventeenth Cavalry — reels 138-142. Seventeenth Cavalry — reel 143. Ward’s Independent Co. (Scouts), Kentucky Cavalry ; Second Heavy Artillery ; Independent Battery A, Light Artillery — reels 144-145. Independent Battery A, Light Artillery (cont.) — reels 146-147. Independent Battery B, Light Artillery — reels 147-148. Independent Battery C, Light Artillery —

This was alittle confusing to me at first but I tinkered and figured it out…felt like I was decoding some long lost Rosetta stone-ish thing.  Anyway, the locations of each organization’s records are separated by double dashes.  For example, the First Kentucky Cavalry’s records may be found on reels 1 through 13.  The Second Kentucky Cav will be found on reels 14-24.  See how that works?

I hear you screaming, “Yeah, I see how it works but none of that is clickable!  I WANT THE DARNED RECORDS!”

You will notice the web address for this page:

Notice the “0001” in the address.  That is Reel 1 or the first reel for the First Kentucky Cavalry.  Change “0001” to, say, “0137” to see the Seventeenth Kentucky Cavalry.  When I say “change” I mean highlight the number in the address itself, type in the number you want to see, and press the enter key on the keyboard.

Cavalry and Artillery records can be reached by first going here, then editing the number as suggested.  Infantry Records can be reached by first going here, then editing the number as suggested.  I’m thinking there are still some issues with this process but we’ll keep plugging at it.

This leads us to the smaller box on the left of the screen entitled “View the book”.  Inside the box you have two options.  Read Online and PDF.  If you click the READ ONLINE link, the records open for easy viewing with a nifty intuitive interface.  You can also get a PDF of the reel.  I do NOT recommend trying to view the PDF by simply clicking on the link.  Some of these PDFs are HUGE(well over 100mb).  Some would suggest that 100mb isn’t large but if you try to load this inside your browser curious things can happen.  Curiosity is generally a good thing but not when it comes to web browsers.  If you want to keep the reel, right click on the PDF link and select either “save link as” or “save target as” or whatever your browser’s version of “give me that file” is.  You will be asked where you want to save it…which leads me to the next item.

Back in the “Compiled Service records…” box, find the item entitled “Volume”.  That is the official name of the reel.  Toward the end of the name you will see “A-Bo” or something similiar.  That is an alphabetical range of Surnames.  If the particular reel you are interested in has more than one reel(most if not all will), the muster records will be saved alphabetically and broken into groupings based on this range.  I encourage you to save the files to your local computer using file names that include this range.  For example, I have saved the 7th Kentucky’s muster records locally and have file names like:


Each reel I saved I just made sure to include that surname range at the end of whatever I wanted to call the collection itself.  You will thank yourself later for doing this.

While you are planning to thank people…stop over at Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center and consider dropping some coins on them.  Having these records digitized is a HUGE benefit to the Civil War and Genealogy researchers.

Continuing the Lewis Stivers saga…

Previously, I talked about the execution of Lewis Stivers for the murder of James Cundiff both from the 7th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.  Some of the military questions remain such as why didn’t the Sergeant or Corporal of the Guard stop Stivers from retrieving his weapon.  One of the social questions that I have had on this hasn’t been answered…until possible today.

Stivers was widely known in the area as a bully as was Cundiff.  Bullies like to fight their victims, beat them down, and allow them to heal so they can continue to torment them next time.  What would push Stivers over that line from bully to homicidal?

Last night as I was perusing the magnificent find of Kentucky Muster Records ONLINE (takes alittle work to meander your way around here.  I’ll post alittle something about that in a  second), I stumbled across something that piqued my interest.  I noticed that Company D of the 19th Kentucky had 11 desertions on the days immediately following the execution of Stivers.  Started wondering if any of those guys lived near or had some familial relation to Stivers so I went to the 1860 Census records where I discovered Lewis Stivers had a son, Marshall CC Stivers.  That name was familiar to me as I had seen it while thumbing through the 7th Kentucky’s records.  I looked Marshall Stivers up in the muster records and discovered that he had died in February of 1862 at London along with several of his pards from some fever outbreak.

With that in mind, let’s revisit the psychology of the bully.  When a bully is going after a perceived weaker target, the game is simple.  Insult them into action and failing that action take action yourself.  However, when a bully is going after a known other bully the game changes a bit.  The target HAS to take action first so as the bully can be the poor victim.  Both men, Stivers and Cundiff, were widely known to be bullies and fighters of the first order.  They both knew how the game was played and both understood the discipline necessary in General Morgan’s army.  Stivers, while on guard detail, had to know that any derivation from his duties would mean some level of punishment so he surely had used some restraint in responding to Cundiff’s taunts.  What if Cundiff had tried everything he could think of to get a fight on and failing all the usual suspects resorted to mentioning Stivers’ son Marshall?  Would that be enough to push a bully over the edge to murderer?