Kentucky in the Civil War

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Kentucky in the American Civil War

Kentucky and the Civil War (1861-1865)

Kentucky (1861-1865), part 1

The first movement in Kentucky looking toward future events,
consisted in a correspondence which took place at the close of
the year 1860, between Gov. Magoffin and the commissioners
from Alabama, relating to the cooperation of Kentucky with the
Southern states. The following extract expresses the views of
the governor of the state at that time:
"You ask the cooperation of the Southern states in order to
redress our wrongs. So do we. You have no hope of a redress
in the Union. We look hopefully to assurances that a powerful
reaction is going on at the North. You seek a remedy in se-
cession from the Union. We wish the united action of the slave
states assembled in convention within the Union. You would
act separately; we, unitedly. If Alabama and other slave states
would meet us in convention, say at Nashville, or elsewhere, as
early as the fifth day of February, I do not doubt but we would
agree in forty-eight hours upon such reasonable guarantees, by
way of amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as
would command at least the approbation of our numerous
friends in the free states, and by giving them time to make the
question with the people there, such reaction in public opinion
might take place as to secure our rights and save the govern-
On Jan. 8, 1861, a convention of the Union party and the
friends of Senator Douglas was held for the purpose of express-
ing their opinion on the difficulties of the country. Their res-
olutions manifested a patriotic spirit of devotion to the Union,
and a firm determination to have the rights of Kentucky re-
pected and maintained in the Union. They declared in favor
of a convention of the border slave and border free states, for
the purpose of devising some basis of compromise by which the
Union might be saved, and proposed contingently a confederacy
of such states as were willing to accept the constitution as pro-
posed to be amended by Senator Crittenden. They declared
unalterable repugnance to a war with their brethren, North or
South, and expressed a willingness to support Mr. Lincoln's
government unless he undertook coercion or civil war.
The governor, in his message to the adjourned session of the
legislature, asked their approval of the Crittenden resolutions,
and submitted the propriety of providing for the election of
delegates to a convention to assemble at an early day to de-
termine the future interstate and Federal relations of Kentucky
Meanwhile he would leave no experiment untried to restore fra-
ternal relations between the states. He recommended a con-
vention of the border slave states, to meet early in February at
Baltimore. He said the hasty and inconsiderate action of the
seceding states did not meet his approval, but objected to co-
ercing them and asked the legislature to declare by a resolution
the unconditional disapprobation by Kentucky of the employ-
ment of force against them.
On Jan. 22, resolutions were passed in the house declaring
that in view of the tenders of men and money by several of the
northern states, to the general government, the people of Ken-
tucky, uniting with their brethren of the South, will resist such
invasion of the soil of the South at all hazards and to the last
extremity. Subsequently, resolutions were passed inviting the
states to unite with Kentucky in an application to Congress to
call a convention to amend the constitution.
On Feb. 1, a resolution was passed in the senate declaring it to
be inexpedient at that time to take any action toward calling a
state convention. The vote was, ayes 25, noes 14. On the next
day resolutions were passed in the senate appealing to the
southern states to stop the revolution, protesting against Fed-
eral coercion, and providing that the legislature reassemble on
April 24 to hear the responses from sister states; also, in favor of
making an application to Congress to call a national convention.
The house of representatives, on Feb. 5, passed another resolu-
tion stating their action in favor of a national convention, and
also the appointment of delegates to the Peace Conference at
Washington, and therefore concluded that it "is unnecessary and
inexpedient for this legislature to take any further action on this
subject at the present time. As an evidence of the sincerity
and good faith of our propositions for an adjustment, and an
expression of devotion to the Union and desire for its preserva-
tion, Kentucky awaits with deep solicitude the response from
her sister states."
The legislature adjourned on Feb. 11, to meet again on March
20. With regard to the action of that body while in session, it
may be said that the recommendation of the governor in favor
of the call of a convention fell upon unheeding ears, while the
bill to arm the state, when it was not proposed that Kentucky
should make war upon any one, nor no one proposed to make
war upon her, also failed to command the respect which its ad-
vocates claimed for it. Indeed, Kentucky, having shown that
she intended to stand by the Union to the last, and the rash and
precipitate policy of her southern seceding sisters not having
met her sanction, now awaited to see if the North would but do
justice, as she considered it.
Under instructions from the treasury department of the Con-
federate states, its revenue officers now required manifests to be
delivered and entries to be made of all merchandise coming down
the Mississippi from states beyond the limits of the Confederacy.
The subject was brought up before the legislature of Kentucky
at its session in March and the following resolutions were adopted:
"Whereas this general assembly is informed that certain per-
sons acting as a congress of the seceding states have assumed
power to obstruct and regulate the free navigation of the Mis-
sissippi river by the citizens of this Union, to whom it belongs:
therefore be it:
"Resolved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of
Kentucky, That Kentucky having as much right to the Missis-
sippi river, to its free, unobstructed navigation, as Louisiana or
any other state, and that right being of vital importance to her
people, feels it her duty to herself and her sister states, at the
earliest day, to make this her most solemn protest against any
assumption of such power to control the navigation of that river
as utterly without right or proper authority, and as what she
can not and will not submit to.
"Resolved further. That the states in the valley of the Missis-
sippi be earnestly requested to unite with Kentucky in this pro-
test against the violation of a mutual right so vitally important
to them all, and which their permanent interests forbid should
ever rest in the discretion of any government save that under
which they live.
"Resolved, That the governor be requested to transmit copies
of these resolutions to the executives of the states aforesaid."
The attack upon Fort Sumter and the call of President Lin-
coln for 75,000 men, were turned to the utmost advantage by
the friends of the seceded states to promote their cause. Ken-
tucky, however, refused to take part either with the North or
the South. Her governor issued a proclamation convening an
extra session of the legislature on April 27, and after the fall of
Fort Sumter Gov. Magoffin, in response to the president's call
for troops, again voiced the sentiment of Kentucky, as it cer-
tainly existed at that time, when he said, "Kentucky will furnish
no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister southern
states." The state Union committee issued an address to the
people on the condition of the country, declaring it to be the
duty of the state to maintain neutrality and to take no part
either with the government or the Confederates. Kentucky,
the address said, could not comply with the appeal of the govern-
ment without outraging her solemn convictions of duty, and
without trampling upon that natural sympathy with the seced-
ing states which neither their contempt for her interests nor
their disloyalty to the Union had sufficed to extinguish. She
could not comply with the appeal of the seditious leaders in her
midst without sullying her unspotted loyalty, destroying her
most vital interests, quenching in the blood of her own sons the
last hope of reestablishing the Union, and lashing her free
destiny amidst the clash and fury of arms to the chariot-wheels
of the Gulf alliance. She ought clearly to comply with neither
the one appeal nor the other. And, if she be not smitten with
judicial blindness, she would not. The present duty of Ken-
tucky was to maintain her present independent position, taking
sides not with the government, and not with the seceding states,
but with the Union against them both, declaring her soil to be
sacred from the hostile tread of either, and, if necessary, making
the declaration good with her strong right arm. To the end
that she might be fully prepared for this last contingency, and
all other possible contingencies, the authors of the address would
have her arm. herself thoroughly at the earliest practicable mo-
At Louisville, on the evening of April 19, a Union meeting was
held, at which Mr. Guthrie, once secretary of the United States
treasury, and other prominent men, made speeches. Mr. Guthrie
opposed the call of the president for volunteers for the purposes
of coercion, or the raising of troops for the Confederacy, asserted
that secession was no remedy for the pending evils and that Ken-
tucky would not take part with either side, at the same time
declaring her soil sacred against the hostile foot of either. Res-
olutions were adopted that the Confederate states having com-
menced the war, Kentucky assumed the right to choose her posi-
tion, and that she would be loyal until the government became
the aggressor.
On May 3 the governor issued his proclamation ordering an
election on June 30 for members to the extra session of Congress.
This was made necessary by the fact that President Lincoln had
called an extra session of Congress to meet on July 4. The terms
of all Kentucky representatives had expired March 4 and the
regular time for election was not until the first Monday in August.
An extra session of the legislature was also called for May 6.
On May 4 an election was held for delegates to the border state
convention, at which the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of
the Union, being nearly two-thirds of the entire vote at the elec-
tion in Nov., 1860. The vast majority of Kentuckians were 
manifestly more aroused than ever before to the absolute im-
portance of the Union and to the indispensable necessity of its
preservation for themselves and their posterity, as well as for
the people of the whole country, and they were as manifestly de-
termined to stand firm and quiet on their own soil, to keep the
peace at home and along: the border, and steadily to strive for
its restoration and establishment. The vote for Union dele-
gates to the convention, in all the counties of the state except
eighteen, was 98,561. The aggregate presidential vote in Nov.,
1860, was 146,216.
On May 17 the legislature authorized the suspension of specie
payments by the banks of the state. The house also passed a
series of resolutions declaring that Kentucky should maintain a
strict neutrality during the present contest, and approving of
the refusal of the governor to furnish troops to the Federal
government under the existing circumstances. Subsequently,
the governor issued a proclamation with the following warning:
"I hereby notify and warn all other states, separate or united,
especially the United and Confederate states, that I solemnly
forbid any movement upon Kentucky soil, or occupation of any
post or place therein, for any purposes whatever, until author-
ized by invitation or permission of the legislative and executive
authorities. I especially forbid all citizens of Kentucky, whether
incorporated in the state guard or otherwise, from making any
hostile demonstrations against any of the aforesaid sovereign-
ties, to be obedient to the orders of lawful authorities, to remain
quietly and peaceably at home when off military duty, and re-
frain from all words and acts likely to provoke a collision, and so
otherwise to conduct themselves that the deplorable calamity of
invasion may be averted; but in the meanwhile to make prompt
and efficient preparation to assume the paramount and supreme
law of self defense, and strictly of self-defense alone."
A resolution that this proclamation stated the position that
Kentucky should occupy, was rejected in the house on May 22.
The state guard was also required to take an oath to support the
constitution of the United States.
The border state convention assembled at Frankfort on May
27. Kentucky and Missouri only were represented. An address
was issued to the people of Kentucky declaring that the direct
question before the people of the United States and of Kentucky,
the grand and commanding question, was Union or no Union,
government or no government, nationality or no nationality;
that Kentucky had no cause of complaint with the general
government, and no cause of quarrel with the Federal con-
stitution; that Kentucky would continue to be loyal to the Con-
stitution, the government, and the flag of the United States,
and to refuse alliance with any who would destroy the Union or
commit the great wrong of deserting their posts in the national
Congress; that Kentucky would remain true to herself and loyal
to the constitutional administration of the general government,
appear again in the Congress of the United States, insist upon her
constitutional rights in the Union, not out of it, and insist on
the integrity of the Union, its constitution, and its government.
At the election on June 30 the Union representatives to Con-
gress were chosen from all the districts of the state except the
1st. In that district H. C. Burnett, State Rights, was chosen.
With the exception of Boone county, the official return of the
votes showed a total Union majority of 54,760.
Volunteers from Kentucky entered both the Union and Con-
federate armies. Those attached to the former were ordered to
western Virginia, and there entered into active service.
So stringent had the restrictions upon all intercourse between
the North and the South now become that commerce was to a
great degree cut off, except by the route of the Louisville &
Nashville railroad. It had long become manifest that the block-
ade of the South would not be complete unless the transit of
supplies through Kentucky was stopped. But how this should
be effected while Kentucky was herself in so doubtful a position,
was a question not easily determined. The authorities of Ten-
nessee solved it, however, by placing a complete embargo on the
Tennessee end of the road. They forbade the exportation of cot-
ton, tobacco, rice and turpentine to Kentucky. From their own
point of view the act was one of folly, for the freight sent north
was never one-fifth part of that sent south, and at that moment
especially must have been vastly inferior in importance to the
constant supply of provisions flowing into Tennessee from Louis-
ville. They thought, however, that they could afford the step
and therefore forbade all exports from Tennessee. That cut the
knot as to the enforcement of the blockade at Louisville. It
put an end to all scruples on the part of Kentucky, except among
the open sympathizers with secession; placed the secessionists
in the wrong in "neutral" eyes, and gave the government firm
ground on which to stand. The blockade being undertaken
with vigor, those who were forwarding supplies to the secession-
ists attempted to break it by legal proceedings. They crowded
the Louisville freight stations with merchandise consigned to
Nashville, and sued the company as common carriers for refus-
ing to receive and forward it. The decision of the court justi-
fied the company in its course of obedience to the Federal gov-
ernment and gave to the government the authority of legal
approval, as well as the sympathy of right-minded citizens. It
still remained, however, for the Tennessee secessionists, in their
wisdom, to conceive one more plan for perfecting the work un-
dertaken by the government. This scheme they carried out
on July 4, by stopping the running of cars on the railroad alto-
gether, and by doing this in such a manner as to seriously injure
a great interest in Kentucky. Of this proceeding we have the
following contemporaneous account:
"The Louisville & Nashville railway is 286 miles in length,
45 miles of it lying in Tennessee. These 45 miles cost $2,025,000,
of which Tennessee contributed in all bonds to the amount of
$1,160,500, the remaining $864,500 being raised by the Ken-
tucky owners. On July 1 a Tennessee general, named Anderson,
ordered the company to keep a larger amount of its rolling
stock at Nashville. James Guthrie, president of the company,
stated, however, that there was no provision in the charter to
the effect that the company should be subject to the military
orders of Tennessee and refused to comply. On July 4 Gen.
Anderson seized two trains that were about to leave Nashville
and one that came in, together with such machinery as could be
found in Tennessee, and then called for a fair division of the
rolling stock of the road. He agreed that while arrangements
were in progress for this end the trains should be uninterrupted,
but to this Mr. Guthrie astutely made answer that he could thus
have no guarantee against the interference of others besides Gen.
Anderson, who was supposed to be acting under orders. This
brought out the governor of Tennessee as the real actor in the
matter, for he at once replied to Mr. Guthrie with a proposition
to continue the use of the road while a division of property was
made. Mr. Guthrie at once rejoined, disproving the charge
made by the Tennessee authorities, that their end of the road
had not hitherto had its share of the rolling stock, and showing
the impossibility of managing the road under Gov. Harris's
The result was that the road was closed. The Kentucky
stockholders declared that their chartered rights in Tennessee
had been no protection to their property, and refused to risk any
more property within the limits of that state. All questions as
to the blockade upon this route were therefore disposed of by
the breaking up of the route itself. The secessionists felt the
extent of their error, for they urged Gov. Magoffin to seize the
Kentucky end of the road and to run it in connection with Gov.
Harris, but it was evident that such a step would only serve to
remove the last scruple on the part of Union men as to forcible
resistance to the bold plans of the secessionists in Kentucky.
The question as to the transit of provisions to the South by
this railroad was thus settled, and although it did not close
other equally important routes through Kentucky, the contro- 
versy which had sprung up took such a turn as to have an im-
portant effect throughout the state, stimulating the Union men
everywhere to a more active support of the government. A
small encampment of Federal troops was formed in Garrard
county, which occasioned some excitement, as it was an in-
fringement of the neutrality assumed by Kentucky. Letters
were addressed to the commanding officer, Gen. Nelson, asking
the special object which the government had in view in the es-
tablishment of the camp called "Camp Dick Robinson." In
reply, the commanding officer said, "The troops assembled here
have been called together at the request of Union men of Ken-
tucky. They are intended for no hostile or aggressive movement
against any party or community whatever, but simply to de-
fend Kentucky in case they are needed for that purpose, preserve
its tranquillity, and protect the rights of all citizens of the state
under the constitution and the laws; and the object of myself
and all the officers in command will be, by all honorable means,
to maintain that peace and tranquillity." Cominissioners were
then sent by the governor to President Lincoln to insist on the
neutrality of the state. Gov. Magoffin, in his letter to the pres-
ident, said:
"In a word, an army is now being organized and quartered in
this state, supplied with all the appliances of war, without the
consent or advice of the authorities of the state, and without con-
sultation with those most prominently known and recognized
as loyal citizens. This movement now imperils that peace and
tranquillity which from the beginning of our pending difficulties
have been the paramount desire of this people, and which, up
to this time, they have so secured to the state.
"Within Kentucky there has been, and is likely to be, no oc-
casion for the presence of military force. The people are quiet
and tranquil, feeling no apprehension of any occasion arising to
invoke protection from the Federal arm. They have asked that
their territory be left free from military occupation and the
present tranquillity of their communication left uninvaded by
soldiers. They do not desire that Kentucky shall be required to
supply the battle-field for the contending armies, or become the
theatre of the war. Now, therefore, as governor of the state of
Kentucky, and in the name of the people I have the honor to
represent, and with the single and earnest desire to avert from
their peaceful homes the horrors of war, I urge the removal from
the limits of Kentucky of the military force now organized and
in camp within the state. If such action as is hereby urged be
promptly taken, I firmly believe the peace of the people of Ken-
tucky will be preserved, and the horrors of a bloody war will be
averted from a people now peaceful and tranquil."
To that the president replied: "In all I have done in the
premises I have acted upon the urgent solicitation of many Ken-
tuckians, and in accordance with what I believed, and still be-
lieve, to be the wish of a majority of all the Union-loving people
of Kentucky. While I have conversed on this subject with
many eminent men of Kentucky, including a large majority of her
members of Congress, I do not remember that any one of them,
or any other person, except your excellency and the bearers of
your excellency's letter, has urged me to remove the military
force from Kentucky, or to disband it. One other very worthy
citizen of Kentucky did solicit me to have the augmenting of
the force suspended for a time. Taking all the means within my
reach to form a judgment, I do not believe it is the popular wish
of Kentucky that this force shall be removed beyond her limits;
and, with this impression, I must respectfully decline to so
remove it."
"I most cordially sympathize with your excellency in the wish
to preserve the peace of my own native state, Kentucky. It is
with regret I search, and cannot find, in your not very short
letter, any declaration or intimation that you entertain any desire
for the preservation of the Federal Union."
A similar letter was addressed by the governor to the Presi-
ident of the Confederate States. In the reply, President Davis
"The government of the Confederate States of America neither
intends nor desires to disturb the neutrality of Kentucky. The
assemblage of troops in Tennessee to which you refer had no
other object than to repel the lawless invasion of that state by
the forces of the United States, should their government approach
it through Kentucky, without respect for its position of neu-
trality. That such apprehensions were not groundless has been
proved by the course of that government in Maryland and Mis-
souri, and more recently in Kentucky itself, in which, as you
inform me, a military force has been enlisted and quartered by
the United States authorities. The government of the Con-
federate States has not only respected most scrupulously the
neutrality of Kentucky, but has continued to maintain the friendly
relations of trade and intercourse which it has suspended
with the people of the United States generally. In view of the
history of the past, it can scarcely be necessary to assure your
excellency that the government of the Confederate States will
continue to respect the neutrality of Kentucky so long as her
people will maintain it themselves. But neutrality, to be en-
titled to respect, must be strictly maintained between both
parties, or if the door be opened on the one side for the aggres-
sions of one of the belligerent parties upon the other, it ought
not to be shut to the assailed when they seek to enter it for the
purpose of self-defense. I do not, however, for a moment be-
lieve that your gallant state will suffer its soil to be used for the
purpose of giving an advantage to those who violate its neutrality
and disregard its rights, over those who respect them both."
It should be stated that previous to this correspondence, Ken-
tucky had been invaded by Tennessee forces, and 6 cannon and
1,000 stands of arms taken. The Confederate congress on Aug.
7 passed an act authorizing enlistments in Kentucky. The
legislature assembled on Sept. 2 and on the 5th a large barbecue
was to be held in Owen county, about 12 miles from the seat of
government. The apprehensions of the Unionists were greatly
excited on this occasion. The state guard was invited to attend.
It consisted of an organized body of troops, about 15,000 strong,
under the control of the friends of secession in the state. In-
timidation of the legislature was feared. Happily, the affair
passed over without any special interest. A peace convention
was also to be held on the loth of the same month, which awak-
ened apprehensions of an attempt to organize the secession force.
But these likewise proved groundless. The legislature stood 27
Union and 11 Southern Rights senators, and 76 Union and 24
Southern Rights representatives. The message of the governor
to the legislature on Sept. 5, asserted that Kentucky had a right
to assume a neutral position in the war; that she had no agency
in fostering a sectional party in the free states, and did not ap-
prove of separate action and the secession of the southern states.
Lawless raids had been suffered on both sides, private property
seized, commerce interrupted, and trade destroyed. These
wrongs had been borne with patience, but a military Federal
force had been organized, equipped, and encamped in a central
portion of Kentucky, without consultation with the state author-
ities. If the people of Kentucky desired more troops, let them
be obtained under the constitution of Kentucky. He recom-
mended the passage of a law to enable the military board to
borrow a sufficient sum to purchase arms and munitions for the
defense of the state. He also recommended the passage of reso-
lutions requesting the disbanding or removal from the state of
all military bodies not under state authority. On the same day
the legislature was notified that Confederate troops had invaded
the state, occupied and fortified strong positions at Hickman
and Chalk bluffs. Gov. Harris, of Tennessee, replied to a de-
mand of the Kentucky authorities, that the troops "that landed
at Hickman last night did so without my knowledge or consent,
and I am confident without the consent of the president. I
have telegraphed President Davis requesting their immediate

Gen. Polk, in command of the secession forces, in reply to the
governor of Kentucky, stated that he had occupied Columbus
and Hickman on account of reliable information that the Federal
forces were about to occupy the said points. He proposed sub-
stantially that the Federal and Confederate forces should be
simultaneously withdrawn from Kentucky and enter into stipu-
lation to respect the neutrality of the state. In the proclamation
issued on Sept. 4, Gen. Polk gave this reason for invading Ken-
"The Federal government having, in defiance of the wishes of
the people of Kentucky, disregarded their neutrality by estab-
lishing camp depots for their armies, and by organizing military
companies within the territory, and by constructing military
works on the Missouri shore immediately opposite and command-
ing Columbus, evidently intended to cover the landing of troops
for the seizure of that town, it has become a military necessity
for the defense of the territory of the Confederate states that a
Confederate force should occupy Columbus in advance."
On the 9th the governor communicated the following to the
 "The undersigned yesterday received a verbal mes-
sage, through a messenger, from Gov. Harris. The message was
that he (Gov. H.) had, by telegraphic despatch, requested Gen.
Polk to withdraw the Confederate troops from Kentucky, and
that Gen. Polk had declined to do so;that Gov. Harris then tele-
graphed to Sec. Walker at Richmond, requesting that Gen.
Polk be ordered to withdraw his troops from Kentucky, and that
such order was issued from the war department of the Confed-
eracy; that Gen. Polk replied to the war department that the
retention of the post was a military necessity, and that the re-
tiring from it would be attended by the loss of many lives. This
embraces the message received."
On the same day the governor also received the following by
telegraph from Gen. Polk: "Gov. B. Magoffin: — A military
necessity having required me to occupy this town, Columbus, I
have taken possession of it by the forces under my command.
The circumstances leading to this act were reported promptly
to the President of the Confederate States. His reply was, the
necessity justified the action."
As a matter of course, the invasion of the state by the Ten-
nessee troops brought in a Federal force under Gen. Grant from
Cairo. Thus ended the neutrality of Kentucky. It was on
Sept. 6 that Gen. Grant, with two regiments of infantry and a
company of light artillery, with two gun-boats, took possession
of Paducah. He found secession flags flying in different parts
of the town, in expectation of greeting the arrival of the southern
army, which was reported to be 3,800 strong and only 16 miles
distant. The loyal citizens tore down the secession flags on the
arrival of the Federal troops. Gen. Grant took possession of
the telegraph office, railroad depot and marine hospital. He
found large quantities of complete rations, leather, etc., for the
southern army. He issued a proclamation saying that he came
solely for the purpose of defending the state from aggression and
to enable the state laws to be executed.
On Sept. 11 the lower house of the legislature adopted a reso-
lution directing the governor to issue a proclamation ordering
the Confederate troops to evacuate Kentucky soil. The vote was
71 against 26. The house refused to suspend the rules to allow
another resolution to be offered ordering the proclamation to be
issued to both Federals and Confederates. The first resolution
was subsequently passed by the senate, but was vetoed by the
governor. It was then passed, notwithstanding the governor's
objections, by a vote in the house of 68 to 26, and in the senate
of 25 to 9. The governor then issued his proclamation. On the
17th the senate passed a bill punishing by fine and imprisonment
the refusal to give up the state's arms when ordered by the mil-
itary board. The house concurred. This abolished the state
guard. The house adopted resolutions in favor of paying the
war tax, and against the recognition of the Southern Confeder-

Preparations were commenced in the state for different mili-
tary movements. While Gen. Polk was thus invading the state
on the west, Gen. Zollicoffer was operating on the east. With
about 4,000 men he came to Cumberland ford, situated near the
point where the corner of Virginia runs into Kentucky, and cap-
tured a company of home guards. On the 17th the legislature
received a message from Gov. Magoffin communicating a tele-
graphic despatch from Gen. Zollicoffer, announcing that the
safety of Tennessee demanded the occupation of Cumberland and
the three long mountains in Kentucky; that he had done so, and
should retain his position until the Union forces were withdrawn
and the Union camp broken up. On the 18th the committee on
Federal relations reported a series of resolutions, requesting Maj.
Anderson, the commander at Fort Sumter when it was captured,
to take command of the forces of the state. They manifested
very distinctly the sentiments of the people at that time, and were
as follows:
"Whereas Kentucky has been invaded by the forces of the so-
called Confederate states, and the commanders of the forces so
invading the state have insolently prescribed the conditions upon
which they will withdraw, thus insulting the dignity of the state
by demanding terms to which Kentucky cannot listen without
dishonor, therefore, 
"Resolved, That the invaders must be expelled.
 "Inasmuch as there are now in Kentucky Federal troops as-
sembled for the purpose of preserving the tranquillity of the state,
and of defending and protecting the people of Kentucky in the
peaceful enjoyment of their lives and property, it is
"Resolved, That Gen. Robert Anderson, a native Kentuckian,
who has been appointed to the command of the Department of
Cumberland, be requested to take instant command, with author-
ity and power from this commonwealth to call out a volunteer
force in Kentucky for the purpose of repelling the invaders from
our soil.
"Resolved, That in using the means which duty and honor re-
quire shall be used to expel the invaders from the soil of Ken-
tucky, no citizen shall be molested on account of his political
opinions; that no citizen's property shall be taken or confiscated
because of such opinions, nor shall any slave be set free by any
military commander; and that all peaceable citizens who remain
at home and attend to their private business until legally called
into the public service, as well as their families, are entitled to and
shall receive the fullest protection of the government in the en-
joyment of their lives, their liberties, and their property.
"Resolved, That his excellency, the governor of the Common-
wealth of Kentucky, be requested to give all the aid in his power
to accomplish the end desired by these resolutions, that he issue
his proclamation calling out the militia of the state, and that he
place the same under the command of Gen. Thomas L. Critten-
"Resolved, That the patriotism of every Kentuckian is invoked
and is confidently relied upon to give active aid in the defense of
the commonwealth."
The decision expressed by these resolutions was hailed with
great satisfaction by the friends of the Union. It is difficult to
exaggerate the importance of this act on the part of that great
state. Whether viewed in its relations to the material or moral
aspects of the civil strife in the land, the active adhesion of Ken-
tucky to the national cause was a momentous event. But it was
specially valuable for the testimony it bore to the rightfulness and
the necessity of the belligerent issue which the national govern-
ment had been compelled to accept. These resolutions were ve-
toed by the governor and then passed by the requisite vote over
his veto. His objection to the resolutions was thus stated:
"I cannot concede my constitutional right, as the commander-
in-chief of the state, to designate the particular officer or officers
to be employed in executing the will of the legislature. Gen. T.
L. Crittenden, the officer designated by the resolution, has had
many proofs of my confidence. He has my confidence now, and
in this service I would not hesitate to employ him, but at the
same time I reserve the point that it is not within the province of
the legislature to limit the constitutional right of the governor
and commander-in-chief to choose such of his subordinate of-
ficers as he may deem best fitted to enforce the execution of the
laws of the state."
Gen. Robert Anderson assumed command of the state and
national forces and issued a proclamation calling upon Kentuck- ians
of all parties to assist in repelling the invaders of the state.
Gov. Magoffin also issued a proclamation, directing Gen. Thomas
L. Crittenden to call out the state troops to resist the invasion
of the state, and Gen. Crittenden accordingly called out the mili-
tia. Hamilton Pope, brigadier-general of the home guard, also
called upon the people in each ward of Louisville to organize
themselves into companies for the protection of the city. Thus
was Kentucky launched with her whole soul into the bloody con-
test for the maintenance of the government and the preservation
of the Union. On the 23d the house passed a bill authorizing the
military board to borrow $1,000,000, in addition to $1,000,000
authorized May 24, on the state bonds, payable in ten years, and
levied a tax to pay the bonds and interest. The above sum was
to be appropriated to the defense of the state. On the next day,
a bill .was passed calling out 40,000 volunteers for service from
one to three years. The votes were, in the house, 67 to 13, and
in the senate, 21 to 5. The senate also passed a bill providing
that Kentuckians who voluntarily joined the Confederate forces
invading the state, should be incapable of taking estate in Ken-
tucky by devise, bequest, division or distribution, unless they re-
turned to their allegiance within 60 days, or escaped from the in-
vaders as soon as possible. A bill was also passed tendering the
thanks of the legislature to Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, for having
so promptly forwarded troops to aid in repelling the invasion of
the state and the governor was instructed to communicate the
same. On Oct.1 a resolution requesting John C. Breckenridge
and Lazarus W. Powell to resign their seats as senators in Con-
gress, as they did not represent the will of the people of Ken-
tucky; and, if they declined to comply, the senate of the United
States was respectfully requested to investigate their conduct
and if found to be in opposition to the Federal government to
expel them from their seats, passed the state senate by a vote
of 20 yeas to 5 nays. It was then sent to the house and passed
by a vote of 55 to 31. A bill for a loan of $2,000,000 was also
passed. So soon after the first step was Kentucky brought fully
into the field with arms and money for the cause of the Union.
The legislature then took a recess until Nov. 27. Previous to
this adjournment, an address was issued by that body to the peo-
pie of the state, on "the condition of the state and the duties they
had felt called upon to perform." The condition of the state was
thus briefly related:
"We have ardently desired peace and hoped to save Kentucky
from the calamities of war. When the Federal authorities deemed
it necessary to employ force in self-defense, and to execute the
laws of the government, we assured our southern neighbors of
our purpose not to take up arms voluntarily against them, not-
withstanding their wicked attempt to destroy the government
from which we and our fathers have received the greatest bene-
fits. Every effort was made, both before and after the employ-
ment of force, to effect some compromise and settlement that
would restore the Union, and prevent the effusion of blood.
"The Federal government did not insist upon our active aid
in furnishing troops, seeming content if we obeyed the laws and
executed them upon our own soil. Those engaged in rebellion,
however, with hypocritical professions of friendship and respect,
planted camps of soldiers all along our southern border; seized,
by military power, the stock on our railroad within their reach,
in defiance of chartered rights ; impudently enlisted soldiers upon
our soil for their camps, whom they ostentatiously marched
through their territory. They made constant raids into this state,
robbed us of our property, insulted our people, seized some of
our citizens and carried them away as prisoners into the Confed-
erate states. Our military was demoralized by the treachery of
its chief officer in command, and many of its subordinates, until
it became more an arm of the Confederate states than a guard
of the state of Kentucky. Thus exposed to wrongs and indigni-
ties, with no power prepared to prevent or resent them, some of
the citizens of this state formed camps under the Federal govern-
ment for the defense and protection of the state of Kentucky.
Whatever might have been thought of the policy once, recent
events have proved that they were formed none too soon.
"In this condition we found Kentucky when the legislature
met on the first Monday in September. We still hoped to avoid
war on our own soil. We were met by assurances from the
president of the Confederate States that our position should be
respected; but the ink was scarcely dry with which the promise
was written, when we were startled by the news that our soil
was invaded and towns in the southwest of our state occupied by
Confederate armies. The governor of Tennessee disavowed the
act and protested his innocence of it. His commissioners at
Frankfort professed the same innocence of the admitted wrong;
but our warnings to leave were only answered by another inva-
sion in the southeast of the state, and a still more direct and dead-
ly assault upon the very heart of the state by way of the Nash-
ville road. These sudden irruptions of such magnitude, skilfully
directed, show that the assault on Kentucky was preconcerted,
prepared and intended long before. The excuses made for any of
them but add insult to injury. We shall not repeat them. They
are but excuses for acts intended, without any excuse.
"The purpose is to remove the theatre of the war from the
homes of those who wickedly originated it, to those of Kentucky,
and to involve this state in the rebellion. This purpose appeared to
be well understood in the seceded states. They need the territory
of Kentucky, and are determined to have it. if it must be by blood
and conquest.
"Thus forced into war, we had no choice but to call on the
strong arms and brave hearts of Kentucky to expel the invader
from our soil, and to call for the aid of the Federal government,
as we had a right to do under the Federal constitution.
"Our foes would dictate terms to a brave people upon which
we can have peace. We are required to join them in their un-
warrantable rebellion, become accessory to their crimes, and con-
sent to sacrifice the last hope of permanently upholding repub-
lican institutions, or meet their invasions as becomes Kentuckians.
"We believe we have done our duty to a chivalric people who
have forborne long, but will never fail as a last resort to resent
an injury and punish an insult. We should hold ourselves un-
worthy to represent you if we had done less. The only error,
we fear, is that we have not been as prompt, you may think, as
the occasion demanded.
"Thrice have the revolutionists appealed to the ballot-box in
this state, and thrice have the people expressed, by overwhelming
majorities, their determination to stand by the Union and its gov-
ernment. They have not been active in this war, not from in-
difference or want of loyalty, but in the hope of better promoting
a restoration of the Union, and checking the rebellion by that
course. Our hope of an amicable adjustment, and a desire for
peace, led us to forbear, until forbearance has ceased to be a vir-
tue. The attempt to destroy the union of these states we believe
to be a crime, not only against Kentucky, but against all man-
kind. But up to this time we have left to others to vindicate, by
arms, the integrity of the government. The Union is not only
assailed now, but Kentucky is herself threatened with subjuga-
tion by a lawless usurpation. The invasion is carried on with a
ruthless destruction of property, and the lives and liberties of our
people, that belong only to savage warfare.
"We have no choice but action, prompt and decided. Let us
show the insolent invaders that Kentucky belongs to Kentuck-
ians, and that Kentucky's valor will vindicate Kentucky's honor.
We were unprepared because unsuspecting. An insolent and
treacherous invader tells the people that their legislators have
betrayed them; and he comes with fire and sword to correct their
error, by a crusade against property, liberty, and life."
The position taken by the legislature was fully sustained by the
people, and upon the reassembling of that body on Nov. 27, very
emphatic resolutions were adopted. The following extract shows
their character:
"Resolved, by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth
of Kentucky, That Kentucky has ever cherished and adhered
to the Federal Union, and she will cling to it now, in this time
of its extremest peril, with unfaltering devotion. While at the
beginning of the mad and wicked war which is being waged by
the rebellious states for the destruction of the government, she
forbore to take part, in the hope that she might interpose her
friendly offices in the interests of peace, she has, nevertheless,
sternly repelled every movement which looked to a change of
her political relations, and has never swerved from her full and
fervid loyalty to the noblest and freest government in the world.
And now, since her proffered mediation has been spurned and
her soil invaded by the Confederate armies, she deems it fit that
she should announce to the world that, standing firmly by her
government, she will resist every effort to destroy it; and she
calls upon her true and heroic sons to rally around the standard
of their country and put forth the whole energies of the com-
monwealth till the rebellion shall be overthrown, and the just
supremacy of the national government shall be restored and
maintained everywhere within its limits.
"Resolved, That the existing civil war, forced upon the na-
tional government without cause by the disunionists, should not
be waged upon the part of the government in any spirit of op-
pression, or for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, or pur-
pose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established
institutions of any of the states, free or slave, but to defend and
maintain the supremacy of the constitution, and to preserve the
Union with all the dignity, equality and rights of the several
states unimpaired; and that as soon as these objects are accom-
plished the war ought to cease.
"Resolved, That in the adoption of the foregoing resolution
by the national Congress, with unprecedented unanimity, at its
late session, a rule of action was prescribed to the government
from which it cannot depart without a disregard of the plighted
faith of the national legislature, which we would be slow to be-
lieve can be seriously entertained. Against any such departure
we solemnly protest.
"Resolved. That the purpose expressed in said resolution is
the great end demanded, and that which inspires Kentucky with
patriotic ardor to seek their achievement with all her loyal ener-
gies and means, in the confident hope of success, and belief that
the country, saved, in our triumph, to us and to posterity, will still
be glorious in the freedom of its people, in the unity of its govern-
ment, and the security of society, and worth infinitely more than
it cost to save it.

See also:
Source: The Union Army, vol. 4


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