National Guard May 2011 : Page 42

G UARD R OOTS : W AR W ITHIN A S TATE Divided Loyalties By Gustav Person Not every state immediately took a side in the Civil War. Kentucky, for one, wanted to be neutral. But that didn’t keep its militia from the fight URING THE EARLY months of the Civil War and before the shooting began, Kentucky struggled mightily to maintain a neutral stance. It was one of eight American states referred to at the time as “border states,” that is, slave states having populations almost evenly divided in loyalty between the North and the South. Kentucky was fairly representative in this respect. The population of the Bluegrass State was largely rural, and the white population was almost entirely of Anglo-Saxon stock. In 1860, there were 919,484 whites, 10,684 free D | blacks and 225,483 slaves in the commonwealth. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in November 1860 triggered the secession crisis which began with the departure of South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860. Six other states followed soon thereafter. That there should be a division of loyalty among the people of Kentucky was inevitable given the existence of slavery and the extensive trade with the South. Plus, thousands of Kentuckians had emigrated back and forth from Northern states and maintained extensive com-mercial and social contacts with those areas. When the war began in April 1861, Kentucky tried hard to stay out of it. But its location and divided popula-tion made that a difficult proposition. Some of the state’s citizens ultimately joined with the Confederacy; others pledged their loyalty to the Union. As a result, Kentuckian fought Kentuckian on the battle-fields of the Civil War. For example, at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, three Kentucky cavalry units and 13 infantry units fought for the North, while four infantry units and two artillery batteries 42 Na tional Guard

Divided Loyalties

Gustav Person

Not every state immediately took a side in the Civil War. Kentucky, for one, wanted to be neutral. But that didn't keep its militia from the fight<br /> <br /> DURING THE EARLY months of the Civil War and before the shooting began, Kentucky struggled mightily to maintain a neutral stance. It was one of eight American states referred to at the time as "border states," that is, slave states having populations almost evenly divided in loyalty between the North and the South.<br /> <br /> Kentucky was fairly representative in this respect. The population of the Bluegrass State was largely rural, and the white population was almost entirely of Anglo-Saxon stock. In 1860, there were 919,484 whites, 10,684 free blacks and 225,483 slaves in the commonwealth. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in November 1860 triggered the secession crisis which began with the departure of South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860. Six other states followed soon thereafter. That there should be a division of loyalty among the people of Kentucky was inevitable given the existence of slavery and the extensive trade with the South.<br /> <br /> Plus, thousands of Kentuckians had emigrated back and forth from Northern states and maintained extensive commercial and social contacts with those areas.<br /> <br /> When the war began in April 1861, Kentucky tried hard to stay out of it. But its location and divided population made that a difficult proposition.<br /> <br /> Some of the state's citizens ultimately joined with the Confederacy; others pledged their loyalty to the Union.<br /> <br /> As a result, Kentuckian fought Kentuckian on the battlefields of the Civil War.<br /> <br /> For example, at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, three Kentucky cavalry units and 13 infantry units fought for the North, while four infantry units and two artillery batteries from the state battled for the South.<br /> <br /> For a while, however, the state attempted to show support for neither side.<br /> <br /> In the election of August 1859, Beriah Magoffin was elected governor with a majority of almost 9,000 votes over his opponent. He was an avowed Southern-sympathizer and Democrat who had proclaimed, "[W]e believe that slavery is a good institution, [and] that as such, it has been protected by the Constitution."<br /> <br /> The voters also elected a Democratic legislature.<br /> <br /> One State, Two Guards<br /> <br /> The surrender of Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861, resulted in Lincoln's proclamation calling for 75,000 Union volunteers. Kentucky's quota was set at four 90-day volunteer militia regiments.<br /> <br /> Magoffin, with support from Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, head of the Kentucky State Guard, sought to keep Kentucky neutral for as long as possible, and he adamantly rejected the call.<br /> <br /> Numerous meetings were held around the commonwealth in which the state's role in the coming conflict was debated.<br /> <br /> Magoffin issued an armed neutrality proclamation May 20 after a supply of 5,000 muskets with bayonets and ammunition was sent by the U.S. War Department to Cincinnati for distribution to "faithful and reliable Union men" in Kentucky.<br /> <br /> On May 24, the legislature approved the formation of a Military Board of Commissioners consisting of the governor and four other members, who were all Unionists. Their mission was the maintenance of armed neutrality, and they were given almost unlimited powers.<br /> <br /> Since it was recognized that the members of the State Guard were overwhelmingly secessionists, the legislature authorized the formation of the Home Guard in late May 1861.<br /> <br /> It was strictly for home defense, but the members of both organizations were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States.<br /> <br /> Home Guard troops were not actually members of the state militia, but were under the initial control of Buckner.<br /> <br /> For most of its existence, the Home Guard functioned only as widely separated companies, poorly armed and usually without uniforms, poorly trained and amateurishly led.<br /> <br /> There was always a shortage of funds and supplies of all sorts. Local armories were targets for Confederate raiders, who roamed often into the state and wreaked havoc.<br /> <br /> Communications were poor. Union recruiting agents and provost marshals often depleted the ranks of available men.<br /> <br /> And in many counties, there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for military service of any sort.<br /> <br /> Yet John W. Finnell, appointed adjutant general Oct. 12, 1861, reported that the Home Guards "rallied promptly and bravely in defense of their homes against the enemies of the peace and quiet of the State. They have, to a great extent, labored and fought without any other reward than a consciousness of having performed a high and patriotic duty. The memory of their brave deeds will be cherished by the State."<br /> <br /> The service of the Home Guard can best be demonstrated by an incident which occurred in 1862.<br /> <br /> On Sept. 27, a force of 450 Confederate raiders under Col. Basil Duke burst upon the Ohio River community of Augusta, a college town and something of an anti-slavery center that formed a Home Guard unit in April 1861.<br /> <br /> Immediately upon striking Augusta, Duke drew fire from a pair of Union gunboats on the river with about 100 soldiers on board, but Duke managed to drive them away in a "disgraceful panic."<br /> <br /> Maj. Joshua T. Bradford, a local doctor and the Home Guard commander, was prepared to surrender the town, but 50 to 60 of his men had already established themselves in defensive positions in homes and other buildings.<br /> <br /> The fighting soon developed into a genuine house-to-house donnybrook. Duke later claimed that he had fought 400 or 500 Home Guards, who, he confessed, gave "fierce resistance … the hand-to-hand fighting in this skirmish was the fiercest I ever saw."<br /> <br /> By double-shotting his horse artillery guns and setting fire to some houses, Duke finally forced a general surrender. The Confederate forces lost 21 killed and 18 wounded in this encounter.<br /> <br /> A force of Home Guards from nearby Maysville, under Col. Charles A. Marshall, arrived and drove off the Confederates who were in the process of paroling their prisoners.<br /> <br /> Unable to proceed further across the Ohio, Duke had no choice but to make his way back toward Lexington with his remaining prisoners in tow.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, throughout the spring and summer of 1861, the State Guard had begun to disintegrate. Soon after Fort Sumter fell, members began moving south across the border into Tennessee to form the fledgling Confederate army.<br /> <br /> One State Guard company left Louisville by steamer for New Orleans on April 17, and another left by rail for Nashville, Tenn., eight days later.<br /> <br /> On July 9, while Buckner was absent on an errand for the governor, the Military Board issued an order calling in all arms in the hands of the State Guard.<br /> <br /> A few days later, the board stopped appropriating money for military encampments which were viewed as hotbeds of secessionist activity.<br /> <br /> That appeared to be the last straw for Buckner, who submitted his resignation July 20 to accept a brigadier general's commission in the Confederate army.<br /> <br /> State Guardsmen, both individually and in entire units, streamed south during July and August. The final mass exodus occurred in the last week of September when about 1,000 men crossed the mountains into Virginia.<br /> <br /> Union loyalists had also been busy. Because of the official government policy of neutrality, substantial numbers crossed over into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to join or form new federal regiments.<br /> <br /> The neutrality issue came to a head in early September, 1861. Confederate Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk occupied Columbus, Ky., and Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer took possession of Cumberland Gap.<br /> <br /> Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant immediately occupied Paducah, Ky., with his federal forces.<br /> <br /> Kentucky was becoming more and more an official Union state. One Boston preacher is said to have noted in his sermon that Lincoln would like to have God on his side, but needed Kentucky if he was to win the war.<br /> <br /> On Sept. 11, the newly elected, strongly Unionist legislature, having just convened, passed a resolution instructing the governor to order the Confederate troops to leave the state and rejected a resolution calling on the federal troops to do so.<br /> <br /> Magoffin vetoed the resolution, but after it was passed over his veto, he signed it.<br /> <br /> On Sept. 18, the legislature passed another resolution asking Brig. Gen. Robert Anderson, commander of the Military Department of Kentucky, to move his headquarters to Louisville and take command in Kentucky.<br /> <br /> The governor was also asked to aid this effort by calling out the State Guard to expel the Confederate invaders. The governor vetoed this resolution as well, and it was again promptly passed over his veto. He reluctantly issued the required resolution.<br /> <br /> Taking Sides<br /> <br /> In any event, by this time, the State Guard was now decimated and largely ineffective.<br /> <br /> On Sept. 25, the legislature passed an act over the governor's veto calling for 40,000 troops to be enlisted for three years. Enlistments began at once, and in a month, more than 20,000 men were enrolled.<br /> <br /> Before the end of the year, the entire call had been met. The first 28 volunteer regiments were organized so rapidly that often there was no time for mustering-in formalities.<br /> <br /> The adjutant general eventually reported that fully one half of the loyal men of the Commonwealth joined the Union forces.<br /> <br /> Federal successes early in 1862 shifted the main battle area south of the state, where it would remain except for the Perryville campaign in the autumn of 1862.<br /> <br /> During the war, the total number of Kentuckians who chose federal service far exceeded 100,000.<br /> <br /> This number included 23,000 black volunteers enlisted into 15 infantry regiments of U.S. Colored Troops, two regiments of cavalry, and four regiments of heavy artillery. Their enlistment, however, was opposed by many loyal Kentuckians.<br /> <br /> During the conflict, 10,774 Kentucky Union troops were casualties.<br /> <br /> Of the 25,000 who chose to fight for the Confederacy, 19,226 were casualties.<br /> <br /> Retired Lt. Col. Gustav Person is the installation historian at Fort Belvoir, Va. He served in the New York National Guard.

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