A “Secret Inquisition” in Kentucky: General Stephen Burbridge, Abraham Lincoln, and Union War Policy

by Matthew C. Hulbert

At 4 p.m. on November 9, 1864, Governor Thomas E. Bramlette received an urgent letter from prominent Lexington political general and attorney John B. Huston. The message alarmed Kentucky’s chief executive, to say the very least. According to Huston, Union soldiers had arrived at his home shortly after midnight, arrested him in front of his wife and daughter, and had further plans to expel him “into the Rebel lines.” Huston freely admitted to Bramlette that he’d been campaigning for George McClellan in the upcoming presidential contest of 1864—but also noted that he had every right to do so as a “free man” and as a supporter of the Union “without conditions.” His detention and impending excommunication from Union territory, Huston concluded, had come on the orders of General Stephen Burbridge, commander of the District of Kentucky, in an effort to squelch pro-McClellan voices on the eve of the hotly-contested election.

Lacking the authority to free Huston from the custody of a federal commander, Bramlette immediately telegraphed President Lincoln. “General John B. Huston, a loyal man and prominent citizen” the wire read, “was arrested and yesterday started off by General Burbridge to be sent beyond our lines by way of Catlettsburg, for no other offense than opposition to your re-election … you are doubtless re-elected, but surely cannot sanction this ostracism of loyal men who honestly oppose you.” Lincoln responded almost immediately, signature sarcasm included: “I can scarcely believe that General John B. Huston has been arrested for no other offense than opposition to my re-election, if that had been deemed sufficient cause of arrest, should have heard of more than one arrest in Kentucky on election day.”

bramlette to lincolnLincoln sent an order to Burbridge ordering Huston’s release and assured Bramlette that the general had not yet been—and would not be—shipped south. As it turned out, Burbridge had also arrested Colonel Frank Wolford and Bramlette’s own Lieutenant Governor, Richard T. Jacob. “Lieutenant Governor Jacob is at Catlettsburg, and Colonel Wolford at Covington, both under arrest, and, by order of the Secret Inquisition, ordered into the rebel lines,” Bramlette fumed to Lincoln. “Will you either order their release at once, or a suspension of the order until you receive my communication of this date?” Lincoln’s response to this second request lacked the force of the first:

Yours of to-day is received. It seems that Lieutenant Governor Jacob and Colonel Wolford are stationary at present. General Suddarth and Mr. Hodges are here, and the Secretary of War and myself are trying to devise means of pacification and harmony for Kentucky, which we hope to effect soon, now that the passion induced by the exciting subject of the election is passing off. A. Lincoln

This wasn’t enough for the governor; the public outrage Burbridge had fomented with his crackdown on civil liberties was bad for Kentucky and bad for the war effort. Bramlette wired Lincoln again. “If the Headquarters of the Commandant in Kentucky were at Frankfort, where a free interchange of views could be had, it would avoid the evils which have resulted from Burbridge’s weakness.” “But,” he continued, “he [Burbridge] and I cannot hold personal converse after his bad conduct within the last few weeks. Our intercourse must be restricted to official correspondence in writing. It would therefore much facilitate matters to have some commandant with whom I could act on terms of social courtesy and equality.” In other words, Bramlette wanted Lincoln to replace Burbridge—and he wanted it done immediately.

Lincoln refused. Not because the president was loath to playing musical chairs with his top military commanders. McDowell, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and McClellan (twice) were collective proof enough of that. Rather, Lincoln denied the removal request because at the end of the day, he was a wartime president, and he needed commanders in place who were willing to take bold action—even if those actions occasionally fell between the cracks of civil liberty or even flirted with illegality. Bramlette was no doubt disappointed to learn this hard lesson about Lincoln’s wartime priorities.

Months later, following the spectacular failure of a strategy for stamping out guerrilla violence (that involved executing POWs believed to be irregular combatants and ended up creating new bushwhackers faster than it could hang them), Major General Stephen Burbridge was stripped of his authority and never again reinstated to command. In this, he learned a hard lesson of his own: Lincoln was only willing to look past “secret inquisitions” or to bend the rules for the generals who orchestrated them if it brought the Union closer to ultimate victory. Burbridge failed—and thus took his place among the McDowells and Popes of the Union high command.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Thomas E. Bramlette, 1864, “Message to the General Assembly of Kentucky,” Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA).

Between the Rock and the Hard Place: Sources on Guerrilla Violence in CWG-K

Click here to view this Subject Guide in the new Civil War Governors interface.


On June 14, 1864, John T. Smith penned a letter to Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette. According to Smith, the County Court of Logan County had selected him to serve as a special messenger. His task: hashing out a solution for Logan County’s guerrilla infestation. “Our object,” Smith wrote, “is to fall upon some plan so as to have a company to act against Guerillas … the condition of most of us is such that we can not be spared long at a time from our families and therefore can not with propriety volunteer regularly and devote our whole time to the Service but we can raise a sufficient number to keep off guerillas and robbers by taking turn about with each others.”

Stationing troops in the area—an oft-used solution for localized outbreaks of irregular violence in Kentucky—wouldn’t do in this case; outside soldiers, the Logan County contingent argued, “are unacquainted with the country and its citizens and can do but little in catching guerillas who are well acquainted with both people and country.” Put another way, guerrillas had home field advantage against regular troops and it would take an insider to catch an insider. Smith and his comrades were willing to use their own intimate knowledge of Logan County to hunt pro-Confederate bushwhackers (on a part-time basis), so long as Governor Bramlette would provide them with supplies, firearms, and the state’s permission to wield them with lethal force.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the postscript of Smith’s letter. It reads as follows:

P.S. We are troubled by all sorts of Guerillas. Since writing the above, I learn that a squad of federal guerillas or negro Soldiers from Clarksville Tenn. came into the neighborhood of Voleny last night (the place visited by rebel guerillas two nights before) and stripped the citizens of their negroes and horses. It is a perfect outrage upon our country. The Federal Soldiers at Clarksville are so busy recruiting negroes that they pay no more attention to guerillas and robbers than if they belonged to the same class of individuals. If we are permitted to raise our company give us instruction what is to be done with negro guerillas. I think we can raise from 150 to 200 men a portion of whom can always be in motion and when necessary all can act.

Aside from Smith’s views on black enlistment, this addendum reveals the extent to which Logan County residents were caught between a gray rock and a blue hard place: pro-Confederate guerrillas would raid a neighborhood and take what food and horseflesh they needed to operate in the bush. Then a group of Unionist guerrillas—sometimes even black Unionist guerrillas—would come through the same neighborhood, accusing the residents of having willingly supplied the Confederates. This cycle could repeat itself ad infinitum (and often in the reverse order), with local citizens trapped in the middle. And it was anything but limited to Logan County — this was a state-wide problem.

So if you’re interested in finding out how Governor Bramlette, private citizens like John Smith, and/or Kentucky’s military forces waged war against irregular combatants, check out this subject guide on Guerrilla Warfare — but be advised that it only represents the tip of the iceberg.

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SUBJECT GUIDE: Guerrilla Warfare

KYR-0001-001-0008Thomas E. Bramlette, Proclamation by the Governor, Jan. 4, 1864

It is in the power of persons whose sympathies are with the rebellion to prevent guerrilla raids, almost invariably, by furnishing to Military Officers of the United States or State of Kentucky, the information which experience has proved them to be, as a general thing, possessed of.

If all would unite, as is their duty, in putting down guerrillas, we should soon cease to be troubled with their raids. A neglect to afford all assistance and information which may aid in defeating the designs of marauding parties, can but be construed as a culpable and active assistance to our enemies.

I, therefore, request that the various Military Commandants in the State of Kentucky will, in every instance where a loyal citizen is taken off by bands of guerrillas, immediately arrest at least five of the most prominent and active rebel sympathizers in the vicinity of such outrage for every loyal man taken by guerrillas. These sympathizers should be held as hostages for the safe and speedy return of the loyal citizens. Where there are disloyal relatives of guerrillas, they should be the chief sufferers. Let them learn that if they refuse to exert themselves actively for the assistance and protection of the loyal, they must expect to reap the just fruits of their complicity with the enemies of our State and people.

KYR-0001-002-0018Berry S. Young et al. to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 16, 1864

The Undersigned citizens of Crittenden having been informed that by Legislative enactment and by the authority vested in you as Governor of said State that forces are to be Raised for the defense of the state against Guerrilla invasion if such be the fact We would Recommend to your favorable Consideration Lieut F S Loyd of Co H 20th Ky Regt as Col and J N Hughey 1st Sergt Co E 48th Ills Regt ^for Lt Col^ both Recruited from this (Crittenden) County both of them accomplished Gentlemen and Soldiers they Refer you to Col Edward of your Staff By promoting those Young Gentlemen you will greatly oblige the Undersigned and Reward merit gained by gallant service in their countrys cause

Berry S Young clk c c c

James M Steele

W C Carnahan

S L. R. Wilson

Robt F Haynes County Atty,,

J H Walker Clerk

Crittenden Circuit Court

D N Stinson Post Master at Marion Crittenden Co Ky

John N Woods

Alfred Armstrong

James W Wilson —

  1. E. Black

J C Henson

  1. L. Leigh

S U Elder

KYR-0001-004-0996George Shirley and E. Wilty, Affidavit, Jun. 13, 1864

State that John Branstetter an infirm old man of near 70- years has lived many years in this county (formerly Barren County) a respected & good citizen and up to the commencement of this Rebellion a Sober & discreet man- that the Guerrilas Robbed him of a great deal of his property. From the troubles consequent there to & the additional fact we suppose, that his two sons Joined an independent company called the “Metcalfe Tigers” for the purpose of hunting down guerrillas & were exposed to many dangers the Old man took to drink- While in one of his drinking sprees he was induced by some bad men to go into the woods & play a game of cards. The game was played on his land & money was bet & won as appears by the evidence Testimony of a credible witness- who chanced to come upon them & saw the game He has been indicted therefore tried & fined $200- which is the least the law provides in such cases This old man is often delirious & wild wherein these drinking sprees & has to be guarded sometimes We his neighbors & friends are candid in representing that we think this is one of the few cases which demand the interposition of the Governor and ask that his fine be remitted.

KYR-0001-004-1941Z. Wheats to Thomas E. Bramlette, Jun. 19, 1865

I called at your office to-day & left for your consideration, the Petition of Capt. Edwin Terrell of the Independent Ky Scouts. I hope you will grant the prayer of his petition. He is one of the bravest men I ever saw, & has done more to rid Kentucky of Guerrillas than any man I have heard of. The fact is, his little band have been more effective in this service, than some Brigades of Cavalry. His head quarters were in Shelbyville & they gave our town & county protection which we could not have obtained from any other source.

KYR-0001-004-1380Hill and Knott to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 16, 1864

Sir: As you are doubtless aware this portion of our State has long been infested by a gang of Guerrillas whose depredations have been committed almost with impunity, in Spite of the utmost vigilence of the Military, whose efforts to capture or destroy them, they have constantly managed to elude. So frequent and successful have been their forays—characterized by murder robbery and plunder—that their presence has become a cause of extreme terror to the citizens of whatever portion of our community they may mark as their prey. Some three weeks ago they made a raid through a portion of this County murdering some, robbing others, and maltreating in some manner, nearly all with whom they met.

KYR-0002-225-0083M. E. Poynter to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 15, 1865

I trouble you with a line in regard to the recruiting officer for the State Service at this place who professes to have authority— from you to raise a company &c. I refer to W. W. Harper— and as a citizen and a Union man in behalf of the cause—the community, your own good name and of common decency I protest against such an appointment—As badly as this service demands men and as much as we have suffered from guerrillas we as a community had rather Quantrell, would pay an occasional visit than be annoyed by this man in “brief authority”— all the time.

KYR-0001-003-0086E. H. Hobson to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 5, 1864

The 37th Ky Mounted Inft has greatly improved, Since Col C J Hann took command this Regt has recd its Horse equipments and enfield rifles but to make them more efficient would most respectfully Suggest that you arm two or four compns of the regt with Ballard Carbines or muskatoons I am anxious to have the Regt mounted and send them to the Cumberland to protect the Border Counties. the notorious Gurilla Capt Richardson and nine of his men will arrive here to day as Prisoners, they Justly merit and I hope will be punished with death give Col Hansons wishes your favourable consideration.

KYR-0002-022-0062W. M. Allen to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 23, 1864

The last raid resulted in the death of two of our best citizens, and the killing of three of the band, and the wounding of three others of them. It was at first supposed that two of them killed at Jeffersontown were Federal soldiers, taken prisoners by the gurillas but we are all satisfied that they were deserters & gurillas. Our people are now pretty thoroughly aroused, and are anxious to have them pursued and exterminated. When pursued, these cut throats flee to the Salt River hills and scatter about among their friends and cant be found. We know who many of their aiders and abettors are but have no power to punish. The Military Authorities give us but little protection. We want something of our own that will be more efficient. It is proposed by some to raise 100 men in our county at our own expense!

KYR-0002-225-0079John F. Lay to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 11, 1865

I have the Honor to make aplication to you for authority to recruit a Company of State troops to Serve in the State of Ky for the period of twelve months I have Served over three years in the Fedral army and know Cannot remain at Home on account of Gurillas if you will favor me with authority please Send me Some Blank Enlistment papers

KYR-0002-225-0037W. H. H. Faris to Thomas E. Bramlette, Apr. 24, 1864

I have presumed to address your excellency on a matter of some importance. It is the method we should adopt as the most proper for the defence of our state. The two already provided, the state troops and militia, have not proved sufficiently available. It is as much as the state troops can do, to guard the frontier, so, as to prevent the greater inroads of bodies of five hundred men. And sometimes a thousand. While parties of from thirty to forty can slip in between the posts that establishes the military chain along the southern border, effect every species of robbery, and commit any depredations they wish, and pass out again with perfect impunity. This predatory warfare is to be made on Kentucky during the three seasons when the woods are thicker, so they (the guerrillas) can practice it with greater security. This mode of warfare is characterized by the guerilla chieftains as the scouting systems. All this the militia are intended to prevent, but in which they will most signally fail; as they have done as they have done already.
Because there is ^no^ method, no arrangement no anything about them that is calculated to intercept, or overtake one of those flying bands of guerillas that pass through one county, and into another (committing all the mischief they wish) before the one has been, or the other is aware of its approach.

KYR-0001-019-0156Bennett Spearger to D. E. Downing, Aug. 14, 1862

The guerrilla warfare is working its ruin as a cause produces its effect a few yesterday about 2. oclock. P.M. there were 2 Union Men Killed on the Road leading from my house to Thompson Arterberry’s Hamilton and a bout 30 other men came into Tompkinsville yesterday morning a bout 8. oclk a.m. and had Nathaniel Austin and ^a^ young Hefflin Prisenors they shot Austin through the head and lefthis Brains was scatered in the road and they shot Heflin in several places, you are acquaintd ^with^ Austin and Heflin Both neither of them you Know never belong to any army the man who stealthily takes deliborate aim at the husband and Father of a helpless family ^and^ because he is freind to his Country, sends the mesenger of death to drink his life blood and compells the heart stricken widow and helpless Orphans to seek protection and support at the hands of a cold unfeeling world. Could the hands of a cold grave’s dread monster enter claim to such a fiend in any form too horrid to mete out to them there just deserts

SOURCE: John T. Smith to Thomas E. Bramlette, 14 June 1864, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs (KDMA).

Visualizing Unionism: Congressional Redistricting in 1861

Modern political observers will not be surprised to hear that the redrawing of Congressional districts every ten years is an intense political battle within each state. Imagine how fraught that struggle was in Kentucky when the lines of political opposition were not only drawn between parties, but between opposing forces of loyalty and treason.

As CWG-K builds its 10,000-document Early Access interface (with funding from the NHPRC), we created a set of maps for the reference section of the site. Starting with blank NHGIS shape files based on the 1860 Kentucky census — files graciously processed by digital cartographer, GIS expert, and former KHS Research Fellow, Andrew W. Fialka — we tagged each district with a color code to track both geographic shifts (in the size of districts) and their physical placement within the state itself. This allowed us to fully visualize the redistricting process in the wake of the 1860 census and understand just how seriously the state government of Kentucky took the threat that the rebellion posed.

In the prewar map drawn from the 1850 census, Kentucky had ten congressional districts, varying widely in geographic size but (as required by law) roughly equal in population. Congressional Districts, 1859 to 1861, 37th Congress

Lincoln’s Secretary of the Interior, Caleb Smith, informed Governor Magoffin that Kentucky would lose a seat in the Thirty-Eighth Congress on July 9, 1861 (CWG-K document KYR-0001-023-0070), in the midst of one of the most politicized summers in Kentucky history. Elections for members of Congress and a new legislature served as referenda on secession in the state, which was in its period of official, declared neutrality. Union candidates dominated the summer voting, though some Confederate sympathizers soured on voting in the contests and stayed home. Nine of the ten Congressional seats went to Unionists, the exception being Southern Rights firebrand Henry C. Burnett of the far-west First District.

Legislative elections in August were equally lopsided Union victories, which meant that the new maps would be drawn by men determined to counter the rebel political threat. Looking at the 37th and 38th Congressional maps side by side, we can see how Unionist legislators sought to break up known clusters of rebel support and tip the balance in each Congressional district towards Union support.

Congressional Districts, 1863 to 1865, 38th Congress

The First District, rebel virtually to the core, lost Hopkins County, which may not have changed its electoral chemistry significantly. Hopkins was the scene of a protracted local political and paramilitary struggle between Union and Confederate elements in the later years of the war, but so was virtually every county in the region.

The Second District, anchored by Unionist Christian and McLean counties needed all of that loyal influence to brace divided Henderson and Daviess and stem electoral charges from the rebel counties in the eastern half of the district.

Any rebel sentiment in the Third District, the site of Kentucky’s secession convention at Russellville (Logan County) and the capital of the Provisional Confederate Government at Bowling Green (Warren County), was cunningly neutralized by stretching the district eastward to grab the hilly Union bastions of Cumberland, Clinton, and Russell counties.

What had been the Fifth District in the old system became the new Fourth and grew dramatically south and east in much the same manner as the Third. Notice how the soon-to-be guerrilla infested counties of Meade, Bullitt, Spencer, and Marion were neutralized with staunchly loyal Green, Adair (home of 1863-67 Governor Thomas E. Bramlette), and Casey.

The old Seventh, new Fifth, remained dominated by Louisville, a city that sent a fair number of citizens into the rebel ranks but was politically dominated by Unionists of the severest (sometimes even abolitionist/anti-slavery) stripe. Watch, though, as the new Fifth District swings east to break up the northern Kentucky rebel hive that was Owen and Grant counties. The rebels of Sweet Owen get drowned out by the Louisville vote.

Owen County’s old home, the Tenth District, became the new Sixth. And with the Owen-Grant connection broken up, the legislators thought it safe to reach down and include evenly divided Harrison County in the Northern Kentucky district, to be outweighed by the loyal voters in Covington and Newport.

Henry Clay’s old Ashland District, the heart of the Bluegrass, had fallen suspect in the eyes of the loyal legislators. The scions of the thoroughbred families were lured by the promise of John Hunt Morgan even as their old-Whig fathers drew maps in Frankfort. To brace the new Seventh District, the legislators dipped way down south into the Presbyterian-Unionist domain of Danville to prop up the district which John C. Breckinridge had represented more recently than Clay.

The two great mountain districts were largely safe from rebeldom. The new Eighth District, its political  center at London (Laurel County), remained loyal throughout the war and would become the rural base of the postwar Republican Party in the state into the twentieth century.

The new Ninth gained the rebel votes in Pike and Johnson counties, to be balanced by the unconditional unionists in Boyd and Greenup.

Reading the maps side by side gives us great insight into the ways that Kentucky leaders perceived the geography of rebellion — perceptions which have largely been borne out by historical scholarship since. What else do you see happening in these maps?

Patrick A. Lewis is Project Director of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

“A Very Catiline”?: Finding Richard Henry Stanton

A few weeks ago, CWG-K was approached by Feliks Banel, a Seattle historian and radio broadcaster, seeking information about the man who named Washington state. A Kentucky Congressman in 1853, it seems, had suggested that Columbia—the name under which the territorial bill had been submitted—might be confused with the District of Columbia. So, Richard H. Stanton suggested the compromise name of Washington—which, he apparently thought, wouldn’t get confused with any other important center of political power in that District.

So, Feliks asked, did anyone in Kentucky remember this Richard Stanton? Turns out, the answer is generally no. Not in Maysville, where Stanton lived and is buried. Not in Powell County, where the county seat is named after him. But he was well known to CWG-K.

Listen to Feliks’s radio piece on KIRO, which features CWG-K project director Patrick Lewis summarizing Stanton and his place in Civil War Kentucky.

What do CWG-K documents tell us about Richard Stanton? He and his law partner (and brother-in-law) Thomas Throop were two of the most important attorneys in the state when the Civil War came to Kentucky. Stanton had undertaken the gargantuan task of compiling a revised and annotated edition of the Kentucky Revised Statutes in 1860, making Stanton a household name to whom attorneys and judges across the state turned for the latest interpretation of state laws. On a regional level, Stanton was Commonwealth’s Attorney (akin to a district attorney in most other states) for the Tenth Judicial District serving Mason, Lewis, Greenup, Rowan, Fleming, and Nicholas Counties.

S&T

But in CWG-K documents, Stanton conducts very little business as a Commonwealth’s Attorney. He appears most frequently in private practice requesting pardons for their clients, and they seem particularly close to the Democratic administration of Beriah Magoffin.

Why was such an influential attorney like Stanton unable to hold his position as Commonwealth Attorney after 1861? The first clue came from a letter of his partner Tom Throop to Magoffin in November 1860:

Your positions are undoubtedly correct, and if our union as states is preserved the movement must come from the north. They must abolish all these nullifying laws, carry out the provisions of the constitution, as to the comity between the states, carry out the provisions of the fugitive slave act, respect their so called personal liberty bills, allow the free transit of persons from the south with their families & property through their territories; acknowledge by their acts, not words only, that we as states have an equality of rights, with them: unless this is done, our union is a farce, it is effete, a humbug & a cheat.

Throop certainly seems a John C. Breckinridge Southern Democrat, but did he speak for his friend Stanton? Union General “Bull” Nelson certainly seemed to think so. He arrested Stanton and six other Maysville men on October 2, 1861. According to Nelson (a native Maysville man, himself) the group were “traitorous scoundrels who were engaged in fitting out men for the Southern army, subscribing moneys, getting up nightly drills and doing the manner of things usual among the secessionists. …with the Hon. R. H. Stanton at their head.”

In another letter, Nelson asserted that “This man Stanton is the head of secession in Northeast Kentucky” and that “He has harbored in his house an officer of the Confederate Army” and forwarded 259 men from the area to Humphrey Marshall’s rebel forces in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. This was entirely plausible. Stanton’s son returned from a law practice in Memphis at the outbreak of the war to raise a company of troops in Mason County for Confederate service. Henry T. Stanton may have been the very officer harbored by his father.

Whether with evidence or speculation, Nelson concluded that Stanton “is the soul of rebellion in this part of Kentucky.” “[M]orally a very Catiline” whose arrest “has struck secession dumb here.”

First taken to Cincinnati, then to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, and finally to Fort Lafayette in New York City, Stanton proclaimed his innocence the entire time. As did many Kentucky secessionists facing the state and federal government crackdown on wartime dissent, Stanton proclaimed himself a strict neutralist. In a letter to Secretary of State Seward, Stanton argued that “we were in favor of Kentucky maintaining a neutral position in the contest…and advocated that policy, hoping that the State would be in a position to maintain peace within her borders and mediate between the two sections.”

Eventually, the Lincoln administration felt enough political pressure from undoubtedly loyal Kentuckians (including a petition from a majority of state legislators) and released Stanton on December 17, 1861, after taking the loyalty oath (read the whole case file in the OR, Series II, Volume II, pp. 913-33). Stanton & Throop continued to practice—carefully avoiding such overt political statements as Throop had made to Magoffin just after Lincoln’s election—for the rest of the war.

From the politics of Manifest Destiny to the mechanics of Confederate recruiting in Union territory to the ever-important American debate over civil liberties and dissent during wartime, Richard Stanton should not be a name that Kentucky historians forget again. Even at this stage, CWG-K has identified a host of mid-level political players like Richard Stanton, and as the project moves forward into annotation and social networking—identifying each unique individual mentioned in our documents and linking them and their known associates together into a massive research platform—we will find many more. What new life story will CWG-K uncover next?

Patrick A. Lewis is Project Director of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

To Own Life and Death: The Boundaries of Race and Mastery

By Matthew C. Hulbert

Early one evening in May 1859, an inebriated Jesse Williams handed one of his slaves—a young man named Wesley—a loaded musket. Williams commanded Wesley to take the weapon, under cover of darkness, and with it to assassinate Edmund Stevens. In other words, Williams instructed his African American slave to take a weapon he wasn’t legally allowed to possess and gun down a white neighbor in cold blood. Williams and Stevens had apparently been feuding for years. Now, sufficiently fortified by liquor and desperation, Jesse aimed to end their dispute once and for all.

This scenario constituted the ultimate “lose-lose” for a slave like Wesley. On one hand, if he obeyed Williams, it would mean committing murder and virtually guaranteeing himself a date with the hangman. On the other, if Wesley refused to heed his obviously deranged master’s word, it would mean, at the very least, a severe beating—and given Williams’s current states of mind and intoxication, possibly much, much worse. So with no good options laid before him, Wesley took the gun and half-heartedly trudged off to the Stevens farm.

Later that same night, Wesley returned home with the gun bearing its original load. Williams, still quite drunk and now irate, demanded an explanation; when he told a slave to do something, he expected results. Murder was no exception. But according to Wesley, it wasn’t his fault. He’d been thwarted by Stevens’s dog—the animal barked whenever Wesley got too close, so it had been impossible to sneak into range. Undeterred, Williams sent his would-be assassin back into the night, this time with a small cache of poison to silence the dog. Minus the barking, Wesley could presumably finish off Stevens. And if Wesley failed again, Williams promised “to cut his back all to pieces.”

Wesley did fail again. And as court documents later revealed, he’d failed many times before: the dog was just one item from a long list of excuses concocted to avoid murdering Stevens. Wesley harbored no animus against Stevens and had even less interest in committing murder on Williams’s behalf. In fact, on more than one occasion, Wesley never even left the Williams farm; he simply hid in the nearby woods and reported back to his master in the morning, as if he’d gone out after Stevens but a clear shot had never materialized.

Even when sober, Williams wasn’t particularly bright. (And as witnesses later told it, he wasn’t sober all that often.) But eventually even he caught on to Wesley’s stalling. So one day, as he prepared to “hunt” Stevens alone, Wesley must have been disheartened to learn that Williams would be tagging along as field supervisor. Together, the pair snuck within range of Stevens and, with an insistent Williams looking over his shoulder, Wesley pulled the trigger. The projectile found its mark. Edmund Stevens fell dead in his tracks.

wesley indictmentGiven his ongoing strife with Stevens, Williams was the prime suspect, but he had a built in scapegoat: he hadn’t technically killed Stevens. Rather, it was his slave, Wesley, who’d pulled the trigger and should be legally held responsible for the deed. Not surprisingly, Williams banked on the fact that investigators would inherently take the word of a white slaveowner over that of a slave, let alone one accused of backshooting a white man. Even less surprising, Williams neglected to mention that he’d commanded Wesley to commit the crime on numerous occasions. Not long after the shooting, Williams died—almost certainly the result of his drinking. So Wesley was forced to stand trial alone, and a jury convicted him of Stevens’s murder.

This is the point in Wesley’s story where things get a little complicated. Williams, as a white, male slaveholder, had literally owned Wesley. As his owner’s human property, Wesley was technically bound to follow orders or suffer terrible—even mortal—consequences. Unity between white slaveholders and white non-slaveholders played a major role in imbuing the institution of slavery with this absolute, race-based authority. In other words, Williams, Stevens, and even the men investigating the crime were all supposed to be complicit in maintaining the color line that justified mastery over commoditized (black) human beings. But Williams broke from that protocol when he exercised the absolute authority granted him by the institution of slavery and wielded it against a member of the very community vital to maintaining the institution in the first place. More simply put, Williams overextended his ownership of the life and death of a black slave by also making a claim on the life and death of a free white man.

wesley forced

“That he done it under the eye of his master and under the fear that he would be killed himself or great Bodily harm would be done him, if he failed or refused to obey the command of his master.”

Following his conviction, Wesley was condemned to death. A petition offered on his behalf to Governor Beriah Magoffin argued that Wesley should be spared the gallows because Williams had both owned him and ordered him to assassinate Stevens. Even Williams’s supporters, few as they might have been, couldn’t discount the fact that two, distinct sets of footprints were found at the scene of the crime. Interestingly, though, the petitioners did not seek a full pardon for Wesley—merely that he might escape execution to spend the rest of his life in prison. The request, which Magoffin granted, illustrates how irrevocably interwoven the legal system of Kentucky had become with ideas of race, slavery, and social power. The petitioners (and Magoffin, for that matter), likely still believed that, as a rule, Wesley was duty bound to do as his master commanded. At the same time, though, they were compelled to prevent future instances of white masters using black slaves to assault other white Kentuckians. Not to close this loophole was akin to allowing the color line on which so much of slavery’s power depended to erode from within.

This means that Magoffin had to concede that what Wesley was ordered to do was wrong. By implying that the command had been wrong, the implication was also made that Wesley should have known better, morally speaking, than to obey it—a line of thought that unavoidably called into question Williams’s absolute mastery over his slave property. But even as Magoffin seemed to understand that Wesley—again, as a rule—had no choice but to obey Williams and that Williams’s order had been morally wrong, the governor, who himself owned slaves, couldn’t take that reasoning to its logical conclusion: complete exoneration for Wesley. I.e., no prison time.

wesley commutedWhy not? Because to have consented to the ability of a slave like Wesley to only obey orders he found morally acceptable wouldn’t just have conceded a level of humanity among chattel that many slaveholders found discomforting, it would have utterly undermined a vital defense of the institution of slavery itself. (That is, the idea that slavery was a positive good for African Americans, a people otherwise incapable of thinking for themselves.) And to undermine the institution of slavery would have ultimately threatened the chief enforcement mechanism of a racial hierarchy that elevated white over black in matters social, political, economic, and cultural. With this in mind, to some extent, Wesley didn’t actually go to prison because he was a slave—Wesley went to prison to the preserve the very means of his enslavement.

 

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: W. H. Calvert et al. to Beriah Magoffin, 16 July 1861, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (hereafter KDLA); Edward P. Campbell et al. to Beriah Magoffin, 16 June 1861, KDLA; Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Wesley (a slave), Judgment, 15 June 1861, KDLA.

“Shall I order from Cuba”?: Kentucky’s Transnational Neutrality

Last week, Matt Hulbert explored the contradictions between the Jeffersonian, states’ rights rhetoric of the provisional Confederate government of Kentucky and its actual record of heavy-handed governance and suppression of civil liberties in the counties under its control in the winter of 1861-62. In his piece, we learned that provisional Confederate Governor George W. Johnson accused the Union party in Kentucky of polluting Kentucky’s declared neutrality (which lasted from May through September, 1861) from the outset, always intending to use neutrality to save the state from secession and deliver it to the Union cause. And they did. The problem was, Matt tells us, that the Confederates had precisely the same game plan going into the summer of 1861, but were politically outmaneuvered and, later, outvoted. The rebels lost the neutrality cold war and convened their rump secession convention when they lost their bid for the legitimate government in Frankfort.

I want to jump back to that cold war, to show just how the rebels used the cover of neutrality to prepare the state for secession and civil war. In the weeks after Fort Sumter, Magoffin rejected Lincoln’s request for troops and called a special session of the legislature to consider considering secession. As Magoffin’s famous exchange with Alabama Secession Commissioner Stephen F. Hale reveals, the governor was a conditional unionist, not an outright secessionist. Lincoln’s call for troops, though, proved the limit of Magoffin’s conditionalism, and like many Upper South politicians after Sumter, he seems to have been in favor of secession. To his credit, though, Magoffin genuinely respected the will of the electorate and knew that if Kentucky were not to devolve into a miniature civil war, it must secede legitimately – through a convention called by the legislature or direct legislative action. The closest he (and all the Kentucky secessionists) could get in the May 1861 special session was neutrality and the hope that the political winds would blow the majority of Kentuckians to their side as the year wore on.

With the special session yet to convene in Frankfort, Magoffin began to set the state’s military house in order for whatever decision – secession, Union, or neutrality – might result. As chief executive and commander in chief, Magofffin could take out loans and expend state funds for arms and ammunition that (theoretically) would be put to any purpose the people of Kentucky demanded. By working through fellow secessionists at home and across the Gulf South, though, Magoffin could covertly ensure that if the cold war between unionists and secessionists turned hot, his party would have the upper hand.

Magoffin tapped Luke Blackburn to coordinate buying the weapons. Blackburn, a postwar governor of Kentucky, is most famous for his unsuccessful 1864 plot to blight northern cities with yellow fever with infected blankets from Bermuda routed through Canada. Yet secret missions involving Britain, the Caribbean, and the Gulf South had been Blackburn’s forte since the very outset of the war.

Things began promisingly. On April 26, Blackburn wired that he had “purchased two pieces heavy Ordnance two thousand muskets six hundred Kegs powder” and asked for $30,000 to be transferred from a Kentucky bank to his credit. Blackburn’s preferred shipping company, commission merchants Hewitt, Norton, & Co., whose antebellum business had brokered southern cotton between New Orleans and Liverpool, put 1,500 guns costing approximately $14,000 on rail cars bound for Louisville on May 1, but warned that the frenzied buying from agents of other southern states meant that other supplies were drying up quickly. The firm had only secured $15 worth of percussion caps and could find no more powder. “Shall I order from Cuba”? asked Louisiana Secession Convention member M. O. H. Norton? “Blackburn cant be found.”

MOHN

KYR-0001-019-0023

No one knew where Luke Blackburn had gone, and no one could act on Magoffin’s behalf as the available supplies in the Gulf South dwindled. When Norton requested new instructions on May 2, Magoffin was more than happy to turn the operation over from Blackburn to Norton, with additional funding secured by Louisville pork merchant Benjamin J. Adams. Fellow Kentuckian and cotton broker in the Louisville-New Orleans firm of William T. Bartley & Co. Robert A. Johnson had notified Magoffin the day before in a private cable that “Luke Blackburn [was] intoxicated Since Saturday” and urged the Governor to “Withdraw powers authorize another Agent”.

LPB

KYR-0001-019-0029

Luke Blackburn was certainly neither the first nor the last Kentuckian to let the French Quarter get the better of him. But why had Magoffin trusted him for the mission?

Though a Kentucky native, Blackburn was living and practicing medicine in New Orleans in 1861. In fact, he had lived his adult life in the cotton kingdom along the banks of the Mississippi River. Blackburn had lived in Natchez, Mississippi, as a young man and had family ties to Helena, Arkansas, where his interests and kin overlapped with “The Family,” an early Arkansas Democratic political dynasty built on Kentucky connections to  provisional Confederate Governor George W. Johnson. Taken alongside Blackburn’s later experiments in biological warfare, the New Orleans arms deal raises important questions about how elite antebellum Kentuckians participated in a complex – yet surprisingly intimate and personal – international economy of slaves, cotton, liquid capital, and thoroughbred horses and how those economic connections encouraged them to address the question of secession. These kinship-political-business relationships are precisely the sorts of interconnections that the future social networking capability of  CWG-K is designed to document.

Little wonder, then, that when Magoffin needed arms for Kentucky, he tapped into the networks that funneled cotton, slaves, and capital up and down the river from Kentucky to New Orleans and out to the world. Magoffin’s fallback agents at Hewitt, Norton, & Co. fit precisely the same profile. Kentucky’s 1861 neutrality was not an inward facing, isolationist political posture. The way Magoffin managed arms procurement demonstrates that he understood the Civil War as a conflict over global agricultural and industrial markets, a war fought for the interests of the southern states in and on an international stage.

Patrick A. Lewis is project director of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Grabbing Guns and Breaking Banks: The Short, Ambitious “Reign” of Kentucky’s Provisional Confederate Government

by Matthew C. Hulbert

On November 18, 1861, a three-day convention kicked off in Russellville, Kentucky. Attended by a few dozen of lawmakers, court officers, religious figures, and community leaders, the gathering was essentially an “emergency meeting” of pro-southern ideologues. To say they had much to talk about would be an understatement. Kentucky’s policy of armed neutrality and diplomatic mediation had recently crumbled. Following elections in August 1861—that virtually everyone in the state understood as a referendum on secession—the government in Frankfort veered toward Conservative Unionism and officially backed the Union war effort in September.

The Commonwealth’s governor and chief proponent of neutrality, Beriah Magoffin, wasn’t trusted to head up the recruitment of troops, so a military board was installed to serve as de facto commander(s) in chief. With these developments in mind, and claiming to speak on behalf of “the people of Kentucky,” convention leaders decried the “unfortunate condition of the state.” Moreover, they promised to devise “some means of preserving the independence of the Commonwealth.”

It is worth pausing now, for just a moment, to decode their terminology. By “unfortunate condition,” pro-Confederates at the convention referred specifically to a conspiracy theory in which two-faced politicians in Frankfort had deceived their constituents with false pledges to perpetual, armed neutrality. By way of Machiavellian deception, Unionist double operatives had managed to deliver Kentucky—against the collective will of its populace—directly into the hands of a tyrannical president and his cabinet of fanatical abolitionists. In turn, the aforementioned “independence of the Commonwealth” no longer referred to armed neutrality or a role as negotiator between warring nation-states. The will of the convention was to break away from the Union, one way or another.

For what it’s worth, the conspiracy theory outlined above was half correct when examined in the right light. On one hand, Conservative Unionists had come to a tentative neutrality agreement with Confederate sympathizers believing all the while that they could keep Kentucky in the Union proper. On the other hand, pro-Confederates had also entered into the neutrality pact with ulterior motives—their plan had always been to land Kentucky for the Confederacy. But the people of Kentucky handed the Conservative Unionist position a healthy majority in the 1861 elections and squashed any genuine possibility of a secession ordinance emanating from Frankfort. The idea that Lincoln had forced Kentucky to remain in the Union by brute force in 1861 is largely the stuff of post-war mythmaking; Kentuckians, many of whom supported the institution of slavery, simply believed their chattel safer when backed by Union authority than Confederate.

Regardless of these facts, the convention-goers declared Kentucky’s independence.

Therefore be it Ordained That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the Government of the United States, and in the name of the people we do hereby declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all power to fix her own destiny and to secure her own rights and liberties.

blog_provisionalAnd while the initial declaration said nothing of it, it’s safe to presume that everyone in the hall knew precisely which destiny would be fixed: Kentucky would only remain an “independent State” for as long as it took to officially join the Confederacy.

The newly-formed provisional government set up shop in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It consisted of a Provisional Governor (George W. Johnson), a twelve-man “Council” (that essentially functioned as an unelected general assembly in miniature), and a Secretary of State (who basically served as a gopher, delivering notes for Johnson to the Council and vice versa). Very early on in the business of the provisional government—which met nearly every day from convention’s end in November 1861 until January 1, 1862—Johnson released a message meant to justify the actions of the new government and outline his plan for Kentucky’s future. Below are excerpts from some of the more significant passages:

A profound and happy domestic peace, pervaded the whole country and rewarded their vigilance, until the abolition parties, growing with the growth of the North, determined to interfere with the domestic institutions of fifteen slave-holding States … Their avowed purposes were at war with the words of the Constitution, the decisions of the Supreme Court and the whole usage and history of the government; and when so infamous a party gained possession of the Federal Government, a profound dread of the consequences seized upon the whole nation.

Kentucky desired to mediate and remain neutral between the contending parties. It would have been more wise if she had foreseen the utter ruin which would and always must follow the destruction of Constitutional government, and if she also had drawn the sword with the Southern States for its preservation.

They [ambitious demagogues and fanatics who had seized the Government and outraged the Constitution] had deliberately plotted for years for power to destroy the Constitution with protected Southern institutions; and in the first intoxication of victory, it was species of madness in Kentucky to expect abolitionists to dash the cup untasted from their lips.

The North refused to grant Constitutional amendments for the protection of slave property; and thus the peace conference inaugurated by Virginia and Kentucky, closed its labors an utter failure.

The first and most important duty which is before us is to bring to the Confederate States all our resources for the successful prosecution of this war; and to do all we can to turn the minds of all parties to terms of honorable peace — To the first of these duties you have already turned your attention; and I trust the world will soon see the result of your labors in your organized battalions of brave and dauntless Kentuckians.

According to Johnson, the northern states, led by Lincoln and hordes of abolitionists, had intentionally undermined the Constitution in an effort to trigger bloodshed and the final destruction of southern slavery. Kentucky, for its part, had honorably tried to stop the conflict, but was deceived from outside (by northerners) and from within (by Unionist turncoats). Now, the only option for the preservation of true Republican ideals and individuals freedoms was to join the Confederacy and restore freedom to the Commonwealth by military force—the last resort of “brave and dauntless Kentuckians.”

Ironically, as the ledger book of the provisional government recently added to the CWG-K digital archive reveals, Kentucky’s pro-Confederate state government fell into the same trap that plagued its national counterpart: in order to preserve the individual freedoms and rights allegedly trampled by the federal government, George Johnson and company resorted, out of logistical necessity, to tactics that can at best be described as hypocritical and at worst as bald authoritarianism. This was especially true when it came to procuring money and firearms—essential commodities of any rebellion.

On the former subject, the Council resolved to seek a loan of $25,000 from the Southern Bank of Kentucky at Russellville—one of the few lending institutions not cut off by Union lines. E. M. Bruce of Nicholas County added an amendment to the resolution: “And if said Banks refuse to loan the twenty five Thousand dollars, then said Committee be and they are hereby authorize to co-operate with the authorities of the Confederate States and use such means as will secure the Twenty five thousand dollars desired.” Following a back-and-forth with J. W. Moore of Montgomery County, Bruce suggested another amendment and the resolution eventually read as follows:

Towit: Resolved by the Council of the Provisional Government of the State of Kentucky. That the Governor be and he is hereby authorized and requested to appoint Two or more Commissioners to negotiate a loan from the Southern Bank of Kentucky for the sum of Twenty Five Thousand Dollars for the use of this Government, and if said Bank refuse to loan the Twenty Five thousand Dollars then the Governor is further authorized to use such means as in his judgment may be necessary to obtain said Twenty five Thousand dollars of the said Southern Bank.

In short, the Council granted Governor Johnson the authority to take funds by whatever means necessary—force included, and strongly implied, actually—if the bank refused to loan money on the terms requested by the provisional government. The substitution was adopted and T. L. Burnett and Burch Musselman were dispatched to procure the loan. Later, the appointed commissioners returned with disappointing news. The Southern Bank had refused to loan the provisional government $25,000, largely because even though its directors harbored their own pro-southern sympathies, they fully understood the consequences of funding a rump government’s plot to commit armed treason. In place of the requested $25,000, the bank would only agree to $5,000 to the commissioners themselves, on the condition that the funds be viewed as personal loans—not official Council business. Not seeing any other option, Burnett and Musselman took the deal.

Outraged by the bank’s lack of confidence and the commissioners’ failure to follow directions, the Council refused to accept responsibility for the $5,000 loan and instructed Burnett and Musselman to return the funds. The Council further decreed that Governor Johnson must now step in and “obtain the $25.000 of the said Bank in accordance with the resolution appointing the Commissioners.” This put Johnson in a very uncomfortable spot because on one side, he needed money to fund his government. But on the other, he really didn’t have the ability to make real the authority granted to him on paper by the Council—that is, he had no real means of compelling the Southern Bank to hand over $25,000 in exchange for IOUs.

Part of the reason Johnson couldn’t strong-arm the bank is because the provisional government didn’t command an army; a major reason the provisional government didn’t command an army is because they had no recruits; and, they had very few recruits because they had no weapons. This led directly to the previously mentioned effort to procure firearms. Late in December, the Council passed a bill that called for all free, white, able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 who would not volunteer for active service in the Confederate military to produce any and all guns in their possession for inspection by an appointed official. Each county would have an inspector, the inspector would decide which guns were worthy of confiscation, and provide the then disarmed citizen of Confederate Kentucky a receipt to be repaid after the successful waging of the war.

Another stipulation of the inspection program was that anyone who failed to deliver a gun for inspection or who tried to “secrete his arms” would be arrested. The local constable or sheriff would take the offender into custody, but the bill also granted the gun inspector himself with the power to detain citizens. Anyone caught violating these rules would be fined $50 or jailed and, more startling, would be “disarmed as an enemy and his arms delivered to the Inspector.” Any able-bodied men who legitimately did not own a gun, but was worth at least $500 in taxable property had the option to take an oath before the inspector (attesting to his lack of firearm) but then had to pay the inspector $20, for which the citizen would receive a receipt. This $20 payment would be considered a debt against the Confederate government to be repaid at the (successful) conclusion of the war. In other words, more involuntary payments made under the guise of patriotic loans.

Johnson and his Council frequently lambasted Lincoln as a tyrant; they accused the federal government of holding the Union together at the expense—and against the will—of its actual inhabitants. Secessionists pointed to the results of the presidential election of 1860 as evidence: Lincoln had not won a single southern state, or even a single border western state. Nor had he managed to capture more than 40% of the popular vote. So how would he now claim to have a mandate from the people to preserve the Union at any cost?

In reality, this was probably the biggest case of the pot calling the kettle black in the history of Kentucky. Johnson was not elected by anything resembling a plurality of the people and neither were the councilmen who then presumed to govern them. The ascendance to power of Kentucky’s provisional Confederate government—in as much as the group ever actually ruled over anything—came in direct opposition to the collective will of the Commonwealth. The state-wide elections of 1861 make that perfectly and unavoidably clear.

More illuminating, though, is how the plans hatched by the provisional government to grab guns and break banks reflected the broader problems—and fundamental intentions—of the national Confederate government in microcosm. For years historians have pointed out that to run the rebellion effectively from Richmond, Jefferson Davis had to take near-dictatorial control of its management; or, put another way, that he had to sacrifice the supposed core cause for which the Confederacy fought for sake of actually winning the fight. The situation in Kentucky was the same in principle—because just like the case of Davis and the national Confederate government, it ultimately exposes yet again the extent to which states’ rights was never really the main catalyst or prize of the conflict.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Provisional Government of the State of Kentucky, Journal (specifically documents KYR-0004-033-0027, KYR-0004-033-0036, KYR-0004-033-0001, KYR-0004-033-0029).

Wanted, Dead or Alive: The Fugitive Jim Brown and the Price of Loyalty

By Matthew C. Hulbert

On Monday, April 1, 1861, a Henderson County physician, Dr. Waller Norwood, emerged from his home and matter-of-factly ordered a waiting slave to fetch his mount. The unnamed servant obeyed Norwood’s command; in the stable, however, he found more waiting than his master’s horse. Encamped in the hay loft, with little intention of coming down, was an African American man owned by Mrs. Saraphine Pentecost. Here were two men in different stages of enslavement—one still in a state of submission, at least physically, as the other waged a one-man revolt for emancipation—brought face-to-face by a fluke encounter. However random, or harmless, it might appear at first glance, the events set in motion by their meeting would drive the paranoia of Kentucky slaveholders to new heights and raise serious questions about the mortality of their Peculiar Institution as civil war engulfed the nation.

Puzzled by the news of a squatter in his stable, Norwood went to investigate for himself and did, indeed, find a man encamped in the hay loft. When asked to state his business, “the Negro replied that he had run away some days before from his mistress.” This declaration seems to have angered the doctor; he immediately ordered the runaway to climb down and surrender himself. According to an account of the incident later sent to Beriah Magoffin, then governor of Kentucky, the “negro replied by sundry threats” and refused to cut short his escape. Further enraged by this show of defiance, Norwood “then ordered the servant who was holding his horse to bring him his gun.” If the runaway wouldn’t come down from his perch peacefully, the doctor was determined to capture and return him to the Pentecosts by force.

The resolution would prove fatal.

As Norwood waited for a firearm, “the negro sprang towards him” and “at the same time shot him through the left breast, with a large dueling pistol.” The doctor “fell dead in his tracks.” Having heard the report of the gun, Mrs. Norwood came to investigate. She shrieked and sobbed hysterically at the sight of her slain husband—but his killer quickly pulled yet another pistol and she fled the scene. Norwood’s killer, who was eventually identified as Jim Brown, briefly admired his handiwork and “after leisurely viewing the dead body of the murdered man,” he “made for the woods.”

Norwood Reward

Citizens wrote to Governor Beriah Magoffin requesting a hefty reward for the capture of Jim Brown.

News of the assassination swept through Henderson and into surrounding counties. A well-respected white man—himself a slave owner—had been gunned down by an escaped slave. Posses formed, bloodhounds were summoned, and a coterie of outraged citizens convinced Magoffin to authorize a $500 bounty on Brown’s head. It could be earned dead or alive. Odds seemed to favor dead. As one spectator noted, “it is the universal opinion, that if taken, he will be immediately punished, without a moments hearing” as “those in search of him are armed with double barrel shotguns and will in all probability shoot him down upon sight.”

After a burst of activity, Brown’s trail went cold. For days, posses hunted the surrounding counties and turned up nothing. Varying descriptions of the fugitive circulated widely. One listed him as “about 5 feet 9 inches tall … weighs one hundred and fifty pound … quick spoken and fond of talking.” Another added that Brown had “a bushy head,” “whiskers under the chin,” was “of very dark brown color,” and distinguished by “eyes rather prominent.” With $500 on the line and so many men on the hunt in and around Henderson, Brown’s sole chance at permanently escaping bondage seemed to lie across the border in Indiana. But for reasons never fully explained, he actually stayed within a few miles of the scene of the crime, traveling by night and hiding in lofts and outbuildings during the day.

Eventually, the pursuers caught a break: they stumbled across an elderly slave woman who confessed to feeding Brown and pointed the posse in the direction of his last known hideaway—a nearby hayloft. Brown’s options quickly went from bad to worse. On one hand, he’d be returned to his master and made to stand trial. He’d be executed, no doubt, but might live for a few weeks in the meantime. On the other hand, he might throw down his gun and simply be killed on the spot. So as armed men surrounded the farm and cut off all routes of escape and then began searching the barn, Jim Brown decided to die fighting and initiated a skirmish he knew he couldn’t win. Very shortly afterward, he was dead.

In hindsight, the reaction to Norwood’s death shouldn’t surprise us. In any state that allowed slavery, the shooting of a white man by a runaway slave was going to elicit a thunderous response, especially from the slaveholding community. But in Kentucky, the skies were particularly volatile.

For his part, Magoffin tried to keep Kentucky “neutral” as other Upper South and Border West states slipped from the Union. And while Kentucky did ultimately remain within Lincoln’s grasp, the main impetus for doing so came from Conservative Unionists—men who weren’t necessarily interested in Unionism or sake of the Union itself, but simply because they believed the Union would be better suited to protect their investments in human chattel. This positioned Magoffin squarely between the proverbial rock and hard place.

The public had branded Jim Brown a “desperate and bloodthirsty villain” from the start. So the fact that sentiment skewed toward a swift, terrible, and if need be, extra-legal, brand of justice for Norwood’s slaying, shouldn’t much surprise us either. One petitioner, writing a day or so after the murder, went so far as to caution the governor not to be cheap with his reward amount, lest important constituents start to consider him weak on the issue of slavery and find support elsewhere. “Exercise your discretion in offering a reward,” the letter stated, but “considering the character of the offense, and the excitement of the country on the slavery question, I think the larger the reward is the better.”

Jim Brown poster

“The above reward will be paid immediately upon his arrest.”

As we already know, Magoffin offered a sizable $500 bounty and didn’t require that Brown be taken alive. Put another way, based almost entirely on the word of people involved in the situation (and hopelessly biased), the governor issued posses a license to lynch the fugitive on site and to be paid for their services as vigilantes. These terms, along with Brown’s demise, temporarily reassured Kentucky slaveholders that their wealth was still safe under the umbrella of the Union—but they also set an exceedingly dangerous precedent concerning what future concessions masters would expect in exchange for their loyalty and good behavior.

Taken in a much broader context, covenants such as these were partly responsible for the chaos that enveloped Kentucky in 1863–1864. When it became necessary for Abraham Lincoln to close the loophole that allowed the state to avoid fulfilling its quota of black troops for the Union Army, men who’d become accustomed to swapping their political loyalty for sake of maintaining a preferable social and economic status quo learned a hard lesson: by the time Lincoln changed the terms of the deal, their greatest bargaining chip—the threat of secession—had lost its power. The temper tantrum that ensued came in the form of guerrilla warfare.

 

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Alex H. Major to Beriah Magoffin, 3 April 1861, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, KY (hereafter KDLA); L. W. Trafton to Beriah Magoffin, 9 April 1861, KDLA; Robert Glass to Grant, 4 April 1861, KDLA; F. A. Cannon, Reward Notice, 4 April 1861, KDLA; Robert Glass to Beriah Magoffin, 4 April 1861, KDLA; Jim Brown Fugutive Slave Reward, 12 April 1861; Beriah Magoffin, Executive Journal, 12 April 1861, KDLA; Edmund L. Starling, History of Henderson County, Kentucky (Henderson County, KY: 1887), 558-561.

For more on the history of Henderson and Henderson County, Kentucky, check out Volume 113 (Autumn 2013) of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, available through Project MUSE.

CWG-K’s “Best of” – 2015 Edition

2015 was an eventful year for the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition. Numerous fellows utilized the power of the ever-growing database (you can apply to be one here), we are steadily approaching the launch of an Early Access edition of 10,000 documents and transcriptions and a Beta prototype. Governor’s Day — an interactive open house introducing the project to other departments at the Kentucky Historical Society — was a major success.

To recap the year, we’ve organized a series of “Best of” lists that chronicle everything from our individual takes on the most powerful people of Civil War Kentucky to the most memorable deaths to time travel (more on this anon). We hope you’ll enjoy reading these lists these as much as we enjoyed creating them.

POWER RANKINGS: Based on their own criteria, each member of the CWG-K editorial staff was asked to rank a “Power 5” group of figures found in the database.

Tony

  1. George W. Johnston – Powerful Judge of the Louisville City Court, a Louisville/Jefferson County pardon application was never complete and rarely received a positive reply without his signature.
  2. John B. Huston – Besides competing for the worst handwriting award for Civil War Kentucky—stiff competition from James F. Robinson and James Guthrie—Huston was a power broker, attorney and state legislator from central Kentucky, whose endorsement of a pardon application carried a lot of weight with multiple Kentucky governors.
  3. John B. Temple – Attorney, banker, and president of the Kentucky Military Board—Temple exerted a lot of power in all Kentucky military matters. He and the Military Board of Kentucky were de facto Commander-in-chief of Kentucky, slowly whittling away Beriah Magoffin’s military authority with the aid of the Kentucky General Assembly.
  4. George W. Norton – President of the Southern Bank of Kentucky, he was a Magoffin ally, made sizable loans the Commonwealth of Kentucky to support Magoffin in his efforts to purchase arms early in the war. Other banks made similar investments, yet Norton appeared to have the ear of the governor.
  5. C. D. Pennebaker – Lawyer, politician, Colonel of the 27th Kentucky Infantry, and Kentucky Military Agent in Washington, DC. He served in the legislature, commanded troops in battle, and served in a civilian military post for Kentucky in DC. In addition to this he wrote the more thorough letters and reports. Kudos Mr. Pennebaker!

Matt

  1. W. T. Samuels – Not unlike Matt Damon’s character in The Good Shepherd, Samuels had the dirt on everyone following his stint as state auditory. Given his knowledge of everyone’s finances and his legal prowess, he was a potential kingmaker in the Blue Grass. (In other words, there’s a reason he’s one of the few through-and-through Unionists to remain powerful in state government post-1865.)
  2. D. W. Lindsay – He commanded a crew of paid guerrilla hunters under the heading of “secret police”; these men, like Edwin “Bad Ed’ Terrell, were paid to track down and kill Kentucky’s most notorious bushwhackers.
  3. Stephen Burbridge – Though he technically fell under the authority of Thomas Bramlette in Kentucky, Burbridge more or less did as he pleased, which included deeming other powerful Union officers (like Gen. John B. Huston) disloyal and having them arrested on behalf of President Lincoln.
  4. Thomas Bramlette – As governor he oversaw nearly all of the state’s wartime activities—and was still expected to keep civil government afloat.
  5. E. H. Taylor, Sr. – Taylor was a member of the influential Military Board (which oversaw military purchases for the state) at the same time he helped run one of the state’s major money-lenders. If you needed a loan—and Kentucky always needed a loan—this was the man to see.

Whitney

  1. Thomas Bramlette – He takes first place by virtue of holding the highest office for the longest amount of time, evidenced by almost 3,000 documents.
  2. John W. Finnell – As Adjutant General, principal military advisor to Gov. Bramlette while a war was raging, he was in a very influential role.
  3. Samuel Suddarth – Serving as Quarter Master General, Suddarth was tasked with keeping the troops supplied by managing the ordering & distributing of supplies essential to the war effort.
  4. James F. Robinson – Though he served as Governor for a short time, he was part of a compromise wherein the Confederate-leaning Magoffin agreed to step down and let Robinson, a moderate, take over. Interestingly, since he never resigned his Senate seat, he technically filled both rolls simultaneously.
  5. James Garrard – He served as State Treasurer throughout the war, and as Mayer Amschel Rothschild allegedly said, “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

Patrick

  1. James F. Robinson – Don’t let his one-year term as Governor fool you, Robinson played state politics as adeptly as Frank Underwood could have done. While we can’t know if he pushed anyone in front of a train, Robinson adeptly turned down the senate speakership before having a cabal of Lexington friends arrange Magoffin’s resignation and his convoluted ascension to the Executive Mansion. As George Washington showed, the best way to accrue power is to look like you don’t want it. More astonishingly, Robinson refused to vacate his senate seat, leaving him free to return to harassing the Lincoln administration via the Committee on Federal Relations after Bramlette took office.
  2. Hamilton Pope – Louisville politics ran through Hamilton Pope. An old-Whig and former Know-Nothing, Pope was undoubtedly part of the closed-door decision that cut Louisville German and Irish immigrants out of independent regiments and elevated his brother, Curran Pope, to a Colonelcy. In addition to being an invaluable petition signature for anyone hoping for a pardon out of the Jefferson Circuit Court, Pope also runs point on using city government and the police department to enforce (increasingly irrelevant) fugitive slave laws.
  3. Rufus K. Williams – A fiercely Unionist circuit judge from the overwhelmingly Confederate Jackson Purchase, Williams raised a military unit and used his recruits to broker a deal for himself. When the time came to muster his troops into federal service, Williams traded a permanent military commission for a seat on the Kentucky Court of Appeals (the forerunner of the state supreme court) vacated by rebel sympathizer Alvin Duvall—ditching a hostile local electorate for a secure post backed by the statewide Unionist majority.
  4. Madison C. Johnson – His brother, rebel governor George W. Johnson, gets all the headlines in the family, but Madison Johnson controlled most of the available credit in the Bluegrass via the Northern Bank of Kentucky in Lexington. Johnson arranged hundreds of thousands of dollars in military loans to the Commonwealth in 1861-62—and was never hesitant to hold up the next installment to ease along a friend’s military commission. His loans to the state, backed by eventual federal repayment, helped his bank weather the collapse of many borrowers’ fortunes after slavery ended in 1865.
  5. Sherley & Woolfolk – This Louisville corporate duo of Zachariah M. Sherley and Richard H. Woolfolk often appear together in documents. Their firm ran a number of steamboats along the Ohio River and operated an outfitting business that sold supplies to others. Consequently, whether the state needed to move a battalion from Maysville to Paducah or buy a few barrels of ships biscuit to feed a hungry regiment, Sherley & Woolfolk were ready and willing to profit. That they signed insider political petitions under their corporate name shows an awareness of the importance of their business to the management of the war and, perhaps, some intuition for hammering home a branding message.

MOST MEMORABLE NAMES: Our editors have compiled a list of the most memorable names encountered in the CWG-K database in 2015.

  • Greenberry Tingle
  • Swift Raper
  • Wam Timbar (involved in a hatchet-throwing case, if you can believe it)
  • Green Forrest
  • August Worms

MOST MEMORABLE DEMISE: If you’ve followed the CWG-K blog over the past few months, it’s readily apparent that the database has no paucity of unusual and/or gruesome deaths. Each editor has selected the most memorable demise.

Tony

  • Jane Doe Murder Victim – In October 1865, evidence was presented concerning the corpse of a woman, approximately twenty-five years old, found on the outskirts of Louisville. The following is a description of her condition: “Her wounds are as follows a cut over each Eye one on forehand Forehead one just in front of Right Ear. Several Bruises on inside of right thigh and a wound which looked as though the flesh was twisted out her intestines was puled from her body through the Fundament Showing an act of the moste Diabolical rufianian the intestines cut or pulled loose from her body. Her cloths were all torn off of her not a Partickel remaining on her except one garter. Her right arm had been amputated just below the shoulder. the Evidences was plain of a sever strugle with some one from all I can learn I think a Negro did it.”

Matt

  • Ewing Litterell – An uninvited Litterell drunkenly barged into the home of James Savage, proclaimed himself “a stud horse” and boasted that he’d had sexual relations with all of the women in the house (and that he would do it again whenever he pleased). Savage let a full load of buckshot — which he fired into Litterell’s chest — serve as a “no you won’t.”

Whitney

  • Philip Medard – In January 1864, Philip Medard of Jefferson County died of cold and starvation after his son, Jacob Medard, “did confine & Starve his said father in an out house & kitchen & did starve and freeze him the said Philip by refusing to provide meat & food & clothing for him, & by thus exposing him to the weather.” There are definitely more violent deaths in the CWG-K database, but to date, only one happened in the out house.

Patrick

  • Colonel Francis M. Alexander – In what seems to have been an un-diagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder, Alexander drew a pistol on and killed a good friend without any motive or memory of the incident. His pardon petition is a moving account of a man coming to grips with his actions and his state of mind. “The exciting circumstances of the rebellion and its fearful consequences…which in rapid and mournful succession swept over his native, and beloved State, have Come upon his anxious and troubled mind with such force, that many events have transpired in his history during the last four years of his country’s trial, which appear to him almost as a dream.”

MOST OUTRAGEOUS PARDON: A major component of the CWG-K archive is requests for executive clemency. Each member of the editorial staff was tasked with identifying the most memorable pardon of 2015.

Tony

  • Otha Reynolds – In May 1862, Peter Gastell jumped bail and caused his bondholder, Reynolds, to forfeit $1000 to the court. That is, until Reynolds petitioned Governor Thomas Bramlette for clemency. Bramlette gave no legal justification for issuing Reynolds a remission, but said this: “Being in a merciful mood Ordered that this forfeiture except costs & fees be remitted.”

Matt

  • Michael Foley – An Irish rail worker and former Union vet, Foley believed that Merritt and Vardiman Dicken were pro-Confederate guerrillas on the run. In reality, the Dicken brothers were themselves fleeing from an attack by pro-Confederate bushwhackers. Foley attempted to detain the brothers and killed Merritt in the process. Governor Thomas E. Bramlette granted Foley a full pardon on the logic that it was better to accidentally kill men who might not have been guerrillas than to let any potential guerrillas escape unharmed.

Whitney

  • Garrett Whitson – Supporters of Garrett Whitson successfully requested his pardon for murdering violent melon thief, John Spikard. In the petition, they do not claim his innocence, but rather report that Whitson was convicted on the flimsy evidence of two notorious prostitutes, relatives of the deceased. That, combined with his ill health and large family, was enough to procure his release.

Patrick

  • Lawrence County Lynch Mob – In KYR-0001-004-3193, the members of a lynch mob on the Kentucky-West Virginia border preemptively write to Governor Bramlette late in 1865 after they have caught and summarily executed members of a pro-Confederate guerrilla band which had murdered many men in their community. “In getting Rid of them People Did not think that the act was unlawful & might get those Engaged in it in Trouble They only felt that Each man woman and child in our Valley was safer than before.”

TIME TRAVEL MEETING: Finally, we’ve asked each editor to select one character from the CWG-K archive that they would most like to spend an hour with when the Flux Capacitor becomes a reality.

Tony

  • Richard Hawes – Mostly to ask, where were you? What did you do for three years after you were installed as Provisional Governor of Kentucky?

Matt

  • Joseph Swigert – In a word: bourbon. The Swigert family owned the Leestown Distillery (which would later become E. H. Taylor’s O. F. C. Plant, then the George T. Stagg Distillery, and today Buffalo Trace).

Whitney

  • Sarah Bingham – It’s safe to say that upon moving to Grant County in 1866, Ms. Bingham did not receive a warm welcome from the neighbors. The women of the area “were of the opinion that the morals of the neighborhood would not be improved by having in their midst a common prostitute.”  When her cabin burned down, nine local men indicted for arson. The petitioners claim these men were honorable, respectable citizens who would never commit such a common crime and accuse Sarah Bingham of burning her own house down with the intent to disgrace these men. Their petition was refused by Bramlette, who, like myself, must have realized there was more to this story.

Patrick

 

 

It’s a Hard Knock Life for… Everyone: The Laws of “Universal Adulthood” in Civil War Kentucky

By Matthew C. Hulbert

spencer1In 1865, a jury of Covington (KY) residents slapped William Spencer with a 3 ½ year sentence for stealing a pair of pants from a fellow boarder. Now, if you’re at all familiar with previous CWG-K bloggings, you know that convicted murderers, rapists, and rampaging guerrillas frequently found themselves on the business end of far lighter sentences than Spencer (and sometimes without any sentences at all). What makes this case all the more compelling, however, is that by modern standards—that is, by contemporary, western ones—William Spencer was still a child at the time of his trial. According to affidavits, he was “left an orphan at two years of age and was tenderly reared by his Grandparents who were worthy members of the Methodist Church.” His grandparents died soon after and, while living with an uncle, young William fell in with “bad associations.” At roughly fifteen years of age, he quit “Sabbath School,” ran away from home, found a job, lost it, and was induced by poverty to steal the aforementioned pair of trousers.

At first take, sending a fifteen year old boy to the state penitentiary—a facility brimming with much older, more violent inmates—for stealing a pair of pants seems unthinkable. Even more so when we recall that the pants weren’t even new and couldn’t have been worth more than a few dollars. In reality, though, this wasn’t all that unusual of an occurrence in Civil War Kentucky. To put things mildly, perceptions of adolescence and understandings of how the law should be applied to children was a combined mess.

turman1Take for example the legal woes of James L. Turman, a tavern owner in Boyd County, who was fined $50 for “selling liquor to an infant.” The legal drinking age in Kentucky was twenty-one, then as now, and Turman fully confessed to having sold spirits to Sobble Burgess in spring 1863. The barkeeper defended himself, however, owing to the facts that at the time of the sale, Burgess was twenty years old and representing himself as twenty-one, but was also “well grown,” “doing business for himself,” and had permission from his father to drink. Perhaps most strikingly of all, in May 1863 when he bought the drink, Burgess was a candidate in Catlettsburg’s mayoral election, which Turman assumed could only be so if Burgess was “in his majority.”

Then we have the case of John Watson, a fourteen year old boy who enlisted in the Provost Guard as a drummer in 1861. A couple of years later, when part of his battalion was mustered out of service, Watson “reenlisted in Capt Flares Mounted company 34th Ky Vols.” This move prompted Colonel W. Y. Dillard of the 34th Kentucky Infantry to write Governor Thomas E. Bramlette with a request to have John transferred to his command; apparently the Colonel had “promised his [Watson’s] widowed mother to take care of him So long as I remain in the service.” In other words, with the Union not facing troop shortages like the Confederacy, Dillard understood that Watson was still a child and believed that he didn’t belong in combat service. (Once under his purview, Dillard could have Watson put back into his role as a drummer boy.)

Around the same time Dillard was trying to secure a transfer for Watson, a “free man of color” named Peter Yager was being convicted of larceny. According to petitioners on his behalf, Peter “was charged with stealing Tobacco, which was tied up in large hands & handled indifferently, and upon the trial, the proof introduced established beyond a doubt, that said Boy Peter, raised & cured just such Tobacco.” They also argued that “the Boy Peter proved a good character from his youth up to said trial, for industry and honesty his age was also proven to be from 15 to 17 years.” Translation: Peter’s (white) defenders believed that a farmer had carelessly lost his own tobacco and then blamed Peter for stealing it to cover the loss, despite proof that the young man had raised his own crop. Even the town marshal who’d originally arrested Peter and the prosecutor who’d convicted him signed the plea for executive clemency.

akin1Finally, we come to the October 1863 saga of Graham Akin, a fourteen year old boy from Danville. Described as “very delicate & slender,” Akin was swinging in the gymnasium of the Frankfort-based Waterman School when Thomas Davenport, three or four years Akin’s senior and billed as “heavy & stout,” stood in front of the swing and refused to move. Akin tried to ignore the bully; “he continued his exercises and slightly brushed against Davenport, where-upon Davenport Choaked and otherwise maltreated Akin.” In response, Akin snapped: he “rushed into the house of Mr Waterman, sized his gun and shot Davenport with small shot.” A grand jury in Frankfort indicted Akin on a charge of “shooting, in sudden heat and passion … with intent to kill.” Despite being held on $6000 bond, when Akin pled guilty to the charges, he was found guilty and fined just $50.

So what happened to all of these “child criminals?” And more importantly, what sense can we make of their stories?

  1. In September 1863, John Turman had his fine remitted for selling liquor to a minor and, while it appears Sobble Burgess lost his bid for the mayor’s office, he was never legally disciplined for misleading Turman.
  2. In December 1863, William Spencer was pardoned after serving only about a month of his prison sentence; he went to live in New York with relatives and, as far as we can tell, stayed out of trouble.
  3. Unfortunately, we aren’t sure if John Watson was transferred to the care of Colonel Dillard—or if he survived the war.
  4. We do know, however, that freeman Peter Yager had served half of his prison term by the time his petition was rejected by Governor Thomas Bramlette and that he spent another six months in the state penitentiary. (This isn’t a major surprise: by 1863–64, Governor Bramlette did little to hide contempt for his African American constituents.)
  5. And, lastly, there’s Graham Akin, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was fined a whopping $50. Upon appeal to Governor Bramlette, his fine was remitted. Davenport, now sporting a nasty scar, presumably stopped picking on Akin.

As their cases collectively illustrate, from regulations on drinking and firearms to military service and everyday criminal offences, the law in Kentucky generally failed to take a consistent stance on children. On one hand, the state enforced a mandatory drinking age, which clearly transmitted the idea that some citizens (those under twenty one) were not yet considered “legal adults” by the law’s reckoning. But the state also allowed boys technically under the legal enlistment age to serve in the military, which immediately weakens the notion that mandatory age limits were strictly enforced across the board and calls into question how the state could justify not allowing a twenty year old citizen to drink whiskey on account of his age but saw no issue with handing him a rifle and sending him into Napoleonic combat. (A question many still ask of current drinking and enlistment laws in the United States.)

On the other hand, though, we see numerous instances of children either being punished as adults for petty crimes, such as stealing worthless pants, or being pardoned due to their youth and inexperience for very serious crimes, such as attempted murder. This indicates that to some extent, the legal code in Kentucky blanketed all of the state’s residents, regardless of age, with a “universal adulthood”—while at the very same time the people who supposedly made and maintained that legal code (the governor, judges, lawyers, town marshals, etc.) understood more often than not that children ought to have been afforded unique treatment by the justice system.

Why they didn’t take the time to update the books and infuse stability into the juvenile sector of the justice system is anyone’s guess, though being trapped in the middle of the bloodiest military conflict in American history probably had something to do with it. Regardless, Kentucky was the epitome of contradiction when it came to legally dealing with children in the 1860s. Then again, given the state’s penchant for Conservative Unionism, its self-injuring methods for combating irregular violence, and the peculiar, even counter-intuitive legal hoops it jumped through to protect slavery, when wasn’t Kentucky a contradiction during the Civil War?

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.


SOURCES: Richard Areson, Affidavit, n. d., Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky (hereafter KDLA); Richard Areson to Thomas E. Bramlette, 24 Nov 1865, KDLA; James L. Furman to James F. Robinson, 4 May 1863, KDLA; Charles B. Cotton to Thomas E. Bramlette, 6 Jan 1864, KDLA; P. U. Major, W. H. Sneed, and John M. Hewitt, Jr. to Thomas E. Bramlette, 23 Oct 1863, KDLA; S. D. Delaney et al. to Thomas E. Bramlette, n. d., KDLA; H. M. Pierce to Beriah Magoffin, 28 May 1861, KDLA; W. Y. Dillard to Thomas E. Bramlette, 9 March 1864, KDLA; W. L. Jermane to Thomas E. Bramlette, 28 Nov 1865; KDLA.