On the afternoon of July 18, 1862, Newport, Kentucky, attorney James Russell Hallam was arrested at his home by the city’s provost marshal and “a large body of armed regular soldiers.” When he demanded to know the charges against him, Hallam later recounted, the provost marshal refused to tell. Hallam was taken under guard to the U.S. Barracks at Newport and held overnight. The next morning he and several other Kentucky citizens were sent to Camp Chase prison in Columbus, Ohio, where Hallam wrote to Kentucky Governor James Robinson that he had been “closely confined ever since & deprived of my liberty.” Writing a month after his arrest, Hallam also reported what he had learned from the post commander about the cause of his imprisonment: He was “charged in general terms with disloyalty, to the United States Government” but, by Hallam’s account, “no specific act or word of disloyalty” had been named against him.
Amid the crisis of civil war, Kentucky civilians like Hallam became political prisoners, arrested—often on vague allegations of disloyalty—and imprisoned without ever being legally charged with a crime. Political detentions, which occurred mostly in border states, were meant to be preventative and usually did not lead to criminal prosecutions. Once a person was in custody, an investigation determined whether sufficient evidence of disloyalty existed to merit further incarceration; if it did not, the prisoner could be released, usually on condition of taking a loyalty oath. Ideologically speaking, “disloyalty” was not strictly limited to overt support for the Confederacy but could encompass opposition to various facets Union war policy. The imprisonment of Hallam and dozens of other political prisoners who petitioned the Kentucky governor from Camp Chase in the summer of 1862 reflected a deeply flawed system of identifying dissidents, one that threatened to worsen an already tenuous political situation in Kentucky.
In August 1862, a total of 130 Kentucky citizens signed two petitions—one generated in each of two prison barracks at Camp Chase—declaring they had been wrongfully incarcerated and asking the assistance of the Kentucky governor. Both petitions argued the illegality of the arrests and the denial of due process to which the signers had been subjected. The petition from Prison No. 2 was dated August 6 and addressed to Beriah Magoffin, who would soon resign his office. Ninety-three inmates of Prison No. 2 asserted that they were taken to Camp Chase “by the force of arms, against our will and consent, in violation of the laws of Kentucky and the laws of the United States.” They declared they had been arrested “without warrant or law” and noted that many had “been in confinement for a long time, with no hope of being released or having any hearing before any tribunal.” They insisted that they were “law-abiding citizens of Kentucky and the United States,” that they had “not violated the laws of either,” and that their imprisonment was “unjust, both in law and in the eyes of God and man.” The prisoners hoped the Kentucky legislature would “take speedy action” to assist them and “not allow her sons to rot in prison, without charge or crime of any kind.” On August 19, 1862, thirty-seven prisoners from various parts of Kentucky who were incarcerated in Camp Chase Prison No. 1 similarly declared that they had been arrested “without warrant and without legal authority, in violation of law and their civil and legal rights, & forced out of the State of Ky.” The petitioners insisted that they were “unlawfully held” at Camp Chase, and that they had “always been law, abiding citizens of the State of Ky, and [had] never committed an act of disloyalty against that State or the United States.” Yet they claimed they had been told by a prison official that they could “only regain our liberty by proof establishing our innocence — a principle unprecedented and unknown to the law.”
Historian Stephen C. Neff identifies August and September of 1862 as having the highest rates of political arrests during the Civil War. This time frame coincided with the first efforts toward conscription, the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and the first national suspension of habeas corpus. Martial law measures were also adopted that allowed detention for interfering with Union enlistments and for the highly subjective offence of “disloyal practices,” which generated what Neff describes as a “veritable orgy of detentions.” Camp Chase records suggest detentions in Kentucky began to escalate slightly earlier, in July 1862. James R. Hallam was one of 28 Kentucky citizens and 7 Newport residents who arrived at Camp Chase from the Newport Barracks on July 19. On July 22, the prison received another 25 residents of Newport or Campbell County. For the entire month of July, the prison received 153 civilian prisoners from Kentucky, only 21 of whom arrived before July 15. In August, 50 prisoners arrived from Kentucky; in September, the number fell to 40.
The orders of General Jeremiah T. Boyle demanding that certain categories of Kentucky citizens report to provost marshals to take loyalty oaths, coupled with a heightened military threat in the summer of 1862, precipitated the spike in citizen arrests. Boyle prefaced his June 19 directive with the statement that “peaceful and law-abiding citizens and residents of the State must be protected in their persons, property, and rights.” But anyone who had joined the Confederate forces, given them assistance, or crossed their lines without the proper permissions and since returned were ordered to appear before provost marshals in Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington, or Paducah. These citizens were then required to “furnish evidence of… repentance, and take the oath of allegiance, and give bonds and security for their future good conduct.” Persons who failed to report would be “arrested and committed to the military prison at Louisville, and sent thence to Camp Chase” with a written record of the charges against them. There, they would wait for further action by the Secretary of War. Boyle also instructed that “In times of trouble like these, good, law-abiding men will refrain from language and conduct that excite to rebellion.” Allowing a wide latitude for interpretation, he prescribed arrest for “anything said or done with the intent to excite to rebellion.”
A confluence of military events also accounted for an increase in arrests, particularly in northern Kentucky, where Campbell County provost marshal Henry C. Gassaway proved highly effective in identifying and removing potential disloyal persons. On July 18, the day James Hallam was arrested, and in the days following, Gassaway executed what might be considered mass arrests of suspected disloyal persons. When he was later called upon to defend his actions, he insisted he was acting on Boyle’s orders in the midst of a military emergency. Two days before the arrests, Georgetown had been captured; a day after that, the battle of Cynthiana had been fought. On the 18th, Paris had been captured by John Hunt Morgan. According to reports in Newport, Morgan had 3,000 troops and was coordinating with General Marshal, who was advancing with his own large force from the eastern part of the state. At the same time, Kirby Smith was moving in from the south, and, as Gassaway recalled, he “very soon thereafter drove our lines back to within four miles of Cincinnati.” The situation in Newport was growing dire. On the day of the arrests, by Gassaway’s account, the telegraph wires were cut, the railroad captured, and “rebel Scouts were threatening the southern line of the County.” As Gassaway recalled,
The Commandant of the Post and the Barracks ordered their officers to prepare for an immediate attack and sent out Scouts and pickets along every approach to the City. A few days previously the guns in the fortifications around the hills of the city had been spiked and dismounted. The defences around the city were weak, and the union soldiers few and undisciplined. It was important that our true condition of Weakness should be Kept from the Knowledge of the Enemy. A large number of the fighting Union men of the Vicinity had been sent to the defense of the interior. 75 Home Guards of New Port were in the battle of Cynthiana, and on the morning of the 18th news came that they had met with defeat and disaster which added much to the Excitement and alarm of the people.
In June, Henry Gassaway had received the circular containing Boyle’s orders about how to deal with suspected disloyalty. It included a letter from John Boyle, the Assistant Adjutant General, who advised Gassaway to “arrest and send to Camp Chase a few of the most violent and rabid secessionists.”  Gassaway was told to send a report to headquarters, and the matter would be settled. During the crisis in July, Gassaway telegraphed General Boyle asking if he should make arrests of “persons then considered dangerous.” The answer he said he received was, “‘arrest them certainly.’”
Apprehended in the roundup of “dangerous” citizens was Hubbard D. Helm, the former sheriff and current master commissioner of the Campbell County Chancery Court. It was not Helm’s first arrest. With one brother in the Confederate army and another described as a “rebel agent abroad,” Helm had been arrested in November 1861. As reported in a memo compiled from records of the State Department, which had authority over political arrests at the time, Helm was accused of expressing the “strongest secession sentiments” and the hope that “Union troops on their way to the interior of Kentucky would never return alive.” Since that incident, Helm had not tempered his public comments. An affidavit sworn by an acquaintance of Helm’s in July 1862 claimed that Helm had been overheard talking with some men when news was reported that Fort Donelson had been captured. According to the witness’s statement, Helm replied that the news was “a damed lie and that any man that took that up was a liar and a sun of [a] Bitch.” When subsequent news was received of the defeat of Union troops, the witness reported, Helm seemed “Elated and Gratified.” Helm’s frequently observed “manner and conduct,” the witness concluded, “Showed that he was the enemy of the Government and that he desired the Success of the Southern Confederacy.”
Another name on the Prison No. 2 petition was Robert Maddox. The same memo that shows Helm’s prior arrest also shows that one Robert Maddox was arrested on the same day as Helm in November 1861 for making statements similar to Helm’s. On July 3, 1862, Henry Gassaway wrote General J. T. Boyle that Robert Maddox “is a man of meanse and has great influence with his money particularly in this neighborhood and uses it freely to effect his end.” Gassaway considered Maddox “a dangerous man to our Government” and suggested if he were “held for some time it will do much good in quelling outbursts among the Rebels in this County.” The four affidavits Gassaway sent to support the case against Maddox were not filed with his letter, so it is not known upon what evidence he based his conclusions. The 1860 census for Campbell County shows three Robert Maddoxes, who in 1862 would have been 18, 46, and 50 years old, but none match the 43-year-old Maddox who, prison records show, was arrested on July 1, 1862. Although it is uncertain if that was the same Robert Maddox who was earlier accused of volubly wishing the deaths of Union troops, both arrests illustrate the kind of opposition the U.S. forces encountered from the Kentucky citizenry and the perceived offenses that were thought to justify political detention.
Also among the people detained in July 1862 was Thomas L. Jones, a Newport attorney and politician who did not petition the Kentucky governor. In a sworn affidavit, William H. Wagner attested that he heard Jones make two political speeches and described one in which Jones declared that his father’s remains were in South Carolina, that his interests and sympathies were with the South, that he would arm his two sons—who were about ten and twelve years old at the time—with revolvers and “put them on his father’s Grave,” and that Jones would “take a Sword and fight the for the South.” When Wagner next met Jones, he questioned him about these remarks, saying he thought Jones was a Union man. According to Wagner, “He [Jones] said I am a union man, but he said our rights have been trampled on and I am ready at any time to fight against any Black Republican Government.” The comments reported by Wagner are a reminder that in Kentucky, a citizen’s allegiance could be a complex proposition, at times a shocking blend of Union ardor and virulent racism or a fidelity strained by passionate disagreements with Union war policy.
Christina K. Adkins has a PhD in American Studies and works as a volunteer on the CWGK Team. Her work focuses on slavery and cultural memory.
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 “Roll of Prisoners of War at Camp Chase Ohio,” Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, NARA RG 109, Microfilm Series M598, Roll 24, p. 190, accessed via Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/interactive/1124/M598_24-0241; James R. Hallam to James F. Robinson, 18 August 1862, Office of the Governor, James F. Robinson: Governor’s Official Correspondence File, Military Correspondence, 1862-1863, R2-3 to R2-4, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, KY. Accessed via the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, http://discovery.civilwargovernors.org/document/KYR-0001-027-0005.
 James R. Hallam to James F. Robinson, 18 August 1862, Office of the Governor, James F. Robinson: Governor’s Official Correspondence File, Military Correspondence, 1862-1863, R2-3 to R2-4, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, KY. Accessed via the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, http://discovery.civilwargovernors.org/document/KYR-0001-027-0005.
 Stephen C. Neff, Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 157-58.
 Neff, Justice in Blue and Gray, 150-51.
 Robert Maddox et al., “Letter from Prisoners at Camp Chase to Governor Magoffin,” Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Begun and Held In The Town Of Frankfort, On Monday, The Second Day Of September, In The Year Of Our Lord 1861, And Of The Commonwealth The Seventieth (Frankfort: Yeoman Office, 1861), 617.
 Thomas S. Bronston, Jr. et al. to James F. Robinson, 19 August 1862, Office of the Governor, James F. Robinson: Governor’s Official Correspondence File, Military Correspondence, 1862-1863, R2-9 to R2-10, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, KY. Accessed via the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, http://discovery.civilwargovernors.org/document/KYR-0001-027-0008.
 Neff, Justice in Blue and Gray, 157-58 (quote 158).
 Statistics Compiled from lists of prisoners received at Camp Chase for July-September 1862, Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865, NARA RG 109, Microfilm Series M598, Roll 25, accessed via Ancestry.com.
 The American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1862, vol. 2 (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1863), 542; Daily Democrat (Louisville, KY), June 10, 1862.
 Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, Main Series, 1861-1870, NARA RG 94, Microfilm Series M619, Roll 0370, File No. K250, p. 3, accessed via Ancestry.com, https://www.fold3.com/image/301027829.
 Ibid., 3-4.
 Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 5.
 Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Campbell County, Newport, p. 551; The Biographical Encyclopædia of Kentucky of the Dead and Living Men of the Nineteenth Century, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: J. M. Armstrong & Company, 1878), 362.
 “Memoranda of Various Political Arrests—From Record Book, U. S. Department of State, “Arrests for Disloyalty,” The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington, D.C., 1880-1901), series 2, vol. 2: 316.
 H. C. Gassaway to Genl. Boyle, 3 July 1862, Papers Relating to Citizens, compiled 1861 – 1867, NARA RG 109, Microfilm Series M345, Roll 0173, accessed via fold3.com, https://www.fold3.com/image/287497189.
 Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Campbell County, p. 761, 835, 851; “Prisoners Received at Camp Chase July 1862,” July 2, 1862, Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865, NARA RG 109, Microfilm Series M598, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Roll 25, accessed via Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/interactive/1124/M598_25-0045.
 Affidavit of William H. Wagner, Papers Relating to Citizens, Compiled 1861-1867, NARA RG 109, Microfilm Series M345, Roll 0148, accessed via fold3.com, https://www.fold3.com/image/287219065; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Campbell County, p. 914-15.