Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Day the Civil War Came to Albany, Ky, pt. 1

During the Civil War, John W. Tuttle of Wayne County kept a diary while he served in the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. This story begins with his trip to Albany, three months after the war had officially begun.

"We arrived at Albany about 10am," he wrote on July 27, 1861. "The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town, we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee."

Bramlette, who was a Clinton County native and future Governor of Kentucky, had put his promising political career on hold to form and then command this regiment as its Colonel. The regiment became known as the Wild Riders.

Several men enlisted as soldiers that day in Albany. Nearly all of the Commissioned Officers were from Albany. John A. Brents served as Major, John Morrison, captain, Jonathan Miller, 1st Lieutenant, Lt. James E. Chilton, Capt. William Perkins and Capt. Delaney R. Carr. Another local resident, Dr. Benjamin Owens, served as hospital steward and physician before being promoted to First Lieutenant. Non-Commissioned Officers from Albany included Company Quartermaster Sergeant William Thrasher, 1st Sgt George D. Thrasher, Sgt. Cornelius Huff, Sgt. Jonathan E. Southerland, Sgt. Jesse F. Thrasher and Farrier Francis M. Cole. There were forty-eight privates. Among the locals were John Burchett, James H. Cumming, William C. Cole, Thomas A. Carr and Josiah Kennedy.

These new recruits formed Company C. Volunteers were not just from Clinton County, but also from across the state line in Fentress and Overton counties. Those who did not wish to enter the Infantry enrolled as Cavalry.

In his book, "The Wild Riders of the First Kentucky Calvary," Eastham Tarrant of Liberty wrote, "The companies that made up the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry were composed of the best men of their respective sections. There were some lawyers and other professionals and tradesmen among them, but the farmers predominated and some rough or lawless men. While some of the troops who volunteered may not have been the right material to make first-class heroes or soldiers, they were as good as any other soldier who ever fought under the Stars and Stripes. There were many beardless youths, and a large majority were young men. Some were middle-aged, while there were a few whose "sands of life" had nearly run out. There were fathers and sons in the same company.

After organization on July 27, 1861, the men were given time to arrange their business affairs at home and then reassemble in one week to go to a training camp in Garrard County. They were required to furnish their own horse and horse equipment. If they could not, their captains endorsed their obligations, retaining a certain portion of their pay until their obligations were met.

The newly formed troops left for training on Aug. 3rd. Major Brents, in his book, 'Patriots and Guerillas of East Tennessee and Kentucky,' wrote "This was a great day in Albany. The entire population of the county had assembled to bid farewell to eighty-five citizens who had enlisted in the Union army for three years. It was the first company to depart from that section. Some had assembled through curiosity, but many had come to bid farewell to husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and relatives."

According to Major Brents, the company left for camp amidst the tears and shouts of the citizens. "They traveled a distance of about one hundred miles, through Monticello, Somerset, Crab Orchard and onto Camp Dick Robinson near Lancaster, where they arrived on the 6th of August. The march was one continual ovation as they were welcomed all along the route. The citizens of Monticello and Somerset, where they stayed during the nights of Aug. 3rd and 4th, received and feasted them like lords. Men and horses fared bounteously."

The Wild Riders participated in many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War, including the Siege of Corinth and the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River. Twenty-five of them died during the war, including 1st Lt. Jonathan Peery Miller and Pvt. Isaac Denton Cole, both of Albany, who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs while fighting with the 12th Ky Infantry. After being wounded in his thigh, Sgt. Chilton and another soldier carried 1st Lt. Miller to a ravine to shield him, but with the enemy drawing near, they were forced to abandon him there. After the battle, his remains were placed inside a coffin and buried near the battle ground. Later, his father removed the body and re-buried his son at Five Springs Cemetery in Clinton County. Pvt. Cole was severely wounded at the Battle of Mill Springs and died the following day. He is buried at Shipley Cemetery in Clinton County.

Sgt. Jonathan Southerland of Clinton County was 19 years old when he enlisted in Company C on July 27th in Albany. Just over two years later, on Oct 20, 1863, he was captured at Philadelphia, TN and imprisoned at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, where he died of dysentery eight months later. An estimated fourteen soldiers from the 3rd KY Infantry died in prison.

By the way, Confederate guerilla Champ Ferguson's brother, James, chose to fight in the Union army. He was a Corporal in Company C, but was killed by a citizen near Stanford, KY on Dec. 18, 1861. He is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

147 volunteer soldiers belonged to the Company during its service. Fifty-three were present when the troops mustered out.

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