Early Recruiting

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 


   During the past ten days there has been a perfect exodus of gallant stalwart Kentuckians through this city to Tennessee to join the Southern army. At a fair computation, 800 here have left Louisville for Richmond via Nashville, and the cry is, still they come. At a moderate estimate more than two full regiments have gone from Kentucky to the South to offer their services to the Confederate States to fight in the defense of State Rights and Constitutional Liberty. In connection with this spontaneous movement of Kentuckians, we copy the following from the Lexington Statesman of yesterday:

   OUR GALLANT VOLUNTEERS -- As gallant a corps of citizen soldiers as ever kept step to martial music left our city last week for the Confederate States service. Many a heart saddened and many an eye moistened as these noble volunteers took their leave, buts as relations and friends contemplated the holy cause in which they were risking their lives emotions of patriotic pride swelled their bosoms. Fond hopes and confident expectations attend our brave boys. Union shriekers may sneer and Northern sympathizers may snarl, but the hearts of this community will beat in sympathy with our noble volunteers upon every battlefield.

   Fifty young men of Lexington are now at Camp Boone, near Clarksville, Tenn. -- They have entered the Confederate service, and are organized in a company officered as follows:

Captain -- Robert J. Breckinridge, Jr.
1st Lieut. -- Joel H. Higgins.
2d Lieut. -- Geo. B. Pickett.
3d Lieut. -- Ed. Keene.

The officers are too well known here to need encomium from us. We take especial pride, however, in rendering our testimony to the high social standing, gallantry, and personal worth of each [unclear] -- Captain Breckinridge has the confidence and esteem of his men to an eminent degree, and is well worthy the position. We shall be disappointed if he does not win rapid promotion. We learn that his company will receive large additions this week and will soon number one hundred men.

   We understand that twenty Kentucky companies are now concentrating at "Camp Boone." They are organized into two regiments, the first under Col. J. M. Hawes, late of the United States Army, the second under Col. Lloyd Tilghman, of Paducah. Capt. Breckinridge’s company is lettered C in Col. Hawes’ regiment.

   This brigade is the first organized. We much err if, in two months, there are not two such brigades of Kentuckians in the Confederate service. The very life blood of Kentucky is fast dripping away. Heaven grant the Old State may not awaken to find herself not only unarmed, but with the very sinews of her martial strength gone.

   For days past every train of cars to Louisville has borne off numbers of Kentuckians destined for the Confederate service. These gentlemen are sacredly respecting the laws of the State, going, as they do, in the capacity of private citizens, and assuming their military organizations when beyond the line of Kentucky. They constitute companies of two regiments which have been accepted by the Confederate States.

   Among those who passed through our city on yesterday, we mention Maj. McDowell, of Harrison, Maj. Hays and Capt. Madeira, of Covington.

   Capt. John S. Hope, of the "Hamilton Guards," K.S.G., Paris, and Lieut. Hawes, passed though our city to-day, en route for the camp at Clarksville. Capt. Hope’s company in the State Guard has disbanded, and the members are leaving for the South. Capt. Hope will organize in Clarksville a company of 115 gallant men.



(from the Louisville Daily Courier, 11 July 1861, page 1; copy courtesy Jimmie Epling)



The volunteers who left Louisville for Richmond were the Kentucky Battalions of Blanton Duncan and Thomas Taylor, which rendezvoused at Nashville and proceeded to Virginia, where the two units were merged to form the 1st Kentucky Infantry. This regiment was mustered out in May 1862, and several of its members subsequently served in the Orphan brigade.

The regiments organized at Camp Boone were the 2nd Kentucky Infantry, under Col. James Morrison Hawes, and the 3rd Kentucky Infantry, under Col. Lloyd Tilghman. Capt. Breckinridge’s company in the 2nd Ky. was actually Co. B, not C.

Hervey McDowell of Harrison County served as Major of the Bourbon Battalion, Kentucky State Guard. He recruited Co. F of the 2nd Ky. Inf. and served as its first Captain, later rising to the ranks of Major and Lieut-Colonel of the regiment. Samuel K. Hays served as Major of the Licking Battalion, KSG, and was Asst. Quartermaster of the 2nd Ky. Inf. Aston Madeira served as Captain of Co. H, 2nd Ky. Inf. He was later killed at Chickamauga.

Capt. John S. Hope reformed his KSG "Hamilton Guards" company as Co. G, 2nd Ky. Inf. Samuel B. Hawes served as his 2nd Lieut. in both the KSG and Co. G, 2nd Ky. He was later killed in the charge of the Orphan Brigade at Murfreesboro.

The Kentucky State Guard was the state’s organized militia of 1860-61. Many of its members were of Southern sympathies, and in fact, when the Unionist legislature took over the state in August 1861, they accused KSG Inspector General Simon B. Buckner of scheming to either use the KSG to take over the state for the Confederacy, or to take the KSG whole out of the state to serve in the Confederate forces. In fact, most of the KSG members scrupulously honored their state’s neutrality. Some companies, like the Hamilton Guards, did go nearly entirely into Confederate service, but they did so as private citizens, mostly leaving their KSG weapons and uniforms at home. Those state weapons that were taken South were often turned back in (at least early in the summer). However, there is no doubt that the trained officers and men of the KSG were of great benefit in so quickly organizing the regiments of the Orphan Brigade, and making the men ready for their first combat at Shiloh. For further information, see Richard G. Stone, Jr., A Brittle Sword: The Kentucky Militia, 1776-1912 (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1977, pp. 61-68); Official Records Ser. I, Vol. 4, pp. 370-71, 373-74, 378; Ser. I, Vol. 52, Part 2, pp. 146-148.

(notes compiled by Geoff Walden)


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Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at) live.com
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