6th Kentucky Letter

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 

Letter from the 6th Kentucky Infantry

Camp Near Bowling Green, Ky.
Nov. 26, 1861.

   The Sixth Kentucky Regiment is at present under command of Col. Joseph H. Lewis, of Barren County.

   The material out of which it is formed, unlike the Lincoln Ky. Regiments is wholly Kentuckian. It was born and educated upon Kentucky soil, and for it ... we have come with manly courage to pour out our life's blood for its glorious defense. We feel, as we stand upon our own native hills, ... that they are our peculiar birth-rights, heaven heritages for the brave alone. Especially now do we realize it, as we already hear the tramp of foreign mercenaries, and the insulting clanking of intruding arms.

   Our Regiment, in part, is composed of young men from the Southern counties of Kentucky, and they feel with one great mind, that the Usurper's minions shall never plant their unholy feet upon their sacred hearth-stones.

   Again in the other part, it is composed of Central Kentuckians, who had the true moral courage to speak their real sentiments in regard to the violation of their natural rights, and the manhood to be free.

   We are refugees, not from justice, but injustice and oppression.


   Since the establishment of the Provisional Government we feel every assurance that our vigorous and wise Governor will initiate some plan upon which an advance may be determined wise by the commanders-in-chief.

   Our regiment is almost complete, and advancing rapidly in the attainment of military knowledge.


Reporter for the 6th Ky. Reg't. Vol.

(excerpted from the Louisville Daily Courier, 2 December 1861; copy courtesy Jimmie Epling)



The author of this letter was probably Pvt. William E. Minor, Co. K, 6th Kentucky Infantry.

Minor’s implication that the Federal Kentucky regiments were not "wholly Kentuckian" was a common conception among Southerners, many of whom believed the Union army was composed mainly of foreigners just recently arrived in America, such as German and Irish. While there were many ethnic regiments in the North, those from Kentucky were no less Kentuckian than were the regiments of the Orphan Brigade.

The Provisional Government of Kentucky was established by pro-secessionists during a convention at Russellville on 18-20 November 1861. George Johnson of Scott County was elected governor. This Provisional Government was accepted into the Confederacy as its thirteenth state on 10 December 1861. Governor Johnson was killed at Shiloh, but the government continued to function throughout the war, albeit in exile from Kentucky, after February 1862.


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