Suggested Orphan Brigade Reading

    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 


The following volumes are recommended for those wishing to research the Orphan Brigade.  These are the primary sources that we recommend, for other writings on the Brigade, see our Bibliography page.

1. & 2. Ed. Porter Thompson, History of the First Kentucky Brigade (Cincinnati: Caxton Publishing House, 1868) and History of the Orphan Brigade (Louisville: Lewis N. Thompson, 1898; reprinted by Morningside Books, Dayton, OH, 1973 and 1991; also reprinted by Janaway Pub., 2004). These two books, which must be considered together, form the cornerstone of Orphan Brigade research. The 1898 edition was basically an expanded version of the 1868 work, but did not entirely duplicate the earlier work. Justly considered one of the finest Civil War unit histories, these books present the complete history of the Brigade through official reports, anecdotes, biographies, and sketches of the men in the ranks.

3. William C. Davis, The Orphan Brigade: the Kentucky Confederates Who Couldn't Go Home (New York: Doubleday, 1980; reprinted by Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1994). Davis' superb use of numerous period references, including heavy reliance on the official Brigade record books in the National Archives, as well as writings in Southern Bivouac, provides the best modern history of the Brigade.  If you only read one book on the Orphan Brigade, make it this one.

4. William C. Davis, editor, Diary of a Confederate Soldier: John S. Jackman of the Orphan Brigade (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990). An edited transcription of the largely wartime journal of John Jackman, 9th Kentucky Infantry. Invaluable for details on camp life and Brigade history, although Jackman missed many battles.  (The original Journal is in the Library of Congress.)

5. A. D. Kirwan, editor, Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1956; reprinted 2002). The post-war reminiscences (based on wartime notes) of a soldier of the 9th Kentucky Infantry. Johnny borrowed freely from other soldiers' stories, but provided much useful information, particularly on the widespread actions as mounted infantry in Georgia and South Carolina.   (Original manuscript in the Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky)

6. Lot D. Young, Reminiscences of a Soldier of the Orphan Brigade (Louisville: Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., ca. 1918; reprinted 2000 by Tim Bowman, Elizabethtown, KY). A small paperback supposedly prepared to entertain World War I soldiers with stories from a previous war, this book is an expansion of Young's lectures to historical groups. Young was a Lieutenant in the 4th Kentucky Infantry.

7. Gervis Grainger, Four Years With the Boys in Gray (Franklin, KY: The Favorite Office, 1902; reprinted by Morningside Books, 1973, and Civil War Enterprises, Danville, KY, 1993). A very small book that is useful chiefly for Grainger's descriptions of Murfreesboro, Jonesboro, and prison life. Grainger was in the 6th Kentucky Infantry.

8. Adjutant General's Office, Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky: Confederate Kentucky Volunteers, War 1861-1865 (Frankfort: State Journal Company Printers, 2 Vols., 1915-1918; reprinted 1980-1990 by McDowell Publications, Utica, KY). Although not dealing solely with the Orphan Brigade, Vol. 1 contains compiled company rosters and notes, and Vol. 2 contains rosters of officers. Important for tracing an individual's service.  Also contains some information on regimental histories.

9. Southern Bivouac magazine, Volumes 1-3, 1882-1885 (Louisville, KY). This often overlooked source contains some prime Orphan Brigade material. The first three volumes were edited by members of the 4th and 9th Kentucky regiments, and contain many unit and individual anecdotes, particularly about the 4th Kentucky. All volumes available on microcard, and as a reprint by Broadfoot Publishing Co., Wilmington, NC, 1992-1993.

---- compiled by Geoff Walden




Comments to page authors:

Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at)
Laura Cook
: lcook62 (at)

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