Citation to the Roll of Honor, John Hinton Blanchard, Co. I, 4th Kentucky Infantry
Pvt. John Hinton Blanchard, Co. I, 4th Kentucky Infantry, was named to the Confederate Roll of Honor for his meritorious actions during the battle of Chickamauga, 20 September 1863. The following is a transcript of the original citation proposing his name to the Roll of Honor, written by his company commander, and endorsed by his regimental and brigade commanders. Such surviving citations to the Roll of Honor seem to be very rare, but this one is found in Blanchard's Compiled Service Record in the National Archives. Parts of the original are illegible (marked by ...). Following the citation is a story written about Blanchard after the war.
Camp 4th Ky Regt Vol Infantry
In compliance with General Order requiring the names of noncommissioned officers and privates who acted with distinguished skill and gallantry in the occasion of the battle of Chickamauga on the 19th & 20th September 1863, I with great pleasure forward the name of Private John H. Blanchard, Company I, 4th Ky. The circumstances under which private Blanchard … on the above occasion is mentioned, is as following.
in the morning of the 20th Sept. the regiment being deployed as
skirmishers, the zeal and ardor of Private Blanchard was particularly noticed by
his commander as well as myself. The left of our line of skirmishers, being in
front of the enemies’ breastworks, was exposed to a most galling fire, through
which Private Blanchard daringly marched to secure a position nearer the enemy,
from which his shots would do more execution.
occupying this position, the line of skirmishers fell back, exposing him to an
oblique as well as front fire, nothing daunted, private Blanchard quited not his
perilous post until the assembly of the reg’t was sounded, when failing to get
up to his company, he fell in with the left of the reg’t, & with it, made
the charge which resulted in the expulsion of the enemy from his position &
the capture of his battery.
evening of the same day, the 4th Ky forming a portion of the main
line of battle, being ordered to make the memorable charge which decided the
fate of the day & drove the enemy cowed and discomfited behind his defenses,
private Blanchard was observed not to have lost any of the dash which
characterized the morning attack, but hastening forward over all obstacles,
punishing the enemy at every step, fell within ten feet of their breast works,
having received a severe wound in his leg.
the more pleased with the opportunity offered of presenting private
Blanchard’s name for the honor to be awarded to courage and … , in as much
as the entire company heartily concurs with me in giving him our praise for his
gallantry on the field where deeds of chivalric daring were enacted, which will
furnish a higher page in the history of the heroic defense of our southern
principles & homes.
Very Respectfully submitted
Head Qtrs 4th Ky Regt Vols
certify on honor that Private John H. Blanchard was in my report of the Battle
of Chickamauga, mentioned as having displayed distinguished valor
on said battle field and that his name was forwarded to the War Department a few
days after the Battle he being selected by his Company ...
Thos. W. Thompson
Hd Qtrs Ky Brig
John H. Blanchard is mentioned in the report of the Battle of Chickamauga by
Lt.Col. Thompson commanding 4th Kentucky as having displayed
reported to me as a most excellent & gallant soldier and deserving the
especial attention of the honor.
Jos. H. Lewis
Source: Compiled Service Record, John H. Blanchard, 4th Kentucky Mounted Infantry CSA, RG 109, National Archives, Washington, DC
When the th Kentucky infantry was organized, it numbered amongst its enlisted men a young man of good family which also had two sons in the armies of the Confederacy. The young infantryman, the subject of my sketch had been reared on a large farm, in the lap of luxury, and influenced by his surroundings and early training, though his patrician blood degraded when he found that the company, of which he was a member, was to be officered in part by mechanics, men whose youth and early manhood had been passed in manual labor. That they were thoroughly drilled soldiers and competent officers carried no weight with the recruit; he thought, and thought aloud, that gentlemen-privates should be commanded by gentlemen officers, and no argument could convince him to the contrary. Added to this, the young soldier had a way of shading the most trivial nothings in the most glowing colors. Personally he had no sense of fear, and numerous were the rows in which he figured as principal. His popularity in the company was lost, and but few of the older and steadier of its members would hold fellowship with him. He was incorrigible, nor was the fault his alone. He was picked at by every one. Well, in this way the winter of ‘61-2 wore away, and April 6, ’62, found him with his company and regiment at Shiloh. On this bloody field he, in some unaccountable way, lost his company and was captured. Several of the wounded men of his command, and some of the infirmary corps, reported after the battle that they had seen him at the field-hospital, and that he was not wounded or in any way disabled. He was not a hospital steward, he was not a member of the infirmary corps, he was not wounded—why was he there? And being there, in the rear of the army, why was he captured? He was not present to answer these pointed questions, and his enemies used the facts to say a great many ugly things to his discredit. His company had behaved gallantly and suffered immensely; eighteen, out of forty-one, dead on the field. It looked ugly, and even the few friends he had left could find no excuse for him.
Late in the fall of ’62, the command being camped for a few days in Northern Mississippi, the writer took a stroll into the woods which lay between the camp and the railroad station. While sitting on a fallen tree listening to the falling leaves and speculating on the probable duration of the war (I had then no doubt of its results), I saw the subject of much company talk and vituperation walking leisurely toward me, swinging a wallet in his hand and whistling happily. I called him to me—my faith in him was not gone—and after telling him what was said about him by his comrades, asked him for an explanation of his conduct.
He said he had dropped out of line by permission, and before he could rejoin his company the regiment had changed its position in the field; that in hunting for the command the wheel of a passing caisson had struck him against his hip, and for a time disabled him; that he had found his way to the brigade field-hospital, but as the surgeons were too busy with badly wounded men to pay him any attention he started again to find the regiment, but not being able to do so, he had gone into the fight with another command and been captured. I told him his story would not find much credence in his company, and not to tell it to any one else, but to go with me to the officer commanding the regiment and demand a court of inquiry as to the truth of the statements which had been made to his injury during his absence. He willingly put himself in my hands, and we went direct to the headquarters of the regiment. The lieutenant-colonel commanding recognized him at once and halted him at the entrance to his marque, saying that he was the only man in the regiment who had shown the white feather at Shiloh; that he was a disgrace to an old and honorable family, and that he should be drummed out of the regiment—and the old Spartan meant it, every word. I told the colonel that my young friend was before him for the purpose of demanding a court of inquiry, and asked him to hold his drumming-out resolution in abeyance until we heard the sentence of the court. To this proposition he readily assented, and directed me to at once detail a regimental court-martial and summon the officers and men of company [I] before it to make good their oft-repeated charges. The court was hastily convened, and the prosecution summoned. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, a half hour, forty minutes passed, and the tension of suspense is great. I both admired and pitied the poor boy who was bearing it so calmly. He thought I was his only friend, and knew I had done for him all I could. One of the court, Captain M----, a gallant, noble, and manly fellow, moved the court that inasmuch as the officers and men of the company had failed to respond to the summons of the court, and that as forty minutes of its time had been consumed in waiting for them to appear and make good their charges, and they had not done so, that private [Blanchard] be declared innocent and ordered to report to his company. The motion being put and unanimously carried, the court adjourned. I took the young man in hand again, and told him to go to his company, to deport himself as though nothing unpleasant had occurred; to spit the coloring from his tongue when he was telling what he knew of prison-life and other things, and in fact to change as far as possible his nature to suit the peculiar circumstances of his case; to do his duty like a man and without a murmur, and when another battle should be fought to make himself as conspicuous by his presence as he had been at Shiloh by his absence. I watched him closely, and saw with pleasure the admirable fight he was having with himself. No one taunted him with the past, and he was making friends of his old enemies. We were ordered to Tennessee in a short while after the foregoing, and the 2d of January, ’63, the date made memorable by the charge of Breckinridge’s division against ten times its numbers and more than fifty pieces of artillery, and known to history as the battle of Murfreesboro, furnished the day and field on which my young friend was to retrieve himself. Being very tall and on the extreme right of the company, it was easy for him to say, “Captain, this promises to be hot work, and I ask you as a small favor to me, to notice if any man goes further in this fight than I do!” The signal-gun is fired, and away we go across the field, over the fence, and into the woods, where the decoy division awaits but to fall back and cross the river before us. With lines broken, and in utter confusion, on we dash! The enemy has fled, but his parked batteries are tearing us horribly. Nothing animal can live there, and we fall back from the trap crushed and bleeding. Hanson, Bramlette, Roberts, Dunn, Burnley, and hundreds more of our best and bravest had fallen, and here, where the bravest blanched, my young friend had won back his name and title to the respect of all. His captain told me that night that as it was understood we would be ordered on dangerous duty in the morning, and as no man could say who would fall, he wanted me to know that he retracted every thing he had said derogatory to [Blanchard], and that he had behaved with as much courage and coolness as any man on the field, and, at my suggestion, he made the same remarks to the company the next morning when it was drawn up in line in company-quarters.
From this day on the nature of my young friend had undergone an entire change. He was no longer the giddy rattle-pate, but had become a serious, thoughtful man, ever willing to lend a helping hand to a comrade, and scrupulously exact in the discharge of his duties.
On the banks of the river of Death another great battle was fought, and there at Chickamauga as at Murfreesboro my young friend, as though determined to confirm and establish beyond cavil the good name he had won at the latter place, dashed to the front of his company in the last charge which drove the enemy from the field, and was severely wounded within fifteen feet of their works.
A few days after the battle an order was received for the companies to assemble and select the man who had been most distinguished on the field for daring and skill as a soldier. Where all equally deserved the honor which the war department would confer in a medal bearing name and date of the battle, it would have been difficult to select one for the favor; but, on my suggestion that [Blanchard] deserved it as a slight reparation for the great injustice done him in the past, there was not one dissenting voice, and the history of his part in the glorious day being written and sent on to the department, he became the proud recipient of the medal. As soon as he could get about on crutches, he came to the regiment and said if he could get a copy of the paper which had obtained his medal for him, and have it approved by his colonel and brigadier-general, that his member of Congress would get him a commission as lieutenant of cavalry or artillery, as he was, by reason of his wound, no longer fitted for infantry service. The paper was again drawn up and properly approved, the colonel approving being his old captain, and very glad to repair the wrong he had done him.
The congressman was true to his word, and obtained the commission, and the last I heard of [Blanchard], during the war, he was serving in a cavalry command in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. I have not seen him since the war.
My advice to him would have been thrown away had the soil been barren. His own pluck and determination won him his spurs, and I was very glad and proud of him.
"Nondescript" was a pen-name for John L. Marshall, Sgt.Maj. of the 4th Kentucky Infantry. Marshall was originally a member of Company I, but had been promoted to regimental sergeant-major in November 1861, which position he held for the remainder of the war. He was one of the original editors of the "Southern Bivouac" magazine in the early 1880s; as such, he often contributed under a pen-name (as did some of the other editors). The above article appeared in the "Youth's Department" of the August 1883 issue (Vol. 1, No. 12, pages 471-474). Marshall omitted names and units in this article (the omissions [ ] have been filled in above), but it is obvious this story is about John Blanchard.
Blanchard was reported to have received a commission as a lieutenant and a transfer to a cavalry command in eastern Kentucky or in Virginia. The only soldier I have found in period records to fit this was John H. Blanchard of Co. E, Neal's 16th Battalion Tenn. Cav. However, this soldier served as a private, not a lieutenant. This unit did, however, serve in Virginia in 1864.
Comments to page authors:
Geoff Walden: enfield577 (at) live.com
All contents copyright ©1996-2014, Geoff Walden, Laura Cook. All rights reserved. No text or photos may be reproduced without the permission of the owners. We gratefully acknowledge the generous permission of the owners in allowing us to show their images and other information on this page.