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The Civil War years brought about changes that effected every family in Kentucky. The war literally

 placed father against son, brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor. The southern states had succeeded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The United States government could not let this happen, and the waters ran red with blood for the next four years. 


Kentucky officially adopted a policy of neutrality in the conflict. For the first months of the war, the Confederacy and the Union respected Kentucky's position. All the while, young men were leaving 

their homes joining troops to the North and South. The Kentucky State Guards leaned to the

 Southern sympathies. To even the situation, the state legislature authorized counties to form companies of Union men called Home Guards and Lincoln supplied them with arms. It was but a short few months into the war that troops of both sides began invading Kentucky soil.

Bands of guerrillas roamed the hills of Eastern Kentucky pillaging and murdering in the name of war.

 Crops and livestock were stolen or destroyed. Young boys and poor farmers were captured and forced into the conflict. Even some of the state sanctioned Home Guards became greedy and took advantage of a bad situation. It was an ideal time to settle old scores. Some soldiers of both sides were enemies of  the people. Though Wolfe County saw little of Union and Confederate troops, the Home Guards and guerrilla factions brought the war to the cabin doors of most of its citizens.


Civil War events in Wolfe County listed in chronological order.
Wolfe County Civil War stories of families and events.
A list of Wolfe countians who fought in the War Between the States.
Links to find more data about Kentucky in the Civil War. Many with Wolfe County connections!

Wolfe County Civil War Chronology

Based upon data compiled by Bill James

1 Jul 1860

Wolfe County is formed from Breathitt, Morgan, Powell and Owsley counties.

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6 Nov 1860

In the 1860 presidential election, the county gives 352 votes to John C. Breckinridge, 109 to John Bell and 0 for Abraham Lincoln.

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1 Dec 1860

The Wolfe Grays, a Kentucky State Guard unit, is formed at Campton with George W. Cox as Captain. Lieutenants included Thomas G. Asberry, John T. Fortner and Thomas Steel.

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4 May 1861

In the election relating to the Border State Convention, Wolfe County citizens cast a total of 216 votes for the Union Democracy candidate and 59 for the Southern Rights candidate.

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9 Jun 1861

The Wolfe Rangers, a Kentucky State Guard unit, was formed at Blackwater with John C. Lewis as Captain. Lieutenants included William Bristow, James R. Lawson and Caleb May.

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5 Aug 1861

George M. Hampton, a Southern Rights candidate, is elected to represent Wolfe and Morgan counties in the General Assembly.

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23 Oct 1861

Union forces led by Gen. William Nelson drives Confederates from Hazel Green. Nelson established his headquarters at the home of William Trimble.

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25 Oct 1861

Henry Chapman Swango is appointed Captain of a company of Confederate volunteers at Prestonsburg. The company is designated Company I of the 5th Kentucky Infantry.

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28 Jan 1862

The Provisional Government (Confederate) of Kentucky changes the name of Wolfe County to Zollicofer County to honor Gen. Zollicofer who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs.

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Mar 1862

The Louisville press reports that the State had recently furnished arms for the Wolfe County Home Guards.

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5 May 1862

Confederate recruits, led by Captain John J. Marshall, defeat Captain William L. Hurst's Home Guards at the Forks of Red River.

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11 May 1862

A group of Confederates, led by Weed Gay of Powell County, raids Campton. The next day, Gay's band is overtaken by Francis Marion Vaughn's Unionists on Swift's Creek and forced to leave their plunder behind.

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Jun 1862

A newspaper, the Lynchburg Virginian, reports that a Unionist named James Gilmore is killed in Wolfe County by William andAndy Martin. Gilmore's son, William, was wounded. Other Union men in Wolfe County were reported as being lynched.

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23 Sep 1862

Gen. George W. Morgan and his Union forces camp at Hazel Green.

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20 Oct 1862

The 5th Kentucky Infantry disbands at Hazel Green during Marshall's retreat from the state. Chapman Swango and G.W. Cox join Capt. John H. Bradshaw's command. David Swango recruits a company of cavalry which eventually becomes Company E of the 10th Kentucky Cavalry. Lt. A.J. Cox and other Wolfe countians join Capt. John T. Williams' company of cavalry.

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3 Jan 1863

Bradshaw and Swango raid Hazel Green and are subsequently routed by the 14th Kentucky Cavalry while pursuing a squad of Home Guards.

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18 Jan 1863

Chapman Swango is killed in a skirmish with Home Guards led by John Moore at Moore's home on Devil's Creek. John Moore is also killedin the clash.

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19 Jan 1863

Capt. George R. Diamond defeats the same Home Guards in a fight for the possession of Swango's corpse. Diamond and Robert Snodgrass are wounded. Three Home Guards, including Bill Moore and Hiram Baker, are killed in the fight.

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9 Mar 1863

A skirmish at Hazel Green.

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21 Mar 1863

Marshall's troops battle with Union forces at Hazel Green before advancing to Louisa.

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1 Apr 1863

Marshall and his men camp at the Swango farm during their retreat to Virginia.

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5 Apr 1863

Two of Marshall's men are bushwhacked on Devil's Creek. Three Union men are captured and shot. Over forty-three homes are reported burned by Marshall's troops during their march through Wolfe County.

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20 Sep 1863

Lt. William Swango of the 10th Kentucky Cavalry is killed in action at Johnson City, Tennessee.

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20 Feb 1864

Santford Shackelford, a strong Union man, was slain by guerillas in the doorway of his home on Upper Devil's Creek.

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20 May 1864

A skirmish at Hazel Green.

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8 Jun 1864

Capt. David Swango loses his life in the Battle of Mt. Sterling.

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7 Nov 1864

Lt. Jerry South's rebel recruits raid Proctor and Campton before defeating a detachment of the Three Forks Battalion on Devil's Creek. South is wounded in the fight.

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9 Nov 1864

Lt. Jerry South is shot and killed in his sickbed on Holly Creek by Lt. William F. Little of the Three Forks Battalion.

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Dec 1864

The Three Forks Battalion clashes with rebels in Wolfe County.

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Jan 1865

Lt. Levi Kash's detachment of the 13th Kentucky Cavalry operates in Wolfe County during the early part of the month, fighting several skirmishes with the State Guards in neighboring Breathitt County.

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28 Jan 1865

The 11th Michigan Cavalry skirmishes with rebels near Hazel Green.

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2 Feb 1865

The Three Forks Battalion skirmishes with rebels on Red River.

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19 Apr 1865

Henry Wills, an infamous guerilla, is killed by State Guards near Campton.

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30 Apr 1865

The remnants of Confederate forces operating in Eastern Kentucky surrender at Mt. Sterling.

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Got any Wolfe County Civil War stories? Have a Civil War veteran to add? Have a Wolfe County Civil War event to add?

SEND them to me for possible inclusion here.

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