Harlan County Battalion
On the 5th of September, 1862, in response to petitions from a multitude of the counties, the Kentucky State Legislature authorized "home guard companies of free white male citizens between 16 and 65 years to be organized for home and self-protection."(1) State Guard companies and battalions were soon being raised as well, and we were fortunate to locate the Official Daily Reports of B. F. Blankenship(4), Major, 1st Harlan Battalion of Kentucky State Guards(2) & vouchers from the same unit(3). We present below Major Blankenship's Daily Report (apparently written all at once and dated 1 May 1863) interspersed with a few appropriate voucher references, et al. The Daily Report has been transcribed in it's entriety, altered only by the addition of a little punctuation.
Harlan County Battalion Daily Reports
Not mentioned in the daily reports is the formation of the additional companies of this battalion: D, E, F, G.. the rosters for the entire battalion are accessible at this site - click here.
- "On the 13th day of Oct 1862 there was a batalion of State Guards formed at Jonathan Lewis's on Poor Fork, Harlan County, Ky, consisting of 3 companies styled A, B, & C. Co A commanded by Capt G W Morgan, Co B by Capt Ambrose Powell & Co C by Capt Joshua C Perkins, denominated the 1st Harlan co batalion Ky State Guards."
"On the 14th we moved 4 miles up the river to Widow Lewis's and struck up camp and remained there untill 17th. We then removed 3 miles further up the river and camped at Alex Creeches untill 19th. We then returned to Widow Lewis's and on the same day a party of 40 men, 25 from capt Powell's & 15 from capt Morgan's companies, were detailed to go to the Salt well at mouth of leatherwood Creek in perry County, Ky to form a junction with some home guards who stated that they wished to join our company. They had not proceeded very far when they were attacked by a company of rebels under capt D J Caudill numbering 100 men. Our men returned their fire and the contest was severe for about 15 minutes when the rebels retreated leaving 5 dead on the field and mortally wounding D J Caudill their Capt. Our loss was one wounded who since died."
Voucher dated 1862 for $81.10 to Elizabeth Lewis, for corn, rations, molasses, 1 side of leather, beef, hay and for feeding 1 wounded soldier for 22 days.
"We returned to camp on the 20th and on the 21st the rebels marched upon us 500 in number and we had to retreat whereby they pilaged our Camps & the settlement around us and carried off about 3000 dollars worth of property. They remained in the neighborhood untill the 24th when they departed, carry off two cuitrizens who made their escape from them the next day. The citizens and a small squad of the battalion who had took to the brush fired upon them during their stay occasionally and killed 3 of them before they got away."
Oct 25 - Heavy snow, from 4 to 12 inches deep, all over the state, heaviest in the mountain region of south-eastern Ky...(1) This may be the timing of the voucher dated only 1862 to Thomas Creech for $26.88 for foodstuffs and "2 gallons of Brandy by order of the major for tired soldiers."
"We returned to camp on the 30th and remained there without further trouble untill Nov 11th at which time we marched upon the rebells at Whitesburg under Capt Caudill. We landed in Whitesburg on the 12th but the rebels had evacuated their Camp whereby we captured some beef hides, castings & other small notions and returned to camp on the 14th..,,On the 15th, under Capt Powell, 50 men marched to Manchester Ky to get arms and ammunition that had been laid in for the company and on the 18th the rebels,
75 in number, marched across the country in order to cut off our arms and ammunition. I accordingly took 32 men and went to meet them. We came up with the rebels on the 19th at Wallons Creek and a battle ensued in which the rebels were routed with the loss of 4 men killed and a good number of them wounded. Our loss was nothing. We also captured 11 head of horses, 8 saddle pockets, 8 sabres & a number of halters, bridals &c together with ? guns & several Blankets and then we returned to camp and our arms & ammunition came in about the same time."
Voucher dated Nov 1862 to Andrew Sergeant for $135 for "use of one 4 horse wagon & team for hauling arms and ammunition to the 1st Battalion Harlan Co State Gds, 18 days and use of 1 two horse wagon & team for same."
"We spent our time in making camps and laying in provisions untill the 28th when Capt Perkins made a raid in to Crab Orchard Va with 30 men and took two prisoners of Capt Sam Salyers regiment, viz: T Halcomb & H Flanery, and captured 5 head of horses, 5 guns & a number of blankets and returned to camp."
There is a note inserted here that "Halcomb was paroled on 6th Nov and Flanery volunteered." Harvey Flanery on roster as private, Company C.
Nov 6 - "9 Confederate soldiers captured and hung, near Hackneys Corners, 21 miles from Big Rockcastle river in Rockcastle co.-said to be retaliation for the hanging, near Cumberland Ford, in Josh Bell Co., by some pickets of Gen. Kirby Smith's army, of Capt H King, his two sons, R M Singleton, and 12 others, mostly volunteers for the defense of Crab Orchard, but who were charged with being bushwhackers. Fearful inauguration of the most horrible feature of civil war!" (1)
"On the 30th, Serg John Farley of Capt Perkins Co at the same time took 15 men and went to Clover Fork near the Virginia line and undertook to arrest two noted rebels which they resisted and consequently one of them was killed & the other wounded. On the 31st the rebels, 400 in number, made a raid on Cumberland and were marching in direction of our camp. I accordingly ordered 84 men under command of Capts Powell and Perkins to arrest their progress. They met them near Mill Cliff about 15 miles from our camp and were fired upon by the rebel pickets. Our men took position in a spur of the mountain. Meanwhile, the rebels were advancing and in a few minutes the battle became general which lasted about 20 minutes when the rebels were routed with the loss of 1 man killed and 12 wounded, a (confession?) of their own. Our loss was nothing, not even a man wounded. We captured 1 horse, one gun and several blankets, coats and other clothing. The rebels retreated back to Va and our men returned to camp on Dec 1st ... On the second Dec, 26 men under command of Ajt Lewis was ordered to Whitesburg Ky to investigate the movements of the rebels and landed there on the third but the rebels were gone and nothing occured of any note during his stay up there with the exception of the capture of two Rebel soldiers who had run away from Caudill's command. The prisoners were paroled on the 4th Dec and set at liberty. Their names were William D & Drury Adams who belonged to Co A of said Caudles Command. On the 5th the rebels returned to Whitesburg, 100 in number, and Ajt Lewis consequently had to abandon the place which retreat he made safe by about ? hours"
"Nothing more of any note occured up to the 12th Dec when Maj Blankenship marched in the direction of the rebel camp at Whitesburg and arrived on the morning of the 13th at the hour of (10?) clock at the rebel pickets when a severe skirmish ensued in which two of our men were killed and learning that the rebels were heavily reinforced he marched his forces back to camp and on the 15th detailed 100 men to march to Manchester Ky after arms and clothing..."
An undated Special Requisition lists the following: 400 pr shoes; 400 blankets; 400 hats and trimmings; 400 jackets; 800 shirts; 400 prs pants; 800 drawers; 800 sock ; 400 overcoats; and 400 haversacks. The line on the requisition stating the circumstances reads: "the entire destitution of the Batallin of the above articles." A second copy of the requisition has notations that suggest that all the articles were supplied except the jackets, drawers and socks. An additional requisition requests 5 copies of US Infantry Tactics and 1 Army Regulations.
Major Blankenship "...took command in person & the rebels hearing that they were down there on that business marched from Cumberland Gap to Cumberland River near Mt Pleasant in order to cut them off and capture their arms and clothing but in this they were deceived for Ajt Lewis who had command of the remaining forces detached 100 men under Capt Spurlock & Capt Howard to stop communications between the Confederate States and this state. Capts Spurlock & Howard marched to within 1½ miles of the rebels and found they were too strong for them and retreated across the mountain and that night a dispatch reached camp that they, Spurlock and Howard, was going to give them battle and wanted reinforcements. Ajt Lewis accordingly marched early the next morning with 53 men to their aid but on arriving at the supposed scene of action was surprised to not find either rebels or his own men, both parties having evacuated the place. The no. of rebels were 400. They retreated back to the Gap taking with them 85 head of beef cattle. Nothing more of any note occured up to the 24th when Lev? Carter march through by Mt Pleasant and made a raid into East Tenn and destroyed some bridges there. That raid eased us of fighting to the present time for so out done were (the reb)els that they are afraid to penetrate (the bor)ders of this county ever since Carter's (raid)".
This last sentence was partially lost due to a torn corner as are a few words in the following section ... the probable words are in ( ). There is no individual named Carter on any Harlan County Battalion roster and it is possible he was another military unit.
"Ours arms and clothing arrived on the 5th Jan 1863 and all has remained quiet with exception of scouting and capturing some rebel scouts up to Jan 20th when our scouts captured the following named prisoners of Col Slemp's regiment Rebel Volunteers, James M Adams, Andrew Spangler, Samuel Cornet of Caudills regiment, Robert More(?), James Clarkston, John Clarkston and Nathan Cox, also Isaac J Whitaker & Harry Caudill of Caudills regiment and J Boothe of Zolicoffers old Corps all of whom was exchanged on the 3rd Feb 1863 with exception of H Caudill & J Boothe. We also captured John Campbell of Caudills regiment who they would not exchange for. On the 13th Jan there was an election ordered for Maj of this batalion which resulted in the Election of B F Blankenship the present Maj by a majority of 90 votes over Capt A B Calton who opposed him. Lieut Jones took 8 men on the 24th Jan 1863 and waylaid a still house in Letcher County whereby he captured Capt H H Stamper of Col Caudills Regiment CS volunteers who was exchanged for Capt Hezekiah Webb of the U S forces who was captured by Caudills command. Lieut Mattingly & Sergt ? Polly were Flagbearers on our (part) and Maj Chensworth, Capt. Trimble, Segts (.......) and Caudill on part of the rebels. We a1so captured 2 rebel scouts on the 7th Feb and paroled them on the ninth. Their names were Thomas Clarkston and Elkanah Elkins of Col Slemp's regiment CS Volunteers. The men exchanged for on our part were Samuel Williams, Samuel Blair, Jesse M Brown, Edmond Gross and Capt H Webb. We also captured J Garrison, a rebel scout belonging to Slemp's CS regiment on the 11th Feb and paroled him on the 12th.'
- History of Kentucky 1874, Lewis Collins & Richard H Collins; Volume I, section entitled: Annals of Kentucky.
- From photocopies of material at the Military Records and Research Library, Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, KY 40601
- from photocopies of vouchers, etc., material at the Kentucky Military History Museum, East Main Street, Frankfort, KY
- Benjamin F Blankenship's pension file does not refer to his service in the Harlan Battalion, presumably because it was a state unit. It does tell us that he was born 26 Sep 1831 in Lee Co., VA and married on 5th Aug 1852 in Harlan County to Elizabeth Lewis. Their children living in 1898 were: A L Blankenship b 9 Feb 1860; Nancy Blankenship b 26 Aug 1862; Bennett Blankenship b 13 Sep 1867 and Leah Blankenship b 17 Nov 1869. According to the file, B F Blankenship moved from Harlan County to Belleville, Republic County, Kansas in 1870 and died there 8 Jun 1912.
Also with the vouchers was the following: "the following is a list of Captured plunder sold by Capt Elisha Huff of the 1st Harlan Batt Ky State guard sold on the 12 and 13 day of April 1863 for which the purchasers are entitled to pay or have discounted out of their pay as Soldiers in the Second qr of said Batt:
James C Jones
John Creech Company Clerk of 1st company
Wm Dixon quartermaster
John S Adams
John H Elkins
Robert G Caudille
Jas G Lewis
(this last name crossed out)
|dr for one wagon|
one yoke of oxens
one pr saddlepockets
dr for horses
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Permission is granted to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.
The original of this article including the Daily Reports, the Voucher List and the
complete Rosters was originally published in Volume I of Harlan Footprints.
Also at this site:
the complete Rosters of the Harlan County Battalion, an
alphabetical listing of the extant vouchers,
a copy of the voucher to Thomas Creech
from the Harlan County Battalion file at the Military Museum
and the Leonard Farmer letter & militia list
9831 visitor to the Harlan Battalion
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Thursday, 05-Jun-2008 14:25:47 MDT