Page images

the measures all the time contemplated and intended were easily put in course of execution. In a short time every State Rights newspaper was suspended; every public man standing in defence of the South was threatened with arrest and prosecution; and the raising of a volunteer corps for the defence of the South was totally suppressed.

Immediately after the declaration of war by the Lincoln government, a number of young men in Kentucky, actuated by impulses of patriotism, and attesting the spirit of the ancient chivalry of their State, had commenced raising volunteer companies in the State for the Confederate service. They passed South in detachments of every number. This emigration was at first tolerated by the Unionists, if not actually desired by them, for the purpose of diminishing the opposition in the State to their sinister designs. By the removal of its members, and by the acts of the Legislature already mentioned, the admirable army of the "State Guard of Kentucky" was totally disorganized, and the command of it virtually taken from Governor Magoffin and General Buckner, and placed in the hands of the political partisans of the Lincoln government. General Buckner could not long occupy such a position, and therefore, as soon as practicable, he resigned his office, renounced the Lincoln government, and placed himself under the Confederate flag. The value of his accession to the Southern cause was justly appreciated, and he was speedily appointed a brigadier-general in the provisional army of the Confederacy.

The encouragement to emigration was not long continued by the party in power in Kentucky. It was determined by the Lincoln government to make examples of the small party remaining in Kentucky who sympathized with the South, and to arrest at once every public and influential man in the State known to be hostile to the North, or to the despotic purposes of the government at Washington. Ex-Governor Morehead was at a dead hour of the night arrested in his own house, a few miles from Louisville, in the presence of his afflicted family, by the Lincoln police, and hurried through the city and over the river, and out of his State and district, in violation of all law; and the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus was practically denied him in a mode which, at any period in the last

two hundred years, would have aroused all England into commotion. The high-handed act, it might have been supposed, would have aroused Kentucky also to a flame of indignation at any other period since it became the habitation of white men. The people, however, seemed to be insensible, and the outrage was allowed to pass with no public demonstration of its disapproval. Encouraged by its experience of the popular subserviency in Kentucky to its behests, it was in convenient time determined by the Lincoln government to arrest or drive off from the State every prominent opponent of its despotic authority. It was determined at Louisville that John C. Breckenridge, late Vice-President of the United States, Col. G. W. Johnson, a prominent citizen, T. B. Monroe, Jr., Secretary of State, William Preston, late Minister to Spain, Thomas B. Monroe, Sr., for about thirty years District Judge of the United States, Col. Humphrey Marshall, ex-member of Congress, and a distinguished officer in the Mexican war, Capt. John Morgan (since "the Marion" of Kentucky), and a number of other distinguished citizens in different parts of the State, should be arrested at the same hour, and consigned to prison, or driven from their homes by the threats of such a fate. It is supposed that some of the Lincoln men, and perhaps some officers of the government, preferred the latter alternative, especially in respect to some of the individuals named. However this may be, it happened that all of them escaped, some in one direction, and some in another.

The venerable Judge Monroe, on his arrival at Bowling Green, whence he was on his next day's journey to pass out of his State and his district, executed in duplicate, and left to be transmitted by different modes of conveyance, his resignation of the office of Judge of the United States for Kentucky; and in conformity to the general expectation at the time, he placed upon historic record the declaration of his expatriation of himself from the dominion of the despotic government of Lincoln, and adopted himself a citizen of the Southern Confederacy. The proceedings occurred in the Confederate Court of Nashville on the 3d of October. The scene of the renunciation of allegiance to the government that would have enslaved him, by this venerable jurist, who had been driven from a long-cherished home, and was now on his way to the State of Virginia,

whose honored soil held the sacred ashes of a dozen generations of his ancestors, was one of peculiar augustness and interest. The picture of the scene alone was sufficient to illustrate and adorn the progress of a great revolution. It was that of a venerable patriot, a man of one of the greatest historical names on the continent, just escaped from the minions of the despot, who had driven him from a State in which he had lived, the light of the law, irreproachable as a man, beloved by his companions, honored by his profession, and venerable in years, voluntarily and proudly abjuring an allegiance which no longer returned to him the rights of a citizen, but would have made him an obsequious slave; and with all the dignity of one thus honored and respected, and conscious of his rectitude, appearing in the presence of a Confederate court of justice, and with the pure eloquence of truth, offering the remaining years of his life to the service of the new government, which had arisen as the successor of the old Union, as it was in its purer and brighter days.

Mr. Breckenridge reached Nashville by a very circuitous route, a few days after his departure from Lexington, and after a brief sojourn in the former place, proceeded to Bowling Green, and there entered into a compact with a number of his old constituents who had taken refuge in the camp of General Buckner, that they would take up their arms in defence of the rights and liberties of their country, and never lay them down till the invader was driven from the soil of Kentucky. Shortly afterwards, he received the appointment of brigadier-general in the army of the Confederate States, and was assigned to the command of a brigade of his fellow-citizens of Kentucky. Col. Humphrey Marshall received, at the same time, the appointment of brigadier-general, and was assigned to the district of southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia. Colonel Johnson was subsequently chosen Provisional Governor of Kentucky by the friends of the Confederate government in that State.

To reconcile the people of Kentucky to the Lincoln government, its partisans had told them at the outset that they had the right to insist upon the strict observance of neutrality. As events progressed, they ascribed the violation of Kentucky's neutrality to the acts of the Southern government, in the face

of facts about which there can be no dispute. The facts are, that the Federal forces were preparing to take possession of Columbus and Paducah, regarding them as important positions; and because Gen. Polk anticipated them and got prior possession of Columbus, they charged the Confederates with the responsibility of the first invasion of Kentucky. The Federals had commissioned Gen. Rouseau, at Louisville, to raise a brigade for the invasion of the South, but while the recruits were enlisted in Louisville, the camp was kept at Jeffersonville, on the Indiana side of the river, until the Lincoln commander be came satisfied that the temper of the people of Louisville would tolerate a parade of Northern soldiers on their streets. Then, and not till then, were the Northern soldiers boldly marched across the State in the direction of Nashville. Gen. Buckner took possession of the railroad, and stationed himself at Bowling Green, in Southern Kentucky, about thirty miles from the Tennessee line. The partisans of Lincoln, still determined to blind the people by all sorts of false representations, established a camp called "Dick Robinson," near Lexington, and there made up an army comprised of recruits from Ohio, vagabonds from Kentucky, and Andrew-Johnson men from Tennessee. They insisted that no invasion was contemplated, that their forces were merely a "Home Guard" organization of a purely defensive character. They did not hesitate, however, to rob the arsenals of the United States of their muskets, bayonets, and cannon, and place them at the disposal of such infamous leaders as George D. Prentice, Tom Ward, and Garrett Davis. With these arms, "Dick Robinson's" camp was replenished, and at this memorable spot of the congregation of the most villanous characters, an army was raised in Kentucky for the invasion of the South.

The causes which led to the occupation of Kentucky by the Confederate States were plain and abundant. Finding that their own territory was about to be invaded through Kentucky, and that many of the people of that State, after being deceived into a mistaken security, were unarmed, and in danger of being subjugated by the Federal forces, the Confederate armies were marched into that State to repel the enemy, and prevent their occupation of certain strategic points which would have given them great advantages in the contest-a step which was

justified, not only by the necessities of self-defence on the part of the Confederate States, but also by a desire to aid the people of Kentucky. It was never intended by the Confederate government to conquer or coerce the people of that State; but, on the contrary, it was declared by our generals that they would withdraw their troops if the Federal government would do likewise. Proclamation was also made of the desire to respect the neutrality of Kentucky, and the intention to abide by the wishes of her people, as soon as they were free to express their opinions.

Upon the occupation of Columbus by the Confederates, in the early part of September, the Legislature of Kentucky adopted resolutions calling upon them, through Governor Magoffin, to retire. General Polk, who was in command of the Confederates at Columbus, had already published a proclamation, clearly explaining his position. He declared in this proclamation, that the Federal government having disregarded the neutrality of Kentucky, by establishing camps and depots of armies, and by organizing military companies within their territory, and by constructing a military work on the Missouri shore, immediately opposite and commanding Columbus, evi- · dently intended to cover the landing of troops for the seizure of that town, it had become a military necessity, involving the defence of the territory of the Confederate States, that the Confederate forces should occupy Columbus in advance.

The act of Gen. Polk found the most abundant justification. in the history of the concessions granted to the Federal government by Kentucky ever since the war began. Since the election of Lincoln, she had allowed the seizure in her ports (Paducah) of property of citizens of the Confederate States. She had, by her members in the Congress of the United States, voted supplies of men and money to carry on the war against the Confederate States. She had allowed the Federal government to cut timber from her forests for the purpose of building armed boats for the invasion of the Southern States. She was permitting to be enlisted in her territory troops, not only from her own citizens, but from the citizens of other States, for the purpose of being armed and used in offensive warfare against the Confederate States. At camp "Dick Robinson," in the county of Garrard, it was said that there were already ten

« PreviousContinue »