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39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, U.S. Volunteers
39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry Regimental Standard
Until 1997 or 1998, I knew nothing about the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. I had little interest in studying or even reading about the American Civil War. However, I became interested in the regiment when I began looking for information about my paternal lineage and learned that my great-great-great grandfather had served with a Confederate regiment AND with this Union regiment. There was a wonderful book written about Grandpa Andy's Rebel regiment, The 10th Kentucky Cavalry, C.S.A., May's-Trimble's-Diamond's "Yankee Chasers" by John B. Wells, III, and James M. Prichard, but there was no similar work for the other regiment with which my ancestor served. I began to collect information about the 39th Kentucky and soon discovered that I had enough to start writing a book. That's another story and whether or not it will ever get written (by me anyway) is for another blog.
Through the years, I have discovered that this regiment was unique in many ways. Let me list here some of those special qualities and events; the regiment was recruited with the promise that it would both remain near the homes of the recruits and that it would serve as mounted infantry; it spent the largest part of its service in an area that bordered Confederate-controlled territory; several of the companies were formed out of home guard or militia organizations; at least part of the regiment was involved in two deep raids into Virginia; one of the veterans of the regiment was the subject of hit song by the Judds; following an incident with a regiment of U.S. Colored Troops, about ten percent of the men deserted; at least one company was drawn from the now celebrated Hatfield-McCoy Feud District; some of the recruits may have served as "scouts and spies" with one of the most notorious guerrillas in that section of the mountains.
There are many individual stories that are fascinating, tragic, and inspiring: Solomon McBrayer who drove off a column of Confederate cavalry with just two stalwart associates; Solomon Kennedy who joined the regiment then returned to his own neighborhood where he was captured and sent to Andersonville; Billy Phillips who was captured on a very cold night in January of 1864 and who died in a Rebel prison; James Thornbury who escaped from a Rebel prison and walked from Salisbury, NC, to Knoxville, TN, in the dead of winter; James N. Allison, a schoolboy who served as a clerk and went on to serve under Reno during Custer's ill-fated campaign and who retired from the army with the rank of brigadier general; Alfred Hailey who, with a column of twenty-five men under a flag of truce, escorted John C. Breckinridge's daughter and J. Stoddard Johnston's wife to Richmond; Thomas Jefferson Sowards who murdered a local judge whom had persecuted him; John B. Gilliam who was so angry at his treatment by his Rebel neighbors that he enlisted when he was 58 years old; Stephen Ferguson who led Garfield's troops over the mountains to attack Marshall's troops at Middle Creek; Clinton van Buskirk who was recognized by his Rebel opponents as a "spy and a dangerous man"; "Devil Squire" Hall who drew the ire of Humphrey Marshall for passing information to the Union forces; David V. Auxier who died of wounds received in battle at Saltville in late 1864; James Akers who led a charge on the Rebels at Mount Sterling to retake a howitzer; Lewis Damron who was his mother's only support when he was shot in the head in a small skirmish in Carter County; Tobias Wagner whom had emigrated from Germany and who would become a respected judge after the war; Apperson Nollen who was also his mother's only support when Bill "Hawk" Sizemore grabbed his pistol and shot him dead during the latter's escape . . .
The men who served in the 39th Kentucky were also pioneers after their service, spreading out far and wide over the then-developing American West. 39th veterans founded towns and settlements and farms in Minnesota, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and California, among other places, while others simply moved away from Kentucky to raise their families and make their fortunes in Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and other places near and distant.
Marlitta Perkins, a fellow historian and the authority on the 14th Kentucky Infantry, told me that she wished that she had begun studying the 39th Kentucky because they were far more interesting than almost any other regiment she had researched. I would have to agree with that sentiment.
Stay with me as I slowly reveal what I have learned through my extensive researches into this very interesting group of mountaineers.
The 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry Musters into the U.S. Volunteer Service
On or about January 15th, 1863, John Frew Stewart, adjutant for the 39th Kentucky, had been sent to Frankfort to obtain the necessary papers to muster-in the regiment. Stewart had a bit of an adventure on his trip to and from Frankfort and Lexington, but he arrived back in the area of Louisa on the 20th. He wrote that,
". . . when I got on top of the Kise Hill near the rendezvous and looked down the hill into the field, Colonel [Laban T.] Moore [of the 14th Kentucky Infantry] had the regiment in line and was mustering the men into the service of the State."
Despite Colonel Moore's efforts to make the 39th Kentucky "legitimate," the regiment was not yet officially part of the U.S. Volunteers. From Louisa, the 39th Kentucky moved up the river a couple of miles [southward] to Old Peach Orchard and billeted in the vacant houses there which were part of the now-defunct mining operations at that location. It was yet more than three weeks later, on the 16th of February, that the 39th Kentucky was mustered into the United States service by the mustering officer, Captain W. B. Royal, of the U.S. Army. Wrote Judge Stewart more than forty years after the events, ". . . we, after all these tribulations, became actual soldiers in the United States Volunteer service."
From Old Peach Orchard, the regiment marched back to Louisa, ". . . where we became a part of a brigade under command of Brigadier-General Julius White." Judge Stewart would note that the regiment was roughly 1,000-strong during the weeks surrounding the regiment's mustering-in.
Ashley Judd's Ancestor: Elijah Hensley
Man, I just watched my DVR'd recording of NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) and I was somewhat stunned! The show began quite well. There were close-ups of Ms. Judd looking at the Compiled Service Records of her ancestor, and I was thinking, "Wow! At least ONE of the veterans of the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry is getting some fame and exposure!" There it was, the "39th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry," big as life in that wonderful font that characterizes the hand-written copies of the original records. I was so proud that the boys were getting some recognition. What was really cool was that Ms. Judd's ancestor turned out to be an interesting character: he was neither more nor less courageous, patriotic, or notorious than the vast majority of the veterans of the regiment, but he did have a few experiences that were unusual even in this crowd full of unusual men. But, what was seriously lacking from the show was the extraordinary amount of context that I was able to provide the one researcher and one producer with whom I had contact. I guess that is the purpose of this chunk of the blog: to rectify some errors, reveal some information overlooked, ignored, or forgotten, and present the research (mine and that of others) that made the story much more full and interesting than even NBC could manage with their resources.
However, before I continue with my own explanation of my research into Elijah Hensley's Civil War experiences, I need to thank several people who helped me find some of the material that I used to tell Elijah's story. I need to thank Betty Howard and Randall Osborne of Pikeville, and Edward Hazelett, Sr., of Paintsville, both in East Kentucky. If you are familiar with these people then you know that these are three of the most knowledgeable historians and genealogists in the region, and I have been blessed by their generosity too many times to enumerate. All three contributed materially to what was sent to the researchers and producers of WDYTYA. Some of that did appear in the production in Mr. McKnight's hands (I was actually surprised by that since I wasn't aware that he had any interest or knowledge of the 39th Kentucky or Elijah Hensley). Dr. David Auxier, whose ancestor lay in the same cabin on the Saltville battlefield as Elijah Hensley and who died shortly after the battle, deserves special mention for his part in assisting WDYTYA in learning about the Saltville battle and Elijah's wound and treatment. I know that Harry Haynes showed Ms. Judd and friends every square inch of the battlefield, the salt-making facilities, and any other sights they would have been willing to see. Judge John David Preston of Paintsville also contributed materially to my own research.
There are two men whom I have never met that I want to thank for schooling me in the experiences of those men captured at Wireman's Shoals and the aftermath: Adam Davis and George Charles. These two men were brothers-in-law, simple farmers with small and young families looking to them to keep them fed, and warm, and safe when Captain Williams of Company D of the Virginia State Line told his men to take their horses (and probably all of the rest of their meager herds) in October or November of 1862. One affidavit indicates that Adam and George were told that they could have their horses back if they would join the Rebel company. Since they had been serving previously in the home guard company of their neighbor, Isham Hall, they probably went quietly, hoping that they'd be able to escape at some point. They did at some point and they went to join the 39th Kentucky and the company recruited by another neighbor, William Hagerman. Not long after the Wireman's Shoals disaster, they were captured by the VSL at or near Prestonsburg. They were marched (along with more than 120 other unfortunate Unionists) from Prestonsburg into Virginia, well over 100 miles (in December), probably bound the entire time, to the VSL's camp near Saltville. They had been recognized as deserters from the Confederate side, so they were selected as an example to any others who may have entertained similar thoughts.
On a very cold and snowy New Year's Day in 1863, Adam and George were sat upon rough-made coffins on the open side of a square bounded on the other three sides by the rest of the VSL and executed by firing squad. These were two of only three men that I have ever discovered were executed for switching sides in this region. They were buried somewhere nearby, perhaps in the same small graveyard in which was buried Captain David Auxier nearly two years later. My research into the fates of Adam and George led me to understand what the Unionists of the Big Sandy and Tug River Valleys endured, especially during the winter of 1862-63. Elijah Hensley's experiences, save their recognition as deserters and their execution, almost paralleled the experiences of Davis and Charles.
Incidentally, Ms. Judd had another ancestor, Elijah Judd, who was also a member of the 39th Kentucky. Her mother and half-sister wrote a very fine and wonderful song about the man and his wife called, "Guardian Angels."
Since it took me a month or more to work through my research on Elijah Hensley, I'll lay out what I learned in pieces. It's a story well worth learning. It's late (very late), so I'll continue in a couple of days. Stay with me and I promise you'll learn something that you would not find in Dr. McKnight's book.
Be sure to share your comments down below. I wish I could answer every inquiry, and I'll try at some point, but my time is much less abundant for my history and genealogy pursuits than it once was.
Me (and Randall) in the Credits
NBC Contacts Dr. Auxier
Dr. David Auxier contacted me in mid-December looking for a copy of my CD-ROM for the 39th Kentucky and he told me why it was important. The content of his e-mail and my first advise of NBC's interest in Elijah Hensley's experiences are excerpted below.
Where Dr. Auxier refers to his ancestor and Hensley as hospital "bedmates," he refers to a very cool story that was never mentioned in the show despite its direct reference to Elijah Hensley. I'll lay that out in a future blog post.
. . . There is another reason for needing the CD ROM. NBC is producing a show called "Who Do You Think You Are," in which they feature a famous celebrity and some interesting information about their ancestors. They are doing a show next year about a famous descendant of Elijah Hensley who was David Valentine Auxier's hospital bedmate at the battle of Saltville. The research lady wouldn't tell me who the celebrity is, but she heard about my new David Valentine book with it's reference to Elijah Hensley in it and called me to see if I had any further information on Hensley. All I had was what Henry Scalf included in his 1961 article in the Floyd County Times about David Valentine and his wounding and death in October, 1864. I got Hensley's military records from Judge John David Preston in Paintsville, but I was wondering if you have any more information on Hensley. He was a member of the 39th as I understand. This is another reason I needed another copy of your CD ROM. For some reason, I have misplaced my copy here at home. It will turn up eventually, I am sure, but time is of the essence in responding to NBC's request. I look forward to receiving the CD ROM.
Captain David V. Auxier, Mortally Wounded at Saltville
The First Research into Hensley's Service
On December 17, 2010, I compared some notes with Dr. David Auxier:
Here is what I got from John David Preston on Elijah Hensley. Does it match what you have for him?
Elijah Hensley was in Co. I, 39th Ky., enrolled 11/2/62, mustered in Peach Orchard 2/16/63. Captured 12/4/62 in Floyd Co. He apparently rejoined his unit, promoted to corporal 3/24/64. wounded at Saltville 10/2/64 and fell into the hands of the enemy, apparently rejoined his unit, as he in was army hospital at Ashland in March 1865, discharged for disability because of amputation of right leg from wound in battle. He was 18 years old at enrollment, was born in Logan Co. VA. I did not find him in any Big Sandy county census for 1860; many men in his company were from West Va. area. One 9 year old boy in Pike Co. was named Elijah Hensley, but is probably not the same guy.
Much of this was drawn from the text of my Revised Annotated Roster for the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry of which Judge Preston has a copy.
Elijah and His Connection to Floyd's Prisoners
Here's the text of an e-mail I sent to Dr. Auxier on December 17th, 2010, after I performed some more research and began to work out some of the context of Hensley's first capture and incarceration:
I sent out the disk with today's mail. I decided also to dig a little deeper into Hensley's record (with what I had on hand) and some things leapt out at me that I thought I should share with you (and you could, in turn, share with the researchers for "Who Do You Think You Are?").
That Hensley was gravely wounded at First Saltville when David Auxier was fatally wounded is a fairly well-known anecdote. However, I began looking at his service record and I saw something quite interesting; something that I wouldn't have thought much about, say, ten years ago: Elijah was captured either at Wireman's Shoals around December 4th, 1862, or right afterward. You are, no doubt, quite familiar with the skirmish and David's adventures afterward which are fairly well documented in the Official Records. However, there's a detail that has made me believe that Hensley was captured after Wireman's. Originally, I was under the impression that Hensley and Auxier were aquaintances or perhaps friends based upon the apocryphal story related by Scalf where David shushed Elijah as the latter cursed in pain in that make-shift hospital near the Saltville battlefield, but I believe that they were not acquainted with one another until after they had served with the regiment for a while.
What makes me believe this is the fact that Hensley was a resident of Logan County before the war and that he joined Company I. I've come to understand that Company I had a large number of men whom were from Logan and McDowell, well up the Tug Fork and into what was then Virginia. In the last seven or so years, I've begun to look closely at the Unionists from the Tug Valley and now know that this was a large minority in the region. Some sources claim that no Union men lived in the region; at least one source calls them bushwhackers and implies that they were just deserters or scouters, criminals, and not local men, who stole from the poor, Confederate-minded residents of the area; in fact, there are no studies, recent or contemporary, that admit the presence of Union men in that area. What tipped me off to the misconception was my research into my own ancestor. I knew where he lived and knew he served with the Union (actually, both sides). When I began looking around, I discovered that my ancestor had four brothers also join the 39th, two from the Virginia side of Tug and at least one from the West Virginia side. Further research revealed that almost all of the men in Company H were from three or four very concentrated neighborhoods along the Tug, Peter Creek, and Knox Creek. A few years later, I realized that most of the men in Company I were from even deeper inside Confederate territory along the same stretch of river.
Looking into the Wireman's Shoals fight later on, I found a roster of 119 men captured by Floyd's forces and conveyed to prison in Richmond. A couple of these men related that they were carried in open cattle cars on the railroad from Abingdon, staying in livestock pens when the railroad was needed for other reasons. Several of the men along for the ride would later claim various illnesses and injuries due to the exposure to cold, wet weather (similar, I guess, to conditions experienced much more often by both military and civilian prisoners in another war, on another continent, 80 or so years later). You know that David was along for that ride as well.
I learned that the men captured at Wireman's were not the only prisoners in this gaggle. Some had been captured a week or two earlier in West Virginia in a small, unrecorded skirmish well away from the Sandy and Tug Rivers (a captain, a lieutenant, and seven or eight non-comms from a West Virginia Infantry regiment). However, there were also many others simply picked up along the route as the Virginia cavalry swept up the valley. There were several older men, civilians, picked up at Wireman's or Paintsville. One was a well-respected preacher in Johnson County who was mocked in the Rebel press as the horde entered Richmond. There were others captured who were not part of the Wireman's affair, especially two or three of the Lambert family from McDowell whom had probably been hiding on the hill-tops from as early as March of that year. One of the men in this family appeared in Chapmanville along with the county sheriff to try to convince a Union company to move down to Logan and McDowell to protect the Union men in the area. One of the Lambert sons, who would later join the 39th, was actually a scout or spy and this is confirmed in his service records.
Another of the most significant prisoners in this group of 119 was Asa Harmon McCoy. If you read much into the Hatfield-McCoy feud, then you may know that this man was Randall McCoy's younger brother and he was murdered on January 9th, 1865, almost within sight of his own house by Devil Anse or an associate. Harmon had actually joined the Union army almost before any of his neighbors. He was gravely wounded in a skirmish in February or March of 1862 and he was taken to his own home to either die or recuperate. The wound went in near the collar bone and came out the other side of his body between a couple of his lower ribs. During the sweep that included the Wireman's fight, Harmon was found at his home and determined to be such a danger to Rebel interests, as he lay in his bed, his wound oozing puss, that he was also taken along on the same march/ride as David Auxier. In fact, Harmon was exchanged in March or April of 1863 and the Union doctor who examined him noted that he was nearly prostrate from this year-old wound which still issued infection. He made it home and recovered well enough by October of 1863 to join the 45th Kentucky Mounted Infantry. He served for over a year with the regiment, was discharged on Christmas Eve, 1864, made his way up the valley to his home where he was murdered a couple of weeks later. If he wasn't a scout or spy (probably incapable during all of 1862), he was probably one during 1864.
How does this relate to Elijah Hensley? Well, the list of 119 men is pretty explicit. It was supposedly a roster delivered to the prison by the guard assigned to escort them. Along with the names, many also gave their home counties. When I pulled up Elijah's Compiled Service Records, I noticed the date of his capture was close to Wireman's, so I grabbed the prisoner list to confirm his name on there. HE WAS NOT LISTED. There were three other Hensleys, but none who could have been Elijah (first names were different; middle initials, where provided, did not line up). I looked for Elijah in the census records and found him in Logan in 1860, not too terribly far away from Lewis Brewer's store at the mouth of Pigeon Creek.
Now, here's a connection (or non-connection): I knew of three men captured during the sortie into Kentucky by Floyd's Virginia State Line (including Wireman's) whom were not named on the two prisoner lists. One was an elderly man named Franklin King, one of the wealthiest landowners in the Peter Creek/Upper John's Creek region of the Tug Valley. He essentially just disappeared from the records, and I had no idea until I ran into mention of him and his fate in a very obscure source. The other two men were brothers-in-law, Adam Davis and George Charles. These men were conscripted into a company of the Virginia State Line probably in the late summer or fall of 1862. They went AWOL after either a few days or a few weeks and made their way to Prestonsburg where they joined Company I of the 39th. Unfortunately, Clarkson's column passed through Prestonsburg the night after Wireman's and captured a small number of recruits for the 39th, two of whom were Adam Davis and George Charles. They were recognized as the Rebel company from which they deserted was part of that cavalry force, taken prisoner, and marched along with the 119 to the State Line's camp near Saltville where they were executed on New Year's Day.
Now, since Elijah Hensley did not live in McDowell near Davis and Charles (he lived quite a ways away, actually), it is unlikely that he experienced the same Shanghai-ing as the latter two, but he probably joined Company I at Prestonsburg just before the Wireman's fight. It raises a couple of questions when you follow all of the above. Why was Elijah not included on the prisoner lists? The only PoW record in his CSR's refers to his capture at the Saltville fight in 1864. He is listed as absent, captured by the Rebels in Floyd County on Dec. 4 from muster-in through at least April. The May-June rolls indicate that he had returned by then, as had David [V. Auxier], Isaac [Goble], Thomas [Damron], and Wilson [Damron]. Elijah's participation in the Saltville fight begs the question, Did he serve as a guide or scout for Burbridge because he had been to Saltville at the same time as Davis and Charles' executions?
I have no more information on hand for Elijah. Perhaps the records that Judge Preston sent to you might clarify some of this.
S/Robert M. Baker
N.B.: Let me correct myself: there were actually two prisoner lists, one generated by a Lt. or Capt. Oliver who delivered the prisoners to the Arsenal in Richmond and another published in one of the Richmond newspapers. The two lists do not line up exactly.
Why didn't Elijah go to Richmond?
From: Mellissa Betts<DELETED>
To: Robert M. Baker <DELETED>
Sent: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 2:22 pm
Subject: Hensley Civil War
>>I was forwarded your email by Dave Auxier today and I was wondering if it would be possible to follow up with you. The amount of detail you included in your response to him is quite impressive. I too have been trying to figure out how we can prove where Elijah was after Dec 4. I was really under the impression that he was part of the group captured at Floyd County that day.<<
Elijah was one of four or five men captured at Wireman's Shoals or afterward who aren't listed on the two prisoner lists. For all but Elijah, I have an idea of why they weren't listed. I didn't realize Elijah's circumstances in relation to the Wireman's Shoals deal until Dr. Auxier contacted me this past week.
The Compiled Service Records give Elijah's date of capture as December 4th which was, indeed, the date of the Wireman's fight. However, as Clarkson's column (the mounted part of Floyd's forces) moved south along the Big Sandy after the Wireman's skirmish (located near modern-day Auxier, Kentucky, or very near the airfield and Highlands Hospital), they very shortly entered Prestonsburg. The pension records for Adam Davis and George Charles state that they were part of a handful of men, new recruits, who were scooped up by Clarkson's column at Prestonsburg. There was another encounter at the top of Bull Mountain which overlooks Prestonsburg from the south, and this occurred probably in the dark on the night of Dec. 4-5. Colonel Dils was grievously wounded, but not killed, and Major Ferguson suffered a broken ankle, both probably after their horses bolted. There was only one casualty on the Rebel side, but the Union recruits were badly scattered and the 39th Kentucky was almost still-born at this time. There was one "bushwhacking" very near in time, but several miles to the west when Madison Castle and several others were riding at full gallop toward Wireman's to assist. Castle was killed.
I made the assumption that, since Elijah Hensley was a member of Company I, as were Davis and Charles, that he was captured at Prestonsburg. It is just as likely that he was among those captured at Wireman's earlier that day, but Hensley, like Davis and Charles, was a Logan/McDowell County resident. Elijah enlisted on Nov. 2, Adam Davis on Nov. 20, and George Charles on Oct. 20. Most of the men who can be identified as participating at Wireman's were Johnson and Pike men, with a handful of Floyd and Magoffin men thrown in. The men who were captured in Prestonsburg rather than at Wireman's were probably preceding Colonel Dils' column trying to make its way to meet the boats at the Shoals.
The Union forces at Wireman's numbered probably no more than 200-300 and they were mixed in from what would be most of the first few companies (A through G) of the regiment, but there are about half a dozen from Company I and maybe a dozen from Company H on the list. I would make the claim that these men from Companies I and H were captured at Wireman's, but I know for a fact that many or most, if not all, of the men from Company H were actually picked up a couple of days (Dec. 16) after the Wireman's and Bull Mountain fights at or near their homes in the Tug Valley section of Pike, Buchanan, and McDowell Counties.
Clarkson's cavalry had to make a deviation from the beaten track to capture the Company H men and this was done as the Virginia State Line passed back into Virginia a few days after Wireman's. So far as I can determine, Elijah was not a member of any of the local miltia units, but there were probably more of an unofficial nature that are not documented (one I discovered in the Davis and Charles records was led by a local man named Isham Hall and another was led by a local man named Lewis King). The residences of the Company I men were further east than those in the Company H/Peter Creek Home Guards, so it's unlikely that they were picked up near the same time as the Company H men. However, it is possible that, after capturing Davis and Charles at Prestonsburg, Companies D and E of the 2nd Virginia State Line, raised in the area where Davis and Charles lived, passed back by their homes and snatched up any local Unionists they could catch. The Dec. 4th date would seem to indicate that Elijah was picked up in the vicinity of Wireman's and Prestonsburg and not near his home.
>>I was also told that there were two skirmishes in a sense that day. One at Wireman’s and the other in Prestonsburg. It seemed to me that he was snatched at some point in the area but the specific place was not clear. I also wasn’t aware of the fact that there was a list. I was going to look into the Governor Letcher papers to see what he wrote about the affairs and if he mentioned names. I’m assuming you have done this.<<
As mentioned above, Wireman's then Bull Mountain are the two skirmishes you are looking for. There were smaller skirmishes along the route back into Virginia, but specifics are lacking and, in some cases, it was just a visit to the house of a known Unionist by several armed cavalrymen that resulted in a capture. I will attach my annotated and researched compilation of the two lists to this e-mail. They are sourced if you want to do a follow-up. The Governor Letcher papers do deal with some of the events of the Clarkson raid and some of the results, but most of that material relates to Captain Auxier's status as a hostage to insure the safety of the pirate Zarvona. I cannot say that I have had the opportunity to survey those papers, but have seen single items here and there.
>>I am wondering from your email if you’re implying that you think Elijah was never taken to Richmond? I realize his POW papers don’t mention a first capture in Floyd, but I was told this would be typical of a man who was enlisted but not mustered in yet. Perhaps that is incorrect? We know he enlisted in November 1862 in Floyd, so it stand to reason he would have been in the area and among the men captured. It is so important that we are historically accurate so I don’t want to leave out any details or make assumptions. I also think that if several of his records—including his pension—mention that he was captured by rebels in Floyd that day, it’s hard to discount.<<
If I had to lay money on it, I would say that Elijah was, indeed, taken to Richmond and incarcerated in, perhaps, another facility other than the Arsenal with the majority of the other enlisted prisoners. The Compiled Service Records indicate that he returned to Kentucky around the same time as many of the men listed on the two PoW lists, so that would seem to indicate his treatment was similar to that experienced by many of the documented prisoners. It is possible that his enlistment was "back-dated" to make certain that he got paid for his time when and if he returned from prison. In fact, this is the case with one of the Lamberts listed on the PoW roll. There are a few men whose service was definitely back-dated to assist their widows in obtaining a pension. Colonel Dils and Lieutenant Stewart were apparently willing to be complicit in such a falsehood to make certain that the dependents of the recruits were taken care of in some small way.
However, it seems more likely that Elijah joined on Nov. 2 and that the record for his incarceration is just misplaced or non-existent. The regiment did not muster-in until the following February, but some of the recruits were credited for enlisting as early as the first week of September. Further, several of the companies of the 39th were established as home guards even before the earliest hints of recruiting were performed for the regiment. I would state that it is common for men in the 39th to have enlisted and served from September to February and no record of their activity is recorded before muster-in. In fact, the only details that are found in the Compiled Service Records for any of the men prior to muster-in relate to death by disease, action with the enemy, or capture, probably for the purpose of establishing a claim for widows' pensions. I have two original muster rolls that date from muster-in and they both note actions which involved the recruits prior to Feb. 16. Some of the men on those rolls do not appear in any subsequent rolls and certainly not in any of the rolls that were eventually published.
As far as I can tell, many of the men on the attached prisoner roll do not have PoW records because they were captured by Virginia State troops rather than regular Confederate troops. In fact, Auxier's experiences detail this distinction quite clearly. These were Floyd's prisoners and Letcher was going to make hay with them perhaps to assert some control over the military affairs in his state. I don't have Elijah's pension records, but if they mention his capture at the time of Wireman's (they may indicate the whereas well) but provide no PoW record similar to that found for Elijah's capture after Saltville, it may be due to the fact that the circumstances were confined to actions involving the Virginia State troops. Randall Osborne and Jeff Weaver wrote a pretty good book on the Virginia State Line and this was an observation they made in reference to the same events.
You would probably be right to believe that Elijah was captured at Wireman's Shoals, but the evidence of that is as circumstantial as the evidence that he was captured either at Prestonsburg or in the days following. I wish I could tell you with confidence exactly where he was captured, but I think you'll see that my understanding and explanation is detailed and extensive and still I cannot make a statement without some equivocation.
>>If you have any ideas or think I’m looking in the wrong places, I’d love to get the advice of someone who is so expert on the topic. I’m a researcher and historian, but not of the Civil War so I want to make sure I’m covering all the bases.<<
Let me state that the information you have mentioned in just this short e-mail indicates that you have an excellent grasp of the material -- very impressive for someone who professes no Civil War expertise. Your take on the events is pretty accurate, but I would caution you not to read too much into the difference between the enlistment and muster-in dates. Unless the recruit died from disease or in action or they were captured, the rule for all of the rest of the recruits is silence in the written records between enlistment and muster-in. The lack of detail in Elijah's PoW experience connected to the Wireman's fight was almost certainly due to the fact that Virginia State troops were involved instead of regular Confederate forces.
If you want to extrapolate from the other three men not listed in the prisoner rolls, you could probably say without fear of contradiction that Elijah was probably taken to Richmond with the rest of the prisoners. The statement made by a long-time area resident, a school-teacher and preacher named Burris, was that Franklin King was taken to Richmond where he died. Davis and Charles didn't make it there because Floyd chose to use them to make an example for the rest of his troops: "If you desert to the enemy, this is what will happen to you." The 119 prisoners arrived in Richmond on Dec. 28, yet we get some indication that some of the prisoners (those not on the list, I guess) were kept back in southwestern Virginia for some reason.
Just to make certain, I checked to see if Elijah may have served with any of the local Rebel regiments and he doesn't appear in any other rosters, nor does he appear in any of the published rosters for the West Virginia militia units raised in the area. However, as if to prove that neither I nor anyone else researching this region and its veterans can make any statement without qualification or fear of contradiction, I pulled out a file that I have containing a handful of letters written by one Corporal Ricely Roberts also of Company I. Ricely was captured in Pike County on Dec. 5th, probably in the area and along with the Peter Creek Home Guards/Company H men. He, of course, does have a PoW record that indicates that he was taken to Richmond. It also states explicitly that he was a "Citizen of Ky." and not a soldier though it gives his rank and company assignment. Some of the prisoners were not taken to Richmond until much later, apparently. His PoW record states that he arrived there on April 1st to be paroled two days later, yet he may appear on the prisoner list as "Richard Roberts." There is one letter Roberts wrote to his wife dated February 19th from "Smith Co., Va., on Holston River." It is very hard to read, but if you think you could use it, I'll pull out the related text and forward that to you.
The only thing I want to add to the above (as if it weren't enough) is that many of the men captured and taken to Richmond were citizens or new recruits; many weren't even soldiers. Quite a few were elderly and past military service age. This roundup was an illegal and mean-spirited affair. Many of the men were picked up simply because they professed loyalty to the Union. Some had taken some more active steps. A few, like Harmon McCoy and Phillip and Hiram Lambert, were truly dangerous men to the Confederate cause in the region, but the majority were picked up simply because they were on the wrong side. Harmon McCoy was actually pulled from his bed as he lay recuperating from a gunshot wound received in February or March of 1862 (the bullet passed from the collar bone through his body and out between two of his lower ribs on the other side of his body -- it should have been fatal; the wound was still festering when he was exchanged in April of 1863). McCoy's treatment in his own home was not the end of it. These men were marched from Prestonsburg through Pikeville and to Abingdon, Va., on foot and in miserably cold weather. When they made it to Abingdon, they were placed in open cattle cars on a train. When the train was required to move other supplies, they were placed in livestock pens. We know that at least some of the prisoners were captured between Pikeville and the Virginia border on Dec. 16th and it took until Dec. 28th to reach Richmond, so they endured truly horrible conditions similar to the Bataan Death March and what some of the victims of the Holocaust experienced in the winter of 1944-45.
My apologies for all of this excessive detail, but I thiink it may help to place the events in perspective. Elijah Hensley endured a heck of a lot during his service with the 39th Kentucky. The descendant should learn about this. Elijah did not have an easy road to travel. Even well before his wound and amputation in October of 1864, that old boy endured much and remained in the fight and loyal to the Old Flag.
If you think that you would need some images, I have a pretty good collection of pictures related to the regiment though I don't have a picture of Elijah. I'm sure Dr. Auxier has offered the two or three fantastic images of his ancestor in uniform. Also, one of my friends, a fantastic and seasoned local historian, actually found a song in the Library of Congress collections that refers to the Rebels rolling boulders down the hillside on the Union men at Wireman's. I can get particulars if you'd want to use that. Finally, the song "Guardian Angels" by the Judds refers to Elijah Judd, the ancestor of those two talented ladies and a member of Company D of the 39th Kentucky, and, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band refers to "Stoneman's Cavalry." It could refer to Stoneman's last raid into North Carolina and Virginia, but it could also refer to his raid begun in December of 1864 which went to Saltville. This would have been the second time that the 39th Kentucky had visited that town. Elijah Hensley was wounded in the first raid on that town in October, 1864, but the song may work for your presentation as well.
If I can be of any further service, please do not hesitate to ask. I am passionate about the collective story of these mountaineers and would love for some of this to come to the attention of more than just a few enthusiasts.
I am, madam, yours very truly,
Robert M. Baker
Elijah Hensley in the 1860, Logan County, (West) Virginia, Census
John B. Goff
One of the more notable Tug Valley secessionists, a resident of, I believe, the Big Creek area of Pike County, was a man named John B. Goff. William Ely, in his The Big Sandy Valley, devotes nearly three pages and provides two line drawings of Goff and his daughters (on pages 135-7), but the jovial account of his very early war-time activities in the neighborhood does not hint at the grief and annoyance caused by Goff's anti-Union efforts. Goff would receive a commission and recruit and serve as captain of Company F of the 2nd Virginia State Line from October 4th, 1862 (note that Company D, Captain William Williams, would shanghai Adam Davis and George Charles, and Company E, Captain William Lee, would compel several Unionists from McDowell County and the Knox Creek section of Buchanan County to serve in the ranks of the 2nd VSL). Osborne and Weaver note that he received his pay in that capacity until at least March 31st, 1863. (p. 192) He was captured in Pike County on May 24th, 1863.
After his capture, Goff was brought to trial for his alleged crimes and faced a handful of his pro-Union adversaries, some of whom, perhaps not coincidentally, would appear on the list of 119 prisoners captured by John B. Floyd's Virginia State Line and transferred to Richmond, Virginia, at the end of 1862.
Philip Lambert and Lewis C. Dils Statements
A Different Tack (Joel Long, Alf Killen, and the Mud Creek Fight)
From: Abdallah G. Dahir <DELETED>
To: hiramwyliejustus <DELETED>
Sent: Sat, Apr 23, 2011 12:08 pm
Subject: Joel D Long
Mr Robert M. Baker,
Are you the person who has an old book that has an inscription written on the
flyleaf stating that he was Joel D Long and was in a battle in saltsville,
Va.?He was my g g grandfather . His son was William W Long and his son was
Paris Franklin Long his son My father Eldon Long.I am Nancy Long Dahir in
I would love the to clear the good name of Joel D Long who was in 39Kentucky
infantry. To make a long story My father sister read a story in The Mountain
Chronicle Thursday December1 1983 page 1 c 3. The story was a manuscript
entitled The Death of Alf Killen as told by a rebel soldier that help destroy
him and his gang.The story also said Joel Long , who was a bushwhacker killed
Tandy Branham and he left the area dressed as a woman.this story and a few other
were put on the internet by Judy Warren also a g g granddaughter who does
research on the Long family and my Aunt Callie
Long Conley even tho she had never heard of them before said in a letter I dont
know if they are true . But still gave the imformation. to Highland Echo and
Callie gave information to Legends In Blue and Gray Magoffin Historical Society
I would loved to have a copy of the inscription if possible.Also I would love to
buy the book and keep this record in the family. If you can help me in any way
let me know.
Nancy Long Dahir
Joel Long's Inscription
A Different Tack (Joel Long, Alf Killen, and the Mud Creek Fight)
Although it is not yet common knowledge, I was able to establish several years ago that there were two Joel Longs who served with the 39th. They were related: they were uncle and nephew, distinguished by "Sr." and "Jr." even though they were not directly related. I was advised by one highly qualified genealogist that such a designation was not uncommon back in the day. Joel, Sr., the man who lived to old age in the area of Oil Springs, was not the man who killed Tandy Branham.
Branham was a resident of the Mud Creek area of Floyd/Pike and, contrary to the comments in Sutherland's _Reminiscences_, he was not an inoffensive and well-liked local man. He was a Confederate supply officer, so it is likely, perhaps even certain, that he was as responsible for stealing horses and other property as any other Confederate or Union soldier -- probably more so.
The Longs, the clan from out of Wise and Dickenson, were almost all educated men. Some served as school teachers in Wise before the war and some were school teachers and county officials in Johnson County after the war. One Long was involved in the school, a teachers' training school, near Oil Springs after the war. The Longs, Killens, Gilliams, and Swindalls, among others, were pretty much driven away from their homes in Wise and sought refuge in Kentucky. Johnson County was, for some reason, the locus for many of these Virginia loyalists.
Billie Edith Ward's account of the killing of Alf Killen is fairly accurate regarding the specific details about the fight, but it was not complete nor was it accurate about Killen and his "squad." Alf Killen's records stated that he was a Federal recruiting officer and that he was a scout or spy. Wilburn Long's records went way beyond this. Wilburn, one of three Longs who served with Killen, indicated that Killen's squad was a regularly organized, equipped, armed, and uniformed unit of 25 men whose mission at the time that Killen and the younger Joel were killed was actually to keep watch over Prentice's unit. The location of the fight was apparently at the farm of Killen's brother or other relative, Hence Killen.
Wilburn was wounded and captured at Mud Creek along with a couple of other men. He survived, but his wound was so bad that he was partly lame. He served as a school teacher in Oil Springs after the war.
There is no independent account of Joel, Jr's., killing beyond what Billie Edith Ward gives and that account does not say anything about him being disguised as a woman. He did not escape. He was apparently captured and shot in the head by Colonel Prentice himself.
I cannot account for why "Dusty Pants" was confused with Jr. and how it came to be claimed that Dusty Pants was the one who was shot in the head but he survived. The Compiled Service Records are clear that Jr. had deserted (he was actually with Killen and probably had permission or orders to do so from Col. Gallup) while Sr. was still with the regiment in February or March of 1864 when the Mud Creek fight occurred (that's right, the Cranesnest battle occurred in 1863, not '64). The records also indicate that Jr. had been killed by the Rebels during his absence.
As far as I am concerned, and as are several good regional historians with whom I've discussed and researched the issue, Joel Long, Sr., was a pretty good soldier and not the man killed on Mud Creek. Further, Killen and Joel. Jr., were serving as the Civil War's version of the USMC Long Range Reconnaissance units or similar. They went into enemy territory to gather information. If they were not so dangerous to the Rebels and Colonel Prentice, then there would have been no reason to hunt them down. There is no corroboration for the claim that the Rebels and Union troops called a truce to both hunt down Killen's men. In fact, it is so unlikely as to be laughable.
Truth is, the Union troops in the region had dozens of men, perhaps well over one or two hundred, who served as scouts and spies, an industry that may have been established by Garfield (he did the same elsewhere after his stint in East Kentucky) and continued by his successors. These men were often former residents of the Virginia and West Virginia counties they were tasked with scouting. There may have been Red String or Heroes of America connections as well, if the activities of Harrison Bowman are any indication, but that information is nearly impossible to tease out of the records. Comments for Killen and another man, Clinton van Buskirk, identified by former Rebels as spies and scouts indicate that these men were considered to be dangerous to the Confederate cause. They were quite effective. Information about Rebel spies does not indicate any similar degree of organization or effectiveness. Most, if not all, information about Rebel spies is usually anecdotal and reveals individual initiative but no recognition of the value of an organized network by anyone above the regimental level.
Regarding the book that you referenced: attached is a scan of the page on which Joel, Sr., recalled his near death experience [provided above]. I wish that I could sell the book and return it to the Long family, but you are actually the second Long family descendant this week to contact me regarding the family's connections to the 39th Kentucky. I have been in contact with another Long descendant whom has been an incredible research partner, friend, and (helpful) critic of my own research on the regiment and she has asked the same. Even considering her incomparable help and invaluable friendship, I had to turn down her request for the same. I am not a wealthy man, but the few items of historical value or worth that I have acquired through the years will become the property of my daughter when I leave this mortal coil to begin my 1,600 first-hand interviews of the veterans of the 39th Kentucky. I do hope you understand and will accept my reasons for refusing your request.
[Note: M.Sgt. Brian E. Hall, USAF, Retd.; Melanie Long; Randall Osborne; Jeff Weaver; Edward Hazelett, Sr.; and Betty Howard all contributed greatly to my understanding of all of the above.]