Posted By:Rick Bryant
Subject:Re: Smithland, KY
Post Date:February 13, 2009 at 12:56:10
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Forum:Southern Unionist Forum
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I have not studied that region in any detail. It could be that, since the town was mostly in Union hands throughout the war, it was considered safe haven. From the following, however, we may deduce that not everyone there held Union sentiments:

After Lew Wallace's command was moved to Smithland, he was headquartered at the Gower House. In a letter home, he stated that he was enjoying his stay, though he waited in anticipation. He writes, "I have been assigned to the command--how long that will last I cannot tell....I hold myself at all times ready to move at a moment's warning....My quarters are the nicest I ever had....The town is a beautiful place. Mostly secesh, but inclined to be quiet. The drums are beating for dress parade and I must close."

A moment's notice was to take all of six days. On January 31, 1862, C. F. Smith received orders from General Grant to take all of the command from Smithland, except the 52nd Illinois, to Fort Henry.

After the victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, captured Confederates were to be sent north to Chicago. One of the first stops on the route north was Smithland. What Lew Wallace described as a mostly quiet town was enraged at the sight of the tattered and torn prisoners in gray.

Edmonia Patterson Daniel, in recollection of this event, recounted one particular incident. "A company of german soldiers, left in command, stood near our group. They jeered, made sport and mocked the captured men, saying, 'Oh, look at the damn ol rebel prisoners.' In bitter resentment with hearts bowed down, we girls told them these were brave heroes of the war. Threats to put us in the guard-house forbade another word and our mothers called us indoors."

From a paper presented at the Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference, March 1996. Kathleen Tucker, Murray State University, Murray, KY.