Christian County, Kentucky Union Soldiers

Simultaneous with the breaking out of the war, and while the Confederates were organizing at Camp Boone and elsewhere, the friends of the Union also rushed to arms. Their principal rendezvous in the county was near Hopkinsville, on the farm of Mr. Joseph F. Anderson, and was popularly known as ” Camp Joe Anderson.” Here (some say about 500, and some 1,000) men were organized into a regiment under command of Col. James F. Buckner, now of Louisville, Ky. It was officered as follows: Col., James F. Buckner; Lt – Col., T. C. Fruit; William T. Buckner, Major; Maj. John P. Ritter, Adjutant, and Joseph F. Anderson, Quartermaster. Among the Captains commanding companies were B. T. Underwood, Hugh Cooper, William Starling and Summerby. This command, beside arms and other equipment, had on e piece of artillery, manned by Capt. Starling and his company. In the month of September, 1861, Maj – Gen. Buckner moved from Bowling Green through Greenville with a detachment of 4,000 or 5,000 men to attack and capture the camp. Many of the men were absent at their homes, and only about 500 were in camp, when information was received of Buckner’s designs. These moved out on to the Greenville road, about three miles distant, and fired their cannon as a signal to those who were absent. These not putting in an appearance, and word being received that the Confederates who were approaching numbered some 5,000 or 6,000 men, they dispersed. Col. Buckner was captured at the residence of Mrs. Ruby, about twenty miles from Madisonville on the road to Henderson, and carried prisoner to Paducah. Lieut – Col. William T. Buckner with a squad of forty or fifty men was surrounded in an old church, on the Madisonville and Henderson road, about one mile from Vandersburg, by Capt. James A. Powell and about an equal number of men, and after a sharp, brisk fight surrendered.

Shortly after this Capt. John W. Breathitt organized a company of cavalry, which was mustered into service at Calhoun, Ky., for a period of three years, and assigned to duty December 13, 1861, as Company A, Third Kentucky Cavalry, under Col. James S. Jackson. The company was officered as follows: John W. Breathitt, Captain; Charles L. White, First Lieutenant; N. C. Petree, Second Lieutenant. Among the names of non-commissioned officers and privates given by the Adjutant-General’s report who were then mustered in are: Calvin A. McCullough, James M. Clark, E. R. Hamby, C. M. Grissom, Isaac Walker, B. F. Goode, J. A. B. Ratcliffe, W. H. Barnett, J. Blankenship, Lafayette Phelps, J. B. Barnett, J. P. Clark, W. P. Walker, Thomas McCullough, W. J. Bar-nett, W. B. Whitaker, J. Ingoldsby, W. H. McIntosh, S. W. Abbott, H. Baker, J. J. Bowen, A. Brewer, George Bobbitt, W. H. Cansler, N. L. Cavanaugh, F. M. Cooper, I. D. Cooper, S. D. Collins, M. F. Chester-field, J. J. Fuller, James Fuller, W. L. Gibson, J. B. Goode, J. C. Hun-ter, H. H. Jones, J. D. Johnson, A. G. Johnson, W. H. Johnson, D. H. Knight, J. W. Kirben, J. J. Long, H. H. Linsey, George L. Lovin, H. McIntosh, F. McIntosh, J. B. Martin, J. C. Martin, J. G. Moreland, John Matheny, Aaron Morgan, F. P. Miller, G. H. Myers, A. H. Perkins, J. H. Phamp, J. R. Phillips, B. M. Powers, W. H. Powers, William Ray, J. J. Renshaw, Rev. Sol. Smith, J. F. Stephenson, A. P. Smith, J. W. Underwood, U. M. Underwood, William Vine, A. Vinson, Charles A. White, Moses W. Woosley, J. W. White, W. T. Williamson, Wyatt M. Wright, J. B. Wright, G. M. West, W. W. West and M. W. West. May 27, 1863, J. W. Breathitt was promoted to Major of the regiment, and Charles L. White became Captain, with Thomas W. Ash-ford as First Lieutenant, and Edward Kelly, Second Lieutenant.

Immediately after organization this company, together with the others, under command of the gallant Jackson, was assigned to Gen. T. L. Crittenden’s division, marched to Nashville, Tenn., and participated in the battles of Sacramento, Ky., Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, and Pea Ridge, Miss., New Market, Ala., Kinderhook, Chaplin Hills, Stone River, Tenn., and Chickamauga, Ga.

In the month of September, 1861, a company was organized by Capt. B. T. Underwood at Henderson, Ky., and assigned to duty as Company A, Twenty-fifth Kentucky Infantry, under command of Col. James M. Shackelford. The company was officered as follows: B. T. Underwood, Captain; R. W. Williams, First Lieutenant; Thomas B. Boyd, Second Lieutenant. The regiment was assigned to the division commanded by Gen. T. L. Crittenden, and was afterward (in April, 1862) consolidated with the Seventeenth Regiment, under the command of Col. John H. McHenry, Jr. The roster shows the following names: H. C. Brasher, W. F. McAtee, J. G. Yancey, H. H. Witty, J. IL Wilson, M. B. Brown, M. A. Littlefield, J. G. Anderson, J. W. Lynn, J. M. Crag, J. J. Arm-strong, T. Russell, Old Daniel Cartwright, James Anderson, Jr., F. Blanchard, S. E. Boyd, G. E. Boyd, W. H. Boyd, James M. Bennett, J. D. Brown, L. H. Bouland, F. Cordier, I. A. Cook, J. W. Courtney, William Doss, Thomas Ewing, W. Fortner, W. Fletcher, T. Fletcher, Edom Grace, James Gilliland, P. F. Gibson, William Gabert, J. W. Hammond, V. A. Hamby, G. H. Hamby, D. M. Hamby, L. H. John-son, Daniel Kennedy, H. J. L. Love, Henry Ladd, W. R. Long, J. W. Morris, J. 0. Menser, S. D. Menser, Joseph Morgan, J. O’Roark, J. F. Pyle, Charles Pryor, A. Russell, J. Rose, W. Sizemore, J. C. Teague, William Teague, C. F. Trotter, W. J. Witty, W. S. Witty, E. T. Walker, E. Wilkins, J. M. West and John W. Wyatt. Capt. Underwood resigned April 5, 1862, and J. V. Boyd was promoted to the vacancy, with Samuel T. Fruit as First Lieutenant, and Albert E. Brown, Second Lieutenant.

In December, 1862, the regiment passed to the command of Col. A. M. Stout, under whom it remained to the end of the war. This company in the consolidation with the Seventeenth Regiment became Company G, and participated in the following battles: Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Kenesaw Mountain, Corinth, Atlanta, Marietta, Kingston, Dallas, Cassville, New Hope Church and Altoona Mountain. They were mustered out of service in Louisville, Ky., on the 22d of January, 1865, the recruits and veterans being transferred to the Twenty-first Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.

The Seventeenth Kentucky Cavalry, organized in the winter of 1864-65, and commanded by Col. S. F. Johnson, was largely composed of troops from Christian County, but we have no data of their operations, and can only make this brief reference to them.

The Thirty-fifth Kentucky Mounted Infantry, commanded by Col. E. A. Starling, was also largely composed of Christian County troops. It was organized at Owensboro, September 25, 1863, and afterward mustered into the United States service October 2, 1863. Its first field of operation was in Southern Kentucky, between Green River and the Cumberland, which at the time was much infested with guerillas, and small bands of Confederates who were recruiting men and horses. In the summer of 1864 it was assigned, with others, to the command of Gen. E. H. Hobson, under whom it was engaged in many skirmishes with the Con-federate Gen. Adam Johnson. In September of this year it took part in the first campaign against Saltville, Va., under Gen. Burbridge, and from thence returned to Louisville via Lexington, where, December 29, 1864, it was mustered out of service. After the war Col. Starling was killed in a political canvass for the sheriffalty of the county, and after his death the following obituary notice of him appeared in one of the Hopkinsville papers:

Edmund Alexander Starling

An account of the death of Col. Starling from assassination was published last week. He was descended from families of mark and distinction in Virginia and Kentucky. His relationship extended through many of the large families in both of these States, the McDowells, McClungs, Irvines, Bufords, Marshalls, Prestons, Birneys, McGavichs, Shelbys, Sullivants, etc., all of whom have produced men of character and position. He was no unworthy representative of his family. Born in Kentucky on the 22d day of November, 1826, when a youth he moved to Columbus, Ohio, where in the office of his brother, Col. Lyne Starling, he acquired those exact and comprehensive business habits which characterized him through life. From there he went to New York, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits with eminent success until the defalcation of a partner in the house caused him a loss of the greater part of his acquired capital. He was then appointed Indian agent, and was sent to the tribes on Puget Sound, and the reports of the department of the Government having supervision of such matters show, what the modest reticence of Col. Starling never revealed, that he discharged his duties with scrupulous fidelity and with exceeding ability. After his arduous and responsible services incident to such a position, he removed to Hopkinsville, where he had spent his earliest days and had received the rudiments of his education, and where his mother and many of his immediate family resided. For many years he was the business partner of his brother, William Starling (now deceased), and during the war commanded the Thirty-fifth Regiment of Kentucky Mounted Infantry Volunteers in the Federal service.

Since the war he married Miss Annie L., youngest daughter of the late Dr. John McCarroll, of Hopkinsville, and led, with his devoted wife and in the bosom of his family, that quiet and retired life which his temperament best fitted him to enjoy.

Col. Starling was an undemonstrative man, though strong and faithful in his friendships. He was pre-eminently kind-hearted and charitable, and no worthy, distressed person ever left him empty-handed. There are many in this community among the lowly who rise up and call him blessed, and many others still who will miss his kind and cheering words of advice and sympathy. He was a man of the most refined tastes, and exhibited the greatest fondness for books, music, paintings and flowers. And no one who ever met him in social life, or sat with him at his hospitable board, could fail to be impressed with the ease and dignity of his manners, and with the generosity and kindness of his nature.

But, best of all, Col. Starling was a Christian in the true sense of the word. He was the son of Christian parents who, faithful to their trust, instructed him early in life in Bible truth, as formulated in the doctrines and standards of the Presbyterian Church, of which they were members. While quite young his father died, and he was left with his widowed mother, to whom he was devotedly attached. It was not until after her death, which occurred in the year 1869, that he united with the First Presbyterian Church of this city. Several years after uniting with the church he was elected and installed a Ruling Elder. He filled up the measure of his days with active Christian work, and made the Christian life his chief concern. It seemed to be his great effort to make up in the activity of his last years for the long years of his earlier life which he had failed to devote to the service of the Master. He said to the writer of this sketch, in speaking of this, that he had never, in all his wanderings, been able to shake off the impressions of the Christian instruction given him by his mother in the days of his youth. The regular services of the church, the prayer meeting, the Sunday-school, and all church work commanded his most earnest interest and loving service. From the beginning of his Christian life, he resolutely laid aside all animosities, and the question, What is my duty? had its answer in its fulfillment.

Among others who deserve mention in this connection is the name of Dr. William Randolph, who became Surgeon of the Seventeenth Kentucky Cavalry under Col. Burge, and was afterward promoted to duty on Gen. Hugh Ewing’s staff. He died of erysipelas while in service at Russellville, Ky., June 5th, 1865. Dr. Randolph was a Christian gentleman and an accomplished surgeon.

A prominent citizen of Hopkinsville relates that since the war, in a conversation with Gen. T. L. Crittenden, at Louisville, that distinguished officer paid a just tribute to the gallantry of two of Hopkinsville’s brave soldiers, by saying: Lieut. Edward Kelly and private Isaac Walker were two as gallant men as were to be found in the army.

Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, whose position as surgeon of the Third Kentucky Cavalry was so ably filled through the entire war, though not originally a Christian County man, has been for years one of her honored citizens.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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