In Green Lawn Cemetery in Franklin, Simpson County, sleep at least twenty Confederate soldiers – perhaps more, but within the photographs that Ritchey and I took when we visited there several years ago, we counted twenty. Many of them were members of the Orphans Brigade, a Kentucky unit of the Confederacy that was forced to go to Tennessee because of the Kentucky’s neutrality. Later in the war they fought in bloody battles such as Shiloh, Tennessee; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Vicksburg, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. They could not return to Kentucky until the end of the Civil War since a bounty had been placed on them by Union administration. They were called the Orphan Brigade since they could not return home.
The following article is a remembrance of that march out of their native state. When it mentions that when members of the brigade came into Franklin they easily found food and drink – many of these men were from this county – naturally they would be given what they needed. These were home-town boys
The Franklin Favorite, Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky
Friday, February 16, 1962
One Hundred Years Ago This Week
“Orphans” Grieve Over Leaving Kentucky
Confederate-built Fort Donelson, overlooking the Cumberland River in Tennessee, a few miles south of the Kentucky boundary, surrendered to Brigadier General U. S. Grant a hundred years ago today.
Anticipating the fall, the Confederate Army of Central Kentucky, which had occupied Bowling Green since September 17, 1861, evacuated that city. In a dejected retreat the army moved sullenly toward Nashville.
Before leaving Bowling Green, the Confederates, under command of General William J. Hardee, destroyed both bridges over Barren River. The iron L&N Railroad bridge remained stating after charges of powder were exploded in the towers of its piers. But 13 rounds of cannon fire dropped the bridge into the river.
To keep the enemy from capturing a huge supply of military stores, the Confederates burned their Bowling Green warehouses. Shoes, blankets, medicines, flour, pork, beef and other stores were destroyed in a $750,000 fire.
With that retreating army was the First Kentucky Brigade, which gained everlasting fame as the “Orphans Brigade.” It was destined to be known as the best infantry outfit in the Confederate army.
Kentucky Orphans Want to Fight
Dispirited, sullen and tearfully regretful, the Orphans deeply resented yielding Kentucky without a fight. They formed the rear guard, under command of Brigadier General John C. Breckinridge, for the rest of the Army of Central Kentucky.
Leaving Bowling Green on February 12, the Orphans bivouacked at Mill Springs (Lost River) that night. The following night, on Thursday, February 13, 1862, they pitched their tents on the farm around the octagon house north of Franklin.
For the past several days the weather had been very pleasant. But suddenly out of the north swept a blizzard of sleet and snow and temperatures below zero. Preparations were made for an early march on February 14th southward, but a halt was ordered in Franklin. Suffering from the cold was so great the men hardly could be kept on the march. Sickness felled thousands of troops.
Stragglers Fill Franklin
Stragglers fill Franklin. Many of them had little trouble in talking their way into a square meal here and a drink of whisky. At 10 a.m., the march was resumed. Hardly out of Franklin, another halt was ordered and the soldiers burned up a rail fence making long lines of fires to keep from freezing.
On the night of February 14th, the Orphans reached Camp Trousdale a Confederate training camp of several frame buildings at Mitchellville.
Routed By Smoke and Cold
A historian of the brigade says the night there was one of the most disagreeable ever spent. The weather continued bitterly cold. Fuel was hard to get. Smoke from fires on the ground – or in the buildings – made intolerable conditions, driving the freezing would-be sleepers away from the fire or outside the buildings.
The army pulled wearily into Nashville on Sunday, February 16, 1862, to hear the news that Fort Donelson had surrendered. Nashville went into a state of panic.
Riding in front of the army from Bowling Green was a young captain, John H. Morgan, who later would become a symbol of Southern hopes as the Great Kentucky Raider.
Jerome Clarke’s 4th Kentucky Regiment of the Orphans Brigade was at Fort Donelson
Jerome Clarke Taken As Prisoner Of War
A century ago today, Jerome Clarke was taken prisoner of war at the surrender of Fort Donelson. After a three-year career as an outstanding Confederate soldier, Jerome was hanged for the misdeeds of “Sue Mundy,” a rather fictitious girl guerrilla who was over billed, if not created, by the Northern press until “she” became an “image” of the irregular warfare of the South in Kentucky.
A native of Simpson County, Jerome cut his soldier’s teeth in the battle at Fort Donelson, where he turned in a heroic performance. He was a member of a superbly-drilled battery of Captain Rice E. Graves which literally made life miserable for the Federals who had invested the fort with a battle line of three miles. Graves’ battery even won the admiration of the commander of the enemy forces.
Whose Battery Was That?
As Confederate prisoners were being rounded up to be shipped north to military prisons, General U. S. Grant asked about the battery and its commander. When told, Grant commented wryly that no matter how or where he maneuvered his men, he could not hide them from Graves’ alert artillerists and their deadly guns.
So devastating was the fire from the artillery high on a ridge at the center of the Confederates’ line of defense that Federal General McClernand was provoked into a reckless charge at the guns.
General McClernand, a division commander, ordered three of his infantry regiments to attack the position and take the battery.
“Of course,” Grant wrote, “the attack was a failure.” The Yankees were thrown back with severe losses.
Leads Company to Safety
During the excitement of the struggle, a company of Confederate soldiers lost their bearing in the fog and smoke of the battlefield. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, seeing their peril, asked for a volunteer to lead the men back to their own lines. Seventeen-year-old Jerome stepped forward. Under fire, he coolly accomplished the daring mission.
Jerome was shipped north on a river boat, the Dr. Kana, as a prisoner of war. He was confined at Camp Morton, near Indianapolis. But Jerome and three companions – overpowering four prison guards – escaped about four months later. He joined the 16th Kentucky Cavalry at Henderson, Kentucky, under Col. Adam R. Johnson. Later Jerome went into the First Kentucky Cavalry which was originally a part of the Orphans Brigade, and from there he went with Morgan’s men.
George W. Duncan, SURG 30 Tenn INF, Confederate States Army, January 12, 1826 – September 8, 1905.
William Wallace Hunt, 4 CORP CO H 4 KY CAVALRY, Confederate States Army, 1841-1898, Prisoner of War, 640 U C V.
Young Pepper, PVT CO A 30 Tenn INF, Confederate States Army, 1843-1873.
David C. Walker, CAPT, 6 KY Vol Infantry, Confederate States Army, 1837-1895, Wounded, Resaca, GA.
Wiley Sanders, PVT CO G 16 Tenn Infantry, Confederate States Army, 1811-1904, D. C. Walker, U C V.
W. J. Frey, PVT CO 1, 8 KY INF, Confederate States Army, 1839-1916.
James Dave Jennett, PVT CO 1, 6 KY INF, Confederate States Army, June 11, 1904.
John W. Suttle, PVT 2 Tenn INF, Confederate States Army, October 16, 1848 – March 24, 1897.
W. R. Bryan, PVT CO 1, 6 KY Infantry, Confederate States Army, 1828-1881, Orphan Brigade.
Rueben T. Bryan, PVT CO A, 6 KY Cavalry, Confederate States Army, 1838-1917, Orphan Brigade.
Robert L. Booker, 3D CORP CO 1, 6 KY Inf, Orphan Brigade, Confederate States Army, 1840-1903.
Harvey David Wade, ORD SERG F&S 8 MO Infantry, Confederate States Army, 1836-1911, UCV 640.
Davis A. Caldwell, 3D LIEUT CSA Militia, Buckner Greys, Confederate States Army, 1832-1916.
James Edward Turner, 2d LIEUT, CO C, 42 Tenn INF, Confederate States Army, 1832-1904.
William H. LaRue, PVT CO B, 3 KY CAV, Civil War, 1840-1862.
CAPT Marcellus Jerome Clarke, 2 KY CAV, Morgan’s Brigade, CSA, 1845-1865.
George P. Tidwell, PVT P KY CAV, Confederate States Army, 1827-1899.
William B. Wood, PVT 9 VA CAV, Confederate States Army, 1843-1909.
R. Allison Salmon, 1ST SERG CO I, 6 KY INF, Orphan Brigade, Confederate States Army, 1841-1873.
John W. Salmons, PVT CO E, 8 KY CAV, Morgans Men, Confederate States Army, 1843-1913.
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