1st Regiment Kentucky Volunteers,
"The Alexander Guards"
The 1st Kentucky Infantry Regiment was formed by the merger of two
Kentucky infantry battalions led by Blanton Duncan and Thomas H.
Taylor. This regiment consisted of eleven (11) companies numbering
some 800 men; mustered in Kentucky.
Both battalions arrived in Virginia just before the Battle of First
Manassas. Duncan's battalion arrived at Harper's Ferry on May 4,
1861. Taylor's battalion arrived in early July.
Interestingly, both battalions were involved in train wrecks while en
route to the Eastern front. The wrecks were at two different
locations: Duncan's while en-route to Manassas and Taylor's while it
was en-route to Manassas Junction to merge with the former.
Colonel Taylor was given command of the regiment by direction of the
Secretary of War for the Confederate States on August 7, 1861.
Throughout the summer and early fall of 1861, the 1st Kentucky
operated in the Northern Virginia area. In early December, General
Gustavus W. Smith presented the Kentuckians with their first battle
On December 20th, 1861, the 1st Kentucky along with 3 other
Confederate regiments, a battery of artillery, and 250 cavalry,
commanded by J.E.B. Stuart engaged federal forces at Drainesville,
Virginia. The small battle lasted some 3 hours and at last the
outnumbered Confederates were forced to withdraw.
On Christmas Day the regiment went into winter quarters approximately
two miles west of Centerville, Virginia. The winter proved to be long
and cold. The conditions were made worse by daily skirmishes with
The primary area of operation ranged from Frying Pan Road to
On March 8, 1862, the Confederate army commenced a grand retreat
through Warrenton, Culpepper Court House, and Orange Court House; a
distance of some 70 miles. It remained at the latter for a period of
During this time, Colonel Taylor was appointed Provost Marshall and
200 men of the regiment under Captain Joe Desha were detailed as
guards. Major Crossland was given temporary command of the regiment.
After 3 weeks, the regiment moved to Richmond and on April 14 was
ordered to Yorktown. It was here the Kentuckians encountered the
heaviest fighting of the regiment's history.
On April 16, the regiment repulsed two federal assaults while under
cannonading and small arms fire.
The army withdrew from Yorktown and the 1st Kentucky was ordered to
Winder Camp in Richmond. Its 12 months enlistment having expired, the
regiment was mustered out of service on May 13th and 14th.
The war was far from over and the former 1st Kentucky members
enlisted in the Kentucky units operating in Tennessee as well as
other various military organizations in Virginia.