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FEATURES: CIVIL WAR UNITS: 1st Kentucky Volunteers, CSA [BACK]

Colonel Thomas H. Taylor

Col. Taylor set about organizing the troops into a regiment. Both battalions were motivated and eager to prove their worth. Camping around Manassas during the late summer of '61, the 1st saw little action and was left with the boring routine of drill and more drill. In September, the regiment marched to and established camp at Centerville Virginia. From that camp, the various companies were detailed for sentry duty. This would be the only action, the 1st would see for the next three months. It was however an eventful time in that the Kentuckians would engage in daily skirmishes with the enemy.

During the first week of December the regiment received its battle flag from the hands of General Gustavus W. Smith. Ironically, it was Smith, a native Kentucky, that Col. Duncan had offered the Kentuckians' service to in May of '61.

The Kentuckians' desire for action was shortly granted. Early on Friday morning at 3 o'clock am , December 1861, the 1st Kentucky was issued 40 rounds and two days rations per man and ordered to report to General J.E.B Stuart's headquarters. Accompanied by the 6th South Carolina, 11th Virginia, 10th Alabama, Coutt's battery and 200 horsemen left Camp Sam Jones bound for the northern Virginia countryside.

The march led some 20 miles to the small community of Dranesville. Northern Virginia had, in its' community, a number of union sympathizers. It was those individuals, the expedition hoped to relive of their stores. Unfortunately, a larger federal force was embarking with an equal determination to defend them.

The ensuing battle, the regiment was first held in reserve, but then ordered in on the confederate left. Moving through the dense pine thicket, the regiment became mis-oriented and caught notice of the blue uniforms to their right. Before the mistake could be corrected some South Carolinians paid with their life. With their proper direction now established, the 1st moved forward. When a faint voice inquired if they were bucktails, a lone voice replied, "yes... we are bucktails". The Kentuckians answered with a volley and drove the Pennsylvanians from their position. Col. Taylor was moving back and forth, from left to right behind his advancing troops. As the confederate line began to alter its direction, he found himself behind enemy lines. Maintaining his composure, Col. Taylor waited until dark and slipped back to friendly lines. Outnumbered and tired, the confederates made their way back toward Centerville. Having grounded their overcoats before the engagement and forced to withdraw in a different direction; the Kentuckians suffered a long cold march. In less than 24 hours, they had marched 40 miles and fought for three hours.

On Christmas day, 1861, Taylor's Kentuckians went into winter camp near Centerville at the junction of Broad and Cub Runs. The "Kentucky Rifles" performed sentry duty for the next three months. In March the Army began its grand retreat toward the peninsula. In route, at Orange Court House, Colonel Taylor was detailed as Provost Marshal. The regiment reached the Virginia coast and participated in the battles of Dam No 1 and endured cannon fire for nearly two weeks.

Although the Kentuckians held elections, the secretary of war ordered its twelve months enlistment to stand and the men were mustered out in May of 1862 at Winder Camp near Richmond.

Colonel Taylor was given command of a brigade in East Tennessee and served in the Kentucky Campaign. His later assignments included: Provost Marshal during the Vicksburg Siege and paroled after the fall of that city, commander of the South Mississippi and East Louisiana district and finally again assigned as Provost Marshall at Mobile. Although nominated to the rank of brig. general, President Davis never forwarded his promotion to congress for approval.

Following the war, Col. Taylor returned to his native state and served as Louisville Chief-of-Police. On April 12, 1901, the man who brought the two Kentucky battalions together as a regiment crossed over the river.

This information appears here courtesy of its author, Terry Shelton;
Mr. Shelton's web site can be found at:

FEATURES: CIVIL WAR UNITS: 1st Kentucky Volunteers, CSA [BACK]

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