Tenth Kentucky Infantry

Tenth Kentucky Infantry

Typed by Dennis Belcher, a 10th Kentucky Infantry veteran descendant

It is proper to begin the account of this regiment with a brief mention of the distinguished man who was its colonel. John M. HJohn M. Harlanarlan was born near Danville, Ky., in 1833, the son of Hon. James Harlan, a noted lawyer and attorney-general of Kentucky. Educated at Centre college, and graduating in the law department of Transylvania university, he began practice in Frankfort. At the age of twenty-five he was elected county judge. The year following he failed by only sixty-seven votes of election to Congress, as a Whig, from the Ashland district. Had he remained in that district he would have been elected to Congress in 1861, but early in that year he removed to Louisville. When the military companies were raised for defense of the city in the spring of that year, John M. Harlan was captain of the Crittenden Union Zouaves. This company, under Capt. John M. Harlan, was one of the number which proceeded to Muldraugh’s Hill, September 17th, when the volunteers were sent there under Gens. Sherman and Rousseau.

September 27, 1861, Capt. Harlan announced his intention to raise a regiment. The companies were recruited with great rapidity, and in the succeeding month the regiment was full and in camp in Lebanon, Ky. It was mustered into service by Maj. Sidell, U. S. mustering officer, November 21, 1861. It was at once placed in the command of Gen. Thomas. The brigade to which it was assigned being under Col. M. D. Manson. On the 31st of December the regiment left Lebanon and marched through Columbia to the field of active operations, which culminated in the battle of Mill Springs, or Logan’s Field as it was also called, January 19, 1862. In connection with this first victory of note in the West, the 10th played an important part, though it was sent on a movement which prevented its participation in the actual battle. The reports of Gen. Thomas and Col. Manson mentioned the arrival on the field of the 10th, and that it engaged in the pursuit of the enemy. Col. Harlan’s report shows that on the 17th he proceeded with his regiment some distance on the road to Jamestown against a force supposed to be in that direction; he then says:

Information came to me Sunday morning (19th) of the battle at Logan’s. Although the men of my regiment were entirely destitute of provisions, and on that morning had not received half enough for breakfast, my summons to them to fall into line and march to the aid of our brethren was obeyed with commendable alacrity. Starting for the scene of danger we marched as rapidly as it was possible for men to march. Upon reaching Logan’s I found the enemy had fled and that our troops had followed in pursuit. Without halting at Logan’s we came up with this and the other brigade under Gen. Thomas a short while before dark on Sunday. After our arrival, in obedience to orders, I took possession of the woods immediately in front of the rebel fortifications, with directions to hold it against any attack of the enemy. There my men lay on the ground during the whole of Sunday night, without fire, tents, overcoats or blankets, and with nothing to eat except about one-fourth of a cracker to each man.

On the next day the 10th Ky. and 14th Ohio moved into the rebel fortifications in advance of the other troops, and were the first to enter them.Mill Springs

The victory at Mill Springs was followed soon after by the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, and the retirement of the Confederates from Kentucky. From Mill Spring the 10th marched by way of Stanford, Danville and Bardstown to Louisville. From Louisville it went by steamboat down the Ohio, and up the Cumberland to Nashville, and from Nashville it marched to Pittsburg Landing. It accompanied an expedition up the Tennessee river on transports to Chickasaw, where the troops landed and penetrated the country to destroy a railroad bridge east of Corinth and near Iuka, which was successfully done.

The 10th was with the troops in the advance upon Corinth, and took part in all movements of that campaign. In the organization of the army April 30, 1862, it was in Gen. S. S. Fry’s brigade of Gen. Thomas’ division. After the capture of Corinth the 10th moved with Buell’s army, and in June was at Tuscumbia, Ala. In July it garrisoned the town of Eastport, Miss. It also crossed the river at Eastport, and marched with trains to Florence, Ala. July 25th two companies (A and H) were posted to guard Courtland bridge, and while there a large force of Confederate cavalry under Gen. Armstrong fell upon them and captured them. Col. Harlan, in his report of this affair, written August 8th at Winchester, Tenn., states that he had received a brief note from Capt. Henry G. Davidson, who was in command of the two companies, in which Capt. Davidson shows that when the enemy appeared he had his men behind the railroad embankment, and fought until he was surrounded. He says his men behaved splendidly, fighting till the last moment. He compliments especially Capt. Pendleton and Lieuts. Reynolds, Barry and Shively; several of his men were wounded, and eleven of the enemy were killed and more than twenty wounded. Col. Harlan says the enemy was greatly enraged that the small body had fought so stubbornly, and denounced Capt. Davidson because he did not surrender. They fought until overpowered by numbers.

The 10th garrisoned Winchester, Tenn., in August 1862. From that place it moved when Buell’s army entered upon the celebrated march to Kentucky to oppose Bragg’s invasion. It made the long march to Louisville, and in the organization of the army at the time of the battle of Perryville the 10th was in the 3d Army Corps, Gen. Gilbert, Schoepf’s division, Fry’s brigade, being brigaded with the 4th Ky., 10th and 74th Ind. and 14th Ohio. This brigade did not become engaged, although a portion of the corps did. It followed in the pursuit of Bragg out of the state and then marched to Gallatin, Tenn.

While at Gallatin Col. Harlan was in command of the brigade to which the 10th belonged. December 7, 1862, the brigade was camped at Castalian Springs, and from thence marched under command of Col. Harlan to Hartsville, where the celebrated attack was made by Gen. John Morgan. Col. Harlan says, in his report, that the cannonading at Hartsville was heard at Castilian Springs, and he marched his brigade in that direction "as rapidly as men ever marched." He reached the place in time to observe the last of Morgan’s troops hurry away, but too late to save or rescue the garrison, which had been captured. They arrived on the scene, however, in time to save much property, including several hundred guns and a large amount of cartridges. Col. Harlan says, in his report, that the muskets thus taken being better than those which the 10th was armed, the regiment was rearmed. He found the dead on each side unburied. He buried fifteen Confederates, including three officers. Two weeks after this event Morgan moved from Tennessee on a raid into Kentucky. In the latter part of December he passed through Glasgow, and moved in the direction of Munfordville; then striking the railroad he damaged it as far up as Muldraugh’s Hill. From the railroad he moved through Bardstown and Springfield, and out of the state through Campbellsville and Burksville.

In order to protect the railroad from this raid, Col. Harlan started from Gallatin, moving his brigade by cars as far up the road as they could go, then by rapid marching pushed on to Elizabethtown in time to engage in a fight with Morgan’s men ten miles beyond that place, on the Rolling Fork, December 29th; discovering a force of the enemy there, he says he ordered up the infantry at double quick.

I went to the front in person, and from a high hill I saw quite distinctly a very large body of cavalry formed in line of battle near the river. Their officers were riding along their line apparently preparing to give us battle. Knowing that Morgan had a larger force than I had, I proceeded cautiously, and yet as expeditiously as the nature of the ground and the circumstances admitted. My men were formed in two lines; skirmishers were thrown our from both infantry and cavalry, covering our whole front, and were ordered to advance and engage the enemy, the whole line following in close supporting distance. The firing commenced, on the part of the rebels, on our left; it was promptly and vigorously responded to by my skirmishers and the artillery. After a while the rebels were driven away, and they then made some demonstrations to occupy an eminence upon my right. To meet this movement the 10th Ind. (Col. Carroll) was ordered to occupy that eminence, from which four companies were ordered to clear the woods on the right on my line. The 4th Ky. (Col. Croxton), 14th Ohio (Col. Este), 74th Ind. (Col. Chapman), were ordered to form on the left of the 10th Ind. A section of the battery was ordered to occupy the eminence, and the 10th Ky. (Lieut. Col. Hays) ordered to support it. This left the 13th Ky. (Maj. Hobson), on my left, supporting the section of the battery stationed there. The firing now became general all along the right of our line of skirmishers; but the rebels, after an obstinate resistance, broke and fled precipitately in every direction. Some struck out into the woods; some went up the river as far as New Haven; some swam the river with their horses. Further pursuit that evening was impracticable, and I may say impossible, in the exhausted state of my men, they having left Munfordville Sunday morning, and come up with the enemy the succeeding day at one o’clock, forty-three miles distant.

In this fight the Confederates were commanded by Gen. Basil Duke, who was dangerously wounded.

Col. Harlan, in his report, says: "I claim for my command that it saved the Rolling Fork Bridge, and most probably prevented any attempt to destroy the bridge at Shepherdsville;" also that it prevented Morgan’s further prosecution of his raid, and led to his rapid retirement from the state. While the 10th Ky. was on this service the battle Murfreesboro occurred, in which the 10th could not engage.

From the pursuit of Morgan the 10th returned to Nashville, and on the 26th of January, 1863, it was sent by Gen. Rosecrans with the 4th Ky. and 74th Ind., a cavalry detachment and a section of artillery, under command of Col. Harlan from Murfreesboro, toward Lavergne and Nolensville, to operate against the rebel cavalry. The enemy was encountered and heavy skirmishing took place, but the enemy retired and the 10th remained on duty at Lavergne. This movement occurred in very severe weather, and the regiment suffered greatly from exposure to cold and rain.

At Lavergne, Tenn., on the 7th of March, 1863, Col. Harlan was compelled to resign. By the sudden death of his father he was imperatively summoned to return to civil life. This was a severe loss to the army, for he had proven himself a most energetic and able officer. Could it have been possible for him to have continued in the service, there can be no doubt he would have attained high rank as a commander. He displayed admirable promptness and vigor as a regimental and brigade commander. His rapid movement from Tennessee against Morgan, who was on the railroad, and the effective manner in which he rushed his infantry regiments up to the attack at Rolling Fork, shows military qualities of the genuine type.

The following extract from his letter of resignation shows the patriotic fire which animated him from the first, and which has always been characteristic:

I deeply regret that I am compelled, at this time, to return to civil life. It was my fixed purpose to remain in the Federal army until it had effectually suppressed the existing armed rebellion, and restored the authority of the national government over every part of the nation. No ordinary considerations would have induced me to depart from this purpose. Even the private interests, to which I have alluded, would be regarded as nothing, in my estimation, if I felt that my continuance in, or retirement from, the service would, to any material extent, effect the great struggle through which the country is now passing.

If, therefore, I am permitted to retire from the army, I beg the commanding general to feel assured that it is from no want of confidence either in the justice or ultimate triumph of the Union cause. That cause will always have the warmest sympathies of my heart, for there are no conditions upon which I will consent to a dissolution of the Union. Nor are there any conditions, consistent with a republican form of government, which I am not prepared to make in order to maintain and perpetuate that Union.

In 1863 he was nominated by the Union men of Kentucky and elected, by a large majority, attorney-general of KentWilliam H. Haysucky. After the expiration of his term of office he returned to Louisville. In subsequent years he was twice the Republican candidate for governor, and in 1877, was appointed justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

After the resignation of Col. Harlan, Lieut. Col. William H. Hays was promoted colonel of the 10th, and remained in command until it was mustered out of the service.

The regiment was with Rosecrans’ army in the campaign from Murfreesboro during the summer of 1863, participating in the actions at Hoover’s Gap, Fairfield, Tullahoma, Compton’s creek, and, in September, in the great battle of Chickamauga.

During the summer it was in the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 14th Army Corps. In the battle of Chickamauga, the 2d Brigade was commanded by Col. Croxton of the 4th Ky., who was wounded, and Col. Chapman, of the 74th Ind., made the report of the service of the brigade. Col. Hays commanded the 10th and made the report though during the engagement he took charge of the brigade, and Lieut. Col. G. C. Wharton led the 10th and also made report.

A detailed account of the terrible scenes of the battle can not be given. The 10th fought under the command of Gen. Thomas and the well-known service of the troops under him shows that the 10th Ky. was a portion of that body of men which stood with the “Rock of Chickamauga.” The loss of the regiment attests its gallantry; the official return of casualties shows that it lost one officer killed, Capt. Bevill, twenty men killed, nine officers wounded, and one hundred and twenty-five men wounded, one officer and ten men captured, making a total loss of one hundred and sixty-six.

Col. Wharton saGabriel Whartonys, in his report of the battle of the 20th:

It seemed two or three times it would be impossible to hold our position, so overwhelming was the force of the enemy, but our troops, being partially screened by rails, poured volley after volley into their masses, so well aimed that after three hours of most desperate fighting the enemy withdrew just as our ammunition was exhausted, and Gen. Brannan (commanding the division) had ordered the men to fix their bayonets and receive the enemy on their points if they again advanced. During the whole fight the men never wavered nor gave an inch, and the officers of my regiment were all at their posts encouraging their men.

The night of the 20th the 10th withdrew from the position it had held during the battle, and marched to Rossville, reaching there at midnight, where it rested.

After the battle of Chickamauga the 10th remained with the army at Chattanooga, and bore its part in the actions which occurred November 23d, 24th and 25th, culminating in the final charge upon and the capture of Mission Ridge. During this battle Col. Hays commanded the 10th, but the brigade commander fell, and Col. Hays took his place, then the 10th being led by Lieut. Col. G. C. Wharton. This officer, in his report, says that on November 2d the 10th moved forward with the brigade to the right of Fort Negley, then advanced to a point fronting the Rossville road, where it bivouacked. The next day it moved to a line parallel with Mission Ridge, in full view of the enemy’s pickets. That position was maintained until eleven o’clock the next day, the 25th. At that hour moved by the left flank along the entire line, crossed Citico creek at its mouth, thence up the bank of the river two and half miles to the position held by Gen. Sherman. Then countermarched to an open field between Citico creek and Mission Ridge. Two companies under Capts. Hill and McKay were advanced as skirmishers. The enemy was in full view. The order was to storm their rifle-pits, but before the bugle sounded the skirmishers had taken them; then the brigade rushed forward for the final assault. The troops rested about ten minutes in the captured rifle-pits under a furious cannon fire. "The officers and men became wild with enthusiasm and desire to advance."

"When the bugle sounded, and Col. Hays gave the command forward, one wild yell went up and forwardMissionary Ridge they swept over an open plain through the camp of the enemy, and gained the foot of the ridge under a terrible enfilading fire of the artillery from Tunnell Hill, knocking down the huts of the enemy’s camp, and tearing up the ground in every direction, but the men never wavered or faltered. When the foot of the hill had been gained and ascent commenced, the line of battle was lost. The strongest men got the right of the regiment and went first and the weaker men formed the left. Many fell going up the hill as if exhausted, but would rest a moment and then forward again. Having reached the top of the ridge and driven the enemy from their first line of works toward Tunnell Hill, Col. Hays formed the regiment on the left of the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, and advanced with this brigade about one hundred and fifty yards, when the enemy were again discovered in force and making another stand."

The fight here lasted about twenty minutes, and the enemy gave way, broke and fled precipitately. The 10th bivouacked on the field. The next day [the regiment] advanced with the pursuit to West Chickamauga Creek, a distance of eight miles; the next day, the 27th, reached Ringgold; on the 28th aided in destroying the railroad and bridges. On the 29th marched back to the camp at Chattanooga.

The 10th remained with the army in Chattanooga during the winter. In February it advanced with the troops under Gen. Thomas and fought at Rocky Face February 25th. IResacan the spring prepared for the Atlanta campaign. In the organization, May 3, 1864, it was brigaded with the 10th and 74th Ind. and 18th Ky., 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 14th Army Corps. It was stationed at Ringgold, which was then the outpost of the army, where it was until May 10th, when it started on the Atlanta campaign, taking part in all the movements and engagements of that event summer, moving all the time with the troops under Gen. Thomas. Space does not permit a detailed account of this celebrated campaign. From Tunnell Hill to the capture of Atlanta, through the months of May, June, July and August, there was a continuous series of fights in the rough country of Northern Georgia, at Resaca, Adairville, Calhoun, Kingston, Kennesaw, the Chattahoochee, Peach Tree Creek, Utoy, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and many other points. On the 9th of July the regiment had a notable and severe experience on the north bank of the Chattahoochee, where it successfully resisted the advance of an entire brigade until reinforcements arrived. It is especially mentioned in the report of the division commanded, Gen. Baird. In the Battle of Jonesboro, September 1st, the 3d Brigade under its commander, Col. Este, made a charge which Gen. Baird says "was one of the most magnificent on record," capturing the works and a number of prisoners. Col. Hays, in his report, specially compliments Capt. Davenport who was wounded, and Lieuts. Kelly and Adcock, both severely wounded. Col. Hays also mentions the color bearer, Corp. Orville B. Young, who "ran forward with the flag calling on his comrades to rally for it. It was the first flag planted on the enemy’s works."

After the fall of Atlanta, the 10th was sent on detached duty to Ringgold, Ga. It was there September 30th. From thence it proceeded to Chattanooga, where it was stationed in October.

Some of the men had re-enlisted in the veteran organization; with the exception of these and the recruits the regiment was mustered out of the service December 6, 1864, at Louisville.

Concerning the veterans and recruits, the following letter from Col. G. C. Wharton, which is copied from the adjutant-general’s report, gives some information:

"The veterans and recruits of the 10th Ky. Infantry were never properly assigned to any regiment after the discharge of the 10th. The descriptive rolls of these men were left with some officer at Chattanooga, who was careless enough to lose them. They were organized under a non-commissioned officer, and sent down on the road between Chattanooga and Atlanta to guard some post, and when Gen. Sherman cut the road and started on his march to the sea, they were left without orders or officers; some of them marched after Sherman and served under the old division commander, Gen. Baird, through that campaign; others came up and joined Gen. Thomas at Nashville, and fought through the war somewhat ‘on their own account.’ I have had much difficulty in having these men discharged and paid off because of the loss of their descriptive rolls for which they were not responsible. I am not sure as yet all these men have been discharged and paid. They were generally excellent soldiers, and have suffered grievous wrongs at the hands of their commanders."

The statement of Col. Wharton that they went through to the sea with Sherman, is confirmed by the report of operations of the 3d Division, 14th Army Corps, which shows that the 10th KY. was encamped near Washington city with the division, June 1, 1865, about which time they were mustered out of the service.

Subsequent to the war, Col. Hays was appointed judge of the United States District Court, in Kentucky, and soon afterward died.

Col. G. C. Wharton was for a series of years United States Atttorney for Kentucky.


From Dyer's Compendium:

10th Regiment Infantry

Organized at Lebanon, Ky., November 21, 1861. Attached to 2nd Brigade, Army of Ohio, to December, 1861. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Ohio, to September, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps, Army of Ohio, to November, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division (Center), 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, to October, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, to December, 1864.

SERVICE.--Advance on Camp Hamilton, Ky., January 1-15, 1862, Action at Logan's Cross Roads on Fishing Creek January 19. Battle of Mill Springs January 19-20. Duty at Mill Springs until February 11. Moved to Louisville, thence to Nashville, Tenn., February 11-March 2. March to Savannah, Tenn., March 20-April 7. Expedition to Bear Creek, Ala., April 12-13. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Buell's Campaign in Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee June to August. Courtland Bridge July 25 (Cos. "A" and "H"). Decatur August 7. March to Nashville, Tenn., thence to Louisville, Ky., In pursuit of Bragg August 20-September 26. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1-16. Battle of Perryville, Ky., October 8. March to Gallatin, Tenn., and duty there until January 13, 1863. Operations against Morgan December 22, 1862, to January 2, 1863. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., January 13, 1863; thence to Murfreesboro and duty there until June. Expedition toward Columbia March 4-14. Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign June 23-July 7. Hoover's Gap June 24-26. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21. Before Chattanooga September 22-26. Siege of Chattanooga September 26-November 23. Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Orchard Knob November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Reconnaissance of Dalton, Ga., February 22-27, 1864. Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23-25. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1-September 8. Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge and Dalton May 8-13. Buzzard's Roost Gap May 8-9. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Advance on Dallas May 18-25. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Near Marietta June 19. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Ruff's Station July 4. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Vining Station July 9-11. Peach Tree Creek July 19-20. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Moved to Ringgold, Ga., thence to Chattanooga, Tenn., and duty there until November. Ordered to Kentucky November 14. Mustered out December 6, 1864.

Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 70 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 5 Officers and 144 Enlisted men by disease. Total 221.

Copyright © 2000-2009, Robert M. Baker, Timothy Downey, and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Kentucky Dept.


Additional Resources

10th Kentucky Infantry (Rosters)

Dennis Belcher's, 10th Kentucky Infantry Website (An awesome site!)


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