Third Kentucky Infantry

Third Kentucky Infantry

Contributed by Kentucky Department, SUVCW, Member, Tim Downey

The 3d Ky. Infantry was one of the regiments organized at Camp Dick Robinson in the summer of 1861. There was at that time an urgent necessity for military organization on the part of the Union men of Kentucky. The idea of their remaining quiescent, when all along the southern border, in the state of Tennessee, Confederate troops were collecting in camp, was preposterous. They could neither maintain neutrality nor oppose being dragged forcibly into the Confederacy without arming. The dictates of common sense caused them to organize. The state had voted against Secession and the Union people would have been foolish, beyond expression, if they had folded their hands and sat down to inactivity, under all the circumstances. Just across the line in Tennessee, Confederate troops were arming and in camps, and the gaps in the mountains on the state line were occupied by them.

The official records show that in July, 1861, Thomas E. Bramlette was selected by Gen. Wm. Nelson to be colonel of the 3d Ky. Infantry, as will be seen by the following extract from Nelson's letter to the adjutant-general of the U. S. Army, dated July 16, 1861.

"On Sunday, 14th, I met the principal gentlemen of Southeast Kentucky at Lancaster and Crab Orchard, Ky., and, after examining the whole question, I appointed Speed S. Fry, of Danville, to be colonel of the 1st Regiment of infantry; Theophilus T. Garrard, colonel of the 2d; Thos. E. Bramlette, of Adair, colonel of the 3d, and Frank L. Wolford, of Casey, lieutenant-colonel of the cavalry regiment."

These regiments were soon formed, and their services were soon needed. The State Guard companies, which were in sympathy with the South, were going south with the state arms, and the Unionists applied to the United States government for muskets. These were brought to Lexington, and there was danger that the Secessionists would seize them. For their protection, a portion of Col. Bramlette's regiment moved to that place, with a detachment of the 1st Ky. Cavalry, in August, 1861. The regiment marched again to Lexington, September 18th, and October 1st marched back to Camp Dick Robinson, where it was mustered into service October 8th. During the remainder of the fall it marched from place to place, including Round Stone creek, Crab Orchard, into Wayne county, Somerset, Columbia. November 30th, it was in the 11th Brigade, Gen. Boyle. January 7th, it was sent to the mouth of Renwick's creek, near Burksville, and on the 16th to the mouth of Greasy creek, in Russell county, Ky.

On the 18th day of March, 1862, it proceeded by steamer down the Cumberland to Nashville. It was then a fine full regiment, nine hundred strong. From Nashville it marched by way of Franklin, Columbia, Waynesboro and Savannah, with Buell's army to the field of Shiloh, where it arrived on the night of April 7th. It was engaged in the movement upon Corinth, and when that place was evacuated, it marched June 2d, by way of Iuka, Miss., to Tuscumbia, Ala.; and from thence by way of Courtland, Decatur, Mooresville and Huntsville, Ala., Fayetteville, Shelbyville and Winchester, Tenn., to Decherd's Station, where it arrived July 22d. During that time it was in command of Col. Thos. E. Bramlette, in Hascall's brigade of Gen. Thos. J. Wood's division of Buell's army. It remained in Decherd until August 14th, when it marched by way of Manchester to Vervilla, Tenn.; August 24th it marched to Altamont and returned to Vervilla the 26th. On the 27th, marched to McMinnville; September 3d, it marched through Murfreesboro to Nashville. The movement of Bragg into Kentucky was then commencing and the 3d marched with Buell's forces through Gallatin and Franklin to Bowling Green, arriving September 11th. On the 16th it marched by way of Bell's Tavern, Munfordville, Elizabethtown and West Point to Louisville, where it arrived September 20th. It was then commanded by Lieut. Col. Wm. T. Scott, Col. Bramlette being on duty in the section of Kentucky about Somerset. October 1st the 3d advanced with Buell's army against Bragg, marching through Mt. Washington, Bardstown, Springfield, Perryville, Danville, Crab Orchard and Mt. Vernon, as far as Round Stone creek. October 22d it marched back from the pursuit of Bragg, and passing through Crab Orchard, Stanford, Huntsville and Liberty, reached Columbia, October 25th. Remaining there until the 30th, it again marched by way of Edmonton and Scottsville, Ky., and Gallatin, Tenn., to Silver Springs, where it arrived November 10th. On the 15th, it marched to Lebanon, Tenn., against Gen. John Morgan, but returned to Silver Springs the next day. From Nashville it advanced toward Murfreesboro with Buell's army, being in, Hascall's brigade, Wood's division, Crittenden's corps. December 27th, it had an engagement with the enemy, near Lavergne at Stewart's creek; a report of this was made by Col. Sam McKee, commanding the regiment. He says: "Approaching Stewart's creek, the skirmishers discovered that the retreating rebels had some moments before fired the bridge; the flames were already reaching high in the air. Our battery and one of the enemy, both posted on the pike, on opposite sides of the bridge, were shelling each other, many of the missiles from both falling on and near the bridge. Within rifle shot, on the east of the creek, stood a company of rebel cavalry. The moment was critical. Capt. Ralston called for volunteers to extinguish the flames. Without the least hesitation Maj. Collins' entire line, with a number of the 26th Ohio, rushed forward, and extinguished the flames and saved the bridge." Col. McKee then posted his regiment to guard the place.

Battle of Stones RiverGen. Rosecrans, in his official report of the Stone river campaign, mentioned this affair in these words:

"Gen. Crittenden began his advance about 11 a.m., driving before him a brigade of cavalry, supported by Mancy's brigade of infantry. Reaching Stewart's creek the 3d Ky. gallantly charged the rear guard of the enemy, saving the bridge, which had been set on fire." Gen. Crittenden also mentioned this brave dash of the 3d.

In the battle of Stone river, the 3d bore its part in the most heroic manner. Maj. Dan B. Collier, who made the official report, says:

"The regiment went into the fight with Col. McKee commanding; Maj. Dan R. Collier, acting lieutenant-colonel, and Adjt. W. A. Bullitt, acting major. Col. McKee fell at 11 o'clock, after we had been engaged half an hour, and when the contest was at its height. A minnie ball striking him over the right eye, he fell from his horse and expired almost immediately; a truer patriot, a braver man, or better Christian never fell fighting in defense of truth and liberty. Worshiped by his men, respected and loved by his officers, our colonel would have desired no fitter mausoleum than that in the midst of lead and dying comrades."

Gen. Hascall makes a similar report concerning Col. McKee.

In the course of the battle Maj. Collins was twice wounded, but did not leave the field. Adjt. W. A. Bullitt's horse was killed. Maj. Collins says: "Out of thirteen officers of the line nine were disabled. Of the men there were killed twelve, wounded seventy-seven."

After the battle of Stone river, the 3d remained on duty at Murfreesboro until July 24, 1863, when it marched to Manchester and Hillsboro. It remained at the latter place until August 16th, when it marched across the Cumberland mountains, by way of Pelham and Tracy City to Thurman, in Sequatchie valley. September 1st, it marched by way of Jasper and Shellmound to Chattanooga, which place was occupied by Gen. Crittenden's corps. September 9th, from Chattanooga, it marched out to Lee and Gordon's Mills, and the battlefield of Chickamauga.

In the organization of Rosecrans' army at this time, the 3d was in Crittenden's corps, Wood's division, 3d Brigade (Col. Chas. G. Harker). The regiment was led by Col. Henry C. Dunlap, who had been made colonel, August 9, 1863. Lieut. Col. W. A. Bullitt was also present, he having been made lieutenant colonel, April 19, 1863.

Col. Henry C. Dunlap

Col. Dunlap, in his report of the regiment, in the battle and immediately preceding, mentions the crossing of the Tennessee river at Shellmound, and that as Chattanooga was approached, Lieut. Col. Bullitt and Maj. Brennan led the skirmishing lines; occupied Chattanooga September 9th; marched next day toward Ringgold, on the 11th at Rossville, speaks of bold skirmishing, led by the "gallant Bullitt." On the 12th, Lieut. Col. Bullitt, with a detachment made a reconnaissance across the Chickamauga; on the 19th engaged in the battle, losing heavily in killed and wounded, but captured one hundred and eighteen prisoners; slept on arms that night; fought again on the 20th. After describing the fighting more particularly than can be mentioned in this place, he says: "We rallied at the Key point. Here we resolved to do or die and buoyed by the presence of Gens. Thomas and Wood, and Col. Harker, we did stay, occupy and hold and then and there expended the last of one hundred and thirty rounds of ammunition, fixed bayonets, and awaited the test whether flesh will stand to take the steel. At this point for four hours in the afternoon our firing was by volley; marching to the crest of the hill and at command, more than fifty deadly volleys we directed at short range upon the enemy. The effect was evidenced by the check upon the massive columns."

The losses were one officer killed, eight officers wounded, twelve men killed, seventy wounded. Gen. Wood and Col. Harker mention the services of the 3d in the most complimentary terms.

An 1890 print of the Battle of ChickamaugaIn the organization after the battle of Chickamauga, the 3d remained in Harker's brigade, and was in Sheridan's division of the 4th Army Corps (Granger), in the Army of the Cumberland, under Gen. Thomas. Col. Harker, in his report of the charge on Mission Ridge, November 25th, describes the great charge in which the 3d participated, especially complimenting Lieut. Col. W. A. Bullitt (who in that battle commanded the 65th Ind.). Col. Dunlap, in his report, says: "My loss was four enlisted men killed, seven officers wounded, fifty-four enlisted men wounded." He says his color sergeant fell, and Corp. Hayes seized and bore it forward till he fell, then he (Col. Dunlap) seized it himself and carried it to the crest. He says: "The point at which the center of my regiment reached the crest was at the stable to the left of the house, said to be Bragg's headquarters."

After the great charge, the 3d pursued the retreating enemy more than a mile, and rested near midnight, then was ordered forward and marched four miles to Bird's mill, where it remained until 3 p. m. the next day, and then returned to camp at Chattanooga. But it was not for repose in camp, for the 3d was to accompany the force sent to Knoxville to the relief of Burnside. Marching rapidly it reached that place, and went up to Strawberry Plains, and then moved back to Loudon, where it spent the winter.

April 18, 1864, it marched by way of Sweetwater, Athens, Charleston and Calhoun to Cleveland. May 3d it commenced the movements of the Atlanta campaign. It was then commanded by Col. Dunlap, in Harker's brigade, Newton's division, 4th Army Corps, in the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Gen. Thomas.

The 3d moved with Harker's brigade, by way of Blue Springs, Red Clay, and Catoosa Springs to Rocky Face, and engaged in the battle there. In this battle Lieut. Col. W. A. Bullitt received several desperate wounds, and was supposed to be killed. His fall is mentioned in Gen. Newton's report, and by others. While he never fully recovered, after time war he became a distinguished lawyer at Louisville, Ky., and for a series of years was Assistant District Attorney for the United States. Not only was he held in the highest esteem by every one, but the officers of the 3d yet speak of him as the bravest and most gallant officer they ever knew.

Battle of Resaca

Throughout the Atlanta campaign the 3d continued fighting all the way to Atlanta, being engaged at Resaca, May 14th; Pumpkin Pine Creek, Cedar Mountain, Muddy Branch, Kennesaw Mountain, June 20th and 27th; Nancy's Creek, July 18th; Peach Tree Creek, July 20th; Atlanta, Utoy Creek, Jonesboro, and other places. At midnight of August 25th, it commenced the movement around to the right of Atlanta, crossed the railroad between Atlanta and the Chattahouchee, and marched toward Jonesboro; reached the Atlanta & Montgomery Railroad fourteen miles below Atlanta and destroyed the track for several miles; struck the Atlanta & Macon Railroad near Rough and Ready, and marched down the same destroying it for eight miles. From Jonesboro it marched back to Atlanta September 4th.

On the 9th of September the 3d started by railroad for Nashville, arriving September 12th. It remained there on duty until October 6th, when it proceeded by railroad to Louisville, where it was mustered out of service October 18, 1864.

A portion of the regiment had re-enlisted as veterans in March, 1864; they remained with the regiment until September 15, 1864, when the survivors were transferred to the 1st Ky. Battery, at Nashville.

The list of battles given in the adjutant-general's report in which the 3d was engaged, is as follows:

Waynesboro, Shiloh, Tenn., Corinth, Miss., May 24, 1862; McMinnville, Tenn., Munfordville, Ky., September 21, 1862; Bardstown and Perryville, Ky., Stewart's Creek, Tenn., December 29, 1862: Stone's River, December 31, 1862, and January 1 and 2, 1863; Chickamauga, September 20, 1863; Mission Ridge, November 23, 24 and 25, 1863; Rocky Face Ridge, May 9, 1864; Resaca, Ga., May 14, 1864; Pumpkin Vine Creek, May and June, 1864; Cedar Mountain, June 15, 1864; Muddy Branch, June 18th; Kennesaw Mountain, June 20, 21 and 27, 1864; Nancy's Creek, July 18, 1864; Peach Tree Creek, July 20th; Atlanta, July and August of 1864.

The officers of the 3d Infantry were unusually noted men. Col. Thos. E. Bramlette, who became governor of Kentucky, in 1863; Col. Win. T. Scott, of Lexington; Col. Sam McKee, who fell at Stone's River; Col. Wm. H. Spencer; Col. Henry C. Dunlap: Lieut. Col. Daniel R. Collier, who held the office of Surveyor of Customs at Louisville, under President Harrison, and who is at present Adjutant-general of Kentucky; Lieut. Col. Wm. A. Bullitt; Maj. Chas. H. Buford, of the noted Kentucky family of that name; Maj. John Brennan; Adjt. Garvin D. Hunt, who died of wounds received at Mission Ridge; he belonged to the distinguished Hunt family of Kentucky. Others might be mentioned, but space forbids. Enough has been stated to show that the 3d was one of the most noted and efficient of the Kentucky Union regiments.


From Dyer's Compendium:

3rd Regiment Infantry

Organized at Camp Dick Robinson, Ky., October 8, 1861. Attached to Thomas' Command to November, 1861. 11th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, to December, 1861. Unattached, Loudon, Ky., Army of the Ohio, to March, 1862. 15th Brigade, 4th Division, Army of the Ohio, March, 1862. 20th Brigade, 6th Division, Army of the Ohio, March, 1862. 15th Brigade, 6th Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 15th Brigade, 6th Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Left Wing 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 21st Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to April, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 21st Army Corps, to October, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps, to January, 1865.

SERVICE.--Moved to Lexington, Ky., September, 1861, and duty there until October 1. Moved to Camp Dick Robinson, Ky., October 1. Duty there, at Round Stone Creek, Crab Orchard, Somerset and Columbia until January, 1862. Moved to Renick's Creek, near Burkesville, January 7, and to mouth of Greasy Creek January 17. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., March 18-25; thence march to Savannah, Tenn., and to Shiloh March 29-April 7. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Pursuit to Booneville May 30-June 6. Buell's Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee June to August. March to Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Bragg, August 19-September 26. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1-18. Battle of Perryville October 8. Nelson's Cross Roads, Ky., October 18. March to Nashville, Tenn., October 18-November 7, and duty there until December 26. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Stewart's Creek December 29. Battle of Stone's River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June. Reconnaissance to Nolensville and Versailles January 13-15. Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign June 23-July 7. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Reconnaissance toward Chattanooga September 7. Lookout Valley September 7-8. Occupation of Chattanooga September 9. Lee and Gordon's Mills September 11-13. Near Lafayette September 14. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-20. Siege of Chattanooga September 24-October 26 Reopening Tennessee River October 26-29. Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Orchard Knob November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Pursuit to Graysville November 26-27. March to relief of Knoxville November 28-December 8. Campaign in East Tennessee until April, 1864. March to Charleston April 18-26. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May to September. Demonstrations on Rocky Faced Ridge and Dalton May 5-13. Tunnel Hill May 6-7. Buzzard's Roost Gap May 8-9. Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Near Calhoun May 16. Adairsville May 17. Near Kingston May 18-19. Near Cassville May 19. Advance on Dallas May 22-25. 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. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Ruff's Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Buckhead, Nancy's Creek, July 18. 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. Lovejoy Station September 2-6. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., September 9-12; thence to Louisville, Ky., October 6. Mustered out by Companies October 13, 1864, to January 10, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 103 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 192 Enlisted men by disease. Total 301.

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


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3rd Kentucky Infantry

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