Conclusion

Conclusion


This history of the Union Regiments of Kentucky is now completed. The accounts given present the main events in the career of each organization; without elaboration, however, and omitting many details which would have been interesting. If the services of a regiment were presented in full, with incidents of camp and march and battlefield, they would fill a volume. Therefore as such complete narratives would require a number of volumes, the purpose intended by this one volume would not be accomplished. Indeed if such extended accounts were published, there would be a natural desire to have the salient points digested and expressed more briefly. This is practically speaking what has now been done. Mention is made in the preface of the great publication known as the records of the war. The accounts given in this book have been gathered from these official records and are therefore based upon authority and are not exaggerated statements.

The roster of each regiment is copied from the adjutant-general's report, and is official.

The proportion of the Union voters in Kentucky, which entered the military service is noticeable. At the presidential election in 1860, 93,000 votes were cast for the three tickets which stood for the Union---Bell, Douglass, and Lincoln, while 52,000 voted for Breckinridge, the Southern rights candidate. Again in May, 1861, 110,000 voted for the Union delegates to the Border State convention to be held that month at Frankfort, Kentucky. The remarkable spectacle is presented, therefore, of more than two-thirds of these Union voters enlisting in the Union service.

Of these soldiers it may be said generally, that while serving their country they also obeyed the behests of their own state. The steps they took was beset with difficulties, and much that was disagreeable. Yet in response to every call they promptly filled up the required quota. The enlistments were from all parts of Kentucky. The counties along the Tennessee line, along the course of the Green river, and through all the central portions of the state, were not behind those which bordered on the Ohio, and in the mountain region.

By the act of enlistment these Kentucky soldiers placed themselves under orders, and were responsible to the appointed commanders of the armies. If called to the front to do battle in connection with the great military organizations, there they were found. If required to guard long lines of communications they performed that duty. If ordered to police their own state to protect the national interests, they engaged in that service. The entire body of these defenders of the Union acted throughout under the orders of the constituted authorities, and were never found engaged in self-appointed work, nor acting in partisan or independent bands. The records of their service as shown by the official reports, are singularly free from any conduct inviting criticism. Their bravery was conspicuous on hundreds of battlefields, and their readiness to perform every duty assigned to them was noticeable wherever they were employed.

When the war ended the survivors re-entered the avenues of peace, satisfied with the grand results, and willing to cast into oblivion all the bitterness animosity engendered by four years of strife and bloodshed.

They had no hatred of their brethren of the Confederate cause when they took up arms, and they had none when they laid them down. On the contrary there was a natural sympathy for the people of the South, which had to be overcome in taking a stand against the dismemberment of our National Union. It may be truly and emphatically said that the defense of the Union was the inspiration of the Kentucky Unionists. Their expression was "Secession is a remedy for no evil." To them the calamity of the dismembered Union was too appalling to be permitted. They threw themselves into the ranks of its defenders, assured that it is only in national unity that this country can have peace and order, and accomplish its great destiny.

Notwithstanding the heroic service of the Kentucky Union regiments, they have received but scanty mention in the general histories of the state. As shown in the preface, they have had but little justice, and much injustice, done them.

It is hoped that this work, though it appears late---more than thirty years since the close of the war---will serve a useful purpose in leading to correct views concerning the position and conduct of the Kentucky Unionists, as well as prove interesting to the survivors and to the descendants of those who have passed away.




 

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