Sunday, October 28, 2018

Some Musings....

This entry is just a few thoughts gathered together as 2018 comes to a close and I look forward to what promises to be an exciting 2019, from a Civil War point of view at least.

Last week I was fortunate enough to guide the Southern Kentucky Pastfinders on a tour of sites around the greater Lexington area.  Starting with Henry Clay's home, Ashland, we then toured the Hunt-Morgan House, and then stopped at the Lexington Cemetery to visit Morgan's, Duke's, and Breckenridge's graves.  Day two was the two battles at Cynthiana, and day three concluded with a rainy tour of Richmond Battlefield.  They were a fun group to be with, and I hope this will lead to another tour with them in the future!

I attended a meeting for those interested in being a part of the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation newsletter, possibly to be named The Home Guard.  It was a productive meeting, even if not attended as well as we hoped, but some good ideas and a fairly defined direction were a result, and I believe if the editor is left to take care of business, it will be an asset to the CBF. 

I do have a couple of more events on the horizon, both speaking engagements, both talking about the Second Battle of Cynthiana.  The first is on November 10th at the Scott County Library in Georgetown, and the second is speaking to a Civil War Round Table in Madison, Indiana, on November 13th.  Add to that the second meeting of the Augusta in the Civil War initiative on November 4th, and again on December 15th, and the end of 2018 still has a lot going on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Potential "Stuff" for Augusta

This Sunday I am meeting with the Augusta tourism person and other interested locals to discuss increasing tourism and awareness for the town's Civil War history.  From that I hope the following might occur:

Thick black numbers represent current and proposed tour stops
  1. Expanded tour to include three additional stops - The current tour is a nine stop affair, easy to walk, with good information on the Battle of Augusta website, but it is missing not only stop by stop directions, but also three additional locations that are part of the story.  These three additional stops would be by vehicle.  They would be the Baker-Bird Winery (with limited visitation hours), the Cemetery on the Hill (or Hilltop Cemetery), which offers a nice view of the town, is where the Confederates initially setup their artillery, and has the impressive monument for Dr. J.T. Bradford, who commanded the Home Guard.  The last stop would be the Confederate monument at the Payne Cemetery, along Kentucky Highway 8.  The last three stops could be visited when folks are making their way back out of town.
  2. Create a group that would work on providing events such as scheduled tours and talks.  This could be a group that is organized through the city itself, or a separate non-profit organization, but obtaining the latter has become a far more expensive process in recent years, costing several hundred dollars.  For such a group there is a community center in Augusta that could be used for meetings and talks, and it is within the city's purview so cost to rent should be minimal.
  3. Preservation - Realistically this would be a fairly minor concern, as the fighting took place in town and there is no land to preserve per se.  There should be a city ordinance to preserve any building present at the time of the battle, but beyond that, not a lot needs to be considered here.
  4. Create a brochure for the tour that visitors could download from a website, and that is available in the caboose which serves as the visitor center.  When I was in town a few weeks ago I did not see anything for the Civil War tour at the visitor's center.
  5. Denote the route of the walking tour with some sort of marker to encourage more visitors to take the tour and to create curiosity for those who see the markers.
  6. Establish partnerships with city businesses that would benefit from increased tourism, such as shops and restaurants.
  7. Apply for a grant to have a Civil War study completed.  This would give additional ideas and direction for increasing tourism.
  8. Develop interpretive panels for various stops and apply for a grant to pay for their cost.
I am hopeful that Augusta will embrace some of these ideas.  More to follow!

Friday, September 28, 2018

The McGraw Story, or Monuments Are Not Always Factual

Incorrect flag in Flagg Springs Cemetery
On a drive to Augusta I decided to stop at Flagg Springs Cemetery, which is on Kentucky Highway 10 in Campbell County, a stone's throw from the AA Highway.  In doing research on the Augusta engagement I came across a story about two men, William F. Corbin and T. Jefferson McGraw, who had been executed for recruiting for the Confederacy in northern Kentucky.

In May, 1863, Stephen Gano Burbridge was in Grant's army near Vicksburg
This story focuses on McGraw, although Corbin is buried not too many miles away along Old Washington Trace.  During Edmund K. Smith's invasion of Kentucky in the summer of 1862, McGraw and other Campbell County men, joined the Confederate Army on September 25th, joining the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, upon which McGraw, a part of one of the oldest and most respected families in the area, was made lieutenant.  After spending time with the 4th Kentucky, McGraw (and Corbin, who had been made captain) were sent to recruit more men in northern Kentucky.  On the night of April 8th, 1863, they were to meet a a local home, and march from there to Paris with their new recruits.  McGraw was late arriving, so Corbin sent his new men on their way while he waited for McGraw.  Unfortunately for both men, shortly after McGraw arrived, a group of Federal soldiers appeared, causing Corbin and McGraw to flee into a nearby woods.  When the Federals threatened to burn the home, the two men surrendered to save the house.  In Cincinnati on April 21st the men were tried, convicted, and upon President Lincoln's approval of the sentence, were sent to Johnson's Island on Lake Erie to be shot on May 15th.  Although appeals were made to Burnside and Lincoln by Corbin and McGraw family members, Lincoln
Needing a little TLC before it topples over
would not overturn the decision to execute these men who had been recruiting within Federal lines.  On that fateful May morning, the two men were bound with their arms behind them, blindfolded, and sat on their coffins, and were summarily executed.  A sad fate indeed.

After locating the cemetery and then finding the monument behind the old church, I immediately noticed that our Cynthiana friend Stephen Gano Burbridge is infamously listed, inferring that McGraw was executed under his order. But that did not make sense to me as Ambrose Burnside was in command in Cincinnati, and it was his General Order Number 38 under which McGraw was most likely found guilty and thus shot.  An excerpt from that order stated "That hereafter all persons found within our lines who commit acts for the benefit of the enemies of our country, will be tried as spies or traitors, and, if convicted, will suffer death."  

Also, at the time of the execution Burbridge was leading the 1st Brigade, Tenth Division, XIII Corps during the Vicksburg campaign and was hundreds of miles away from northern Kentucky  Was Burbridge hated so much in Kentucky after the war that consciously or sub-consciously he is the commander mistakenly listed as issuing the general order that would lead McGraw's death?  Or was this naming of Butcher Burbridge intentional, either by the ladies of the Mrs. Basil Duke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the monument maker?  Upon seeing the completed stone before installation, the ladies of the chapter had to notice the error, and surely would have asked for a corrected replacement.  Or perhaps it was indeed intentional.  Burbridge's own brother was murdered in western Kentucky after the war for simply being the Butcher's kin.  Regardless, the incorrectness of the stone's text is a good indication of how Kentuckians felt after the war.  

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