Henry Baker, 74th Indiana letter, “We got to Louisville . . . “

He writes [late Sept 1862]:

We got to Louisville on Monday Evening and here on the Ohio River Sept 23rd [1862], one day later then the other. Sarah we arrived here this afternoon and got our tents up. I thought before this time that we would be in a fight but not yet. Now the citizens are shipping their women and children all across the [Ohio] river. The Rebels sent word that we had to surrender or be drowned in the river but by the time they got us in our shells gave some fun.

Now don’t be uneasy when you get word there the newspaper for they print print just to get money. Now Sarah I[‘ve] been gone 4 times to fight and not yet have the privilege to see a man killed in a fight. Yesterday we had a man killed by the [railroad] cars but this is nothing for we came up with 10,000 on trains to Louisville from Shepherdsville. Now we have about 17,500 here at present and such a lot of one is such a curiosity to see and the ___ ___ in here too.

Now we will take 10,000 Rebels. I know we are put down as a reserve. All the danger in the picket guard that we have to stand. I think about Thursday and then it will be a bad day about the Rebels but I guess we will come right for I have been in some narrow places have no trouble for my safety for I gave my all to God and I trust that if all right I shall see you before Spring. Farewell and  write of get somebody to write for you for I haven’t got but that letter that your Father wrote in Louisville, Direct as before

[Henry Baker, 74th Indiana Infantry]





Letter owner: The Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection


History of the 74th Indiana:

Eight companies of this regiment were organized at Fort Wayne 
in August, 1862, and were mustered in at Indianapolis Aug. 21, 
leaving the state at once for Louisville and proceeding thence 
to Bowling Green.  They returned to Louisville Sept. 5, and 
were assigned to the 2nd brigade, 1st division, Army of the 
Ohio, and joined in pursuit of Bragg.
Source: Union Army, vol 3, p. 157

Confederate spy serves time in Louisville military prison


10th Kentucky Cavalry (Partisan Rangers), with extensive documentation revealing a fantastic history. A small but interesting group comprised of Woolfolk’s identified Colt M1849 Pocket pistol and unmarked cdv with an important original letter dated March 3, 1899 attesting to George Woolfolk’s prior ownership and relating his unusual experience of having been tried and convicted of spying by a Union court marshal and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1863. Woolfolk would be pardoned by President Lincoln.

A number of partisan companies composed of western Kentucky men (from 14 different counties) were active as early as July 1862, notably at Newburgh, Indiana, but they were not formally organized as the 10th Kentucky Cavalry until August 13, 1862 at Nebo, Hopkins County, Kentucky. George Woolfolk (Union County) is listed as a private in Captain Clay Merriwether’s Company H. on one roster dating to August 1862 but is entirely absent from a slightly later roster from September. At muster-in there were apparently two companies designated as H. and the weaker one was consolidated. During the summer the various companies loosely affiliated with the 10th Kentucky Cavalry engaged in active skirmishing and shortly after entering Confederate service, captured the town of Clarksville, Tennessee from Federal forces on August 18th.

Despite the intention of the Colonel Adam R. Johnson (later brigadier general) to have his regiment serve as independent partisan rangers, the 10th Kentucky was co-opted by General

Bragg and ordered to report to Murfreesboro where it was assigned to John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry division. With Morgan, the regiment participated in the Christmas raid into Kentucky and the capture of Mt. Sterling. The 10th Kentucky accompanied Morgan on his famous July 1863 raid into Indiana and Ohio and was captured at Buffington Island on July 19th. Over two hundred enlisted prisoners from the regiment were later sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago (including Wes Cowan’s great-great grandfather, Sergt. Samuel B. Withers of Union County) and the command never reformed.

George Woolfolk did not participate in Morgan’s Raid having previously been captured behind the lines in Lyon County, Kentucky on April 18, 1863 and held at Louisville Military Prison, later transferring to Camp Chase in Ohio. Woolfolk was charged as a guerilla, “Being secretly within the lines of the United States forces, at the same time belonging to the so-called Confederate Army” in violation of General Order No. 38. The specification presumed that he [was] by his presence, able to obtain information and communicate the same to the enemy. In practical terms Woolfolk was charged with being a spy. The Military Commission convened at Henderson, Kentucky on June 10, 1863, heard testimony, and found him “guilty” of both charge and specification. On June 15 he was sentenced to be shot unto death, as such a time and place as the Commanding General may direct…

In examining the transcripts of the proceedings it is clear that George Woolfolk was a Confederate Army deserter who was attempting to return to his home when captured. The transcript also states that when taken into custody he had a revolver, and was in possession of a horse that “belonged to some Iowa Cavalry.”Woolfolk freely admitted to being a Confederate soldier but said that he “had been on the dodge since our troops came to Madisonville, Kentucky” (August 25, 1862) having received a slight wound there. Two witnesses who knew Woolfolk testified that as early as September 1861 they had seen the accused in the company of armed Rebels engaging in acts of intimidation and hostility, suggesting banditry as a motive.

Source of text and image: Cowan’s Auction

Confederate soldier takes the Oath of Allegiance in Louisville

On the eve of the Civil War, 22-year old Isaac Spilman (also spelled Spillman) resided in Hardin County, Kentucky. He lived on his father’s farm near Elizabethtown and made a living as a carpenter. When the war came to Kentucky, Isaac Spilman joined a guerrilla ranger group. In 1862, according to his service record, Spilman was enlisted as a private in Captain R.A. Thompson’s Company Kentucky Cavalry. This company was then assigned to the First Kentucky Cavalry (Butler’s). On 17 August 1862, Spilman and nearly his entire company was captured near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky while on its way to join Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Regiment of Cavalry.
Spillman CDV.jpg
After his capture, Spilman was transferred from Camp Morton, Indiana to the Federal prison camp at Johnson’s Island near Sandusky, Ohio. He remained at Johnson’s Island until April 1863 when he was sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia. Spilman took the Oath of Alligence at Louisville, Kentucky in November 1863.
Interestingly, while at Johnson’s Island Spilman signed a written statement declaring his identity by acknowledging he was a private in the Buckner Guards of the Confederate States Army. Further he certified he was taken prisoner after a skirmish near Green River in Edmunson County, Kentucky. It also includes a physical description of Isaac Spilman. He was reportedly 6’1″ with blue eyes and dark hair and weighed 180 pounds.
After the war Spilman remained in Kentucky and married Margaret Morgan in 1872. He continued his work as a carpenter and furniture upholster until his death in 1916. He is buried in Owensboro, Kentucky.