Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cook's Guerrillas

During the Civil War, numerous units and bands of Confederates roamed through Eastern Kentucky. One of the most feared were Cook's Guerrillas, a group of rebels who were led by Sid and Dave Cook.

Captain Sid Cook, who was in reality Algernon Sidney Lee, son of Martin and Fanny Lee, was born in Russell County, Virginia about 1832. Changing his name to Cook, he married Nancy Fraley in Russell County on November 20, 1857. The Cooks settled in Eastern Kentucky and were residing in Boyd County in 1860. Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, Sid Cook moved to Carter County, Kentucky. In spring of 1863, he began raising an independent cavalry company, recruiting primarily in present day Elliott and Morgan Counties, Kentucky. Dave Cook, Sid's 18 year old brother, served as second in command.

Cook's unit rarely operated with the main Confederate Army but joined forces with other similar outfits that operated in Eastern Kentucky. They soon earned themselves a rather ruthless reputation because of their rough treatment of Union sympathizers. For nearly two years, the Cooks put fear in every Union man's heart in Eastern Kentucky. Eventually, the biblical expression "Live by the sword, die by the sword" proved to be true for Sid and Dave Cook. Both were dead by February 1865.

Spring of 1863 - Cook's Independent Company

March 1863:
Raid on Preston Pettit, a Rowan County Union Homeguard, in which Pettit was shot in the side while trying to prevent the "requisitioning" of his horses. He walked with a cane the rest of his life. Partly because of this, all the Pettits and Riddles were pro-Union. After the war was over, the man who wounded Pettit, John Jackson Nickell (son of Fowler Nickell), was tried for war crimes (most notably the murder of his cousin John Desha Nickell), convicted, and hung. Preston testified at his trial.
W. Lynn Nickell of West Liberty, Ky wrote a book about the trial in 1997, entitled "Hanging Justice: The Military Trial of John Jackson Nickell", which includes the full text of the witness testimonies as record by the trial clerk.

April 9, 1863:
Dave Cook, Travis Kendall and others clashed with Home Guards near Grayson, Carter County, Kentucky. Nathaniel Marks, a member of Fields' Rangers, who frequently rode with the Cooks, killed Joseph Young during the fighting.

May 31st, 1863:
Cook and his men shot and wounded Jared Biggs, a private in the 10th KY Cavalry [US], who was home on furlough, near Oldtown, Greenup County, Kentucky.

Summer of 1863 - Patton's Rangers

Lt. Col. Oliver Patton commissioned to raise a squadron of partisan rangers. As captains he chose Samuel W. Thompson, and Sid and Dave Cook.

July 1863:
A night time raid on the store of William Davis, in Johnson Co., KY. Later, indictments were filed against Henry Jayne, Daniel Jayne, William Jayne, Henry Sparks, Henry Calvin (Colvin), Linelsly (Lindsey) Thompson, (John) May Hamilton, Reason Lyon, Marion Lyon, John Ficklin, John T. Williams.

Late July 1863:
Raid on Olive Hill, Carter Co. KY

August 1, 1863:
The Cooks and Captain Samuel W. Thompson were badly defeated by a mixed force of Home Guards and regulars led by Captain Harrison Litteral of Carter County. The rebels were surprised in their camp on the John Bumgardner farm on Laurel Creek in present day Elliott County. Bumgardner was killed during the attack and his son Robert gravely wounded.

August 11, 1863:
A detachment of the 14th KY Infantry encountered Captain Cook's force, "of Preston's command, in Morgan County, routed them," and captured 20 horses.

August 15, 1863:
Scouts from Co. I, 14th KY Infantry captured Lt. Col. Oliver Patton at West Liberty.

August 15, 1863:
Members of Cook's guerrillas under command of Dan Cook proceeded to Star Furnace on Williams Creek, a branch of East Fork of the Little Sandy River in Carter Co. KY and appeared at 6 a.m. at the house of the owner, Robert Lampton who was a well known "red hot" Union man.
Cook's men robbed Lampton of dry goods from his store, jewelry and other articles from his house, besides horses, gold watch, money and other valuables and broke and destroyed the furniture in his house.

August 28, 1863:
Patton escaped from McLean Barracks and participated on two more raids as commander of "Patton's Rangers".

September 2, 1863:
Cook and his men robbed the bank and citizens in Flemingsburg, KY.

September 25, 1863:
The Ashland bank was robbed by a half dozen guerrillas under Dan Cook.

October 1, 1863:
Dan Cook and his men killed William E. Tyree, a former Union officer and now Deputy Provost Marshall of Carter, Morgan and Rowan counties, at Tiger [Tygart?] Bridge, in Carter Co. KY.

October 8, 1863:
Patton captured at Hampton's Mills, KY, by a detachment of the 5th Batt. OH CAV, which left Sid Cook in command of the unit.

October 11, 1863:
Raid in Greeenup Co., KY. Three of Cook's men captured and sent to Louisville. John M. Auxier, Bunyon Oney & John H. Smith.

October 21, 1863:
Dave Cook was captured in Ironton, OH and delivered to the Provost Marshall, with his wife and a second woman. He claimed to be Thomas Gill.

October 26, 1863:
Dave Cook escaped from Ironton, OH, at 4 a.m., with Sgt. Jo Smith [one armed, invalid corps]in tow as hostage. Crossed the Ohio River near Ashland in a skiff at dark. Stole a horse, proceeded to Mr. Crum's house. Took Crum and went to Cannonsburg. There robbed a widow woman's house and went to Geiger's store. Took watch and money from the clerk. Took clothing and a pair of boots from store. Made off to Star Furnace*.
Cook went to R.W. Lampton house but all he found were woman and children. He then proceeded to the store and tried to break down the store door but was fired at by some men.
*Star Furnace Location: Carter Co. KY; Four miles southwest of Buena Vista Furnace. On Williams Creek and railroad located line fourteen miles from Ashland. Located 2 mi. W. of Boyd Co. line, on US 60, in Carter Co. KY.

October 26, 1863:
E. H. Logan, the clerk of Rowan County, was killed by Cook's men near Morehead.

Fall 1863 - Prentice's 7th Confed. Cavalry, Co. G

November, 1863:
"Cook's Guerrillas" affiliated with Lt. Colonel Clarence Prentice's 7th Confederate Cavalry as Co. G.

Nov. 10, 1863:
A Lt. and private of Cook's men were apprehended in Morgan County, Kentucky, by members of the 5th OH Indpendent Cavalry Battalion. The Lt. was shot through the shoulder, the other man through the bowels. [William Murphy and Jordan Henley]. They also captured John Nichols, "a notorious scamp and bushwhacker."

Nov. 11, 1863:
The 5th OH Indpendent Cavalry Battalion attacked Cook's camp at the home of James Banner near Cracker's Neck, in present day Elliott County, at breakfast. A wounded Dave Cook was captured. (Sid Cook had shot Dave Cook during a quarrel over a recently captured horse and slave. As a result of the altercation, several men had left Cook's unit.)

Cracker's Neck

November 15, 1863:
Stephen Keaton arrested in Morgan Co., KY

Abt. December 7, 1863:
Dave Cook was taken to the Ashland Hospital. He attempted to escape and climbed through a window but was too weak to get away and was recaptured.

Aldine Hotel, Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.
Used by the military as General Hospital during the Civil War.

January 1864:
Sid Cook and the Morgan County contingent had their base in the Elkfork section of the county. Union sympathizers were terrorized.

February 2, 1864:
Ed Brown, ex-Confederate soldier and leader of the Union Home Guard, intercepted Cook at the home of John Cantrell. Brown's men surrounded the house and captured at least four of Cook's men but the rest of the company managed to escape through a hail of bullets.

March 6, 1864:
John May Hamilton arrested in Johnson County, KY. He was sent to Lexington, charged with murder and executed without the benefit of a trial on August 15, 1864 at Bloomfield, KY, in retaliation for the killing of a home guard by guerrillas.

Late March 1864:
Mason Johnson apprehended by a Union patrol but exchanged on May 17, 1864.

July 1864:
Cook carried out a daring five day raid through Lawrence and Johnson Counties

July 11, 1864:
Two Union men taken prisoner; raid on a store in Lawrence County, KY.

Meeting of Cook's men near the mouth of Jenny's Creek, Johnson, Co., KY. Several Union men in the area were taken prisoner.

July 16, 1864:
Raid on Paintsville, KY. After robbing the Border store Cook's men left Paintsville and rode through Flat Gap, where the loot was divided. They continued on over onto Blaine and up Blaine to the head of Elkfork of Licking in Morgan Co., KY.

July 25, 1864:
The local Union militia finally caught up with Cook's outfit 7 miles from West Liberty. Several of Cook's men were taken prisoner during the ensueing skirmish.

December 1864:
Dave Cook died from his wounds at the Lexington Military Prison while awaiting trial for murder and robbery.

January 1865:
Several Castlewood residents were plundered by Cook's men to pay the local prostitutes and a mob was formed to burn down the brothels. Cook apparently tried to face down the mob and was killed by Cleve Boyd, a fellow rebel, during the clash. A company of the 4th KY CAV, CSA, had to be sent in to restore order in the town. Cook's unit, now numbering less than 20 men, disbanded and at least six of the members finished their Confederate service in regular units.