Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pensions for Militia and State Troops

The following report, made in the second session of the Fifty-second Congress from the House Committee on Invalid Pensions on bill (H. R. 7554) to grant a pension to survivors of certain battalions of Kentucky Militia, etc., contains much information regarding a number of Kentucky State troops that were in service during the war and the orders and State laws under which they were raised:

"The Committee on Invalid Pensions have considered the bill (H. R. 7554) granting a pension to survivors of certain battalions of Kentucky Militia, etc., and submit the following report, recommending the passage of the accompanying substitute for the bill under consideration.

"The object of the bill, as introduced, is to place those who served in the organizations named under the provisions of the act of June 27, 1890, which requires a service of 90 days and a present disability, not due to vicious habits.

"In considering the bill these questions arise:
"(1) Under what authority were the said organizations raised and paid?
"(2) Were they subject to the orders of United States officers, and  what was the character of the service performed?

"On these points the following facts and arguments have been presented to the committee:
"The Frankfort, Paducah, and Sandy Valley Battalions, which were known as the Capital Guard Regiment, were intended to aid and assist the Federal troops, and were to be held subject to the call of the district commander for any service in Kentucky, and they were raised by order of the governor of Kentucky, under sanction of an order dated July 11, 1864, and signed by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

"The North Cumberland, Three Forks, Halls Gap, Green River, Middle Green River, South Cumberland, and Frankfort Battalions, and First Kentucky State Cavalry and Frankfort Battalion were raised under an act of the Kentucky Legislature approved January 26, 1864, entitled 'An act empowering the governor to raise a force for the defense of the State.'

"The Harlan County Battalion was raised under the militia laws of the State and was mustered into the State service October 13, 1862, and was mustered out January 13, 1863. It comprised seven companies, of 494 men, and performed service in eastern Kentucky, along the Tennessee and Virginia borders, affording protection to the loyal people of that section and preventing the destruction of property by the evil inclined, and at the same time acting as an advance guard for the Federal troops.

"The Casey County State Guards, and Captain Bussey's Bath County Rangers were organized under the militia laws of Kentucky, and, being  ordered on duty, the former was assigned to and performed duty with the First Kentucky Cavalry, whilst the latter after having performed service from December 11, 1863, to April 1, 1864, was assigned to and  performed duty with the Capital Guard Regiment, and was then known as Company F, of the Frankfort Battalion of that regiment, and was mustered out February 6, 1865.

"It may be proper to state that the Halls Gap Battalion also included the Mercer County State Guards, which organization was raised under the  militia laws of the State, and that the Frankfort Battalion was a distinct organization from that of the same name raised under the order of Secretary Stanton, heretofore referred to.

"It appears from the records in the Third Auditor's Office that the State of Kentucky made a claim against the United States on account of expenses incurred in behalf of the organizations mentioned in the bill  and was reimbursed therefor, and that the United States reimbursed Kentucky, on account of expenses incurred in raising volunteers to the amount of $3,504,466.77, being a greater amount than was paid to any other State, except the States of Missouri, New York, and Illinois.

"The said organizations performed the same character of service in the State of Kentucky as was required of United States troops. They were in the service not less than 90 days, some for six months, others for about one year. They rendered valuable and efficient service to the State and General Government, and cooperated with the forces of the  United States, and were subject to the orders of United States officers for services to be performed within the State.

"Hon. John M. Palmer, now United States Senator from Illinois, and formerly department commander of Kentucky, under date of January 21, 1863, says:
"'The Kentucky State troops, as a rule, were under my command in the  department of Kentucky, and I treated them as troops subject to my command. Some of the organizations performed valuable services, and ought to be provided for by the pension laws.'

"Gen. Green Clay Smith appeared before the committee and stated that at times during the war he commanded Federal troops in Kentucky; that he was then a resident of the State, and a native thereof, and well acquainted with the conditions prevailing therein at that time, and he had no doubt whatever that the organizations mentioned in the bill were at all times subject to the orders of the department commander, and rendered important service in behalf of the United States in protecting and guarding its property, its lines of communication, and aiding in driving its enemies from loyal territory.

"Kentucky furnished three classes of troops in behalf of the General Government during the late war—those that were mustered into the United States service, those that were known as the State militia proper and which did not perform service for 90 days, and those mentioned in this bill.

"A table is appended hereto showing the number and when mustered in in  each organization mentioned in the bill, the whole number being 4,983, and the number mustered out being about 4,200. But as many of these performed military service in other organizations, which service placed them within the provisions of the pension laws, it is thought that not more than 2,500 would be placed under the provisions of this bill, as originally presented, should it become a law.

"Having directly sanctioned the organization of some of these troops, and having accepted the services of all of them, they having been subject to the orders of the commander of the Department of Kentucky, and having reimbursed Kentucky for all expenses incurred in their organization and maintenance, it seems that the General Government, so far as its military, executive, and ministerial officials had power so to do, have regarded the organizations mentioned in the bill as if they had been mustered into the United States service for all practical purposes. And that being true, it would be fair dealing to place them, as far as this bill can do so, upon an equal footing with the same class of troops furnished by the States of Missouri and Pennsylvania, which have been placed under the provisions of the pension laws.

"Following is the table above referred to, compiled from the report of  the adjutant general of Kentucky: (click on image to enlarge)
"In view of the facts shown, your committee have been unwilling to recommend the passage of the bill as presented, for the reason that to  do so would be to assume to determine that the organizations named were essentially in the service of the United States during the entire period of their service. It does seem proper, however, that these troops should be placed in a position as good as, but no better than, that given to the Missouri State Militia, and your committee therefore report the accompanying bill as a substitute for the bill H. R. 7554, and respectfully recommend that the substitute do pass."

This bill failed of passage and no pensionable rights accrue on account of service in these organizations. The period of service of these troops was generally about six months, though a few of them served about one year. The earliest period of service was from the first part  of 1864. The following is taken from the published report of the adjutant general of the State of Kentucky, dated September 1, 1867,  volume 2, pages 825, 826, as showing something of the service of these organizations:

"All these troops did valuable and efficient service to the State and  the General Government, as the history of the time would fully show. The Sandy Valley Battalion rendered most important service during the Saltville raid.

"The Frankfort Battalion protected the capital from the frequent incursions of guerrilla forces. The Paducah Battalion protected the southwestern portion of the State. Shortly after the muster out of this battalion, the gallant Capt. Thomas J. Gregory, Company A, was killed in action while leading a charge against a guerrilla force.

"The troops raised under the act of January 26, 1864, were enlisted subsequent to the muster out of the Capital Guard Regiment and were located as follows:

"The Three Forks Battalion in the extreme southwestern portion of the State, with headquarters at Booneville.

"The Halls Gap Battalion in the locality between Stanford and Halls Gap; headquarters at Stanford.

"The Green River Battalion in the counties between the Ohio and Green  Rivers, with headquarters at Calhoun.

"The Middle Green River Battalion in the southern portion of the State, with headquarters at Rochester.

"The South Cumberland Battalion also in the southern portion of the State, with headquarters at Burksville.

"The First Kentucky Cavalry in the central part of the State, with headquarters at Lebanon.

"The Frankfort Battalion was assigned to duty in guarding the Louisville & Lexington Railroad and the country adjacent thereto.

"All of these battalions performed the most valuable service against  the rebels and guerillas under Morgan, Johnson, South, Lyon, Mundy, Gentry, Jesse, etc., and for some time freed the State from the incursions of these troops (the acts of many of whom were barbarous in  the extreme). This was accomplished notwithstanding their efficiency was somewhat crippled, first, by the then military commander of the district of Kentucky, and, second, by partisan feeling and prejudice."

This report does not give any particulars of service rendered by these forces under command of United States officers or in connection with United States troops. It shows, however, that 66 of them died and 27 were killed, some of these being killed in action.

Kentucky had another body of State militia, State guards, and home guards that were on active duty at various periods during the war. The published report of the adjutant general of the State of Kentucky, volume 2, page 903, shows the designations and strength of the organizations composing this force to have been as follows:

Home-guard companies called out by Gens. Anderson and Sherman 1,534
Police guard Kentucky Central Railroad 1,470
Oldham County State Guard 63
Shelby County State Guard 35
Spencer County State Guard 56
Nelson County State Guard 49
Flower Creek Home Guard 33
Martin's company Home Guard 57
Ohio County Home Guard 155
Leonard's company, Home Guard 60
Forty-first Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 1,096
Forty-second Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 1,393
Frankfort Union Guards 57
Rockcastle and Lincoln County Home Guard 304
Twenty-second Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 112
Sixty-eighth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 615
Sixty-fifth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 347
Thirty-sixth Regiment Kentucky Enrolled Militia 280
Peak's Mill Rangers  51
Fleming County State Guard 102
Hardin County State Guard 42
Capt. R. R. Bacon's company, State Guard 26
Capt. Greenbery Reid's company, Kentucky National Legion 84
Capt. H. H. Johnson's company, Kentucky National Legion 87
Lieut. George W. Burchett's company, Kentucky National Legion 14
Harlan County Battalion 494
Bath County Rangers 88

These militia and home guards served short terms at various intervals during the war, beginning in the fall of 1861; some of them were in  service as late as in November, 1865. A great many of them served less  than 20 days, some served 1 and 2 months, and but very few, if any,  were in service 3 months. Their principal duty was the guarding of  railroads, bridges, locks, etc. The Forty-first and Forty-second  Regiments, Kentucky Enrolled Militia, were 30-day men, called out at  the time of Bragg's Invasion. The Sixty-eighth Regiment Kentucky  Enrolled Militia, 30-days' service, is recognized by the War Department as having been accepted into the military service of the United States  and the members thereof have pensionable status under the general law for disability or service origin only. They have no status under the act of June 27, 1890, as their service was less than 90 days. None of the other Kentucky State organizations has pensionable rights under existing laws.

Many of these troops served out of the limits of Kentucky and the report of the adjutant general of Kentucky mentions that 1,534 of the home guards of that State were called out by Gens. Anderson and Sherman. The home guards, so called, were on active duty in the fall of 1861, a few serving a little over 1 month, but the majority less than 15 days. The Thurston Guards, called out by Gen. Anderson, served 12 days in September, 1862.

Source: Congressional Edition, 66th Congress, 2d Session, Dec. 1, 1919 - June 5, 1920, Volume 7653, pp. 27-31

Transcribed by Marlitta H. Perkins, July 2013.

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