August 22, 2013

Traces of Laurel: Civil War, Part 1

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — When the Civil War reached Laurel County in 1861, most able-bodied men enlisted in one of two companies:  Co. K, 7th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry (formerly the 3rd Kentucky) or Co. A, of the 24th Kentucky Infantry.  I will give information about Co. K this week and write about Co. A in next week’s column.  As usual, I’ve depended on the good work of Russell Dyche and Dr. Thomas D. Clark for much of my information.  I have also done personal research on Co. K because that is the company in which my own ancestor served. 

This regiment was organized by Col. T.T. Garrard of Clay County, grandson of Kentucky’s second governor, James Garrard.  Most records say that enlistment took place on August 26, 1861 in Laurel County and that the company was mustered into service on September 22, 1861 at Camp Dick Robinson.

Laurel County’s Dr. Thomas P. Coldwell was named second lieutenant of this company.  In notes left by Dr. Coldwell (available to Russell Dyche in 1954), Coldwell says that Co. K was mustered in (his term for ‘enlisting’) near a well on North Main Street in London which was for many years called “the wash place” of General Jarvis Jackson.  There were about 100 men, and during processing they camped on the grounds of Laurel Seminary. They then walked the 50-plus miles to Camp Dick Robinson in Garrard County where they were officially mustered in.  Company officers elected from that initial group were:  Philas Stratton, captain; Samuel Thompson, first lieutenant; and T. P. Coldwell, second lieutenant.

In “A History of Laurel County,” Dr. Clark says:  “For Laurel County, Camp Dick Robinson was of the utmost importance.  It was from this place that both commands and supplies flowed into the important Wilderness Road corridor.  This camp . . . was essentially the anchor to the protection of Kentucky from invasion from the east and southeast.”

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