Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fighting in Grey: Jefferson County's Confederates

Many Jefferson County residents recognize the name of author Edward Eggleston. They may not know he spent 13 months on a family plantation in Virginia around 1854 and developed his opposition to slavery.

Even fewer know that his three brothers, George Cary Eggleston, Joseph W. Eggleston, and Miles Eggleston, born in Vevay, became Confederate soldiers with George writing a famed account called “A Rebel’s Recollection."

George Cary was a Jefferson County resident, before he returned to Virginia to inherit the family plantation, and it was his experiences as a teacher at the Rykers’ Ridge School that formed much of the basis of Edward's novel, "The Hoosier Schoolmaster."

It is surprising there weren't more Hoosier Rebels—the area had a large population that came from the South. Before the Civil War, the South was filled with visions of the lower Midwest seceding. And in 1863, the belief that thousands of Hoosiers would fight for the Confederacy led John Hunt Morgan to cross the Ohio River.

In fact, Morgan's raid was something of a community battle—many in the Fourth Kentucky Infantry lived just across the river. Carroll and Trimble County residents who would fight in major battles that also involved Jefferson County soldiers. Confederate recruiters visited Milton and Carrollton.

There were many divided families. James W. Quinn of Milton Township fought for the Union while his sister Mary wed Willis Little, who lived in Carroll County, and joined the Southern army.

There were a number of "sort of" Jefferson County Confederates.

A Prussian, Peter Charles Kyle, who came to Madison about 1844 and was educated there, helped form a Rebel unit Louisiana in 1861. Another member of the Fourth Kentucky, Minor Horton, left Milton Township in 1853, moved to Kentucky by 1860 and joined the Southern side.

One man, however, stands out as a Confederate who was born in Madison and lived there when he enlisted in Co. H of the Fourth Kentucky Infantry in 1862.

John Woodburn Shrewsbury took his name from his mother's father, John Woodburn, who helped found the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. The son of Capt. Charles Shrewsbury whose home bears the family name, Wood, as he was called, was dedicated, but sickly, and served in several battles, although consumption (tuberculosis) often sidelined him. A Confederate account said Wood often served hospital duty because of his health.

The Shrewsburys were also a divided family because Charles participated in a rally in Madison in 1862 that declared secession illegal.

There may have been more Rebels, but bragging about Confederate service was not safe in Jefferson County. It is also harder to prove these men existed. Union records often recorded the residences of enlistees; Confederate records rarely did.

In any event, Wood Shrewsbury survived the war, but not by much. A note in a Madison newspaper of Aug. 27, 1866 noted that John W. Shrewsbury, eldest son of Charles and Ellen, had died at his home.

No comments: