68th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry (Enrolled Militia)



    By the commencement of the Civil War, there were two types of militia in the United States. The enrolled militia was simply a list containing the names of all men of military age who would be obligated to take up arms in the event of a war (not unlike the Selective Service in existence today). The organized militia, on the other hand, was comprised of men (full time citizens, part-time soldiers) in organized units in their communities who would meet periodically for military training.

    Guerilla activity was a problem in most of Kentucky. Having seen what was happening in Kansas, the Kentucky legislature took action to provide for a force in each County to protect the State, and if needed to deal with guerrilla activity. They passed a law organizing the militia into the Kentucky State Guard. Governor Beriah Magoffin signed this act into law, March 5, 1860:

    Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky That the Kentucky Militia shall be divided into three classes: 1st The Active or Volunteer Militia, 2nd. The Enrolled Militia, 3rd. The Militia of the Reserves. The Volunteer of Active Militia shall be styled the Kentucky State Guard.

    William Nelson, a native Kentuckian and lieutenant in the navy, whose acquaintance and social standing with the principal Southern leaders insured him unusual facilities for his operations. He mingled freely with them at Frankfort and other points, apparently having no ulterior object, yet was busy arranging for the secret introduction of arms, the issuance of commissions and the distribution of contracts for beef, mules and other supplies. Through his instrumentality five thousand stand of arms were brought into Kentucky as early as the 20th of May, and a camp formed in Garrard county, which became known as Camp Dick Robinson, where in time a number of regiments were organized. This violation of the neutrality of Kentucky, the full extent of which was not, however, known until too late, first awakened the Southern men to a realization of the deception practiced upon them, and produced a mingled feeling of distrust and resentment.

    Various expedients were resorted to with a view of staying the tide of war. On the 4th of May an election was held throughout the State for delegates to a Border State convention, when the ticket composed of Union men of prominence was elected without opposition, the Southern sympathizers then having confidence in the sincerity of their opponents and believing that they could be more efficient in securing favorable action. The members elected were as follows: John J. Crittenden, James Guthrie, R. K. Williams, Archie Dixon, Francis M. Bristow, Joshua F. Bell, Charles A. Wickliffe, Geo. W. Dunlap, Charles S. Morehead, James F. Robinson, John B. Huston and Robert Richardson. The convention assembled at Frankfort May 27th, and continued in session until June 3d. Besides the delegates from Kentucky there were four from Missouri, H. A. Gamble, W. A. Hall, John B. Henderson and W. G. Pomeroy; and one from Tennessee. It resulted in an address to the people of the United States and also to the people of Kentucky, in which while the sectional troubles were deplored, and a strong plea made for the preservation of the Union, the refusal of Governor Magoffin to furnish troops to the general government to prosecute the civil war was endorsed, as also the policy of neutrality.

    The legislature met in called session May 6th, and appropriated $750,000 to arm the State under the direction of a military board, consisting of the governor, Samuel Gill, Geo. T. Wood, Gen. Peter Dudley and Dr. John B. Peyton, the arms to be distributed equally between the State Guard and such home guards as might be organized for home and local defense exclusively, but providing that neither the arms nor the militia were to be used "against the government of the United States, nor against the Confederate States, unless in protecting our soil against lawless invasion, it being the intention alone that such arms and munitions of war are to be used for the sole defense of the State of Kentucky." On the 16th of May the committee on Federal relations in the House of Representatives, composed of Geo B. Hodge, Curtis F. Burnam, Nat Wolfe, John G. Carlisle, J. B Lyle, A. F. Gowdy, Richard T. Jacob and Richard A. Buckner, reported the following resolutions: "Considering the deplorable condition of the country and for which the State of Kentucky is in no way responsible, and looking to the best means of preserving the internal peace and securing the lives, liberty and property of the citizens of the State; therefore, "Resolved, by the House of Representatives, that this State and the citizens thereof should take no part in the civil war now being waged, except as mediators and friends to the belligerent parties; and that Kentucky should, during the contest, occupy the position of strict neutrality.

    "Resolved, that the act of the governor in refusing to furnish troops or military force upon the call of the executive authority of the United States under existing circumstances is approved." The preamble was adopted by yeas 82, nays none; the first resolution by yeas 69, nays 26, and the second resolution by yeas 89, nays 4. In accordance with this expression and in view of the current reports of the introduction of arms by Nelson and others, Governor Magoffin on the 20th of May issued his proclamation announcing the attitude of Kentucky as that of armed neutrality, "notifying and warning all other States whether separate or united, and especially the United States and the Confederate States, that I solemnly forbid any movement upon the soil of Kentucky, or the occupation of any port, post or place whatever within the lawful boundary and jurisdiction of this State, by any of the forces under the orders of the States aforesaid for any purpose whatever, until authorized by invitation or permission of the legislative and executive authorities of this State previously granted."

    On the following day resolutions were offered to inquire into the introduction of Federal arms into the State, which excited a spirited debate, but without reaching a vote the session closed on the 24th.

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    McKinster, Thomas Ambrose - Colonel
    Jones, William M. - Major.
    Johns, Martin H. - Lieutenant Colonel.
    Burk, James - Sergeant Major
    Hatcher, John B. - Commissary Sergeant
    Osborn, Edmon - Surgeon.
    Rice, John M. - Quartermaster Sergeant.
    Wallace, Thomas - Quartermaster.
    Hale, Buford T. - Adjutant




    The composite roster of this regiment contains the names of 689 men.