Discussion Boone Furnace: History in view

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Ethan S.

Corporal
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Messages
261
Location
Carter County Kentucky
I live withing view of Boone Furnace, and old Iron furnace in Carter County Kentucky. The furnace was built in 1857, and closed down in 1872. During the Civil War, it was important to the Union cause because the iron from the furnace was used to make musket barrels, as were some of the other furnaces in the region. In 1861, Sebastian Eifort, the man who built the furnace along with a few of his friends, held an event at the furnace:

"Being a strong Union man, he called a meeting, in April 1861, of the citizens of Lewis, Carter, Boyd and Greenup Counties at Boone Furnace, where the old flag was raised and speeches made by ex congressman, George M. Thomas, and others, in favor of supporting the government. Then and there a plan was made to raise a regiment of Home Guards for the protection of property. This was fully organized during the summer and sworn into the service by Mr. Eifort, who was elected Colonel." From "A History of Scioto County" published in 1903.

It has been said, by a story handed down to a local who lives across the way, that during the speech, a few Southern sympathizers, booed, and stormed off. Carter County was mainly a Unionist county, but like any border state, it was divided.


It is not known exactly when in October, but in October, 1861, Unionist refugees from Magoffin County, were being pursued by Rebel guerrillas, and the Union men hid out at Boone Furnace until they were forced to move again, this time to the Ohio river.

In September, 1862, Rebel soldiers were spotted camping at the furnace. The following from the book, "First O. V. H. A. Company M" tells the Union side of the story:

"I will herewith, give you a sketch of this, our first military experience of any note: It was on the 8th of Septem ber, 1862, that our regiment boarded the steamer on the Ohio River, and were taken to the nearest point to Boone Furnace and landed. Night soon came on and darkness shielded our soldier boys from the bushwhackers, who were numerous along the border of Kentucky, as well as many miles in the interior of the State. Major Fordyce M. Keith was in command of the 117th O. V. I. on this expedition, which regiment was destined later on to become the First Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery, and he at once won the confidence of those under him by his acts of courage, at the same time exhibiting a determination to make a decided success of this our first military raid into the enemy's country. We did not tarry long after em barking. The night was very dark, rendering a march over an unfa miliar country precarious and fraught with danger, yet Major Keith believed that by starting immediately he could reach Boone Furnace with his command be fore daylight the next morning and surprise and probably capture the rebels in their camp. Orders were given to "Forward, March," and away we went. At first the boys were too busy in getting started to meditate much over the immediate future, as they marched along, however, thinking of these beautiful, lovely, lazy September days, breathing the midnight air, and listening to the rustling leaves until the wee small hours of the night, and that they were nearing, what they believed might prove to be a fear ful slaughter pen, a feeling of fear and trembling came over them as they thought of the loved ones at home. They pictured out a hand to hand conflict and perhaps death and agony and curdling scenes of blood and carnage, starvation in southern prisons and the terrible torture of being deprived of their liberty. This had full possession OHIO VOLUNTEER HEAVY ARTILLERY, 1861-65 9 of the souls of this gallant young regiment. They experienced the same feelings that all soldiers experience just before entering a battle. This feeling, General U. S. Grant said is something undescribable, but thanks to the all wise overruling Providence, their fears were soon replaced with courage and a determination to win or die in the attempt. It was now nearing the dawn of day, as we approached the fortifications where we believed the enemy lay secreted behind what appeared to be formidable breastworks. Here we halted in breathless silence, and Major Keith, with a squad of trusty men, set out on a reconnoitering expedition. They were admonished to walk on tip toes, for fear of arousing the enemy from their slumbers, and thus defeat our purpose of capturing them. The scouting party approached the rebel fortifications quietly and obtaining the desired information they returned to camp and re ported to Major Keith that the enemy, hearing of our approach, had made good their escape. Word was immediately sent along down the fighting line that "We had met the enemy and they had flown," and all this forced march without accomplishing any thing. But the boys did have the experience which they much needed. Major Keith was greatly disappointed, for he was anxious to try the metal of the soldiers of the new regiment in which he had the greatest confidence."



The rebel side of the story is, at least to my knowledge, unknown. It has been rumored that the rebels arrived somewhere around September 1st, but I believe that they may have arrived a little bit later. However, I do know that it was the 54th Virginia Infantry, commanded by a Colonel Trigg, that took over the furnace.


The Unionists sent pickets to the surrounding hills, and soon thereafter, they returned to Portsmouth Ohio to add new recruits.

DSC_0116.jpg


The view from my front yard, Boone Furnace being in the valley in the distance behind the trees.
 

Ethan S.

Corporal
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Messages
261
Location
Carter County Kentucky
I do have some tangible history from the men of the 117th Ohio Volunteer Militia. I was metal detecting the front yard one day, when I found a bayonet scabbard tip. After I finished screaming and hyperventilating, I resumed detecting until dark (it was 10:00am when I found it). Just before it got too dark to see, I got down on my knees, and said, "Lord, please let me find a bullet. Amen" I put the coil to the ground, and heard a solid "BEEP!" I dug the signal, and out came a beautiful three ringed bullet. Thank you Lord!

36z68b.jpg
 

Lubliner

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
1,466
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
This is enough to give the impression of Paradise regained, after a trip through bloody h*ll.
After these new experiences with discovery, I wonder how your future reactions shall be manifested?

With a gorgeous sunset after an overcast day, to find a couple of bullets for the pocket, means a couple rebels get away!
Thank you @Ethan S.
Lubliner.
 
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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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Ethan S.

Corporal
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Messages
261
Location
Carter County Kentucky
157 years ago last night, the 117th Ohio made their journey through the thick Kentucky woods, and arrived at the furnace at around sunrise this morning. So that means that the relics I found were lost 157 years ago today. It's cool to think about.
 
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