Campbell County's Civil War execuctions - KY/OH


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Campbell County's Civil War execuctions

Jan. 21, 2013 8:47 AM, |
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The gravestone for Lt. T.J. McGraw, a Confederate solider in the Civil War, is maintained at Flagg Springs Baptist Church in southeastern Campbell County with both a U.S. and Confederate flag. The marker was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy under the guidance of the Mrs. Basil Duke chapter of the U.D.C. in April of 1914. The Chapter's namesake was the sister of Civil War Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. The monument's inscription reads: 'L.T. T.J. JcGraw C.S.A. Shot At Johnson's Is. May 15,1863 By Gen. Burbridge Order for Recruiting in Kentucky. Erected by Mrs. Basil Duke Chap. U.D.C.' At the time of McGraw's execution General Stephen Gano Burbridge, a Scott County native and Union officer, and in July 4, 1864 repulsed Morgan's raid. Confederate Captain William Francis Corbin is buried in a nearby private family cemetery in the California area off Washington Trace Road. / Chris Mayhew/The Community Recorder
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Chris Mayhew

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CALIFORNIA — In the spring of 1863, Union Major General Ambrose Burnside sought to eliminate sympathizers for the South in Ohio and Kentucky by issuing General Order No. 38 from his headquarters in Cincinnati.
One of the lesser-known results of Burnside’s order, which was famously used to arrest and then expel Ohio Democratic Party leader Clement Vallandiham into the Confederacy, was the execution of two Campbell County Confederates.
Captain William Francis Corbin and Lt. Thomas Jeffferson McGraw, both of the California area, were captured by Union forces in northern Pendleton County near Rouse’s Mill April 8, 1863. Corbin and McGraw were tried as spies by a military commission and shot by a firing squad at the Union prison camp at Johnson’s Island on Lake Erie in Ohio on May 15, 1863. Corbin is buried in a private family cemetery in California off Washington Trace Road, and McGraw is buried in the Flagg Springs Baptist Church Cemetery.
The two Confederate soldiers were tried under Burnside’s General Order No. 38 issued April 13 – five days after their capture.
A military commission met in Cincinnati April 22, and charged and convicted the two Campbell County residents on charges including “recruiting within the lines of the United States forces, for the so-called ‘Confederate Army,” according to an April 30, 1863 article in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Recruiting for the Confederacy behind Union lines was punishable by death under Burnside’s order.
Corbin’s friend J.C. DeMoss wrote a book in 1897 telling about Corbin’s life in the Confederate army, his capture, and the attempt to stay his execution.
According to DeMoss’ book, Corbin did not deny recruiting for the Confederate Army, but expected to be treated as a prisoner of war and not as a spy.
Corbin was initially a lieutenant in the state military company organized by Demoss when he enlisted 60 men from the eastern part of Campbell County in 1860. Kentucky had a position of armed neutrality at the beginning of the Civil War and both Union and Confederate military forces were not welcome.
Corbin, and about 25 other men, left the state militia and passed through the federal lines in Paris, and were sworn in as soldiers in the Confederate Army Sept. 25, 1862, according to DeMoss’ book. Corbin was elevated to the rank of Captain, but without a command. Corbin joined the Fourth Kentucky Calvary and spent the winter in the mountains of Virginia. In March 1863 Corbin was ordered by Confederate Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall to return to Kentucky to raise a new company of Confederate calvary. Corbin recruited primarily in Campbell County.
Corbin was on his way out of the area with recruits he gathered when he stopped at the house of Garrett Daniel near Rouse’s Mill in northern Pendleton County to meet his friend McGraw, according to DeMoss’ book.
Corbin sent his recruits on after McGraw did not arrive on time, but waited for his friend, according to the book. As McGraw arrived at the home, so did 13 Union soldiers from the 118th Ohio Regiment – capturing both men.
An attempt to save the life of Corbin was made by DeMoss and Corbin’s sister, Melissa Corbin, according to DeMoss’ book.
Corbin’s sister met with General Burnside in Cincinnati and made a personal plea to save the life of her brother that was refused. DeMoss and Corbin’s sister then traveled to Washington, D.C. in a failed attempt to meet with President Lincoln. After failing to gain an audience with the president, Corbin’s sister wrote a letter to the president and convinced Lincoln’s minister, a Dr. Sunderland, to deliver it to the president.
DeMoss wrote that he was within earshot as Sunderland attempted to hand the letter to Lincoln on the steps at church and Lincoln refused to take it.
“The president stated in my hearing to the Doctor, that ‘He must decline to read the letter; that these men were bridge-burners and bad men and should be punished, and that he could not interfere with General Burnside’s order,’” according to DeMoss’ book.
Northern Kentucky University history profess James Ramage, who specializes in Civil War history, said Burnside’s General Order No. 38 was mostly directed against sympathizers for Confederates in Ohio, but the executions show one of the ways it was also used in Kentucky.

“The order is exactly that you can’t be pro-Southern and be speaking about it, or you’ll be arrested and punished,” Ramage said.
Overall, there were more people aligned with the Union than the south in Kentucky, but there were still plenty of people who sided with the Confederacy, he said.
Burnside also joined Brigadier General Jeremiah T. Boyle’s pacification program to try to turn all Kentuckians into Unionists, Ramage said.
Boyle took command June 1, 1862, and arrested Southern sympathizers and required them to take a loyalty oath, he said.
A great fear of Union generals at the time was that Southern sentiment was going to build in Kentucky and result in more recruits to the Confederacy and an eventual attack on Cincinnati, Ramage said.
Burnside later helped Boyle by removing pro-Southern candidates form the ballot in Kentucky in the election of August 1863 and successfully elect a pro-Union Governor, Ramage said.
“It seems strange to us today that they would tamper with elections and require loyalty oaths, but to them they felt like the destiny of the nation was on the line,” he said.

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