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Enyart and the First Kentucky

The picture itself is fairly iconic, not because it is well known Civil War photograph, but the pose, the beard, the mismatched eyes, the overall badass feel of the man that says "mess with me and you will regret it" conveys a classic leader. This leader was commander of the First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Who is this man? Brevet Brigadier General David Alexander Enyart, of OHIO, that's who!

David Alexander Enyart

Who? Seriously Darryl, who? Well, that is a great question. It is not easy to find a lot of details on Enyart. Born in 1825 in Warren County, Ohio, and one of nine children, Enyart would enlist on January 22nd, 1862 as a lieutenant colonel in the First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a unit that had been formed in Ohio at Camp Clay and having mostly men from Ohio in its ranks. He would be promoted to colonel on June 16th, 1864, and then receive his brevet to brigadier general on March 23rd, 1865. With the First Kentucky he would see a long and active service, being engaged at Shiloh, Stones River, and Chickamauga. The regiment would muster out on June 18th, 1864, completing their three year term of service.

Enyart, who was engaged in civilian life as a wholesale dealer of liquors and cigars, would pass away on October 31st, 1867 in Cincinnati (not a Happy Halloween I would imagine). He is buried in the Middletown Cemetery where other Enyarts are found. From what I can determine, he never married. On his gravestone are the badges of the IV (triangle) and XIV Corps (acorn).

We do know a bit more about the regiment. I've been featuring some stories from Camp Clay here on the blog, and we have a synopsis of their regimental history from The Union Army, vol. 4, p. 317:

First Infantry - Cols., James V. Guthrie, David A. Enyart; Lieut. Cols., Bart G. Leiper, Frank P. Cahill, Alva R. Hadlock; Maj., James W. Mitchell.

This regiment was organized at Camp Clay, Pendleton, Ohio, in June, 1861, under Col. James V. Guthrie, and was mustered into the U. S. service on June 4, to serve three years, being composed almost entirely of Ohio men.

After organization it was ordered to the department of West Virginia, where it performed much valuable service in the early engagements of the war. Col. Guthrie resigned Dec. 21, 1861, Col. David A. Enyart was commissioned in his stead and commanded the regiment until mustered out of service.

In Jan. 1862, the regiment was ordered to the Department of the Cumberland, took an active part in the advance on Nashville, Tenn., and participated in numerous battles in which loss was sustained.

Co. E was detached as artillery in Jan. 1862, designated 1st Kentucky independent, or Simmonds battery and also as the 23rd independent battery, Ohio light artillery.

The regiment was mustered out at Covington, Ky., by reason of expiration of term of service June 18, 1864. The men of this regiment who lost their lives in defense of the nation were 97 in number, 42 of whom were killed in battle, 15 died of wounds and 40 of disease.

The official list of battles in which it bore an honorable part is as follows: Boone Court House, Chapmansville, Gauley bridge, Red House, W. Va. Shiloh, Tenn.; Corinth, Miss.; Stone's River, Tenn.; Graysville and Chickamauga. Ga.

1st Kentucky circled in blue - Map from the American Battlefield Trust

Enyart was in command of the First at Shiloh and his report is as follows:


SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of this regiment in the action of the 6th and 7th instant:

We arrived at Pittsburg Landing about 5.30 o'clock on the 6th instant, when we were immediately marched up to the lines, but night coming, on the darkness caused a cessation of hostilities, when we were told by Gen. Nelson to lay on our arms and be ready for any emergency, which we did, and according to orders sent out two companies of skirmishers, where they staid all night. About 4 o'clock we received orders to advance in line, which we did immediately, our skirmishers keeping about 300 yards in advance. After marching so for about half a mile we encountered the rebel pickets and drove them steadily back under a galling fire for about 1 mile, when they took to the woods, where they had a battery of three guns, which they opened on us, without doing much damage, when our pickets, Company A, Capt. Wheeler, and Company G, Capt. Mitchell, together with a portion of a company from the Ninth Indiana, charged and took the guns, but could not hold them, as a regiment of rebel infantry opened a deadly fire on them from the bushes and caused them to fall back, which they did in good order, keeping up a steady fire on the enemy until they were relieved by the Nineteenth Brigade and three pieces of artillery. The enemy being forced back, our pickets again advanced to the rebel lines, taking up their old position, till they were told to keep the field, but not bring on a general engagement until our reserves came up.

After the engagement became general we were ordered to sustain the Nineteenth Brigade, Col. Hazen's, which we did by changing direction to the right, coming up on his left and front, where we were ordered to halt, the enemy having fallen back, and send two more companies (Companies I, Capt. Hogan, and C, Capt. Hunt) of skirmishers and feel the rebel front, but they having fallen back to the right and opened fire on the Sixth Kentucky, our skirmishers advanced to assist them, doing good service, and in a few minutes the remaining four companies were ordered to advance and take up a position on a ridge in an open field, where the rebels directed a tremendous fire at our front from a battery of artillery and two or three regiments of infantry, our men holding their position. The deadly fire of the enemy killing some and wounding a great many of our men, we were ordered to fall back into the woods, and the enemy again changing his position to his right (our left), we were ordered to protect our left flank, where we were met by a large force, who seemed determined to turn our flank, but with the assistance of two companies of the Second Kentucky and a part of the Twentieth Kentucky and three pieces of artillery we managed to check and repel them, driving them before us a considerable distance, when we again received orders to halt and rally our men. We then advanced again and occupied the camps and hills on the extreme left of our lines, throwing our pickets and skirmishers fully half a mile in advance of any position we had before occupied, when we received orders to get our men together and proceed to camp.

I cannot in justice make any distinction in regard to the conduct of the officers and men, as all did their best and acted nobly, but I think it is but fair to state that the coolness and courage of Lieut.-Col. Leiper, Maj. Cahill, and Adjutant Wright, in encouraging and rallying the men, deserve great praise. Capt.'s Barr, Becker, and Hadlock; also Lieut. Smith, commanding Company F, are entitled to great credit for the manner in which they conducted themselves; also the sergeant who carried the orders.


Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Lieut. S. T. CORN.

Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 10. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 10

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Here's a link to Bjorn Skaptason's 2019 presentation on Sanders Bruce's brigade which included the First Kentucky at Shiloh.

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