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Letters From Camp Lytle - The Bluegrass Buckeyes of the First Kentucky

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

We all know the story of Kentucky's declared "neutrality" during the early months of the Civil War, but Kentucky men were still determined to serve. Those who had southern leaning proclivities journeyed to north Tennessee, while their northern leaning counterparts joined Home Guard units being formed within the commonwealth under the auspices of defending their neutrality. North of the Ohio River, the outpouring of Ohio men wanting to serve created a gluttony of volunteers, and it was decided to raise two Kentucky Federal units at Camp Clay, just east of Cincinnati. While there were some Kentuckians within the ranks of these two regiments, the vast majority of men came from Ohio, hence my term, "The Bluegrass Buckeyes."

These two regiments would see a great deal of service, first in western Virginia under William S. Rosecrans before moving west and joining the Army of the Ohio. Brigaded together throughout the course of the war, the First and Second Kentucky Infantry Regiments participated at Shiloh, Stones River, and Chickamauga, as well as several battles during the Atlanta campaign, before mustering out of service in June of 1864.

Two letters from two different men in the First Kentucky were written from "Camp Lytle," ironically published on the same date in two different newspapers in Ohio. While I do not know who the two writers might be, they are both men from the First. I wish to thank Dan Masters for sharing with me his list of Ohio Civil War era newspaper articles, from which the first letter is listed. The second letter I found doing a search for Camp Lytle on the Chronicling America site.

Gallipolis Journal, February 6th, 1862



BARDSTOWN, KY., Camp Lytle,

January 25th, 1862.

EDITOR JOURNAL: - Well, once more we find the 1st Ky. out in the field. On last Friday morning, while in camp at Jeffersonville, Ind., orders came that the First and Second Kentucky were to proceed to Bardstown, Ky., there to report to Col. Lytle of the Tenth [Ohio Infantry], who is now in command of this post.[1] Accordingly, on Saturday morning we took up our line of march for our present encampment. After making a grand parade through Louisville, we proceeded to the two mile House on the Louisville and Bardstown turnpike, and encamped for the night. Early next morning we were on our way, notwithstanding rain was coming down in torrents on the heads of our "Bold Boys."

Here let me remark, that the finest country ever one can see. is in this district. For miles not a hill is visible to the eye.

At night we again camped, at the 12 mile House. We again "pitched tents," but for no purpose. At about eleven o'clock the rain commenced again, and continued until we reached Bardstown. All along the route strong indications were given for the Union. Flags were displayed from every house, and one place in particular is worthy of mention. At a farm house below Mt. Washington they had no flag, but so eager were they to show their devotion to the Union, that they placed a small child on the door step, with a piece of music entitled "The Union Forever." As our troops passed by this house, cheer after cheer, such as I have never heard before, were sent up, and the small flag which was on that music created more sensation than all the flags on the route.

Arriving at Bardstown we were conducted to the Head-quarters of the hero of Carnifex Ferry, Col. Lytle. After inspecting us, he conducted us to the camp which we now occupy.

We are pleasantly situated on the Bardstown and Nashville turnpike, two miles from Bardstown and forty-five miles from Louisville.

The Paymaster has arrived, and is just now engaged in paying off our Regiment, a welcome visitor, no doubt, as the boys are all of the opinion that it is his last appearance until the final settlement. We are anxiously awaiting orders for an advance further into the interior the State.

The late news of the success of our troops over Zollicoffer, has created no reaction, and the question asked is, “Is it true?"[2] We have but yet an exaggerated story, I think, but I trust and hope we have the truth.

Good news may be expected from these quarters in a few days, as there is a great preparation being made for a speedy movement on Bowling Green.

For fear of occupying too much space in your valuable paper, I must now bring my letter to a close; but if anything occurs in this part worthy of mention, I shall write at the earliest opportunity. For the present I must take leave and resume my duties as a soldier.


Colonel David A. Enyart of the First Kentucky Infantry

Cincinnati Daily Press, Thursday Evening, February 6th, 1862


BARDSTOWN, KY., Jan. 31, '62.

Editor of Cincinnati Press: About two weeks ago we arrived here from Louisville and pitched our tents about three miles from town, naming the Camp, as you see, in honor of Colonel Lytle, of the Tenth Ohio, who is in command of this post. Well, a week passed by without any thing of note taking place, and then we were informed that commissions had arrived for all the officers, but of course they are too numerous to mention here; however, I will give you a list of the field and staff, viz: D. A. Enyart, Colonel; Bart Leiper, Lieutenant Colonel; F. P. Cahill, Major; J. A. Wright, Adjutant; Frank Fee, Quarter-master.[3]

The above are all experienced officers, in whom we have the utmost confidence, and with such officers to lead us, and the material with which our Regiment is composed, I have no hesitation in saying that if ever we are fortunate enough to get into a fight, the First Kentucky will acquit themselves creditably to their State and to their country.

We are brigaded with the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Second and Twentieth Kentucky Infantry, and commanded by Colonel Bruce, of the latter regiment, an able officer and a gentleman; and as the men are all well drilled and brave soldiers, I would most respectfully suggest to the rebels that when they see our Kentucky Brigade advancing, to make themselves scarce, or some of them will get hurt, for they will find that the Kentucky boys are not to be trifled with.[4]

I suppose you are all anxious to know when an advance will be made; well, so are we, as we here are expecting marching orders every minute for some place or other, we little care where, so that there will be some chance of a fight, or at least a sight at the enemy, just to let them know that we have left Virginia and followed Floyd and his "running rebel crew" all the way to old Kaintuck, and that we are ready to follow him as near again, if necessary to catch him.[5] But, by the way, talking of catching reminds me that our A No. 1 Quarter-master catched one of the fairest of Virginia's daughters in the Kanawha Valley, and is now absent from us to lead her, a blushing bride, to Hymen's altar, so says report, at least; and I say "good for Frank;" and to all single young men: "Go thou and do likewise.[6] But “folks do say" that the next officer we will lose in the same way will be our handsome Colonel, as it is about as hard to resist those winning smiles and soft black eyes of our fair Kentucky girls, as it is for the rebels to stand a charge of Kentucky bayonets, and as there is no such word as retreat with him, I am afraid he will be vanquished.

But I must close this already too lengthy letter, not, however, before stating that the boys are all well and enjoying themselves hugely. So, hoping to hear from you soon, I remain,




[1] William H. Lytle was commander of the Tenth Ohio Infantry at the battle at Carnifex Ferry, Virginia. He was wounded while leading a charge against the Confederate works. He would be wounded and captured at Perryville, Kentucky on October 8th, 1862, then killed at Chickamauga on September 20th, 1863. His funeral procession in Cincinnati is still the largest even seen in the city. [2] The writer is referencing the defeat of the Confederate forces under George B. Crittenden at Mill Springs, Kentucky, on January 19th, 1862. Brigadier General Felix K. Zollicoffer was killed during the battle, and although he was not in overall command of the Confederates, he is often most credited with being in charge.

[3] Colonel David A. Enyart was a native of Ohio. He was appointed as lieutenant colonel of the First on May 5th, 1861. He would be promoted to colonel on January 22nd, 1862, taking over for James V. Guthrie who had resigned on December 21st, 1861. Enyart would muster out with the regiment on June 18th, 1864, at Covington, Kentucky. Enyart would die on October 31st, 1867, and is buried in Middletown Cemetery, Middletown, Ohio. He had been a wholesale dealer in liquors and cigars as well as in 1865 was part of the Leiper, Sturgis & Co. that dealt in oil speculation. Mexican War veteran (First Pennsylvania Infantry) Bartram G. Leiper was appointed as major of the First Kentucky on May 5th, 1861. He would be promoted to lieutenant colonel on January 22nd, 1862, but according to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky he was never mustered in that rank. Leiper would resign on October 25th, 1862 due to health reasons (chronic mercurial rheumatism). Was an active businessman in Cincinnati. Frank P. Cahill, originally the captain of Company C of the First, would be promoted to major on January 22nd, 1862. He would later take over as lieutenant colonel on November 6th, 1862, mustering into that rank on December 18th, 1862, at Nashville, Tennessee. He had been slightly wounded on April 7th, 1862 at Shiloh, Tennessee and would resign on August 17th, 1863 due to disease. After the war he was involved with insurance. John A. Wright had been appointed as adjutant on January 23rd, 1862. He would serve with the regiment until it mustered out on June 18th, 1864. Born on March 8th, 1821, in Vevay, Indiana, Franklin W. Fee was appointed first lieutenant of Company C on May 5th, 186. He would be promoted to regimental quartermaster on January 22nd, 1862 and muster out with the regiment on June 18th, 1864. Fee would die on February 1st, 1911, of a dilated heart. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio. [4] Colonel Sanders D. Bruce of the Twentieth Kentucky Infantry. Bruce’s sister Rebecca was John H. Morgan’s first wife, and Bruce was a business partner of his brother-in-law prior to the war. Bruce is buried in Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky.

[5] The Floyd mentioned is John B. Floyd, thirty-first governor of Virginia, and secretary of war under James Buchanan. Floyd led the Confederate force at Carnifex Ferry before being transferred to Kentucky. He would later be in command at Fort Donelson but fled with some of his troops before the fort surrendered. Relieved of command, he would die of poor health on August 26th, 1863, and is buried in Sinking Spring Cemetery, Abingdon, Virginia.

[6] Hymen was the Greek god of marriage ceremonies.

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