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Stories of Camp Clay - Part IV

This is the fourth part featuring newspaper articles written about and from Camp Clay, a mustering in location near Cincinnati for Federal Kentucky units early in the Civil War.

In the Cincinnati Daily Press, on June 11th, 1861, ran a story about patriotic activities at the camp.


The election to fill the vacancies in the regimental officers of the Second Regiment now at Camp Clay, was held yesterday, and resulted as follows:

Colonel - Wm. E. Woodruff, of Louisville,

Major - Chas. D. Sedgwick, of Louisville,

The Woodward Guards were mustered into service in the afternoon.


The Kilgour Guards, (reserve militia,) Captain M. Q. Jackson, composed of the citizens of Pendleton and vicinity, had a benefit given them on last Saturday, by the Home Glee Club and Field Band of the First Regiment, Camp Clay. The ladies of the place made it the occasion to present the company with a beautiful silk flag.

The exercises commenced with field music by the band. The Glee Club then sung the song entitled "The Spirit of '76;" after which Miss Mary Thomas delivered a very appropriate address in presenting the flag to the company, which was responded to by Captain Jackson in excellent style.

The exercises were alternated by singing by the Club and music by the band, which was highly satisfactory to the audience. Miss Price, of the city, sang "E Pluribus Unum," which elicited great praise. The solo on the fife by Major Hoke drew forth loud applause.

The concert was a complete success, every way; the receipts will contribute greatly to the material comforts of the company, as about seven hundred persons were in attendance. The Kilgour Guards, named In honor of Chas. H. Kilgour, Esq, who contributed a considerable sum toward its equipment, already numbers upward of sixty men, mainly the employees of the Little Miami Railroad at the company's shops in Pendleton. At the close of the concert three cheers were given by the Kilgour Guards for their beautiful flag.


On June 20th, the Cincinnati Daily Press had this short mention:

PRESENTATION. - Lieutenant S. B. Loemenstine [Lowenstein], Company K, First Kentucky Regiment, Camp Clay, has been presented with a sword and belt by his numerous friends of this city.


Not surprisingly, the New Orleans Daily Crescent of June 22nd had little regard for the two Kentucky regiments forming at Camp Clay:

CINCINNATI AND PITTSBURG STEAMBOATMEN SOLDIERING. - Many of the officers of the Camp Clay Volunteers, at Cincinnati, have heretofore been engaged in steamboating on our Southern rivers. Guthrie, the Colonel of the bogus First Kentucky Regiment, is, we believe, an old Cincinnati engineer; Enyart, the Lieutenant-Colonel, is also a Cincinnati boatman, having been at one time Captain of the Hudson and Dunleith, in the Nashville and Cincinnati trade; Bart Leiper, the Major of the name regiment, is a Pittsburger, having been in command of several boats, and the owner and Captain of the Stephen Decatur. Capt. W. T. Barr, clerk of the St. Cloud, is Quartermaster, and his brother, Sam. Barr, Jr., Lieutenant of a company. Dave Dryden, Indiana pilot, is also a Lieutenant.

The Second Regiment is also well represented by the tad-pole boat hands; in fact, the officers and men of this regiment are principally composed of the crews of the boats now laid up at Cincinnati and Pittsburg, and these Cincinnati chaps are fighting for Old Abe under the bogus name of Kentucky volunteers, so that when the war is ended, and they bring their boats down South again, they can claim the honor of having fought in the Kentucky regiments.


Not all recruits were men of fighting age, as indicated in this article in the Cincinnati Daily Press on June 24th:

HABEAS CORPUS. - On affidavit of Henry Bowers, that his son Frank, a minor, aged seventeen years, was unlawfully detained at Camp Clay, by the officers of the First Kentucky Regiment, a habeas corpus was issued by Judge Paddock, and, there being no defense, the young man was discharged.


Camp Clay's existence was relatively short, and by the end of June 1861 talk of it being abandoned was found in the June 26th edition of the Cincinnati Daily Press:

The two Kentucky regiments left their old quarters at Camp Clay, yesterday, and will hereafter occupy the places of the Third and Fourth Ohio Regiments, at Camp Dennison. They will no doubt be ordered East soon. All of the Ohio troops at Camp Dennison will be off for the seat of war by Saturday next. The Grays [Sixth Ohio], and perhaps the Seventh Regiment, will leave to-day.


However, the camp now served troops from Indiana (The Ohio Statesmen, July 4th):

The Fifteenth and Seventeenth Indiana Regiments, Cols. HASCALL and WILDER, arrived at Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 2d. Owing to some misunderstanding, they were marched to Camp Clay, to await orders.


And in the same paper, on July 7th:

The Fifteenth and Seventeenth Indiana Regiments left Camp Clay, on the Fourth, for Western Virginia.


In the August 1st, 1861 edition of the Gallipolis Journal appeared this humorous column:

A female was last week discovered in the First Kentucky Regiment dressed in male attire. She enlisted at Camp Clay under the name of John Thompson, and was about as efficient a "soger boy" as could be found in the Regiment. She is at present confined in our jail by order of Col. Guthrie, but for what reason we have not learned. We are told her appearance is rather masculine, and "trowserloons" become her remarkably well. She is not the only woman in this community that wears britches. Her age is about 20 years. If she wishes to serve her country in the capacity of a soldier, we say turn her loose - "or any other man."[1]

Camp Clay, now known as Camp Dick Corwine, became the gathering place for the Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The First and Second Kentucky Infantry Regiments, in their three months configuration, would be discharged at Camp Clay in the fall of 1861, with most of the men re-enlisting in the three year versions.

Camp Clay has all but faded from memory. While many other Civil War camps have historical markers to give passersby the historical significance of the location, Camp Clay has no such marker. Thus concludes our Stories of Camp Clay series.


[1] "John Thompson" enlisted on May 28th, 1861 at Camp Clay as a private. On June 5th "he" was mustered in to Company D, 1st Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Discharged on July 25th when "John" was discovered to be a woman.


Part III

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