Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 26, 1861 (Friday): Kentucky In the Balance

Albert Sydney Johnston

LOUISVILLE, KY., April 26, 1861

L.P. Walker,

      Secretary of War, C.S.A.:
Sir: In accordance with your request I communicate to you on my return, as I can do so more fully and with less hazard than by telegraph.  I inclose this to you in care of Mr. Edward S. Ruggles, who I regard as worthy of confidence.  My father resigned April 9, and awaits orders from the United States Government.  I have sent Mr. Ruggles to intercept him on his return and warn him to avoid a Northern port.  Your friendly advice is solicited for him on this mission.  I saw Governor Magoffin to-day (I arrived last night) and he told me of his reply communicated to you by messenger.  He is satisfied that any precipitate action on the part of our friends will react and damage us.  The State is unarmed, with a border of 700 miles exposed to a furious foe.  That such is the case is the fault neither of the Governor nor of our party, but of those false leaders and imbeciles who preferred party advantage to the safety of our Commonwealth.


Johnston, of Louisville, Kentucky writes to the Secretary of War in reference to his father, Albert Sidney Johnston who has resigned command of the Department of the Pacific.  Despite the tone of the letter, A.S. Johnston did not immediately leave the Army but stayed on waiting for his successor.  Meanwhile, Kentucky Governor Magoffin refused a levy of 75,000 troops from President Lincoln and in May the state proclaimed its neutrality.  While both sides initially respected the neutrality, it was broken by both sides and Kentucky proclaimed its allegiance to the Union, although virtually divided by opposing armies.  One of these armies was lead by Albert Sidney Johnson, who in September finally joined the Confederate side.  His son, William Preston, would serve as a Confederate Colonel, and aide to Jefferson Davis (whom he was captured with at the end of the war.  After the war he become an instructor at Washington College and wrote two books of poetry.

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