CLAY COUNTY formed in 1870 from Jackson and Overton Counties.
Some of the earliest inhabitants are believed to be the Mississippian
Indians, forerunners of the Cherokee. Other Indian Tribes who once dwelt in the
Clay County area were the Shawnee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Iroquois. The
earliest white man believed to be in the area was a Frenchman, Martin Chartier,
who is believed to have been here as early 1691 in a hunting party with the
Shawnee. It is believed he remained in the area about two years. One of the
first permanent settlers in Clay County was Obediah Terrill, who arrived about
1770. The Obey River is named for him.
Early life in Clay was based on farming and river transport via the
Cumberland River. For many years, before modern day roads, the Cumberland River
was the major form of transport in the Upper Cumberlands, making the ports of
Butlers Landing, Bennett Ferry and Celina major distribution hubs.
HEADQUARTERS, Monticello, Ky., January 20, 1862.
SIR: On the night of the 18th (at 12 midnight) I moved my force from Beech Grove
and attacked the enemy (in position about 9 or 10 miles from camp) at 7 o'clock
the next morning. After a very severe fight of three hours I was compelled to
retire, and reoccupied my intrenchments. The enemy advanced the same evening and
opened their batteries upon US.
Finding it was impossible to remain where I was, I crossed my command to the
south side of the river by a steamboat on the night of the 19th.
I am now on my march to Celina or some other point on the Cumberland River
where I can communicate with Nashville. The country is entirely destitute of
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. B. CRITTENDEN, Major-General.
To the ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Headquarters Department of the West,
Bowling Green, Ky. (Confederate Army)
DIVISION HEADQUARTERS, January 26, 1862.
SIR: I arrived at this place this afternoon, via Livingston, at which place I
remained one day. My marches were slow, and during the time nothing was heard
that was reliable of the enemy being on this side of the river. On the contrary,
information has been brought me that the enemy moved towards Columbia
immediately after the battle. I am unable just yet to send a correct report, but
I do not think my loss exceeded 300 killed and wounded. A good many men have
left me on account of the country through which I have passed being the homes of
a good portion of two regiments. I will in a few days, however, have them all
together, when I will proceed at once to reorganize them. I <ar7_104> would ask
that the orders which I have given on the quartermasters and commissaries at
Nashville be approved.
I await your orders at this point.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DIVISION HEADQUARTERS, Gainesborough, Tenn., January 29, 1862.SIR:
I would most respectfully state that on the morning of the 19th of this month,
at 12 o'clock, I moved from our intrenchments, on the north side of Cumberland
River, and attacked the enemy in position about 10 miles from camp. The battle
commenced about 7 a.m. and lasted until 10.30 a.m. the same day. The enemy had a
superior force to my own, although the information in my possession previous to
the battle was that their strength was a little less, or about equal. Re-en-forcements
were added to them during the engagement. After three and a half hours hard
fighting my forces yielded to the overpowering numbers of the enemy, and,
retiring, occupied our intrenchments the same afternoon. The enemy pursued me in
force and established their batteries in front of my position. The range of
their guns being superior to ours, together with the scarcity of provisions, and
none to be had in the country, I deemed it advisable the same evening to cross
the river, and took up my line of march for this place. From all the information
in my possession the enemy's loss in killed and wounded was greater than ours.
We lost in killed and wounded not exceeding 300.
G. B. CRITTENDEN, Major-General.
To the ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Headquarters, Bowling Green, Ky.
The enemy sought evidently to combine their forces stationed at Somerset and
Columbia, and, when such junction was made, to invest my intrenchments. I deemed
it proper, therefore, to make an attack before the junction could be effected,
feeling confident, from the reports of the cavalry pickets, made at a late hour,
that the waters of Fishing Creek were so high as to prevent them from uniting.
My information in that respect was correct.
A heavy rain occurred during the progress of the engagement, and in
consequence a great many of the flint-lock muskets in the hands of my men became
I am pained to make report of the death of Brig. Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer, who
fell while gallantly leading his brigade against the foe. In his fall the
country has sustained a great loss. In counsel he has always shown wisdom, and
in battle braved dangers, while coolly directing the movements of his troops.
I will as soon as possible reorganize my command. Supplies, camp and garrison
equipage, &c., are coming to me daily from Nashville by steamboat.
In a few days I will make a report more in detail.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. B. CRITTENDEN, Major-General.
In April, 1862, Colonel Wolford, with a portion of his
regiment, marched from Glasgow, Ky., to Celina, Tenn., expecting to meet a rebel
force reported to be in the vicinity: they were not found, however. While his
forces were crossing the Cumberland River, the men of the town fled; but the
women collected in squads, and from their actions Colonel Wolford supposed they
were alarmed. He approached them calmly, and told them not to be alarmed, as he
came to make war upon soldiers, and not upon defenseless women. One of them
replied, "Colonel, I am not afraid of you or any of your soldiers; and I don't
suppose these ladies are; if so, they are not genuine Southern ladies." The
Colonel replied that he was glad to know they were not alarmed, and left,
without attempting to quiet any other ladies of that town. Colonel Wolford
is very strict about interfering with citizens or their private property,
maintaining that they should be respected. He is kind to prisoners: no officer
in the army shows more attention to the sick and wounded. He is a pure patriot.
It was reported to him that he was about to be removed from his command. He
said, "They can't prevent me from fighting. I will go in the ranks."
July 9, 1962
The Battle of Tompkinsville
9th of July, 1862
During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate
forces sought control over Monroe County and especially Tompkinsville. The first
part of 1862 saw an increased number of Confederates in the area. The Union,
trying to maintain supremacy in this part of the state, sent four companies of
the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry to Tompkinsville. They were led by Major Thomas
Jefferson Jordan, had 230 soldiers, and contained a large supply train.
Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan was launching his famous "First Kentucky
Raid" and his first objective was the destruction of the Union forces in
Tompkinsville. Morgan and his raiders left Celina, Tennessee on July 8th at
10:00 PM and marched all night to surprise his foe. The early morning of July 9,
1862, the peaceful little town of Tompkinsville was awakened by the thunder of
cannon fire. At 5:00am the Confederate forces surprised and surrounded the Union
garrison. The raiders positioned two cannons and fired into the camp, then
carried it by a dashing charge. Within two hours the battle was over. The
Confederates had captured the garrison and many Union soldiers, including Major
Jordan. This, Morgan's first raid, yielded 20 wagons, 50 mules, 40 cavalry
horses, supplies of sugar, coffee, etc. Union and Confederate reports contradict
each other as to the tactics, number of troops, injuries, and fatalities of the
battle. The following, official reports written by the commanding officers, best
describe the battle. They are copied from War of the Rebellion, Records of the
Union and Confederate Armies, Series I Vol. XVI.
Colonel Morgan's official report, written
immediately after the battle to Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, reads as
Reports of Col. John H. Morgan, Second Kentucky Cavalry (Confederate) commanding
expedition. BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, Tompkinsville, Ky., July 9, 1862. SIR: I have
the honor to report that I arrived with my command at the Cumberland River and
passed the ford at about 2pm yesterday, 8th instant. My forces consisted of
Colonel Hunt's Georgia regiment cavalry, my own regiment, and a squadron of
Texas Rangers; we were joined at the river by two companies under Captains
Hamilton and McMillin. I received information that the enemy had passed the
Cumberland River at Celina the day of my arrival with about 180 men, but did not
deem it right to attack that force, as I was aware that a considerable body of
cavalry, about 380 or 400 strong, were stationed at this town, and I thought by
rapid night march I might succeed in surprising them. I left the river at 10pm
on the 8th instant, and at 5am this day I surprised the enemy, and having
surrounded them, threw four shells into their camp, and then carried it by a
dashing charge. The enemy fled, leaving about 22 dead and 30 to 40 wounded in
our hands. We have 30 prisoners and my Texas squadron are still in pursuit of
the fugitives. Among the prisoners is Major Jordan, their commander, and two
lieutenants. The tents, stores, and camp equipage I have destroyed, but a
valuable baggage train, consisting of some 20 wagons and 50 mules is in my
possession; also some 40 cavalry horses, and supplies of sugar, coffee, etc. I
did not lose a single man in killed, but have to regret that Colonel Hunt, while
leading a brilliant charge, received a severe wound in the leg, which prevents
his going on with the command. I also had three members of the Texas squadron
wounded, but not seriously. Very respectfully, JOHN H. MORGAN, Colonel,
Major Jordan, captured during the battle,
wrote his official report of the battle to Brigadier General J. T. Boyle on
December 29, 1862, while at Louisville, KY. It is more complete in battle
detail. His report reads as follows:
Reports of Maj. Thomas J. Jordan, Ninth Pennsylvania
Cavalry (Union), of the capture of Tompkinsville. Louisville KY., December 29,
1862. SIR: On July 6, I was in command of the post at Tompkinsville, KY. having
with me companies C, I, and M of the 9th Pennsylvania Calvary. During that day I
was informed that a large body of the enemy were collecting at Celina, a little
village on the south side of the Cumberland River, some 20 miles from me. About
the same time I learned that Company E, of my regiment, was at Glasgow, KY, 27
miles north of me. I at once ordered that company to join me, which it did about
noon of the 7th, thus making my command about 230 effective men. With this force
I determined to attack Celina, and, if possible, capture or disperse the forces
of the enemy at that point before they could be fully concentrated. At 8 o'clock
on that night I moved from my camp with my whole command, leaving only a
detachment of Company M to guard my tent and stores. I succeeded in crossing the
Cumberland at a point 12 miles north of Celina, and at daylight on the morning
of the 8th entered the place, but I was disappointed in not finding the enemy. I
made every inquiry probable from the inhabitants, but all denied any knowledge
of forces being either there or in the neighborhood. Thinking that I had been
misled, but far from being satisfied, I marched back to my camp, at which I
arrived about 8 o'clock in the evening. I at once ordered the usual pickets to
be posted on all the roads leading to my position, and also an extra one far out
on the Celina Road, so as to secure my camp against surprise during the night.
As day broke on the morning of the 9th revile was sounded, and in a few moments
my men were busily engaged in feeding and cleaning their horses. My officers
were all at their posts, when a faint discharge of firearms was heard far out on
the Celina Road. I at once ordered the horses to be saddled, and in a few
moments my pickets reported the enemy approaching in large force, and within a
minute the head of Colonel Morgan's command began to deploy from the woods into
an open field some 300 yards from me. I soon found that his force outnumbered
mine by six to one, but as he showed no disposition to charge me, I deemed it
not prudent to retreat. His command soon opened to the right and left in front
of me, displaying two pieces of cannon in position, which at once opened upon me
with shell. I replied with my carbines, and could distinctly see that we were
doing good execution. Finding at the tenth round of the enemy that they were
getting my range and seeing a movement from their right flank intended to gain
my rear I gave the order to wheel and retreat. This movement was done with the
precision of a parade, my men remaining perfectly cool and obedient to my
orders. To gain the Burkesville Road it was necessary that my retreat should go
through a deep woods in my rear. I had not entered it but a few yards when I was
opened upon by a line of the enemy, consisting of two squadrons of Texas
Rangers, who had been thrown in my rear. I at once ordered my men to charge the
line, which they did in the most gallant style, literally overturning the
Rangers and driving them from the field. The Burkesville Road being gained, my
retreat was conducted in a most orderly manner, the enemy not pursuing us until
we had gained some 2 miles, when, hearing firing in my rear, I deemed it proper
for me to personally look to my rear guard, that I had placed under charge of
Lt. Sullivan, of Company E. For this purpose I rode to the rear of my column and
found that the firing proceeded from beyond a turn in the road some 200 yards
behind my rear guard. Fearing that some of my men might have been separated from
my command and were being attacked I rode back to the turn, so as to be able to
see, when I discovered Lt. Sullivan in the act of being murdered by some 20 of
the enemy, who had surrounded him.
I at once turned my horse for the purpose of rejoining my command, when I found
two of the enemy already in the road before me and in a moment after they were
increased to 6, thus entirely cutting me off from my men. I determined to try to
force my way through them, with my pistol answering to their shot-guns, but I
soon found that resistance would be a madness and surrendered myself as a
prisoner of war. After I had surrendered I was fired upon at the distance of but
a few feet, the charge, happily for me, missing its mark but blackening the side
of my face with powder. The forces of Colonel Morgan on that occasion consisted
of his own brigade, Colonel Hunt's (Fifth Georgia) regiment of cavalry, a
regiment of Alabama cavalry, two squadrons of Texas Rangers, and the independent
companies of Captains Bledsoe, Hamilton, McMillin, and Ferguson, numbering in
all some 2,000 men, with two pieces of artillery. My loss was 4 killed
(including Lt. Sullivan), 7 wounded, and 19 prisoners. I also lost my tents,
wagons, mules, and personal baggage of my command. On the part of the enemy, I
have been informed that 19 were killed or mortally wounded and 28 slightly.
Colonel Hunt was mortally wounded and died at Tompkinsville. I cannot speak too
highly of the coolness and bravery displayed by my officers and men. My orders
were promptly obeyed and every one did his whole duty.
Respectfully Submitted. THOS. J. JORDAN, Major, Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Col. Thomas F. Berry, one of Morgan's Men, wrote
another conflicting report of the Battle of Tompkinsville in his autobiography
Four years with Morgan and Forrest. It states the following:
Continuing our march, we reached Tompkinsville, where we encountered a Federal
force of 500 men under Colonel Jordan. We tried to surround them, only to find
that they had been apprised of our approach, and were prepared to receive us. We
opened on them. The battle did not last long. We captured the camp, 20 wagons,
60 prisoners, killed 46, wounded 109. Our loss was four killed. Colonel Hunt's
leg was shattered, the wound causing death in a few days.
After the battle, Morgan's raiders marched on to Glasgow and continued north. In
just twenty four days, Morgan and his raiders traveled over one thousand miles,
captured seventeen towns, destroyed all of the government supplies and arms in
them, and paroled nearly twelve hundred Union troops. Four months later, Morgan
would return to Tompkinsville, newly married and promoted to brigadier general.
This time he and his raiders were only camping here as they began their next
Kentucky raid "The Christmas Raid, 1862-1863."
Skirmish at Celina
General G. W. Morgan, under orders from
Buell, assumed command of the forces in Eastern Kentucky early in April.
Morgan set out from Knoxville on the
morning of July 4, 1862, taking the road to Sparta, one hundred and four miles
due west from Knoxville, which was reached on the evening of the third day of
this march. The Union men of East Tennessee frequently gave these raiders
medicine of their own prescription, lying in wait for them and firing upon them
from the bushes. This was a new experience for these freebooting troopers, who
wherever they went in the South were generally made welcome to the best of
everything, being regarded as the beau-ideals of Southern chivalry. On the 8th,
Morgan's command reached the Cumberland River at the ford near the small village
of Celina, eighteen miles from Tompkinsville, where a detachment of the Ninth
Pennsylvania, 250 strong, was encamped under command of Major Jordan. Morgan
learned at Knoxville the fact that a Federal force was at this point, and was
told the particulars of it on his arrival at Celina, and he now wished to
surprise and capture the entire command. Sending a detachment under Gano by the
right to cut off Jordan's retreat, at five o'clock in the morning of the 9th
Morgan moved to the attack. Jordan posted himself on a thickly wooded hill and
fired several volleys at the rebels as they advanced over an open field, but
being outnumbered was routed with a loss of four killed, six wounded, and
nineteen prisoners. The enemy's loss was several wounded, among them Colonel
Hunt, who died a few days later from the effects of his wound. Morgan paroled
the prisoners and then left for Glasgow, reaching there at one o'clock that
night, where they were received with open arms by the citizens, breakfast cooked
for the entire command, and three days' rations prepared for them.
December 7, 1863
U.S.A.- Casualties Not Reported
C.S.A.- 15 Killed, 0 Wounded
Cavalry, U.S.A - Organized at Columbia, Ky., December 22, 1863.
Attached to District of South Central Kentucky, 1st Division, 23rd Army Corps,
Dept. of the Ohio, to January, 1864. District of Southwest Kentucky, Dept. Ohio,
to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, District of Kentucky, Dept. Ohio, to
July, 1864. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, District of Kentucky, to January, 1865.
at Lebanon and protecting country south of Lebanon until June, 1864. Cumberland
River, Ky., November 26, 1863. Creelsborough and Celina
December 7. Cumberland River March 19, 1864. Obey's River March 28 (Detachment).
Expedition to Obey's River April 18-20. Wolf River May 18. Operations against
Morgan May 31-June 30. Cynthiana June 12. Liberty June 17. Canton and Roaring
Springs August 22. At Camp Burnside August 26-September 16. Ordered to Mt.
Sterling September 16. Burbridge's Expedition into Southwest Virginia September
20-October 17. Saltsville, Va., October 2. At Mt. Sterling, Lexington and Crab
Orchard, Ky., until December 17. At Camp Nelson, Ky., until January 10, 1865.
Mustered out January 10, 1865.
March 28, 1864
Skirmish on Obey's River, TN. Cpt. Watson, of
13th Ken. Cav., attacked Col. Hughs small force. 2 men captured, 3 killed.
Watson reported, "Hughs' men threw away their guns; left their horses."