Monday, July 2, 2012

"Lincoln Green"

On their third full day in camp at Athens, the men were making themselves at home and enjoying some free time.  The arrival of the paymaster lightened the atmosphere as Captain Cox writes:

Still at work on rolls.  Nothing of importance today.  The boys are amusing themselves by playing cards for the "Lincoln Green".*

The fact that the army seemed in no particular rush to continue their march led most men to give up the idea that they were headed to Virginia.  As news from home filtered in to the camp, the men became more anxious to return to Kentucky.  It was becoming clear that the Confederacy had designs on their homes in the Green River country.

Letters from home painted scenes entirely different from the idyllic ones residing in the volunteers' memory. "Some newspaper circulation restricted, people of all classes arrested for suspected disloyalty, or persecuted and robbed by guerrillas for having strong sympathies in any direction, just to name a few of the injustices.  Helping deserters would get citizens arrested, even though they were usually let go in a short time.  Most of the time, grounds for the arrest did not exist in the first place."**

Civilian authorities had to deal with increasing lawlessness with little capacity for housing prisoners.  Obtaining an unbiased jury was literally impossible.  As an example, "June 16, 1862, three men from Owensboro, arrested for suspected aiding and abetting the rebellion were released after taking the oath of allegiance."**

What was once considered idle gossip now had serious consequences, angering and alienating families, friends and neighbors. This breakdown in civil society was the harbinger of war.  Rumors that the Confederates were coming to Kentucky served to embolden their supporters.  Families of the volunteers hoped their troops would return soon.

*Cox, Samuel K., Civil War Diary 1862-1865 of Captain Samuel Kennnedy Cox, courtesy of Daviess County Public Library, Kentucky Room, archived manuscript, p.18.

**Harp, Beth Chinn, Torn Asunder: Civil War in Ohio County and the Green River Country, 2003,
McDowell Publications, p.75.

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