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Second Lieutenant J.R. King to Lieutenant-Colonel W.F. Drum, Lebanon, Kentucky, November 25, 1866.

Marion County, Kentucky, 1857

The night before this report was written, in an incident reportedly all too common in the central Kentucky counties of Marion and Boyle, a mob of local men, who were angered by a perceived lack of uniformity or swiftness of official justice in the county, took the law into their own hands.  Breaking down the door of the Lebanon jail with sledgehammers at midnight, they took three men - Clem Crodus, WIlliam Goode, and Thomas Stephens - and hanged them from a black oak tree set on a local hill. The small local Union Army garrison had been made aware of such plans several days earlier but according to this account by their commander, Second Lieutenant J.R. King, the county attorney had warned off military assistance and the sheriff the day before declined assistance.  In his report, Lieutenant King describes the efficiency and organization of the mob, but remains convinced that he and his me could have deterred the incident. He does concede that a fight during the action would have been a serious one and that, from his observations, the local population was in almost complete support of mob action. This report indicates how complicated a situation Union forces faced in the post-war atmosphere in many states, even in those Border States, like Kentucky, that had nominally remained loyal to the Union. (By John Osborne) 

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How to Cite This Page: "Second Lieutenant J.R. King to Lieutenant-Colonel W.F. Drum, Lebanon, Kentucky, November 25, 1866.," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/45999.