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

    Source citation

    "Kentucky," The American Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1866 (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 425.


    Author (from)
    Second Lieutenant J.R. King
    Recipient (to)
    Lieutenant-Colonel W.F. Drum
    Military record
    Date Certainty
    John Osborne, Dickinson College
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    Lebanon, KY. November 25,1866.
    To Brevet Lieut-Colonel W. E Drum, A. A. A. G.
    Military Division of Kentucky, Louisville, Ky.

    COLONEL: I have the honor to report, for the information of the general commanding, that the threatened raid on the jail at this place was made and successfully carried out last night. A party, numbering from one hundred to one hundred and fifty, from the neighboring towns of Perryville, Springfield, Haysville, and Maxville (with some of the young men of this town) dismounted near the edge of the town, and in small squads quietly took up position near the jail until the entire party were at and around the jail. About forty or fifty men were stationed on the corners of the streets, a half-square above the court-house, where my men are quartered, acting as pickets, who detained any and all citizens that might pass, until their designs were accomplished. In less than three minutes after the attack was made, the detachment was in line in the courthouse yard. I was well satisfied that I would not be called on by the civil authorities, but took this precaution in case that I should be. The town marshal came to the court-house, where the detachment was standing under arms, and while the attack on the jail was being made, but did not call on me for assistance or say a word about protecting the jail.
    Three men, named Crowdus, Stephens, and Goode, were taken out of jail and carried about one mile from the court-house, and hung by the mob to the limb of a tree beside the road. I notified and cantioned the civil authorities every day during the past week, as I had heard the rumor ten days ago, and was confident that if not prevented the men would be hung. The civil authorities all knew of the threatened attack, and also knew several of the ringleaders of the mob. Some seventy-five or eighty men started for this place last Wednesday night - the night first set to carry their threat of hanging three men into execution; but they were met by parties from town, who were under the impression that I had orders to protect the jail. This report turned them back, else they would have taken the men out on that night, and hung them.
    Last Wednesday night I visited the county attorney in company with Mr. J. M. Fidler, and notified him of the anticipated attack on the jail that night, and also informed him of the telegraphic instructions that I had received from the general commanding regarding it.
    He coolly informed me that he did not think that the civil authorities would call on me, and that "the men deserved hanging." He advised me not to go near the jail with my men, "as there might be a row, and some good citizens hurt."
    I talked with the jailer every day during the past week in regard to the threatened attack on the jail, and was so satisfied in my own mind that the attack would be made, that I offered to send a guard to the jail, and protect it - but he declined my offer, saying that he would notify me in time should an attack be made. The civil authorities were all notified, and were well acquainted with all the facts. They could have prevented the mobbing of the jail and the hanging of three men, as it was generally understood and known, that had I been called in on in time by the civil authorities to protect the jail, the attack would have been abandoned.
    I have no doubt, that, had I been called upon b the civil authorities during the attack upon the jail I should have had a serious fight, as a majority of the men were armed with double-barrelled guns and with revolvers, and were determined to take these men at all hazards. Considerable excitement prevailed in the morning, when the news of the hanging was circulated; but not a single citizen said a word in opposition to the action of the mob, but exulted over and sustained it.
    Very respectfully, your obedienent servant,
    J.R. KING
    2d Lieut. U. S. Infantry, commanding detachment.

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