General Lucius Desha civil war diary


The General Lucius Desha civil war diary (dated 1861-1863; 0.1 cubic feet; 1 item) documents Desha's time as a citizen prisoner of war in Camp Chase, Ohio.

Descriptive Summary

General Lucius Desha civil war diary
Desha, Lucius, 1812-1885
0.1 Cubic feet
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Collection is arranged chronologically.
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Megan Mummey
Preferred Citation
1997ms454: [identification of item], General Lucius Desha civil war diary, 1862-1863, University of Kentucky Special Collections.
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Politician and militia General, Lucius B. Desha (1812-1885), was the son of Kentucky Governor Joseph Desha (1768-1842) and Margaret Peggy Bledsoe. Desha served in the Kentucky militia for Harrison county, where his family's plantation The Oaks was located. He unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1847, losing to the Whig candidate. In 1849 he served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. During the Civil War, Desha served in the General Assembly as a representative from Harrison County. Desha was accused of being a Confederate sympathizer after John Hunt Morgan's first raid into Kentucky and the first battle of Cynthiana in 1862. Desha initially fled, but upon his return was detained, arrested, and tried several times for treason. He eventually ended up imprisoned in Camp Chase, Ohio.
Desha married Eliza Moore in 1832 and had four children together: Joseph (1833-1902), Grizella, Benjamin (1837-1885), and Julia (1838-1903). Following her death in 1839, he married her sister Julia; they had 10 children: Caroline, Ada, Ann, Eola, Lucius (1847-1917), Bettie, Cave, Jack, Claud, and Frances Desha Duffy (1859-1904). Two of Desha's chilren, Joseph and Benjamin, fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Scope and Content
The General Lucius Desha civil war diary (dated 1861-1863; 0.1 cubic feet; 1 item) documents Desha's time as a citizen prisoner of war in Camp Chase, Ohio. The diary describes the events leading up to his incarceration as well as his time in Camp Chase. Additionally, the diary contains a list of Harrison County men imprisoned in Camp Chase, a list of supplies obtained from the sutler, and a list of accounts for 1862.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access note Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
Property rights reside with the University of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky holds the copyright for materials created in the course of business by University of Kentucky employees. Copyright for all other materials has not been assigned to the University of Kentucky. For information about permission to reproduce or publish, please contact Special Collections.

Contents of the Collection

Diary, 1861-1863

  • Box 1, Item 1
(The following are notes and excerpts from the General Lucius Desha civil war diary, 1861-1863. Excerpts are in quotation marks. The diary had no page numbers.) Court House Meeting - Leaves State to Avoid Arrest - Lucius Desha left home near Cynthiana, Kentucky, evening of September 30, 1861, to escape an arrest he feared from authorities. His name was supposedly on a list of people to be arrested. He had heard that Major Curry, Mrs. Wherritt, Mr. Glave and Mosey had been arrested. His wife and daughter heard of this and with tears urged him to go to a place of security. He left for three days, until the evening of October 3, 1861, but stayed hidden in the county, hoping a turn would be taken in the policy adopted. Desha considered himself to have pursued an upright honorable course, felt conscious I had discharged my duty as a man and a citizen, and was unconscious of having been guilty of any disloyal act. On the contrary had on September 21 and 23, 1861, advised my county men to render obedience to the laws as a duty of citizens.... Those who did not intend to join either army to enter into a league agreeing with each other to keep the peace, to observe law and order and for the mutual protection of all citizens in their personal property and rights from all lawless marauders, and to bring all offenders to justice. A large meeting was held in the court house in Cynthiana on Monday the 23rd of september embracing citizens of all parties, from the several precincts of the county, where resolutions conservative in their character were adopted and articles prepared and signed by the citizens generally in furtherance of the suggestions made by me. Desha was one of the committee members and signed it cheerfully. On the evening of the 3rd of October I with eight others who wanted to escape from arbitrary power, had fallen in with me and turned our back on homes and friends on the evening last above mentioned. He had received information from two sources that his premises were surrounded by armed soldiers. Then I finally determined to turn my back on my family and that home rendered dear to me by many hallowed memories... He was joined that night on my way out (by) 2 or 3 parties of men - about 30 men. They traveled to Eastern Kentucky to the vicinity of Prestonsburg where the party dissolved. Desha then went to Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia, reaching there October 14th, staying at a hotel. He had problems with diseased eyes. On October 25th he left with three men on horseback to Gallatin, Tennessee, continued on to Nashville arriving October 31; stayed two days then went to Gallatin arriving the 2nd of November. There he stayed with relations in Sumner County until February 11, 1862. Desha headed home on February 11th with Larkin Towle and reached Frankfort on February 17, 1862. He made an appearance at the House of Representatives, being a member thereof and was warmly greeted and welcomed by the members generally. He arose stating his reason for being absent from his seat noting he had heard a committee of the House had inquired on those absent and had favored expulsion for them. Desha asked that he and three others be excepted due to no evidence he had in any manner been engaged in the rebellion. He stated he was now present and wanted to confront his accusers if any. He wanted a committee to investigate him if any member was dissatisfied. Being non, on the 18th of February, 1862, a member asked indefinite leave of absence for me which was granted. Desha left at 2PM and arrived at 10PM at his home. Arrested and Taken to Louisville Prison and Released - On February 25, 1862, after receiving visits daily from friends of all parties at his home, he went to the House of Representatives in Frankfort and stayed until they adjourned on March 17, 1862, and reached home on March 18th. From the moment of my first reaching home in February I have been the object of the most bitter persecution - falsehood and calumny. The authorities have been besieged continually to have me arrested until finally on night of 26th of my a party of soldiers commanded by a captain and lieutenant of Col. Warner's 18th Ky. Vol. visited my house about 10 o'clock and informed me they were ordered to arrest me and take me to a camp near Lexington. He was taken to Rankin's hotel in Cynthiana and guarded all night. The next morning he was taken by Capt. Sam Rogers and Lt. Jno. Robins to Col. Warner's camp near Lexington. He said he was treated to no indignity mainly due to Lt. Robins presence, he believed, and received no improper treatement in the camp. On the next day he was taken by cars, or train, to Louisville, arriving on May 27, 1862, at the military prison. The morning Louisville paper had news of his arrest and arrival in Louisville, and two House members visited him and secured a release on my parole of honor until further orders. Those two, plus another person he had served with in the constitutional convention (1849), tried to get his release from Col. Duffield of Military Commission, which was successful. He was released June 1, 1862, and went home by train. Arrested - Taken to Frankfort - Released - Thereupon my persecutors in my vicinity became more vindictive then before and by their constant misrepresentations...influenced the civil authorities to serve process on me and have me arrested under an indictment for treason found against me at the session on January 1862 held in Covington which warrant had been suspended since my return home. Desha was arrested in Harrison County on June 13, 1862. The marshall, Mr. Sneed, allowed him to go to Frankfort instead of Covington, for which he was grateful, and arrived there on June 14, 1862, and stayed at the Capitol Motel. He was to be at Covington by the first Monday of December, 1862, but was permitted to enter into a recognizance for my appearance. The grand jury at the session of the court at Frankfort in May, 1862, also indicted me for a misdemeanor. I gave bond for my appearances at Frankfort on the 1st Monday of January, 1863, to answer the last - and went home. Arrested July 6, and on July 26, 1862 - Taken to Camp Chase - His embittered enemies had him arrested on July 6, 1862. Eight armed men, a detachment of Col. Metcalf's men encamped on my farm South of Cynthiana, visited my premises and handed me a document: In conformity to resolutions passed in the court-house on yesterday, we deem it proper to give you notice of the fact to wit: that on Monday, county court day next, the adjourned meeting of yesterday will proceed to put into practical forced those resolutions. The substance of the resolution passed is that you be required to leave this county or you will be shot or other wise severely dealt with. You can consider the action of Yesterday's meeting and govern yourself accordingly - you will be required to conform to the Nicholas County resolutions as they were passed in full at yesterday's meetin. (Signed) W.O. Smith, G.A. Gragg (or Grass?), H. Nesbit and O.C. Raburn. Desha said he was attending exclusively to my legitimate pursuits and had not broken the bond conditions. On July 26th at 11 1/2 o'clock while engaged in helping to repair a bridge on a turnpike over a mile from my dwelling, I was arrested by a Lieut. and 8 men of the homeguards - taken from my dwelling not allowed to stop and bid farewell to my wife and children or to procure any clothing or money, was taken to the court hose in Cynthiana at about 3 1/2 o'clock that evening with several other citizens; was conducted to the cars, thence conveyed to the Newport Barracks at which we arrived about dusk... Was put in the prison housed with about 30 other citizens. There waited until July 30th when he was sent to Camp Chase to Prison 2, Mess 12 where he found himself with several gentlemen he liked. While at Newport Desha learned that Lieut. Col. Landrum of the 19th Ky. Vol by whose orders I was arrested was at the Gibbson House, Cin. Desha requested as an act of justice to inform me of the charge or charges on which was based and give me an opportunity to exculpate myself. This note was sent to Landram by a guard. Landram answered that it would not be permitted to be sent and I was deprived of that privilege usually granted to supposed culprits. Life at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio - He received a letter August 12, 1862, from his wife that all was quiet in the neighborhood and he had received an box of provisions. August 22, 1862, learned son Ben had completely recovered which was joyful news. On August 24, 1862, he was moved to Prison 3. On September 11, 1862, he received a letter from his wife at Dayton, Ohio, that said much excitement consequent on the advance of the Confederate army under Kirby Smith. All my working hands had been impressed - some of them taken by an Ohio Federal Regiment under Col. Runkles on its retreat from Cynthiana. All escaped and returned home save on. Desha had an attack of congestion of the brain which he had been subject to for some years. He stated he had lost 35 pounds while in prison. On October 9th he was paroled by Gov. Tod to the city of Columbus, Ohio. He met Tod who treated Desha with kindness and courtesy. Desha was discharged on November 3, 1862. He had been in Columbus from October 9 to November 3 on parole of honor. On November 3, 1862, he returned to Camp Chase to get his discharge papers. Desha left Columbus, Ohio, on November 4th and reached his home near Cynthiana the next day, November 5, 1862. Trial for Treason in Covington, Ky. - Not Guilty - In a letter from Gen. Boyle to Mr. Galloway he states I was arrested for no offense and no charges were made against me and that I was arrested for my protection, and he advises my discharge. On November 29, 1862, went to Covington to appear under my recognizance at the Federal Court under an indictment for treason found against me at that place at the January, 1862 (session, ed.) - on the 2nd day of December the case was called (or culled, ed.) when the u.S. Attorney stated he was not ready.. The case was continued. Desha had witnesses present to help him, and it was a "disappointment" the trial was not started. On the 1st Monday of January 1, 1863, I appeared under my bond for a high misdemeanor, the special charge, recruiting for the rebel services - on Thursday the 8th of January the case was called, a jury of loyal men impressed. Desha noted it would be the U.S. witnesses versus his witnesses. The court adjourned for the day. The judge (Blair or Ballard, ed.) arrested the proceedings stating he was no necessity for consuming the time of the court by the introduction of other witnesses ...for the jury could not from the evidence on the part of the U.S. bring a verdict of guilty. Desha was found not guilty and discharged. There was a listing of camp purchases and IOUs. A list of "Obtained from the Suttler" included: 2 camp stools, shirt, tobacco, pencil, ink, candy and brush To top

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