Both Sides Occupy Hopkinsville

Confederate Volunteers
Union Volunteers

War Time Letter

The war between the States in 1861 found Christian County much divided, though in a general way the Southern half of the county was intensely southern and the Northern half was Union in sentiment. The people in the Southern part of the county were, many of them, slave owners and men of large estates, owning farms of hundreds of acres cultivated with slave labor. The slavery question was really the cause of the war and it was but natural that the slave owners should give their allegiance to the South. On the other hand, the northern section of the county had been peopled with a hardy race of citizens who owned small farms and worked their own lands. In Hopkinsville there was a sharp diviwion of sentiment and the city, as well as the county, contributed many soldiers to both sides.

Kentucky attempted to be neutral but the people themselves divided so sharply that in some instances brothers volunteered for service in different armies.

Christian County was not in the theatre of important military operations and no battles of importance were fought in the county. The soldiers of both armies made occasional incursions into the county for recruiting, observation, or other purposes, but not until the year 1864 did any clashes occur. In the fall of that year, Col. Sam Johnson occupied Hopkinsville at one time with Federal troops and undertook to rid the county of Confederate detachments from Forrest's and other commands who were making occasional recruiting expeditions into the county.

Col. James F. Brewer

In October, Col., Johnson's men captured Capt. James G. Brewer, a local Confederate officer, while he was in the county and when he was brought into town, Col. Johnson had him summarily executed, together with another prisoner named Bassett, from Webster County. Soon afterwards, Col. H. B. Lyon, made a raid into the county with a superior force and Johnson withdrew to Clarksville, taking some civilians with him as prisoners. One of these were Dr. R. W. Ware, of Gracey, arrested for giving medicine to Confederate soldiers. The latter's son, James H. Ware, says his father was taken on foot, under a guard, with other prisoners. While crossing a small stream, being thirsty, Dr. Ware took off his hat and dipped up some water from the stream, but a soldier punched a hole in the hat with his bayonet and thought it a great joke to see water run our before he could drink it.

Major. J. W. Breathitt


On reaching Clarksville, Dr. Ware found Major John W. Breathitt, who he knew, and who sent to Colonel Johnson's superior officer and secured his release. Dr. Ware lived to be 80 years of age and was a life long Democrat. Major Breathitt, a Republican, filled many offices in the county after the war and Dr. Ware always voted for him. Major Breathitt performed many similar acts of kindness to his Confederate home boys that made them his life long friends.


Summer, 1865, Built 1836-38 after county had occupied first a log building, then a brick structure erected in 1808-1810. Burned December 12, 1864, by C.S.A. Brig. Gen. Hylan B. Lyon after Union Col. Sam Johnson's Federal forces had been quartered there.


Hylan B. Lyon

General Lyon found no one to resist his entrance into the city, but he burned the courthouse where Johnson's men had been quartered and a detachment of troops under Col. Chenoweth was left in the city. While these troops were in the city the most sanguinary conflict in the county took place. 

Gen. Alexander M. Mc Cook

One night in December, while the soldiers in large numbers were attending a ball at the Phoenix Hotel, word came that General Mc Cook was approaching by the Russellville road, with a body of Federal soldiers. The confederates went out to meet them and near the Western State Hospital encountered a much superior force. In the exchange of shots two or three were killed or wounded one ach side. The Confederates retreated by the Nashville road in the direction of Pembroke. General McCook went on and occupied the town. He sent 100 men in pursuit of another detachment who had retreated towards Princeton. They came upon the Confederates under Colonel L. A. Sypert, who was waiting for them near Bainbridge and assumed the offensive and charging them, drove them back to town. 

1828 - 1864

Thomas G. Woodward, resident of Christian County, graduate of West Point Military Academy. Entered C.S.A. service of Oak Grove Rangers as Capt. of Co. H. 1st Ky. Cav. organized at Camp Boone, Montgomery County, Tenn., June 25, 1861. Participated in battles of Ft. Donelson and Perryville. Attained rank of Col., was shot from his horse and killed by Paul Fuller, a Union sympathizer, at Ninth and Main, August 19, 1864. Buried in Riverside Cemetery.

The Confederates made good their escape but some time later Col. Thomas G. Woodward was killed in Hopkinsville. He had been under the discipline and deprived of his command and returning to the county, collected a few followers and announced that he was going to take Hopkinsville, held at that time by a small detachment of Federal troops and an organization of home guards, one of whomw as a policeman named Paul Fuller. He came in from the South and at the corner of Main and Fifteenth Streets the small number of men with him halted and refused to follow him. One man rode with Woodward, who was under the influence of liquor, and endeavored to dissuade him from the foolhardy undertaking, as the windows along Main Street were filled with armed men. This man finally stopped and Woodward rode slowly down the street to within a few paces of Ninth Street, when he was commanded to halt. He stopped his horse and was in the act of raising his pistol to a window occupied by Peyton Breathitt, where the First National Bank now is, when a volley was fired at him from the windows of the building on that corner and from the upper windows of the Phoenix Hotel, and other nearby buildings. One bullet struck his horse in the neck and four entered the body of the rider. The horse sank to the ground and Woodward was picked up and carried into the office of the hotel, where he expired within a few minutes. The soldier who had been with him escaped out Main Street and from the hill at Fifteenth, the Confederates fired a volley down Main Street and disappeared. A small sugar maple tree in front of Dr. W. H. Hopson's residence, at Eleventh and Main, had just been planted and a bullet cut out the top of this little tree. The tree was still living until forty years later, when it obstructed the street and was cut down. Woodward was shot by two rifle balls and two musket balls. Paul Fuller claimed the credit of killing him, and the home guards did not dispute his claim. I twas pretty well known, however, from the guns used, who fired some of the shots that took effect. A few years later, Fuller became involved in a shooting affray almost on the spot where Woodward fell and was himself shot to death.


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