Kentucky's German Americans in the Civil War

Letters from 4th Kentucky Volunteer

Cavalry Regiment U. S.

The following letters were discovered in the Louisville Anzeiger, a German American newspaper, and translated into English by Joseph R. Reinhart.

Louisville Anzeiger

May 27, 1862

 The readers will learn with regret, that Col. Ruckstuhl of the 4th Kentucky Cav. Regt., because of the breaking open of an old wound, which he received in the Mexican war, [vor die Hande] is unfit for duty. We hope that he recuperates soon, and might help vanquish the Rebels.


JUNE 12, 1862


From the 4th Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, Lt. O. Bes from the 1st squadron of that regiment writes from Murfreesboro under date of 8 June.

 When yesterday morning about 6 o’clock Capt. T. L. Unthank with 80 men – detachments from the 1st squadron and from the 7th Penn. Reg. – were returning from their patrol with 10 to 12 prisoners, they were attacked and taken prisoner near Readyville about 12 miles from here.  John Collins and Essic of Company A were killed, the same with Mr. Johnican, a Tennessean, who only recently enlisted. Joseph Kipp was wounded in both legs.  He belonged to Company C.  There are perhaps still more dead or wounded.  The following named [men] from Company C were missing: Sgt. S. S. Robards, Albert Nietebock, and Wm. J. Killmore, Cpl. Wilh. Stützel, (who earlier worked at the Anzeiger’s printery), Monic [Morris] Power, Thomas Fowler and John Greaney, the privates Jesse Traylor, Joseph Ricketts, Geo. St. John, John S. Scheen, John Rink, John Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan, Johnson McConkney, Patrick Kennedy, and Daniel Heaver. I do not know the names of the other company missing.  Starnes retreated through McMinnville with the prisoners.


The Nashville Union reported that all the prisoners taken on Sunday by Col. Starnes were released on parole were released on parole.



June 17, 1862



Lt. Hooker of the company of the 4th Kentucky Cav. Reg. to which the deceased John Collins from here belonged, writes in reference to his death.

The young Collins received permission to set out with a detachment of 40 men on a patrol.  It went to McMinnville, where they took 8 to 10 persons prisoner.  On their return they pitched camp around 11 o’clock at night and stayed in it until breakfast.  While they ate, a superior number of Rebels approached and asked them to surrender; Collins did not want to surrender, pulled his revolver and fired six shots, after he saw all was in vain, he threw his weapon down and asked for pardon; the answer was a deadly shot from a cavalryman, who rode within ten paces of him.  Lt. Hooker remarks that only two men from the company were killed and not eight, as reported.


JUNE 24, 1862

We extract from a letter to us from Capt. Henry A. Schaeffer from the 4th Kentucky Cavalry regiment dated Camp Wardrace [Wartrace], June 20, that the detachment now under his command is stationed in Jasper, Tennessee, 200 miles from Camp Wardrace [Wartrace], under the command of Capt. Blume, until he returns again.  The men are well and in good spirits.  Their patrol that was supposed to last 10 days has lasted three weeks.  They went through a lot of severe strain, and officers like the soldiers made their camp in the open without shelter, because they were in a hurry and could not take their tents with them.  The saddle blankets were their beds and their saddles were their pillows.  The rumor of their being captured or slaughtered is entirely without basis, because they also have not been in danger once, with the exception of one time on the way to Chattanooga, where they had to travel narrow paths. Capt. Schaeffer spoke gloriously about Lt. Henry Walter, who in command of the advance guard captured a number of Rebel cavalry between Jasper and Chattanooga; as well, he expressed praise over the fitness for duty of Capt. Blume.  Further, he confirmed the death of the soldier Henry Burg from Louisville [and] from the Hecker Regiment. He was killed by the explosion of a bomb during the bombardment of Chattanooga, as the regiment left the skirmish field, also five others were wounded at some time or other.



 Louisville Anzeiger

July 16, 1862


                                Camp Mihalotzy, near Battle Creek, Tenn.,

                                                                                 7 July 1862

Dear Worthy Editor:

Because I assume that you as journalists like news about military movements, and accept and are especially interested in Kentucky troops, allow me to inform you in this regard, and especially the German squadron of the 4th Cavalry Regiment stationed here. I am especially sorry that the subject today is in no way pleasant and will cause many hearts severe pain.

On Sunday morning about 8 o’clock a patrol left the camp with the order to carry out a reconnaissance toward Jasper (our earlier camp) and about seven miles from here. The patrol consisted of 6 privates and a corporal from Company E, Capt. Schäfer; seven privates and a sergeant from Company E, Capt Blum; and five privates from Company F, Capt. Church; under command of Second Lieutenant Church; The route followed was the incomplete railroad leading to Jasper, which for most of the way led through woods and thick undergrowth and from eight to ten feet above the usual surface, As is customary with all reconnaissances, and especially here because the closeness of the enemy, who lay just opposite us and are separated from us by just the Tennessee River, Lt. Church sent an advance guard of three men, including Sergeant Philipp Altenburger of Company G, about fifty yards in advance while the rear guard followed slowly with rifles and carbines ready to fire. Not quite four miles from here beams (cross ties) are thrown all over for perhaps a stretch of 100 feet, so it’s totally blocked, and is difficult and most dangerous for horses and riders, 


JULY 22, 1862

An officer of the 4th Ky. Cav. Reg. writes [that] the news that they had been in the fight at Murfreesboro is based on an error.  The First squadron itself, Companies A and C departed for Lebanon on Friday morning before the battle, and on Sunday around midnight all troops located at Lebanon departed for Nashville.  Companies of the 7th Penns. Cav. Reg. stay in Murfreesboro.



OCTOBER 25, 1862 

Capt. Ruckstuhl received a large part of the horses for his squadron yesterday.  Mr. Ruckstuhl still needs a few men for his second company, and young people who prefer the cavalry service to the others, refer to his notice.


Letters from 22nd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment U. S.


December 30, 1863

From the 22nd Kentucky Regiment


Plaquemine, La., 10 Dec. [1863]


Worthy Anzeiger:


I should have written you long ago, however, what restrained me from it, was that we were separated a long time from our main army.  I was not able to write something of interest and now I know very little that could interest you.


However, I wanted to let you know that we presently lay here as garrison and prepare fortifications because in a few days we expect the enemy here under Gen. Green with about 6,000 conscripted men, whom he is busy catching in the neighborhood.


We are presently busy here distributing a newspaper under the name “Picket Post” published by Cap. Jack Hughes; Chas. G. Shanks, editor, earlier reporter for the “Louisville Journal.”  The compositors consist of Thomas J. Collins, earlier of the “Democrat,” E. Napier, earlier of the journal, and my humble self.


Because this newspaper will first make its appearance in a few days, I will send off a sample to you.


J. R.


March 15, 1864


Baton Rouge, La., 28 Feb.

 Friend Doern:


On Wednesday the 17th I arrived here and enjoyed finding the regiment as healthy and cheerful as ever.  The 22nd and 7th Kentucky and two New York regiments, as well as several batteries are stationed here.  You noted several weeks ago, that the 22nd Regiment had mustered in again [veteranized] and will soon come to Louisville on 30 days leave.  We do not know anything here about this.


Baton Rouge is a rather lively place, a pretty state house is located here – the inside has been burned out, one has the idea that it will be rebuilt again.  The institution for the blind is being used as a hospital.  Also I must tell you that in the state election that took place on February 22nd, a German by the name of Michael Hahn was elected as governor.


Charles Gütig


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