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“ Session Laws,” pp.
in active coöperation with the Federal Govern- CHAP. III. ment to maintain the Union. Every day increased the strength and zeal of her assistance. A little later in the session a law was enacted, declaring enlistments under the Confederate flag a misdemeanor, and the invasion of Kentucky by Confederate soldiers a felony, and prescribing heavy penalties for both. Finally, the Legislature authorized the enlistment of forty thousand volunteers to “repel invasion,” providing also that they should be mustered into the service of the United States and coöperate with the armies of the Union. This was a complete revolution from the anticoercion resolutions the previous Legislature had passed in January.
Hitherto, there were no Federal forces in Kentucky except the brigade which Lieutenant Nelson had organized at Camp Dick Robinson; the Home Guards in various counties, though supplied with arms by the Federal Government, were acting under State militia laws. General Anderson, commanding the military department which embraced Kentucky, still kept his headquarters at Cincinnati, and Lovell H. Rousseau, a prominent Kentuckian, engaged in organizing a brigade of Kentuckians, had purposely made his camp on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. Nevertheless, President Lincoln, the Governors of Ohio and Indiana, and the various military commanders, had for months been ready to go to the assistance of the Kentucky Unionists whenever the necessity should arise. Even if the neutral attitude of Kentucky had not been brought to an end by the advance of the Confederate forces, it would have
CHAP. II. been by that of the Federals. A point had been
reached where further inaction was impossible. Three days before General Pillow occupied Hickman, Frémont sent General Grant to Southeastern Missouri to concentrate the several Federal detachments, drive out the enemy, and destroy a rumored
rebel battery at Belmont. His order says finally: to remont. “It is intended, in connection with all these move1861. * We'r. ments, to occupy Columbus, Kentucky, as soon as
possible." It was in executing a part of this order
that the gunboats sent to Belmont extended their Rodgers to reconnaissance down the river and discovered the sept. 4,1861. advance of the Confederates on the Kentucky Mi., p. 182. shore. An unexpected delay in the movement of
one of Grant's detachments occurred at the same time; and that commander, with military intuition, postponed the continuance of the local operations in Missouri, and instead prepared an expedition into Kentucky, which became the initial step of his brilliant and fruitful campaign in that direction a few months later. He saw that Columbus, his primary objective point, was lost for the present; but he also perceived that another, of perhaps equal strategical value, yet lay within his grasp, though, clearly, there was no time to be wasted in seizing it. The gunboat reconnaissance on the Mississippi River which revealed the rebel occupation of Kentucky was begun on September 4th. On the following day General Grant, having telegraphed the information to Frémont and to the Kentucky Legislature, hurriedly organized an expedition of two gunboats, eighteen hundred men, sixteen cannon for batteries, and a supply of provisions and ammunition on transports. Taking personal com
Sept. 13, 1861.
mand, he started with the expedition from Cairo, CHAP. III. at midnight of the 5th, and proceeded up the Ohio River to the town of Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee, where he arrived on the morning of the 6th. A contraband trade with the rebels, by means of small steamboats plying on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, had called special attention to the easy communication between this point and Central Tennessee. He landed without opposition and took possession, making arrangements to fortify and permanently hold the place; having done which he returned to Cairo the same afternoon to report his advance and forward reënforcements. The importance of the seizure was appreciated by the rebels, for on the 13th of Sep- to Cooper, tember Buckner wrote to Richmond: “Our possession of Columbus is already neutralized by that Iv., p. 189. of Paducah."
The culmination of affairs in Kentucky had been carefully watched by the authorities in Washington. From a conference with President Lincoln, Anderson returned on September 1st to Cincinnati taking with him two subordinates of exceptional ability, Brigadier-Generals W. T. Sherman and George H. Thomas, both destined to great usefulness and fame. A delegation of prominent Kentuckians met him to set forth the critical condition of their State. He dispatched Sherman to solicit help from Frémont and the Governors of Indiana and Illinois, and a week later moved his headquarters to Louisville, also sending Thomas to Camp Dick Robinson to take direction of affairs in that quarter. By the time Sherman returned from his mission the crisis had developed itself.