An incredible wartime compilation of 32 cdvs of mostly 6th Kentucky cavalrymen assembled by compatriot Captain M.B. Pierce (1829-1865), one of Morgan’s Men captured during the Great Ohio Raid and ultimately confined at Fort Delaware Military Prison with his pards. Accompanying the collection of uniformed raiders are three Lexington Leader
newspaper clippings dating from 1934 and 1940 discussing an unrelated autograph album of Morgan’s Men together with an airy reminiscence of M. Brent Perkins of Somerset, the recipient of the many photographs bearing personal salutations from his fellow prisoners and comrade-in-arms.
All of the cdvs are ink signed and most bear the fancy gold imprint of John L. Gihon’s Art Galleries, Philadelphia on verso, the same backmark seen on other Confederate prisoner views from Fort Delaware. Several of the images are dated late May - early June 1864, suggesting a starting point for Captain Pierce’s album. The portraits reflect a broad vista of photography, some with eye-catching tinting showing a variety of gauntlets, wide-brimmed hats and even crutches, with several officers photographed holding “borrowed” Federal swords in artful yet defiant poses. The majority are members of the 6th Kentucky Cavalry, representing an important body of Bluegrass officers captured with Morgan at Buffington Island.
The first carte in the group is a weathered portrait of a heavily bearded, affable looking Captain Milton Brent Perkins. A native of Somerset in Pulaski County, Kentucky, Perkins had organized a company in the Southern leaning pre-war Kentucky State Guard commanded by Simon B. Buckner. Pierce was later commissioned Captain of Company C. 6th Kentucky Cavalry in September 1862 and soon afterwards rode with Morgan’s command during the battles of Perryville and Murfreesboro. Captain Perkins and most of his regiment was captured at (Cheshire) Buffington Island on July 19, 1863 near the end of Morgan’s Great Ohio Raid.
The enduring mystique surrounding Morgan—the bon-vivant Kentucky cavalier—remains unflappable, a subject of partisan debate even to this day. The details of Morgan’s spectacular, if militarily ineffective Ohio Raid need not be revisited here; suffice it to say that as consequence of their association many of these officers had quite colorful and interesting careers accounted for in the extensive Morgan bibliography.
Captain Pierce was first confined at the State Penitentiary in Columbus from which Morgan and a number of his men engineered an incredible escape on November 27, 1863. The young officer was too ill at the time to participate and was subsequently transferred to Fort Delaware with the rest of Morgan’s men. Unwilling to sign the obligatory “oath of allegiance,” the obdurate Captain Pierce was never exchanged and remained in confinement for the duration. A series of surviving letters between Captain Perkins to his sister and brother-in-law beginning in October 1863 (http://kykinfolk.com/pulaski) reveal “much of the feelings of the sick prisoner toward his own country, although great care seems to have been taken to avoid expressions of bitterness or criticism” to circumvent the censor. Perkins had contracted tuberculosis at some point during his imprisonment and in August 1865 was finally transferred to Camp Chase, Ohio and released. He returned to his native Somerset and lived briefly with his sister Barthenia Jane Perkins- Harvey and her husband before dying a few months later. The exact date of death is not recorded nor is the cemetery where Milton Brent Pierce was laid to rest at age 36.
The captain’s wartime friends and associates were:
Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson, Missouri State Guard. Known as the “Swamp Fox of the Confederacy,” Thompson combined erstwhile naval command and cavalry raiding with the colorful John Marmaduke in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. He was captured in Arkansas in August 1863 and ended up at Fort Delaware before being exchanged later in 1864. Thompson played a role in Pierce’s Missouri Invasion and surrendered his command in Jacksonport, Arkansas on May 11, 1865. Capt. Edwin Rochester, AQM, 6th Ky. Cavalry. POW Cheshire, O., 7/20/63; transferred to Ft. Delaware. Residence Danville, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Capt. Robert D. Logan, Co. A., 6th Ky. Cavalry. POW Cheshire. Danville, Ky. Brothers R. D. and M. D. Logan’s “Important Presentation Album of Morgan’s Men” was sold at Cowan’s November 16 & 17, 2006 Fall Americana Sale for $86,250.
Capt. Thomas H. Shanks, Co. B., 6th Ky. Cavalry. POW Cheshire. Signed with salutation.
Capt. C. L. Bennett, AQM, 9th Tennessee Cavalry (Ward’s Regt). Previously service in 7th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. Hartsville, Tennessee. Signed with salutation.
Capt. Buford Allen Tracy, AQM, C.S. Army, 11th Kentucky Cavalry. Winchester, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Major Theophilus Steele, 7th Ky. Cavalry (Gano’s Regt.), cradling sword. POW Buffington Island; exchanged, promoted colonel 4/15/65. Signed with salutation.
Major William P. Elliott, CS, staff of Morgan’s Division, previously 2nd Ky. Cavalry. POW Buffington Island. Knoxville, Tennessee. Signed with salutation.
Capt. Alexander Thomas, A.C.S., 5th Ky. Cavalry. White Sulphur, Kentucky. Signed with salutation.
Capt. H. C. Ellis, A.C.S., Co. E., 9th Tennessee Cavalry. POW Ohio 7/15/63. Hartsville, Tenn. Signed with salutation.
Major Washington G. Owen, 10th Kentucky Cavalry. Captured at Ft. Donelson and POW Camp Chase. Paroled. Joined 10th Ky. Cav. as major 8/62 and recaptured with Morgan. Washington, D.C.
Capt. & Adj. P.H. Thorpe, Co. A., 2nd Ky. Cavalry. ADC on Morgan’s staff standing with sword. Also, AAG, 1st Brigade, Morgan’s Division. WIA Pomeroy, Ohio 7/1/63. Bardstown, Ky.
Capt. W.S. Edwards, Co. E., 6th Ky. Cavalry. Greensburg, Ky. Signed with salutation.
1st Lieut. John Wesley Coyler, Co. C., 6th KY. Cavalry. WIA & POW Buffington Island. Somerset, Ky.
Capt. James W. Mitchell, Co. G., 6th Ky. Cavalry standing with sword. 2nd Lieut. Anderson Berry, Co. A., 2nd Ky. Cavalry. POW Buffington and confined at Camp Douglas, transferred to Ft. Delaware. Lexington, Ky. Signed with salutation.
2nd Lieut. Thomas W. Bullitt, Co. C., 2nd Ky. Cavalry. POW Buffington, confined at Ohio State Penitentiary, escaped with Morgan.
Capt. Ralph Sheldon, Co. C., 2nd Ky. Cavalry. Bardstown, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Capt. John B. Hunter, Co. G., 8th Ky. Cavalry. Nelson County, Ky. Signed with salutation. Capt. George M. Coleman, Co. D., 9th Ky. Cavalry. Listed as having died a POW 8/10/63 at Mt. Sterling, Ky.
Major William G. Bullitt, 6th Ky. Cavalry. POW Cheshire. Paducah, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Capt. Samuel B. Taylor, Co. E., 10th Regt. KY. Partisan Rangers, standing with sword.
Capt. J. B. Baker, Co. H. 7th Ky. Cavalry. Plattsburg, Mo.
Major Thomas .B. Webber, 2nd Ky. Cavalry. POW 7/22/62, exchanged, promoted major 1/24/63. Recaptured.
Capt. Joseph S. Ambrose, Co. F. 8th Ky. Cavalry. Lawrenceburg, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Major Robert S. Bullock, 8th Ky. Cavalry, standing with sword. POW Buffington Island, confined at Ft. Delaware until close of war. Lexington, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Lieut. J. M. Dorman, Co. D., 5th Ky. Cavalry. Signed with salutation.
Capt. B.E. Roberts, Co. H., 6th Ky. Cavalry. Monticello, Ky. Signed with salutation.
Major Lamar Fontaine, 4th Alabama Cavalry, standing with crutch. Herman F. Keidel, Adjutant, Gilmore’s Battalion (Partisan Rangers), Maryland Cavalry. The only officer among the Fort Delaware prisoners who didn’t serve in Morgan’s command.
Lieut. Samuel N. Cowan, Co. H., 6th Ky. Cavalry, in civilian clothes. Somerset, Ky.
The treasured cdvs must have been kept together by an unknown ancestor—descending from M. B. Perkins’ sister, Barthenia Jane Perkins-Harvey— who thought enough of the captain’s wartime exploits to clip the local newspaper of articles pertaining to John Hunt Morgan as late as 1940. Fresh to the market, this is only the second Ft. Delaware-related album we have had the privilege to offer.