Kentucky: Notes

Secession (1861-1865)

The Governor of Kentucky Beriah Magoffin called a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly to determine "the future Federal and interstate relations of Kentucky." On 25 Jan 1861 the General Assembly made an attempt to reach a compromise by calling for a convention of the border states to meet at the seat of government, Frankfort, on 27 May 1861. After the beginning of the Civil War on 12 Apr 1861, the House of Representatives of Kentucky voted a resolution of neutrality (16 May 1861), agreed to by the Senate on 24 May 1861.

On 29 Oct 1861, the delegates representing 34 counties met at Russellville to discuss the formation of a Confederate government for the Commonwealth. The delegates resolved to call a convention which met in Russellville on 18 Nov 1861 and declared Kentucky "a free and independent State" (20 Nov 1861). It also adopted a constitution, providing for the election of Governor and Council invested with full power. George Washington Johnson was elected Governor by the Convention on 20 Nov 1861. The Governor and Council met on 21 Nov 1861 at Bowling Green, Kentucky, and assumed the provisional government according to the Constitution (Kentucky Convention 1861, pp. 5-9).

Kentucky was admitted to the Confederate States of America in accordance with an act passed by the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States on 9 Dec 1861 and signed into law on 10 Dec 1861 (Confederate Congress Journal, 1:546-547; Confederate Statutes at Large, p. 222) [1]

The Provisional Government of Kentucky controlled southern part of the territory of the state until February 1862 when it was forced to move to Tennessee. Governor Johnson was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh and died on 8 or 9 Apr 1862. The Council, empowered by the Constitution to elect his successor, appointed Richard Hawes as a new governor at the meeting held at Corinth, Mississippi. Hawes arrived to Corinth in May 1862 where he took the oath of office.

The troops of the Confederate States captured Frankfort in October 1862. The inauguration ceremony was held in the state Capitol on 4 Oct 1862, but on the same day Hawes had to flee Frankfort to avoid capturing by the advancing forces of the Union. The Confederate army withdrew from Kentucky after the Battle of Perryville (8 Oct 1862). The Provisional Government went into exile and ceased to function when the Confederacy collapsed in the spring of 1865.

  1. Full title: An Act for the admission of the State of Kentucky into the Confederate States of America, as a member thereof.