Unit History-Part 1

The Breckinridge Greys

A Tale of 2 Fifths, Part 1
History of the 5th (9th) Kentucky Infantry, C.S.A.

    In order to describe the history of the 5th Kentucky infantry, it is necessary to state that, aside from reorganizations, there were two units with that designation.  This is the history of the western 5th of Col. Thomas H. Hunt, rather than the eastern 5th commanded by Col. Hiram Hawkins.  Authorities in Richmond approved the organization of the eastern 5th first, so the western regiment was re-designated the 9th Kentucky Infantry.  The western regiment was formed 17 days before its counterpart of the same designation, but did not complete its field and staff organization until after the Battle of Shiloh.  It served in the First Kentucky Brigade throughout the war.  Its history, therefore, largely mirrors the brigade’s.

            The companies of the western 5th (9th) Kentucky Infantry were recruited in September and October 1861 from Logan, Ohio, Jefferson, Scott, Harrison, Edmundson, Grayson, Breckinridge, and Daviess counties.  The regiment was initially organized at Camp Boone, Tennessee.  The organization was completed when the regiment moved to join the army gathered by General A. S. Johnston at Bowling Green.  In their first major battle at Shiloh, the 5th (9th) participated in the capture of Union General Ben. M. Prentiss’ division in the Hornet’s nest.  Johnny Green of the 5th (9th) recorded a welcome moment in the unit’s history, when the troops paused long enough to re-issue the federals’ muskets: “we swaped our very indifferent guns for their splendid Endfield rifles”. 

The itinerary below records the movements and engagements of the unit.  We take our name from Company G of the regiment.


October 5, 1861       Went into camp at Camp Warren near Bowling Green.

November 2, 1861    Moved by railroad to Russellville, and then to Oakland Station.

November 5, 1861    During the night a guard from the regiment, stationed at Whippoorwill Bridge on the M. C. & L. Railroad, had a fight with the federals.

Feb.-April 1862        Moved by way of Nashville, Murfreesboro, Huntsville, Decatur, and Burnsville to Shiloh TN.

April 6-7, 1862         Battle of Shiloh.

April 30, 1862          Near Corinth MS.

April-Aug. 1862        Marched from Corinth to Tupelo.  Moved by railroad from thence to Vicksburg and Baton Rouge.

August 5, 1862        Battle of Baton Rouge.

August 31, 1862      Jackson MS.

Sept.-Oct. 1862       Left Jackson MS Sept. 11 by railroad to Holly Springs MS, then to Knoxville, Shell Mound, and Murfreesboro TN.

December 2, 1862    Murfreesboro TN.

December 1862       Left camp at Murfreesboro December 28 for Stone River; engaged in various skirmishes, and returned to Manchester.

December 7, 1862    Engaged at Hartsville TN in cooperation with John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry.

Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 3, 1863  Battle of Murfreesboro.

February 1, 1863      Remained in camp at Manchester TN until April 21, 1863.

April 21, 1863          At night, marched to Morrison’s Bridge to repel a raid of the enemy.  Returned on the 22nd.

April 23, 1863          Marched to Beach Grove.

May 24, 1863          Marched to Wartrace TN, then by railroad to Jackson MS.

May 10-16, 1863      Siege of Jackson, which was evacuated on the 16th.

May 17, 1863          Reached Brandon MS; then to Camp Hurricane, where they arrived May 28.

Aug.-Sept. 1863       Left Morton MS August 27 by railroad to Tyner’s Station.  Marched to Chattanooga, then Lafayette GA and Chickamauga.

Sept. 19-20, 1863    Battle of Chickamauga.

Sept.-Oct. 1863       Marched to Missionary Ridge, then to Tyner’s Station by Oct. 31.

Nov. 23, 1863          Left Tyner’s Station for Missionary Ridge.

Nov. 25, 1863          Battle of Missionary Ridge.

November 1863        Marched to Dalton GA.

May 7, 1864            Left Dalton GA.

May 8-12, 1864        Skirmished at Rocky Face Ridge.

May 13-15, 1864      Battle of Resaca.

May 1864                Engaged at Dallas.

July 20, 1864           Battle of Peach Tree Creek.

July 22, 1864           Battle of Atlanta.

September1, 1864    Battle of Jonesboro.

September 4, 1864   Barnesville GA.  Lewis’ Brigade was mounted, to serve as mounted infantry.

Sept.-Oct. 1864       By various marches arrived at Stockbridge GA October 27.

Nov.1864-May 1865 Engaged in mounted service opposing Sherman’s March through GA and SC.  Returned to GA.

May 6, 1865            Paroled at Washington GA.

Notes on Composition of the Regiment

There were only eight companies in the organization of the regiment before Shiloh, but there were the requisite number of men to constitute a regiment.  After that battle, the regiment was reorganized April 25.  At that time, J. M. Crews’ Tennessee Battalion of the brigade was discontinued, and some of the men were organized as Company F of the 9th Kentucky. 

Captain George A. King’s original Company H was consolidated into Captain James Morehead’s Company G.  Company K was organized at Jefferson, Texas September 15, 1861, and reported for duty at Bowling Green, Kentucky.  It was attached to the 5th (9th) Kentucky Infantry December 1, 1861.  These Texans served with the 9th well into 1863.  With the reorganization of April 25, 1862, the Texans were redesignated as Company H.  Most of the men were subsequently transferred to Texas units in May 1863.

In the fall of 1862 before the Battle of Murfreesboro, the newly formed companies of Captains Joseph Desha and W. D. Acton were assigned as Companies I and K.  This gave the regiment a full complement of ten companies.  In May 1863, the same two companies were detached and ordered to report to Brig.Gen. William Preston in southwest Virginia.  After a short time operating as Desha’s Battalion, that organization was abolished in August 1863, and the two companies were transferred to the eastern 5th Kentucky Infantry, where they served out the war.  They were again designated as Companies I and K, bringing the eastern 5th Kentucky from eight to ten companies.

About the same time that Desha’s and Acton’s companies brought the 9th Kentucky’s total to ten companies, Companies E and F, commanded by Captains W. P. Simpson and W. B. Powers, respectively, being primarily Tennesseans, were transferred to the 23rd Tennessee Battalion (Newman’s), again reducing the number of companies.

Information compiled from:

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (yankee name), commonly known as the OR.

Hewett, Janet B., et. al., eds., Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1994.

Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky: Civil War (Vols. I & II Confederate).

Sifakis, Stewart, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Confederate, & Indian Units.   NY:  Facts on File, 1995.

Crute, Joseph H., Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army.  Midlothian, VA:  Derwent Books, 1987.

Thompson, Ed Porter, History of the Orphan Brigade.  Santa Maria CA:  Janaway Publishing, 2004.

Kirwan, A. D., ed., Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade.  Lexington KY:  The University of Kentucky Press1984.

Colonels of the 5th (9th) Kentucky Infantry
Thomas H. Hunt
October 3, 1861-April 22, 1863
John W. Caldwell
from April 22,1863

The 9th Kentucky’s Brigade Commanders

Gen. Simon B. Buckner

September 15, 1861

Gen. John C. Breckinridge

November 16, 1861

Gen. James M. Hawes

April 1862

Gen. Ben. H. Helm

July 8, 1862

Gen. R. W. Hanson

October 27, 1862

Gen. Ben. H. Helm

February 16, 1863

Gen. Joseph H. Lewis

September 20, 1863

~ ~ ~

Colonels R. P. Trabue & Thomas H. Hunt

also temporarily commanded at times

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