Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Short Article Ended up a Big Story

Jeremiah T. Boyle, courtesy wikimedia
From the Covington Journal of June 7, 1862 came this brief notice which obviously did not draw a lot of attention at the time but which would eventually have a lasting impact on Kentucky and Kentuckians. Some may say it was the gentleman mentioned in the article who led to Kentucky "seceding after the Civil War" thanks to his policies and perceived harshness.

Gen. J.T. Boyle has been appointed Military Commandant of Kentucky, and entered upon the discharge of his duties, his headquarters at Louisville. The Louisville Journal says: "The appointment is a highly judicious one. A better one could not have been made."

That train of thought would be derailed soon enough as Boyle took charge.  Here is a quick, polite description of his life and times but James A. Ramage's and Andrea Watkins' Kentucky Rising discusses his tenure in a less politically-correct manner, stating that Boyle "immediately fell into the grand delusion that all would be lost unless he transformed the people of Kentucky into smiling Unionists totally supporting the Union war effort. He viewed himself as the savior of the Union who would win the war by rooting out prosouthern sentiment in Kentucky." (page 307).

The authors also state that Boyle worsened the situation by "going against the moderate policy of previous commanders and launching an impossible, extreme program aimed at turning every prosouthern Kentuckian into an active Unionist."

Clearly, Boyle failed in his goals, as this book continues to described, and he became a very unpopular man among many Kentuckians. It is possible that he turned more people into prosouthern sympathizers and away from support for the Union than he convinced to support the federal government and military. The book quoted above ends its discussion of Boyle's reign with the following from page 314: "One of Lincoln's most popular actions in the war was relieving General Boyle of command on January 12, 8164; it was an unusual event in that Governor Thomas Bramlette and other Unionists and pro-Southerner all united in breathing a sigh of relief."

When both sides in such a hard-fought war are happy about the same event, that says a lot about the event, or, in this case, the man. The writer of that brief story could not have imagined what the state was soon to experience. 

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