Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Defense of the Actions of Colonel Marcellus Mundy

 This story came from the Covington Journal of July 19, 1862. Mundy's unit, the 23rd Kentucky Infantry had been organized in and around Covington, so this story did have a local interest in it, but involved some national questions about the conduct of the war as well. See this fine article on Marcellus Mundy for more details on this officer's service and career. Some of the information within it serves as further examples of the difficult position Kentucky and Kentuckians were in, regarding saving the Union, but not opposing the abolition of slavery. Balancing those concepts was never easy in this state. 

(Note: I did break the below article up into multiple paragraphs to make it easier to read, but left the wording as it was originally published. I'm not sure the Colonel could have written a kinder recap of this time period  himself.)

Col. Marc Mundy Defended
Col. Marc Mundy. of the Twenty-third Kentucky Regiment, stationed at Pulaski, Tenn., has been charged with showing too much lenity to the rebels. A correspondent of the Louisville Journal, writing from Pulaski, comes to the defense of Col. Mundy, and makes a good showing in his behalf. We make an extract:

"Permit me to sketch briefly Col. Mundy's administration here, which may serve as a suggestion to other commanders, as well as justify what the Nashville Union has been pleased to call "child's play" policy. On his arrival at this post, he found anarchy reigning supreme. Injudicious laxity had permitted previous soldiery to retaliate upon the citizens for the raid of Morgan and his band, and the unlicensed depredations perpetrated upon the whole community by teamsters and hangers-on of the army, particularly of the Third Division train, had alarmed every man, woman and child in the community. His first work was to restore order, which seemed a comparatively easy task, seconded as he was by his courteous officers and highly disciplined men. To prevent depredations he posted his orders publicly forbidding soldiers even to enter upon private premises unless invited, and warning citizens against any act of rebellion, or expressions of sympathy with the rebel cause. When soldiers broke his orders, he punished them, and the county jail was soon found to be convenient quarters for some stubborn citizens. By free intercourse and courteous treatment, and a fearless discharge of his duties, he soon won the confidence of our community, and we were surprised one morning to find bills posted in our town and vicinity calling a public meeting at the Court House, to discuss an devise the best plan for restoring our State to her Federal relations. 

We were much more astonished when the day came, to find our large court room literally jammed full and overflowing with citizens from the town and country, anxious to hear discussion and find some way out of our present evils. Without meaning to pay Col. Mundy an empty compliment, which his intelligence and patriotism would equally reject, I can say that his highly-gifted genius as an orator was displayed in most brilliant manifestation on that occasion to his wrapt and breathless audience; that his speech, one of the finest ever listened to, enforced by a deeply earnest manner, convincing argument, and stirring appeals of eloquence, conquered more rebels in one hour than his well drilled and gallant regiment could have conquered with bullets in a day. He lifted up the veil which clouded the intelligence of our people, boldly attacked and drove prejudice from their minds, and shamed sectional hatred out of their hearts. He roused his audience to wild enthusiasm, and save a few stubborn stiff necks, that vast audience, which was address by Col. Jno. C. Walker and Mr. George Baker, left the Courthouse, at the close of the meeting, constitutional Union Men.

Col. Mundy, courtesy


  1. Thank you Richard. My great-grandfather, Robert H. McElwain joined the 23rd KY and was later promoted from corporal, to sergeant, and finally to Capt. of Company E. Glad to have this photo of Col. MM.

  2. You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.


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