6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry U.S.




October 5, 1861

            The undersigned is authorized by General Anderson to form a company for pioneer service, and calls for furniture makers, carpenters, wagoners, blacksmiths, saddlers, as well as strong people, who know how to handle a shovel and axe.  The terms are: $13 per month, and for each day the company works on road building or entrenchments, 25 Cts. extra for each day on palisades or bridge building 40 Cts. extra.  Each family of a soldier of this company receives, as soon as he is sworn in, a dollar per week in advance.  The company is all-German.  Those who want to enroll may apply at Birkel's Grocery, Market Street, between 14th and 15th [Streets], or at Zöller on 3rd Street, between Market and Jefferson, as well as in the old Swiss Hall, between Hancock and Jackson.

August Stein

Mr. Th. Schwartz, Jul. v. Borries, Louis Helmke, B. Beckurtz, G. Baurmann, Jacob Lavall, John Rople, Ch. Schultz, J. Winter, Ph. Winkler to vouch the payment of the above advances.

 Mr. Frank is each available morning around 10 o'clock at George Braun's on Clay Street to explain the specifics and enroll recruits.

Note August Stein later became Captain of Company I, 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment U. S.



APRIL 16, 1862








The last days were very fateful. Yesterday, the 7th, at 5 o'clock in the morning, we marched off from Pittsburg on the left bank of the Tennessee River. Nelson's division was on the left wing, and our regiment (6th Ky.) served as skirmishers; my and Capt. Martin's companies served as the forward-most skirmishers, which delighted us greatly. Around 6 o'clock we collided with the Rebels; the dance began immediately, and lasted until 8 o'clock in the evening. It cannot be looked at as a battle, but rather as a genuine slaughter. How many thousands were killed on each side cannot yet be said. The field is 7 to 8 miles long and just as wide. My brother Anton was wounded in the leg; however, not dangerously. Of the German officers, Capt. Stein, Lt. Dettweiler and, as I said, my brother, were wounded. How many dead soldiers we have is not yet known. From my company, only four were wounded and a few are missing. With this affair, we have again discovered how good it is when one is properly drilled before he attacks the enemy.


Around 10 a.m. our regiment made a bayonet charge on the Rebels, which they could not withstand; two of their regiments fled; however, they came back again reinforced, so we had to retreat. How many troops took part in the battle I cannot report exactly. One believes, however, that at noon, two hundred fifty-thousand men stood in the fire. The cannons made the earth rise; people and horses were running wildly, and I have never seen men more bloodthirsty and bold.


At certain places, fifty-to-sixty dead layed in an area about 20 paces in circumference. The sight of the dead and wounded lying around here was truly horrible. At places where there was thick undergrowth, it was mowed down by the gunfire.


The day before, General Grant had a hot fight with the Rebels and was beaten back; and if General Buell had not come at the right time with his army to help, the Rebels would have driven General Grant and his army into the Tennessee River. Our regiment made a very good showing, and is referred to by some regiments as the "bloody Sixth." It stood like a wall; and, just for that reason, our people escaped. If they had fallen back in disorder, probably all would have been killed. Our determined action and proper maneuvers instilled in the Rebels the respect which they generally have for the German soldiers. Because of this severe strain we are also worn out. We were on the march for 11 days before we came into the battle; and had nothing to eat but crackers and ham, and had no rest. We cursed sometimes about Nelson during the hard and long marches; but we have now seen we were wrong, and seen how necessary this march was. Meanwhile, we, for that reason, prevented much disaster and large losses; because on the second day of the battle was won back all that was lost on the first day and, with it, much more; and when we complete it, cut off their path, then it is soon finished for them. It is said that their commanding general was killed and Beauregard was wounded.


Our wounded are supposed to be taken to Louisville.


The wounded from my company are: Jacob Kimmel, Peter Laux, Markus Schmidt and H. Kalkoffer. Charles Franke is missing.


Capt. Stein is supposed to be seriously wounded.


In our regiment there are approximately 100 dead and missing.


Next time more details.


I am healthy and in good spirits.


Bernhard Hund


Pittsburgh Landing

29 April [1862]

Dear brother-in-law and sister,

    Because I now have the opportunity I write to you how it goes with me in this soldier life. We marched 14 days through the state of Tennessee, one moment up hill the next down the hill, and because we had to sleep in the open with still little to eat or drink, we soldiers were soon broken down. And where we arrived on 6 April at the Tennessee River we heard a frightening thunder of cannons that boomed one after the other all day Sunday, and we immediately received orders to advance, and about 9 o’clock at night we arrived on the battlefield.  We had to stand in the rain the whole night until 4 o’clock in the morning. Then we marched toward the enemy and soon a [illegible word] battle occurred. We had to stand in the fire from 4 in the morning until 5 in the evening when they retreated. The next day I inspected the battlefield and buried the dead, which appeared dreadful and wretched, some without heads and others without limbs.

    The number of dead is supposed to amount to 25,000. Dear brother in law and sister I will send to you 20 dollars through our Sutler as soon as he goes to Louisville. So you must look closely in the newspaper to see your name, Wilhelm Schulte. We will have another battle soon. Write me again on account of the money. My address is Josph Maas, 6th Ky Regiment. G Company. Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee.

Farewell until we see each other again.

Pvt. Joseph Maas

Pittsburg [Landing], Tennessee

------Letter courtesy of Elizabeth Boone, translated by Joseph R. Reinhart


Louisiana State University Libraries has several letters written by Lt. Col. George T. Cotton, 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. One letter that says it was written at Camp at Rockcastle River, Rockcastle, KY on October 23, 1862; another at Camp near Nashville, December 26th 1862; and another at Camp Clear C[?] R. Mississippi on June 16, 1862; and another at Camp Silver Spring, 17 Miles from Nashville, dated November 17, 1862. The letters are written to his wife, and signed George T. Cotton. The letters cannot be reproduced here. 

Thirty-nine Letters of Amos Mount, Company B

go to link below


                                                                 Louisville Journal

Published February 7, 1862

COL. WHITAKER’S SIXTH KENTUCKY REGIMENT. – A correspondent of the Shelby News having visited the camp of the Kentucky 6th, gives the following interesting incidents of his tour:

When our droskey, arrived at Col. Whitaker’s marque he was in a distant part of his camp superintending in person the erection of a gunsmith and blacksmith shop and a shed under which to shoe mules.  “Orderly” – Barker, however, soon brought the Colonel to this tent; and I need not say, that I found him “the same as ever.”  We talked of “old times, old scenes, and old friends,” and, I need scarcely remind the friends of Colonel Whitaker that he “God-blessed”  them all a hundred times over.  How much I wish the people of Shelby county could see the 6th Kentucky regiment where it is now encamped.  It is called a Shelby regiment; its Colonel and two companies being from that noble old county.  The regiment is encamped in what was a forest three weeks ago, but within the short space of three weeks the ground has been almost entirely cleared of timber, which has been split up into slabs and corduroy walks which have been laid through the whole camp, and even the localities where the sentinels have to walk to and fro, when on duty, have been so laid, and now each sentinel tramps his beat dry-shod instead of wading shoe-deep in the mud.  Col. Whitaker’s regiment is by far the healthiest in the division, from the fact, as Gen. Nelson remarked to me, “they are most industrious.

In order to leave the line, it was necessary that a pass from Colonel Whitaker should be vised by his Brigadier, Colonel Hazen, and also by General Nelson, and I thus had an opportunity of meeting both these gentlemen.  I have already spoken of General Nelson’s compliment to Colonel Whitaker’s regiment, and Colonel Hazen said to me privately; “I have taken a great fancy to your Colonel Whitaker; I think he is a trump!”

No man in the division so well knows how to provide for and take care of his men as Colonel Whitaker, and no one takes so much care of his men as he does of his.  His whole camp, tents, wagons, mules, the clothing of his men, the health of the soldiers under his charge – I can state from a careful observation on all those points are superior to any other regiment in the division.

Gen. Nelson is anxious to promote Surgeon Drane to the place of Brigade Surgeon, and probably will do so. Colonel Whitaker has obtained, through General Nelson, the liberty of recruiting for his regiment; and although his roll numbers, all told, nine hundred and fifty-two men, his officers feel confident that two men can recruit two hundred more men in two weeks.

Colonel Whitaker provided me with a horse, and an attentive orderly to see me safe back to New Haven, and I at last tore myself away with regret at not being able to remain longer with the noble fellows, Lee, Martin, Stein, Cotton, Heilman, Shackelford, Choate, Danks and others, with many a fond remembrance sent to the “loved ones at home.”

In conclusion, Col. Hazen was right, Colonel Whitaker is a trump.  Shelby county may well be proud of him; for few men have superior tact and energy, and none excel him in devotion to the cause of the Union; and when disease and death come upon his men, no matter how poor or humble, his voice cheers or soothes them, and when the din of battle comes he will not shrink, and his men will follow wherever he leads!  God bless the Kentucky Sixth.

Newspaper Account of Skirmish at Bagdad, Shelby County, Kentucky, 1861

On December 13, 1861, Colonel Whitaker dispatched 2nd Lt. William Dunlap and nine men from Company F to Shelby County to arrest a party of Secessionists who had been forcing Union men in the Bagdad and Jacksonville areas to swear an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. When Lieutenant Dunlap and his men approached the house in which the perpetrators had gathered, the soldiers were greeted with musket fire, and eighteen-year-old Isom Moody fell mortally wounded. Dunlap’s men exchanged fire with the Secessionists for about fifteen minutes but pulled back when it became apparent that they were greatly outnumbered. The lieutenant requested reinforcements in order to storm the house, and Capt. Richard Lee’s company was sent to arrest the forty or so armed men reported to be in the house. By the time Captain Lee and his company arrived on the scene, however, the Rebels had fled. Two or three of the Secessionists were reportedly wounded during the skirmish, but their comrades carried them off. Houses of several pro-Southerners were searched but found to be empty. Colonel Whitaker initially ordered the house from which the shots came to be burned, but the Union people in the neighborhood were afraid that local Secessionists would burn their homes in retaliation. Captain Lee telegraphed his colonel, who was in Frankfort, and Whitaker ordered Lee to confiscate the contents of the house but not burn it. Lee’s company afterward proceeded to Owen County to look for Isom Moody’s killer and his accomplices, but they returned empty handed. The 6th Kentucky had suffered its first casualty in a hostile action, a young Henry County man who had not yet been mustered into Federal service.



Joe Reinhart, Webmaster.jrein8@yahoo.com

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