My Poor Orphans! The Kentucky ‘Orphan’ Brigade

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The Battle of Stone’s River, Murfreesboro:: Kentucky Orphan Brigade. Confederates from Kentucky charged… Army of Tennessee…

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Near here four Confederate regiments from Kentucky charged for over a mile to assault the Federal troops guarding the other side of Stones River. The cost of their late afternoon attack was stunning over 430 of the 1,200 men in the ranks were killed, wounded, or captured.

These Kentucky troops called themselves the orphans of the Army of Tennessee. They had hoped their home state would leave the Union. But Kentucky never voted to secede. Unlike Alabama, Tennessee, or Mississippi soldiers, Kentucky’s orphans had little chance of getting supplies, mail, or even a pair of new socks from loved ones. These orphans homes were behind Union lines.

Just six years before this battle, Kentucky’s John Breckinridge had been the Vice President of the United States.

John C. Breckinridge, major general, commanding 1st Division, Hardees Corps

January 2nd, 1863 late-afternoon

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