Henderson County, Kentucky History


The most dramatic incident that YOUNG ALLISON recorded took place on July 22, 1864. Eleven days earlier a company of outlaws had invaded Henderson, entering by First Street, destroying the telegraph at the corner of Main and First, looting the downtown stores, and shooting JAMES E. RANKIN, a respected merchant. These outlaws belonged to neither army but the Union officers accused the Confederates and forced all Southern sympathizers in Henderson to contribute to a fund to reimburse the storekeepers. When the money was handed over to the merchants they handed it back to their neighbors.

Lt. HEADINGTON of the 134th Indiana Infantry landed in Henderson on Wednesday, July 20, 1864. These troops brought with them, four Confederate soldiers, two of whom had ventured on their steamer (The Palestine) and were secured; the other two, (Charles) William THOMPSON (age 18) and John (Pierman) POWELL (age 23) [50] had been captured on Tuesday, July 12th in Daviess County. They were cut off from their unit and belonged to the command of Captain Dick YATES. They were brought to the Henderson County jail with orders for their execution in retaliation for the attack on James E. RANKIN. Gov. Archibald [100] DIXON and Mayor D. BANKS, prominent Union citizens telegraphed General EWING in Louisville and asked that execution be stayed. Even RANKIN, who died later from his wound, wrote a plea for the young soldiers. EWING granted a stay until he heard from General BURBRIDGE. The doomed young men had made [150] every preparation to meet their bitter fate. They had called in an artist and had their portraits taken and Young E. ALLISON dictated letters to their families. At dusk the prisoners were escorted to the riverbank under the auspice that an attack was expected from the rebels, and they were [200] to be placed under cover of the gunboat. When the sergeant in charge of the prisoners immediately formed six of his men into a hollow square, it was obvious that a speedy death awaited the two young prisoners. It was a horrible spectacle to those who stood near, and we [250] are informed that Lt. HEADINGTON averred that it was the most unpleasant duty he ever had to perform.

ANNALS AND SCANDALS, by Maralea Arnett
Pages 49 - 50

TUG OF WAR, by Mendy Dorris
Pages 49 - 50

Pages 547 - 558

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS