Crittenden County In The Civil War -
Crittenden County appeared to have been fairly regularly visited by Federal troops, although it by itself rarely served as a military target. More commonly it was an east west through route for Federal troops.
The largest military action in the county took place at Weston on June 21, 1864. The steamboat Mercury, carrying the entire 7th Ohio Infantry was fired on by Confederates as it passed the north end of town, the attackers firing from behind a bluff and buildings on or near it. The attackers apparently didn't realize the strength of the unit on the boat and were readily driven off by the firing of whole volleys from the boat. There were casualties on both sides, but the boat's captain refused to land to allow the infantry to burn the town, citing orders to not land on the Kentucky shore.
The second documented military action in the county occurred at Bell's Mines in the extreme northeastern corner of the county. Lt. Thomas W. Metcalfe with 46 men of Company C, 56th Kentucky Mounted Infantry departed Cloverport, Ky. on July 5th traveling through the Green River Country. They were attacked at Bell's Mines on July 13th by a reported 300 guerrillas and the force was reported captured by the Evansville Daily Journal of July 19, 1864. The company record gave its loss as one killed, 11 captured and 22 horses and rigging.
The next dated incident in the county took place, again at Weston on September 4, 1864, when 14 Confederate prisoners who were being transported under guard on board the steamboat Colossus, overpowered their guards, killing several of them, and forced the boat to the Kentucky shore at Weston, from which pint the escaped.
(Some of this information from research History Pays, by James E. Jacobsen who was gathering information for the Civil War markers that were placed in our county in April 2005.)
Following are local stories handed down through families of some of the plundering and terrorizing that was done to innocent people. Most of the stories, that I have been fortunate to learn about, have been in the north and northeastern part of the county.
Out in the Cave Spring area on top of a hill was the home place of William and Mourning Brantley, (Now owned by Paul Edward Crowell). William was killed in his own yard standing by his well by a Capt. Fountain Hawkins as he and his troops plundered and terrorized the neighborhood. William wouldn't pledge his allegiance with the Union troops, so they shot him. The date was Jan. 13th, 1863. William was 70 years old. He is buried in the Brantley family cemetery not far from the old homestead.
This happening is documented in a book titled "Incidents From The Farm Account Books of James Beard Crutcher 1857-1893, Union County, KY. By Tess Elliott".
The entry in this book states "Nov. 14, 1865, The Grand Jury of Crittenden Co. found a true bill against Capt. Fountain Hawkins for the killing of William Brantley whilst in command of a Company of US troops. Brantley was a citizen and was killed at his own house some 2 or 3 years ago. Hawkins is arrested and was committed to the Crittenden Jail not allowed bail. Fountain P. Hawkins commanded Company A of the 48th KY Volunteer Infantry (North) all Union Co. men.
I don't know what happened, but Hawkins didn't stay in jail, for later he was documented as raiding Robertus "Bart" Moore's store, (in the Mattoon area), cleaning out his smokehouses, and taking all of his metal farm implements and other items.
There were more men in Crittenden County that joined the Union Army than the Confederate Army. There is only one government Confederate monument in Crittenden County, it is at the Repton Cemetery. It belongs to Stephen F. Crider.
Sir, Thank you for your service, we salute you.