Dickey's Diary


Editor's Note: Readers of The Kentucky Explorer have been introduced to the Rev. John J. Dickey in past issues. Remember that he was a traveling preacher throughout the eastern part of the state during the years between 1880 and 1925. He helped to establish numerous churches and at least two colleges. He was also a teacher and a newspaper editor. However, his most enduring gift to us today may well be his diary that he kept faithfully during some 50 years of his later life beginning in the 1880s. In all, over 6,000 pages written in his own hand make up this interesting digest.
In this journal of his, Dickey often wrote down accounts of events daily. Much of the material concerns his day to day life. However, during the late 1890s he began to gather family history on various families he met in his travels. We are offering these interviews to our readers in the hope that they will be appreciated in the sense that Rev. Dickey intended. These interviews were written word for word as they were given to Rev. Dickey. Nothing has been changed.

Railroad Proposed In 1838

In 1838 the state of South Carolina proposed to the state of Kentucky that she would build a railroad from Charleston to Cincinnati via Cumberland Gap. Thomas F. Mar-shall was a member of the legislature when the proposition came up and threw the force of his great personality against it. It was defeated by one vote. Col. William McKee, who fell at Buena Vista, was a member of the surveying party when they passed here. I saw him in 1824 when he, one of my brothers, and I were students at Centre College. He graduated that year, then went to West Point and graduated. Only for Thomas F. Marshall we might have had a railroad here 50 years ago. I had not seen Colonel McKee from the day of his graduation in 1824 until 1838.

Mexican War
I left Manchester on April 5, 1847, a soldier in the Mexican War, though I was in no engagement. Four companies of our regiment, the 16th U. S. Infantry Kentucky Volunteers (I was captain of Company E), were stationed at Ceralvo, Mexico, on the Rio Grande to hold the subjugated territory. Part of the regiment was there and part, six companies, at Monterey. I think the eight months I stayed there were the most pleasant part of my life. The Mexicans were fond of us. We had no trouble with them. The climate was pleasant, and everything went well. Old Richard Lucas was the drummer. He was drummer in the War of 1812, also.

Bal. Howard's Failure
My son, James Garrard, was the auditor's agent when Bal. Howard failed as sheriff. As such he sold Howard's property, and the state bid it in. It was the timber off this land that Tom Baker and the Howards fell out over. I understand James Howard has threatened to kill my son, James, since this feud has come up because of his official work.

Battle Of Bear Creek, 1862
I was in command of 400 soldiers from the command of Gen. George W. Morgan, carrying dispatches from him to General Nelson at Lexington. At the mouth of Bear Creek we met some rebels and had an engagement for one-half hour. One of our men was killed, and three or four died from their wounds. One of them lived near McMinnville, Tennessee. I think there were 500 rebels, and three or four of them were killed. One named Lucas recovered. Young Clay from Huntsville, Alabama, was wounded and died. He was a nice young man, and I talked to him. Our command was coming down Goose Creek and heard that the rebels were in our route. We crossed over to Red Bird, going down Double Creek. We were on the opposite or east side of Red Bird. The rebels were on this side. Captain Clark crossed over with his company. Colonel Mundey had 200 cavalry. I was in the legislature when my regiment was mustered in, and I was ordered by Gen. George M. Thomas to meet it at Camp Wild Cat. Reinforcements were to follow at once but did not reach me until the day of battle or the day before. My regiment was the 3rd Kentucky at the start but was changed to the 7th Kentucky by General Finnell, adjutant general of Kentucky. Some regiments, recruited in Ohio were named 1st, 2nd, etc. putting us 5th, 6th, and 7th. This was unjust and grew out of favoritism. My men were on artillery and wagon horses. One of our captains climbed a mountain, a very high one, with his company. When the rebels saw that we were regular soldiers, they retreated going up Laurel Branch and over on to Goose Creek. We kept down to Red Bird to Clark's Salt Works and through McKee to within 12 miles of Richmond. Then I left my command there under Major (I. N.) Cardwell, while Colonel Mundey commanded the cavalry. The Battle of Big Hill or Richmond occurred a few days afterwards.
The rebels had come in through Prews' Gap and Williamsburg and part of them came by Goose Creek, perhaps to get supplies. Gen. George Morgan, with several regiments, came down Goose Creek from Cumberland Gap, and camped at the salt works and at Dr. Burchell's. They went through Boonesville to the Ohio River.

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