Robert D. Houp:
Soldier's Life Defined By Conflict
By Jason Brock - 2012
It sometimes seems that my fourth great-grandfather's life
was defined by conflict. He came into the world four months after
the start of the Mexican War and left it two months after our
entry into WWII. He was known around Wilmore and High Bridge
as "Uncle Robert," the old veteran with a cane who
had been a boy soldier during the Civil War. I don't imagine
he minded the distinction. No doubt he felt fortunate to have
lived to be an old veteran with only a limp and a few bad memories
to show for it.
Robert D. Houp was at High Bridge
in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in June 1938, when this photo
was taken. He was probably on his way to the Gettysburg Reunion
on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The year 1938
was the 75th anniversary of that battle.
The Houp family gathered at High Bridge, Jessamine County, Kentucky, on August 30, 1936, in honor of Robert's birthday. Front row, l-r: Lena Houp Swim, Claude Houp, Robert D. Houp, Mary Woods Brown Houp, and Mary Jane Rue Houp. Back row, l-r: Willis Houp, Charles Oliver Houp, Henry Houp, Flemon Houp, and George Wesley Houp. (Photo courtesy of Jason Brock.)
In January 1864 the Eighth Kentucky was reduced to battalion
size, Companies D and K combining to form the new Company D.
They mostly did garrison duty in Tennessee and fought in the
opening stages of the Atlanta Campaign at Rocky Face Ridge, Georgia.
On November 17, 1864, the men who chose to serve out their three-year
enlistments were mustered out, and those who reenlisted for the
duration of the war were placed in the Fourth Kentucky Mounted
Infantry. Robert was in the former group, deciding to take his
discharge and head home, a seasoned veteran at 18. During the
course of the war, the Eighth Kentucky lost four officers and
56 men killed and mortally wounded, and one officer and 144 men
to disease. One of the men who decided to reenlist was Robert's
cousin, Benjamin Houp. He was captured in Alabama toward the
end of the war and was one of around 1,600 released prisoners
killed on the steamboat Sultana when its boilers exploded near
Memphis on April 27, 1865.
This is a five-generation photo of the family of Jason Brock, the author of the accompanying article, from his fourth great-grandfather to his grandmother. Shown in the photo are Robert D. Houp (1846-1942) seated on the bench in the center of the photo, George W. Houp (1865-1937) visible above man seated on right side of bench, Ollie Houp Shylock (1888-1964) far right with hands on hips with face obscured, Geneva Shyrock Million (1912-1980) seated on left of bench third left of Robert, and Maxine Million Byrd (1929) second in front of her mother in front of girl with hat. Others in the photo (not in order) are Lena Houp Swim, Claude Houp, Mary Houp, Mary Jane Rue Houp, Willis Houp, Charles Houp, Henry Houp, Glemon Houp, Betty West Carroll, Leona Shyrock Hart, Grace Houp Johnson, Raymond Houp, Myrtle Houp Morgan, Lydia May Houp Horn, Raymond Houp (Jr.), Jimmy Land, Beatrice Houp Woods, Mary Emma Shyrock Underwood, Virgil Underwood, and Jimmy Underwood. The photo was taken at High Bridge Park, Jessamine County, Kentucky, on August 30, 1936. The occasion was Robert Houp's 90th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Jason Brock.)
In his later years, Robert was active in attending veteran's
reunions, the largest being the one at Gettysburg in July 1938,
the 75th anniversary of the battle. At the age of nearly 92,
he braved the Southern Pennsylvania heat and humidity to be one
of 1,845 veterans from across the country to attend. The Kentucky
contingent was represented by 28 old soldiers. One of the attendees
was Asberry Estes of Lee County, an old comrade from the Eighth
Kentucky and an uncle by marriage of Robert's son, George. Two
years later, he went to the movies and saw Gone with the Wind.
He considered it pretty accurate. By that time, he was the only
man living in the county who could have said so based on actual
Sources: The Houp/Houpe/Houpt/Haupt Family Historian Quarterly, April 1985, by Kenneth L. Houp; Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 3, Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel, editors, 1995; History of the Eighth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment During Its Three Year Campaigns, T. J. Wright. the Estill county Hisotrical and Genelogicial Society, reprinted 1996.
Jason Brock, 108 East Avenue, Wilmore, KY 40390; firstname.lastname@example.org, shares this article with our readers.