Gallant, Soldierly, and Deadly
Confederate Raider Capt. Bill
Marion Shot Down In Manton
Washington County, Kentucky
By Gerald W. Fischer - 2013
Stanley Young of Nelson County, Kentucky, was born in 1831. When Stanley was a child, he visited the area of Meade County. His mother's brother, William Marsh, resided there. While visiting Marsh, St. Clair Young, Stanley's father, and Marsh got into an argument at the dinner table. Marsh grabbed a carving knife, and while Stanley looked on, Marsh stabbed St. Clair Young to death. Stanley was nine years old, but vowed to avenge his father's murder. His chance came in Bran-denburg, Kentucky, nine years later. It was court day and Uncle Marsh was standing in front of the Ashcraft Hotel talking with Dr. Owings. Owings was one of the State Representatives who later voted against secession. Owings was leaning against a sign pole and Uncle Marsh was standing on the walk facing Owings with his back to the hotel. Young crept up the back steps of the hotel, making his way onto the balcony overlooking the two men. He took careful aim and fired his pistol into the top of Marsh's head, killing him instantly. Young ran up the hill to the courthouse where his horse was tied and rode away but was later captured and sent to prison.
Young returned years later as a Confederate guerrilla. Said to be distantly related to the John Young Brown family, and not wanting to bring more shame on his kin, Young adopted the sobriquet of Capt. Bill Marion. He was gallant, soldierly, and deadly. This dashing Confederate Raider wore a white pheasant feather in his hat and occasionally polk leaves, and ostrich plumes. He led a raid of 75 guerrillas against the 100-man Home Guard in Brandenburg, Meade County. Later he led 12 guerrillas including Frank James and Peyton Long, two of Quantrill's Raiders, on a raid to Bewleyville, Breckinridge County, where they were ambushed by a large Union force. Long was, mortally wounded, but, Marion rode by his side, steadying him in the saddle, while continuing to fight. Marion and James held back the Union Cavalry until nightfall, when they rested and Peyton Long died. They slipped away back to Nelson County, and safety. Marion took part in the Simpsonville Raid, and many other actions, and was known as a loyal leader who would battle desperately to protect his men. He along with Sue Mundy, Henry Magruder, and Oscar "One Armed" Sam Berry made up the redoubtable fearsome foursome of Kentucky Confederate guerrilla raiders.
In January of 1865, William Clarke Quantrill and his raiders, including Frank James and the Younger brothers, made their way to Kentucky. Sue Mundy was getting a lot of press coverage by George Prentice, editor of the Louisville Daily Journal. Quantrill wanted to join guerrilla, Sue Mundy's band, but Mundy was suspicious of Quantrill's men who wore stolen Union uniforms. On Marion's orders, Quantrill was held in camp under guard while Marion led a raid with Quantrill's men. The raid took the better part of a week, and covered the Danville and Midway areas, as well as others. After the raid, Marion reported that "he would ride into any danger with such men." From that time on Marion, Mundy, Berry, Quantrill, Magruder, and others would join together in military actions. One of the independent scouts, who caused such an uproar and fought against these Confederates often and savagely, was Captain Edwin Terrell. To say that Terrell had a checkered past would be an understatement. He killed his first man while he was a bare-back rider in Dan Costello's Circus. When he was a teenager in Baltimore, Maryland, he angered a bartender when he complained about the bourbon whiskey he was served. The bartender fired a double-barreled shotgun at Terrell, wounding him, but Terrell jumped upon the bar, wrestled the gun away, and killed the bartender. Terrell joined the Confederate Army but got into trouble and reportedly killed his commanding officer over his laying hands on Terrell. Sentenced to death, Terrell escaped, made his way north, and joined the Union Scouts hunting for guerrillas. He was a contemptible but deadly adversary.
In Meade County, March 12, 1865, Sue Mundy, H. C. Magruder, and Henry Medkiff were captured by the renowned guerrilla hunter Major Cyrus Wilson. On March 23rd, Wilson was on his way to Louisville with the three captives. Marion was in Meade County when he sent a telegraphed message addressed to General Palmer in care of George Prentice of the Louisville Daily Journal threatening to kill 50 Union men if his friend Sue Mundy or his men were harmed. Prentice did not print the telegram until March 25th, ten days after Mundy was hanged. There was little question that he would avenge the execution of his friend. This may have caused General Palmer to send for "Bad Ed" Terrell a dangerous, but capable Independent Scout. Palmer later said that meeting with Terrell always made him uneasy, and he kept a loaded revolver ready in case he needed to protect himself. By his own admission, Terrell had killed 17 men even accepting the contract killing of Hercules Walker, a Jefferson County outlaw. Palmer offered a fine horse to Terrell if he would bring in a certain guerrilla. Terrell asked if it mattered dead, or alive? Palmer answered his question with a look. The guerrilla was Bill Marion, who was operating in the Fairfield, Bloomfield, and Chaplin areas, a Confederate leaning region. The Confederate battle flag waved over Bloomfield throughout the war.
On Thursday April 13, 1865, Ed Terrell and 16 of his scouts met Bill Marion and his 30 men on the road running between Bloomfield and Taylorsville. Although outnumbered, he charged the guerrillas and for a time, kept up a lively fight. Terrell finally retreated to a barn. Marion and Terrell who hated each other swore what they would do, if each ever caught the other. Under a flag of truce, Marion sent Terrell a message to surrender because Quantrill was on his way to the fight with 40 men. Terrell sent back the message, "Come and take me." He then dispatched a man to Bardstown for reinforcements. Captain Robert H. Young and 35 men of the 54th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, were on their way to the fight. Young with his men arrived at the scene of the action just after Quantrill arrived with his men. After a brisk skirmish, the guerrillas were routed and closely pursued by Terrell and Young's men. Marion was wounded in the thigh, and had a tuft of hair shot from his head. There were two Union casualties and three Confederates wounded. Terrell bragged to the citizens of Bloomfield that the next time they saw him he would be wearing Marion's new, custom-made, high-top-ped riding boots. That same night, the Confederates ambushed Cyrus Wilson's troops, the men who captured Sue Mundy, killing one of his men and wounding another. On April 15th, Captain Penn of the Casey County Guard, was ordered to Springfield by General Palmer's adjutant, General E. H. Hobson. There he would combine forces with Wilson and Terrell's Independent Scouts. General Palmer had called out his "Special Forces" to kill Captain Bill Marion, now the state's most dangerous Confederate raider. On Saturday April 16, 1865, Cyrus Wilson and George W. Penn each with 50 men, and Ed Terrell with his scouts, rendezvoused in Springfield. A plan was hatched to trap Marion and his men reportedly traveling to Washington County. Intelligence said Marion would come toward Manton. Their combined force numbered about 120, and they decided to split forces and approach Manton from both roads leading there. If successful, their plan would intercept Marion on either road, and if neither party made contact they would reform in Manton.
Before Captain Penn reached Manton he dispatched Sgt. George W. Hughes with 12 men to the Hard Rock Still-House, near the Manton church and school on the road to Loretto Station. Captain Marion with four men rode up to the still-house, 150 yards from Hughes' picket line inquiring whose men they were, and then firing on them. Marion dismounted. Hughes' men returned fire, and Marion fell. Four others fled in different directions and got away. Terrell and Penn came up and pursued the four guerrillas until Terrell left Penn and returned to the body. Marion was identified by the wounds he incurred on April 13th. Terrell, who fought many bloody engagements with Marion, took the body to Louisville claiming the kill and his reward. Penn's men were armed with Ballard Carbine rifles, and Terrell's men with pistols. Marion was shot with a rifle ball causing a dispute about who killed Marion. It is reported that several days later Terrell was seen in Bloomfield wearing Marion's new riding boots. Terrell also took a heavy gold ring from Marion and wore it until his own death three years later.
On May 10, 1865, at a battle near Wakefield Station, in Spencer County, "Bad Ed" Terrell inflicted a mortal wound to William Clarke Quantrill. Ed Terrell died of the wounds he suffered at the hands of a posse in Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky after the war. He and another man tried to bluff the town with their pistols and threats of death. His bluff was called. He died in 1868 at the age 23 years. He was barely 20 years old at the killing of Marion and Quantrill. Upon his death, "Bad Ed" Terrell bequeathed the only things he truly valued, to his brother, his revolvers and Marion's gold ring.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Springfield Mayor John Cecconi, Lori Smith, and Historian Nell Haydon for their time and help with this story. If anyone has more to share, contact Gerald Fischer, 560 Roach Road, Webster, KY 40176; [email protected]
A Brief History Of Manton
The town of Manton was formerly known as Blincoe. It is an unincorporated community in Washington County near the intersection of Washington, Marion, and Nelson counties. Both names Manton and Blincoe were commonly used as late as 1896. The town was originally named for Richard Blincoe, a resident. The name Manton was derived from two names, Mandt and Harrington. William F. Mandt was married to Mary A. Harrington. Mandt owned several coal mines in Eastern Kentucky. In 1844 Holy Rosary, a brick mission church and cemetery, was established in the town on Hardin's Creek. Newton's grocery store has been open there for at least 80 years. A park, the old school house, several homes, a historic brick house built originally as a hotel, the church, cemetery, and the store comprise this picturesque Kentucky town.
There were two distilleries in Manton owned by Price and Thompson. There was a low distillery, and another sitting high on a hill. They produced "Hard Rock Whiskey" and other brands. Anecdotal evidence states "Cock of the Walk" was also produced, and it is believed by some that the first Jim Beam Whiskey was made there. A still house for the low distillery was located across from the church yard near where the old school now sets. It is here where Bill Marion was killed. There is no monument to commemorate that event.
During the Civil War, men from Manton were mustered into the Union Army's 10th Kentucky Infantry. General John Hunt Morgan rode through the area on some of his raids. Confederate guerrilla Henry Clay "Billy" Magruder and 17 men traveled through Manton in the winter of 1864. Later Magruder rescued Captain Marion who was being chased by Terrell. In that engagement near Bloomfield, Marion shot and badly wounded Terrell. Told by a doctor he was going to die from the wound, Terrell replied, "You're a d----- liar." And he was. Magruder went to Manton to reconnoiter a force of 20 soldiers reported to be Federals, but found they were guerrillas being led by Captain Pratt. Manton is a small Kentucky town richly steeped in history, and a true Kentucky treasure.