Civil War History Walk

As The United States begins to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Lexington Cemetery held a Civil War Living History Walk on its grounds for the community on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 9 a.m. The walk began at the Henry Clay Monument. The tour was led by Kentucky Historian Dr. Ronald Bryant.

Dr. Bryant traced the history of Lexington and its cemetery leading up to and following the Civil War. Walkers learned about interesting people like General John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, Robert Breckinridge and many Union and Confederate soldiers buried in The Lexington Cemetery.

On the path through The Lexington Cemetery, Dr. Bryant made stops along the way so walkers could hear narratives from Henry Clay, Billy Herndon, Johnny Green and Frederick Douglass.

This program was funded in part by the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kentucky's Greatest Statesman

Above all, Henry Clay wanted to be president of the United States. Despite never quite making it-he ran and lost three times between 1824 and 1844-Clay played a large role in the history of his country, which he served as a Senator, Speaker of the House, and Secretary of State.

Born and educated in Virginia, Clay moved to Kentucky and set up a law practice in Lexington in 1797. Elected to the state legislature in 1803, he took a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1810. For more than forty years he was a major player on the national political scene, renowned for his oratory and devotion to the Union. Slavery posed a great political and personal quandary for Clay. A slaveholder himself, he advocated gradual emancipation and colonization in Africa. He opposed extension of slavery into the new western states, but argued Congress had no right to interfere with slavery where it already existed.
Attacking abolitionists in 1839, he said he would "rather be right than president." The speech cost him the 1840 Whig presidential nomination.


One Man's Lincoln

Friends and law partners for 18 years, Billy Herndon felt he knew Abraham Lincoln better than Abraham Lincoln knew himself. That's why he was confident his biography of Lincoln would tell a story that was honest and true to Lincoln's character. In 1861, as he was leaving to be inaugurated president, Lincoln told Herndon to keep his name on the shingle outside their office because he intended to return someday. But he would not.

After Lincoln's assassination, Herndon dedicated his life to collecting materials for a definitive biography of the 16th president. When it was published 24 years
later, Herndon's critics labeled him as an angry, contemptuous alcoholic who painted a negative portrait of Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd. In Herndon's eyes, however, he presented Lincoln unvarnished, a great man in all his humanity, neither saint nor villain. Is Herndon's story the true story of Abraham Lincoln?

You be the judge.


Frederick Douglass was born a slave around 1817 or 1818 in Tuckahoe, Maryland. Enduring slavery for 20 years, he escaped to freedom on September 3, 1838. Self-taught, he become the most prolific and influential black man of the nineteenth

An eloquent and powerful orator, he was known as the lion of Washington and is regarded by many as the grandfather of our civil rights movement. His role as a leader of the anti-slavery movement was internationally known. He was also an advisor to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War era and the first man to stand up for women's rights and suffrage.

Before there was Marcus, Malcolm, Mandela, Martin, and Rosa. . . there was
Frederick-champion of freedom, liberty, and equality.

The tour will last approximately 1.5-2 hours. The Lexington Cemetery always provides a wonderful natural outdoors classroom setting to learn about history.

An Orphan's Survival

Johnny Green was 19 when the Civil War broke out, and was one of the only soldiers in the Orphan Brigade alive when it ended. Orphan Brigade soldiers were unable to return to their home state of Kentucky until the war was over-lest they be tried for
treason-because they chose to fight for the Confederacy. Though he had learned to love the Union, as his mother was from Boston, Green felt passionately that states should have the right to govern themselves. And when President Abraham Lincoln called for men and arms, Green left his job in Florence, Ala., to travel to Bowling Green, Ky., to join the Confederacy on the day before his 20th birthday. Green's story, as detailed in a journal he wrote for his daughters years later, provides extraordinary accounts of courage and bravery, and brings the story of the Orphan Brigade to life.

History of The Lexington Cemetery during the Civil War
Although the Civil War brought division among families, the Lexington Cemetery Company maintained a position of political neutrality.

Sympathizers of each side owned lots in the cemetery, and Lexington soldiers died for both the Confederacy and the Union. Separate "soldiers' grounds" were set aside for the burial of Union and Confederate troops.

"Since its inception in 1848, the management and grounds staff of the community memorial site has devoted itself to developing and preserving the natural and historic beauty of the cemetery," said Dan Scalf, president and general manager of The Lexington Cemetery. "As part of their community service, the cemetery enjoys sharing the history of people memorialized in The Lexington Cemetery with people of Central Kentucky."

More History of The Lexington Cemetery during the Civil War