Note: Kentucky proclaimed neutrality at the beginning of the Civil War and was able to maintain this policy until September of 1861. Both sides recruited troops in Kentucky before then, but each side kept their armies out of the state in order to not to antagonize its citizens. The importance of the state's geographical position is reflected in Lincoln's famous quote: "I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." Finally, on Sept. 4, 1861, Confederate Major General Polk ordered Brigadier General Pillow to occupy the strategic town of Columbus, Ky, and the state's neutrality was at an end. Kentucky's pro-Union legislature voted to support the Union and her pro-Confederate governor resigned.

September 7, 1861

Latest By Telegraph!

Occupation of Paducah, Ky.

by The Federal troops

Cairo, Sept. 6 - This morning at 11 o'clock General Grant with two regiments of infantry, one company of light artillery and two gunboats, took possession of Paducah, Ky. He found session flags flying in different parts of the city in expectation of greeting the arrival of the Southern army, which was reported, 3,800 strong, to be 16 miles distant. The loyal citizens tore down the secession flags on the arrival of our troops...

The following proclamation was issued by Gen. Grant:

I have come among you, not as an enemy but as your friend and fellow citizens, not to injure and annoy you, but to respect, defend and enforce the rights of all loyal citizens. An enemy in rebellion against our common Government has taken possession and planted its guns on the soil of Kentucky, and fired upon our flag. Columbus and Hickman are in his hands and he is advancing upon your city. I am here to defend you against this enemy and to assert and maintain the authority and sovereignty of your Government. I have nothing to do with opinions, I shall deal only with armed rebellion, its aiders and abettors. You can pursue your usual avocations without fear, the strong arm of the Government is here to protect friends and punish only its enemies...

September 9, 1861

The great game of the Confederates is now in Kentucky. This state must be precipitated into the vortex of revolution and bloody war. In the most cool-blooded, heartless manner the prosperous and happy people of Kentucky are to be butchered; their borders desolated, their farms devastated, to create a diversion in favor of the rebel army on the Potomac....

Will the war be confined to the State of Kentucky? Will not the border counties in Indiana be included in the ruin? We are forced to admit this to be very probable. The Indiana border is not so well prepared as it ought to be. Vigilance and activity must, as far as possible, make up any deficiency in this regard.

Note: On August 31, 1861, General Fremont issued a proclamation placing the whole State of Missouri under martial law. A portion of this decree stated that the property of those in rebellion against the United States would be confiscated and their slaves would be declared free. This proclamation went directly against President Lincoln's policy at this point in the war not to touch slavery in order to keep the border states of Missouri, Maryland and Kentucky on the Union side. The slavery portion of the order was later revoked by Lincoln and General Fremont was given another command.

September 16, 1861

The President has made an order directing Gen. Fremont to modify his proclamation concerning negro property in accordance with the act of Congress to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes. We believe the proclamation of Gen. Fremont to be right, and in accordance with the spirit of the act the President refers to...Men who look without emotion upon the red fields, the blood and carnage of this rebellion, who approve the confiscation of sloops, steamers, ships and schooners owned in the rebel States, shrink with dismay when negro property is to be confiscated. The Democrats, during the last decade, have taught, averred, and proclaimed that a negro slave was property as much as a horse, an ox, or a house, and that it was entitled to and must be protected by the Government. Under this, their own rule, slave property should not be exempt from confiscation.

Research conducted by the Jefferson County Civil War Roundtable.