Three Brothers: The Summer Soldier

Seaborn Kingrey (1805-1882) and Rebecca Rogers (1814-1886) were married in Georgia in 1836. Seaborn had been orphaned since the age of 13. He spent some time in Florida before returning to Wilkinson County, GA. Seaborn and Rebecca lived in central Georgia for 20 years before moving to north Louisiana. Their ninth child, Samson Riley Kingrey, was born in Claiborne Parish Louisiana.

In 1859, Seaborn Kingrey purchased 41 acres in Minden, LA.  Minden is 30 miles east of Shreveport.

The oldest children in the family were Daniel Harman Kingrey (b 1837), Abram J Kingrey (b 1839), and Joseph Jackson “J.J.” Kingrey (b 1841)

The election of 1860 split the nation. Louisiana was the 6th state to secede following the election of Abraham Lincoln. The state legislature passed a resolution on January 26, 1861. The oldest Kingrey brothers were 24 yrs old (Daniel), 22 yrs old (Abram), and age 20 (J.J.). The war changed their lives forever.

The first regiments that were formed in the state went to support the war effort in the east. Many of these units were absorbed into Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Louisiana provided 25,000 troops during the first 12 months of the war. There were also volunteer militia groups that served as “home guard” to protect territory within the state.

Abram was the first brother to volunteer.

Kingrey, Abraham J., Pvt. Co. G, 8th La. Inf. Appears on List not dated of Minden Blues who came down from Aikens Landing, Red River, to New Orleans, La., on Str. Eleanor. Arrived June 14, 1861. En. June 23, 1861, New Orleans, La. 

Ancestry.com. Louisiana, U.S., Confederate Soldiers Index, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 1997

Abram caught a ride on the Steamer Eleanor with a group of young men from Minden.  Camp Moore was the training camp for new recruits. Private Abram Kingrey was a member of the 8th Louisiana Infantry Company G “Minden Blues”. Companies were typically organized according to geographic region. The Minden Blues consisted of troops from Claiborne Parish. Capt. J.L. Lewis was their company commander.

2nd Lieutenant George Lovick Pierce Wren, 8th LA Infantry Company G. Wren enlisted as a private at Camp Moore, June 23, 1861

The Minden Blues saw action at 1st Bull Run Manassas in July 1861. Company G spent fall and winter of 1861 at the Louisiana Brigade Winter Camp in Virginia, Camp Carondelet. Abram was listed as absent from Dec. 31, 1861, through the end of the war.

Desertion was a big problem for both sides. Newspapers fueled expectations that the conflict would only last a few weeks. As winter set in and the war continued with no end in sight, troops began leaving. Even though desertion was punishable by death, many decided to take the risk. Estimates range from 20%-25% AWOL in the Union army and 30% (or more) on the Confederate side.

There was some confusion about Abram’s where abouts after December 1861. His muster rolls are summarized below:

June 23, 1861
Enlisted Camp Moore

July and August 1861
Present

Sept and Oct 1861
Present

Nov and Dec 1861
Detailed as Officer waiter since 3 Nov 1861

Dec 31, 1861 to April 30, 1862
Absent. Re-enlisted and mustered in by Maj Christy at Camp Carondelet (captured by enemy)

Feb 28 to June 30, 1862
Taken prisoner at Huntsville, AL April 7. Re-enlisted in war Feb 12th. Christy

July and Aug 1862
Re-enlisted 12 Feb by Maj Christy. Taken prisoner in Huntsville, AL

** muster rolls 1862-1865 repeat same **

March 24, 1865 (final)
Captured Huntsville, AL in April 1862. Never returned.

 

Despite repeated notations that Abram had re-enlisted in the 8th Louisiana, it appears that he never reported back to his unit. Notes regarding his “capture” seem to have been based on hearsay.

Timing of his absence suggests that he waited until December pay was distributed then slipped away.  Provost troops would have been notified as soon as the desertion was discovered. The Provost Guard served as military police. If the fugitives went further afield then Home Guards were alerted. Home Guards spent more time searching for deserters than defending against Yankees.

Abram possibly left with a group from the 9th Louisiana Infantry. This becomes important later in the story.

In spring 1862, Union troops were cutting rail lines across the South.  A raid against Huntsville on April 11, 1862 resulted in the capture of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

The Alabama Home Guard had captured deserters from 9th Louisiana and were making plans to send them back to their units around the time of the Huntsville raid. Newspaper accounts mention a group of “new recruits and re-enlistments” who were captured by Union troops following the raid. “Re-enlistments” was a euphemism for deserters.  The POWs were transported from Huntsville to Ohio. They returned via prisoner exchange a few months later. Abram Kingrey is not listed as a POW at Johnson Island, OH with other Huntsville prisoners. He may have escaped during the battle in Alabama or the commanding officer of the 8th Louisiana was simply misinformed.

At some point during the war, the Kingrey family left the Shreveport area and traveled to the deep woods of west Louisiana, a region along the Sabine River known as No Man’s Land. North Louisiana would have become increasingly dangerous as Union troops made inroads to the area during efforts to take Vicksburg. Many landowners traveled to Texas by rail and wagon train. Plantations were largely abandoned. Abram’s situation may have factored into the decision to find a place that was far away from both Yankees and bounty hunters.

Muster Roll Abram J Kingrey

Statement about “The Lost Cause” interpretation of the Confederacy