“The Raid on Captains Shacklett and Gorsuch at the Sheep Shed” Parts 3&4

“The Raid on Captains Shacklett and Gorsuch at the Sheep Shed”

 Part 3

Billy Trains his men

           Billy Shacklett trained his men.  It is not recorded just how many men he had in his company, however, we can estimate that he had at least the 25 men that took the guns from the Brandenburg Home Guard.  We know that Gorsuch joined Shacklett, and that at one time he had over 60 men in his company.  It is doubtful that all of Gorsuch’s men would come to Meadeville, but perhaps as many as 20 or 30 made the journey.  Together with the 25 men or so that was already with Billy, there could have been a force of 45 to 55 men at arms, and maybe a few more.  There must have been enough horses for at least half the men because of the drills they ran.  And there was enough of a force for Shacklett to have a fife and drummer assigned to those duties.  John Cain blew the fife, and John Sealy beat the kettle drum.  That was a luxury few guerrilla bands could afford.  The men drilled in a field where Mr. Ditto’s house was built near Meadeville, and from time to time other places.

One day in the field across the road from Lon Moorman’s house, Billy divided his men into two groups for a training exercise.  He had one group of horsemen charge a line of men positioned on the ground.  The men firing did not have their rifles fully loaded.  They were lightly charged but contained no bullets or shot.  Their report however was loud.  As the rebel cavalry galloped toward the line, Shacklett ordered the men on the ground to fire but at some distance away.    Shacklett, unknown to the horsemen, had ordered one half of the men firing on the cavalry to withhold their fire until the horses were closer.  The cavalry hearing the shots and thinking the firing was finished, instead of dismounting and taking a defensive posture, they galloped full speed ahead.  When they approached perilously close, Shacklett ordered the reserve fire be directed at the charging horsemen.  The men on horseback unaware of Billy’s orders kept charging.  When the remaining riflemen fired at very close range, the frightened horses reared, throwing some of the cavalrymen onto the ground.  The bruised battered and frightened cavalrymen mad that they were fooled almost caused that sham battle to turn into a real one.  Shacklett by his order had taught both cavalry and infantry a valuable lesson.  The cavalry learned to be cautious of the trick they might face for real one day, and the infantry learned how the trick could be used to their advantage when they faced charging horsemen.  Shacklett was getting his men readied.

In Louisville, Captain Christopher C. Hare of Company G, 34th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, a 100 man guerrilla hunting group, attached to the 25th Michigan Infantry was given orders to kill Billy Shacklett and wipe out this nest of Confederate recruiters.

 

Be sure to see Part 4, the Battle at the Sheep Shed.    

“The Raid on Captains Shacklett and Gorsuch at the Sheep Shed”

William Kendall Shacklett's tombstone:  Billy Shacklett was described by Captain Hare as the bravest man he ever saw.  He went down fighting, and although mortally wounded, he dragged himself some 60 yards toward the W.W. Barnes' house, because he did not want to die in the woods alone.  His wife and daughter arrived before he died and visited with him at the Barnes' place.

William Kendall Shacklett’s tombstone: Billy Shacklett was described by Captain Hare as the bravest man he ever saw. He went down fighting, and although mortally wounded, he dragged himself some 60 yards toward the W.W. Barnes’ house, because he did not want to die in the woods alone.
His wife and daughter arrived before he died and visited with him at the Barnes’ place.

Part 4

The Battle Begins

It was Monday, April 27th, 1863 when Christopher Hare left his post at Louisville with 100 mounted infantry, two pack mules, two Negroes, and provisions to sustain his company.   He arrived at Brandenburg late afternoon, and encamped at the court house.  Early Tuesday, April 28th, Hare and company proceeded south to Meadeville, reportedly with written orders to kill Billy Shacklett.  Hares’s men needed to be directed to the hiding place where the Confederates were assembled.  Some informant, perhaps a Newton or a Henry guided the men.  If so, both Henry and Newton would later reap their grim reward their allegiance to the Union and their treachery to their neighbors earned for them.

The day of April 28th broke bright and sunny.  The Sheep Shed rocks were near the spring that fed the town and watered the horses from the stage coaches.  The rocks were hidden in the woods, above the spring impossible to discern from the road.  The Union company traveled south on Hill Grove Road, until the east turnoff that ran by the Shumate schoolhouse.  The Shumate School was famous in Meade County for having the largest library of 125 books. School was in session and Susan Willett the teacher wondered at the long line of heavily armed soldiers.  The county road they traveled ran east and west between Stith Valley Road, and String Town Road.  They proceeded on until they were almost in sight of the overhanging rocks named the Sheep Shed.  They muffled their armaments, and proceeded quietly as was possible until they stopped, out of sight, behind a small hillock where they would form a line for battle.

At the rocks, Shacklett and his men were enjoying the beautiful spring day.  They were lounging at the rocks laughing and telling stories, most of which bore little resemblance to the truth.  They were doing what men do when relaxed and unconcerned, unaware of the impending danger.    The woods were full of fading Redbud blossoms, and the Dogwood was in full glory.  Locust, Wild Cherry, Plum, and Pear blossoms were everywhere. It seemed as if some giant mystical hand had painted the woods from a palette of bright colors.  The birds were singing, and the air was perfumed with the sweet scent of spring wild flowers. Jarrett who was known to drink too much whiskey was standing guard on a rock that was nearest the school drinking deeply from a blue Mason jar full of clear corn liquor.  As he stood watch, Hare, out of Jarrett’s view, quietly lined his men into battle formation, and when he himself was mounted and ready, he ordered his bugler to signal the attack.  At the sound of the bugle the Union men, at full gallop, charged up the hill that had hidden them from view.  When Jarrett saw the troopers, he gave a shout of warning, but it came too late.  Ducking, he ran for cover, finding refuge on the ground behind a fence post 60 feet in front of the school.  Shacklett and his men hearing the warning and the thundering hoof beats grabbed their weapons, mounted their horses, and sprang into action.  The battle of the Sheep Shed was joined.

John Wimp's tombstone:  John Wimp was reportedly murdered by Amos Griffin, after he had surrendered.  He was shot in the back of the head after surrendering.  He must have been well thought of because his grave was marked by a low stone wall.  His date of death was the same as his cousin, Billy Shacklett's.  Billy's grave can be seen to the rear of John Wimp's.  They were buried the day after their death nearly back to back, in the Meadeville, Ky. Cemetery

John Wimp’s tombstone: John Wimp was reportedly murdered by Amos Griffin, after he had surrendered. He was shot in the back of the head after surrendering. He must have been well thought of because his grave was marked by a low stone wall. His date of death was the same as his cousin, Billy Shacklett’s. Billy’s grave can be seen to the rear of John Wimp’s.
They were buried the day after their death nearly back to back, in the Meadeville, Ky. Cemetery

Be sure to read about the battle as it was fought in Part 5.

 

The Schumate School as it appears today.  This photograph was taken approximately 60 feet in front of the school, the location where Jarrett stood and surrendered after hiding in the weeds, on the ground, behind a fence post.  He was later shot on the ride back to Louisville, as was Dan Morgan Shacklett.  The original building was of log, but later was rebuilt on the same location with frame construction.  It held the largest library in Meade County, with 125 books.  Jarrett and D. M. Shacklett were murdered.

The Schumate School as it appears today. This photograph was taken approximately 60 feet in front of the school, the location where Jarrett stood and surrendered after hiding in the weeds, on the ground, behind a fence post. He was later shot on the ride back to Louisville, as was Dan Morgan Shacklett. The original building was of log, but later was rebuilt on the same location with frame construction.
It held the largest library in Meade County, with 125 books. Jarrett and D. M. Shacklett were murdered.