Two of my ancestral families lived in northern Kentucky at the outset of the war; although they had not yet united. The Bannon families were lace-curtain Irish and were tradesmen that relied heavily upon the industrial economy that made Louisville the prosperous city that it was. The Kollros were part of the German emigrant population that settled in the Ohio River valley cities of Cincinnati, Louisville, and surrounding towns. It is not easy to judge how these two different families must have reacted to the start of the war...

Table of ContentsA House DividedAmerican Civil War

The Border

Louisville, Kentucky

Two of my ancestral families lived in northern Kentucky at the outset of the war; although they had not yet united. The Bannon families were lace-curtain Irish and were tradesmen that relied heavily upon the industrial economy that made Louisville the prosperous city that it was. The Kollros were part of the German emigrant population that settled in the Ohio River valley cities of Cincinnati, Louisville, and surrounding towns. It is not easy to judge how these two different families must have reacted to the start of the war.

Richard Bannon, my gg-grandfather, was 43 years old at the start of the war. His brother Patrick was 37 years old and in 1861, neither man had any children. We do know that Richard left Louisville some time during war and went back to Northern Ireland where he stayed until the end of the war. I had always assumed that he left Louisville due to civil unrest in the city at the start of war, but from a reading of article on Louisville during the Civil War, I get the impression that the city and region was in the early years relatively quiet. It was not until 1864 when guerilla warfare began to plague the state that conditions became really bad.

In the North, there was a growing anti-war, pro-south movement whose adherents were known as Copperheads. The term Copperhead was used for the first time in writing in 1862 by the Cincinnati Gazette. It was used to indicate people who would not admit they were Southern sympathizers or "peace at any price" Democrats. In the 1860 census, Richard Bannon is found living at a hotel in Covington, Kentucky. The city of Covington is directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio and this area was a center of Copperhead political activity during the Civil War. In the summer of 1864, ugly rumors were rampant of a conspiracy, backed by the Democratic Party, to overthrow the state governments in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and create a "Northwest Confederacy". Much of the rumors were based on the flames of lies, conjectures, and innuendo fanned by Republican newspapers and politicians. A popular Ohio congressman, Clement L. Vallandigham, who had been exiled to the south by the Army earlier in year for making an anti-Lincoln speech had re-entered the US from Canada and was running for governor of Ohio. The Democrats were preparing to meet in convention in Chicago. The Republican leadership of the Old Northwest was in fear that the Democrats, in league with a number of "dark lantern" societies, were plotting to overthrow the government and sue for peace with the southern states.   There were numerous arrests of suspected rebels in the states that bordered the Ohio River. Lincoln had suspended habeas corpus and in some cases, civilians were tried by military courts.  In Kentucky, martial law was declared in July of 1864 and there were many arrests of prominent Louisville citizens. Perhaps Richard Bannon left the US for Ireland during the war for reasons more than just to pay a visit to the old sod.

The Kollros family lived in Louisville during the war. The patriarch of the family, Joseph Kollros, was 69 years old when the war started and the US Census of 1860 lists his occupation as "Policeman". His eldest son, Dominic, was 33 in 1861 and his younger son, Constantine (my gg-grandfather), was 23 years old. At one web site, I found an extensive archive of military rosters of Kentucky German-Americans for both the Union and the Confederate armies. Both brothers do not appear on any list found at this site and the large majority of the rosters listed are for Union army units. If they did serve in the war the demographics of the German-American population in 1861 suggests they were more likely to have worn a blue uniform rather than a gray one. A search of Civil War-related military records at Ancestry.com for the name Kollros or Colrose returns only a single entry and that is for an unrelated "Walter V. Colrose" of Ohio who served in a infantry unit from New York.

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