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Lot D. Young, b. 1842
Reminiscences of a Soldier of the Orphan Brigade
[Louisville: Courier-journal Job Printing Company, 1918?].


Lot D. Young was born January 22, 1842 in Nicholas County, Kentucky. He joined the Fourth Kentucky Infantry at the age of twenty, after spending two years as a "charter member" of the band of citizen soldiers known as the "Flat Rock Grays." Because of Kentucky's precarious position as a border state, any Kentuckian who wanted to fight for the Confederacy had to join the cause in Tennessee. Young's unit became part of what was later christened the "Orphan Brigade." Although there are several theories about the origins of the moniker, Young contends that it came about as General Breckenridge rode among the dead and wounded after the battle at Murfreesboro (Stone River), lamenting his "poor Orphans." Young actively served the Confederate cause until the end of the war when he was wounded by a "minnie ball," a bullet typically fired from a rifled musket, while assisting a dying friend at the Battle of Jonesboro in Georgia. After convalescing for six months in several hospitals, he returned to his beloved Kentucky and became a prominent farmer. In 1866, Young married Belle Davis, and the couple had five children. Young died April 3, 1926 and was buried in Carlisle, Kentucky, with the flags of both the United States and Confederate States of America in his hands. Civil War veterans from both sides served as honorary pallbearers.

Reminiscences of a Soldier of the Orphan Brigade, published as a pamphlet in 1918 under the auspices of the Richard Dawes Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, recounts Young's Civil War experiences. Although told from the perspective of a Confederate soldier and dedicated to all "those who wore the gray" and their descendants, Young's particular admiration for his fellow "orphans" is clear. The account is prefaced by a poem about the Orphan Brigade by Harvard geology professor and Kentucky native Nathaniel S. Shaler, who fought for the Union. The introduction, written in the third person, explains that Young's intentions in recording his memories of the Civil War are both to affirm the contribution of Kentucky during that war and provide "amusement and entertainment" (p. 5) to the young Kentucky soldiers fighting overseas in World War I. Comparisons between the Civil War and the "Great War" are interspersed throughout the narrative.

Young's narrative traces his Civil War experiences from battle to battle, with chapters on Shiloh, Vicksburg, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Resaca, and Dallas. Young describes military maneuvers and comments on several blunders made by the Confederate leadership that resulted in brutal defeats. Intermingled with these military reflections are anecdotes about the interactions between Union and Confederate soldiers. Young also recounts a brush with General Sherman and his troops while traveling to join the Confederates. Unaware that the type of boot he is wearing reveals his Confederate sympathies, only a tip from an anonymous man (who is later revealed to be General Robert Toombs) saves him from detection. Overall, Young presents a mixed view of Union soldiers. While describing the Battle of Shiloh, for example, he is scornful of the wounded Union soldiers pleas for help, because he perceives this as a sign of weakness that affronts his sense of southern honor. At other times he is more tolerant. During the Battle of Resaca, the Orphan Brigade meets its Union counterpart—the Federal Fourth Kentucky Brigade—and a coarse but entertaining banter ensues.

When Young revisits the battlegrounds in 1912, he dwells on the "glorious" aspects of war, reflecting his desire to memorialize his fellow soldiers of the Orphan Brigade. At the same time, Young asks his readers to remember—as yet another war takes "Kentucky boys" off to battle—his state's unique contribution American history.

Work Consulted: "Obituary of Lieut. L.D. Young," in Confederate Veteran 34.7, Nashville, Tennessee: July 1926.

Amanda M. Page

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