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Colonel Wolford was one of most important Kentuckians to fight in Civil War

Wolford Monument will honor Adair County native's contributions to the Union
By Duane Bonifer
Director, Public Relations, Lindsey Wilson College
COLUMBIA, Ky. -- He was probably one of the most important Kentucky natives to fight inthe Civil War, yet his name is relatively unknown by most Kentuckians.

Aside from Civil War historian and afficionados, few people are aware of thecontributions that Adair County native Frank Lane Wolford made while fighting topreserve the union. But a group of Adair County residents hope that will begin to changethis fall after a public memorial to Wolford is unveiled in Columbia City Cemetery.


"Colonel Wolford is considered by many to be the outstanding Kentuckian in the Civil Warbecause of his bravery, leadership, devotion to his men and his staunch stand for theprinciples he believed in," said Vonnie Kolbenschlag of Columbia, who has organized andled the memorial project.

To honor Wolford's legacy, a Lindsey Wilson College art professor and two Lindsey Wilsonstudents are creating a cast stone sculpture that will be placed in the cemetery, whereWolford was buried after his death in 1895.

A groundbreaking for the sculpture was held Saturday morning in Columbia City Cemetery.When it is completed later this fall, the relief will be about five feet tall and sevenfeet wide, and it will feature Wolford leading the U.S. 1st Kentucky Cavalry, known as"Wolford's Men."

Memorial funded by Arts Builds Community grant

The project is funded in part by an "Arts Builds Community" grant from the Kentucky ArtsCouncil. Funding has also came from the Appalachian College Association, the ColumbiaCity Council, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and several Adair County organizations andindividuals.

"It's just a great opportunity for me as an artist to do something that will become animportant landmark in our community," said Smith, who is professor of art at LindseyWilson and the sculpture's designer.

Smith said he is particularly excited that two Lindsey Wilson students will help himcreate the sculpture.

"As an educator, this gives me a tangible way to show how art works," Smith said.

Because the cemetery is located on the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail, the project'screators expect it to appeal to the growing number of Civil War tourists.

"This memorial will enhance the Morgan Trail and provide an additional Civil War site tovisit," Smith said. "This will also help us better understand our local heritage andunderstand how it affects us today."

A lawyer by profession and former Kentucky state representative, Wolford commanded theU.S. 1st Kentucky Cavalry during the Civil War. He fought in more than 300 fights andskirmishes in Kentucky and Tennessee, was wounded seven times during his three years ofservice and was honored for his military service.

Wolford best known for capturing John Hunt Morgan

But Wolford is perhaps best known for helping capture Confederate General John HuntMorgan, whose famous raids cut through Southcentral Kentucky and into Indiana and Ohio."The 1st Kentucky Cavalry was said to be the only regiment that Morgan said he feared,"Kolbenschlag said.

In 1864, Wolford was honored for his leadership and presented a ceremonial sword, sash,spurs and pistols. But in his speech, he spoke out against the Lincoln administration'spractice of recruiting slaves into the Union army.

"He said he felt the United States was being crucified between thieves -- theauthorities in Richmond (the Confederate seat of government) and in Washington (theUnion seat of government)," Kolbenschlag said.

The speech resulted in Wolford being dishonorably discharged from the army by PresidentLincoln. He was arrested and jailed several times until Lincoln intervened and ended thematter in 1865.

Elected to U.S. House of Representatives

Wolford returned to politics in March 1965, serving in the Kentucky House until 1867.And then from 1883-87, he represented Kentucky's 11th Congressional District in the U.S.House of Representatives.

"It is said he 'bled for the North; pled for the South.'" Kolbenschlag said. "He triedto bring healing to the nation by supporting amnesty for soldiers who fought for theConfederacy."

Colonel Wolford's funeral in 1895 was too large for any church

When Wolford died in 1895 at his home on Greensburg Street, his funeral was held in theAdair County Courthouse because the crowd was too large for any church in the city.

"What makes Wolford such a fascinating person to study is that in spite of the differingviews of the Civil War, he decided, 'I'm going to take a stand for the preservation ofthe Union' and yet he exercised his right to disagree with Abraham Lincoln on somepoints," Smith said. "Although he was such a charismatic leader, he wasn't in it for theglory or the fame. And I think that speaks to some core issues of what it means to be anAmerican."

A series of forums will be held to discuss the life of Wolford and gather communityreaction to the proposed memorial project. The forums will be July 7 & 19; August 9 &23; and September 6. All of the forums will be held at 7 p.m. CT in the W.W. SliderHumanities Center on the campus of Lindsey Wilson. For more information, contact Smithat smitht@lindsey.edu or (270) 384-8079.
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