January 5, 2009


Simpsonville Slaughter

On January 25, 1865, while driving a herd of 900 government cattle to the slaughterhouses in Louisville, elements of the 5th United States Colored Cavalry (USCC) were attacked near Simpsonville, Kentucky by Confederate guerillas.  About twenty-two troopers were killed, and as many as twenty were wounded during the incident.  At least four troopers later died of their wounds.  Based at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, nearly all of the 5th USCC’s recruits were former slaves.


A ceremony to dedicate a highway historical marker memorializing the 1865 “Simpsonville Slaughter” will be held at 2:00  p.m. EST on Sunday, January 25, 2009, which is the 144th anniversary of the incident.  The first part of the ceremony will be held indoors at the Whitney M. Young Job Corps Center gymnasium, followed by the formal unveiling of the marker to be located near the intersection of Webb Road and U.S. 60, ½ mile west of Simpsonville.


The keynote speaker will be W. Stephen McBride, Ph.D. - Director of Interpretation and Archaeology at Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park.  Mike Crutcher, President of the Camp Nelson Historic Preservation Foundation, will speak in costume as Frederick Douglass.  Robert L. Bell, a Civil War re-enactor, will speak as Private Newton Bush, a survivor of the attack.


David E. Brown of Maryland will speak about the slain troopers from the 5th USCC, most of who are still listed as Missing in Action in their military service record.  Mr. Brown is a descendent of Samuel Truehart, who had been enslaved in Shelby County and who was a member of Co. E – 5th USCC.  Most of the troops engaged at Simpsonville were from Co. E. 


Erma J. Bush from the Kentucky Chautauqua will appear as her character, Ms Dinnie Thompson, to bring greetings from the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten (SMT) Temple.  The SMT was the female counterpart of the United Brothers of Friendship, which is the fraternal organization that cared for the cemetery in which it is believed the slain troopers were buried in a mass grave. 


The Whitney Choir from the Whitney M. Young Job Corps Center will present “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other period songs. Civil War re-enactors from the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery – Reactivated will provide an honor guard.


Brochures will be vailable at the event that discuss the skirmish and the mass grave in which the dead troopers were buried. The public is invited to both the indoor and outdoor portions of the ceremony.  For more information, please call 502-802-3094 or 502-244-1873.

J.T. "Jerry" Miller

Volunteer “Simpsonville Slaughter” Project Manager

Shelby County Historical Society

17200 Ash Hill Drive

Louisville, KY  40245-6105