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The Life of Logan Belt

Shadrach Jackson


Logan Belt in the Rebellion


On the date of July 16th, 1863, Logan Belt enlisted in Company D, 48th Kentucky Volunteers. Being an Illinois Company, but raised for a Kentucky Regiment, Company D. joined the Regiment at Marion, Ky., August 24th, 1863, where they went into camp and officers were selected. Logan Belt was selected as Second Lieutenant. Thomas Smock, also of Hardin County, Ill., was before the company, but the friends of Belt claimed that he was best entitled to the position on account of the services rendered by him while the company was being made up, etc. Before leaving Hardin County for Marion, Ky., a ballot was taken at Dunn Springs in order to ascertain who would be the probable choice of the Company for Second Lieutenant. Some twenty men of Company A were present, and as they were stationed at the lower end of the line, Belt walked down close to them, realizing that they would vote for the man nearest them, which they did. Thus an impression was thrown out that Belt was elected over Smock through unfair means. This is all a mistake, however, as Belt was the choice of the Company. But a great many afterward saw the blunder made in selecting him as such officer.

The first move of the Regiment was to Princeton, Ky. This Regiment never saw active


service, and only did guard and skirmish duty. During drilling exercises, Lieut. (Logan) Belt took but limited stock and that was forced out of him by superior officers. In regimental drill, Maj. Hoyt would give command to Regiment, and Lieut. Belt was not sufficiently skilled in or acquainted with military tactics as to give orders to his company that would accord with the general order or aid in the execution of the desired movement.

He was inefficient to exercise duties required of him, and he seemed to feel his inability by keeping aloof and avoiding all drilling and other exercises. He was a total failure in everything that did not personally interest and financially benefit Lieut. Belt. As a soldier puts it, "pure cussedness was Belt's forte". He could successfully steal a fine horse and smuggle him through to his home in Egypt, where he could also have him disposed of at handsome figures. A part of these stolen animals were kept for him by various parties until his return home at the close of the Rebellion. His wife was left in the care of her father, widely known as old Billy Frailey, and to whom was entrusted the keeping of several mules and horses and some two hundred dollars cash. His brother-in-law, Asa Mott, also cared for and disposed of a great deal of his ill-gotten property. A total of eighteen horses and mules were captured and run to Egypt by confederates. These confederates were to be largely rewarded upon Belt's return, but a man that will stealthily take a part will also take all if the opportunity presents itself. Thus, but very few of Belt confederates received anything for their services But it is not deemed necessary to give each particular incident of a stolen horse or mule, and owing to limited space we content ourself with noting a few of the most important as we


go along. While at Princeton, Ky., ravages were from time to time being made upon the citizens of Princeton, and an order was issued from headquarters, Louisville, Ky., by Gen. Burbridge making assessments on rebel citizens for damages or loss incurred through the deprecations of the guerillas. Logan Belt was detailed to notify them to report to Gen. Burbridge, or in other words to summon them to appear at headquarters and pay the assessment. Again we wish to portray to the mind of the reader the harshness of Logan Belt's nature and the empty domineering or swell-head disposition possessed by him. He could have gone to these resident rebels, a great many of whom were perfect gentlemen, who were thus being called upon to make good the losses occasioned by the depredations of a criminal class of free-booters, with Whom they were in no wise connected, and quietly informed them of the orders from headquarters, and in a soothing manner made them to feel that he was merely discharging a painful duty devolving upon him through the orders of superior officers. In this way he may have allayed to some extent the bitter feeling existing in their bosoms against the North. Instead, he only kindled the spark of wrath into a sweeping flame of hate and added insult to injury by calling his vindictive nature into play, using abusive language, etc. By way of illustrating the aforegoing and verifying our statement, it is only necessary to give as a sample the following incident: Going one day to the residence of a wealthy Kentuckian for the purpose of requesting him to personally appear before Gen. Burbridge at Louisville and pay the assessment due, he found the gentleman mentioned oonfined to his room very ill. This man, whom Belt could see was very sick, endeavored to have himself excused, or the date for his


appearance at headquarters deferred. This, however, was not sufficient grounds for Lieut. Belt to excuse him, neither would he appoint another day for him to visit headquarters, nor even obtain orders of Gen. Burbridge to appoint a committee to receive the assessment, but with assumed authority the sick man was hurried off to Louisville, being cursed meanwhile by Belt for being a rebel. There is honor to be maintained even in warfare, but Belt knew it not. There is generally a spark of humanity found in the heart of the vilest desperado, yet such a spark never smouldered in the black heart of this character of Logan Belt.

The Regiment next moved to Russellville, Ky., where they drilled during the early part of the winter of 1863. Before leaving Princeton, however, Lieut. Belt sent a fine gray mare to Asa Mott to be taken care of for him. What became of the mare the writer will show further on. Suffice it to say that this was another "pressed" horse, while "pressing" animals for the U. S. Government he was not wholly unmindful of Logan Belts financial interest, and accordingly "pressed" the finest ones for Lieut. Belt. The third move was to Bowling Green, Ky. While encamped on Barren River, a little incident happened which the author desires to give simply to show the general character of Belt. One day while a government drove of mules were passing through to Louisville, Ky. and when in the act of swimming them over the river, they had the misfortune to mire several fine mules--some of them being greedily swallowed by the treacherous sands of the river's bed, while others barely stuck in a blue coarse mud. Of the latter, the officer in charge told the boys if they would rescue the mules from a watery grave they might have them. Accordingly a young man named Wm. Boyd, who was a teamster,


pulled a very fine young mule out of the mud. The mule was nearly dead when rescued, and it was several weeks ere his muleship was his former self, and this only through the kindest treatment. Mr. Boyd was an excellent young man possessing a philanthropic disposition, and the same spirit that prompted him to save the dumb beast also prompted him to care well for it, so that in six weeks the animal looked altogether different. Lieut. Belt, however, had his "weather eye" open, and as soon as the mule was again in fine condition, captured him and sent him home. Virtually stole the animal before its owner's eyes, as he had an opportunity to send him to friends in Egypt, and so himself boldly took a halter, placed it upon the mule, and had him led away in open day. Teamster Boyd well knew Lieut. Belt's desperate character, and therefore thought it was better to lose the animal than his own life later, should he cause Belt any trouble over the abduction of a mule. Two other fine mules were sent home while encamped on the Barren. This was during the latter part of the winter of '63 and '64. Wm. Boyd, the teamster here spoken of, is well known to many of our readers, having oft repeated the story which we now relate. There are also several living witnesses to this incident, but we care not to reveal their names in this work, and would not have used the name of the deceased were it not just as it is--he is lying under the mould. Boyd was a bold, fearless man, however, and numerous persons now residing in Hardin County have heard this same story from his lips. The living witnesses do not care to have their names associated with Belt unless it was absolutely necessary, and we certainly deem it not.

Before proceeding farther, we give the names of a few of the officers, the names of whom will be used hereafter while sketching


Belts life during the great Civil War. The First Lieutenant was John Tyler, also from Hardin County, Illinois, Orderly (or First) Sargeant, Geo. W. Jackson, from aforementioned place, and a gentleman known only to us as Lieutenant Gregory, of Company A. But we stop with this last for the present. If it had not been for these three men, Lieut. Belt would never have gotten his credentials in shape so that he could have been mustered out. He could not have made a satisfactory report or settlement with the U. S. Government, so illiterate was he. They made intercession for him at various times when arrested. They well knew Belt was crooked and that his "ways were dark," but they leaned this much toward him through that pity known only to soldiers. Belt was of their company, had gone out with them and thereby hangs the tale. Tyler was appointed Quartermaster and the duties of this office confined him closely, so that he afterward knew but little of Belt's army record, and perhaps knew but little before, as he was a man who attended strictly to his own individual affairs and concerned himself not as regarded the affairs of other men. The Adjutant was a gentleman named William Shuler. The Regiment was put on detached duty from Clarksville, Tenn., to Louisville, Ky., along the L.& N. Railroad. Company D was divided and the principal part was stationed at Cave City, Ky., and the minor part of the Company was on detached duty at Bacon Creek, in Hart County, Kentucky, guarding a railroad bridge. This was in April, 1864. At this juncture, it will not be amiss to give the only instance in which Logan Belt was ever known to turn over captured property to the government. He was in command of the detachment at Bacon Creek. One day a report came into camp that a few guerillas were at a farm house


a short distance away, whereupon Lieut. Belt sent four men out to surprise and capture them. They found the three guerrillas and promptly turned them over to the Quartermaster at Munfordsville. While guarding this place, Lieut. Belt had a horse that was constantly breaking into the fields of an old gentleman living one mile from camp. Although a man of generous proclivities, still he did not wish his corn destroyed when it was entirely unneccessary that it should be, so he mildly waited upon Lieut. Belt and informed him quietly of the depredations of the animal upon his fields of corn. Belt insultingly told him to help himself; the man of silver hairs, for he was seventy years of age, humbly took his leave, begging Belt to care for the horse and not allow his standing crop destroyed. The animal was still allowed to trespass at will upon the grounds of the nice old gentleman who had in his modest way begged that it be not allowed. At last forbearance ceased to be a virtue even with this good old father of three score and ten, so coming into camp one early morn, he informed Lieut. Belt that he must keep his horse out of his fields, Belt cursed him and again told him to help himself. In response, the man of years and gray hair firmly told Belt he would shoot the horse the next time he broke in upon his premises. This was too much for Lieut. Belt. His dignity as an officer was wounded, so in a rage he knocked the old gentleman down, kicked and unmercifully beat him, and would perhaps have killed him outright had not some of the detachment interceded for the helpless victim of Belt's wanton cruelty. At this inhuman treatment of an old man just on the verge of the grave, the boys of Belt's command were greatly incensed at their leader, and Belt was accordingly reported. Belt was arrested and


a hearing of the case by officers from the Colonel's office at the station was held. It was just a hearing and the case against him was dismissed, through the leniency of Capt. Charles E. Van Pelt and others. The evidence was of a serious nature and all against him. The daughter of the old gentleman had come up to camp with him, and was therefore a witness against Belt, as also were several of the detachment. Here was an aggravated case, imagine, dear reader --yes, picture if you can, the scene of a young man in the capacity of an officer, willfully mistreating a fellow being whom the blighting frosts of seventy winters had rendered physically infirm; meanwhile an intelligent little daughter was wringing her hands and plaintively pleading for her father. No one but a desperado, whose heart was calloused o'er by the committal of many crimes, could have withstood the sweet young voice and tearstained face of that lovely girl as she piteously interceded for her aged parent. Yet all this did not move the flinty heart of this monster in human form. He was Lieut. Belt, and Lieut. Belt's will must not be crossed. Here was the coveted moment in which to inspire his small detachment with awe, and cause them to dread even the name of Lieut. Belt, and as we have stated he lost not the opportunity. This, though a cowardly act, had the desired effect upon the men under him. It proved conclusively his cowardly, yet vindicative spirit, and it behooved them to watch him, lest they should be gotten in to trouble on his account. If his dictates were always obeyed, trouble was likely to ensue therefrom, and if they were disobeyed, then the life-long despleasure of Lieut. Belt was incurred, and they knew not but that life itself would at some time pay the penalty. The reader can at once see that it was the treacherous


revengeful spirit of Belt that was most feared by his associates, even in war. The consequences were always considered. Indianlike, he was ever stealthily maturing plans whereby he could gain revenge and yet not be proven positively an actor in the dark drama. To show that a cowardly spirit reigned within the man, we have only to relate another little incident which occurred while at this place, though we refrain from giving the name of the party concerned outside the character of this book. One day a hog had been troubling the boys of a certain mess while preparing their frugal meal. At last they became tired of it and one of them, a lad about 19 years of age, shot it in the leg inflicting a mere flesh wound but sufficient to make the porker squeal. Belt heard the hog squeal and immediately began to utter threats against the man who did the shooting if only he could find him out. No one said anything. This seemed to license our Lieutenant to say a great deal more, which he did, much to the discomfort of all. Finally he became so much enraged that he had the boys drawn up in line and the roll called, whereupon he put the question direct to all but the last man. No one knew anything about the matter. Threats of heavy penalties were profusely made, but no one seemed to regard them till after Belt had reached a finis in his tirade of abuse. When he had ceased speaking, a young man, the very same one to whom Belt had not put the question regarding the hog, stepped out of the ranks with the cool remark: "Mr. Belt, I am the man that shot that hog; if you have anything more to say, let us hear it, and I assure you we can settle it quickly." The boy threw his gun carelessly upon his left arm and stood demurely tapping its stock with the fingers of the right hand while awaiting a reply from Belt.


The movement was a quiet but yet a decided one. The firm resolute look in the boy's face and the flashing eyes told a true story of deadly intention, which Lieut. Belt was not slow to see, and not heeding the Boy's remarks, quickly dismissed the line of men before him, and turning upon his heel, left the scene without further remarks upon the hog question. While at this place, Belt shipped a great deal of ill-gotten plunder home, which consisted of dry goods, clothing, soldiers' shoes, groceries, etc. He compelled one certain man now living in Hardin County, Illinois, to box up these stolen goods and ship them to Asa Mott, then a resident of Hardin County, and a brother-in-law to Belt. At last this man became afraid the constant stealing by Belt would be detected and he refused to pack and ship any more of the goods. Belt threatened him, but it availed nothing. Lieut. Belt had then to pick another man. The writer can prove all of this, and more upon good authority. Two very large boxes were at one time shipped to Cave-In-Rock, Ill., via Louisville, Ky., and a prominent citizen of the county sat upon one of the boxes in Louisville. Also a large box of coffee, tea, sugar, blankets, etc., were shipped by him from Cave City. While they were still at Bacon Creek, the report that rebel soldiers were in the vicinity again came into camp. Belt took four or five men and went to capture them. But it turned out that they were Union Soldiers of another company and that it was only their horses that Belt meant to surprise and capture, which he did, securing two very fine horses which were immediately run out of that section by confederates and were soon securely stabled in Hardin County, Illinois. These soldiers were on their way home and perhaps never knew who robbed them of their horses.


Here we introduce to the reader a character known as Louis Franklin, of Crittenden County, Kentucky. Franklin had killed a rebel in Kentucky and was thrown into jail therefore. He broke jail, however, and fled to Hardin County, Illinois, where in the year 1863 he was living on what is now known as the Isaiah Gustin farm, just one mile north of Cave-in-Rock, Ill. In this same year he enlisted in Company D, along with Logan Belt and others. He became closely allied with Lieut. Belt, they being bosom friends. Franklin was a man who knew no fear, and to arouse his ire meant to place him as a deadly foe against the personage who did it. Yet, in justice to him, it must be said that he was not the man to take undue advantage of his opponent and was in every respect a man of cool, collected mind. His comrades respected him for his bravery. We introduce him to our readers in order to correct an erroneous impression that has gone out to the effect that Franklin was killed by Belt. But Lieut. Belt and Franklin were firm friends, as heretofore stated. A short sketch and the reader will be left to his own thoughts. Again Lieut. Belt left Bacon Creek and went to Cave City where he was placed second in command of the Post. A command had been issued that the boys should not take any more roasting ears, but shortly after the order had been given, an officer came down into camp early one morning only to find the camp kettles steaming and the boys, as usual, cooking roasting ears. "Who stole those roasting ears?" was the inquiry from the officer. No reply from the boys. This enraged the officer, who said: "By G-d, I'll find out who got that corn." So he ordered the first Sergeant to detail six guards and to place the remainder of the company in the stockade, where it was


the duty of the guards to see that they remained till someone would tel1 who took the corn. Franklin, having been on guard the night previous, was sleeping in the stockade, and when he awoke, was informed by the boys that he was alike with them, under arrest. Franklin did not understand it, so quietly getting up, he passed out of the stockade unhindered by the guard and proceeded directly to the officers' quarters, where he asked him why he was placed under arrest. But his painstaking was only rewarded by a tirade of abuse. Franklin talked back in a lively way and the officer threatened to have him bucked and gagged, but the company being nearly all under arrest and the Orderly Sergeant refusing to assist in gagging him, he ordered the First Sergeant to tie Franklin to the tree, as also the guard who allowed him to pass out of the stockade, which was executed. In the meantime, the soldiers confined in the stockade mutinied and threatened to take their guns and walk out. The officer was informed of this, and placing himself in the door of the stockade, ordered the men to pass out by him in single file, and as they did so he would put the question to each as to whether or not they got the corn. The first man to pass out was the man who acknowledged that he procured the roasting ears, and was ordered tied to a tree by the superior officer, who immediately left the company quarters and went down into town, which was distant no more than one-fourth mile. Six of the boys went down to where Franklin was tied and, cutting the cords that bound him, they, without orders, set him free. Our officer, upon his return, made inquiry as to who cut Franklin loose. The First Sergeant, in answer to him, said: "Some of the boys." No more was said about it, but the next morning he


ordered Franklin to be sent to Munfordsville, twelve miles distant, delivered to provost-martial and court-martialed. So he was accordingly taken by First Sergeant, as officer in charge, with H. M. Winders as guard. The presiding officer, however, failed to prefer charges against Franklin and the provost-martial set him at liberty. Franklin refused to go back to his company, and after awhile, succeeded in getting himself placed in the quartermaster's department to care for the horses. Franklin wished to go home in order to see his family, then residing at Marion, Ky. The Colonel and Quartermaster tried to prevail on him to give up the idea, but no, go he must. So in company with a relative, he started to Marion, each on horse-back. But poor Franklin never saw the companion of his hopes and fears --the dear wife he so longed to see. Franklin and his companion were shot from off their horses and their heads severed from their bodies. Logan Belt was absent from the company at that time visiting his family in Hardin County, Ill. Therefore, it was quite easy to throw out the impression that he was Franklin's murderer, but the author has learned enough to convince him that Lieut. Belt neither committed nor was a party to the crime in question. Franklin, as heretofore stated, had killed a rebel. That rebel had relatives--enough is said. Logan Belt was innocent of this charge, and here we will let it rest. Franklin was killed in November, 1864.

Now a few more little incidents and we shall close this chapter of his life. One day two of the boys passed out of camp to get shavings to sleep on. Going by where Logan Belt sat, the first one said, "Lieutenant, I'm going down after shavings to sleep on." "All right," replied Belt. The hindmost soldier,


who was none other than James Mason, deceased, and known to many of our people, passed on without saying aught to Belt. After Mason had passed, Belt called to him, asking him where he was going. Mason said he was going after shavings. "No, by G-d, you're not," Belt said hotly. He immediately ordered Mason tied to a tree, and while he was being tied, Lieut. Belt commanded the boys to "tie him as tight as h--l." One informant says that the tone of this expression by Belt on that occassion made him feel queer, and he distinctly remembers the incident to this day. On another occasion, while the company were removing from Princeton to Bowling Green, Lieut. Belt again displayed his disposition of wanton cruelty by tieing one of the boys, who is yet living in this county, behind one of the wagons with a short piece of rope and walking him through the mud as though he were a dumb animal--all this now as a reprimand for some small misdemeanor. And, another incident we shall give here, is that of Richard Edwards, whom Lieut. Belt had stripped of every vestige of clothing, his feet tied together and hands behind him, and then water thrown upon his naked body. Edwards, in the meantime, nearly going into convulsions and acting more like a madman than a sane man as he rolled over upon the ground frothing at the mouth and cursing. At another time, he tied this same Edwards by the thumbs, placing Edwards upon his feet in a standing posture with his hands drawn up to a pole overhead, Just as high and as tight as could be drawn, and in this position he was forced to stand for four or five hours. Such treatment of a human being causes a shudder to pass over the writer to even pen it. Logan Belt was courtmartialed at Bowling Green, Ky., for buying clothing of the boys, who, when they would run


short of funds, would draw on the Government for clothing, and then dispose of the same to Lieut. Belt for a mere trifle in cash. But the wily Lieutenant was not to be caught even in so plain a case as this, and managed the affair so adroitly that nothing was done with him.

In the latter part of the year 1863, the regiment was consolidated, and the major part stationed at Munfordsville. It was intended that his regiment join Sherman's army, but the regiment was subsequently disbanded and put on detached duty along the L.& N. Railroad. The regiment was again consolidated in the fall of 1864, and finally mustered out of service on December 16, 1864, at Bowling Green, Ky. But ere we close this chapter, we wish to give the manner in which Belt sometimes proceeded while pressing horses for army uses and how he sometimes managed to procure the most valuable for himself. Upon one occasion, he went on an expedition of this kind, and while looking at the horses espied a very fine animal well worth one hundred and fifty dollars. He told the owner that he would like to have that one for himself, to use as a saddle horse, and would give him twenty-five dollars for him if he said so. If not, then they would have to take them all alike for the use of the army. This horse was also sent home.


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