Union Colonel Frank Wolford

Historical Marker #604 in Adair County commemorates Union Colonel Frank Wolford, a Columbia native who had a controversial military career. Wolford was a vocal opponent of President Abraham Lincoln's policies in Kentucky during the Civil War, protesting the enlistment of African American solders. He was ultimately arrested and discharged from the service.

Born in Adair County in September 1817, Wolford built a reputation as a criminal-defense lawyer. He fought in the Mexican War and served in the state legislature. During the Civil War, Wolford organized the 1st Kentucky Union Cavalry, which frequently fought John Hunt Morgan's Confederate cavalry.

Although he supported the Union, in March 1864, Wolford gave a speech in Lexington condemning the Federal enlistment of African American soldiers. He also lambasted Lincoln for the "indiscriminate, wide-spread ruin which he is sowing." He gave a similar speech in Danville, and was arrested and discharged from the military.

Although Lincoln intervened and Wolford was released, he continued giving speeches. Again arrested, he was told that charges would be dropped if he stopped complaining. Wolford wrote Lincoln, "Excuse the bluntness of a soldier, [but you have] by an exercise of arbitrary power caused me to be arrested and held in confinement contrary to law, not for the good of our common country, but to increase the chances of your re-election." Lincoln eventually intervened, and Wolford was again released.

Many Kentuckians opposed the enlistment of African American troops, so Wolford held important positions after the war, including adjutant general of Kentucky, legislator, and U. S. congressman. He died in 1895 and was buried in Columbia.

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Union Colonel Frank Wolford

Union Colonel Frank Wolford

During the Civil War, Union Colonel Frank Wolford, who led the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, opposed many of Abraham Lincoln's policies in Kentucky. Because of his stance against the enlistment of African American soldiers, Wolford was arrested several times and was ultimately discharged from the army. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Wolford Presentation Sword

Wolford Presentation Sword

Colonel Frank Wolford was presented this sword by the citizens of Garrad County, Kentucky, at a speech given in Lexington in March 1864. During the speech Wolford railed against the Lincoln adminstration and African American enlistments into the Union army. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Wolford and Jacob Report

Wolford and Jacob Report

This pamphlet outlined the various incidences in which Union Colonel Frank Wolford and Lieutenant Governor Richard T. Jacob spoke out against the Lincoln administration. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Union Colonel Frank Wolford,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed March 29, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/42.

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