Site of Killing of Asa Harmon McCoy

Historical Marker #2068 marks the location where Asa Harmon McCoy was shot by the Logan Wildcats on January 7, 1865. The younger brother of McCoy patriarch Randolph “Old Ranel” McCoy, Harmon was a Union veteran, who mustered out of service on December 24, 1864, after breaking his leg. According to one historian, Harmon was also a member of the Kentucky home guard unit in Pike County that spied and stole horses belonging to the Logan Wildcats in West Virginia. He returned to the Tug Valley, an area that sided heavily with the Confederacy.

McCoy was not welcomed home with open arms. Instead, his friends and neighbors mistrusted the Union veteran and he became the target of the Logan Wildcats, a Confederate guerilla unit led by William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield. The Logan Wildcats organized to defend their homes and property from the perceived threats of Union soldiers, but quickly became an intimidating guerrilla force, harassing Union sympathizers, and stealing horses, hogs, and cattle from their “enemies.”

On January 7, 1865, Harmon was shot and killed in a cave along Peter Creek in Pike County. The guerillas, led by Jim Vance—a Hatfield relative—tracked Harmon to the cave, shot him, and left him to die. Asa Harmon McCoy’s connections to the Union, more so than his last name, led to his death in that cave.

No one was prosecuted for Harmon’s death and though this is the first recorded incident between the Hatfields and McCoys, more than a decade would pass before the feud truly began. The long gap between this event and the subsequent feud violence leads many historians to conclude they should be treated separately. Feud participants during the 1880s agreed and both sides denied that Civil War differences caused the rest of the trouble between the clans. Yet, despite these claims, the 1865 killing became enmeshed in feud lore as an opening salvo that foreshadowed the bloodshed to come.

Historical Marker #2068 was dedicated on June 10, 2001 through the efforts of Pikeville-Pike County Tourism.

The marker reads:

Site of Killing of Asa Harmon McCoy
Asa Harmon McCoy, a Union soldier, was shot in 1865 by the Logan Wildcats. The Wildcats were led by Confederate "Devil Anse" Hatfield. Jim Vance was the suspected leader in the murder, although there was never a conviction. This was the first incident between the two families.
Presented by Pikeville-Pike County Tourism.