|Son of a Frankfort lawyer, Monroe led the charge which decided the battle’s outcome. He and his regiment later saw action at Chickasaw Bluffs, Arkansas Post, Champion Hill, Thompson’s Hill, and other important battles. In 1864 Monroe assumed command of the Frankfort garrison and successfully defended his hometown from Morgan’s raiders.
Born in Adair County in 1835, George Wood Monroe was the sixth son of Judge Benjamin Monroe of Frankfort, Kentucky. A prominent Frankfort attorney during the 1850s, Benjamin was known as Judge Monroe because he had served as judge of the Western Kentucky Circuit Court during the 1830s. His son George grew up in Frankfort and attended the town’s public schools.
We don’t know what special qualifications led to Monroe’s military commission, but we do know that on December 12th, l861, the 22nd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Swigert, Greenup County, Kentucky, with D. W. Lindsey as colonel and Monroe as lieutenant colonel. Company A of the 22nd Kentucky was composed of men recruited at Frankfort and Louisville, which means that some of them may have been Monroe’s personal friends. The regiment’s other companies were composed of men from Greenup, Carter, and Lewis Counties.
Middle Creek was the regiment’s baptism of fire, and during it Monroe performed gallantly, leading a detachment of the 22nd Kentucky up the steep hill opposite Graveyard Point and driving the men of the 5th Kentucky from their trenches. In his battle report Garfield praised Monroe for his bravery, saying that his heroic charge was “determinate of the day.”
Monroe and his regiment saw action under several different commanders. They accompanied General George W. Morgan during his retreat from Cumberland Gap in October, 1862, and they served with Sherman’s command during the expedition to Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi in December, 1862. On December 29th, Monroe led an unsuccessful charge against the heavily-defended Confederate position at Chickasaw Bluffs, along the Yazoo River above Vicksburg, that resulted in the deaths of three officers of the regiment and the wounding of Monroe and four other officers.
During Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, Monroe and his men saw action at Arkansas Post, Thompson’s Hill, Champion Hill, Big Black Bridge and other important battles. On October 15th, 1863, Monroe was promoted to colonel and given command of the 22nd Kentucky, Lindsey having been promoted to division commander.
In March, 1864, at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the 7th, 19th, and 22nd Kentucky Infantry Regiments were consolidated to form the 7th Kentucky Veteran Infantry, with Monroe as commander. In May, 1864, they were ordered to join General Banks in his expedition up the Red River.
Lindsey subsequently resigned his command and accepted the position of Inspector General of Kentucky, with headquarters at Frankfort. Monroe followed suit and in May, 1864 he was appointed Kentucky Quartermaster General by Governor Bramlette. Returning to Frankfort, he assumed command of the town’s small Union garrison during John Hunt Morgan’s “Last Kentucky Raid.” On June 10th, 1864, he successfully defended the town when it was beseiged by Colonel Pryor and two hundred men of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, part of Morgan’s command.
Monroe held the rank of Colonel until March 18th, 1865, when he was breveted Brigadier General by President Lincoln, in recognition of his gallant service for the Union cause. He served as Kentucky’s Quartermaster General until September, 1868, when he was forced to resign because of sickness. He died at his home in Frankfort on September 22nd, 1869, at the age of thirty-four.
|Lt. Colonel George W. Monroe of the 22nd Kentucky|
|Colonel Ezekiel F. Clay
Colonel Lionel A. Sheldon
Colonel Don A. Pardee
Colonel Hiram Hawkins
Colonel John S. Williams
Colonel Alfred C. Moore
Colonel George W. Gallup
Dr. Stephen M. Ferguson
|Photo courtesy of Roger D. Hunt and Jack R. Brown, Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue (Olde Soldier Books, Inc., 1990)|
|This shows the shell-torn colors of the 22nd Kentucky the day after the regiment participated in the assault on Chickasaw Bluffs, a series of fortified hills guarding the northern approach to Vicksburg, Mississippi. On December 29th, 1862, a large Federal force under General William T. Sherman attacked the Confederate position at Chickasaw Bluffs. Colonel Monroe and four of his officers were wounded during the attack and three of them were killed.
Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. For a larger image, click here.