Jadon Gibson: A boy named Sue

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022


Contributing columnist

Kentucky was a neutral state during the Civil War and her people were evenly divided in their sentiment toward the north and south. It resulted in Kentuckians fighting against each other… fighting their own kin and neighbors in many battles during the war.

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In the Battle of Murfreesboro there were seventeen Kentucky regiments on the side of the Confederates and fourteen regiments fighting for the Federals. In the second Battle of Murfreesboro there were 23,500 combatants. A total of 3,024 were killed, 15,747 wounded and 4,744 unaccounted for. Never had so many Kentuckians killed each other for any cause.

In the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Kentuckians manned ten Yankee regiments. There were seven Confederate regiments.

In another battle Gen. Stephen G. Burbridge of the Federals and his four thousand Kentuckians attempted to destroy the salt works at Saltville, VA, but were repulsed by Gen John S. Williams’ Confederate forces from the bluegrass state.

There were other battles that were largely fought by Kentuckians such as the Battle of Clinch Mountain and the Battle of Laurel Gap. It carried over to many conflicts back home before and even after the end of the Civil War.

Toward the end of 1864 and early 1865 there were many bands of guerillas roaming through Kentucky, robbing, killing, burning and performing other forms of mischief.

Marcellus Jerome Clark assumed the moniker Sue Mundy because he didn’t want his family and friends to hear or read about the dastard deeds and barbaric murders for which he was responsible.

The Federal Home Guard went to Bloomfield on January 28, 1865, and were plundering stores in the town. Sixty guerillas under Sue Mundy and Billy Magruder arrived and engaged them in battle, killing a large number of the home guard.

The following day Mundy’s guerillas fought the Fifty-fourth Kentucky Federals before aborting their effort. On March 3 another battle with the Home Guard resulted in the death of seventeen members of the home guard. Unfortunately, Billy Magruder was seriously wounded and was carried away. His injuries resulted in his capture.

A couple of days thereafter Col. Daniel J. Dill, the post commander in Louisville learned that Magruder was laying, desperately wounded in a tobacco barn in a small community ten miles from Brandenburg, Kentucky.

His interest heightened when he learned the wounded man was being aided by Sue Mundy and another guerrilla outlaw by the name of Henry Medkiff.

Col. Dill sent fifty men of the 30 th Wisconsin Volunteers down the river to capture the outlaws. They arrived at the barn and surrounded it at sunrise on Sunday morning.

“We have you surrounded by a hundred men,” the commander yelled, inflating his numbers to give a greater urgency for Sue Mundy and the others to surrender. “Lay down your arms and give yourselves up immediately.”

You’ll notice he said a hundred men which is a large number. The actual number was fifty. Their thought was that Mundy and his group would lay their arms and surrender more readily if they were greatly outnumbered. When the men chanced a peek outside of the barn they saw that they were greatly outnumbered. Even still it didn’t work in this instance.

When no response was received they broke down the door and entered, immediately facing a hailstorm of bullets from Sue Mundy and Henry Medkiff. Four soldiers were wounded, one mortally.

It then became a standoff with Mundy and Medkiff not agreeing to surrender unless they were treated as prisoners of war until the party reached Louisville. They were given that assurance and they laid down their arms.

Mundy and Medkiff were both heavily ironed with chains and taken to Louisville. Magruder was deathly injured and it was not known if he could survive the journey in his weakened condition.

Upon their return the trial was immediately ordered before a military commission with General Whitaker presiding.

Mr. Gibson, the author, wants to add here that historic and criminal events often take on variations from family members over a period of time. I give most weight to information that was gathered at the time of the events in question. copyright 2022 Jadon Gibson Editor’s note: More interesting facts about Sue Mundy next week.

Was Sue Mundy Fact or Fiction? It’s a great story either way. Sue Mundy is sentenced to hang in Jadon’s column From the Mountains.

Thanks to Lincoln Memorial University, Alice Lloyd College and the Museum of Appalachia for their assistance.