Incident from 1866

Arrest of the Mail Agent on the Steamer Gen. Buell 


Report of the Investigation Committee.


Brevet Major-Gen J. C. Davis, commanding the district of Kentucky, recently appointed a board of officers to investigate the circumstances attending the alleged forcible detention of the United States mail steamer Gen. Buell, at Ghent and Warsaw, Ky., in September, by a mob of returned Confederate soldiers and guerilla and citizens of Gallatin and adjoining counties in Kentucky, and the alleged abduction from the steamer, by the same parties, of C. W. Farris, United States Mail Agent, and his confinement in the jail at Warsaw, Ky.  This board met at Warsaw, Ky., and the 29th ult. And, after hearing the testimony of many witnesses, continuing the session for ten days, they have made the following report:

 “The Board, after mature deliberation from the testimony adduced are of the following opinion:

“That the arrest of Dr. O. W. Farris, the United States mail agent at Ghent, Ky., was illegal, and was made in a very violent manner; that from the actions and characters of Richard A. Morrow, David Kemper, and Dewitt Kemper, the parties who seized Dr. Farris at Ghent, Ky., Dr. Farris would have been murdered instead of being carried to Warsaw if he had not been rescued; that the arrest of Dr. Farris and the detention of the United States mail steamer Gen. Buell at Warsaw, Ky., was illegal, and was done in a violent manner by an irregular mob of about one hundred and fifty persons, headed by John W. Kirby, Sheriff of Gallatin County; Richard H. Morrow, Deputy Sheriff of Gallatin county, and others, and was composed of returned rebel soldiers and rebel sympathizers; that the said arrest and detention was countenanced and encouraged by the civil authorities and the people of the vicinity; that the life of Dr. Farris was in great danger from the crowd at Warsaw, Ky.; that the county of Gallatin is under the rule of the enemies of the United States government; that the United States mail steamer Gen. Buell was unlawfully detained by the mob at Warsaw, Ky. For about two hours; that the indictment found against Dr. C. W. Farris by the Grand Jury for the murder of John J. Morrow and of John W. Baker was a malicious prosecution, and done by the Grand Jury and county officers, on account of hatred toward Dr. C. W. Farris for having been a loyal man during the war; that John J. Morrow belonged to the band of rebel service known as Morgan’s guerillas, and was a deserter from the Federal service, and was prowling around as a guerilla, and the said Baker was harboring the said Morrow when they were both shot by United States soldiers under the command of Lieut. Johnson, a commissioned officer of the United States Army, in pursuance of any order of Gen. Burbridge (Wikipedia), commanding Department of Kentucky.

 The board are of the further opinion that Richard H. Morrow, Dewitt Kemper, David Kemper and John W. Kirby were instrumental in the illegal arrest of Dr. C. w. Farris, United States mail agent, and in the forcible detention of the United States mail steamer Gen. Buell on the 20th day of September, A. D. 1866, and respectfully recommend that the above named persons be arrested and tried by competent authority.

 All of which is respectfully submitted.

C. H. Frederick, Brevet Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers

Jos. B. Collins, Major, Second United States Infantry

Wm. H. Merrill, Captain, Veteran Reserve Corps, and Recorder


From the New York Times of October 21, 1866.