My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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CURRAN POPE, the fourth son, graduated at West Point in 1836, and after a short service in the army he resigned to take one of the clerkships made vacant by the resignation of his father. He held the office for seventeen years, the last four of which were by election by the people. He was a citizen of much public spirit; one of the original projectors and directors of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad; one of the main promoters of the Louisville Water Works; devoted much of his time as trustee of Danville College, and as trustee of various educational institutions of Louisville, especially to a seminary organized and established by himself and others in the old homestead of his father; served for eleven years in the General Council of Louisville; and on the breaking out of the late war he espoused the cause of the Union. He raised the Fifteenth Kentucky Regiment, which, after a varied service, was decimated in the battle of Perryville, which, for the number and length of time engaged, is said to have been the bloodiest battle of the war. Early in the action Colonel Pope’s horse was killed under him, and towards the close of the engagement he was shot through the shoulder. E. P. Humphrey, D. D., LL. D., the scholarly author of “Sacred History from the Creation to the Giving of the Law,” who was the co-laborer in many fields of usefulness with Colonel Pope, and who was his life-long friend, thus writes of him a short time after Colonel Pope’s death: “through his father, the late Worden Pope, Esq., — in his day one of the foremost citizens of the commonwealth — and through his excellent mother and amiable wife as well, he was allied to some of the most influential families in the country. . . . His ample private fortune released him, in a large measure, from professional labor; so that he was able to devote the last twelve years of his life to the general interests of society. As an office-bearer in one of our largest city churches, and in many other positions, he rendered the most important services. He brought to all his trusts a fine capacity for business, public spirit, unwearied diligence, habits of system, order, and punctuality, and a nice sense of duty. Few men of his generation here have performed as much gratuitous and arduous labor for the common good. It happened to him to be of the number of those in whom all the great issues of life flow together in a single hour of supreme necessity and peril; when the high qualities, which have been for nearly fifty years slowly maturing within them, are brought to a final and fiery test, and suddenly emerge all aglow with consummate splendor. Colonel Pope met that hour on the bloody slopes of Perryville, and took the crown. The writer of these lines was during the whole day within hearing distance of the artillery and musketry; was at one time on the outskirts of the field, and before the dead were all buried he carefully surveyed the ground on which the battle was fought. The carnage over, the whole field was frightful, and Colonel Pope stood in one of its hottest positions. His regiment was posted upon the brow of the hill; the enemy was arrayed in two lines on the slope below him, one of these lines being partially concealed in a field of standing corn, the other protected by a substantial stone-wall. The positions of the rebels being down the hill gave them this important advantage. They would not be likely to fire too high, while Pope’s troops, being so much above them, could hardly avoid that mistake. Besides, the foremost rebel line had the stone-wall in their rear, to the cover of which they could at any time retreat, and to which, in point of fact, they did retreat under the fire of our gallant Fifteenth. Furthermore, the right of the regiment rested on a barn, which, early in the action, was set on fire by a shell from the enemy, so that our troops on that wing were nearly roasted by the flames. And, more than all, the brave Jouett and Campbell were shot down in the very beginning; the noble McGrath, who went to Jouett’s assistance, was instantly killed. Pope’s horse was shot under him; he himself was wounded, his men were falling in heaps around him. Colonel Pope stood near the center of the column, about four feet from the line of battle, giving direction to every movement. Just in front of the position was a low rail fence; further down the hill are two trees, the trunks of which are about the size of a man’s body. The bullet marks in the trees and in the rails leave us in wonder how any human being standing in that line of battle could have escaped death. Yet such was the intrepidity of the regiment and of its commander that they held their ground, until ordered to another position, when they filed out into the road and marched off in perfect order. Colonel Pope, on reaching his new position, ordered his men to lie down under the brow of the hill as a protection from the enemy’s shells. General Rousseau, observing some change in the field, rode up and suggested to Colonel Pope the propriety of showing his forces to the enemy. Colonel Pope instantly gave the order; the men sprang to their feet and marched in line to the battle, to the top of the hill. The General was so much struck with their promptness and discipline, that he put his cap on his sword and waved it with the cry, ‘Hurra for Kentucky!’ Night soon set in; and, of the Fifteenth, seventy-two slept in death, about a hundred and seventy staunched, as best they could, their bleeding wounds, and the others rested on their arms. Colonel Pope remained with the army a few days and joined in the pursuit of Bragg, who fled to the mountains; but, finding himself utterly exhausted, he returned to Danville, where he lingered three weeks and died. He looked forward to the eternal world with pious composure, and expressed his unwavering confidence in the Saviour. But for this opportunity on the field of battle, none, not his most intimate friends even, would have known the man. In him we have an instance pointing out the fine distinction between a certain brutal ferocity, which sometimes passes by the name of courage, and that more humane and exalted sentiment which springs out of a nice sense of honor, the love of country and the fear of God. Such was Colonel Pope’s quiet, and amiable, and even diffident manner in society, that no man, not even he himself, knew what a brave and gallant heart was hidden in his bosom, patiently waiting the hour of his grand manifestation. The hour came; the man was fully revealed to the homage of his countrymen, and his life was finished, wearing “the beauty of a thing completed,” a good work well done. His name is enrolled with the dead heroes of the Commonwealth. She will never suffer his memory to perish.”

Wm. R. Thompson in his “Historical Sketch of the Pope Family,” thus speaks of Colonel Pope: “he was the idol the men he commanded. Though of a very gentle and inoffensive disposition, he was one of the bravest, most resolute men in the Union army, equally ready to oppose and smite a giant, or to soothe and protect a child, and many a tear was shed by his brave and scar-covered soldiers when he had to leave them. The writer of this, who saw Colonel Pope Monday after the battle of Perryville, has heard many of his soldiers say that after a long and tiresome march, when night came and they went into camp, other officers sought a house to sleep in, but Colonel Pope laid down upon the ground with his men, and took their fare. He looked upon them as a father looks upon his children, and he said it was his duty to be with them and take care of them. He never sought or claimed any better fare than his soldiers got; hence his immense popularity with his men, who revere his memory to this day with the affection of a child for its father. When you meet one of the Fifteenth Kentucky who fought at Perryville, ask him what he thinks of Colonel Curran Pope, and he will give you a better eulogy than I can write, more graphic and to the point; he can tell facts I know not in his undying praise, and he love to talk to you about him. The writer of this article was well acquainted with Colonel Curran Pope before the war, and saw him several times in his camp after he entered the army, and he can bear witness to his great worth as a man, citizen and soldier. The slaughter of Pope’s regiment at Perryville was so great, that afterwards it was given the sobriquet of the ‘Bloody Regiment.’ ”

General Sherman succeeded General Anderson to the command in Kentucky in the earliest stage of the war. His headquarters were at Louisville, and there he often met Colonel Pope, who had already determined to enter the army of the Union. General Sherman had abundant opportunity to form a correct estimate of Colonel Pope’s character, both as a soldier and as a gentleman. A few days after he learned through the public prints of the death of Colonel Pope, although he was burdened with the absorbing responsibilities of a great military command, he wrote Colonel Pope’s widow the following letter:
“ Headquarters, Memphis, Tenn.,
November 10, 1862.

Dear Madam:—
.... I know you will pardon me, afar off, if, at this your dread hour, I come to bear my feeble show of honor to him whose name you bear and whose child will in after years look back upon as one of those heroes who labored and gave his life to his country. Well do I recall the soft and gentle voice of Curran Pope, the peculiar delicacy of his approach, the almost unequal courtesy of his manner and the first faint doubt that one so gentle, so mild, so beautiful in character, should be a warrior; but another look, and his eye, the plain direct assertion of a high and holy purpose, with the pressure of his lips, told that he was a man; one to lead; one to go where duty called him though the path led through the hail storm of battle. Among all the men I have ever met in the progress of this unnatural war, I cannot recall one in whose every act and expression was so manifest the good and true man; one who so well filled the type of the Kentucky gentleman.

He died not upon the battle-field but of wounds inflicted by parricidal hands on Kentucky’s soil and his blood is the cement that will ever more bind together the disjointed parts of a mighty nation. Though for a time smitten down by the terrible calamity, may you and your child soon learn to look upon his name and fame as encircled by a halo of glory more beautiful than ever decked the victor’s brow. Curran Pope is dead, but millions will battle on, till from his heaven-home he will see his own beloved Kentucky the center of his great country, regenerated and disenthralled from the toils of wicked men.

I fear that in trying to carry comfort to an afflicted heart, I do it rudely, but I know you will permit me in my blunt way to bear my feeble testimony to the goodness, braveness, and gallantry of the man who more nearly filled the picture of the preux chevalier of this age, than any man I have yet met. I know you are in the midst of a host of friends, but should in the progress of years any opportunity come by which I can be of service to any of the family of Curran Pope, command me.
With great respect,
Your obedient servant,
W. T. Sherman. Maj. Gen. Vols.”

Curran Pope was married to Matilda Prather, a daughter of John I. Jacob, by whom he was blessed with one daughter, Mary Tyler Pope, who is possessed of many accomplishments, great force of character and intellect, and of much beauty, and who still lives in the home of her heroic father, the happy wife of Judge Alfred Thruston Pope, and the devoted mother of an interesting family.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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