Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Who Was Col. Speed Fry?

Since I first discovered the children of Kate and Thomas Probert, I couldn't help but wonder why they would name their son Col. Speed Fry. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to "google" that name until today. I should have done it a whole lot sooner because it explained a lot.

Recall that Col. Speed Fry Probert was born on February 14, 1862 -- just as the Civil War was gearing up. He was named after Col. Speed Smith Fry who served on the Union side of the Civil War. For those of you who may not be aware, most of Kentucky was pro-union at the beginning of the Civil War and pro-Confederate by the end. Although the issue of slavery became one of the main issues by the end of the war, it hadn't started out that way.

You may recall that a member of Thomas Probert's defense team, Garrett Davis, was a pro-Union man who was totally against secession. By the end of the war, this owner of 15 slaves had become completely disillusioned with the war and later ran for the Senate as a Democrat -- not the party of Lincoln.

Credit: Wikipedia

Such was not the case with Col. Speed Smith Fry. Col. Speed Fry was responsible for raising the 4th Kentucky Infantry. He played a major role in the Battle of Mill Springs which ended up being the first major Union victory of the war. The battle took place on January 19, 1862 -- about four weeks before the birth of Thomas and Kate's son. Col. Speed Fry was given credit for killing the Confederate General during some confusion. Apparently, General Zollicoffer mistakenly thought Col. Speed Fry was a Confederate. He rode right up to the Col. and accused him of shooting at fellow Confederates. By the time this mistake was recognized, the General had been fired upon and killed instantly. There is a lot of information available, often not consistent, about the details of this battle. But one thing was clear -- it was a victory for the North.

Credit: www.millsprings.net
I can only imagine that this victory was important to the Proberts as they thought the colonel would be an appropriate namesake. In addition, this research leads me to conclude that the Proberts, at least initially, favored the Union position.

Things were definitely getting off to a rough start in Mt. Sterling. It had to get better.

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