by José R. Rosario, SGM, U.S. Army, Retired
This tribute by José R. Rosario was first published in the Wilderness Road, Vol. 22, No. 3, March 2010. It is present here in conjunction with the May 22, 2010 ceremony at Lebanon Junction Cemetery scheduled to honor Private Mattingly with a grave marker that recognizes his achievement.
I cannot imagine how the name of Private Henry Benedict Mattingly went unnoticed for so many years without receiving proper recognition. It has taken over 100 years for Bullitt County authorities, veterans' organizations and other state organizations to realize his achievements. In case that you have no idea about Private Henry B. Mattingly, I will be more than glad to tell you. Indeed this is one of the many "neglected Medal of Honor graves" in this country. His tombstone and footstone still do not reflect the mandatory inscriptions for a Medal of Honor recipient since his death on 30 November 1893. We can really declare that he is another hero that has failed to obtain proper recognition. Private Mattingly was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War under President Abraham Lincoln. The Congressional Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves with gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives, above and beyond the call of duty, while performing their duty against the enemy. I fervently believe that their headstones speak more powerfully than any inspired writing. For many of them the award must be given posthumously.
Why this brave soldier rests and the inscription of Medal of Honor is not on his tombstone is beyond my understanding. Seems that some citizens only remember soldiers twice a year. How easy we fail to remember those that fought and gave their life for our country. Soldiers are very extraordinary and unique human beings. How do I recognize that? I am a soldier too! Our sacrifice, love and pride for this country are beyond explanation. Like today, this was a volunteer army too. Most of these great soldiers were not from a prosperous background. Some of them were farmers, laborers, carpenters; some were foreigners.
Throughout the years we fail to remember those who have made this country a special one. It does not matter what side you are on. The act of valor should be recognized and honored. Soldiers throughout the Civil War fought a war under many painful, horrendous, and terrible conditions. As many soldiers today, they too left their loved ones behind, not sure if they would see their loved ones again. They paid the maximum sacrifice for others to have freedom. We have failed to acknowledge them properly. Many Vietnam veterans are still looking for the welcome signs and the yellow ribbons. Again, Private Henry B. Mattingly is not alone.
Allow me just to put in the picture a little history about this great soldier's heroism for his country and fellow soldiers. Henry Benedict Mattingly was born on 6 May 1844 in St. Mary in Marion County, Kentucky, the son of Ignatius and Eliza Jane (Madden) Mattingly. At the early age of eighteen years old, Henry joined the newly formed 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry in Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky, under Col. John M. Harlan's command. (Col. Harlan, after his resignation from the Union Army in March 1863, became a Supreme Court Justice. He died in 1911.) In November 1861, the 10th Kentucky was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Army of Ohio. The 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry participated in many battles and skirmishes. On 25 December 1862, the 2nd Brigade moved from Gallatin County under the command of Colonel John M. Harlan in pursuit of General John H. Morgan, to protect the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. General John H. Morgan was overtaken on 29 December 1862 at the Rolling Fork, and his command was dangerously wounded there.
The Regiment saw action in the Battle of Mill springs, Battle of Perryville, Battle of Chickamauga, Hoover's Gap, Fairfield, Tullahoma, Compton's Creek, Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge, Peach tree Creek, Chattahoochie River, Vining Station and the famous Battle of Jonesborough (modern name Jonesboro). The Battle of Jonesborough was fought from 31 August 1864 to 1 September 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign in the Civil War. According to historians of the American Civil War, the Battle of Jonesborough was the final Battle of the Atlanta Campaign, as well as for the 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. General Ulysses S. Grant once told General William T. Sherman that the mission was "inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources."
The capture of Atlanta by the Union was instrumental in securing the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln in the fall. Historians indicate that the failure of the Union Army to take Atlanta would have led to President Abraham Lincoln losing the election. These mighty armies fought a brutal, cruel and decisive battle which ended the Atlanta Campaign and led General William Tecumseh Sherman to the infamous March to the Sea. The 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, after three long years and many successful accomplishments mustered out of service on 6 December 1864 at Louisville, Kentucky. The 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry flag and regimental colors were lost and have not been found.
During the Battle of Jonesborough, General William T. Sherman's Army fought against a number of very strong infantry units, including the 6th & 7th Arkansas, military units that served in the Confederate Army from 1861 to surrender in 1865. This particular unit became one of the finest units of the Confederate Army of Tennessee and was well known throughout the Western Theater. During the war the 6th & 7th Arkansas were sent to Cave City, Kentucky for a period of time. On 8 October 1862 the 6th & 7th Arkansas fought in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky. After the Confederate defeat at Perryville, it fell back to Tennessee with the rest of the Army. During this time the 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry Regiment combined forces due in part to the high losses suffered during the war by both units. The 6th & 7th Arkansas fought in all major battles of the Army of Tennessee (Perryville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga). Their flag was modified, due in part to the consolidation of both units, with the same fighting spirit and sentimental value. After they combined forces the new flag was captured during the Battle of Jonesborough.
The flag was captured by Private Henry B. Mattingly, 10th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, on 1 September 1864 (145 years ago). The 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry's last battle was at Bentonville, North Carolina, 16 March 1865.
Before I go any further I would like to give you some information about the importance of the flag. From the creation of the United States Army flags served many purposes over the years. Flags symbolize people and represent national pride. During the Civil War units came to the battlefield with their own flags and colors. Colors and flags positively confirm group identity. In battlefields, units gathered around the flag to attack, regroup or retreat. By 1840, infantry units carried the United States flag with the regimental number printed on white stripes. According to military sources, if the flag was lost during the battle, the regiment's honor, not the national honor, was lost. However, during the Civil War, a soldier who captured the enemy colors or saved the unit's colors frequently was honored.
His Bravery and Heroism
At the Battle of Jonesborough (modern name Jonesboro) Pvt. Henry Benedict Mattingly, 10th Kentucky, Company B, proved himself to be a hero, by showing courage and risking his life. Willing to die for freedom and honor, and not concerned about any glory for himself. Pvt. Mattingly exposed himself to the enemy fire by moving forward as both forces continued a ferocious attack against each other. On 1 September 1864 the Brigade was directed to be organized in two lines, the 10th Kentucky and the 38th Ohio were in the front line. In front of the 10th Regiment Kentucky and the 74th Indiana and to the right was the 6th & 7th Arkansas Regiment. As the forward command was given they advanced from all directions with fixed bayonets. Orders were executed to the point as soldiers well trained can only execute. Units in front suffered many casualties. Soldiers stabbed and choked each other in hand-to-hand combat. Both armies fought the battle as if it were the last one. The bayonets were used unreservedly all along the lines from both armies.
With the enemy directly in front of his unit and leading the charge Pvt. Mattingly at bayonet point, without any regard for his life, had the honor of capturing the new 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry flag, according to reports. Pvt. Mattingly was 5' 7" but his heart was larger than the state of Texas. Casualties were high as the 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry was overrun. Due to his brave action and self sacrifice by risking his life, Mattingly was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to Pvt. Mattingly under President Abraham Lincoln. His Congressional Medal of Honor reads as follows: Pvt. Henry B. Mattingly Company B 10th Regiment Infantry displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on 1 September 1864 at Jonesboro, Georgia. Citation: Capture of the 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry flag. Date issued 7 April 1865.
Medals of Honor are not given; they are awarded to the bravest of the brave for heroic acts beyond the call of duty. Valor can be found across the times as well across the ranks. Pvt. Mattingly, 10th Regiment Volunteer Infantry, for heroic acts on 1 September 1864, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His Congressional Medal of Honor was only one of four awarded for service during the Battle of Jonesborough.
Home to Kentucky
After being honorably discharged from the Union Army on 6 December 1864 in Louisville, Kentucky, Pvt. Mattingly returned to Marion County, Kentucky, and purchased property in Raywick, Kentucky. It was during that time that he met Ms. Amanda Tucker, from Saint Mary, Lebanon, Kentucky. On 8 April 1867 Mattingly married Miss Amanda Tucker of Saint Mary in Marion County, Kentucky. Amanda was born on 21 June 1844, the daughter of Elizabeth (Brady) and William Tucker. About 5 September 1869, their first son Phillip Mattingly was born. (Phillip had four children, and died on 19 July 1934 in Louisville, Kentucky. His daughter Viola Mattingly died on 20 December 2007 in Mount Washington, Kentucky.)
Around 1872 Henry B. and his wife moved to Pitts Point (on what is now Fort Knox), a village in the Western part of Bullitt County, Kentucky. The village contained two hotels, two generals store, one baker, one dentist, four physicians and one surveyor. During that time he farmed and worked as a tanner in the town. In 1880, Henry and Amanda moved the family to Shepherdsville, Bullitt County, Kentucky, where he was employed by G. W. Simmons. He farmed and tended the toll house near the town. Mr. Mattingly was well known for his fiddle (violin) playing and for winning many Saturday night fiddle contests at Paroquet Springs, a famous resort in those days, north of Salt River in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. (The springs first were called Parakeet Lick. The name was originated from many colorful birds around the area.) Mr. Mattingly was also well known around the area for his shooting ability at the local shooting places; often, prizes were given for him not to shoot.
After the war Mr. Mattingly suffered from rheumatism, deafness, impaired eye-sight, and piles. As a consequence of the medical problems his health was rapidly worsening, as many soldiers experience after years of service in the armed forces. On 16 July 1890, at the age of forty nine, he filed for military pension (claim #321629). On his sworn declaration, he stated that he was disabled from earning a support by manual labor and that he was unable to work at all and was under a physician's care. Eventually, after various applications and more than one sworn statement, his application for pension was finally approved. However, Mr. Mattingly died on 3 November 1893, failing to enjoy his pension. He was buried at Pitts Point (on now Fort Knox property) in Bullitt County, Kentucky. After his death his beloved spouse Mrs. Amanda Mattingly purchased some land in Lebanon Junction, Bullitt County, Kentucky. There she and her remaining three children James, John, and Mary Eva settled, making Lebanon Junction their home. Amanda died on 5th December 1926. At the time of her death she was eighty two years old. She was buried at the Lebanon Junction Cemetery in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. After Henry's death she never remarried. There was never any marriage by either except the marriage to each other. After the death of their mother the surviving three children James, John, and Mary Eva remained in Lebanon Junction.
The youngest child, Mary Eva, was born on 20 July 1887 in Pitts Point, Kentucky. Mary Eva married John L. Swanner, a resident of Laurel County, Kentucky, who was born on 20 May 1880. Together they had two children Herman Swanner, born on 02 August 1909 and died on 18 September 1918, and Gladys Swanner, born on 08 August 1910 and died on 28 October 1911. John and Eva met in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky while John was working for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. They married around 1903 and settled, like the rest of the family, in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. They also raised a family and one grandson. Both worked for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. According to town residents, in later years John owned and operated a shoe repair shop in town. John had a dog named "Rags." Rags was well known around the community due to his constant appearance in town making everyone laugh. On 3 December 1948, John died. After his death Mary Eva remained in Lebanon Junction until her death on 10 January 1987, ten days short of being one hundred years old. John, Mary Eva, and her children are buried at Lebanon Junction Cemetery. According to Mrs. Rita Black, great-niece of Mary Eva, every Christmas, at her mother's request, she would take a pair of stockings to Mary Eva as a Christmas gift.
In 1966, Mr. Henry B. Mattingly's remains, upon his children's request, were moved from Pitts Point (on Fort Knox property) and placed next to his wife Amanda, at the Lebanon Junction Cemetery in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. Mr. Lloyd "Hog" Mattingly, grandson of Mr. Henry B. Mattingly and son of James H. Mattingly, was part of this action. Lloyd was very creative; some of his sculptures are on exhibit at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts in Kentucky. Mr. Lloyd was an instrumental part of a small ceremony held for his grandfather, Private Henry B. Mattingly in May 1986 in Lebanon Junction Cemetery. During the ceremony Mr. Lloyd was presented with a proclamation and the flag of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This particular flag had flown over the capitol building. State Representative John Harper made the presentation, which honored Pvt. Mattingly. Mr. Lloyd "Hog" Mattingly died on 14 February 2003. He was survived by his wife Julie Mattingly and his daughter.
This is the unique story of a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War, and the lack of recognition from state and local agencies, and veterans' organizations. While I was conducting a search for soldiers of Bullitt County, Kentucky, I ran into the name of Pvt. Henry B. Mattingly. After some searching in Kentucky Military Records about the history of this soldier, I made a very exciting discovery - I found he was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I began researching about his life. I began researching more about the Civil War soldiers, which encouraged me to continue looking into their contributions. Soon I learned that Bullitt County furnished many soldiers to both forces, especially to the Union Army. Despite the significant number of Kentuckians who fought, I found relatively very little information about their accomplishments, experiences, and their loved one. Despite their military records and their personal accounts, some of their history has been overlooked and ignored by many.
This is the story of Pvt. Mattingly and his tombstone at the Lebanon Junction Cemetery, Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, which does not reflect or make mention of his heroic achievement. There are many question after all these years, to be asked about this soldier's recognition. Why, after almost one hundred forty years does his burial site not mention his great achievement with the Union Army? Why, while he was buried on the Fort Knox reservation, did no one recognize this soldier? Why did military authorities fail to capture this action/event? One more neglected soldier. Many questions were asked; no one is able to provide correct answers.
America cares for soldiers and for what they stand. While others ignore the burial site of Pvt. Mattingly, others recognize his accomplishments. It was easy to write about Henry's accomplishments; however, it's difficult to close this piece of writing. Seems that I have been familiar with this great soldier for years. Seems that I have spoken to Henry during my military career while we were having a cup of coffee. We share our experience in combat. We laugh and we cry. I also remember his conversation about how he captured the flag, not for his glory but for his unit's recognition. Remembering, as today, very vividly, the painful experiences about the war; the singing while marching to reach a specific destination to fight the enemy; thinking about parents and friends back home: can I survive this war and see my loved ones again? He shares his secrets and his dreams while we are having a cup of coffee. We share many secrets as only fellow soldiers can do. Henry, thank you for your valor, your heroism. Thank you, my friend. I'll see you, so we can continue this conversation.
A New Tombstone
In August 2009, paper work was submitted to the proper federal authorities for the appropriate tombstone with the proper inscription, "Medal of Honor." Finally, on 14 October 2009 the phone call came in, with the approval of his correct tombstone. A sad story but a great ending. We at the Bullitt County museum, as part of this story, are very grateful to each one involved to help achieve this action. A ceremony will be held soon to honor this great soldier. Special thanks to Bullitt County Museum staff for their sincere cooperation. Thanks to the Lebanon Junction citizens for their information for this article. A very special recognition to Lebanon Junction City Hall secretaries, Ms. Susan Michele Crady and Ms. Elizabeth Yvonne Giff. Thanks to the Mattingly Family for their cooperation.
Sources of Information:
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