The 1864 Brandy Raid

  Records of "the notorious" Col. Clarence Prentice's Battalion of the 7th Confederate Cavalry are sketchy. It was formed in 1863 from various Virginia regiments that had been disbanded, and apparently included a rag-tag group of deserters, conscripts and trouble makers from the vicinity of Wise County, Virginia. Company A was led by Captain Robert Bates, Company B by Captain George D. French.

  Prentice himself was from Louisville, Kentucky. He took his battalion into Kentucky twice in 1863, where it promptly earned a reputation for banditry and murder. One of his senior officers, disgusted with Prentice's style of warfare, wrote:

Such conduct is a sin & a shame to our cause. It blasts the reputation of good men, & brings dishonor upon the innocent. I hope they will all be arrested & tried in the civil courts, & that the good people of K'y do not hold us responsible for the depredations of such bandits as Jno. T. Williams & Clarence Prentice, who has also just returned from an Eagle swoop down to Hazel Green Ky.

  One FULKERSON, serving in the Union forces, had the misfortune to run into this band of brigands while leading a liquor raid [apparently to enforce a military order] in the Cumberland region of Virginia.

  "E. D. Miller of Lebanon, Virginia wrote on October 25:

I am under the necessity this morning of informing you that the expedition to Scott County returned last night with bad report. Fulkerson, with six of Lieutenant Sawyer's guard, went down to Scott; left here on Saturday; arrived at Osborne's on Sunday; impressed and took charge of forty-two gallons of brandy, all they could find; started back some two or three miles, when they met a party of [17] men in the road, variously armed, who demanded the immediate surrender of the brandy, arms, &c. They gave up their arms, seeing they were outnumbered, and, the party being re-enforced by this time by four others, they thought best to make no resistance. After they took possession of the brandy they gave the arms back to the boys, who came on back very much mortified over their defeat. They say that the most of the party belongs to Prentice's command. The brandy question has created more confusion and the owners of it make more fuss over it than if we were to take all their grain. We will have to abandon the business unless we get some troops in here and clear the county of bushwhackers and deserters. There is not a man in the county that we have served notices on for brandy but what has violated the notice...."

The 7th Battalion Confederate Cavalry
1996-1997, Jeffrey C. Weaver, Jim Pritchard.