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Alexander Wake Holeman (Holman) & the Civil War

See also the images at: The  War  of  the Rebellion  (The Civil War)
Return to Alexander Wake Holeman (Holman) – Civil War
Revised 15 September 2006

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This is a copy of information sent to my maternal aunts in 1991.  Updated remarks and misc. edits (such as links, removal of names of living family members, etc.) are noted in red italics.  The original item included photocopies from material that is now available on the web and links to images from the web source are included below in place of the photocopies. Some additional links provided by JMB (cousin Jon) are included at the end. 


To:  The Lenhart Sisters            From:  Georgia Kinney Bopp


November 24, l991

Happy Birthday to Nanny



Alexander Wake Holeman

February 20, 1827 - October 19, 1887

Father of Betty "Nanny" Holeman (Williams) and John English Holeman

Grandfather of Ann Elizabeth Holeman (Lenhart)

Great Grandfather of the Lenhart Daughters




            Our ancestor Alexander Wake Holeman fought in the Mexican War, in Cuba, in Nicaragua, and with the Union in the Civil War.1


The enclosed photocopies [see images] concern the Civil War only and are from:


The  War  of  the Rebellion: A Compilation  of  the  Official Records  of  the Union and Confederate  Armies.   Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.


This monumental series contains 128 books and (thank heavens!) the following general index:


Serial 13C General Index War Dept.  War of the Rebellion General Index & Additions & Corrections.  1901


The general index contains several entries for Holeman, Alexander W.   There are no other Holemans in the Index; there are Holmans but none that are A. W. [Images of most relevant pages are here.]


The most interesting item is a May 1863 report that involves the 12th Kentucky Cavalry and Lt.-Col Holeman.   This matches the information on the "family sword."2  However a year later 1864 correspondence refers to him as Colonel Holeman with the 11th Kentucky Cavalry.  Apparently he was promoted during this period.  I am enclosing photocopies of the 1863 report3 and the 1864 correspondence. 4   These are the only photocopies I made and are of poor quality.  (I was lucky to obtain permission to copy them.)  [Update – now, thanks to web, you have superior copies. See images]


For those of you who find it difficult to read the report, here's a simple version5 of the Report of Col. Richard T. Jacob,  Ninth Kentucky  Cavalry,  commanding brigade; Columbia,  KY.,  May  12, 1863:


There were several Union groups converging to meet the larger Army.  Some had crossed the surging Cumberland River but the larger Union Army had not been able to make the crossing.   Jacob  (the  commanding officer  who  wrote  the report)  learned  there were Confederate guerrillas  in  the area  and  sent a small group to check them out.   To their surprise they ran into Morgan's entire Confederate army.   At this point Morgan sent a Captain to ask the Union groups to surrender.  The Captain was taken to Jacob by Lt. Col.  Holeman.   Jacob refused to surrender and fighting took place.  Jacob’s outnumbered men were able to get back across the river to safety.


Today the site where this fight took place is probably covered by Lake Cumberland (Kentucky).


Holeman is mentioned several times in Jacob's report but this part is the most detailed:


   Where  every  one,  from the  highest  officer  under command  to the humblest private, behaved with the  most distinguished  gallantry,  it may  appear  invidious  to mention  names.  I will, however, mention such as came under my immediate observation.    Lieutenant-Colonel Holeman,  commanding the charge, being  ranking  officer and  the  commander  of the  Twelfth  Kentucky  Cavalry, cheered the men on to their work of death, and  wherever the fight was most dangerous there he could be found.  I found his counsel and aid during the whole time of the utmost service. . . .   [Page 302]


Some of the other entries mention:


            Second Brigade, Colonel Holeman


            Holeman's Brigade


            Col. Alexander W. Holeman

            Cavalry Corps

            1st Div

            1st Brigade

            11th Ky


            independent brigade   Col. Alexander W. Holeman


            Col. A. W. Holeman Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry


The last entry of interest is this:6


Louisville, KY

Sep 11 1864

[From]  Hugh Ewing Brigadier-General

to Capt. J. B. Dickson Asst. Adjutant General


I have no information on the capture of Jessee or of his command.   I informed Holeman that he might offer good terms to those who came in and gave themselves up.


The above is a useful clue.  Shortly before Ann Elizabeth Holeman Lenhart died, CLB asked her to write down something about the family.   The handwriting is shaky and hard to read in spots.  This is what she wrote concerning her grandfather:


            During the civil war grandfather Holeman had to capture his own brother in law -- take him and hold him prisoner.  There are many such stories of the civil war.  Even of sons & father.  It must have truly been a heart breaking war.


            This same brother in law was a famous judge & lawyer -- When he was running for judgeship I believe one time Kentucky had to get out the militia to stop the people from voting for him.  Seems the ______ had always been ______ -- so the opposition kept his name off the ballot -- so the people came & wrote in his name


            This story can be found in Kentucky history books of that time.  In fact in the Kentucky Historical Society headquarters in Frankfort.


* * * * *

I don't know yet if the brother-in-law was the husband of a sister we don't know about [no] or if he was Jennie's brother [DuVal English?] [no] or maybe he was the spouse of one of Jennie's  sisters [no].  However, with such helpful clues, maybe we'll find out some day. [Update: This may have been Alvin Duvall (later a Judge), the brother AHW’s mother-in-law.]




l. Watterson, Henry.  "Marse Henry" An Autobiography, Two Volumes in One, George H. Doran Company, New York, [1919].   Pages 22-26 [Vol II]

CLB has DuVal Holeman's copy of this book. [She is now deceased, don’t know what happened to her copy but the book is on the web - see: Watterson ]


WBL's scrapbook contains Watterson articles from The [Louisville] Courier-Journal (in about 1899).  Watterson was the editor of this paper and his name is well known in Kentucky history.   Yan has the scrapbook. [GKB has copies of articles.]


Watterson writes of "Col. Wake" or Andrew Wake Holeman.  We have since learned from Nanny's DAR application and census data that his name was Alexander Wake Holeman.


This is a summary of what Watterson says (I have not verified anything yet [except the Civil War] but I have written to the National Archives regarding the last item -- the Mexican War Pension Act [Update it appears he died before he collected anything.]):


1846 At the age of 22 he was a private in Col. Humphrey Marshall’s Regiment of the Kentucky Riflemen.   He was captured by Mexicans during which time the "bean” episode occurred.   (Co. C; Rio Grande, midsummer)

[Actually, Holeman was 19 years old in 1846]


l851    He was in Cuba during the Lopez Rebellion under Pickett at the Battle of Cardenas.


1855-56   He was in Nicaragua with Walker.


War of Sections [Civil War] He commanded a Kentucky regiment of cavalry on the Union side


Mexican War Pension Act   His is allegedly the second name on the roll. (Thanks to Watterson’s personal efforts on Holeman's behalf.)  [Never did track down the roll.]


2.  The family sword is now with [was with CLB’s son JMB, recently he sent it to his nephew].   According to CLB the engraving on the sword is:


U S A    [on one side; on other:]

L. Col. A.W. Holeman   12th KY Cavalry


My spouse suggests that maybe the "leaves” on “Col.  Wake's" uniform represent Lt. Col.  If so, perhaps the picture was taken at the time he received the ceremonial sword.   Aunt Betty has the original picture; she made me a copy; I have had a negative made from that copy. [Picture now with her oldest daughter.  I thought it was a Civil War photo but recently learned it is a painting!]


3.  Series I, Vol 23, Part I REPORTS, "Expedition to Monticello, Ky., Etc."  *Pages 298-302 [see images]


4.  Series I, Vol 38 [fix typo in the original], Part IV CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.  *Pages 302-307 [see images]


5. The simple version is the result of my spouse's explanation to me; Tom says Larry Bernard [now deceased] would give a better explanation.


6.  Series I, Vol 39, Part II.  Page 362  [image not copied]


[* Slightly different page ranges because the images are single page;, the original copies were two on a page.]


Some additional Civil War related links provided by JMB (cousin Jon):
George Jesse Captured

One entry (under Holeman) shows that he was a Captain on 2 March 61 and from Owen County. Another entry (under Holman) shows that he was a Major on 8-15-61 from New Liberty. I'm sure they are both the same man. We know he was a Lt. Colonel in 1863. Man, this guy made rank awfully fast (I suppose that was understandable given the Civil War, but very admirable in any case). [JMB]


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