Larkin was around 53 years of age when the war began. At some point during the conflict, it came to the attention of certain higher ups in the Confederacy that he was adept at intercepting crucial intelligence pertaining to the North. Although Kentucky was technically a slave state that maintained a stance of neutrality, Larkin was sympathetic towards the idea of states rights and felt that the Lincoln administration was violating the constitution in its use of military compulsion.
It would, of course, be great if we could have an authentic photograph of the belt and pouch. Better still, what if we could locate some of the actual letters Larkin was toting about!
Another article printed just a few days after his passing emphasizes his prominent position in the community.
After the swords ceased to clash and the bullets stopped flying, the survivors of this bloody war returned to their homes, some of them far away. Larkin also came safely back to his farmland in southern Kentucky, only to discover that Louisville was attempting to confiscate his property as a consequence of his ardent and active support for the Gray States.
Though solid in his convictions, he knew that he would have to tread softly in his response. So Larkin set to writing a letter to President Johnson, firmly detailing his reasons for being involved with the South. He was careful to include a healthy dose of humility in the tone of the correspondence, expressing his desire to support the U.S. constitution and rebuilding of the nation through whatever humble means were at his disposal.
The letter not only serves as a great primary source for Civil War and military history buffs, but also demonstrates Larkin's penmanship, language facility as well as a keen understanding of the issues at stake for limited government in America.
Below is a transcript of the two pages presented above:
To the President of the United States
The petition of Larkin Harned, a citizen of Christian Co Kentucky represents to your Excellency that at the commencement of the late War, your petitioner believing that the rights of the Southern people had been trampled on by the North, agreed with the Southern people in the course they adopted & felt anxious for their success, not because he ever had any objection to the constitution of the United States, which he regarded as forming one of The best Governments ever made as administered by the predecessors of Mr Lincoln but because he thought the constitution had been violated & the rights of the people trampled on by the Federal Executive but he did not take up arms, his age now fifty six prevented him from doing so — but owing to the excitement in his [...] he felt himself unsafe at home & spent a good deal of time in the South & is informed, that Capt Garst his neighbor & freind had put his name on his roll to protect him as much as possible in the event of his capture.
Your petitionor further States; that after the surrender of the Confederate armies, he considered the cause of the South lost, returned to his home & took the oath of Amnesty as required by your proclamation with a settled determination to abide by the results of the War & to be in future a peacable orderly & great citizen — He found upon his return home, that proseedings had been instituted agt him at Louisville for the Confiscation of his Land in Christian County, which is now pending — Whilst your petitioner does not believe that he has been guilty of any offence which would justify its confiscation under the Law — He is nonetheless anxious not only to secure pardon for his offences agt the government but also to have the suit dismissed — that he may be enabled to remain peaceably at home & perform his duty as a good citizen of the U. S and aid as far as his humble means will allow in restoring the Government to what it was before the War & bring prosperity once more to our citizens as your petitioner is in duty bound will ever pray
In the meantime, I should close by sharing a snippet from my personal pedigree chart. It shows that my granddad Clarence Otho White was descended from Larkin Harned through Eulah Peyton Williams. This makes him one of my 4th great grandfathers.
Is this character from Civil War history perhaps one of the forgotten leaves in your family tree? Let us know in the comments section below.