Jacob A. Trumbo of Garrard County served as a bodyguard for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, during his time in the Civil War. He recalled service in the Confederate army in a Garrard County newspaper article four months before his death in 1941.
He talked about the capture of Davis, who was forced to surrender Union soldiers at Washington, Ga., while attempting to leave the country with Gen. John C. Breckinridge. The general got away.
Trumbo, one of 40 men who guarded Davis, was captured along with the president, but was later paroled after promising to keep the terms of the truce.
When asked about a controversy about Davis’ clothing when captured, Trumbo said, “History books written by Yankees used to say that Mr. Davis was wearing a dress when he was forced to surrender. That was a lie.”
Trumbo explained Davis may have been wearing a dressing robe when captured, but not a dress. Mrs. Davis also explained the origin of the myth by saying a Union soldier, while ransacking the baggage of the Davis party, of which she was a member, found some of her dresses and upon returning to his fellow soldiers said they belonged to the president.
Trumbo was not able to shed much light on the fate of the Confederate gold Davis and his party had in their possession. He admitted to seeing the gold in kegs while he and fellow guardsmen escorted David and Breckinridge southward, but said he never learned what happened to the gold and silver bullion after the capture. “I got $26.50 of it for payment of services a few days before we were captured,” Trumbo said. He carried some the money with him for several years until he lost $3.30 worth of silver coins while showing the “boys out in Kansas how to cap a stack of hay.”
Trumbo was a scout most of the time while in the Civil War, riding on picket duty. “I never stayed in camp more than a week a a time,” he said.
He joined the Confederates in 1861 at the age of 17 while he lived in Versailles. He said he joined the Confederate cause after being influenced by the Southern oratory he heard from the Breckinridges in Lexington.
He served as a spy while still in Woodford County. An injury caused by horseback riding prevented him from serving for a year.
He joined the company of Col. Robert Stoner and headed south in 1862. Trumbo said the soldiers frequently were fired at by “bush-whackers” while going through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. At one point, the unit was engaged in a fight with a group of freed slaves that had organized its own military company.
During the early part of the war, Trumbo was under Gen. John S. Williams, a veteran military commander who fought at Cerre Gordon in the Mexican War. Later, he served under Gen. Breckinridge.
At the close of the war, Trumbo was with Breckinridge at Raleigh, N.C., when he was detailed to take Davis and Breckinridge out the country. They got as far as Washington, Ga., before they were forced to surrender.
Trumbo was paroled and walked to Atlanta after selling his horse, which the Union command had allowed him to keep. In Dalton, Ga., he was arrested and put on a freight trained for Chattanooga, Tenn., where he stayed 10 days. He said he lived on a diet of codfish right out of the brine and hard tack. After he was released, he headed to Kentucky.
Went to Missouri after war
After his return to Kentucky in 1866, Trumbo went to Clay County, Mo. “They were still fighting out there,” he said.
California was his real objective when he headed west, he said, but appeals from his parents brought him back to Kentucky and he didn’t get to realize his ambition of going West to fight Indians.
While in Missouri, Trumbo saw Jesse James. “I was in John Meisick’s hardware store looking at his display of pistols when James came in and looked them over, too. I saw his body after he was killed at St. Joseph and was well-acquainted with the sheriff of Clay County who figured in getting James.”
He returned to Kentucky and married Mary E. Bradshaw in Bath County. They moved in 1877 to Clay County, Mo., and lived there 17 years. He returned to Kentucky after a cyclone destroyed all buildings on his 250-acre farm near Liberty.
Trumbo bought a farm in Clark County and lived there several years. He retired in 1902. He sold the farm and moved to Winchester.
Moves to Garrard County
On a visit to Garrard County, Trumbo and his wife fell in love with the land around Camp Dick Robinson, and he was also impressed with the fishing in Dix River.
They purchased the old Camp Dick Robinson property and several acres across the road, where he built a one-story residence and installed all modern conveniences.
He lived out is life in Garrard County. He was an elder at Pleasant Grove Church.
After his wife, Mary, died in 1883, he was married to Fannie Jacobs for 56 years. She died in 1938.
Trumbo died Sept. 21, 1941, in Garrard County, from a cerebral hemorrhage, according to his death certificate. He was buried in Winchester.
Jacob was a son of Adams A. and Hannah Allen Trumbo.