Colonel Logen Henry Neil Salyer
"The Blackstone of Virginia and Kentucky"
May 31, 1835-May 3, 1916
David Chaltas & Danny Taylor
There rests within the sacred soil of the Westwood (known as the Blair Family Cemetery) an unheralded hero. There he rests in a small eastern Kentucky city known as Whitesburg. There rests a man encircled by hallowed ground that served the cause of his convictions and conscience.There rests a man, a mortal man, but one who clung to his beliefs though latent with suffering, injury and anguish. But still he fought, willing to give his last full measure for the cause in which he had dedicated his dignity and devotion. There rests a man that at the beginning of the great civil strife enlisted with 101 men and at its close only two came out ‘untouched by shot, shell or saber.’ The fighting at times was so intense that Colonel Salyer stated, "In one battle sixteen holes shot through my clothes." On that small summit within the confines of a beautiful valley in the shadow of Pine Mountain, there rests the man silenced by the ages. But the legacy of his devotion to the cause of yesteryear must never be silenced so that future generations will remember where rests the man.
Logan Henry Neil was born on May 31, 1835 on Copper Creek, near Nickelsville, in Scott County, Virginia.He was the son of Samuel Salyer. His great grand father was Charles Kilgore (grandmother was Mary Kilgore Culbertson) who fought for freedom at King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War. Not much is known of his youth but one can deduce that he was a very intelligent motivated individual and that trait followed him throughout his life. He attended public school and later went on to college at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After receiving an education he struck out on his own in search of his destiny. It is abundantly apparent that he was a studious lad and had aspirations of becoming a lawyer prior to the War Between the States. He became a schoolteacher at an early age and later worked in Baltimore as a printer. He worked in the Wise County Courthouse as a clerk at the onset of the invasion by northern forces and enlisted into the Company H of the 50th Virginia Infantry. He was instrumental in establishing the unit known as the "Yankee Catchers" which was commanded by Colonel Alexander W. Reynolds. He purchased forty-nine guns out of his own pocket (totaling $680) for his company.
His war record is quite impressive and very distinguished. He served under the command of the immortal General Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson. In 1861 he stated that he participated in the West Virginia campaign, and had fought at Kelly’s Store in Southhampton County. He was wounded at Fort Donelson. In an interview dated May 4, 1916 he stated that, "At Fort Donelson I was shot through the body while leading my men in the fight and was sent away by steamboat crowded with the wounded to Nashville, Tennessee. A soldier in the struggle of death fell across my body and died there. He lay on me a long time for there was no one to remove him and I was too weak from loss of blood to do it. I finally recovered sufficiently to rejoin my Regiment." (The Mountain Eagle; May 4, 1916)
There he was again promoted and was soon ordered to attach the 50th with General Lee and the invincible Army of Northern Virginia. He fought admirably at Seven Pines in 1862 and Fredricksburg in the same year. According to an interview of May 4, 1916 that can be found in the Mountain Eagle, he also served at Antietam. He stated that when at Antietam, "I thought not of death and believed no other man did, though the blood and brains of our comrades kept constantly flushing in our faces. Yet some of us, providentially or otherwise, passed through that terrible stream of death without a scar. He was present at the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson where Colonel Sayler was also wounded by a blow to the head with a sword and taken prisoner. "At Chancellorsville I received a bad wound across my head by a sword in a bayonet charge. I was completely surrounded in a hand to hand fight. I fell unconscious; the Federals threw me in the ditch face down for dead. The sisters of charity who were picking up the wounded noticed I was a Confederate Officer and turned me over and found I was breathing. Later I endeavored to escape but recaptured, was sent to prison at Washington. I was exchanged and returned to the command of my Regiment." Considering the nature of his wound and the loss of so much blood, it is amazing that he was able to escape for any length of time. He was paroled on May 18, 1863 and immediately returned to his beloved boys just in time to follow General Lee into northern territory for the second time. (The Mountain Eagle; May 4, 1916)
He fought gallantly at Gettysburg beside the men of the 50th (known as the Yankee Catchers) and assumed command after the wounding of his superior. He fought in such enduring places as Benner’s Hill, the Culp’s Hill assault and Rock Creek to positions along the famous Seminary Ridge. The fighting was steady and intense, lasting through the night. At one point during the night assault, Colonel Salyer reflected that, "It was so dark that you could not tell a Yankee from a Rebel."
He stated that he served during the Wilderness Campaign, which was one of the most intense battles of the war. He became sick and was hospitalized at Lynchburg. Upon release, he was listed as AWOL for a time. He claimed to have been, "Near Lynchburg with a detached command", when General Lee surrendered a short distance away at a place called Appomattox. (50th Virginia Infantry; Chapla, John D.; H.E. Howard, Inc; Lynchburg, Virginia; 1997)
Upon returning home, he studied and passed his bar exams. He moved to Hazard and later to Whitesburg, Kentucky and set up a law practice. He became prominent as a lawyer, and was known as, "The Blackstone of Virginia and Kentucky". Reportedly he ran an establishment called the Kentucky Hotel.
He was a judge within Letcher County and reportedly built the now famous "Salyer House’ located in Whitesburg (it is currently a bed and breakfast). He was married four times and was the father to thirteen or fourteen children. He is buried (in his uniform by his own request) in the Blair Family Cemetery now located on a beautiful point overlooking Westwood. (The Civil War in Buchanan and Wise Counties Bushwhacker’s Paradise; Weaver, Jeffrey C.; H. E. Howard, Inc; Lynchburg, Virginia; 1994)
The following information is listed on the tombstone of Colonel Salyer. He is buried at the westerly point of the Westwood Cemetery, located in Whitesburg, Kentucky:
Civil War Record
1861: Mustered in as Captain Co. H, Reg 50th Virginia Inf.; Wythesville, VA.
1862: Promoted to Major
1863: Promoted to Lt. Col. and transferred to Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s Corp. and was at his side when Jackson was killed. Wounded at Chancellorsville
1864: Promoted to Col. and transferred to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s command. Wounded at Gettysburg. Continued with Gen. Lee. Surrendered with him at Appomattox.
This dark poem came from an article that I read regarding the death of Colonel Logen Henry Neil Salyer. I was researching his war record and found an obscure article listed in the Mountain Eagle. It was dated May 4, 1916. The colonel was talking about his experiences during the War Between the States some fifty years after it occurrence. After his passing, one line from what I presumed was taken from the obituary haunted my being until I allowed it to become the poem entitled Turbid Vale. The line read, "When the last taps were sounded the spirit of Col. L.H.N. Salyer passed beyond life’s turbid vale."
Lying behind the Turbid Vale
Resting warriors begin to sail
The waters of the great unknown.
Rejected soldiers heading home.
Their bodies on the battlefield.
Lifeless forms when their souls they yield.
Thoughts of loved ones on their last breath.
Pennied eyes and the smell of death.
On they journey through gloomy mist
Seeking not the immense Abyss.
They approach the fork of the road.
Where the blood has overflowed.
Crossing each by His beckoned call
He either rises or he falls.
Those that refused to compromise
Awake in heaven’s paradise.
Though we cannot see past the wall,
Each man must answer judgment’s call.
We are fearful when we set sail
But all must cross the turbid vale.
Charles Kilgore of King’s Mountain, A New History of the Kilgore Family; Addington, Hugh M.; Kingsport Press; Kingsport, Tennessee; 1935; pages 75-77
50th Virginia Infantry; Chapla, John D.; H.E. Howard, Inc; Lynchburg, Virginia; 1997
Mountain Eagle; May 4, 1916
The Civil War in Buchanan and Wise Counties Bushwhacker’s Paradise; Weaver, Jeffrey C.; H. E. Howard, Inc; Lynchburg, Virginia; 1994