Born Stanley Young of Nelson County in 1831, Stanley visited the area of Meade County as a child. His mother’s brother, William Marsh, resided there. While visiting Marsh, Stanley’s father, St. Clair Young and Marsh got into an argument at the dinner table. Marsh grabbed a carving knife, and while Stanley looked on, stabbed St. Clair Young to death. Stanley was nine years old, but vowed to avenge his father’s murder.
His chance came in Brandenburg nine years later. It was court day and Uncle Marsh was standing in front of the Ashcraft Hotel talking with Dr. Owings. Owings was leaning against a sign pole and Uncle Marsh was standing on the walk facing Owings with his back to the hotel. Young crept up the back steps of the hotel, making his way onto the balcony overlooking the two men. He took aim and fired his pistol into the top of Marshes’ head, killing him instantly. Young ran up the hill to the courthouse where his horse was tied and rode away, was captured and sent to prison, returning years later as a Confederate guerrilla.
Said to be distantly related to the John Young Brown family, and not wanting to bring more shame on his kin, he adopted the sobriquet Captain Bill Marion. He was gallant, soldierly and deadly. This dashing Confederate Raider wore a white pheasant feather in his hat and occasionally ostrich plumes. He led a raid of 75 guerrillas against the 100-man Home Guard in Brandenburg. Later, he led 12 guerrillas, including Frank James and Peyton Long, on a raid to Bewleyville, where they were ambushed by a large Union force. Long was, mortally wounded, but Marion rode by his side, steadying him in the saddle while continuing to fight. Marion and James held back the Union Cavalry until nightfall, when they rested and Peyton Long died. Marion took part in the Simpsonville Raid, and many other actions, and was known as a loyal leader that would battle desperately to protect his men.
In January 1865, William Clarke Quantrill and his raiders, including Frank James and the Younger brothers, made their way to Kentucky. Quantrill wanted to join guerrilla Sue Mundy’s band, but Mundy was suspicious of Quantrill’s men, who wore stolen Union uniforms. On Marion’s orders, Quantrill was held in camp under guard while Marion led a raid with Quantrill’s men. After the raid Marion reported that, “he would ride into any danger with such men.” From that time on, Marion, Mundy, Quantrill, Magruder and others would join in military actions.
On March 12, 1865, Sue Mundy, H. C. Magruder and another were captured in Meade County by the renowned guerrilla hunter Major Cyrus Wilson. On March 13, Marion was in Meade County when he sent a telegraphed message addressed to General Palmer, in care of George Prentice, editor of “The Louisville Daily Journal,” threatening to kill one hundred Union men if his friend Sue Mundy or his men were harmed. Prentice did not print the telegram until March 25, 10 days after Mundy was hanged. There was little question that he would avenge the execution of his friend.
This may have caused General Palmer to send for “Bad Ed” Terrell - a dangerous, contemptible, but capable Independent Scout. Palmer later said that meeting with Terrell always made him uneasy, and he kept a loaded revolver ready in case he needed to protect himself. By his own admission, Terrell had killed 17 men, even accepting the contract killing of Hercules Walker, a Jefferson County outlaw. Palmer offered a fine horse to Terrell if he would bring in a certain guerrilla. Terrell asked if it mattered - dead or alive. Palmer answered his question with a look. The guerrilla was Bill Marion, who was operating in the Fairfield, Bloomfield, and Chaplin area - a Confederate leaning region. The Confederate battle flag waved over Bloomfield throughout the war.
On April 13, Ed Terrell and 16 of his scouts met Bill Marion and his 30 men on the road between Bloomfield and Taylorsville. Although outnumbered, he charged the guerrillas and, for a time, kept up a lively fight. Terrell finally retreated to a barn. Marion and Terrell, who hated each other, swore what they would do if each ever caught the other. Under a flag of truce, Marion sent Terrell a message to surrender because Quantrill was on his way to the fight with 40 men. Terrell sent back the message, “Come and take me.” He then dispatched a man to Bardstown for reinforcements who fortunately met Captain Robert H. Young, of the 54th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, on the road to the fight. Young with 35 men arrived at the scene of the action just after Quantrill arrived with his men.
After a brisk skirmish, the guerrillas were routed and closely pursued by Terrell and Young’s men. Marion was wounded in the thigh and had a tuft of hair shot from his head. Two Union men were casualties as well as several Confederates. That same night, the Confederates ambushed Cyrus Wilson killing one of his men and wounding another. On April 15, Captain Penn of the Casey County Guard was ordered to Springfield by General Palmer’s adjutant, General Hobson. There he would combine forces with Wilson and Terrell’s Independent Scouts. General Palmer had called out his “Special Forces” to kill Captain Bill Marion, the State’s most dangerous Confederate raider.
On April 16, Cyrus Wilson and George W. Penn, each with 50 men, and Ed Terrell with his 19 or 20 scouts, rendezvoused in Springfield. A plan was hatched to trap Marion and his men - reportedly traveling to Washington County. Intelligence said he would come toward Manton. Their combined force numbered about 120 and they decided to split forces and approach Manton from both roads leading there. If successful, their plan would intercept Marion on either road, and if neither party made contact, they would regroup in Manton.
Before Captain Penn reached Manton, he dispatched Sergeant George W. Hughes with 12 men to the Hard Rock Still-House, near the Manton church and school, on the road to Loretto Station. Captain Marion with four men rode up to the still-house, 150 yards from Hughes’ picket line, inquiring whose men they were, and then firing on them. Marion dismounted. Hughes’ men returned fire and Marion fell. Four others fled in different directions and got away.
Terrell and Penn pursued the four guerrillas until Terrell returned to the body. Marion was identified by his April 13 wounds. Terrell, who fought many bloody engagements with Marion, took the body to Louisville, claiming the kill and his reward. Penn’s men were armed with Ballard Carbine rifles, and Terrell’s men with pistols. Marion was shot with a rifle ball causing a dispute about who killed Marion.
At a battle in Spencer County on May 10, “Bad Ed” Terrell inflicted a mortal wound to William Clarke Quantrill. Terrell wore a heavy gold ring he took from Marion’s hand, until his own death in 1868 at the age of 23. He was barely 20 years old at the killing of Marion and Quantrill. Upon his death, “Bad Ed” Terrell bequeathed the only things he truly valued, to his brother, his revolvers and Marion’s gold ring.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Springfield Mayor John Cecconi, Laurie Smith and historian Nell Haydon for their time and help with this story. If anyone has more to share, contact email@example.com.