Sons of Union Veterans of
P. O. 24969 San José, CA

My Union Ancestor



Co. F, 19th Kentucky Infantry

3 x great-granduncle of Tad D. Campbell, PCinC
2 x great-granduncle of Howard D. Campbell


Harbert King Forbis was born March 7, 1834 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. He was one of eight children, and the only son of Morgan and Adaline Lanier (King) Forbis. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Harbert King, a prominent citizen of Lincoln County.

On December 12, 1861, Harbert K. Forbis enlisted in Company F, 19th Kentucky Infantry, USA at Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He was commissioned into service as a Second Lieutenant on January 2, 1862 and was described as being five feet, eleven inches tall, with a dark complexion, black hair, and black eyes.

Harbert King Forbis' maternal uncle, William Mason King, also enlisted in the same regiment on December 15, 1861, serving as a Private in Company K and later re-enlisting into the Veteran Reserve Corps.

While his command was encamped at Sommerset, Kentucky during the month of February 1862, Lieutenant Forbis contracted typhoid fever and kidney disease. He was ordered by the Colonel to be taken to a private house for treatment by the Regimental Surgeon. It was noted that during the remainder of his service, he often carried his belt across his shoulders as he could not bear to have it buckled around his body because it would hurt him and increase the pain from his kidney.

At the termination of the Cumberland Gap campaign, in which the regiment participated, it marched by way of Louisville, Kentucky to Memphis, Tennessee, and formed part of General Sherman's army which moved on Vicksburg via Chickasaw Bayou.

It participated in the battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Mississippi (December 27-29, 1862), then proceeded to Arkansas Post, Arkansas and participated in the battle which resulted in the capture of that place (January 10-11, 1863). It returned from Arkansas Post to Young's Point, Louisiana, where it remained for some time.

In February or March 1863, while his command was doing duty at Young's Point, Lieutenant Forbis had the not uncommon misfortune of contracted chronic diarrhea. He now had this to deal with in addition to his kidney ailment.

On April 15, 1863 the regiment marched down the west bank of the Mississippi River, crossed to the rear of Vicksburg and took part in the battles of Port Gibson (May 1), Champion's Hill (May 16), Big Black River Bridge (May 17) and the sieges of Vicksburg and Jackson. In the assault on Vicksburg (May 22) the regiment lost about sixty men killed and wounded.

On August 3, 1863, Lieutenant Forbis was promoted to Captain and was subsequently granted a twenty day leave on account of his "being a worthy officer."

After the siege of Jackson, the regiment, with the 13th Army Corps, was transferred to the Department of the Gulf and was with General Nathaniel P. Banks on the unfortunate Red River Campaign. In the battle of Sabine Crossroads, Louisiana (April 8, 1864) the regiment repelled five distinct charges before the enemy was enabled to break through its lines, and the corps commander, General Ransom, said "They all did nobly, and their list of killed and wounded bears evidence of the obstinacy with which they resisted the overwhelming force of the enemy."

It was during the battle of Sabine Crossroads, near Mansfield, Louisiana, that Captain Forbis was captured along with nearly 1,200 others. He was sent to Camp Ford, a prisoner of war camp near Tyler, Smith County, Texas, where he remained for over six months. Camp Ford was the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp west of the Mississippi. At the time that Captain Forbis was being held there, it housed more than 5,300 Union prisoners. On October 23, 1864 he was exchanged and paroled at Red River Landing, Louisiana. He then reported for duty at New Orleans on October 27th.

Captain Forbis and the rest of the regiment were subsequently ordered back to Louisville, Kentucky where they were mustered out on January 26, 1865.

In February 1865, Harbert King Forbis settled down at Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky to raise a family with his bride, Susan Mary Caldwell, whom he had married during the war on May 27, 1862. This union produced three sons and four daughters.

After the war he worked variously as a machinist and wagon maker. Captain Forbis continued to reside at Danville, Kentucky until about 1880-87 when he moved to Columbus, Ohio. Here he was a member of Wells Post No. 451, G. A. R.

Captain Forbis continued to suffer greatly from the chronic diarrhea and kidney disease that he had contracted during his Army service. He became debilitated to the extent that he could not do any manual labor. The U.S. Government provided him with a pension that he used to support his family.

In the end, Captain Forbis was forced to live out his days in the State Soldiers' Home at Sandusky, Ohio where he died on October 10, 1910 at the age of seventy-six years.

Copyright © 2001-2015 — Phil Sheridan Camp 4, Dept. of CA & Pacific, SUVCW
Created 29 Jan 2001; Revised 25 Aug 2015

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