Kentucky Chataqua actor Ethan Smith portrayed Orphan Brigade soldier Johnny Green Monday night for the Henry County Historical Society.
Smith’s character was an actual Kentucky Confederate soldier who enlisted at 19. Green was born in Henderson, Ky.
Green joined the First Kentucky a division named so as the soldiers couldn’t reenter Kentucky without the threat of being tried for treason.
Green wrote many accounts in his diary, which told of how the brigade did not return after 1862 until the war was over to Kentucky. The brigade most likely was not affectionately called the Orphan Brigade until much later depicting Kentucky’s hesitation to openly support the confederacy.
In Smith’s monologue, he tells of how Gen. Braxton Bragg made the fatal decision to order the brigade to charge at the Battle of Stone River into reinforcements hidden behind a hillside. The decision splintered respect between the Kentucky Confederate Gen. Breckinridge, also the 14th Vice President of the United States under James Buchanan, and Bragg.
Like most Confederate soldiers, the brigade did not possess the most modern equipment, fire arms or doctors. In Smith’s reenactment, he talks of how Green met a man who fashioned pikes and spears for soldiers who weren’t armed with guns.
Green settled in Louisville after the war. He married and had two children. Another child died soon after birth. He died in 1920 as director of the Louisville Title Company and the Columbia and Fidelity Trust Company.