Inscription:Three CSA Soldiers who were shot at Pleasureville by order of Gen. Burbridge in pretense of retaliation of two Negras that were killed near Port Royal Sleep on ye braves for you have got our last breath. We would not have thee buried on a lot with him who has caused thy death William Tighe aged 30 years, R. W. Yates aged 30 years, William Datbor aged 20 years.
On August 7, 1864, General Stephen Gano Burbridge was appointed commander of the Military District of Kentucky. Although the Union officer made many controversial decisions before he was removed from his command in February 1865, his infamous Order No. 59 made him Public Enemy #1 for Kentucky Confederates and earned him the epithet "Butcher" Burbridge. In an effort to punish the Confederacy for their repeated guerrilla activities, the order retaliated for every Union death with the execution of four guerrilla prisoners. Under this order, more than 50 executions took place.
The three men honored by this monument were executed in 1864 as a result of Order No. 59, and the powerful inscription on the obelisk is testament to the Confederate outrage with Burbridge. Interestingly, the inscription references the fact that the Confederate men were shot "in pretense of retaliation of two Negras that were killed," likely referring to two unnamed African American soldiers who had been allowed to join the Union army in Kentucky earlier that same year.
The enlistment of African Americans, many of whom were slaves, was also very upsetting to the Confederates in the slave state of Kentucky. This reference to the Union dead by race may be seen as an attempt to express disdain over this recruiting policy as well, if not to indicate that the executions were even less justified because the initial victims were "Negra." Under the laws of Kentucky at that time, African Americans were considered property, not citizens.
Why were African Americans considered property, not citizens, at the time of the War?