In trying to learn more about the unit in which my gg-grandfather served, I received a very nice explanation of the history of the three different military units which were designated as the "5th Kentucky". I got that help from Geoff Walden who along with Laura Cook has a site dealing with the Orphan Brigade of the Kentucky Confederate Forces.
Here's the information Geoff sent me to help understand why there were three different units with the same designation.
"I reckon to confuse the issue even further, we should consider three different 5th Kentucky Infantry regiments. The first of these was a 12-months regiment, formed in eastern KY in the fall of 1861. This is the unit your ancestor served in (according to the unit rosters). This regiment refused to reorganize under the general reorganization in April and May of 1862 (wherein all the 12-months regiments were supposed to reenlist for three years or the war). At the end of their 12-months service, they offered to reenlist for the war if allowed to convert to mounted infantry, but this was denied by headquarters. This regiment, therefore, more-or-less ceased to exist. Some of the men did indeed reenlist, and became members of the "new" 5th Ky. Inf., but many others left and joined various KY cavalry or artillery units (the rosters do not show that your ancestor did either). Technically, the 12-months regiment should not be considered a part of the Orphan Brigade. "The "new" regiment was formed in the fall of 1862, from the remains of the 12-months regiment, plus recruits and other sources. This regiment later served in the Orphan Brigade, from Nov. 1863 through the end of the war (and they are considered an Orphan Brigade regiment). The other 5th Ky. Inf. was a result of the shaky record keeping in the CS government, early-on (the Federal KY regiments suffered even more of this "number envy"). While the eastern KY 5th was being formed, another regiment that was numbered the 5th was formed in the area of Cave City. Both regiments carried the same number (although they never came anywhere near each other, and likely didn't even know of the other's existence) until Oct. 1862, when the War Dept. decided to straighten the records out by renumbering the Cave City 5th as the 9th (the eastern KY 5th had perfected its organization first). This regiment served in the Orphan Brigade for its entire career. The men of the 5th/9th were not pleased at all about this renumbering, but they got over it, and came to be just as proud of their record as the 9th. Most post-war records (such as reports in the Official Records) changed any reference to this regiment as the 5th, to reflect its number as the 9th, but in the original records before Oct. 1862 you will still see this regiment called the 5th."
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