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First Name: Leslie

Last Name: Combs

Birthplace: Boonsboro, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 29 November 1793

Date of Death: 22 August 1881

Rank: General

Years Served:
Leslie Combs
'Boy Captain of 1812'

•  War of 1812


Leslie Combs

General, U.S. Army

Leslie Combs was born on 29 November 1793 near Boonsboro, in Clark County, KY. He was the twelfth child of Benjamin (from Virginia) and Sarah Richardson (from Maryland) Combs. His father, Benjamin, served at the Siege of Yorktown and moved from Virginia in 1782 and settled in the wilderness of Kentucky.

Military Service

Leslie entered the army at the age of nineteen and, as a veteran of the War of 1812, became known as the "boy captain of 1812." In the campaign that ended in disaster at the River Raisin, Captain Combs volunteered, with the assistance of an Indian guide and four men, to carry the dispatches of Clay's approach sent by Gen. Winchester to Gen. Harrison. To deliver these, he was obliged to traverse a pathless wilderness occupied by savages and covered with snow, for over a hundred miles, and suffered greatly from the deprivation of food and other supplies. (The inclement weather resulted in partial anchylosis of Combs' shoulder joints.) He succeeded in threading his perilous way through swarms of hostile savages, and had arrived in sight of the closely invested Fort Meigs when he was attacked by Indians. One of his men was killed, another wounded, and he and the rest of his little band, after intense suffering, escaped, in a starving condition, back to Fort Defiance.

Later, Combs played an important role in the disastrous defeat of Col. William Dudley on 5 May. During this he was wounded in the left shoulder by a musket ball, taken prisoner, and compelled to run the gauntlet at Fort Miami but fortunately escaped.


After the war, Combs settled in Lexington, studied law, and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-three, attaining high rank in the profession. In 1836, he raised, at his own expense, a regiment to aid Texas in her struggle for independence, and was commissioned Colonel in August of that year. He was for several terms State Auditor, and was many times elected to the Legislature.

When his old commander, Gen. Harrison, was a candidate for president, Combs took a prominent part in the campaign. As a stump orator he was unsurpassed. At the beginning of the Mexican War he aided largely in raising volunteers in Kentucky. He was a strong Whig, and earnestly devoted to the Union from the time when the question of secession was first advanced. In 1849, Henry Clay, who placed great trust in Gen. Combs, wrote to him suggesting that Union meetings should be held throughout Kentucky, enclosing resolutions to be adopted. During the campaign of 1844, he made many speeches in the north and east in support of his friend Clay as a candidate for president. It was in defeating Gen. Combs for Congress that Gen. Breckinridge won his earliest success in public life.

Gen. Combs' last public office was that of Clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, to which he was elected by a large majority as the Union candidate in 1860. In opposition to the state guard, organized by Simon B. Bucker, which was only a school of recruits for the Confederate Army, he organized and armed, in conjunction with Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau, a body of loyal soldiers, who subsequently rendered effective service in the national cause. Gen. Combs was one of the pioneers of railroad-building in the west.

As a lawyer trustee of Transylvania University, railroad pioneer, and a brilliant and sparkling speaker, General Combs stood in high respect among his fellow citizens.


Leslie Combs married Margaret Trotter, of Fayette County, KY, on 1 Sep 1818. They had 10 children; 5 boys and 5 girls. Margaret died in January 1884.

Death and Burial

General Leslie Combs died on 22 August 1881 in Lexington, KY. He is buried at Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, KY.

Honoree ID: 2359   Created by: MHOH




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