Albany Law School was a strong Unionist school, popular with students who were to see, or had seen, service in the Union Army in the Civil War. Nevertheless, Albany Law, as an innovator in legal education, was also a school of national reputation, drawing students from throughout the United States. Most of these students, it is true, came from the Northeast and the Midwest, but some came from further afield.
In the class of 1857, one of the largest before the war, was Herbert Shackelford Dallam (1836-1862) of Paducah, Ky., the only Albany alumnus, as far as is known, that served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Dallam’s father was a wealthy Paducah banker who in 1860 (according to the federal census) owned six slaves.
After graduating from Albany, Dallam returned to Paducah, was admitted to the Kentucky bar, and although continuing to live with his parents, was practicing law there when the War broke out. Kentucky was badly split during the Civil War: it formally remained in the Union, but a large minority of its population adhered to the Confederacy. Dallam was one of these Kentucky Confederates. In July 1861 he enlisted as a private in the Third Kentucky Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army. Like his classmates who joined the Union Army, his superior education and his profession marked him out for promotion. Within three months, in October 1861, he received an offi cer’s commission, and soon thereafter was promoted to major and brigade commissary (in charge of supply) on the staff of General Lloyd Tilghman.
General Tilghman was assigned to the defense of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. Despite repeatedly warning his superiors that the low-lying Fort Henry was indefensible against determined attack, Tilghman and his men were left unsupported to face the advance of a then little-known but extremely aggressive Union general: Ulysses S. Grant. On Feb. 6, 1862, Grant forced the fort to surrender. Its garrison, including both General Tilghman and Herbert Dallam, were sent north as prisoners of war. Dallam ended up in Camp Chase, a prisoner-of-war camp in Columbus, Ohio.
At that period of the war, the Union Army was as disorganized and incompetent as its Confederate opponents were. Conditions in Union prison camps were then very poor; many prisoners died of disease and malnutrition. Dallam was one of these victims. He died on June 14, 1862. His body was eventually returned to Paducah for burial.