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John Hunt Morgan and His Raiders

John Hunt Morgan and His Raiders

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    John Hunt Morgan and His Raiders
    Book Description:

    Whether one things of him as dashing cavalier or shameless horse thief, it is impossible not to regard John Hunt Morgan as a fascinating figure of the Civil War. He collected his Raiders at first from the prominent families of Kentucky, though later the exploits of the group were to attract a less elite class of recruits. Morgan was able to lead these men into the most dangerous adventures by convincing them that the honor of the South was at stake; yet he did not always succeed in appealing to that sense of honor when temptations of easy theft drew the Raiders from military objectives to wanton pillage.

    In John Hunt Morgan and his Raiders, Edison H. Thomas gives us a balanced view of these controversial men and their raids. In a fast-paced narrative he follows the cavalry unit for the evening the first group set out from Lexington to join the Confederate forces until the morning of Morgan's death in Greeneville, Tennessee. Basil Duke, St. Leger Grenfell, Lightning Ellsworth, and the beautiful Martha Ready all receive their due, and the truly remarkable story of the Raiders' newspaper is told.

    A special contribution is the insight this account offers into the disruption of rail communications carried out with such enthusiasm by Morgan and his men. Thomas' study of the railroad records of the period has enabled him to present this part of the Raiders' story with rare detail and understanding.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4669-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Many Southerners even today look upon John Hunt Morgan as a savior, a shining knight, or a Robin Hood. To the North during that troubled time, Morgan was sometimes a brigand and often a source of grief to the military command; Federal soldiers and civilians alike habitually referred to him as the Horse Thief. And in Kentucky, in particular, one is either for him or against him; there is no middle ground.

    This daring soldier has become a bigger-than-life legend. He left no descendants, yet his name will live as long as Kentucky history continues to be written. Whatever his...

    (pp. 1-12)

    Darkness closed in early that cool, crisp, autumn night. Only a few people were on the streets of Lexington, and most of those were on their way home to enjoy the warmth of families and firesides. Except for two hay wagons rumbling along the Versailles Pike, that dusty road was deserted.

    By midnight the two wagons had reached Shryock’s Ferry on the Kentucky River, seven miles west of Versailles. There they were met by twelve men on horseback, and soon, with calm precision, the men, horses, and wagons were transported across the river on the ferry. On the other side...

    (pp. 13-24)

    In August 1861 a short item appeared in theLexington Observer and Reporter:“Some excitement has risen among our citizens in reference to an encampment of recruits for the United States Army, said to be organized in the county of Garrard….”

    Thus was noted the establishment of a military camp on the Dick Robinson farm near the Dix River, scarcely more than twenty-five miles south of Lexington. The very presence of such a camp in the Bluegrass so near the city infuriated many Confederate sympathizers, including John Hunt Morgan.

    “We have been assured by some of the principal officers of...

    (pp. 25-33)

    In mid-February of 1862, Morgan and his command were camped at LaVergne, Tennessee, sixteen miles southeast of Nashville. Much had happened since those frigid, bone-chilling days in January back at Bell’s Tavern.

    First, the eastern end of the Confederate front had collapsed when General George H. Thomas and his Federal army clashed with General Felix K. Zollicoffer’s men, who were encamped behind a mile-wide circle of breastworks on the Cumberland River near Mill Springs. The battle took place January 19 at nearby Logan’s Crossroads. General Zollicoffer was killed here, and the Southerners fell back to Tennessee.

    Second, General Grant had...

    (pp. 34-45)

    En route from Mississippi northeast across Tennessee, wherever Morgan stopped he and the Raiders received a warm welcome. At Pulaski hundreds of people turned out when word spread that Morgan’s Raiders were in town. Admirers crowded around, many of them hoping only to touch Morgan’s little mare, Black Bess. When the colonel stopped at the hitching post in front of the hotel, the crowd closed in just to stroke her coat. Others attempted to clip souvenir swatches of hair from her mane and tail.

    Marching on, the Raiders crossed Stone’s River and felt as if they were almost back home....

    (pp. 46-58)

    Upon arrival at Sparta, Morgan’s Second Kentucky Cavalry reoccupied their old camp, which, except for an abundance of weeds grown up in their absence, was about as it was when they had left it two months before.

    Basil Duke was placed in charge as Morgan rode off for a meeting with his new commanding officer, General Bragg, who had succeeded the ailing Beauregard and established headquarters at Chattanooga. There on July 31 General Edmund Kirby Smith (who had come down on the train from Knoxville), Bragg, and Morgan held a council of war with other officers to map their next...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 6 CHRISTMAS 1862
    (pp. 59-71)

    In early December, direct from running interference for General Bragg in Kentucky, Morgan and his Raiders were back at Murfreesboro. Buell’s army had returned to Nashville, but without its testy commander. Because of his reluctance to pressure Bragg during his withdrawal from Perryville, Buell had been relieved of his command and the assignment given to General William S. Rosecrans.

    Bragg’s army had straggled into Murfreesboro on November 20 and 21. Within little more than a two-day march to the west was Rosecrans and the Federal army, also going into winter camp.

    As Bragg’s army began to set up their tents,...

  12. 7 THE BIG RAID
    (pp. 72-85)

    News of the Battle of Stone’s River dampened whatever elation Morgan might have felt about the success of his Christmas Raid in Kentucky. Although the damage he did to the Federal supply line was great, he realized that it had not come soon enough.

    On December 26, just as Morgan was beginning to make a shambles of the railroad in Kentucky, Rosecrans had marched from Nashville toward Murfreesboro to challenge Bragg’s Confederate army. Needless to say, Mattie Morgan’s ball scheduled for that night was hastily canceled, and the entire city battened down the hatches to prepare for the invasion.


    (pp. 86-93)

    Vengeance was swift. Within days Morgan and most of his officers had been placed in temporary confinement at the Cincinnati jail. Ohio’s Governor David Tod insisted that they were civil prisoners and should be treated as such; thus he ordered their transfer to the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus.

    On July 30, with the weather still sweltering hot, Morgan and a number of his officers and men (eventually 68 in all) were transferred under heavy guard from Cincinnati to Columbus to prison. There they were stripped, scrubbed, and shaven of their hair, beards, and moustaches. When Basil Duke arrived a...

    (pp. 94-101)

    An uneasy peace in Kentucky, one that had lasted almost a year, was broken on the morning of June 8, 1864, at Cynthiana.

    On that particular morning, the quiet, sun-drenched stillness was interrupted as two men on horseback galloped down the town’s main street like self-appointed Paul Reveres. “Morgan! Morgan! Listen everybody! John Hunt Morgan is headed this way,” they cried repeatedly as people who had been going about their morning chores stopped in shocked surprise.

    Cynthiana residents well remembered the time nearly two years before when General Morgan and his men had laid seige to the city, and the...

    (pp. 102-112)

    It was August before all the Raiders who had escaped Burbridge’s troops returned to the rolling hills of southwestern Virginia. In the midst of that colorful summer landscape they paused to heal the wounds of battle. Every man seemingly moved back into his old place, and on the face of things, the indomitable spirit of the Raiders was as it always had been.

    Mattie Morgan, who had been in South Carolina during the Cynthiana raid, rejoined the general, and her presence served to bolster his sagging spirits. As the command settled down to routine camp life, Mattie accompanied her husband...

  16. 11 EPILOGUE
    (pp. 113-116)

    News of Morgan’s death spread quickly throughout the nation, but many newspapers, hurrying to disseminate the word, had difficulty in getting the facts straight. Those at Lynchburg and Richmond, Virginia, reported that Morgan had been killed in battle, and it was Monday, September 5, before any word at all reached the general’s widow at Abingdon.

    In order to help ease the shock of the news, Mattie was first told that the general had only been injured, but even at that moment, a train bearing her husband’s body was on its way from Greeneville over the same railroad on which he...

  17. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 117-120)
  18. Index
    (pp. 121-128)