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Confederate leader John Hunt Morgan is captured

Confederate leader John Hunt Morgan is captured


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On July 26, 1863, Confederate cavalry leader John Hunt Morgan and 360 of his men are captured at Salineville, Ohio, during a spectacular raid on the North. Starting in July 1862, Morgan made four major raids on Northern or Northern-held territory over the course of a year. Although they were of limited strategic significance, the raids served as a boost to Southern morale and captured much-needed supplies.

Morgan’s fourth raid began on July 2, 1863, when he and 2,400 troopers left Tennessee and headed for the Ohio River.He hoped to divert the attention of Union commander William Rosecrans, who was driving for Chattanooga, Tennessee.Morgan reached the river on July 8, using stolen steamboats to ferry his force across to Indiana. For the next two and a half weeks, Morgan rampaged through Indiana and Ohio, feigning toward Cincinnati, then riding across southern Ohio. His force met little resistance, and scattered local militias who faced them. With Union cavalry in hot pursuit, Morgan headed for Pennsylvania. For more than a week, Morgan and his troops spent 21 hours per day in the saddle. At Pomeroy, Ohio, Morgan lost over 800 men when the Yankees caught up with him and captured a large part of his force. He and the remaining members of his command were forced further north, and on July 26, the exhausted men surrendered.

In the end, only 400 of Morgan’s troopers made it safely back to the South. Those captured were scattered around Northern prison camps. Morgan and his officers were sent to the newly opened Ohio State Penitentiary. He and his men tunneled out on November 27, 1863; however, Morgan was killed in battle a year later.

READ MORE: Confederate States of America


John Hunt Morgan

John Hunt Morgan – known as the ‘Thunderbolt of the Confederacy’ and remembered as the ideal of the romantic Southern cavalryman -- was born June 1, 1825 in Huntsville, Alabama, but is thoroughly identified with his mother’s home state of Kentucky. Morgan moved to the Bluegrass State as a boy and briefly attended Transylvania College in Lexington before he was expelled for bad behavior. He enlisted in the 1st Kentucky Cavalry at the outbreak of the Mexican War and served under Zachary Taylor, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Buena Vista. After the war, back in his beloved Kentucky, Morgan became a successful hemp manufacturer and equipped a militia company, known as the ‘Lexington Rifles,’ out of his own pocket.

During the secession crisis, Morgan did not share the hesitation of his state and immediately threw in his lot with the new Southern Confederacy, and led his ‘Lexington Rifles’ to Bowling Green to join forces with Gen. Buckner. Morgan was made colonel in April 1862, and took part in the Battle of Shiloh before being attached to Joseph Wheeler’s division in Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Morgan was far from ‘attached,’ however. That summer, Morgan began to lead the kind of swift, daring raids that characterized Confederate cavalry leaders during the war.

On July 4, 1862, Morgan set out on a thousand-mile ride through Kentucky – destroying railroad and telegraph lines, seizing supplies, taking prisoners and generally wreaking havoc in the Union rear. His raid made national headlines and helped cement the fearsome reputation of the Southern cavalryman. Morgan led equally successful endeavors in October and December, which eventually forced some 20,000 Union troops to be detached from the front to guard communication and supply lines.

The following year, in July 1863, as the Confederacy was reeling from the dual losses of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Morgan began his most ambitious raid of the war. Against Bragg’s explicit orders, Morgan and 2,400 men crossed the Ohio and rode over one thousand miles along the north bank of the river. For three weeks Morgan terrorized the local defenses of southern Indiana and Ohio before he was captured at Salineville by Union cavalry under Gen. Edward H. Hobson and sent to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Incredibly, on November 26, 1863, the same day Gen. Patrick Cleburne was doggedly defending Ringgold Gap in northern Georgia, Morgan escaped from prison and made his way back into Confederate lines.

Morgan was appointed head of the Dept. of Southwestern Virginia in April, 1864, and determined to attack Knoxville, Tennessee, a city with a largely pro-Union citizenry. While bivouacked in Greeneville, Tennessee on September 3, Morgan was caught in a surprise attack and shot and killed by a Union private who had once served under him.

Morgan is often included amongst John S. Mosby, Jeb Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest in ‘Lost Cause’ memory as an example of the superior fighting qualities of the Southern cavalryman. He is buried in Lexington.


John Hunt Morgan: Chivalrous Cavalier or Wanton Bandit?

Although never rising above the rank of brigadier general, John Hunt Morgan was one of the Confederacy's most colorful cavaliers and raiders. His exploits took him deep behind federal lines and earned him a reputation for audacity and creativity — even favorable comparisons to Francis Marion, the famed "Swamp Fox" of the Revolutionary War-era South.

B orn in Alabama but a Kentuckian since childhood, Morgan did not initially support the Confederate cause in his home state, going so far as to write to his brother that he believed Abraham Lincoln would be a good president. However, as tensions in Kentucky rose and the state government began to splinter under the weight of its faltering, self-imposed neutrality, he began to reconsider his position.

General John Hunt Morgan led raids across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. Library of Congress

Prior to the war, Morgan was a Lexington businessman who had seen combat as a cavalry private during the 1847 Battle of Buena Vista. Returning home from the Mexican War, he married and reentered private life, although he raised and commanded two companies of militia during the 1850s. In September 1861, following the death of his wife from a protracted illness, Morgan and the majority of his "Lexington Rifles" militia crossed into Tennessee to enlist in the Confederate Army. The band formed the crux of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, which fought with distinction at the Battle of Shiloh.

Morgan's first great escapade came in the summer of 1862, when he and 900 cavaliers spent three weeks riding through Kentucky, disrupting the progress of Union forces in the state and raising the hopes of secessionists who sought to bring the state fully into the Confederacy. Morgan and his raiders reportedly captured and paroled 1,200 Union soldiers, acquired several hundred horses and confiscated or destroyed massive amounts of Federal supplies.

An August 1862 edition of Harper's Weekly described Morgan as a "guerrilla, and bandit" with "predatory instincts," and characterized his men as "a band of dare-devil vagabonds" who spent their time "burning bridges, tearing up railway tracks, robbing supply trains, and plundering and wasting the few remaining prosperous portions of Kentucky." The same article, however, also admitted some of the characteristics that gave Morgan a cult of personality in the South — "the most desperate courage" and "some of the chivalrous qualities of his namesake and prototype, Morgan the Buccaneer of the Caribbean Sea" — before noting that these "will not, however save him from being hanged if he falls into the hands of his fellow citizens in Kentucky."

In the summer of 1863, Morgan launched an even more audacious raid through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. His inventive and highly successful tactics included having his telegraph operator masquerade as a Union soldier and send false and wildly divergent messages reporting on Morgan's actions, objectives and troop strength, creating confusion and hampering any response. Despite great initial success, Morgan was defeated at the Battle of Buffington Island, Ohio, on July 19, 1863, and some 750 Confederate cavaliers were captured. A few days later, pursued by Federal cavalry, 300 of Morgan's men crossed the swollen Ohio River into West Virginia the rest continued north and east, hoping for a chance to slip across the river to relative safety. After another defeat at the Battle of Salineville on July 26, Morgan was captured and taken with some of his officers to the Ohio State Penitentiary, while the majority of the enlisted men were sent to Chicago's Camp Douglas as prisoners of war.

In November 1863, Morgan and six others escaped by tunneling out of a cell and scaling the prison walls. Two were recaptured, but the rest returned south, and Morgan recommenced his military exploits. His later raids in Kentucky, with a force inferior to the one he had lost on his great raid resulted in heavy casualties and open pillaging, leading to accusations of banditry. On September 4, 1864, while attempting to escape from a Union raid on Greeneville, Tenn., Morgan was shot and killed.

Although followed breathlessly by the press, Morgan's raid lacks the greater strategic importance of other military events from the summer of 1863, such as fighting at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Moreover, Morgan conducted his raid in violation of direct orders not to cross the Ohio River, losing him the trust of his superiors and damaging his reputation forever. Still, his results were impressive. He captured and paroled approximately 6,000 Union soldiers, destroyed 34 bridges, disrupted rail lines at 60 sites and diverted tens of thousands of troops from other purposes. In Ohio alone, Morgan's men stole 2,500 horses and raided more than 4,300 homes and businesses. Claims for compensation of losses inflicted by Morgan's men were still being filed into the early 20th century.


John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky Raid

July 4, 1862 – Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan led 867 cavalry partisans on a raid into Kentucky to harass the supply line for the Federal Army of the Ohio.

Morgan left Knoxville, Tennessee with battle-tested troopers from Texas, Georgia, and Morgan’s home state of Kentucky. Their target was Gallatin, Tennessee, to cut the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and slow the Federal advance on Chattanooga.

By the 7th, Morgan’s troopers had completed a 104-mile ride west across the Cumberland Plateau. They had fended off Unionist guerrillas in the eastern Tennessee mountains before gaining recruits in the largely pro-Confederate town of Sparta, Tennessee. With their force now increased to about 1,100 men, the partisans turned north toward the Kentucky state line.

Morgan’s force reached Celina near the border the next day. During the night, the Confederates rode to within five miles of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, which was occupied by about 400 men of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The Pennsylvanians were known for their harsh occupation of Lebanon, having vulgarly insulted the women there by telling them the only way they could maintain their virtue was “to sew up the bottoms of their petticoats.”

Early on July 9, Morgan split his command, sending one part to attack the garrison from the north while he stayed with the part that would attack from the south. The southern wing attacked first, firing on the Federals with rifles and artillery from about 300 yards. The Federals, led by Major Thomas J. Jordan, tried escaping north into the woods, but Morgan’s northern wing blocked them.

Jordan’s men broke through the northern line and fled toward Burkesville, with the Confederates close behind. They eventually surrounded Jordan and forced him to surrender. Morgan reported, “The enemy fled, leaving about 22 dead and 30 to 40 wounded in our hands. We have 30 prisoners and my Texas squadron are still in pursuit of the fugitives.” Morgan’s troopers seized “a valuable baggage train, consisting of some 20 wagons and 50 mules… also some 40 cavalry horses, and supplies of sugar, coffee, etc.”

The Confederates lost just one killed and three wounded. Morgan paroled all the prisoners except Jordan, who was shipped to prison in Richmond. His partisans continued on toward Glasgow that afternoon, as nearby Federals began hearing rumors that Confederate horsemen were in the state. Brigadier General Jeremiah Boyle, commanding at Louisville, notified Colonel John F. Miller in Nashville that up to 2,000 Confederates were on the loose in Kentucky and asked Miller to send a regiment to Munfordville.

Morgan captured the Federal supply depot at Glasgow the next day. He issued a proclamation hoping to inspire Kentuckians to “rise and arm, and drive the Hessian invaders from their soil”:

“Let every true patriot rise to the appeal! Fight for your Families, your homes, for those you love best, your consciences, and for the free exercise of your political rights, never again to be placed in jeopardy by the Hessian invader.”

The Confederates approached Lebanon on the night of the 11th, driving off the Federal defenders and forcing the town’s surrender around 10 p.m. Boyle asked Major General Don Carlos Buell for reinforcements: “All the rebels of the State will join him (Morgan) if there is not a demonstration of force and power sent in cavalry. The State will be desolated unless this matter is attended to.”

Boyle initially reported that his Federals had routed Morgan at Lebanon, but then he learned the truth and began panicking:

“Morgan passed around and escaped and burned Lebanon is moving on Danville and toward Lexington. I have no cavalry and but little force. The whole State will be in arms if General Buell does not send a force to put it down… Morgan is devastating with fire and sword.”

“It is certain Morgan cannot be caught without cavalry. He will lay waste large parts of the State. He is aiming at Lexington. I have no force to take him. If Buell would save Kentucky it must be done instantly. I know of what I speak.”

Residents of nearby Lexington and Louisville, and even Cincinnati, Ohio, and Evansville, Indiana, began panicking, due to either Morgan’s advance or Boyle’s frantic messages. Boyle asked Cincinnati Mayor George Hatch to “send as many men as possible by special train without delay.” The governors of Ohio and Indiana called on the War Department to send troops to stop Morgan, but Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton said the department required “more definite knowledge before it can act intelligently.”

Meanwhile, Morgan’s Confederates continued their raid, operating near Harrodsburg and Cynthiana, and skirmishing with Federals around Mackville. He reached Georgetown on the 15th, where he issued another proclamation:

“Kentuckians! I come to liberate you from a despotism of a tyrannical faction and to rescue my native State from the hands of your oppressors. Everywhere the cowardly foe has fled from my avenging arms. My brave army is stigmatized as a band of guerrillas and marauders. Believe it not. I point with pride to their deeds as a refutation of this foul aspersion. We come not to molest peaceful individuals or to destroy private property, but to guarantee absolute protection to all who are not in arms against us. We ask only to meet the hireling legions of Lincoln. The eyes of your brethren of the (Confederacy) are upon you. Your gallant fellow citizens are flocking to your standard. Our armies are rapidly advancing to your protection. Then greet them with the willing hands of 50,000 of Kentucky’s brave. Their advance is already with you. Then, ‘Strike for the green graves of your sires! Strike for your altars and your fires! God and your native land.”

However, few Kentuckians joined Morgan because they feared Federal reprisals after Morgan left. Some even joined the Federals to help drive Morgan out of the state.


Morgan's Raid in Vinton County

During the summer of 1863, General John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate cavalry leader from Kentucky, invaded southern Ohio with 2,460 mounted men. Throughout the campaign Morgan's men plundered and looted before being captured by Union forces. On July 17, Morgan led his troops into Wilkesville stealing horses, sacking stores, and robbing private citizens. That night Morgan and some of his troops took lodging and meals with his first cousin Ruth Virginia Althar Cline and her husband Dr. William Cline. Morgan's troops camped near the house of John and Eliza Levis where Eliza cooked for the men for fear they would harm her family. Additional soldiers of the raiding party stayed on the village square. Legend has it that while Morgan slept at the Cline Mansion, his black servant stole his looted money, and abolitionists Dr. Cline and Abraham Morris, helped him escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Erected 2002 by Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Village of Wilkesville Council, and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 3-82.)

Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Patriots & Patriotism &bull War, US Civil. In addition,

it is included in the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1838.

Location. 39° 4.545′ N, 82° 19.659′ W. Marker is in Wilkesville, Ohio, in Vinton County. Marker is on Main Street (Ohio Route 124), on the left when traveling east. Marker is in the town park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wilkesville OH 45695, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Henry Duc and the Defenders of Our Country (within shouting distance of this marker) Wilkesville (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line) Ewington Academy (approx. 4.8 miles away) Morgan's Raid (approx. 6.9 miles away) Bridge Loft / Charging House (approx. 6.9 miles away) Charcoal (approx. 7 miles away) Raw Materials (approx. 7 miles away) Limestone (approx. 7.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilkesville.

Also see . . . Morgan's Raid. (Submitted on February 21, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)


The Invasion of Indiana: Morgan’s Raid and the Battle of Corydon


Morgan's Raid was one of the few Civil War battles fought in the North, and remains the last battle to have been fought within Indiana borders.

In the midst of the American Civil War, what began as a small diversionary foray into the North by the Confederate Army during the Tullahomma Campaign, became a full-fledged Southern invasion that stretched across a thousand Union miles.

Beginning in Tennessee and traveling through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, this famous incursion has become known simply as Morgan’s Raid.

On July 8, 1863, the sound of shells exploding filled the air, as Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s troops crossed the Ohio River near the small town of Mauckport, Indiana.

Previously, Morgan had deployed a spy, Thomas Hines, to discover whether Hoosier feeling would be in any way sympathetic to the Confederates. He found little support for the Southerners, and was forced to flee back to Kentucky when it was discovered that he was an interloper.

Stealing two steamboats, the J.T McCombs and the Alice Dean, on the Kentucky bank, the cavalry evaded the inexperienced artillery fire of the Indiana home guard, sending them scrambling under a heavy barrage of artillery fire. In total, it took 17 hours for all of Morgan’s troops to successfully cross the river.

Undeterred by the skirmish and clear Confederate orders to remain behind, Morgan continued to push his forces northwest, reaching Corydon, Indiana’s former capital until 1825, the following day. A few miles outside the city, the general was accosted by 400 enthusiastic but inexperienced Union volunteers, who had been hastily organized by Governor Oliver Morton, a strong supporter of the Union cause.

The town’s valiant efforts to defend itself came to an abrupt end when Morgan’s troops fired two warning shots that resulted in 15 Corydon casualties. Immediately realizing the hopeless situation of protecting the town from 2,500 advancing cavalrymen, Union Colonel Lewis Jordan raised the white flag in surrender to avoid unnecessary loss of life.

The Confederate cavalry, encouraged by their victory and Morgan’s orders, rushed in to the town, raiding and ransoming what they could find. In addition to a few civilian deaths, the damaged or stolen goods totalled almost the equivalent of $500,000 in modern currency, most of which was reimbursed by the government.

Though the Battle of Corydon itself was a Confederate victory, Morgan’s Raid concluded with Morgan’s capture and eventual death. It was one of the few Civil War battles fought in the North, and remains the last battle to have been fought within Indiana borders.

Morgan’s Raid has been memorialized by the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail. Stretching through Kentucky and Indiana, it allows visitors to follow the historical path of Morgan’s Raid themselves. True adventurers sometimes choose to participate in the annual battle reenactment, a weekend affair complete with Ladies’ Tea and Military Ball.


John Hunt Morgan

Confederate cavalry commander John Hunt Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on June 1, 1825. Educated at Transylvania University, he fought in the Mexican War as a first lieutenant in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteers and saw action at the battle of Buena Vista. Morgan married Rebecca Bruce in 1848. Working as a hemp manufacturer in Lexington, Morgan became a Mason and an active community leader, serving on the school board and city council and as captain of the fire department.

From 1852 to 1854 he served as captain of an artillery company in the state militia. In 1857 he formed the Lexington Rifles and attached the unit to the state guard militia in 1860. Morgan initially supported Kentucky neutrality, but in September 1861, on his own authority, he led the Lexington Rifles in a series of guerrilla raids before officially joining the Confederacy as a captain of cavalry in October 1861.

In April 1862 Morgan was promoted to colonel and continued his raiding activities, earning the sobriquet “Francis Marion of the War.” He led a squadron at the battle of Shiloh. On a raid from Knoxville to Cynthiana, Kentucky, from July 4-28, 1862, he recruited three hundred volunteers for the Confederate cause. On August 12, 1862, Morgan successfully disrupted General Don Carlos Buell’s campaign against Chattanooga by burning the twin Louisville and Nashville Railroad tunnels near Gallatin, which were vital links in the Union supply line. Embarrassed by this loss, Buell sent his entire cavalry force against Morgan and suffered a rout, including the capture of General Richard Johnson. Morgan’s success emboldened Confederate plans for a Kentucky invasion, and Morgan’s cavalry joined General Braxton Bragg in the Perryville campaign. On December 7, 1862, Morgan captured a garrison of 1,834 Union troops at Hartsville, Tennessee.

In Murfreesboro, on December 14, 1862, Morgan, widowed since 1861, married seventeen-year-old Martha “Mattie” Ready in what was the highlight of the city’s winter social season. Most of the Confederate high command attended the ceremony, which was performed by Lieutenant General (and Bishop) Leonidas Polk. This marriage produced a daughter, Johnnie, who was born after Morgan’s death. Two weeks after the wedding, Morgan’s troops participated in raids during the battle of Stones River, diverting Union troops from assisting General William S. Rosecrans’s army.

During his raids, Morgan often avoided direct combat through tactical plans which involved ruse and deception, including intercepting telegraph messages and sending out false ones to Union commands. During 1862 his command grew from 325 to a division of 3,900 and he was promoted to brigadier general on December 11, 1862.

In early 1863, as Union cavalry in the western theater gained proficiency and strength, Morgan began suffering losses in his confrontations. In an attempt to recoup some lost prestige and morale, he embarked on his legendary “Great Raid.” Morgan led his troops on an unauthorized raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. During the raid, which lasted from July 1 to 26, 1863, Morgan spread panic in each successive town he approached, encountering hastily convened militia who offered relatively weak resistance. Passing through southern Indiana, he crossed into Ohio at Harrison, and moved within seven miles of Cincinnati. Captured with most of his command at West Point, Ohio, Morgan escaped from the Ohio State Penitentiary on November 27, 1863, and returned to Kentucky. His “Great Raid” was the northernmost incursion of western Confederate troops and served to bolster Southern morale after Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg. It also served to secure Morgan’s legendary status among Civil War generals.

Despite the Confederate high command’s anger at his unauthorized, impetuous raid, he was restored to command. Reports of looting by Morgan’s men during an unsuccessful raid near Cynthiana, Kentucky, in June 1864 led to his suspension from command and the scheduling of a court of inquiry for September 10. Morgan was surprised by Federal soldiers in Greeneville, Tennessee, on September 4, and died attempting to escape. Originally buried in Richmond, Virginia, his body was moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1868.


Morgan’s Raid during the Civil War

Known as the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy” and remembered as the ideal of the romantic Southern cavalryman, general John Hunt Morgan.

Courtesy of Jordan Pickens

Morgan’s Raiders, from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War”

Courtesy of Jordan Pickens

A map of Morgan’s Raid Route.

Courtesy of Jordan Pickens

USS Fairplay 1862-1865, Tinclad #17

Courtesy of Jordan Pickens

The wanted poster for General Morgan after escaping from the Ohio Penitentiary.

Courtesy of Jordan Pickens

July 2, 1863, marked the beginning of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s 1,000 plus mile raid in Sparta, Tennessee. Known as the ‘Thunderbolt of the Confederacy’ and remembered as the ideal of the romantic Southern cavalryman, Morgan then proceeded to cross into Kentucky, at the time was a “border state” due to still being part of the Union but permitting slavery. Confederate General Braxton Bragg, the regional commander, intended for Morgan’s cavalrymen to provide a distraction by entering Kentucky. Morgan, however, confided to some of his officers he had long desired to invade Indiana and Ohio to bring the terror of war to the North.

Bragg had given him “carte blanche,” or complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best, to ride throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, but ordered him to under no circumstances cross the Ohio River. Morgan nonetheless crossed the Ohio at Brandenburg, Kentucky, into Indiana and then moved across the Ohio-Indiana border at Harrison, Ohio, on July 13. From there, he circumvented Cincinnati to reach Williamsburg, Ohio, in the eastern part of Clermont County. He then charged to Washington Court House, on through Ross, Pike, Jackson, and Vinton Counties, and into Meigs County.

According to Edgar Ervin’s Pioneer History of Meigs County,

Morgan’s Raid in Meigs County is important because it was the northern limit that any southern army, or fragment thereof reached in battle. It was astonishing that a daring leader such as he could go so far, yet from a military standpoint, accomplish so little by his raid. It gave Meigs County a war consciousness that I had never experienced before. He took advantage of the conditions and timed his raid at a time when parts of the Ohio River in Meigs County could be forded on horseback. Had his raid come 60 days earlier or 60 days later the Ohio River would have been more of a barrier to him.

Before the expedition was begun Morgan had sent spies along the Ohio to discover fords or easiest places of crossing. One of the best was at Buffington Island about 30 miles above Pomeroy and about the same distance below Parkersburg, or perhaps a little farther. This then, became Morgan’s objective point. After leaving Williamsburg, Morgan divided his forces, Colonel Richard Morgan (his brother), bearing to the south west and passing through Georgetown, the county seat of Brown County, and General John Hunt Morgan with his column marched in a northeast direction as far as Washington Courthouse. Thence turning to the southeast he passed through Ross County leaving Chillicothe to his left where quite a considerable force of militia men were waiting. Passing on through Piketon in Pike County, and Jackson in Jackson County, stealing horses and supplies along the way.

General John Hunt Morgan was a Freemason. In 1846, Morgan became a Mason at Daviess Lodge #22 in Lexington, Kentucky. While pillaging through the town of Jackson, some of his men were said to have ransacked and looted items from Trowel Lodge #132 in Jackson, most notably the Tyler’s sword. Morgan allegedly scolded the men and ordered them to return the stolen paraphernalia back to the Masonic Temple. From here, Morgan went to Vinton in Gallia County, and on to Wilkesville, then making his entrance into Meigs County.

The Union response was not long in coming, as Major General Ambrose Burnside, commanding the Department of the Ohio, ordered out all available troops, as well as sending several Union Navy gunboats steaming up the Ohio River to contest any Confederate attempt to reach Kentucky or West Virginia and safety. Brig. Gen. Edward H. Hobson led several columns of Federal cavalry in pursuit of Morgan’s raiders, which by now had been reduced to some 1,700 men. Ohio Governor David Tod called out the local militia, and volunteers formed companies to protect towns and river crossings throughout the region.

On July 18, Morgan, having split his column earlier, led his reunited force towards Pomeroy, where Morgan intended to cross into West Virginia. Running a gauntlet of small arms fire, Morgan’s men were denied access to the river and to Pomeroy itself by a local militia.

According to Ervin’s Pioneer History of Meigs County,

The local militia in advance of him were beginning to fall trees and tear up bridges to obstruct Morgan’s progress. Near Pomeroy they made a stand. For four or five miles his road ran through a ravine, with occasional intersections from hill roads. At all these crossings he found a local militia posted, and from the hills above him they made his passage through the ravine a perfect running of the gauntlet. On front, flank and rear the militia pressed and closed eagerly upon his track.

It was fortune that two of the Middleport companies of Ohio National Guard – one of infantry commanded by Captain RB Wilson, Lieutenants OP Skinner and Samuel Grant the other of artillery, Captain John Schreiner, the two numbering about 120 men – to render service so valuable that it should find a place in history. With other organizations these companies were ordered to rendezvous at Marietta.

On the very night of their arrival in camp came tidings of the enemy’s approach to their own town and they at once asked for orders to return to the defense of their homes. With but a little delay they were put aboard a steamer, and by daylight the following morning had disembarked and were several miles out on the roads by which Morgan was approaching.

William Grant, George Womeldorff and James Waddell, three of the most reliable men of the command, “were directed to find a point well up the road from which they could observe the approach and estimate the number of the enemy, and by an agreed signal advised headquarters of the fax ascertains.” The “artillery” consisted of an old gun that had been used for celebrating the Fourth of July, which, loaded with spikes and pieces of chain “commanded” for several hundred yards a straight piece of road flanked on one side by timber where part of [the Meigs County] men were concealed and on the other side by a creek with steep banks. Scarcely had the dispositions been made when the enemy appeared. William Grant and his comrades, assisted by the darkness, avoided the approaching raiders, who, a few moments later, ran up on the picket commanded by Lieutenant Samuel Grant and surrendered without much resistance. They were marched to Pomeroy and placed under guard in the courthouse to be turned over as prisoners of war, 68 enlisted men and seven officers.

From The History of Meigs and Gallia Counties, published by the Union Publishing Company,

… The show of resistance was enough to turn him aside and he moved off of the river towards Buffington Island.

At Chester, he resisted for an hour and a half and hunted for a guide. That stop though so short was fatal for it was 8 o’clock when he had reached the ford, too late and dark to undertake to cross. And he persisted right on after arriving at Chester that to him most precious hour and a half would no doubt have seen him safely on the Virginia side. Tired and worn out, both men and horses, he decided to rest for the night on the north bank of the Ohio. The handful of men who had thrown up works near the riverbank and attempted to impede his progress, might then have been easily brushed aside. But the dawn of another morning brought him more formidable enemy and the person of general Judah with his regulars who had arrived in the night by a boat, fresh and ready for the conflict.

Here is the description of the movements as given by Whitelaw Reid in his Ohio in The War, that refer to the stop at Chester.

But [Morgan’s] evil genius was upon him. He had lost an hour and a half at Chester in the afternoon – the most precious hour and a half since his horse’s feet touched Northern soil: and he now decided to waste the night.

In the hurried counsel with his exhausted officers it was admitted on all hands that Judah had arrived – but some of his troops had probably given force to the skirmishing near Pomeroy – that they would certainly be at Buffington by morning and that gunboats would accompany them. But his men were in bad condition and he feared to trash them in the night attack upon a fortified position which she had not reconnoitered. The fear was fatal.

Even yet, by abandoning his wagon trains and his wounded he might have reached unguarded forwards a little higher up. This too, was mentioned by Morgan‘s officers. He would save all he promptly replied or lose altogether. And so he gave mortgages to fate. By morning Judah was up.

Information reached Captain Wilson that one detachment would undertake to cross the Ohio as a show place several miles above Pomeroy, and reinforced by about 20 men, under Daniel Davis of Pomeroy, he immediately marched up to intercept the fugitive, reaching the point late in the evening.

At daybreak Duke advanced with a couple of rebel regiments to storm the earth work, but found it abandoned. He was rapidly proceeding to make dispositions for crossing when Judah’s advance struck him. At first he repulsed it and took a number of prisoners, the adjutant general of Judah’s staff among them. Morgan then ordered him to hold the force on his front and check. He was not able to return to his command until it had been broken and thrown into fall retreat before and impetuous charge of Judah’s cavalry, headed by Lieutenant O’Neal of Fifth Indiana. He succeeded in rallying then reforming his line. But now, advancing up the Chester and Pomeroy Road, came the gallant cavalry that over three states had been galloping on their tract – the 3000 of Hobson’s command – who for now two weeks had been only a day, a forenoon, an hour behind them.

As Hobson’s guidons fluttered out in the little valley by the riverbank where they fought, every man of that band that had so long defied 100,000 knew that the contest was over. They were almost out of ammunition, exhausted and scarcely 2000 strong. Against them were Hobson’s 3000 and Judah’s still larger force. To complete the overwhelming odds that, in spite of their efforts, had at last been concentrated upon them, the tin-clad gun boats steamed up an open fire.

Morgan comprehended the situation as readily as a hard riding troopers, who, still clinging to their bolts of calico, we’re already beginning to gallop towards the rear. He at once essayed to extricate his trains and then to withdraw his regiments by column of fours from right of companies, keeping up meanwhile, as sturdy resistance as he might. For some distance the withdrawal was made in tolerable order then under a charge of a Michigan cavalry regiment, everything was broken, and the retreat became a rout. Morgan with not quite 1200 man escaped. His brother with Colonels Duke, Ward, Huffman and about 700 men were taken prisoner.

This was the battle of Buffington Island. It was brief and decisive. But for his two grave mistakes of the night before, Morgan might have avoided it and escaped, and many a thrilling tale of the events that happened in the following seven days and nights of the raid would never have been told,… But it cannot be said he yielded to blow that insured his fate without resistance, and the courage and tenacity worthy of a better cause. The superiority in forces was overwhelming and the Union losses small. The boats carried the prisoners back to Cincinnati and the troops, with a little rest, pushed on after Morgan and the 1,200 men who had escaped.

About 15 or 20 miles above Buffington Island he again attempted to cross and succeeded in landing 1/4 of his men on Virginia soil. Morgan himself was in the middle of the Ohio River but the gunboats were to close upon him and he was forced back to the Ohio side with his remaining 900 men. Again, his hurried flight was taken up. Almost insurmountable difficulties surrounded him. His men were exhausted from long, forced marches and enormous work. Their pillaging had greatly demoralized them. The blow of defeat was severe causing a lack of faith in themselves and a loss of confidence in their intrepid commander. They were harassed on every hand. Every loophole of escape shut off hunted like game, day or night.

Yet to the very last the energy of this during cavalryman worthy of admiration of all – even his enemies. With no apparent possibility of escape at Buffington Island he slipped away from Judah and Hobson with more than half of his forces.

After Belleville, he headed almost west and went far as MacArthur. His course then ran back to Blennerhassett Island, thence through Athens, eastern Hocking and Perry Counties and into Morgan County near Porterville on July 22, 1863. He then continued through Muskingum County, Noble, Guernsey, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Columbiana Counties where he was captured at Salineville, near Steubenville. He was then confined to the Ohio penitentiary several months until his escape November 27, through Cincinnati, Kentucky and Tennessee to Richmond, Virginia. He was killed in 1864 in a skirmish in East Tennessee.

Known as the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy” and remembered as the ideal of the romantic Southern cavalryman, general John Hunt Morgan.


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About Brig. General John Hunt Morgan (CSA)

Confederate cavalry commander John Hunt Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on June 1, 1825. Educated at Transylvania University, he fought in the Mexican War as a first lieutenant in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteers and saw action at the battle of Buena Vista. Morgan married Rebecca Bruce in 1848. Working as a hemp manufacturer in Lexington, Morgan became a Mason and an active community leader, serving on the school board and city council and as captain of the fire department.

From 1852 to 1854 he served as captain of an artillery company in the state militia. In 1857 he formed the Lexington Rifles and attached the unit to the state guard militia in 1860. Morgan initially supported Kentucky neutrality, but in September 1861, on his own authority, he led the Lexington Rifles in a series of guerrilla raids before officially joining the Confederacy as a captain of cavalry in October 1861.

In April 1862 Morgan was promoted to colonel and continued his raiding activities, earning the sobriquet 𠇏rancis Marion of the War.” He led a squadron at the battle of Shiloh. On a raid from Knoxville to Cynthiana, Kentucky, from July 4-28, 1862, he recruited three hundred volunteers for the Confederate cause. On August 12, 1862, Morgan successfully disrupted General Don Carlos Buell’s campaign against Chattanooga by burning the twin Louisville and Nashville Railroad tunnels near Gallatin, which were vital links in the Union supply line. Embarrassed by this loss, Buell sent his entire cavalry force against Morgan and suffered a rout, including the capture of General Richard Johnson. Morgan’s success emboldened Confederate plans for a Kentucky invasion, and Morgan’s cavalry joined General Braxton Bragg in the Perryville campaign. On December 7, 1862, Morgan captured a garrison of 1,834 Union troops at Hartsville, Tennessee.

In Murfreesboro, on December 14, 1862, Morgan, widowed since 1861, married seventeen-year-old Martha “Mattie” Ready in what was the highlight of the city’s winter social season. Most of the Confederate high command attended the ceremony, which was performed by Lieutenant General (and Bishop) Leonidas Polk. This marriage produced a daughter, Johnnie, who was born after Morgan’s death. Two weeks after the wedding, Morgan’s troops participated in raids during the battle of Stones River, diverting Union troops from assisting General William S. Rosecrans’s army.

During his raids, Morgan often avoided direct combat through tactical plans which involved ruse and deception, including intercepting telegraph messages and sending out false ones to Union commands. During 1862 his command grew from 325 to a division of 3,900 and he was promoted to brigadier general on December 11, 1862.

In early 1863, as Union cavalry in the western theater gained proficiency and strength, Morgan began suffering losses in his confrontations. In an attempt to recoup some lost prestige and morale, he embarked on his legendary “Great Raid.” Morgan led his troops on an unauthorized raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. During the raid, which lasted from July 1 to 26, 1863, Morgan spread panic in each successive town he approached, encountering hastily convened militia who offered relatively weak resistance. Passing through southern Indiana, he crossed into Ohio at Harrison, and moved within seven miles of Cincinnati. Captured with most of his command at West Point, Ohio, Morgan escaped from the Ohio State Penitentiary on November 27, 1863, and returned to Kentucky. His “Great Raid” was the northernmost incursion of western Confederate troops and served to bolster Southern morale after Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg. It also served to secure Morgan’s legendary status among Civil War generals.

Despite the Confederate high command’s anger at his unauthorized, impetuous raid, he was restored to command. Reports of looting by Morgan’s men during an unsuccessful raid near Cynthiana, Kentucky, in June 1864 led to his suspension from command and the scheduling of a court of inquiry for September 10. Morgan was surprised by Federal soldiers in Greeneville, Tennessee, on September 4, and died attempting to escape. Originally buried in Richmond, Virginia, his body was moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1868.

John Hunt Morgan was born Wednesday, June 1, 1825, at 310 South Green Street in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1831, his father, Calvin, lost his Alabama home because he couldn?t pay the taxes. He accepted his father-in-law?s offer to move to Lexington, Kentucky, and manage one of the Hunt farms in Fayette County. Their family moved into a two-story farmhouse on Tates Creek Road. John Morgan was six years old when they relocated to Kentucky.

At age seventeen, John enrolled at Transylvania College in Lexington in 1842 and joined the Adelphi Society, a literary fraternity. In June of 1844, he had a duel with a fraternity brother. Neither was seriously hurt. Following this incident on July 4, 1844, the college?s Board of Trustees expelled him from the school.

He was married twice. First to Rebecca Gratz Bruce of Lexington (1830-1861) was eighteen-years-old when she was married November 21, 1848 to John, twenty-three. In September 1853, she had a stillborn son. As an aftereffect of her pregnancy, Rebecca developed a blood clot in her leg.

After eight years of suffering, she died an invalid and childless at age thirty-one. John would be a widower for two years before he met and married his second wife, Martha "Mattie" Ready of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1840-1887). She was twenty-two when she married John who was then thirty-seven. They had two daughters. The first was born November 27, 1863, and lived only one day. Their second, Johnnie, was born April 7, 1865, following John?s death.

His grandfather, John Wesley Hunt, was an early founder of Lexington and one of the wealthiest men west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is said that he was Lexington?s first millionaire. He had significant investments in merchandising, manufacturing, banking and government securities

John Morgan stood arrow-straight at six feet tall, weighed 185 pounds. He had curly sandy hair and gray eyes. Early in the Civil War, Carrie Pyncheon of Huntsville wrote in her diary, "Before the town was occupied by the Yankees, I spent an evening with Captain Jack [John] Morgan, our second Marion. He was so mild and gentle in his manners that I would not have taken him for a soldier but for his boots and spurs, so unwarrior-like did he seem."

As the war began, he was elected captain of the Morgan Squadron, which formed the nucleus of the 2nd KY cavalry. By the end of 1862, he rose through the ranks and was a brigadier general at the time of the Ohio-Indiana raid.

To the South, he was one of their greatest, their Robin Hood. Northern newspapers called him "The King of Horse Thieves, a bandit, a freebooter, no better than a thug." In the South, he was admired as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy."

"I want to be a cavalryman And with John Hunt Morgan ride, A colt revolver in my belt A saber by my side. I want a pair of epaulets to match my suit of gray, The uniform my mother made  And lettered 'CSA'. "

Family Data Collection - Births

American Civil War General Officers

Highest Rank: Brigadier General

Birth Place: Huntsville, Alabama

Promotions: Promoted to Full Colonel (2nd KY Cav)

Biography: Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan

Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan was born at Huntsville,

Ala., June 1, 1825, but was reared in Kentucky from the age of

four years, upon the farm near Lexington to which his parents

removed. He was the eldest of six brothers, of whom all bore

arms for the Confederacy. It is said that he was a lineal

descendant of Daniel Morgan, of Revolutionary fame.

His first military experience was at the time of the war with

Mexico, when he had the rank of lieutenant in Capt. O. P.

Beard's company, General Marshall's cavalry, and in later

years he was captain of the Lexington Rifles. During the

period following the Mexican war he devoted himself with

On April 16, 1861, he telegraphed President Davis: "Twenty

thousand men can be raised to defend southern liberty against

northern conquest. Do you want them?" But he was not

encouraged to immediate action.

In September he was arrested by Home Guards while conveying

jeans cloth southward from his factory, and imprisoned for

three days and in the latter part of that month he joined the

Confederate forces at Bowling, mustered in November 5th.

He became a colonel in the summer of 1862, when he organized

the Second cavalry at Chattanooga. Then, in July, he won fame

by his first Kentucky raid. In August he covered the front of

Bragg's army concentrating at McMinnville, Tenn., with

victorious engagements at Gallatin and Hartsville.

During Bragg's occupation of Kentucky, part of his men

advanced to the Ohio river at Augusta. On October 18th, he

captured several hundred Federals at Lexington, after a severe

fight. On the return to Tennessee he was given command of a

cavalry brigade, composed of his own regiment and the Seventh,

Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Kentucky cavalry.

On December 7th, he won a brilliant victory at Hartsville. On

the 11th he was commissioned brigadier-general. Then followed

his "Christmas raid" in Kentucky, which, with his previous

exploits, elicited a resolution of thanks from Congress.

His cavalry division was now formed, the First brigade

including the Second, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Kentucky and

Ninth Tennessee regiments the Second brigade, the Third,

Eighth, Eleventh and Tenth Kentucky. Taking position on the

right of Bragg's army in middle Tennessee, he fought the enemy

at Vaught's Hill, Milton, Liberty, and Snow's Hill, March 19th

to April 3rd, and on May 10th defeated the Federals in

southeast Kentucky, at the battle of Greasy Creek.

On June 27th, as Rosecrans advanced to force Bragg from

Tennessee, General Morgan started out from Sparta, to draw off

the Federal strength by an invasion of the Northwest. It

happened that his heaviest fighting was in Kentucky.

Colonel Chenault, Major Brent, and many other brave men fell

at Green River bridge, July 4th, and at Lebanon young Thomas

After a circuit through Indiana and Ohio around Cincinnati, he

attempted to recross the Ohio river at Buffington island, July

19th. But after a spirited battle, Colonel Duke and part of

his command were captured, and Morgan, with the remainder,

forced to continue eastward.

On the 26th, Colonels Grigsby and Johnson, with 300 or 400

men, forded the river, and Morgan himself was halfway across

when he saw that most of his men must be captured, and

returned to share their fate.

He and his officers were treated rather as criminals than

military prisoners, and confined, with the usual indignities,

in the Ohio State prison. But before the end of the year he

had escaped with six companions, and passed through Kentucky

and Tennessee to the Confederate lines.

In January, 1864, he was given authority to reorganize his

command, and in the following month, at his own request, was

ordered from Decatur, GA, to Abingdon, Va. There he had the

duty of defending the salt works and lead mines, soon

threatened by formidable columns under Crook and Burbridge.

He checked Crook at Wytheville in May, and then made a raid in

Kentucky to compel the retreat of Burbridge. On June 8th he

took Mt. Sterling and 400 men, and on the 11th captured

General Hobson and 1,800 men at Cynthiana.

But Burbridge was in close pursuit, and Morgan was badly

defeated on the 12th. Overwhelmed by misfortune, he yet

demonstrated his great nature by renewed efforts to defend his

The enemy having penetrated Bull's Gap in August, he was

advancing on that post with about 1,000 men when attacked at

Greeneville, Tenn., at daylight, September 4th, by Gillem's

cavalry. While escaping from the house in which he had passed

the night, he was shot and killed. His body, shamefully

treated at the time, was afterward interred with honor in the

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. XI, p. 245

John Hunt Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the eldest of ten children of Calvin and Henrietta (Hunt) Morgan. He was an uncle of geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan and a grandson of John Wesley Hunt, an early founder of Lexington, Kentucky, and one of the first millionaires west of the Allegheny Mountains. He was also the brother-in-law of A.P. Hill and of Basil W. Duke.[2]

Morgan's father lost his Huntsville home in 1831 when he was unable to pay the property taxes following the failure of his pharmacy. The family then moved to Lexington, where Calvin Morgan would manage one of Hunt's sprawling farms. Morgan also attended Transylvania College for two years, but was suspended in June 1844 for dueling with a fraternity brother. In 1846, Morgan joined the Freemasons, as had his father before him.

In 1846 Morgan enlisted in the U.S. Army as a cavalry private during the Mexican-American War, and saw combat at the Battle of Buena Vista. On his return to Kentucky, he became a hemp manufacturer and eventually took over his grandfather's prosperous mercantile business. In 1848, he married Rebecca Gratz Bruce, 18-year-old sister of Morgan's business partner. Morgan raised a militia artillery company in 1852, but it was disbanded two years later.

In 1853, Morgan's wife delivered a stillborn son. Rebecca Morgan contracted septic thrombophlebitis, an infection of a blood clot in a vein, which eventually led to an amputation. Relations with his wife's family suffered over different views on slavery and with her health problems. In 1857, Morgan raised an independent infantry company known as the "Lexington Rifles," and spent much of his free time drilling them.

John Hunt Morgan Memorial in downtown Lexington, Kentucky

Like most Kentuckians, Morgan did not initially support secession. Immediately after Lincoln's election in November 1860, he wrote to his brother, Thomas Hunt Morgan, then a student at Kenyon College in northern Ohio, "Our State will not I hope secede[.] have no doubt but Lincoln will make a good President at least we ought to give him a fair trial & then if he commits some overt act all the South will be a unit." By the following spring, Tom Morgan (who also had opposed Kentucky's secession) had transferred home to the Kentucky Military Institute and there began to support the Confederacy. Just before the fourth of July, he quietly left for Camp Boone, just across the Tennessee border, by way a steamer from Louisville to enlist in the Kentucky State Guard. John stayed at home in Lexington to tend to his troubled business and his ailing wife. Becky Morgan finally died on July 21, 1861. In September, Captain Morgan and his militia company went to Tennessee and joined the Confederate States Army. Morgan soon raised the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment and became its colonel on April 4, 1861.[2]

Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the Battle of Shiloh in May 1862, and he soon became a symbol to secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee." In his first Kentucky raid, Morgan left Knoxville on July 4, 1862, with almost 900 men and in three weeks he swept through Kentucky, deep in the rear of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell's army. He reported the capture of 1,200 Federal soldiers, whom he paroled, acquired several hundred horses, and destroyed massive quantities of supplies. He unnerved Kentucky's Union military government and President Abraham Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky." Historian Kenneth M. Noe wrote that Morgan's feat "in many ways surpassed J.E.B. Stuart's celebrated 'Ride around McClellan' and the Army of the Potomac the previous spring." The success of Morgan's raid was one of the key reasons that the Confederate Heartland Offensive of Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith was launched later that fall, assuming that tens of thousands of Kentuckians would enlist in the Confederate Army if they invaded the state.[3]

Morgan was promoted to brigadier general (his highest rank) on December 11, 1862.[2] He received the thanks of the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863 for his raids on the supply lines of Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans in December and January, most notably his victory at the Battle of Hartsville on December 7.[4] Also in December, Morgan married Martha "Mattie" Ready, the daughter of Tennessee United States Representative Charles Ready and a cousin of William T. Haskell, another former U.S. representative from Tennessee.

Hoping to divert Union troops and resources in conjunction with the twin Confederate operations of Vicksburg and the Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, Morgan set off on the campaign that would become known as "Morgan's Raid". Morgan crossed the Ohio River, and raided across southern Indiana and Ohio. After many skirmishes and battles, during which he captured and paroled thousands of Union soldiers[citation needed], Morgan's raid almost ended on July 19, 1863, at Buffington Island, Ohio, when approximately 700 of his men were captured while trying to cross the Ohio River into West Virginia. (Intercepted by Union gunboats, less than 200 of his men succeeded in crossing.) Most of Morgan's men captured that day spent the rest of the war in the infamous Camp Douglas Prisoner of War camp in Chicago, which had a very high death rate. On July 26, near Salineville, Ohio (actually closer to New Lisbon-now called just Lisbon), Morgan and his exhausted, hungry and saddlesore soldiers were finally forced to surrender.

On November 27, Morgan and six of his officers, most notably Thomas Hines, escaped from their cells in the Ohio Penitentiary by digging a tunnel from Hines' cell into the inner yard and then ascending a wall with a rope made from bunk coverlets and a bent poker iron. Morgan and three of his officers, shortly after midnight, boarded a train from the nearby Columbus train station and arrived in Cincinnati that morning. Morgan and Hines jumped from the train before reaching the depot, and escaped into Kentucky by hiring a skiff to take them across the Ohio River. Through the assistance of sympathizers, they eventually made it to safety in the South. Coincidentally, the same day Morgan escaped, his wife gave birth to a daughter, who died shortly afterwards before Morgan returned home.

Though Morgan's Raid was breathlessly followed by the Northern and Southern press and caused the Union leadership considerable concern, it is now regarded as little more than a showy but ultimately futile sidelight to the war. Furthermore, it was done in direct violation of his orders from Gen. Braxton Bragg not to cross the river. Despite the Raiders' best efforts, Union forces had amassed nearly 110,000 Union militia in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio dozens of United States Navy gunboats along the Ohio and strong Federal cavalry forces, which doomed the raid from the beginning. The cost of the raid to the Federals was extensive, with claims for compensation still being filed against the U.S. government well into the early 20th century. However, the Confederacy's irreplaceable loss of some of the finest light cavalry[citation needed]in American history far outweighed the Union's replaceable losses in equipment and supplies. When taken in together with the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the loss of Morgan's cavalry brigade dealt another serious blow to Confederate morale.

[edit] Late career and death

After his return from Ohio, Morgan was never again trusted by General Bragg. On August 22, 1864, Morgan was placed in command of the Trans-Allegheny Department, embracing at the time the Confederate forces in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.[5]

However the men he was assigned were in no way comparable to those he had lost. Morgan once again began raiding into Kentucky, but his men lacked discipline and he was either not willing or able to control them, leading to open pillaging as well as high casualties. By now Confederate authorities were quietly investigating Morgan for charges of criminal banditry[citation needed], likely leading to his removal from command. He began to organize a raid aimed at Knoxville, Tennessee.[1]

On September 4, 1864, he was surprised and killed while attempting to escape capture during a Union raid on Greeneville, Tennessee. His men always believed that he had been murdered to prevent a second escape from prison, but it seems he was simply shot because he refused to halt.

Morgan was buried in Lexington Cemetery. The burial was shortly before the birth of his second child, another daughter.

John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate general and cavalry officer in the American Civil War.

Morgan is best known for Morgan's Raid in 1863, when he led 2,460 troops racing past Union lines into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio in July 1863. This would be the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrated during the war.

John Hunt Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the eldest of ten children of Calvin and Henrietta (Hunt) Morgan. He was an uncle of geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan and a grandson of John Wesley Hunt, an early founder of Lexington, Kentucky, and one of the first millionaires west of the Allegheny Mountains. He was also the brother-in-law of A.P. Hill and of Basil W. Duke.

In 1846, Morgan enlisted in the U.S. Army as a cavalry private during the Mexican-American War, and saw combat at the Battle of Buena Vista. On his return to Kentucky, he became a hemp manufacturer and eventually took over his grandfather's prosperous mercantile business. In 1848, he married Rebecca Gratz Bruce, 18-year-old sister of Morgan's business partner. Morgan raised a militia artillery company in 1852, but it was disbanded two years later.

Like most Kentuckians, Morgan did not initially support secession. Immediately after Lincoln's election in November 1860, he wrote to his brother, Thomas Hunt Morgan, then a student at Kenyon College in northern Ohio, "Our State will not I hope secede, I have no doubt but Lincoln will make a good President at least we ought to give him a fair trial & then if he commits some overt act all the South will be a unit." Neverthless, in September 1861, Captain Morgan and his militia company went to Tennessee and joined the Confederate States Army. Morgan soon raised the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment and became its colonel on April 4, 1862.

Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the Battle of Shiloh in May 1862, and he soon became a symbol to secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee." In his first Kentucky raid, Morgan left Knoxville on July 4, 1862, with almost 900 men and in three weeks he swept through Kentucky, deep in the rear of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell's army. He reported the capture of 1,200 Federal soldiers, whom he paroled, acquired several hundred horses, and destroyed massive quantities of supplies. He unnerved Kentucky's Union military government and President Abraham Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky." Historian Kenneth M. Noe wrote that Morgan's feat "in many ways surpassed J.E.B. Stuart's celebrated 'Ride around McClellan' and the Army of the Potomac the previous spring." The success of Morgan's raid was one of the key reasons that the Confederate Heartland Offensive of Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith was launched later that fall, assuming that tens of thousands of Kentuckians would enlist in the Confederate Army if they invaded the state.

Morgan was promoted to brigadier general (his highest rank) on December 11, 1862, though the Promotion Orders were not signed by President Davis until December 14, 1862. He received the thanks of the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863 for his raids on the supply lines of Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans in December and January, most notably his victory at the Battle of Hartsville on December 7. Also on December 14, Morgan married Martha "Mattie" Ready, the daughter of Tennessee United States Representative Charles Ready and a cousin of William T. Haskell, another former U.S. representative from Tennessee.

Hoping to divert Union troops and resources in conjunction with the twin Confederate operations of Vicksburg and Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, Morgan set off on the campaign that would become known as "Morgan's Raid". Morgan crossed the Ohio River, and raided across southern Indiana and Ohio. At Corydon, Indiana the raiders met 450 local Home Guard in a battle that resulted in eleven Confederates killed and five Home Guard killed.

After several more skirmishes, during which he captured and paroled thousands of Union soldiers[citation needed], Morgan's raid almost ended on July 19, 1863, at Buffington Island, Ohio, when approximately 700 of his men were captured while trying to cross the Ohio River into West Virginia. (Intercepted by Union gunboats, less than 200 of his men succeeded in crossing.) Most of Morgan's men captured that day spent the rest of the war in the infamous Camp Douglas Prisoner of War camp in Chicago, which had a very high death rate. On July 26, near Salineville, Ohio (actually closer to New Lisbon-now called just Lisbon), Morgan and his exhausted, hungry and saddlesore soldiers were finally forced to surrender.

On November 27, Morgan and six of his officers, most notably Thomas Hines, escaped from their cells in the Ohio Penitentiary by digging a tunnel from Hines' cell into the inner yard and then ascending a wall with a rope made from bunk coverlets and a bent poker iron. Morgan and three of his officers, shortly after midnight, boarded a train from the nearby Columbus train station and arrived in Cincinnati that morning. Morgan and Hines jumped from the train before reaching the depot, and escaped into Kentucky by hiring a skiff to take them across the Ohio River. Through the assistance of sympathizers, they eventually made it to safety in the South. Coincidentally, the same day Morgan escaped, his wife gave birth to a daughter, who died shortly afterwards before Morgan returned home.

Though Morgan's Raid was breathlessly followed by the Northern and Southern press and caused the Union leadership considerable concern, it is now regarded as little more than a showy but ultimately futile sidelight to the war. Furthermore, it was done in direct violation of his orders from Gen. Braxton Bragg not to cross the river. Despite the Raiders' best efforts, Union forces had amassed nearly 110,000 Union militia in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio dozens of United States Navy gunboats along the Ohio and strong Federal cavalry forces, which doomed the raid from the beginning. The cost of the raid to the Federals was extensive, with claims for compensation still being filed against the U.S. government well into the early 20th century. However, the Confederacy's irreplaceable loss of some of the finest light cavalry[citation needed]in American history far outweighed the Union's replaceable losses in equipment and supplies. When taken in together with the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the loss of Morgan's cavalry brigade dealt another serious blow to Confederate morale.

After his return from Ohio, Morgan was never again trusted by General Bragg. On August 22, 1864, Morgan was placed in command of the Trans-Allegheny Department, embracing at the time the Confederate forces in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.

However the men he was assigned were in no way comparable to those he had lost. Morgan once again began raiding into Kentucky, but his men lacked discipline and he was either not willing or able to control them, leading to open pillaging as well as high casualties. By now Confederate authorities were quietly investigating Morgan for charges of criminal banditry, likely leading to his removal from command. He began to organize a raid aimed at Knoxville, Tennessee.

On September 4, 1864, he was surprised and killed while attempting to escape capture during a Union raid on Greeneville, Tennessee. His men always believed that he had been murdered to prevent a second escape from prison, but it seems he was simply shot because he refused to halt.

Morgan was buried in Lexington Cemetery. The burial was shortly before the birth of his second child, another daughter.

John Hunt Morgan, Brig. General (CSA) Birth: June 1, 1825 Huntsville, AL, USA Death: September 4, 1864 (39) Greenville, Green Co., TN

Son of Calvin Morgan and Henrietta Morgan Husband of Rebecca Bruce and Martha Ready

Father of Infant Morgan, Sidney Morgan, Johnny Morgan and Johnny Morgan Brother of Henrietta Duke, Charlton Hunt Morgan, Calvin Morgan, Richard Morgan, Thomas Morgan and 1 other, and Katherine Morgan « less Half brother of John Morgan, Gen., Henrietta Morgan, Calvin Morgan, Jr., Mary Morgan, Ann Morgan and 7 others, Catherine Morgan, Richard Morgan, Charlton Morgan, Thomas Morgan, Francis Morgan, Catherine Morgan and Eleanor Morgan « less

John Hunt Morgan was born Wednesday, June 1, 1825, at 310 South Green Street in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1831, his father, Calvin, lost his Alabama home because he couldn?t pay the taxes. He accepted his father-in-law?s offer to move to Lexington, Kentucky, and manage one of the Hunt farms in Fayette County. Their family moved into a two-story farmhouse on Tates Creek Road. John Morgan was six years old when they relocated to Kentucky.

At age seventeen, John enrolled at Transylvania College in Lexington in 1842 and joined the Adelphi Society, a literary fraternity. In June of 1844, he had a duel with a fraternity brother. Neither was seriously hurt. Following this incident on July 4, 1844, the college?s Board of Trustees expelled him from the school.

He was married twice. First to Rebecca Gratz Bruce of Lexington (1830-1861) was eighteen-years-old when she was married November 21, 1848 to John, twenty-three. In September 1853, she had a stillborn son. As an aftereffect of her p. read more

John Hunt Morgan was born Wednesday, June 1, 1825, at 310 South Green Street in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1831, his father, Calvin, lost his Alabama home because he couldn?t pay the taxes. He accepted his father-in-law?s offer to move to Lexington, Kentucky, and manage one of the Hunt farms in Fayette County. Their family moved into a two-story farmhouse on Tates Creek Road. John Morgan was six years old when they relocated to Kentucky.

At age seventeen, John enrolled at Transylvania College in Lexington in 1842 and joined the Adelphi Society, a literary fraternity. In June of 1844, he had a duel with a fraternity brother. Neither was seriously hurt. Following this incident on July 4, 1844, the college?s Board of Trustees expelled him from the school.

He was married twice. First to Rebecca Gratz Bruce of Lexington (1830-1861) was eighteen-years-old when she was married November 21, 1848 to John, twenty-three. In September 1853, she had a stillborn son. As an aftereffect of her pregnancy, Rebecca developed a blood clot in her leg.

After eight years of suffering, she died an invalid and childless at age thirty-one. John would be a widower for two years before he met and married his second wife, Martha "Mattie" Ready of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1840-1887). She was twenty-two when she married John who was then thirty-seven. They had two daughters. The first was born November 27, 1863, and lived only one day. Their second, Johnnie, was born April 7, 1865, following John?s death.

His grandfather, John Wesley Hunt, was an early founder of Lexington and one of the wealthiest men west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is said that he was Lexington?s first millionaire. He had significant investments in merchandising, manufacturing, banking and government securities

John Morgan stood arrow-straight at six feet tall, weighed 185 pounds. He had curly sandy hair and gray eyes. Early in the Civil War, Carrie Pyncheon of Huntsville wrote in her diary, "Before the town was occupied by the Yankees, I spent an evening with Captain Jack [John] Morgan, our second Marion. He was so mild and gentle in his manners that I would not have taken him for a soldier but for his boots and spurs, so unwarrior-like did he seem."

As the war began, he was elected captain of the Morgan Squadron, which formed the nucleus of the 2nd KY cavalry. By the end of 1862, he rose through the ranks and was a brigadier general at the time of the Ohio-Indiana raid.

To the South, he was one of their greatest, their Robin Hood. Northern newspapers called him "The King of Horse Thieves, a bandit, a freebooter, no better than a thug." In the South, he was admired as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy."


Legacy [ edit | edit source ]

Hart County High School, in Munfordville, Kentucky, the site of the Battle for the Bridge, named their mascot the Raiders, in honor of Morgan's men. Also, a large mural in the town depicts Morgan.

Trimble County High School, in Bedford, Kentucky, named their mascot the Raiders, in honor of Morgan's men.

The John Hunt Morgan Memorial statue in Lexington is a tribute to him.

The Hunt-Morgan House, once his home, is a contributing property in a historic district in Lexington.

The General Morgan Inn, located at the spot he was killed in Greeneville, Tennessee is named after him.


Watch the video: The John Hunt Morgan Song (June 2022).