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One of Morgan's Men

Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry

John Porter

Publication Year: 2011

John Marion Porter (1839–1898) grew up working at his family’s farm and dry goods store in Butler County, Kentucky. The oldest of Reverend Nathaniel Porter’s nine children, he was studying to become a lawyer when the Civil War began. As the son of a family of slave owners, Porter identified with the Southern cause and wasted little time enlisting in the Confederate army. He and his lifelong friend Thomas Henry Hines served in the Ninth Kentucky Calvary under John Hunt Morgan, the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy.” When the war ended, Porter and Hines opened a law practice together, but Porter was concerned that the story of his service during the Civil War and his family’s history would be lost with the collapse of the Confederacy. In 1872, Porter began writing detailed memoirs of his experiences during the war years, including tales of scouting behind enemy lines, sabotaging a Union train, being captured and held as a prisoner of war, and searching for an army to join after his release. Editor Kent Masterson Brown spent several years preparing Porter’s memoir for publication, clarifying details and adding annotations to provide historical context. One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry is a fascinating firsthand account of the life of a remarkable Confederate soldier. In this unique volume, Porter’s insights on Morgan and the Confederacy are available to readers for the first time.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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Copyright page

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pp. iv


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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xvi

There are many individuals who helped make the publication of Lieutenant John M. Porter’s war memoirs a reality. First and foremost, Steve Carson of Lexington, Kentucky, gave me the typescript of the war memoirs and the permission to publish it. Steve is a descendant of Thomas Carson of Prince Edward County, Virginia, who married...

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Note on the Editorial Method

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pp. xvii-xix

The original typescript of Porter’s war memoirs must have been prepared in the late nineteenth century; it was a literal transcription. A retyping of the original typescript was accomplished in 1927. It was this second typescript that was given to me to publish. It contained some errors that were quickly determined to be typists’ mistakes. Most...

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pp. 1-8

John Marion Porter was born at Sugar Grove in eastern Butler County, Kentucky, in 1839. The month and day of his birth were never recorded. The Sugar Grove settlement grew up along Little Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Barren River. Porter was the second child and fi rst son of Reverend Nathaniel Porter and his second wife, the former Sarah...

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pp. 9-10

I propose to place upon record a narrative of events, commencing during the year 1861, continuing through the sanguinary years of 1861–1865, embracing the period of the War for Southern Independence, and closing with the final surrender of the Confederate Armies to the forces of the United States. I propose to present how, in a few brief months,...

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1 To the Military I Submitted Myself

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pp. 11-22

The election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 plunged Kentucky into turmoil. John M. Porter became caught up in the political furor. His home county of Butler was divided, but most people in the county were staunchly pro-Union. Porter and most of his family members and friends in the south-eastern Butler County village called Sugar Grove, though, were decidedly ...

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2 You Have Crowned Yourselves with Glory

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pp. 23-37

General Grant moved elements of his Federal army—soon to be known as the “Army of the Tennessee”—on troop transports up the Tennessee River from Paducah, Kentucky, with Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote’s armada of gunboats in early February 1862. On February 6, Foote’s naval forces bombarded Fort Henry on the east bank of the Tennessee, forcing its surrender ...

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3 It Was Literally a Leap in the Dark

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pp. 39-49

From the time of John M. Porter’s capture at Fort Donelson and his release to his reaching General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army, the strategic picture in the trans-Appalachian west changed dramatically. With the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, General Grant’s Federal forces controlled the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers and could move into the interior of the Confederacy...

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4 We Struck Out on Our Own Responsibility

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pp. 51-65

John M. Porter reached Corinth, Mississippi, although he never was able to join John Hunt Morgan’s command there or even participate in the Battle of Shiloh, where General Johnston was mortally wounded and the Confederate Army of the Mississippi was hurled back after two days of fierce fighting. After the Army of the Mississippi withdrew back to Corinth and on to ...

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5 A Perfect Tornado of Shots Was Fired at Us

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pp. 67-75

Within two days of joining Morgan’s command, John M. Porter saw combat in the Battle of Cynthiana, one of the most vicious engagements of the war for the size of the opposing forces involved. At Cynthiana, the Kentucky Central Railroad, connecting Covington, Kentucky, and Lexington, crossed the South Fork of the Licking River. Large amounts of government stores, ...

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6 It Was a Grand and Imposing Ovation

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pp. 77-95

Probably no single month in John Hunt Morgan’s military career was more filled with action and success than August 1862. After returning from his wildly successful first Kentucky raid, Morgan settled his command in and around Hartsville, Tennessee, a small town in Trousdale County, about fifteen miles east of...

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7 The Whiskey Was Still Abundant

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pp. 97-109

While General Bragg’s army slowly withdrew from Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap to Knoxville and then to Murfreesboro, and General Buell’s army marched west of Bragg on direct routes to Nashville, John Hunt Morgan set out for Tennessee on roads west of Buell’s line of march. Returning to Tennessee was no easy matter. Morgan and his command, Duke’s...

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8 The Fame and Glory of Morgan's Command

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pp. 111-127

General Buell was removed from command of the Federal Army of the Ohio in Nashville on October 30, 1862. In Buell’s place, the Lincoln administration named Major General William S. Rosecrans. The army would soon be renamed the “Army of the Cumberland,” a name it would proudly carry through the rest of the war. General Bragg had returned to central Tennessee; his army,...

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9 This Was a Hard-Fought Field

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pp. 129-139

Probably none of John Hunt Morgan’s operations are more obscure than those that occurred during the winter of 1863. Basil W. Duke writes of those operations only in generalities in his History of Morgan’s Cavalry, as he was personally absent at times. Without a doubt, those operations represent some of Morgan’s most notable military achievements. John M. Porter ...

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10 Our March Was Cautious

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pp. 162-173

Lieutenant John M. Porter’s most notable achievement as a soldier was a scout that he, Captain Thomas H. Hines, and a select group of twelve other men from Company E, Ninth Kentucky Cavalry (C.S.A.), made in February 1863. Most of them were from Butler County, Kentucky, so chosen because they were intimately familiar with the area...

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11 The Scene Was Ludicrous and Pitiful

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pp. 153-164

After days and nights hiding from Federal cavalry patrols, Captain Thomas H. Hines and his men determined to strike. Led by Hines, the command proceeded to South Union and then to the Barren River, where, on February 25, 1863, the small force captured and destroyed the steamboat Hettie Gilmore and all of the heavy stores it was carrying to Bowling Green to ...

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12 I Was Captured for the Last Time

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pp. 165-175

As John Hunt Morgan was preparing his division to reenter Kentucky and, possibly, cross the Ohio River into Indiana, he sent Captain Thomas H. Hines and Lieutenant John M. Porter and eighty men from the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry (C.S.A.) into that area of Kentucky between Covington and Brandenburg where a crossing of the Ohio River would have to be accomplished...

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13 The Days Dragged Slowly By

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pp. 177-188

John M. Porter was imprisoned at Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. Johnson’s Island was chosen for a prison site in the fall of 1861. Although it was designed to hold both officers and enlisted men, it was ultimately determined that it would house only commissioned officers. That is the reason Porter was confined...

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14 With Three Days' Rations, We Started Home

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pp. 189-203

John M. Porter was exchanged in February 1865. He and other prisoners from Johnson’s Island were transported by rail from Sandusky, Ohio, through Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, and then down the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to the James River . Porter was finally set ashore at Rockets, the location of the Confederate navy yard and a southern suburb of Richmond, ...

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pp. 205

I began practicing law, that is obtained license, in December 1868, at Morgantown, Kentucky, and remained at that place until October 1870, at which time I removed to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and engaged in...


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pp. 207-270


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pp. 271-278


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pp. 279-300

E-ISBN-13: 9780813129907
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813129891

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Kentucky -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
  • Soldiers -- Kentucky -- Biography.
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Morgan's Cavalry Division.
  • Porter, John Marion, 1839-1884.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, 9th.
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