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John Hunt Morgan and His Raiders

Edison H. Thomas

Publication Year: 2014

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.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. C-C1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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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...

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1: Morgan the Man

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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...

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2: A Swearing In

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pp. 13-24

In August 1861 a short item appeared in the Lexington 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...

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3: The Bitter Taste of Battle

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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...

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4: The First Kentucky Raid

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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...

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5: Kentucky Revisited

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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...

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6: Christmas 1862

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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...

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7: The Big Raid

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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...

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8: Freedom's Way

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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...

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9: Last Look at Kentucky

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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...

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10: A Day of Destiny

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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...

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11: Epilogue

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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...


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pp. Image 1-Image8

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Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 117-120

Much has been written about John Hunt Morgan since December 1861, when the nation's press carried the word that this Confederate Raider and his men had burned their first railroad trestle. Morgan's Raiders burned many other trestles and participated in much more action before their daring leader...


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pp. 121-128

E-ISBN-13: 9780813146690
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813115306

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2014

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Subject Headings

  • Morgan's Ohio Raid, 1863.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Cavalry operations.
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Morgan's Cavalry Division -- Biography.
  • Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864.
  • Soldiers -- Kentucky -- Biography.
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