previous next

Chapter 16:

General Bragg's army was in comfortable condition during the winter, the main work being done by the cavalry, which was kept well to the front to give as extensive foraging ground as possible, General Morgan's command being about McMinnville and having occasional skirmishes and small battles with detachments of the enemy. Col. R. P. Trabue succeeded General Hanson in command of the Orphan brigade until the arrival of Brig.-Gen. Ben Hardin Helm, who had recovered from the injury to his leg, broken by the fall of his horse at Baton Rouge. Colonel Trabue, to the sorrow of his regiment and the brigade, died in Richmond, Va., February 12, 1863. The army was kept in a good state of discipline by frequent reviews and drilling, in which the Kentucky brigade, by general consent, bore off the palm.

On the 19th of March Gen. J. E. Johnston came to Tullahoma and being the senior officer, it was expected that he would as such supersede General Bragg; but although [170] he remained nearly two months, he declined to take active command, but co-operated with Bragg in all matters concerning the army, at the same time retaining command of department No. 2, which also included Mississippi. In honor of his arrival there was a grand review in which General Hardee introduced the charge of a brigade in line of battle, by regiments, with a shout, at double-quick time. It was then that General Johnston paid the Orphan brigade the compliment of saying that they were the equal of any regular troops he had ever seen. It was a gala day for the Kentuckians. A flag which had been made by Mrs. Breckinridge was presented to the 20th Tennessee, of General Preston's brigade, in her behalf, by Col. Theodore O'Hara, of General Breckinridge's staff, author of the ‘Bivouac of the Dead,’ who proved himself an orator as well as a poet.

As spring advanced, Hardee's corps was moved up nearer to the front, Breckinridge being placed at Beech Grove, 12 miles from Murfreesboro, and in special charge of Hoover's Gap, an important point in General Bragg's line through which Rosecrans, during the summer, advanced. The month of May was marked by great activity in the armies, both of the East and West. The victories of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, marred by the death of Stonewall Jackson, occurred on the 2nd and 4th. On the 14th the Federal army, having got into the rear of Vicksburg, captured Jackson, Miss. On the 10th Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had left Tullahoma with two brigades to reinforce the Confederate army at Jackson and to take command, but was too late to save the position, and applied for reinforcements. On the 24th, General Breckinridge with his division was ordered to that point. Colonel Hunt of the Fifth, whose family had been sent through the lines from Kentucky, was compelled to resign, and was succeeded by Lieut.-Col. J. W. Caldwell. General Preston was in May ordered to the command of the department of Southwestern Virginia, to succeed Gen. Humphrey [171] Marshall, and about the same time General Buckner was transferred from Mobile to command the department of East Tennessee. With the departure of General Breckinridge on the 25th there were no Kentucky troops left in Tennessee except the cavalry.

Upon the arrival of his division in Mississippi, June 1st, the enemy had evacuated Jackson, and General Breckinridge was placed in command at that place. His division was now composed of Adams', Evans', Stovall's and Helm's brigades, the Forty-seventh Georgia, and Waters' South Carolina battery, reporting 8.194 for duty. There were also in Johnston's army the majority of the Kentucky troops, the Third, Seventh and Eighth regiments, with many Kentucky officers assigned to important duties. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, a most gallant officer, had been killed in the Baker's Creek battle, near Edwards' Depot, a short time before; Gen. Abram Buford and Gen. Geo. B. Cosby were in command of cavalry brigades, and Dr. D. W. Yandell had become medical director on General Johnston's staff.

The campaign which followed was one of great hardship and of small results; the weary marches, the unhealthful climate and bad drinking water being especially severe on the Kentuckians. Vicksburg fell on the 4th of July, and with the battle of Gettysburg just preceding, marked a fatal turning point in the fortunes of the Confederacy. The only engagement of any note in which General Breckinridge's command participated was on the 12th of July, near Jackson, in which he repulsed the enemy. But General Grant's army being free to move from Vicksburg, General Johnston retired from Jackson and took a position fifty miles eastward where he was free from further molestation. Here General Breckinridge's division remained until August 26th, when it was ordered to Chattanooga, which had now become the storm center in the West.

General Rosecrans, pending the military operations in [172] the southwest, and his own preparations for a general advance, had long remained quiescent. About the 20th of June he gave evidence of a positive advance, both with his own army and one commanded by General Burnside, into East Tennessee. An extensive cavalry raid was made here by Colonel Carter, who approached the vicinity of Knoxville, and burned several bridges on the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad. On the 23rd of June General Rosecrans captured Hoover's Gap and General Bragg fell back gradually to Chattanooga, when the situation became very similar to that of a year previous, when General Buell on the right and Gen. Geo. W. Morgan on the left seemed on the point of success. But the waste of a year upon the vital force of the South from losses in battle, and the exhaustion of her resources from the blockading of her ports, together with the vast army of the North, recruited from every nation, and with unlimited supplies, domestic and imported, were telling severely upon the Southern cause. In the retrospect it is not strange that defeat ensued, but that it was postponed nearly two years.

The only success scored by General Bragg's forces since the battle of Murfreesboro had been the brilliant capture during the winter of Streight's brigade of cavalry by General Forrest. The Federal raid had been made through the mountains of North Alabama with a view of the capture of Rome, Ga., and the destruction of the Confederate arsenal there. Forrest pursued and after an extraordinary and prolonged march on the trail of his adversary, captured the entire command, when within fifteen or twenty miles of their destination. The boldness of the Federal enterprise was only excelled by the brilliancy of the Confederate success.

But now, when the Federal infantry was advancing, General Morgan executed a movement for the diversion of the enemy, which in its conception and details constituted the most remarkable cavalry exploit of the war. Moving to the rear of Rosecrans with his cavalry division [173] of 2,500 men, he crossed the Cumberland river at Burkes-ville on the 2d of July, passed through Columbia, Lebanon and Bardstown to Brandenburg, forty miles below Louisville, and there on the 8th crossed the Ohio into Indiana, drawing after him large bodies of Federal cavalry and infantry and having a number of heavy engagements. Thence he swept through Corydon, Salem and other towns, until on the 13th he was in the vicinity of Cincinnati, having captured many troops, and with the hue and cry of two States raised against him. He was pursued and sought to be headed by large bodies of the enemy's cavalry and infantry, drawn from all quarters. With little time for rest he directed his course northeastward through Ohio until, worn down by fatigue and encompassed by overwhelming odds in his rear, on his flank, and in front, in-cluding troops in steamers moving by the Ohio, a large part of his force while attempting to cross into West Virginia at Buffington's Island was captured on the 21st of July, and on the 26th General Morgan was forced to surrender with as many more, bringing the aggregate of his loss to more than half of his original command. The remainder made their way to the South in small detachments and were organized at Abingdon, Va. Of the imprisonment of General Morgan and his principal officers in the penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio, his romantic escape from therewith six of his faithful comrades, Hines, Hocher-smith, Sheldon, Bennett, McGee and Taylor, and of his subsequent movements and tragic death, September 4, 1864, at Greeneville, Tenn., reference must be made to the full and able history of Morgan's cavalry by his distinguished second in command, Gen. Basil W. Duke. The proper record of the bold enterprises and dashing exploits of this great cavalry leader would of themselves alone require more space than is accorded to this general narrative of the part taken in the war by all the Kentuck-ians who followed the Confederate banner. [174]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May (2)
September 4th, 1864 AD (1)
February 12th, 1863 AD (1)
August 26th (1)
July 21st (1)
July 12th (1)
July 4th (1)
July 2nd (1)
June 23rd (1)
June 20th (1)
June 1st (1)
March 19th (1)
26th (1)
24th (1)
14th (1)
10th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: