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Morgan, John Hunt 1826-

Military officer; born in Huntsville, Ala., June 1, 1826; killed at Greenville, Tenn., Sept. 4, 1864. Settled near Lexington, Ky., in 1830, with his parents; served under Taylor in the

John Hunt Morgan.

war with Mexico; and in 1861, at the head of the Lexington Rifles, he joined Buckner of the Kentucky State Guard. At the battle of Shiloh he commanded a squadron of Confederate cavalry, and soon afterwards began his career as a raider. His first noted exploit was his invasion of Kentucky from eastern Tennessee (July, 1861), with 1,200 men, under a conviction that vast numbers of young men would flock to his standard and he would become the “liberator” of that commonwealth. Dispersing a small National force at Tompkinsville, Monroe co., he issued a flaming proclamation to the people of Kentucky. He was preparing the way for Bragg's invasion of that State. Soon recruits joined Morgan, and he roamed about the State, plundering and destroying. At Lebanon he fought a Union force, routed them, and took several prisoners. His raid was so rapid that it created intense excitement. Louisville was alarmed. He pressed on towards the Ohio, destroying a long railway bridge (July 14) between Cynthiana and Paris, and laying waste a railway track. On July 17 he had a sharp fight with the Home Guards at Cynthiana, who were dispersed. He hoped to plunder the rich city of Cincinnati. His approach inspired the inhabitants with terror; but a pursuing cavalry force under Green Clay Smith, of Kentucky, caused him to retreat southward in the direction of Richmond. On his retreat his raiders stole horses and robbed stores without inquiring whether the property belonged to friend or foe.

In June and July, 1863, he crossed the Ohio River for the purpose of plunder for himself and followers; to prepare the way for Buckner to dash into Kentucky from Tennessee and seize Louisville and, with Morgan, to capture Cincinnati; to form the nucleus of an armed counter-revolution in the Northwest, where the “Knights of the Golden circle,” or the “Sons of liberty” of the peace faction, were numerous; and to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Meade from that region. Already about eighty Kentuckians had crossed the Ohio (June 19) into Indiana to test the temper of the people. They were captured. Morgan started (June 27) with 3,500 well-mounted men and six guns, crossing the Cumberland River at Burkesville, and, pushing on. encountered some loyal cavalry at Columbia (July 3), fought them three hours. partly sacked the town, and proceeded to destroy a bridge over the Green River, when he was driven away, after a desperate fight of several hours, by 200 Michigan troops under Colonel Moore, well intrenched. Morgan lost 250 killed and wounded; Moore lost twenty-nine. He rushed into Lebanon, captured a small Union force there, set fire to the place, and lost his brother—killed in the fight. He reached the Ohio, 40 miles below Louisville, July 7. His ranks were swelled as he went plundering through Kentucky, and he crossed the Ohio with 4,000 men and ten guns. He captured two steamers, with which he crossed. He was closely pursued by some troops under General Hobson, and others went up the Ohio in steamboats to intercept him. He plundered Corydon, Ind., murdered citizens, and stole 300 horses. On he went, robbing mill and factory owners by demanding $1,000 [262] as a condition for the safety of their property. In like manner he went from village to village until the 12th, when, at a railway near Vernon, he encountered Colonel Lowe with 1,200 militiamen. Morgan was now assured that Indiana was aroused, and that there was a great uprising of the loyal people against him. The victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg now inspirited the people. Governor Morton called on the citizens to turn out and expel the invaders. Within forty-eight hours 65,000 citizens had tendered their services, and were hastening towards the rendezvous. Morgan was alarmed. He stole fresh horses for the race before Hobson, his persistent pursuer. He passed swiftly north of Cincinnati through the southern counties, and struck the river a little above Pomeroy. The people of Ohio, also, were aroused. General Judah went up the Ohio, from Cincinnati, in steamboats, to head him off; and the people were gathering from different points. At Buffington Ford he attempted to cross the river and escape into Virginia; but there the head of Hobson's column, under General Shackleford, struck his rear, General Judah struck his flank, and two armed vessels in the stream opened upon his front. Hemmed in, about 800 of his men surrendered, and the remainder, leaving all their plunder behind them, followed their leader up the river, and again attempted to cross to Belleville by swimming their horses. About 300 crossed, but the remainder were driven back by a gunboat, when Morgan fled inland to McArthur, fighting militia, burning bridges, and plundering. At last he was obliged to surrender to General Shackleford, July 26, 1863, at New Lisbon, the capital of Columbiana county. Morgan and some of his officers were confined in the Ohio penitentiary at Columbus, from which he and six of them escaped in November, and joined the Confederate forces in northern Georgia. The race between the troops of Morgan and his pursuers had continued three weeks, without cessation, at the rate of 35 miles a day. Morgan afterwards received an ovation at Richmond as a great hero.

When Longstreet left Knoxville, Tenn., late in 1863, he lingered awhile between there and the Virginia border. He had been pursued by cavalry, and near Bean's Station he had a sharp skirmish (Dec. 14), when the Nationals were pushed back with a loss of 200 men; Longstreet's loss was greater. Longstreet finally retired to Virginia, leaving Morgan in eastern Tennessee. Gen. John G. Foster was there, in command of the Army of the Ohio; and on Dec. 29 Gen. S. D. Sturgis, with the National advance at Knoxville, between Mossy Creek and New Market, met and fought Morgan and Armstrong, who led about 6,000 Confederates. The latter were defeated. On Jan. 16, 1864, Sturgis was attacked by Morgan and Armstrong at Dandridge, the capital of Jefferson county. After a severe encounter, Sturgis fell back to Strawberry Plains, where his soldiers suffered intensely from the extreme cold. Morgan lingered in eastern Tennessee until May, and late in that month, with comparatively few followers, he went over the mountains into Kentucky, and raided rapidly through the eastern counties of that State, plundering as they sped on in the richest part of that commonwealth. They captured several small places, dashed into Lexington, burning the railway station and other property there, and hurried towards Frankfort. General Burbridge, who, when he heard of Morgan's passage of the mountains, had started in pursuit, struck him a severe blow near Cynthiana, by which 300 of the raiders were killed or wounded. 400 made prisoners, and 1,000 horses captured. Burbridge lost about 150 men. This staggering blow made Morgan reel back into eastern Tennessee. Early in September he was at Greenville with his shattered brigade. Morgan and his staff were at the house of Mrs. Williams in that town, when it was surrounded by troops under General Gillem, and Morgan, attempting to escape, was shot dead in the garden, Sept. 4, 1864.

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