- Confederate cavalry -- the two great leaders -- John Hunt Morgan, originator of the raid -- sketch of his life -- his Entrance upon duty and early exploits -- rapid Growth of his command -- his dashing raids -- Nathan Bedford Forrest -- his striking Characteristics and valuable service -- General Buell's Embarrassments -- how he was Harassed by these two commanders -- Morgan's First great raid through Kentucky -- his full reports of same -- effect of his brilliant movement -- the consternation Created by it -- capture of Murfreesboro by General Forrest with 1,400 prisoners -- General Buell's Comments on same -- his movements paralyzed by these raids -- capture of Gallatin, Tenn., with many prisoners, by General Morgan -- in Buell's rear -- destruction of his lines of communication -- defeat of brigadier -- General Johnson at Hartsville, and his capture by General Morgan -- Morgan's address to his command.
Up to this time cavalry had played an unimportant part in the operations of either army. With no reflection upon the merits of other commanders of cavalry, as Forrest and Wheeler in the West and J. E. B. Stuart and Hampton in the East, who afterwards became conspicuous for their great achievements, the man who first demonstrated in the Confederate war the value of cavalry as an adjunct to the infantry, and who above all others was the originator during the war of that system of effective warfare known as the raid, was John H. Morgan. His was not the cavalry known before his time, as the compact, slow-moving, heavily accoutered horsemen, who moved with infantry and were used upon the  flank in marches, or in battle to be brought in at the critical moment for an irresistible charge; but the mounted light infantrymen, drilled to fight on foot when necessary and inured to long marches, who did not hover near the infantry for protection, but acting as its advanced scout, could on occasions cut loose from all communications with the base and by great detours get to the rear of the enemy, destroy his lines of communication, burn his bridges and stores, and retard his operations by the diversion of large bodies of men to protect threatened points. For the service in which Morgan rose to such distinction he was fortunately well adapted by all the conditions calculated to secure success. He was an educated man with some experience in the Mexican war as lieutenant of cavalry, and afterwards, as the captain of a volunteer rifle company, was noted for the discipline and superior drill of his command. Of strikingly handsome features and physique, he had an address which inspired in those associated with him, confidence, respect and friendship. His influence over men was such that if he had selected politics for his field, he could have had advancement at his will. But he chose a more quiet pursuit, and when the war broke out, he was a successful manufacturer, with a lingering taste for tactics which found its expression in being for a number of years at the head of a military company of the young men of Lexington, which was the pride of the town. Like most Kentuckians he was fond of a horse and of outdoor sports, and sat a saddle like a centaur. Notwithstanding the agitation and excitement which for four or five months had existed in Kentucky at the inception of hostilities and had led numbers of young men to leave their homes for service in the Confederate army, Morgan had not been allured from his customary pursuits. All of his associations, sympathies and interests were Southern, but his temperament was cool, his mind was not inflamed with politics, and like many of the  people of his State and locality, he put faith in the asseverations of his Union friends who proclaimed neutrality the panacea for all our ills and the ultimate preserver of peace. He had an abiding faith in the assurance that no one would be molested for his opinions as declared by the resolutions of the legislature, the proclamation of the governor and the general orders of General Anderson when he became the military commander of Kentucky. If he had so desired or intended, he could have taken his company fully equipped away in safety and comfort, yet he remained at home until the process of arrests and the deportation of private citizens to Northern prisons began in violation of all good faith. Suddenly by night his town was invaded by a force from Camp Dick Robinson for the purpose of arresting General Breckinridge and other prominent citizens, who, like himself, had rested secure in the pledges given. Then when it was whispered that he himself was to be a victim, on the next night, September 20th, his resolution was taken, and placing his guns in a wagon with a few of his friends hastily summoned, he eluded the pickets, and mounted made his way to Bowling Green. Reference has been made to his arrival there with 200 men who had joined him singly and in squads, and who attached themselves to various commands in process of organization. With a small body of 20 or 30 men he at once entered upon duty, scouting to the front, and from the beginning displayed the daring which afterwards characterized his operations, passing in rear of the enemy, learning their force and movements and inflicting damage upon bridges, depots and trains. His force gradually increased until it was known as a squadron, with his most trusted men as his lieutenants, and he became of the most valuable aid to the commanding general in the celerity of his movements and the accuracy of his information. When the army fell back through Nashville, he covered its rear and picketed close to the Federal lines.  His first raid was made after General Johnston had started from Murfreesboro for Corinth and Shiloh. On the 7th of March, with Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, ten Texas Rangers and fifteen of his own squadron, he proceeded through by-roads to within eight or ten miles of Nashville, and next morning, in the immediate vicinity of that place, commenced capturing Federal army wagons as they came along, and disarming the men until he had 98 prisoners, including several officers. He then divided his command into three parties and started back with his prisoners, but one detachment was pursued by the Fourth Ohio cavalry and obliged to abandon sixty of the prisoners. Notwithstanding this he brought in 38 prisoners with a large number of horses, mules, pistols, saddles, etc. A second raid was made on the 15th, when he and Colonel Wood with forty men set out from Murfreesboro secretly and in separate parties in the afternoon. They made a rapid night march after reuniting, and reached Gallatin, on the Louisville & Nashville railroad, twenty-six miles north of Nashville, at 4 o'clock p. m. the next day. Here he seized the telegraph office with several of General Buell's dispatches and burned all the rolling stock and water tanks of the railroad, returning with five prisoners and without loss, through the enemy's lines to Shelbyville, Tenn. Gallatin was several times during the war the scene of his most successful raids. At the battle of Shiloh he rendered valuable service both in the advance and the retreat and on the flank of the army during the battle. Shortly after the battle he received permission to make a dash into Tennessee, and on the 26th of April, with a force of 350 men, composed of his own squadron and detachments from Col. Wirt Adams' regiment and McNairy's battalion, he crossed the Tennessee river on a small horse ferry and on the 30th reached Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where the troops encamped for the night. Next day he attacked and routed 400 convalescents employed in erecting a telegraph  line, capturing and paroling many prisoners. He then passed around Nashville and reached Lebanon, about thirty miles east, on the night of May 4th. His command was fatigued by the constant service, and he concluded to rest there until morning; but during the night, which was dark and rainy, he was overtaken by General Dumont, who had left Nashville with the First Kentucky cavalry, Colonel Wolford, and the Twenty-first Kentucky infantry. Morgan's pickets were in a house, and before the alarm could be given Wolford's cavalry charged full upon the camp and came near capturing the whole command. Morgan, with fifteen of his men, escaped, and on the 6th reached Sparta at the foot of the Cumberland mountains, east of Lebanon, where during the next three days fifty of his men joined him. One hundred and twenty-five of his men were captured and six killed. Most of the rest made their way through the Federal lines by circuitous routes and rejoined their several commands. Nothing daunted by this mishap he left Sparta on the 9th with 150 men, mostly recruits, and going in the direction of Bowling Green, entered territory familiar to him, capturing two trains of cars which he burned, and a number of prisoners whom he paroled. About the middle of May he returned to the army at Corinth, and after a short rest began the work of organizing a larger and more effective command with a view of a more extensive raid into Kentucky. Capt. Basil W. Duke, who afterward won distinction scarcely second to that of General Morgan, had been with him from the start as his most trusted lieutenant, but had not been able to accompany him on his last raid on account of a wound received at Corinth, and having collected about 30 of Morgan's men who had been left behind, now rejoined him. Capt. Richard M. Gano, a Kentuckian from Texas, and Capt. John Hoffman from the same State, here also united their two companies of Rangers with the squadron, and its three companies being now  recruited to a maximum, General Morgan proceeded to Chattanooga as a better base for his proposed operations. On his arrival there he found three hundred men of the First Kentucky infantry, whose term of service had just expired in Virginia, who at once joined his command, and thus three more companies were organized. The command was then formed into a regiment, with John H. Morgan as colonel; Basil W. Duke, lieutenant-colonel; G. W. Morgan, a Tennesseean and cousin of John H. Morgan, major; Gordon E. Niles, adjutant; David H. Llewellyn, A. Q. M.; Hiram Reese, A. C. S.; Thomas Allen, surgeon; and Dr. Edelin, assistant surgeon. The companies were commanded as follows: Capt. Jacob Cassell, Company A; Capt. John Allen, Company B; Capt. J. W. Bowles, Company C; Capt. John B. Castleman, Company D; Capt. John Hutchinson, Company E; Capt. Thomas B. Webber, Company F; and Captain McFarland, Company G. These six companies and a fragment of the seventh numbered nearly 400 men, and the regiment became known as the Second Kentucky cavalry. The Texas Rangers were made a battalion, with Maj. R. M. Gano in command. They then moved to Knoxville. Some of the regiment, as General Duke in the history1 of the command says, were mounted, and the remainder ‘had hopes;’ for it must be borne in mind that in the South cavalry horses were not furnished by the government as in the North. In the latter part of June, Colonel Hunt arrived from Georgia with a company of partisans, which became a part of General Morgan's command, and increased his force to 870, of whom fifty or sixty were unmounted and 250 unarmed at the time he started into Kentucky. But Morgan did not monopolize the laurels in the field of his special distinction. In the long list of brave and efficient soldiers furnished to the Confederate army by Tennessee, well called the Volunteer State, the name of  N. B. Forrest will always stand in her history in the first rank. He, too, was a quiet man, older by some years than Morgan, and without the same advantages of education, but a born soldier, who, with no military knowledge derived from books, knew as much of military strategy as Jomini, could command a division as well as a company and, saber in hand, was as ready to charge a regiment as a squad. Nothing daunted him, and he inspired his men with the magnetism of his own zeal and courage. He was a soldier of conspicuous presence, tall, broad-shouldered, and of strong, handsome features—a man of few words and intense action. He was a citizen of Memphis, and in October, 1861, organized a cavalry regiment of eight companies, aggregating about 650 men. When General Johnston took command at Bowling Green, Forrest at his own request was assigned to duty with General Lloyd Tilghman, in command at Hopkinsville, and picketed and scouted to the front between there and the Ohio river, covering General Johnston's left wing. The Federals maintained a good force at Henderson, Owensboro and other points along the Ohio to Paducah, and frequent skirmishes occurred between detachments of infantry and cavalry from these points and Colonel Forrest's command. The first regular cavalry engagement in Kentucky took place at Sacramento, between a detachment of Forrest's command led by himself, and one from Col. James S. Jackson's Third Kentucky cavalry, commanded by Maj. Eli H. Murray; in which, though the latter was defeated, he showed so much gallantry that he soon became the youngest brigadier-general in the Federal service. The casualties were few, numbering among them the death of Captain Meriwether, a Confederate, and Capt. Albert S. Bacon, a Federal officer. At Donelson Colonel Forrest won distinction by his services on the left, and in the battle of the 15th he assisted materially in driving back the Federal right wing. He covered the retreat of General  Johnston from Murfreesboro and took an active part in the battle of Shiloh and in the subsequent operations about Corinth. When the preparations were set on foot for the expedition to Kentucky, he was sent in advance to Chattanooga, and on the march to Kentucky he covered the right wing of Bragg's army under General Polk. As the details of General Forrest's operations belong to the history of Tennessee, and will be doubtless thoroughly treated in that volume, it has only been deemed necessary to refer to his operations bearing on Kentucky. General Buell, meanwhile, was encountering many obstacles in his progress eastward through Tennessee and north Alabama. He had to rebuild bridges and repair railroads for the transportation of his army and to open a line of supply with his base on the Ohio. His army was much dispersed, it being necessary to guard his right flank and at the same time to so dispose his force as not to disclose the objective point, for while he had made up his mind to reach east Tennessee via McMinnville and Altamont, he was repairing the railroad and marching a column in the direction of Chattanooga to disconcert the enemy, or to take it if left unoccupied. He was encompassed by difficulties of the extent of which his superiors were but ill acquainted. Besides, he was never a favorite at Washington, and his suggestions and requests were received with scant approval, delayed or grudgingly complied with. He had incurred enmities and awakened jealousies in his own command which afterward bore fruit in his removal from command and prolonged prosecution before a military commission. As to the danger of attack from General Bragg in flank or front, while he appears to have exercised vigilance, he well says in his statement reviewing the evidence before the commission: ‘I did not anticipate that the enemy was to be left so unemployed at other points that he could direct his great efforts against my enterprise.’ Major-General Halleck's western department headquarters  had been at Corinth until June 16th, when he retired to Washington to become general-in-chief of the Federal armies. General Rosecrans, who about this time succeeded Pope in command of the army of the Mississippi, became early aware of the transfer of troops eastward by Bragg, and it is unaccountable that his army remained inactive and permitted it to be done. While thus hampered, neglected, and overwhelmed with the magnitude of the work before him and the responsibility of protecting a line of 300 miles from Cumberland Gap to Corinth, Gen. John H. Morgan spread consternation throughout Kentucky and Tennessee by his great raid into the former State. Leaving Knoxville on the 4th of July by way of Kingston and Sparta, he passed rapidly through Tompkinsville, Ky., where he crossed the Cumberland to Glasgow, Lebanon, Harrodsburg, Versailles, Georgetown and Cynthiana, where he had a heavy engagement on the 17th. Thence he returned south via Paris, Winchester, Crab Orchard, Somerset and Sparta, making the great circuit in twenty-five days, capturing many prisoners and destroying much military property and securing valuable recruits. Besides this, great demoralization was caused throughout General Buell's army and department, and many times the number of troops in his command were diverted from other service to protect threatened points or attempt Morgan's capture. Following are the reports of General Morgan, giving the details of this remarkable raid:
The effect of Morgan's raid was far reaching and involved much more than the mere physical results narrated so clearly in his report. It convulsed the whole Federal organization in General Buell's department from Louisville and Cincinnati to Huntsville, Ala., at which latter place General Buell had his headquarters. At the time Morgan was between Glasgow and Lebanon, the military commander of Kentucky, at Louisville, telegraphed General Buell that he had 1, 800 men at Munfordville, and next day, July 12, ‘Morgan has over 1,500 men; his force is increasing. All the rebels in the State will join him if there is not a demonstration of force and power sent in cavalry. The State will be desolated unless this matter is at once attended to. This city is so endangered that I am bound to keep force here. Send me cavalry and other reinforcements. I know more of Kentucky than you can possibly know, and unless it is in. tended to abandon Kentucky I must have the force.’ General Buell had already ordered five companies sent from Nashville to Bowling Green and five to Munfordville. He communicated to General Halleck the necessity of five more regiments of cavalry, directed General Boyle to send two regiments and a squadron of cavalry to Mount Sterling and Lexington; notified Gen. Geo. W. Morgan at Cumberland Gap of the danger to his line of supplies and hoped he could send a regiment, and assured General Boyle that although he had not a man to spare from his work, he would at once send more troops to Kentucky. The mayor of Cincinnati, being notified, said he would send 500 men, and the governor of Ohio 1,000 stand of arms, while the governor of Indiana said he would send a regiment. All this telegraphing took place on the 12th.  The scare increased. On the 13th General Boyle telegraphed Capt. Oliver D. Greene, Buell's assistant adjutant-general: ‘Morgan's force is increasing. The rebels are rising in the counties on the Ohio. The State will be under the domination of Morgan in a few days. He will take Frankfort and Lexington if forces are not sent immediately.’ Then, the specter growing, he telegraphed General Halleck, ‘Morgan has invaded Kentucky with 3,000 men, robbed the bank, and is murdering and stealing everywhere. My force is inadequate to drive him out. Can you not send us assistance.’ The men in buckram had grown into a host. Then he pleads with Stanton to know if Governor Yates of Illinois cannot send a force to Paducah, complains that he has over and over again asked for reinforcements from General Buell and adds that ‘all the forces in Ohio and Indiana should be sent to Kentucky.’ President Lincoln responds calmly that General Buell's position is such that he cannot deplete his force; and then he drolly telegraphs General Halleck, then at Tuscumbia, Ala.: ‘They are having a stampede in Kentucky. Please look to it.’ Thus it went on until General Morgan took his leave, and then on the 20th, General Boyle telegraphs Buell, ‘I do not believe now that he had over 1,000 or 1,200 men.’ They were again veritable men in buckram. When Morgan is well out of reach, he telegraphs General Buell on the 23d, ‘I shall issue orders that guerrillas and armed squads are to be shot and not taken prisoners. I shall seize horses of secessionists to mount my men and at proper time require them to pay for Union men's property stolen and destroyed.’ A few days before he had said, ‘I shall publish an order forbidding secessionists standing for office.’ The State election was to be held on the first Monday in August. General Buell responds on the 24th: ‘I approve of punishing the guilty, but it will not answer to announce the rule of no quarter, even to guerrillas. Neither will it be judicious to levy contributions  upon secessionists for opinions alone.’ General Buell's conservatism was fatal to him. He was pursuing the same policy first inaugurated by him, and the very men who had in the previous autumn guaranteed to Kentuckians exemption from punishment for opinions held were now clamoring for their arrest, punishment and disfranchisement. The era was fast approaching when even Federal soldiers were banished or put in irons for dissenting from the extreme policy, property of noncombatants confiscated, assessments levied, and Confederate soldiers taken from prison and shot without trial or personal charge, for the acts of alleged guerrillas.3 But even before Morgan had ceased to vex the souls of his adversaries, a new cause of consternation occurred in the capture of Murfreesboro by General Forrest, in which he displayed his forte as signally as General Morgan had shown his peculiar genius. On the 13th of July he left Chattanooga with the Texas Rangers of Col. John A. Wharton, and the Second Georgia cavalry of Col. W. J. Lawton, and made a forced march of fifty miles to Altamont, arriving at McMinnville on the night of the 11th. Here he was joined by Col. J. J. Morrison, with a  portion of the First Georgia cavalry, two companies of Spiller's battalion under Major Smith, and two companies of Kentuckians under Capts. W. J. Taylor and Waltham, increasing his force to 1,400. Resting until 1p. m. on the 12th he marched for Murfreesboro, fifty miles, and arrived there at 4:30 a. m. on the 13th, capturing the pickets without firing a gun. The Federal forces were under the command of Gen. T. T. Crittenden, of Indiana, and consisted of portions of the Ninth Michigan infantry, Seventh Pennsylvania cavalry, Third Minnesota infantry and Capt. J. M. Hewett's Kentucky battery. They were in three separate camps. General Forrest at once attacked the first two commands in the town with the Texas Rangers, charging their camp, and holding off the other commands a mile and a quarter distant with the rest of his command. The result, after a feeble resistance, was the capture of the entire Federal force of 1,400 men, whom he carried off to McMinnville after burning a large amount of government stores (General Forrest's report, Records, Vol. XVI, part I, page 810). The First Minnesota did not fire a gun; the commander was dismissed the service. General Buell in general orders, July 21st, says of the affair: ‘Taking it in all its features, few more disgraceful examples of neglect of duty and lack of good conduct can be found in the history of wars.’ This was another stunning blow, and intensified the alarm. The force of the Confederates threatening further aggressions was exaggerated, and no one could tell when the next blow would be struck. On the 19th, General Boyle, not yet freed of the alarm General Morgan had inspired, telegraphed Secretary Stanton, saying that General Nelson, who had been sent to Murfreesboro after Forrest's incursion, had reported that ‘30,000 rebels threatened him at that place, and he expects an engagement,’ when the fact is that General Bragg's army was still at Tupelo and there was not a Confederate regiment within a hundred miles.  The effect of this brilliant success of General Forrest can best be judged by the following extract from General Buell's statement in review of the evidence before the military commission (Records, Vol. XVI, part 1, page 35). Referring to the campaign at this period, he says: ‘Morgan had not yet disappeared from Kentucky after his first inroad when Forrest suddenly appeared at Murfreesboro on the 13th of July, surprised and captured the garrison, consisting of 1,400 men, cavalry, artillery and infantry, forming part of the force which was about to march from that place and Tullahoma to occupy Mc-Minnville, and did serious damage to the railroad. Two other regiments which had been designed for Murfreesboro had been detached and sent into Kentucky on the occasion of Morgan's incursion. The consequence of this disaster was serious. The use of the railroad from Nashville, which had been completed the very day before, and which I was depending on to throw supplies into Stevenson for a forward movement, was set back two weeks; the force of Forrest threatened Nashville itself and the whole line of railroad through Tennessee, and the occupation of McMinnville was delayed two weeks.’ Thus it will be seen that these two small columns of Generals Morgan and Forrest disconcerted the whole scheme of General Buell's campaign, and delayed his operations much more than two weeks, as further developments will show. General Nelson's division arrived at McMinnville on the 3d of August, and General Buell was actively engaged in concentrating his army there preparatory to crossing the mountains at Altamont for the invasion of East Tennessee, when General Morgan again appeared on the scene as a disturbing element. On the 10th of August, having moved from Kingston, Tenn., by his favorite route via Sparta, he made his appearance at Gallatin, 26 miles north of Nashville, which had been the scene of his raid in March, and at daylight of the 12th captured  Col. W. P. Boone and five companies of the Twenty-eighth Kentucky infantry, who were paroled and sent northward at once. He then moved to the tunnel between Gallatin and Franklin, captured the stockade without a fight, and so effectually destroyed the tunnel, 800 feet long, by burning in it a long train loaded with bacon and other supplies, that it could not be repaired for several months. He then destroyed a bridge between Gallatin and Nashville, and forty cars, and withdrew to Hartsville, thirteen miles east of Gallatin, where he went into camp. Pending this disaster, General Buell had as a precautionary measure sent Brig.-Gen. Richard W. Johnson, a West Pointer, and regarded as one of the best officers in the service, from McMinnville, August 11th, in the direction of Gallatin. His command consisted of about 700 cavalry, made up of detachments of the Second Indiana, Lieut.-Col. R. R. Stewart; Fifth Kentucky, Major Winfrey; Fourth Kentucky, Captain Chilson, and Seventh Pennsylvania, Colonel Wynkoop. He seems to have made slow progress, as he did not reach the vicinity of Hartsville until the 19th, when he first became aware of General Morgan's whereabouts. In the meantime the latter had moved to Gallatin, and on the 21st, General Johnson advanced from Hartsville to attack Morgan, but when six miles west of Hartsville, he met that officer bent on a similar errand. The result was most disastrous to General Johnson's command, as, after a sharp skirmish and a running fight, he was captured with about 200 of his officers and men and the remainder of his force dispersed in a disorderly flight. Reports of the Federal officers engaged are full of recrimination, one against the other, as to lack of courage and misbehavior on the field. General Johnson says, ‘I regret to report that the conduct of the officers and men as a general thing was shameful in the lowest degree, and the greater portion of those who escaped will remember that they shamefully abandoned their general on the battlefield, while if they had  remained like true and brave men the result of this conflict would have been quite different.’ General Morgan, in recognition of the gallantry of his command, issued the following proclamation:
By this time the disasters were thickening and General Buell was thoroughly aroused to a realization of the storm which was about to burst upon him, of which these were but the preliminary admonitions. The movements of Gen. Kirby Smith in East Tennessee had caused him  on the 16th to send General Nelson to Kentucky to take command there, and to make other important dispositions. General Forrest had meantime been active at and about Lebanon, Tenn., and was in touch with Morgan; but while the latter rested a few days to recuperate for the Kentucky campaign about to open, the former remained in Tennessee to await the advance of the infantry from Chattanooga. Having endeavored to give a succinct narrative of the general condition of affairs in Kentucky and Tennessee and of the cavalry operations which preceded and in a sense prepared the way for the drama of which it may be said in stage parlance to have been the curtain raiser, attention will now be given to Bragg's campaign in Kentucky.