Company  HdQtrs.

Links & Resources

Blue Star Service

re-enacting information





& By-Laws


 historical information


Historical Documents


of War

Lexington Rifles

"Our Laws, The Commands of Our Captain"


Background Music:
"how are you, telegraph?"


Choose from the following hyperlinks to view the illustrated unit history.

1857-61     1862     1863     1864     1865     1866-Present


operations along the green river  

Winter 1861 - 1862

During the winter months of 1862, Morgan's Squadron remained headquartered at Glasgow Junction.  From there, they patrolled the Green River area from Munfordville to Greensburg and conducted raids against the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.   After the surrender of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February, it became clear to the Confederate High Command that maintenance of the entire defensive line along the Green River was untenable.  With Federal forces now controlling both the Tennessee and the Cumberland Rivers, middle Tennessee was now open to the advance of the Federal forces.  In response, Morgan's Squadron, along with all other Confederate forces in the area, received orders to re-deploy south into Tennessee for the evacuation of its capital, Nashville.  


"Raid on the L&N" by John Paul Strain
John Hunt  Morgan and Basil Duke   Winter 1861-62



evacuation of the city

Nashville, Tennessee
February 17 - 26, 1862

With the approaching advance of Federal forces into middle Tennessee, GEN Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the Western Department (No. 2), ordered the evacuation of Nashville.  As most Confederate forces then moved southward out of the city, Morgan’s cavalry was ordered to police the streets of the capital, where they were joined in this mission by COL Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 3rd Tennessee Cavalry.  For seven days, Morgan's and Forrest's men helped to quell disturbances and restore order in the beleaguered and panicked city.  However, with Federal forces quickly moving in, it became necessary for them to also evacuate Nashville on February 23.

During this time, Morgan’s Squadron was placed under the command of BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge, a Kentuckian and former U.S. Vice President.  The Squadron established headquarters at LaVergne, 15 miles south of Nashville, and it was from there during a night attack on February 26 that the first man of Company A was killed in action.  PVT Peter Atherton was shot from his horse during a raid into Nashville against the packet steamer "Minnetonka" on the Cumberland River.


   GEN Albert S. Johnston                                  COL Nathan B. Forrest   



army of the mississippi

Corinth, Mississippi 
March 29, 1862

On February 28, Squadron Headquarters was moved once more – from LaVergne to Murfreesboro, Tennessee – where Morgan would meet his future wife, Martha Ready.  As spring approached, GEN Johnston’s strategy was to combine all available Confederate forces in the Western Theater of the War to repel the enemy.  To help accomplish this, on March 29 Johnston consolidated BRIG-GEN Simon B. Buckner's Central Army of Kentucky into GEN P. G. T. Beauregard's Army of the Mississippi.  This brought the total effective manpower of the Army to 43,968, consisting of four corps, led by MAJ-GEN Leonidas Polk, MAJ-GEN Braxton Bragg, MAJ-GEN William Hardee, and BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge.  He also selected Corinth, Mississippi as rallying point in preparation for an all-out attack on the Federal forces invading Tennessee.  To protect the flank during the movement of all Confederate forces to Corinth, Morgan’s Squadron was assigned screening duty  between Nashville  and Murfreesboro.       


   BRIG-GEN Simon B. Buckner                               GEN Pierre G. T. Beauregard  



morgan's promotion

Burnsville, Mississippi 
April 4, 1862

On March 19, the Squadron was ordered south to rendezvous with the rest of the Army of the Mississippi, arriving on April 3 at Burnsville, just east of Corinth.  When CAPT Morgan reported the next day to BRIG-GEN Breckinridge's Headquarters, he was informed that he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel based upon the personal recommendation from MAJ-GEN William Hardee to GEN Beauregard.  BRIG-GEN Breckinridge also informed Morgan that his Squadron would be assigned to COL Robert Trabue's 1st Brigade of Breckinridge's  IV (Reserve) Corps during the impending attack on the Federal Army of the Tennessee., commanded by MAJ-GEN Ulysses Grant.

Grant's army of 39,830 men consisted of six divisions, led by MAJ-GEN John A. McClernand, MAJ-GEN Lew Wallace, BRIG-GEN W.H.L. Wallace, BRIG-GEN Stephen Hurlbut, BRIG-GEN William T. Sherman, and BRIG-GEN Benjamin Prentiss.  The attack two days later at Pittsburg Landing, along the banks of the Teneessee River, would become known to history as the Battle of Shiloh.  


        MAJ-GEN William Hardee                               BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge  


Organized: July 4, 1861 
GEN Albert Sidney Johnston

Army of the Mississippi
Organized: March 6, 1862 
GEN Pierre G. T. Beauregard

Organized: March 31, 1862 
BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge

1st brigade
COL Robert B. Trabue

2nd brigade
John S. Bowen

3rd brigade
COL Winfield S. Statham

4th Alabama Inf Bn
MAJ James M. Clifton
9th Arkansas Inf Regt
COL Issac L. Dunlop

15th Mississippi Inf Regt  
MAJ Wm. F. Brantley

31st Alabama Inf Regt
LT-COL Montgomery Gilbreath
10th Arkansas Inf Regt
COL Thomas D. Merrick
22nd Mississippi Inf Regt
COL Frank Schaller
3rd Kentucky Inf Regt 
LT-COL Benjamin Anderson
2nd Confederate Inf Regt 
COL John D. Martin
19th Tennessee Inf Regt 
COL David H. Cummings
4th Kentucky Inf Regt 
COL Andrew M. Hynes 
MAJ Thomas B. Monroe
Former Lieutenant of Lexington Rifles
1st Missouri Inf Regt 
COL Lucius L. Rich
20th Tennessee Inf Regt  
COL Joel A. Battle
5th Kentucky Inf Regt
COL Thomas H. Hunt
Uncle of John Hunt Morgan
Pettus's Ms Flying Art
CAPT Alfred Hudson
28th Tennessee Inf Regt  
LT-COL Uriah T. Brown
6th Kentucky Inf Regt 
COL Joseph H. Lewis
President Davis's Escort, May 1865
Watson's La Flying Art
CAPT Daniel Belthoover
45th Tennessee Inf Regt  
LT-COL Ephraim F. Lytle
Crews' Tennessee Inf Bn 
LT-COL James M. Crews
Thompson's Ky Cav Co
CAPT Philip B. Thompson
Rutledge's Tn Art Btry
CAPT Arthur M. Rutledge
Byrne's Mississippi Art Btry
CAPT Edward P. Byrne
Cobb's Kentucky Art Btry
CAPT Robert Cobb
Morgan's Ky Cav Sqn
COL John Hunt Morgan



battle of shiloh

Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee
April 6 - 7, 1862

On April 6, the Confederates launched a surprise attack against Grant's army with the intention of driving it west from its gunboat protection along the Tennessee River into the swamps of Owl and Snake Creeks, where it could be destroyed.  COL Morgan led his Squadron on the first day of battle, routing the enemy in a mounted charge toward Owl Creek and defeating COL John McDowell’s 6th Iowa Infantry of the First Brigade in BRIG-GEN Wm. T. Sherman’s 5th Division.  According to Sherman's after battle report, the 6th Iowa suffered 51 killed, 120 wounded, and 39 missing.  However, this victory was not without losses to Company A of the Squadron.  Included in the Company’s casualty list was 1LT Basil W. Duke, who was severely wounded, and 2LT James West, PVT Sam Buckner, PVT James Chiselin, and PVT Archie Moody, who were killed.       

   2LT James West  (KIA)
  Co. A, Morgan's Squadron
former 2LT of Lexington Rifles

Unfortunately, also killed on another portion of the battlefield was MAJ Thomas B. Monroe, of the 4th Kentucky Infantry.  MAJ Monroe had served as 1st Lieutenant of the pre-war Lexington Rifles until his appointment in 1860 as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment, Kentucky State Guard.  Later, he attained the rank of Major in the Confederate Army.

MAJ Thomas Bell Monroe  (KIA)   
4th Kentucky Infantry   
former 1LT of Lexington Rifles 

When fighting tapered on the first day of battle, the Squadron learned of the unfortunate death of GEN Albert S. Johnston, who was killed in action.  

"Men of Arkansas" by Don Troiani
GEN Johnston at the Battle of Shiloh April 6, 1862

Following the tragic loss of GEN Johnston, GEN Beauregard took command of Confederate forces.  Unaware that he was now badly outnumbered, he planned to resume the attack the next morning and finish the job that Johnston had begun.  Unfortunately, the Federals mounted a counter offensive at dawn, and both Grant's and Buell's armies pressed to regain ground that had been lost the previous day.  Short on ammunition, but not short in spirit, Morgan’s Squadron was joined by Texas Rangers in holding their positions along Owl Creek as the Army of the Mississippi fought a combined force of 65,085 men.   However, the counter-attacks succeeded in pushing the Confederates back to where the battle had begun.  Realizing that he had lost the initiative and 10,699 men, reducing his force level to 34,000 men, GEN Beauregard ordered an orderly withdrawal back to Corinth, ending the day's hostilities.  Federal losses in killed, wounded, and captured were estimated at 13,047.

Unit Location Marker
Shiloh National Military Park Hardin County, Tennessee.



rear guard action

Fallen Timbers, Tennessee
April 8, 1862

Following two days of battle and having lost its commanding general and , the battered Army of the Mississippi returned to Corinth, its origin of attack on Shiloh.  Receiving orders from BRIG-GEN Breckinridge, whose Corps was assigned the rear guard, COL Nathan Bedford Forrest was placed in command of 350 cavalrymen from four separate units to protect the withdrawal.  For this purpose, Morgan’s Kentuckians joined with Forrest’s Tennesseeans, COL William Wirt Adams’s  Mississippians and COL John Wharton’s Texans in screening the army's movement.  

Cavalry Leaders at Fallen Timbers


COL Wirt Adams                     COL N. B. Forrest                     COL John H. Morgan                  COL John Wharton
1st  Miss. Cavalry                                   3rd TN Cavalry                                      Morgan's Squadron                                  8th Texas Cavalry  

On April 8, Forrest ordered the cavalry units to charge the pursuing enemy at a place along the Corinth Road called Fallen Timbers, so-named for a clearing of the fallen trees that littered the landscape for hundreds of yards.  This aggressive tactic successfully checked the advance of two infantry brigades and the 4th Illinois Cavalry under the command of BRIG-GEN Wm. T. Sherman.  During the charge, however, COL Forrest was severely wounded as his horse galloped forward within enemy lines.  Realizing that he was alone with angry infantrymen surrounding him, he spurred it to escape.  In the process, he grabbed a Federal soldier and swung him up behind his saddle to serve as cover from enemy fire.  Forrest made it back to the safety of his own cavalry, but his horse and the Union soldier both sustained mortal wounds and died.  The resultant Confederate victory at Fallen Timbers was the last engagement of the Battle of Shiloh, after which Morgan's Squadron returned to its base at Burnsville, Mississippi.  


"Fight at Fallen Timbers" by Mort Kunstler
COL Morgan and COL Forrest fighting side-by-side April 8, 1862


Following the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederacy suffered repeated military setbacks in the Western Theater resulting in the loss of Tennessee west of the Cumberland Mountains.  However, in order for the Federal armies to sustain themselves in the South, long lines of communication and supply were necessary, and it was COL Morgan’s plan to raid these supply lines in Tennessee and Kentucky.  GEN Beauregard approved of these expeditionary plans and authorized COL Morgan to increase the strength of his Squadron.

With the death of 2LT James West and the severe wounding of LT Basil Duke at Shiloh, command of Company A temporarily fell to LT Van Buren Sellers.  A fourth Company, designated as Company D, was added to the Squadron.  Comprised of 25 troopers from Mississippi and Alabama, Company D was commanded by a another Kentuckian CAPT John Castleman.  With this addition, Morgan had now built a formidable Battalion-sized Cavalry Squadron.



middle tennessee raid

Pulaski Lebanon Cave City
April 26 - May 12, 1862

On April 26, the Squadron marched eastward out of Burnsville with 325 mounted troopers, determined to reach Lexington, Kentucky.  Moving northeast into Tennessee, they moved through Lawrenceburg and Pulaski, capturing and paroling 268 of the enemy along the way.  They entered Lebanon on May 4, where the Squadron bivouacked at a small college on the edge of town, while Morgan established his headquarters in a hotel inside the town.

During the night, a picket, PVT Pleasant Whitlow, sounded the alarm upon approach of a 600-man Federal cavalry force.  For doing this, PVT Whitlow was shot dead by the advancing enemy.  The lead regiment was the 1st Kentucky (U.S.) Cavalry, under the command of COL Frank Wolford, an old friend of Morgan’s from the Mexican War.

COL Morgan and his force reacted immediately.   SGT A. Z. Boyer called out to the platoon leaders of Company A, and had them quickly aligned for battle in the town square.  Although the Federal forces broke through the defensive lines of Companies B and C, they were stopped by a devastating volley of gunfire from Company A.  

As combat raged, the order was given by COL Morgan to withdraw.  Only a portion of Morgan’s command made it with him to the Cumberland River, where they safely crossed.   Morgan, however,  lost his prized mount "Black Bess"during the crossing.  The rest of his men were either scattered, dead, or captured.  Among the captured were two men SGT William R. Jones and CPL Tom Logwood who were of the original five Lexington Rifles who had driven the rifle-laden hay wagons out of Lexington on the night of September 20, 1861. 

By May 9, the Squadron established camp near Sparta, where the indestructible Company A was joined by the remnants of the other companies as they straggled in from Lebanon.  Together, they began to rebuild the shattered expeditionary force.  Once they were re-equipped, they continued on their original mission, with an ever increasing desire to return to their home state.

  COL Morgan and "Black Bess"  

Believing reports that the Federals were transporting by rail some of Morgan's men who had been captured at Lebanon, they attacked the L&N RR near Cave City, Kentucky on May 12.  Instead of prisoners, they found that the train carried railroad employees.  The employees were released and the train was burned.  A second passenger train was also stopped and burned.  Two officers of COL Wolford's command, who were aboard, were paroled.  After this, the Squadron marched triumphantly to Chattanooga, where COL Morgan intended to raise a regiment of cavalry.

"Morgan's Raid" by Clyde Heron
Attacking the L&N RR near Cave City, Kentucky –  May 12, 1862



2nd kentucky cavalry

Chattanooga, Tennessee  
May - June 1862

At the time the Squadron was occupied with their actions in Lebanon and at Cave City, two cavalry companies arrived at Army headquarters in Corinth, Mississippi.  The companies, respectively commanded by CAPT Richard M. Gano of Texas and CAPT John Huffman of Alabama, requested assignment to Morgan's cavalry force.  Their request was granted, and the companies marched eastward to meet Morgan in Chattanooga, where he was recruiting to build a new regiment.  LT Basil Duke, who had successfully convalesced from the serious wound he received at the Battle of Shiloh, also gathered thirty men of the Squadron at Corinth and accompanied the Texans in their march.  At Chattanooga, work commenced in earnest on organizing the new cavalry regiment, for which the four companies of the Squadron – Companies A, B, C, and D – became its nucleus.  

Company A:    Again, members of the original Lexington Rifles were given the honor of being designated as Company A, and CAPT Jacob J. Cassell was appointed personally by COL Morgan to command his old Company. 
Company BCAPT Thomas Allen was replaced by his brother, John, to command Company B, while he was reassigned as Regimental Surgeon.  
Company CCompany C remained under the command of CAPT James Bowles, of Shelbyville, who had commanded the pre-war Louisville Rangers militia and who had joined Morgan at Woodsonville in the fall of 1861.  
Company D:    A number of recruits who had arrived from Kentucky were added to Company D, under the command of CAPT John Castleman.
Company E:    Men of the 1st Kentucky Infantry, whose enlistments had expired and who wished to join Morgan, also arrived in Chattanooga from their prior assignment in Virginia.  The bulk of these men formed Company E under officers of their old regiment.  John Hutchinson, a former Lieutenant with the 1st Kentucky, was made its Captain.
Company F:    CAPT Thomas Binton Webber arrived from Pensacola, Florida with hard-fighting Mississippians who were admitted into the regiment as Company F.
Company G:    The command of Company G was awarded to CAPT R. McFarland, who had arrived from Corinth, Mississippi with his Alabama men.
Company H:    Also arriving from Corinth was CAPT Richard Montgomery Gano in command of his Texans, who were admitted as Company H. 
Company I:    During its raid into Kentucky in July 1862, the regiment made its way to Georgetown, where a group of men had arrived from Lexington.  They were admitted into the regiment on July 17 as Company I, and command was given to CAPT William "Willie" Campbell Preston Breckinridge, a cousin of BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge.   
Company K:    Sometime after the First Battle of Cynthiana on July 18 and the regiment's return to Tennessee on July 28, Company K was admitted to the regiment under the command of CAPT William Jennings.   
Company L:    The regiment had a pre-determined meeting with a group of men as it moved above Nashville to attack the twin railroad tunnels at Gallatin on August 12.  They were added to the ranks as Company L, under the command of CAPT Joseph Desha of Lexington.   
Company M:    After destruction of the railroad tunnels, the regiment moved to Hartsville, where it stayed for six days.  During this time, another group of men was added to its ranks and was designated as Company M.  Command of Company M was given to LT Ben Drake.

LT Basil Duke was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and placed as second-in-command of the regiment.  George Washington “Wash” Morgan was appointed Major, while LT Gordon E. Niles was made Adjutant.  D. H, Llewellyn, one of the original Lexington Rifles, and Hiram Reese were appointed as Quartermaster and Commissary Officer, respectively. 

Within three weeks after the fight at Lebanon, COL Morgan was able to recruit enough men at Chattanooga to form a new cavalry regiment – the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry – which consisted of men from Kentucky, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.  At its maximum strength during the height of its operations, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry grew to 12 Companies, lettered A through M, with a Company of Scouts.  They were commanded by talented officers, some of whom were later promoted and elevated to command their own regiments.  By the end of the war, two of them Richard M. Gano of Company H, and W. C. P. Breckinridge of Company I attained the rank of Brigadier General.  

 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Reg't
Organized: June - August, 1862 
COL John H. Morgan


LT-COL Basil W. Duke
MAJ Geo. Washington Morgan
CAPT Thomas Allen, Surgeon
CAPT Robert A. Alston,
LT Gordon E. Niles,
D. H. Llewellyn, Quartermaster
Hiram Reese,
Commissary Officer

Company A
Former Lexington Rifles
CAPT Jacob J. Cassell
Promoted to Major, 1864

Company B
CAPT John Allen
Brother of Captain Thomas Allen

Company C
Former Kentucky Rangers

CAPT James Bowles
Promoted to Colonel, 1864
Company D
Mississippi & Alabama Company

CAPT John Castlemany
Company E
Former Infantrymen from 1st Kentucky

CAPT John D. Hutchinson
KIA at Woodbury, 1/24/63
Company F
Mississippi Company
CAPT Thomas B. Webber
Promoted to Major, 1863
Company G
Alabama Company
CAPT R. McFarland
Company H
Texas Company added at Chattanooga
CAPT Richard M. Gano
Promoted to Brig-Gen, 1864
Company I
added at Georgetown, 7/27/62
CAPT Wm. C. P. Breckinridge
Promoted to Brig-Gen, 
Company K
added at Paris, July 1862
CAPT William Jennings
Company L
added at Gallatin, 8/10/62
CAPT Joseph Desha
Company M
added at Hartsville, 8/15/62
CAPT William H. Jones
Company of Scouts
CAPT Thomas Quirk



  CAPT J. Castleman                    CAPT R. M. Gano             CAPT W. C. P. Breckinridge              CAPT J. Desha        Company D                                            Company H                                              Company I                                               Company L    



the first kentucky raid

July 4 - 28, 1862

On the 4th of July, a holiday considered appropriate for beginning a raid against Union invaders, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, with 876 men, stepped off from Knoxville, Tennessee, to raid Federally occupied Kentucky.  Late on July 11, after an unscheduled detour visit to Thompkinsville, the regiment came under fire near Lebanon, Kentucky from a large enemy detachment that was defending a covered bridge over the Rolling Fork River.  Using a pair of 12-pounder Mountain Howitzers and two companies fighting dismounted, the 2nd Kentucky drove the Federals back into the town.  By nightfall, the regiment liberated the town from its oppressors, capturing 200 prisoners, and destroying over $100,000 worth of enemy stores, weapons, and ammunition.

A day later, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry entered Harrodsburg, 28 miles from Lexington, which was the home to many friends and well-wishers.  The regiment was greeted warmly by townspeople dressed in their Sunday best, who showered the visitors with kisses, hand shakes, and cheers.  They they were also treated to a picnic, where the fat of the land was furnished in abundance.  Milk and honey literally flowed, and everyone ate, drank, and made merry for a day and a night.

But, aware that his regiment was in danger from pursuing Federals, COL Morgan left Harrodsburg and marched his men swiftly, using deceptive turns and passes to avoid the enemy.  During the time Morgan’s men were riding through the bluegrass country, Federal forces were in such a state of panic that it caused the despot Lincoln to wire a message to U.S. GEN Halleck at Corinth, Mississippi, saying:  

"They are having a stampede in Kentucky. Please see to it."

After leaving Harrodsburg, Morgan's men moved through Lawrenceburg and Versailles, making a feint toward Frankfort.  With Lexington occupied by Federal troops, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry swung north to Georgetown.  The regiment arrived there late on July 16 and encamped for a long, much needed rest stop.  In the meantime, efforts were made in earnest for one of the prime purposes of this raid --- recruiting.  It was during this time that a group of men arrived from Lexington and was admitted into the regiment as Company I.  Command of Company I was given to CAPT William "Willie" Campbell Preston Breckinridge, a cousin of BRIG-GEN John C. Breckinridge. 

Choosing not to challenge combat in his hometown of Lexington, COL Morgan proposed to by-pass the city by traveling 25 miles to the north to destroy Federal supplies at Cynthiana.  He would then swing south through Paris and Winchester.   To accomplish this, he sent Company D on a diversionary march to the outskirts of Lexington for the purpose of cutting telegraph wires and destroying bridges.  Meanwhile, COL Morgan moved the remainder of the regiment to Cynthiana.  



first battle of cynthiana

Cynthiana, Kentucky  
July 17, 1862

The First Battle of Cynthiana was a fight largely between Kentuckians.  The Federal forces occupying the town consisted of Kentucky infantry, cavalry and an artillery piece from Cincinnati, all under the command of LT-COL John Landrum.  As the Confederates attacked and pushed the Federal pickets back to the Licking River at the edge of town, COL Morgan attempted a pincer movement.  Fighting dismounted, Companies A & B moved to the left of the covered bridge spanning the river, while Companies E & F moved to its right.  Company C prepared to charge up the middle of the bridge on horseback, with Company I remaining in reserve.

Federal forces defended the bridge across the Licking River with heavy cannon and rifle fire, and it soon became apparent that it couldn’t be taken by frontal assault.  While two companies moved up the riverbank, Company A dropped down into the stream, holding their rifles and ammunition above their heads.  Some of the men began to swim across, with bullets spattering around them like rain.  Some were hit, and others were drowned, but most of them gained the east bank and dug in.  For a short time it looked as if Company A could not hold their position, but Company B quickly shifted upstream and opened with flanking fire on Company A’s most dangerous assailants.

Meanwhile, Company C charged the bridge on horseback.  This mounted assault shocked the Federals off balance, allowing the dismounted companies to move forward.  Company A, which had borne the brunt of the assault, charged up the riverbank, even though their ammunition was virtually exhausted.

With the regiment attacking all across the area, the Federal forces abandoned their artillery and many managed to escape.  LT-COL Landrum managed his escape on a fast horse, while the last of his command fruitlessly defended the

                               Following the battle, Lt-Col Duke wrote in his report:
                                            "Company A covered itself with glory."



These former Lexington Rifles, veterans of Green River, Shiloh, and Lebanon, also suffered the most casualties.  PVT William Craig, first to swim the Licking River, was the first to die as he mounted the bank.  SGT Henry Elder, one of the five Lexington Rifles who drove the rifle-laden hay wagons out of Lexington in 1861, was too badly wounded to be moved.  All of the officers of Company A, except LT Samuel Morgan, were wounded.

COL Morgan reported only eight killed and 29 wounded.  He estimated enemy casualties at 194.  He also listed the capture of 300 cavalry horses, a large number of small arms, and the destruction of commissary and medical stores, tents, weapons, and ammunition.

The 2nd Kentucky Cavalry re-entered Tennessee on July 28, thereby ending the raid.  During its First Kentucky Raid, the regiment eluded all its pursuers, destroyed federal supplies and arms in 17 towns, recruited 300 troopers and several hundred horses, and captured 1200 of the enemy, while at a cost of only 90 men.  However, the greatest accomplishment of this raid was the strategic necessity for the Federals to divert men and materiel from front-line duty in order to protect their lines of supply and communication.  



the kentucky campaign

August - October 1862

During the summer of 1862, the fortunes of the Confederate Army in the West began to improve.  While the advance of Federal forces was halted, the Confederate Army of the Mississippi continued to rebuild at Chattanooga.  Armed with Morgan’s reports of glorious success, GEN Bragg and GEN Edmund Kirby Smith decided to plan a two-pronged campaign into Kentucky.  It was believed that such a campaign to liberate Kentucky would not only drive the enemy northward, but would also add thousands of Kentuckians to the Confederate ranks while obtaining needed food, horses, and supplies.  To this end, GEN Bragg would take his Army of the Mississippi and feint towards Nashville before racing for Louisville.  


                      GEN Braxton Bragg                                MAJ-GEN Edmund Kirby Smith           



destruction of l&n railroad tunnels

Gallatin, Tennessee  
August 12, 1862

The 2nd Kentucky Cavalry was instructed to set out on a raid with the intention of uniting in Lexington with MAJ-GEN E. Kirby Smith’s Army of Kentucky.  The regiment was to move above Nashville and attack the twin railroad tunnels on the L&N railroad line at Gallatin, thereby cutting the Federal supply line.  Along the way, the regiment had a pre-determined meeting with a group of men and added them as Company L to the ranks.  Command of Company L was given to CAPT Joseph Desha. 

On August 12, the regiment entered Gallatin and surprised the 375 men of the 28th Kentucky (U.S.) Infantry under COL William Boone.  Seeing that resistance was futile, Boone surrendered his command without a fight.  The 2nd Kentucky Cavalry then proceeded to destroy the twin railroad tunnels that linked Louisville with Nashville.  The destruction was so complete that the tunnels remained closed until December.   The regiment then moved to Hartsville, where it stayed for six days.  During this time, another group of men was added to its ranks and was designated as Company M.  Command of Company M was given to LT Ben Drake.

 "Southern Gold" by Alan Fearnley

On August 16, the regimental newspaper, "The Vidette",  made its first appearance.  "The Vidette" was edited by LT Gordon E. Niles and other members of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, and its printing would continue throughout the war, wherever and whenever a printing press was available.  It detailed regimental accomplishments, reported the news from a southern perspective, honored ladies of the south, and poked fun at the enemy.



stockade attack

Edgefield Junction, Tennessee  
August 20, 1862

On August 19, while still bivouacked at Hartsville, the regiment received information that the enemy had arrested every male in Gallatin on the false charges of collaboration with Morgan’s men in the destruction of the railroad tunnels.  Arriving in Gallatin early the next day, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry was greeted by the sight of their dead scouts lying in the street, and the townspeople telling of how the scouts had been kicked and executed after surrendering.  This, of course, enraged the Kentuckians and they set out in pursuit of the Federal infantry, who were responsible.

The regiment caught the infantry column in front of Nashville and freed its civilian prisoners, capturing 50 of the enemy in the process.  It also attacked protective stockades that had been built along the L&N line, but not without cost.  As Company A attacked one solidly-built stockade at Edgefield Junction, 2 officers and 3 enlisted men fell, including LT Gordon E. Niles, editor of "The Vidette".  In their anger, and seeking vengeance for their loss, Company A was preparing to make another assault, but LT-COL Duke came up and ordered it halted.



first with the most

Hartsville, Tennessee
August 21, 1862

The destruction of the tunnels at Gallatin proved to be such an irritation to the enemy that U.S. MAJ-GEN Don Carlos Buell dispatched a carefully selected body of cavalry to destroy the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.  This force, under the command of BRIG-GEN Richard Johnson, was composed of 1200 men from the 2nd Indiana Cavalry, the 4th and 5th Kentucky (U.S.) Cavalry, and the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

When COL Morgan learned that this force was nearing Hartsville, he moved his regiment of 700 men out of town on August 21 to do battle.  As the opposing forces engaged outside of Hartsville, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry fought dismounted while the Federals ordered repeated mounted charges against them.  These charges were struck by enfilading fire from Morgan’s men, and the enemy withdrew to a defensive position to await a final assault.  This final assault was executed with coolness and precision by Companies A, B, and E, and after a sharp fight the Federals were defeated.  BRIG-GEN Johnson was captured, while Morgan's men lost only 7 men.

Meanwhile, Confederate intelligence in central Tennessee had warned Army Headquarters in Chattanooga of the planned attack on Morgan by Johnson’s superior forces.  In response, BRIG-GEN Nathan Bedford Forrest was dispatched with 800 of his cavalry to aid Morgan.  They arrived at Hartsville on the day after Morgan’s victory over Johnson and met with Morgan’s cavalry for the first time since the Battle of Shiloh.  Morgan extended an invitation to the Tennesseans to visit his camp, where they were greeted with an enthusiastic reception.  When the cheering died down, Forrest congratulated Morgan and his men, and the two leaders compared notes on their respective expeditions. 

When Morgan asked Forrest how he managed the fight at Murfreesboro, Forrest responded:
"I just got there first with the most men."  


 "Rebel Raiders" by Robert Summers 
Morgan and Duke escorting Forrest into camp at Hartsville, TN August 22, 1862


"First With The Most" by Robert Summers
Morgan and Duke meeting Forrest  at Hartsville, TN August 22, 1862



triumphant homecoming

Lexington, Kentucky
September 4, 1862

COL Morgan received instructions to meet MAJ-GEN E. Kirby Smith in Lexington, and so the regiment headed north for the rendezvous.  This was to be the first time that Morgan and the original Lexington Rifles would return to their hometown since having left it a year prior.  With some in the regiment wearing their dress uniforms, the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, on parade, entered Lexington by day on September 4.  They were greeted with band music, pealing church bells, and flags flying from buildings.  The sidewalks were crowded with citizens cheering wildly, waving handkerchiefs, and offering baskets of provisions to the troopers as the column rode up Main Street to Cheapside at the Square.

Morgan established his headquarters at his ancestral home of "Hopemont", and was presented with a fine new Kentucky charger by a local breeder.  He was also called upon by a delegation of ladies, who presented him with a regimental flag, which they had sewn themselves.  Throughout all of this, Morgan oversaw a recruiting drive for the regiment, which was begun in earnest.

Hunt - Morgan House
Lexington, Kentucky

During the week spent in Lexington, many men chose to enlist, and enough filled the ranks to form two new cavalry regiments from the nucleus of the 2nd Kentucky.  CAPT Richard M. Gano, of Company H, and CAPT Wm. C. P. Breckinridge, of Company I, were both promoted to the rank of Colonel and given command of their own cavalry regiments  the 7th Kentucky and the 9th Kentucky, respectively.



threatening cincinnati

Covington, Kentucky
September 4, 1862

While in Lexington, MAJ-GEN Edmund Kirby Smith ordered Morgan’s men on two separate missions.  One mission was to confront U.S. BRIG-GEN George Morgan in eastern Kentucky.  This was assigned to the newly formed 7th and 9th Kentucky Cavalry Regiments under the command of Morgan.  The second mission was to threaten Cincinnati and keep the enemy occupied there while GEN Bragg moved toward Louisville.  This task was assigned to the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry under the command of LT-COL Duke, marking the first time the regiment went to confront the enemy without John Hunt Morgan in command. 

As the 2nd Kentucky moved through the area of northern Kentucky, the populace of Cincinnati was placed in a panic.  Since Federal forces were in the area south of the Ohio River, Duke stopped short of Covington, making every effort to avoid them.  However, during one of its patrols, Company A suddenly overran Federal infantry.  LT Greenberry Roberts, who was temporarily in command of Company A, immediately ordered their surrender and sent SGT Will Hays with 6 men to capture stragglers.   

The detachment from Company A captured 69 Ohioans, causing Lt.-Col. Duke to comment:
"I thought it the finest sight I ever saw."



battle of augusta

Augusta, Kentucky
September 27, 1862

With Cincinnati in an uproar over the threat being posed by the movement of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry north from Lexington, LT-COL Duke hoped to create even more panic by crossing to the north side of the Ohio River.  For that purpose, the regiment rode eastward along the river towards the town of Augusta in search of a crossing.  However, Augusta was heavily defended by a strong company of militia, commanded by MAJ Joshua Bradford, and two river gunboats, the "Belfast" and the "Florence Miller"                     gunboats were quickly identified as the biggest obstacle to the capture of Augusta, so they were targeted first.  CAPT Jacob J. Cassell, commanding Company A, approached the town from a point of advantage, while Duke ordered two Mountain Howitzers to open fire on the gunboats.  With both the howitzers and the sharp rifle fire from Company A managing to chase the boats away from their moorings at dockside, other companies of the regiment were then able to move in and affect the surrender of MAJ Bradford.                 


Disaster and confusion, however, reigned in Augusta during the process.  While Bradford and many civilians in the town were in the act of surrendering, displaying flags of truce from windows, other militia members continued to fire from the same buildings.  This created an explosion of vicious fighting within the town, pitting Kentuckian against Kentuckian.  

CAPT Cassell directed LT Greenberry Roberts, who had been sworn into service with the Lexington Rifles almost a year before, to enter the town’s main street with a platoon from Company A.  Roberts, however, neglected all proper tactics by riding his men down the center of the street, thereby making them instant targets for the enemy.  As a result, he and several others became immediate casualties.  Adding further confusion to the scene, the mountain howitzers of the 2nd Kentucky mistakenly opened fire on Roberts’ platoon.

Fighting in the town went from house-to-house and became hand-to-hand, with many good men of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry being shot down in the doorways of the buildings.  With enemy fire coming from the same buildings as those from where flags of truce were being flown, it was necessary to turn the howitzers on the buildings, setting fire to many.  Ultimately, all the defenders surrendered, but the 2nd Kentucky suffered 21 dead and 18 wounded during the action, some of whom were members of the “Old Squadron”.  Following this, Duke canceled his plans to cross the Ohio River and ordered a withdrawal south to Lexington.



the lexington raid

October - November 1862

The 2nd Kentucky Cavalry returned to Lexington and found that all Confederate forces in the state were beginning a withdrawal.  The regiment was ordered to screen the withdrawal, but 40 miles southwest of Lexington, the Army of Tennessee was drawn into the battle with the Federal Army of the Ohio.  Despite winning a tactical victory at the Battle of Perryville on October 8, the Army of Tennessee continued its southward journey with Morgan’s regiments protecting the flank. 

When the main Confederate force halted at Gum Springs, near Lafeyette, Tennessee, Morgan turned northward again on another raid toward Lexington.  Reaching the outskirts of Lexington on October 15, the regiment attacked the 4th Ohio Cavalry.  However, confusion reigned due to miscalculations in the timing of the attack, and elements of Morgan’s forces fired on each other.  Ultimately, however, the enemy surrendered and the regiment continued westward to Elizabethtown, Greenville, and Hopkinsville, where they met with COL Woodward’s Kentucky Cavalry regiment.

From Hopkinsville, the regiment turned south to Springfield, Tennessee, entering the state on November 1.  At Springfield, another issue of the Vidette was published by LT Niles' successor and Morgan’s adjutant, MAJ Robert A. Alston.  Afterward, they continued to Gallatin, where COL Morgan planned another raid on hundreds of railroad freight cars collected at Edgefield Junction.  The raid, which began on November 6, was to be in conjunction with a diversionary attack south of Nashville by BRIG-GEN Nathan B. Forrest.  However, the attack failed due to a lack of coordination between the cavalry commands.  The 2nd Kentucky then continued southward to Fayetteville, 50 miles south of Murfreesboro.  

GEN Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi made its headquarters at Murfreesboro, where on November 20 it was consolidated with LT-GEN E. Kirby Smith’s Army of Kentucky, thereby creating the legendary Confederate army of the Western Theater – the Army of Tennessee.  



battle of hartsville

Hartsville, Tennessee  
December 7, 1862

In a strategic move, U.S. MAJ-GEN Wm. Rosecrans began to move his Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville toward Murfreesboro, where GEN Bragg’s newly designated Army of Tennessee was headquartered.  To counter this, Bragg ordered Morgan to move north with his cavalry to operate along the enemy's lines of communications and to prevent the Army of the Cumberland from foraging for supplies north of Nashville.  With this in mind, COL Morgan planned to attack the Federal garrison at Hartsville, a crossing point on the Cumberland River 40 miles northeast of Nashville.  

While the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry rested at Fayetteville, Morgan and Duke assembled a Brigade-sized force of 1,200 men at Murfreesboro.  In addition to three regiments of cavalry – the 7th, the 8th, and the 11th Kentucky, Morgan attached two regiments of infantry – the 2nd and the 9th Kentucky.   On December 6 with both his uncle, COL Thomas Hunt of the 9th Kentucky Infantry, and LT-COL Duke at his side, Morgan led his force out of Murfreesboro toward their target at Hartsville – the 39th Brigade in XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by COL Absalom Moore.

Morgan's "hartsville raid"  Brigade
BRIG-GEN John H. Morgan ( Rank Retroactive from Dec. 13)
LT-COL Basil W. Duke

7th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Richard M. Gano
Promoted to Brig-General, 1864

2nd Kentucky Inf Regt
COL James Hewitt

8th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL LeRoy S. Cluke
Killed at Battle of Tebb's Bend, KY, July 4 1863

9th Kentucky Inf Regt
COL Thomas H. Hunt
Uncle of John Hunt Morgan

11th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL David W. Chenault


Under cover of darkness in the pre-dawn of December 7, Morgan and his men crossed the icy, swollen Cumberland River and worked their way to the top of the hilly terrain 5 miles south of Hartsville.  Ironically, it had been the mission of the 39th Brigade to protect that very river crossing from Confederate cavalry raids.  When the Kentuckians approached the Federal camp in an unusually heavy snowstorm, pickets sounded the alarm and held their positions until the brigade was in line of battle.  The fighting commenced and lasted almost two hours, until one of COL Moore’s units broke and ran.  This caused massive confusion to ripple through the rest of the Federal force, which then fell back.  With the Confederates surrounding them, the Federals were convinced to surrender.  

Surrendering to Morgan’s forces were the 104th Illinois Infantry, the 106th and the 108th Ohio Infantry, the 2nd Indiana Cavalry, and a battery of the 12th Indiana Artillery.  Federal casualties were listed as 58, while the Confederates lost 149.  However, Morgan took 1,844 prisoners and a wagon train loaded with equipment and supplies.  GEN Joseph E. Johnston, commander of the Western Department (No. 2), called this a "brilliant feat" and recommended Morgan for immediate promotion to the rank of Brigadier General.  The raid on Hartsville was considered one of the boldest and most successful operations of the war and was a prelude to other cavalry raids during the rest of December and into January 1863.

"Thunderbolt" by John Paul Strain
COL Morgan, LT-COL Duke, and COL Thomas Hunt in route to Hartsville – December 7, 1862



promotions for morgan and duke  

Murfreesboro, Tennessee  
December 13, 1862

Enthusiastic over the Hartsville victory, GEN Bragg recommended that COL Morgan be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.  LT-GEN Hardee suggested that it be a Major-General’s commission.  However, President Jefferson Davis, who at the time was visiting Army Headquarters for the newly designated Army of Tennessee, favored Bragg's proposal, saying:

                 "I do not wish to give my ‘boys’ all their sugar plums at once."  

Jefferson Davis   
Confederate States of America   

On December 13, the day before his wedding to Martha Ready, COL Morgan personally received promotion to the rank of Brigadier General from President Davis and was given command of a Cavalry Brigade of 4,000 men.  In recognition of his victory in the Hartsville Raid of December 7, the commission was made retroactive to that date.   Simultaneously, LT-COL Basil W. Duke was promoted to full Colonel and was given command of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.  

 Morgan's Cavalry Brigade
Organized: December 13, 1862 
BRIG-GEN John H. Morgan

2nd Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Basil W. Duke
Promoted to Brig-General, 1864

7th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Richard M. Gano
Promoted to Brig-General, 1864

8th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL LeRoy S. Cluke
Killed at Battle of Tebb's Bend, KY, July 4 1863

9th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL W. C. P. Breckinridge
Promoted to Brig-General, 1864

10th Kentucky Cav Regt 
COL Adam R. "Stovepipe" Johnson

11th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL David W. Chenault

9th Tennessee Cav Regt
COL Wm. Walker Ward




morgan - ready wedding

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
December 14, 1862

The day after his promotion, BRIG-GEN Morgan married Martha "Mattie" Ready, the socialite daughter of former U.S. Congressman Charles Ready.  Morgan had been introduced to Mattie in the Spring during the time his Squadron was headquartered in Murfreesboro, and he courted her at every opportunity.  The wedding, on a Sunday evening in Murfreesboro, was a gala affair that was one of the most important social events in the Confederacy during the war.  The Ready home was decorated with holly and winter berries and was ablaze with lamps and candle lights.  Outside in the streets, thousands of soldiers, including members of Morgan's former militia unit – The Lexington Rifles –  assembled by lighted bonfires to celebrate the wedding of their General and his bride.  

  Martha Ready Morgan

The wedding was attended by Confederate dignitaries such as President Jefferson Davis, GEN Braxton Bragg, LT-GEN Leonidas Polk, LT-GEN William Hardee, MAJ-GEN John Breckinridge, MAJ-GEN Bemjamin Cheatham, and Morgan's old friend from his days in the State Guard, newly promoted BRIG-GEN Roger W. Hanson.  LT-GEN Polk, an ordained Episcopal Bishop, performed the marriage ceremony.  


"Morgan's Wedding" by John Paul Strain

MAJ-GEN Cheatham, Alice Ready (bride's sister), Martha Ready (bride's mother), Charles Ready (bride's father), the Bride and Groom, COL Duke, LT-GEN Polk, LT-GEN Hardee, Mary Breckinridge and MAJ-GEN Breckinridge, BRIG-GEN Hanson.



the christmas raid

December 21, 1862 - January 5, 1863

During December, the Federal Army of the Cumberland was stockpiling men, food, and supplies at Nashville for a winter campaign against the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  In response, GEN Bragg ordered cavalry raids to disrupt and divert the enemy.  One such raid was to cut the enemy’s supply line along the L&N railroad.  This task was given to Morgan’s Cavalry Division.

With the L&N RR line being heavily defended, BRIG-GEN Morgan chose the weakest point for this raid a pair of trestles at Muldraugh’s Hill, just north of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  In preparation, Morgan divided his command into two brigades.  COL Duke commanded the 1st Brigade, while COL W. C. P. Breckinridge commanded the 2nd Brigade.  LT-COL John Hutchinson, the former Lieutenant of the 1st Kentucky Infantry who had joined Morgan as Captain of Co. E and who was a well-liked and effective leader, assumed command of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry during this time.     

 Morgan's Cavalry Division
Organized: December 21, 1862 
BRIG-GEN John H. Morgan

1st brigade
COL Basil W. Duke

2nd brigade
COL. Wm. C. P. Breckinridge

2nd Kentucky Cav Regt
LT-COL John D. Hutchinson

9th Kentucky Cav Regt
LT-COL Robert Stoner

4th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Henry Giltner
10th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Adam R. "Stovepipe" Johnson
7th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL Richard M. Gano
11th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL David W. Chenault
8th Kentucky Cav Regt
COL LeRoy S. Cluke
9th Tennessee Cav Regt
COL Wm. Walker Ward
Palmer's Georgia Art Btry
CAPT Joseph Palmer


"Morgan's Raiders" by Mort Kunstler
BRIG-GEN Morgan inspecting the troops at Alexandria, Tennessee  December 21, 1862 


On December 21, Morgan's Cavalry Division rode north from Alexandria, Tennessee on what was to become known as "The Christmas Raid".  Through rain and sleet, they moved northward toward Thompkinsville and Glasgow, capturing enemy garrisons along the way.  As they entered Kentucky, LT-COL James McCreary of Chenault’s 11th Kentucky Cavalry noted in his journal:

"Tonight we are camped on the sacred soil of Kentucky and it fills my heart with joy and pride to know that I am once more on my native heather.  Campfires illuminate every hill and valley and fires burn brighter, seemingly are more cheerful, because it is the fatherland."

On Dec. 24, with the main body of Morgan's Raiders camped south of Glasgow, CAPT Quirk and his Company of Scouts rode to a tavern to celebrate Christmas Eve.  After they dismounted, a patrol of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry rode up with the same desire.   A skirmish erupted, forcing both sides to forego their holiday celebrations.

Onward to their target, Morgan’s men moved toward Elizabethtown, battling garrisons along the L&N RR and destroying the bridge over Bacon Creek for yet another time.  Arriving in the vicinity of Elizabethtown, they assailed the defenders there before moving on to the Muldraugh Hill trestles.  Both trestles were destroyed on December 28, and it was mid-March 1863 before the Federals were able to restore service on the L&N RR

Having fulfilled its objective, the brigade returned to Confederate lines, arriving in Smithville, Tennessee on January 5.  During the "Christmas Raid", they had captured and paroled nearly 2,000 of the enemy and destroyed the bridges over Bacon Creek and at Muldraugh Hill, while sustaining losses of only 2 killed, 24 wounded, and 64 missing.

The raid had come too late, however, to hinder the Federal assault on the Army of Tennessee.  The two-day Battle of Murfreesboro had been fought on December 31 and January 1 during the time of the raid, resulting in Confederate defeat.  The sad losses included Kentucky Brigadier-Generals Benjamin H. Helm and Roger W. Hanson.  Upon its return from the raid, Morgan’s force was given immediate duty covering the flank of the Army as it continued its way south to Tullahoma, Tennessee.  


Choose from the following hyperlinks to view the illustrated unit history.

1857-61     1862     1863     1864     1865     1866-Present