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Lexington Rifles

"Our Laws, The Commands of Our Captain"

The Vidette

Background Music:
"shenandoah"

                         

Choose from the following hyperlinks to view the historical documents:

Broadsides            Proclamations           Resolutions
 
& Illustrations             & Reports               & Ordinances   

Verses & Songs            The Vidette               Articles of War

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Following one of his raids into Kentucky in May 1862, COL John Hunt Morgan returned with his Squadron to Army Headquarters in Chattanooga, where GEN Braxton Bragg was assembling the new Army of Tennessee.  Morgan had been authorized to recruit a regiment there and so he began scouring the Confederacy for uncommitted cavalry companies to build it.  As new volunteers came forward, enough men were gathered to form the ranks of a new regiment Ė the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.   One of its recruits was a man who would help make its history, and his name was Gordon E. Niles.

Niles was a former newspaper editor from New York who had a knack for writing.  In the 2nd Kentucky, he quickly became a forerunner of the modern public relations officer, printing and distributing recruiting posters, and welcoming new additions to the regiment.  In doing this, he would visit print shops in towns along a raid route, managing to use their presses to print the posters.

Having attained the rank of Lieutenant and an assignment as Regimental Adjutant, Gordon Niles was most noted for being the editor and publisher of what has been termed the most peripatetic newspaper of the Confederacy -- The Vidette.  It was during a peaceful week in mid-August 1862 that the incorrigible traveling newspaper of the 2nd Kentucky made its debut at the hands of LT Niles.  Finding a supply of type, and an abandoned printing press, five men assisted Niles in publishing Volume One, Number One at Hartsville, Tennessee on August 16, 1862.

Editor Nilesí biggest challenge was a shortage of paper, but he managed to gather supplies of wallpaper to keep the newspaper going.  Among its popular articles were accounts of victories, salutes to women of the South, and poems and songs contributed by LT-COL Basil Duke.

The Vidette.gif (68058 bytes)John Morgan was so delighted with The Vidette that he sent copies to friends, relatives, and enemies.  Instead of laboriously writing copies of his general orders and reports for Knoxville and Richmond, he merely had Niles use The Vidette for submission to higher authority.  Hence, Morganís were probably the only reports that were received in Richmond in proof read form.  

  The Vidette - August 16, 1862
  
For a larger view, click on the thumbnail image.

Gordon E. Nilesí term as Editor of The Vidette came to an abrupt end on August 20, 1862 at Edgefield Junction along the L&N Railroad.  On that day, the Lexington Rifles stormed a solidly constructed federal stockade that ha been built to protect the line from attack.  The fire of its defenders raked the lines and five men fell dead.  Among them was the beloved Lieutenant Niles.

Following Nilesí death, one of the first tasks undertaken by the regiment was publication of a special edition of The VidetteMAJ Robert A. Alston, a South Carolinian who had recently joined Morganís staff as adjutant, took over the duties as editor.  He was assisted by CAPT Richard M. Gano, and together they continued to publish articles well into 1863, poking fun at Union leaders and generally carrying on the spirit of the editor from New York.  

Ė excerpt from "Morgan's Raiders"
by Dee Alexander Brown

                                                      

The following Proclamation was printed in "The Vidette", and was read by Colonel John Hunt Morgan
to the assembled regiment, following the defeat of a superior force of the enemy on August 22, 1862.

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PROCLAMATION !

Soldiers:  Your gallant bearing during the last two days will not only be inscribed in the history of the country and the annals of this war, but is engraved deeply in my heart.  Your zeal and devotion, your heroism during the two hard fights yesterday, have placed you high on the list of those patriots who are now in arms for our Southern rights.

All communications cut off between Gallatin and Nashville, a body of three hundred infantry totally cut up or taken prisoners, the liberation of those kind friends arrested by our revengeful foes . . . would have been laurels sufficient for your brows; but, soldiers, the utter annihilation of General Johnsonís brigade raises your reputation as soldiers and strikes fear into the craven hearts of your enemies.

Officers and men, your conduct makes me proud to command you. Fight always as you fought yesterday and you are invincible.

J. H. Morgan
Hartsville, Tn.
August 22, 1862

 

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Choose from the following hyperlinks to view the historical documents:

Broadsides            Proclamations           Resolutions
 
& Illustrations             & Reports               & Ordinances   

Verses & Songs            The Vidette               Articles of War

.