The command remained encamped at Versailles during the night. Scouts were sent in every direction, and upon their return next day reported that a very general consternation prevailed, as well as uncertainty regarding our movements. The Home-guards and little detachments of troops were running, on the one side for Lexington, and on the other for Frankfort. Leaving Versailles next day about 10 A.M., the column moved toward Georgetown.
Before leaving Versailles, the scouting parties which had been dispatched to Frankfort rejoined the command. Frankfort was by this time relieved of all fear of immediate attack, and Colonel Morgan became apprehensive that the troops there might be marched out after him, or that communication might be opened with Lexington which might lead to a simultaneous attack upon him by the forces of the two points. He hoped that the detachment under Captain Allen returning, after the destruction of the bridge between Frankfort and Louisville, and necessarily marching close to the former (in doing so), would produce the impression there, that an attack was again imminent. We reached Midway (about 12 M.), a little town on the railroad, and equi-distant from Lexington and Frankfort. What took place at Midway is best described in Ellsworth's language. He says, "At this place I surprised the operator, who was quietly sitting on the platform in front of his office, enjoying himself hugely. Little did he suspect that the much-dreaded Morgan was in his vicinity. I demanded of him to call Lexington and inquire the time of day, which he did. This I did for the purpose of getting his style of handling the 'key' in writing dispatches. My first impression of his style, from noting the paper in the instrument, was confirmed. He was, to use a telegraphic term, a 'plug' operator. I adopted his style of telegraphing, and commenced operations. In this office I found a signal book, which proved very useful. It contained the calls of all the offices. Dispatch after dispatch was going to and from Lexington, Georgetown, Paris and Frankfort, all containing something in reference to Morgan. On commencing operations, I discovered that there were two wires on the line along this railroad. One was what we term a 'through wire,' running direct from Lexington to Frankfort, and not entering any of the way offices. I found that all military messages were sent over that line. As it did not enter Midway office I ordered it to be cut, thus forcing Lexington on to the wire that did run through the office. I tested the line and found, by applying the ground wire, it made no difference with the circuit; and, as Lexington was Head-Quarters, I cut Frankfort off. Midway was called, I answered, and received the following:
'LEXINGTON, July 15, 1862.
'To J.W. Woolums, operator, Midway:
'Will there be any danger in coming to Midway? Is every thing right?
"I inquired of my prisoner (the operator) if he knew a man by the name of Taylor. He said Taylor was the conductor. I immediately gave Taylor the following reply:
'MIDWAY, July 15, 1862.
'To Taylor, Lexington:
'All right; come on. No sign of any rebels here.
"The operator in Cincinnati then called Frankfort. I answered and received about a dozen unimportant dispatches. He had no sooner finished than Lexington called Frankfort. Again I answered, and received the following message:
'LEXINGTON, July 15, 1862. 'To General Finnell, Frankfort:
'I wish you to move the forces at Frankfort, on the line of the Lexington railroad, immediately, and have the cars follow and take them up as soon as possible. Further orders will await them at Midway. I will, in three or four hours, move forward on the Georgetown pike; will have most of my men mounted. Morgan left Versailles this morning with eight hundred and fifty men, on the Midway road, moving in the direction of Georgetown. 'BRIGADIER-GENERAL WARD.'
"This being our position and intention exactly, it was thought proper to throw General Ward on some other track. So, in the course of half an hour, I manufactured and sent the following dispatch, which was approved by General Morgan:
'MIDWAY, July 15, 1862. 'To Brigadier-General Ward, Lexington:
'Morgan, with upward of one thousand men, came within a mile of here, and took the old Frankfort road, marching, we suppose, for Frankfort. This is reliable.
"In about ten minutes Lexington again called Frankfort, when I received the following:
'LEXINGTON, July 15, 1862. 'To General Finnell, Frankfort;
'Morgan, with more than one thousand men, came within a mile of here, and took the old Frankfort road. This dispatch received from Midway, and is reliable. The regiment from Frankfort had better be recalled.
"I receipted for this message, and again manufactured a message to confirm the information General Ward received from Midway, and not knowing the tariff from Frankfort to Lexington, I could not send a formal message; so, appearing greatly agitated, I waited until the circuit was occupied, and broke in, telling them to wait a minute, and commenced calling Lexington. He answered with as much gusto as I called him. I telegraphed as follows:
'Frankfort to Lexington:
'Tell General Ward our pickets are just driven in. Great excitement. Pickets say the force of enemy must be two thousand. 'OPERATOR.'
It was now two P.M., and General Morgan wished to be off for Georgetown. I ran a secret ground connection, and opened the circuit on the Lexington end. This was to leave the impression that the Frankfort operator was skedaddling, or that Morgan's men had destroyed the telegraph.
While at Midway, dispositions were made for the capture of the trains coming from both ends of the road; but they were not sent. The command reached Georgetown just at sundown. A small force of Home-guards had mustered there to oppose us. Morgan sent them word to surrender, and they should not be hurt. The leader of this band is said to have made his men a speech of singular eloquence and stirring effect. If he was reported correctly, he told them that "Morgan, the marauder and murderer—the accursed of the Union men of Kentucky," was coming upon them. That, in "his track every where prevailed terror and desolation. In his rear, the smoke of burning towns was ascending, the blood of martyred patriots was streaming, the wails of widowed women and orphan children were resounding. In his front, Home-guards and soldiers were flying." That "Tom Long reported him just outside of town, with ten or twelve thousand men, armed with long beards and butcher-knives;" and the orator thought that they "had better scatter and take care of themselves." They accordingly "scattered" at full speed. Several prisoners (Southern sympathizers) were confined in the court-house; among them, a man whom many Kentuckians have a lively recollection of—poor Will Webb. He, upon seeing the Home-guards flee, thrust his body half out of a window, and pointing to the stars and stripes still flying, apostrophized the fugitives in terms that ought to have made a sutler fight. "Are you going to desert your flag?" he said. "Remain, and perform the pleasing duty of dying under its glorious folds, and afford us the agreeable spectacle that you will thus present." This touching appeal was of no avail.
The geographical situation of Georgetown with relation to the towns of that portion of Kentucky—especially those occupied by Federal troops—made it an excellent point for Colonel Morgan's purposes. He was in a central position here, nearly equi-distant from all points of importance, and could observe and checkmate movements made from any of them. Georgetown is twelve miles from Lexington, and eighteen from Frankfort, the two points from which he had chiefly to anticipate attacks. Although not directly between these two places, Georgetown is so nearly on a line with them, that its possession enabled him to prevent communication of any kind between the troops occupying them.
As the command greatly needed rest, Colonel Morgan remained here (where he felt more secure, for the reasons I have mentioned) during two days. He was not entirely idle, however, during that time. He sent Captain Hamilton, with one company, to disperse a Home-guard organization at the Stamping Ground, thirteen miles from Georgetown. Hamilton accomplished his mission, and burned the tents, and destroyed the guns. Detachments were kept constantly at or near Midway, to prevent any communication by the railroad between Lexington and Frankfort. Captain Castleman was sent to destroy the bridges on the Kentucky Central Railroad between Lexington and Paris—which he did; and was instructed to rejoin the command in three or four days at Winchester, in Clark county. For other than strategic reasons, Georgetown was an admirable selection as a resting point. The large majority of the people throughout this region were, even at that time, strongly Southern in sentiment and sympathy, and their native inclination to hospitality was much enhanced by the knowledge that they were feeding their friends, when we would suddenly descend upon them. There was a drawback in the apprehension of a visit from some provost-guards, to investigate the circumstances of this profuse and practical sympathy with armed rebels. But they hit upon an expedient which they thought would obviate all the unpleasant after-claps. They would give nothing of their own free will and accord; but forced us to "impress" every thing that we needed. Many a time have I seen an old farmer unlock all the closets and presses in his house—press the keys of his meat-house into the hands of the Commissary, point out to the Quartermaster where forage could be obtained, muster his negroes to cook and make themselves generally useful, protesting all the time that he was acting under the cruelest compulsion, and then stand by, rubbing his hands and chuckling to think how well he had reconciled the indulgence of his private sympathies with his public repute for loyalty. The old ladies, however, were serious obstacles to the establishment of these decorous records. They wished not only to give but to talk freely, and the more the husband wisely preached "policy" and an astute prudence, the more certainly were his cob-webs of caution torn into shreds by the trenchant tongue of his wife.
Of all the points which we could have reached just at that time, Georgetown was the one where this sympathy for us was strongest. There were only a very few Union men living in the town, and these had run away; and the county (Scott) was the very hot-bed of Southern feeling. To Owen and Boone we did not contemplate paying a visit. We had not yet reached Harrison; but in halting in Scott county and at Georgetown, we felt that our situation would not need to be improved. A good many recruits had been obtained at various points in the State, and at Georgetown a full company was raised, of which W.C.P. Breckinridge, a young lawyer of Lexington, was elected Captain. He had just run the blockade established around the latter town.
While lying at Georgetown the command was encamped in line of battle, day and night, and scouting parties were sent three or four times a day toward Lexington—which were instructed to clear the road of the enemy's pickets and reconnoitering parties. While here, Gano and Allen rejoined the column, having accomplished their respective missions.
Gano (in making a detour around Lexington) had driven in the pickets on every road—creating a fearful amount of confusion in the place among its gallant defenders, and causing the order that all rebel sympathizers, seen on the streets should be shot, to be emphatically reiterated. As Gano had approached Georgetown, after leaving Lexington and on his way to burn the bridges below Paris, an assemblage of a strange character occurred. He had formerly lived near Georgetown and knew nearly every man in the county. He stopped at the house of an intimate personal friend, who was also a notorious "sympathizer," who lived four or five miles from Georgetown, and "forced" him to feed his men and horses. While there, two or three of the Southern citizens of Scott, among them Stoddard Johnston (afterward Lieutenant Colonel on General Breckinridge's staff) came to the house, and were immediately and with great solemnity, placed under arrest.
Shortly afterward the assistant provost marshal of Georgetown (who was a very clever fellow), came out to protect the house and grounds from any disorder that the troops might be inclined to indulge in—thinking (in his simplicity) when he heard that troops were quartered there, that they must be "Union." The owner of the house (of course) interceded for him, and Gano pleased with the motive which had actuated him, promised to detain him, only until he himself moved again. In a short time another arrival was announced. The most determined, deeply-pitted, high-colored and uncompromising Union man in Georgetown, came galloping up the road to the house, and asked in a loud and authoritative tone for the commander of the detachment. Gano walked forth and greeted him. "Why how are you, Dick," said the new comer, "I didn't know that you were in the Union army; I've got something for you to do, old fellow." Gano assured him that he was delighted to hear it. "Where is the commander of these men," continued the "dauntless patriot." "I am their commander," said Gano. "Well then here's an order for you," said the bearer of dispatches handing him a communication from the Home-guard headquarters, in Georgetown. Gano read it. "Oliver," he then said, slowly and very impressively, "I should be truly sorry to see you injured, we were school mates, and I remember our early friendship." Oliver's jaw fell, and his intelligent eye grew glassy with a "wild and maddening" apprehension, but his feelings would not permit him to speak. "Oliver," continued Gano after a pause (and keeping his countenance remarkably) "isn't it possible that you may be mistaken in these troops. To which army do you think they belong?" "Why," gasped Oliver; "ain't they Union?" "Union!" echoed Gano with a groan of horror, "don't let them hear you say so, I mightn't be able to control them. They are Morgan's Texas Rangers." He then led the half fainting Oliver, who under the influence of this last speech had become "even as a little child," to the house, and placed him with the other prisoners.
Saddest and most inconsolable of these were the sympathizers who had come purposely to be captured. When the hour drew near for Gano's departure, he held a brief conference with the "secesh," and then paroled the whole batch, including his host, binding them not to divulge any thing which they had seen or heard. All were impressed with the solemn nature of this obligation, but the melancholy gravity of Johnston (who had suggested it) was even awful.
Colonel Morgan finding how strongly Lexington was garrisoned, gave up all thought of attacking it, but it was high time that he made his arrangements to return to Dixie. He determined to make a dash at Cynthiana, the county seat of Harrison county, situated on the Kentucky Central Railroad, thirty-two miles from Lexington, and about twenty-two by turnpike from Georgetown. By moving in this direction, and striking a blow at this point, he hoped to induce the impression that he was aiming at Cincinnati, and at the same time thoroughly bewilder the officer in command at Lexington regarding his real intentions. When he reached Cynthiana he would be master of three or four routes, by either of which he could leave Kentucky, completely eluding his pursuers, and he did not doubt that he could defeat whatever force might be collected there.
He left Georgetown on the morning of the 18th, having first dispatched parts of two companies to drive all scouts and detachments of every kind into Lexington. While moving rapidly with the bulk of his command toward Cynthiana, these detachments protected his march and prevented it from being discovered too soon. Cynthiana was occupied by three or four hundred men of Metcalfe's regiment of cavalry, and about the same number of Home-guards, all under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Landrum, of Metcalfe's regiment. There was but one piece of artillery in the town, a brass twelve-pound howitzer. This was under charge of a company of firemen from Cincinnati, under command of "Captain Billy Glass of the Fourth Ward," and they went to work when the fight opened as if they were "putting out a fire." We struck the pickets a mile or two from the town, and the advance guard chased them in, capturing three or four. General Morgan had previously determined upon his dispositions for the attack, well knowing the country, and they were made immediately after the alarm to the pickets. Between us and the town was the Licking river, crossed at the Georgetown pike, which we were traveling, by a narrow, covered bridge. Just by the side of the bridge, there was a ford about waist-deep. Nowhere else, in the then stage of water, was the river fordable in that immediate vicinity. But above and below about a mile, respectively, from the bridge, were fords, and to these were sent, Gano above, and the Georgians below, with instructions to cross and attack the town upon the respective quarters by which they approached it. The Second Kentucky was ordered to attack upon the road by which we had advanced.
The enemy held all the houses upon the opposite bank of the river, which runs close to the town, and opened a smart fire of musketry upon the regiment as it advanced. Companies A and B were deployed upon the right of the road, E and F upon the left, and C was held in reserve, mounted; the advance-guard had been sent with Gano. The recruits, most of whom were unarmed, were also, of course, kept in the rear. The howitzers were planted near the road, about three hundred and fifty yards from the bridge, and were opened at once upon the houses, evidently filled with the enemy.
The enemy's single piece of artillery swept the bridge and road, and commanded the position where the howitzers were stationed. Companies E and F advanced to the river's edge and poured such a fire across the narrow stream that they compelled the troops exposed to it to throw down their guns and surrender. They were then made to swim the river in order to join their captors. In the meantime, Company A, after having been repulsed two or three times in attempting to rush across the bridge, plunged into the river and, holding their guns and ammunition above their heads, crossed at the ford above-mentioned, and effected a lodgment on the other side. For awhile those first over were compelled to take shelter behind a long warehouse near the bridge, and even when the entire company had gotten over, and assistance had been sent to it, it seemed that the enemy, who concentrated to oppose us here, and redoubled his fire, would drive all back. The adjacent houses and yards were filled with sharpshooters, who poured in telling volleys as the men sought to close with them.
The lines were at this point not more than forty yards apart, and most of our loss was sustained here, and by Company A.
The howitzers were brought up, and posted on the corner, but the close fire drove the gunners away from them. One gunner named Talbot loaded and fired his piece two or three times by himself, while the balls were actually striking it. He was afterward made a Lieutenant. The team of one of the pieces, smarting with wounds, ran away with the limber, and carried it into the midst of the enemy. This check did not last more than three or four minutes. Company C charged across the bridge and up the principal street, on horseback, losing three or four men only, and distracting the enemy's attention. Company B got a position on the other bank where they could shoot right into the party which was holding Company A in check. The latter made a determined rush, at the head of which were Sergeants Drake and Quirk and private James Moore, of Louisiana, a little fellow, not yet sixteen years old, who fell with two severe wounds, but recovered, to make one of the most gallant officers of our command. In this dash, Sergeant Quirk, out of ammunition, and seeing his friend, Drake, in imminent peril, knocked down his assailant with a stone. The enemy then gave way; the other companies were, in the mean time, brought up to press them.
Gano came in on the one side, and the Georgians on the other, each driving all opponents before them. The Texians, Georgians, and Kentuckians arrived simultaneously at the piece of artillery, which the enemy had kept busily employed all the time. It was immediately taken, each claiming its capture.
The enemy immediately evacuated the town, and retreated eastwardly, but were closely pressed, and the better part captured. Greenfell headed a charge upon the depot, in which some of them took refuge. He received eleven bullets through his horse, person, and clothes, but was only slightly hurt. A curious little scarlet skull cap, which he used to wear, was perforated. It fitted so tight upon his head that I previously thought a ball could not go through it without blowing his brains out.
Colonel Landrum was chased eight or ten miles. Little Billy Peyton, a mere boy (Colonel Morgan's Orderly), but perfectly fearless, followed him closely, and exhausted two pistols without hitting him. The Colonel was riding a superb horse, which attracted attention to him, but which saved him. The enemy's loss was about ninety in killed and wounded; ours was about forty. Four hundred and twenty prisoners were taken.
It would be an unfair description of this fight if mention were omitted of the gallant conduct of the recruits. Although the most of them, as has been stated, were unarmed, they all "went in" like game cocks. Plenty of fine guns, with ammunition, were captured; also a large quantity of stores, and two or three hundred horses.
Cynthiana, like Georgetown and Versailles, was full of our devoted friends, and we felt satisfied that the wounded we were obliged to leave behind us would be well taken care of. Two men who subsequently died of their wounds, privates George Arnold and —— Clarke, behaved with such conspicuous gallantry, and were always so noted for good conduct, that their loss caused universal regret. Arnold was a member of the advance-guard, and volunteered to accompany Company C in the charge through the town. He fell with an arm and a thigh broken. Clarke undertook to carry an order through the enemy's line to Gano, who was in their rear, and fell pierced through the body with five balls. The best men were among the killed. Private Wm. Craig, of Company A, first to cross the river, was killed as he mounted the bank. All of the other officers having been wounded, the command of Company A devolved upon the Third Lieutenant, S.D. Morgan.
Leaving Cynthiana at one or two P.M., the command marched for Paris. About five miles from that place, we encountered a deputation of citizens, coming out to surrender the town. We reached Paris about sundown, and rested there during the night. I have omitted to mention that at Georgetown, Lieutenant Niles was appointed by Colonel Morgan upon his staff, and P.H. Thorpe, formerly Captain in the First Kentucky Infantry, was made Adjutant in his stead. I mention these appointments as if they were regular and valid, because they were all so in the end. The War Department made some trouble about them, as was expected, and perfectly proper, but as the appointees were borne on the muster and pay rolls as officers, there was nothing to be done but recognize them.
R.A. Alston, formerly a member of a South Carolina regiment of cavalry, but a member and private at the time of Company A, Second Kentucky, had been selected at Knoxville by Colonel Morgan to perform the duties of Adjutant-General, on account of his superior fitness for that position. He was permitted to recruit a company during the raid, in order that he might obtain the rank of Captain. He got his commission, and his company was divided between some others, and he was continued upon staff duty, although Greenfell, immediately after the conclusion of this raid became Adjutant-General.
The next morning after our arrival at Paris, a large force came down the Lexington road, and about eight A.M. gave us strong reasons for resuming our march. This force, about twenty-five hundred or three thousand men, was commanded by General G. Clay Smith. Our scouts had notified us of its approach the previous night, and as the command was encamped on the Winchester road, the one which we wished to travel, there was no danger of its cutting us off. It came on very slowly, and there was at no time any determined effort made to engage us. If a dash had been made at us when we prepared to leave, we could have been compelled to fight, for although the prisoners had all been paroled, we were very much incumbered with carriages containing wounded men, brought off from Cynthiana and other points.
Morgan always made it a point to carry off every wounded man who could be safely moved; in this way he prevented much of the demoralization attending the fear the men felt of falling, when wounded, into the hands of the enemy. I was once seriously told that a belief prevailed with some people, that Morgan killed his own wounded to prevent the enemy from making them prisoners.
The command reached Winchester about 12 P.M. and remained there until 4 P.M., when the march was taken up again and we crossed the Kentucky river just before dark. Marching on, we reached Richmond at 4 the next morning. Here we met with another very kind reception, and were joined by a company of recruits under Captain Jennings. It was admitted into the Second Kentucky as Company K. Leaving Richmond at 4 P.M. that day we marched toward Crab Orchard, and reached that place about day break next morning.
It had, at first, been Colonel Morgan's intention to make a stand at Richmond, as the whole population seemed inclined to join him, but his real strength was now known to the enemy, and they were collecting to attack him in such numbers, that he concluded that it was too hazardous. He would have had to have fought three battles at least, against superior forces, and have won all before he would have been safe.
Clay Smith was following him, Woolford was collecting forces to the southward to intercept him, and troops were coming from Louisville and other points to push after him. In the march from Paris to Crab Orchard, a good many wagons and a large number of guns were captured, and all—wagons and guns—that were not needed were burned. The horses captured with the twelve pounder at Cynthiana gave out and died before we reached the Kentucky river.
Leaving Crab Orchard at 11 A.M., the command moved toward Somerset and reached that place about sundown. The telegraph was again taken possession of, and Colonel Morgan instructed Ellsworth to countermand all of General Boyle's orders for pursuit. At Crab Orchard and Somerset one hundred and thirty Government wagons were captured and burned. At Somerset a great many stores of all kinds, blankets, shoes, etc., were found. Several wagons were loaded with as much as could be conveniently carried away, and the rest were destroyed. Arms, and ammunition for small arms and artillery, were also found in abundance, and were destroyed.
From Somerset the column marched to Stagall's ferry on the Cumberland river, and crossed there. We reached Monticello twenty-one miles from the river that night, but all danger was over when we had gotten safely across the river. The next day we proceeded leisurely toward Livingston, having a little excitement with the bushwhackers, but suffering no loss.
For several days after leaving Somerset, and indeed after reaching Livingston, we suffered greatly for want of rations, as this country was almost bare of provisions. Colonel Morgan's objects in making this raid, viz; to obtain recruits and horses, to thoroughly equip and arm his men, to reconnoiter for the grand invasion in the fall, and to teach the enemy that we could reciprocate the compliment of invasion, were pretty well accomplished. Enough of spare horses and more than enough of extra guns, saddles, etc., were brought out, to supply all the men who had been left behind. A great many prisoners were taken, of whom I have made no mention. But the results of the expedition are best summed up in the words of Colonel Morgan's report—
"I left Knoxville on the 4th day of this month, with about nine hundred men, and returned to Livingston on the 28th inst. with nearly twelve hundred, having been absent just twenty-four days, during which time I have traveled over a thousand miles, captured seventeen towns, destroyed all the Government supplies and arms in them, dispersed about fifteen hundred Home-guards and paroled nearly twelve hundred regular troops. I lost in killed, wounded and missing of the number that I carried into Kentucky, about ninety."
One practice was habitually pursued, on this raid, that may be remembered by some of our friends in the state for whose benefit it was done. Great pains were always taken to capture the most bitter Union man in each town and neighborhood—the one who was most inclined to bear down on Southern men—especially if he were provost marshal. He would be kept, sometimes a day or two, and thoroughly frightened. Colonel Morgan, who derived infinite amusement from such scenes, would gravely assure each one, when brought into his presence, that one of the chief objects of his raid was to catch him. It was a curious sight to see the mixed terror and vanity this declaration would generally excite—even in the agonies of anticipated death, the prisoner would be sensibly touched by the compliment. After awhile, however, a compromise would be effected; the prisoner would be released upon the implied condition that he was, in the future, to exert himself to protect Southern people. It was thought better to turn all the captured provost marshals loose and let them resume their functions, than to carry them off, and let new men be appointed, with whom no understanding could be had.
Ellsworth wound up his operations at Somerset, with complimentary dispatches from Colonel Morgan to General Jerry Boyle, Prentice, and others, and concluded with the following general order on his own part to the Kentucky telegraphic operators:
'HEADQUARTERS, TELEGRAPH DEPT. OF KY., CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.
'General Order No. 1.
'When an operator is positively informed that the enemy is marching on his station, he will immediately proceed to destroy the telegraphic instruments and all material in his charge. Such instances of carelessness, as were exhibited on the part of the operators at Lebanon, Midway, and Georgetown, will be severely dealt with. By order of
G.A. ELLSWORTH, General Military Supt. C.S. Telegraphic Dept.'
At Livingston Colonel Morgan left the Second Kentucky and proceeded to Knoxville, taking with him the Georgians, Gano's squadron, and the howitzers—which needed some repairs. After remaining at Livingston three days, I marched the regiment to Sparta, where more abundant supplies could be obtained, and facilities for shoeing horses could be had. While at Livingston, the men suffered extremely with hunger, and one man declared his wish to quit a service in which he was subjected to such privations. He was deprived of his horse, arms, and equipments, and "blown out" of the regiment; that is, upon dress parade, he was marched down the front of the regiment (after his offense and the nature of the punishment had been read by the Adjutant), with the bugler blowing the "Skedaddle" behind him amid the hisses of the men, who were thoroughly disgusted with him; he was then driven away from the camp. At Sparta we found a better country and the kindest and most hospitable people.
As soon as the Second Kentucky was placed in camp at Sparta, a much stricter system was adopted than had ever prevailed before. Camp-guards were regularly posted in order to keep the men in camp; and as staying in camp closely was something they particularly disliked, the guard had to be doubled, until finally nearly one half of the regiment had to be put on to watch the rest. Guard-mounting, dress-parades, and drills (company and regimental, on foot and on horseback), were had daily, much to the edification and improvement of the recruits, who rapidly acquired instruction, and quite as much to the disgust of the old hands, who thought that they "knew it all." In one respect, however, they were all equally assiduous and diligent that was in the care of their horses and attention to their arms and accouterments—no man had ever to be reproved or punished for neglect of these duties. The regiment now numbered about seven hundred men, nearly all of the recruits obtained in Kentucky having joined it.
It was then in the flush of hope and confidence, composed of the best material Kentucky could afford, and looked forward to a career of certain success and of glory. The officers were (with scarcely an exception), very young men; almost every one of them had won his promotion by energy and gallantry, and all aspired to yet further preferment. The men were of just such staff as the officers, and all relied upon (in their turn), winning promotion.
The character of Kentucky troops was never better illustrated than in this regiment and at that time. Give them officers that they love, respect, and rely on, and any thing can be accomplished with them. While almost irrepressibly fond of whisky, and incorrigible, when not on active service, about straggling through the country and running out of camp, they, nevertheless, stick to work at the time when it is necessary, and answer to the roll-call in an emergency unfailingly, no matter what may be the prospect before them. Aware too that (in quiet times), they are always behaving badly, they will cheerfully submit to the severest punishment—provided, always, that it is not of a degrading nature. They can not endure harsh and insulting language, or any thing that is humiliating. In this respect they show the traits which characterize all of their Southern brethren—the Irish are of a similar disposition. I have frequently known the efficiency of fine companies greatly impaired by officers who were offensive in their language to them, and yet rarely punished, while other officers, who never indulged in such language, but were accustomed to punish severely, were not only more promptly obeyed, but were infinitely more liked. While the regiment was at Sparta, Colonel Jno. Scott also came with his own fine regiment the First Louisiana, and a portion of our old friends, the Eighth Texas.
Colonel Scott was one of the most active, efficient, and daring cavalry officers in the Western Confederate army. He had performed very successful and brilliant service, during the spring, in North Alabama, and had lately served with Forrest in the latter's dashing operations in Middle Tennessee. While we were all at Sparta together, Buell's army began to commence to concentrate, and a large part of it under Nelson came to McMinnville.
McMinnville is twenty-eight miles from Sparta, and a force of infantry, preceded by two or three hundred cavalry, came one day to the bridge over Calf Killer creek, on the McMinnville road, within five miles of Sparta. Colonel Scott sent Major Harrison (afterward Brigadier General), of the Eighth Texas, with two or three companies of the First Louisiana, and as many of the Eighth Texas, to drive them back. Harrison fell on them in his usual style, and they went back immediately. One or two of them were killed, and a few prisoners were taken. I sent Lieutenant Manly, of my regiment, about this time, to ascertain the disposition of Buell's forces. He reported, in a few days, that there were three thousand and six hundred men at Nashville, a great many of them convalescents, four thousand at Columbia, three thousand at Pulaski, and three thousand at Shelbyville. At McMinnville twelve thousand. At points on the Tennessee river, in Alabama, about two thousand. Generals Bragg and Smith were then preparing for the invasion of Kentucky. Bragg lay at Chattanooga with about thirty thousand men. We confidently expected that he would dash across the river, while Buell's army was thus scattered, break through it and take Nashville, and pick up the fragments at his leisure. He gave Buell a little time, and the latter concentrated with a quickness that seemed magical, protected Nashville, and was ready for the race into Kentucky. Buell's own friends have damned him pretty thoroughly, but that one exhibition of energy and skill, satisfied his enemies (that is, the Confederates) of his caliber, and we welcomed his removal with gratification. Manly also reported, that rolling stock was being collected, from all the roads, at Nashville, and that wagon trains were being gotten together at convenient points. This indicated pretty clearly that a concentration was contemplated for some purpose. After remaining a few days at Sparta, Colonel Scott received orders to report with his command to General Kirby Smith, whose Headquarters were at Knoxville. Shortly afterward, Colonel Morgan reached Sparta, bringing with him Gano's squadron and Company G. Gano's two companies, numbered now, however, only one hundred and ten effectives; he had left a good many sick at Knoxville, who did not rejoin us for some time. The howitzers, to our great regret, were left behind. A day or two after Colonel Morgan's arrival, we set out to surprise the Federal garrison at Gallatin, distant about seventy or eighty miles. Morgan had received instructions to break the railroad between Louisville and Nashville, in order to retard Buell's retreat to Louisville as greatly as possible, also to occupy the Federal cavalry, and prevent them from paying attention to what was going on in other quarters. Gallatin seemed to him an excellent point at which to commence operations with all these views. On the way, he was joined by Captain Joseph Desha (formerly of the First Kentucky infantry), with twenty or thirty men. Captain Desha's small detachment was received into the Second Kentucky, and he was promised recruits enough to make him a full company. He soon got them, and his company was duly lettered L of the regiment. Crossing the Cumberland at Sand Shoals ford, three miles from Carthage, on the day after we left Sparta, we reached Dixon Springs, about eight miles from Gallatin, about 2 or 3 P.M., and, as our coming had been announced by couriers sent on in advance, we found that the friendly and hospitable citizens had provided abundant supplies for men and horses. Crowds of them met to welcome us, bringing every delicacy. It was a convincing proof of the unanimity of sentiment in that region, that while hundreds knew of our march and destination, not one was found to carry the information to the enemy. Just before dark the march was resumed, and we reached Hartsville, sixteen miles from Gallatin, about 11 o'clock at night. Pressing on through Hartsville without halting, the column turned off from the turnpike a few miles from Gallatin, entirely avoiding the pickets, which were captured by scouts sent after we had gained their rear. As we entered Gallatin, Captain Desha was sent forward with a small party to capture Colonel Boone, the Federal commander, who, as we had learned, was in the habit of sleeping in town. Desha reached the house where he was quartered, and found him dressed and just about to start to camp. It was now about daybreak. Colonel Morgan immediately saw Boone and represented to him that he had better write to the officer in command at the camp, advising him to surrender, in order to spare the "effusion of blood," etc. This Boone consented to do, and his letter was at once dispatched to the camp under flag of truce. It had the desired effect, and the garrison fell into our hands without firing a shot. Two companies had been sent off for some purpose, and escaped capture. About two hundred prisoners were taken, including a good many officers. As these troops were infantry, no horses were captured with them, but during the forenoon, a train arrived with some eighty very fine ones, en route for Nashville. Two or three hundred excellent Springfield rifles were captured, with which all the inferior guns were replaced. Some valuable stores were also captured, and wagoned off to Hartsville.
The prisoners were paroled and sent off Northward, during that and the following day. The Government freight train seized, numbered nineteen cars, laden with forage for the cavalry at Nashville. Efforts were made to decoy the train from Nashville into our possession, but unsuccessfully. Ellsworth was immediately put in possession of the telegraph office, and went to work with even more than his ordinary ingenuity. It was the peculiarity of this "great man" to be successful only in his own department; if he attempted any thing else he was almost sure to fail. At Crab Orchard, for instance, on the late raid, he had taken it into his head to go after a notorious and desperate bushwhacker, whom our best scouts had tried in vain to capture.
Telling no one of his intention, he took Colonel Greenfell's horse, upon which was strapped a saddle that the owner valued very highly, and behind the saddle was tied a buff coat equally as much prized, and in the coat was all the gold the Colonel had brought from Richmond, when he came to join us—and thus equipped he sallied out with one companion, to take the formidable "Captain King."
He went boldly to that worthy's house, who, seeing only two men coming, scorned to take to the brush. To Ellsworth's demand to surrender, he answered with volleys from shot gun and revolver, severely wounding the friend and putting Ellsworth himself to flight. King pressed the retreat, and Ellsworth, although he brought off his wounded companion, lost horse, saddle, coat and gold. St. Leger was like an excited volcano, and sought Ellsworth to slay him instantly.
Three days were required to pacify him, during which time, the great "operator" had to be carefully kept out of his sight. But when Ellsworth was seated in the telegraph office he was always "master of the situation." No man could watch him at work, see him catch, without a boggle, "signals," "tariff," and all the rest, fool the regular operators, baffle with calm confidence their efforts to detect him, and turn to his own advantage their very suspicions, and not unhesitatingly pronounce him a genius. As if to demonstrate incontestably his own superiority, he has (since the war closed) invented a plan to prevent just such tricks, as he used to practice at way stations, from being played.
When he "took the chair" at Gallatin, he first, in accordance with Colonel Morgan's instructions, telegraphed in Colonel Boone's name, to the commandant at Bowlinggreen to send him reinforcements, as he expected to be attacked. But this generous plan to capture and parole soldiers, who wished to go home and see their friends, miscarried. Then he turned his attention to Nashville. The operator there was suspicious and put a good many questions, all of which were successfully answered.
At length the train he wished sent, was started, but when it got within six miles of Gallatin, a negro signaled it and gave the alarm. A railroad bridge between Gallatin and Nashville, was then at once destroyed, and the fine tunnel, six miles above, was rendered impassable for months. The roof of the tunnel was of a peculiar rock which was liable at all times to disintegrate and tumble down; to remedy this, huge beams, supported by strong uprights, had been stretched horizontally across the tunnel, and a sort of scaffolding have been built upon these beams. A good deal of wood work was consequently put up. Some of the freight cars were also run into the tunnel and set on fire when the wood work was kindled. This fire smouldered on, after it had ceased to burn fiercely, for a long time, and it was weeks before any repairs could be attempted, on account of the intense heat and the huge masses of rock which were constantly falling. This tunnel is eight hundred feet long.
In the "History of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad during the war," the Superintendent, Mr. Albert Fink, whose energy to repair, was equal to Morgan's to destroy, says of the year commencing July 1, 1862, and ending July 1, 1863, "the road has been operated for its entire length only seven months and twelve days." He says, moreover, "All the bridges and trestlework on the main stem and branches, with the exception of the bridge over Barren river and four small bridges, were destroyed and rebuilt during the year; some of the structures were destroyed twice, and some three times. In addition to this, most of the water stations, several depots, and a large number of cars were burnt, a number of engines badly damaged, and a tunnel in Tennessee nearly filled up for a distance of eight hundred feet." This shows a great activity to destroy, but wonderful patience and industry to repair. It was by this road that the Federal army in Tennessee got its supplies and reinforcements, almost altogether, during the greater part of the year. In the same report the writer goes on to say: "General Morgan took possession of the Louisville and Nashville road at Gallatin, in August, 1862, and this, with other causes, forced General Buell's retreat to Louisville."
Before giving up the wires, and after Colonel Morgan permitted him to reveal himself, Ellsworth told some first-class romances. He made Morgan's force out about four thousand, and did it with a skill that carried conviction. He would speak, in dispatches to various well-known Federals, of certain imaginary commands, under men whom they well knew. He telegraphed Prentice that Wash. Morgan was at Gallatin, with four hundred Indians, raised especially to seek for his (Prentice's) scalp.
Lieutenant Manly, and a few men, were left at Gallatin to burn the amphitheater at the fair-grounds, where Boone's regiment had been quartered. The command left Gallatin about 12 o'clock at night, and returned to Hartsville. Gallatin was taken on the 12th of August. We remained encamped at Hartsville until the 19th. During that time, men and horses were entirely recruited. The citizens supplied all the rations and forage that we needed, and frequently we would have whole stacks of hams, turkeys, chickens, etc. (all cooked) piled up in our camps.
On the 13th of August, the day after we left Gallatin, a Federal force of about twelve hundred men, with four pieces of artillery, came there, and drove Lieutenant Manly and his party away. Manly was killed, and, we learned, after he had surrendered. Sergeant Quirk, of Company A, was sent, with fifteen men, on a scout to Gallatin, next day. He found, when he got there, that this force had left, on the way to Nashville again. He followed, and overtook it, about three miles from Gallatin, as it was preparing to get on the cars. He attacked it immediately, and killed two or three, and captured a few prisoners. The artillery was opened upon him, with canister, but did him no damage. He brought his fifteen men upon them through a cornfield, and got close before he fired. John Donnellan, a soldier who was always in the extreme front in every fight, exerted a powerful voice, in issuing orders to the "Texians" to go one way, the "Indians" another, and "Duke's regiment" to fall on their rear, until he had ostensibly and vociferously disposed in line enough troops to have frightened the "heroes of Marengo."
On the 19th, Colonel Morgan received information that a force of some three hundred infantry had come to Gallatin, and on that evening he started out in pursuit. He had hoped to surprise them in the town, but learned, on the road, that they had left at midnight, and were on their way back to Nashville. Captain Hutchinson, of Company E, of the Second Kentucky, was sent, with his company, to intercept them, if possible, at a point seven miles below Gallatin, where a bridge had been burned, on the railroad, and where it was thought that, probably, a train would be waiting to take them back. The rest of the command pushed on to Gallatin, and reached that place about 8 o'clock on the morning of the 20th. We found that the enemy had taken off nearly every male inhabitant of the place above the age of twelve, and the women were all in terrible distress when we came in. This had been done on account of the kind reception which had been given us in the place, on the 12th. We also found the corpse of one of our men, killed the night before, and the citizens told us that he had been kicked and cuffed after he was shot. As we passed out of town, on the Nashville pike, we saw on the bridge the stain of Manly's blood. The men became very much excited, and could scarcely be kept in the ranks. As we pressed on down the road, we reached the point where Hutchinson had been directed to intercept the party which had been to Gallatin. He had failed to do this, but had captured a stockade garrisoned by forty or fifty men. He came upon the party after which he started, but they had passed the point at which he could have checked them.
Another garrison of fifty men was captured at a stockade still lower down, and we came soon after upon the men we were looking for. We could not prevent the escape of the greater portion, who got on hand cars and ran down the road, but we killed some forty, and released all the prisoners. At Edgefield junction, First Lieutenant Jas. Smith who reached that point first, with a part of his Company (A of the Second Kentucky), attacked the stockade, there, supported by Captain Breckinridge who shortly afterward arrived. The inmates of the stockade made fight, and Smith lost three of his men, and was himself shot through the head, of which wound he soon died. Lieutenant Niles, of Morgan's staff, was also killed at this point, shot through the body with five or six balls. I came up at the time that these officers were shot and ordered the men back. I saw no chance of reducing the work, even with great loss, in the time that would be allowed us.
These stockades were built with heavy upright timber, ten or twelve feet high. They were surrounded by ditches and pierced for musketry. Assailants when right at this bases, were as far from taking them as ever. There was a plan, which I am satisfied would have been successful against them, but I never saw it tried, viz.: to construct bundles of bushwood large enough to shelter a man and compact enough to stop a musket ball, and place a sufficient number of them in the hands of the men, who holding them in front, should advance and press them against the loop-holes—of course riflemen would have to be posted in range, to prevent a sally on the bundle-carriers. The fire from the stockade having been thus stopped, the walls could be chopped down with axes, or brush, in large quantities, could be set on fire and tossed over among the defenders, until they concluded to surrender. This plan, however, would require plenty of time, and that is just what partisan cavalry have least of on such occasions.
Colonel Morgan was much attached to both Smith and Niles, and it was with great difficulty that he could be dissuaded from continuing to attack until the stockade was taken. Lieutenant Smith had been one of the best soldiers in the squadron, and had given universal satisfaction by his conduct as an officer. He was more than ordinarily brave, intelligent and zealous, and would certainly have been made a field-officer if he had lived a few months longer. His men were devotedly attached to him. The repulse at this stockade made us more than ever regret the absence of the howitzers. With them we could have battered it down directly. It was lucky that Hutchinson had caught the garrison of the first one captured, outside of its walls, and as they attempted to enter, his men rushed in with them. The other stockade taken, surrendered without firing a shot. This was a very exciting day; the chase and succession of skirmishes made the whole affair very interesting.
Returning to Gallatin, we met the people of the adjacent country coming with vehicles of every description to convey their recaptured friends back home. The latter weary and footsore, were plodding along as best they might, except when our men would take them behind them or dismount and let them ride their horses. There was a scene of wild congratulation in town, that evening, when they all got in. That night the entire command encamped in the fair grounds. About 12 o'clock, Colonel Morgan received information that a formidable Federal force had passed through Hartsville on the previous afternoon, and was encamped at Castalian Springs, ten miles from Gallatin. He ordered the pickets to be strengthened in that direction, and shrewd scouts were put out to watch their movements closely, but he did not disturb the command, wishing that it should be rested for the next day's work. He had been informed that infantry and artillery composed this force, as well as cavalry, and he knew that if the latter waited on the former, he was in no danger of being forced into a fight that it might be imprudent to make. In the morning the scouts came in, saying that the enemy were rapidly advancing. The column was immediately put in motion, moving toward the enemy, but it was Colonel Morgan's intention to decline battle until more positively informed of the enemy's strength, and when he reached the junction of the Hartsville and Scottsville turnpikes, at the eastern edge of the town, he turned off on the Scottsville pike, which runs nearly at right angles to the other, and northeast.
The enemy, in the meantime, were pressing on vigorously, driving in the scouts and pickets. Colonel Morgan and myself had taken position at the junction of the two roads, as the column filed past, and fearing that we would be taken in flank, or that our rear would be attacked after the entire command had taken the Scottsville road, I advised him to form and fight, saying that I believed we could whip them. He answered that he could "get fights enough, but could not easily get such a command again, if he lost this one." Immediately afterward, seeing the enemy come galloping down the road, he added, with a half smile, "We will have to whip these fellows, sure enough. Form your men, and, as soon as you check them, attack. Gano, who was in the extreme rear, was ordered, as soon as his squadron arrived at the junction of the roads, to charge and drive back the enemy's advance. He did so in his usual dashing, impetuous style. The enemy's advance guard was strong and determined, and met Gano's charge gallantly. As he led on his men, the enemy directed their fire principally at him, but with the good fortune which attended him during four years of dangerous and incessant service, he escaped unhurt, losing, by the shots aimed at him, only his hat and a few locks of hair, which latter was a loss he could well stand, although the other was a serious matter. After a brief struggle, Gano drove back the advance, killing and wounding several. Our entire force, deducting one hundred men used as a guard for the prisoners taken the day before, and other details, was about seven hundred strong. That of the enemy was about the same. On the right of the Hartsville road, as our line faced, was a cornfield. This was immediately occupied by Companies I and K. On the left of the Hartsville pike, and just east of the Scottsville road, was a woodland of some twenty acres. Company D was deployed in this, and immediately cleared it of the enemy, who had entered it, and kept it until the line advanced. To the left of this woodland was a long meadow, five or six hundred yards in extent, and some three hundred broad; to the left of this, again, was another cornfield. The column had gotten some distance upon the Scottsville pike before the command to halt and face toward the enemy had been transmitted to its head, and when these companies mentioned had been formed, there was a gap of nearly two hundred yards opened between them and the others that were further to the front. Toward this gap the enemy immediately darted. Believing that we were seeking to escape upon the Scottsville road, he had thrown the bulk of his force in that direction, at any rate, and it was formed and advanced rapidly and gallantly. Throwing down the eastern fence of the meadow, some three hundred poured into it, formed a long line, and dashed across it, with sabers drawn, toward the line of horses which they saw in the road beyond. Companies B, C, E and F were by this time dismounted, and had dropped on their knees behind the low fence on the road-side, as the enemy came rushing on. They held their fire until the enemy were within thirty yards, when they opened. Then was seen the effect of a volley from that long thin line, which looked so easy to break, and, yet, whose fire was so deadly. Every man had elbow-room and took dead aim at an individual foe, and, as the blaze left the guns, two thirds of the riders and horses seemed to go down. The cavalry was at once broken, and recoiled. Our men sprang over the fence and ran close up to them, as they endeavored to retreat rapidly through the gaps in the fence, by which they had entered, and poured in such another volley that the rout was completed. However, they reformed and came back, but only to be repulsed again. By this time the companies on the right had driven off their opponents in that direction, and had gotten a position where they could enfilade the enemy's line as it strove to advance, and in a little while it was forced back at all points. Gano charged again, and pressed them closely. After retreating about half a mile, the enemy halted and reformed upon a hill which ran for some hundreds of yards parallel with their former line, and on the crest of which were high fences and timber.
As we had repulsed them the last time, some interesting incidents occurred. Captain Leabo, of the Second Indiana, dashed down upon our line, and, coming on himself after his men turned back, was made prisoner. Another individual was made prisoner in the same way, although he did not come with the same intent which inspired the gallant Captain. The wildest looking fellow perhaps in the Federal army came rattling down the pike on a big sorrel horse, which he could not hold, his hair standing on end, his mouth wide open, his shirt collar flying by one end like a flag of truce, and his eyes glazed. He was caught by the greatest wag in the command, and perhaps in the Western Army—the celebrated Jeff. Sterritt. With a look of appalling ferocity, the captor exclaimed: "I don't know whether to kill you now, or to wait until the fight's over." "For God's sake," said the captive, "don't kill me at all. I'm a dissipated character, and not prepared to die."
Company A and the advance-guard had been held until this time in reserve on the extreme left. When our whole line was pressed forward after the retreating enemy, I carried them rapidly in advance of the rest of the line, and through a woods which concealed the movement upon the flank of the enemy's new line just as it was formed. The effect of their fire, then delivered at short range, was decisive, and the enemy instantly broke again, and this time made, at full speed, for the road, and went off in full retreat. The bulk of the command was too far from the line of horses to mount and pursue promptly, but Gano pressed them closely again. Adjutant Wyncoop, son of the Colonel of that name, was killed in this retreat, as he was trying to rally his men. His body was removed to the side of the road, and lay there as we passed, with a coat thrown over his face as if he were unwilling to look upon the rout of his command.
The enemy fell back about three miles, and halted again. Their loss had been very heavy, and perhaps two hundred horses had been killed for them. Nearly all of the men thus dismounted were made prisoners. Colonel Morgan now learned that the officer in command of the troops he had been fighting, was Brigadier-General Johnson, and became satisfied that the infantry and artillery with which the force had been at first provided was not in supporting distance. We subsequently learned that it had been sent back to McMinnville a day or two before.
Just as the horses were brought up and the men were mounted, a flag of truce came from General Johnson proposing an armistice in order that he might bury his dead. Colonel Morgan answered that he could entertain no proposition except unconditional surrender, but shortly afterward sent offering to parole officers and men if a surrender were made. General Johnson replied that "catching came before hanging." Colonel Morgan resolved upon immediate and vigorous pursuit, and believing that in the broken and demoralized condition of the enemy he could safely attempt such a plan, he divided his force into three columns, directing each in a special direction, in order to more certainly encounter the enemy, who had now more than three miles the start of us. Five companies were placed upon the left of the road under Major Morgan. Colonel Morgan himself kept the road with Gano's squadron, while I had the right, with Companies A, B, and E, and the advance-guard, in all about two hundred and twenty-five men. The road bends to the left at about the point where General Johnson had last halted, and as he turned off just there, in order to make for the river, the other two columns missed him altogether, and mine, pressing on rapidly in the direction indicated, was so fortunate as to soon overtake him.
The three companies were formed in parallel columns of fours, with full distance between them, and the advance-guard, thrown out as skirmishers in front. When the enemy was neared, the whole force was thrown into line, and advanced at a gallop. We were not more than fifty yards from the enemy when this was done, but there was a high stone wall between us, which our horses could not leap. This prevented us from closing with them, and enabled them to get some distance ahead of us. As we passed the wall, the original formation was resumed, and we followed at good speed. Soon the advance guard, sent on again in front, reported that the enemy had halted and formed for a fight.
A short reconnoisance showed that they were dismounted and drawn up under a long hill, and about forty yards from its crest, but their formation was defective, in that, instead of presenting a straight, uniform line, so that their numbers could tell, they were formed in the shape of a V, perhaps to meet any movement to flank them. The hill was one of those gentle undulations of the blue-grass pastures, which present perfectly smooth surfaces on either side, and yet rise enough to conceal from those on the one side what is being done on the other.
The three companies and the advance were immediately brought into line and dismounted under cover of the brow of the hill, and moved to a position which would bring the apex of the enemy's formation about opposite the center of our line. When we, then, charged over the hill, although the enemy had some advantage in firing upward, it was more than counterbalanced by the fact that the men upon their flanks could not fire at us at all, while our whole line could fire without difficulty upon any portion of their formation. After a short but sharp fight they gave way again. Our loss in this skirmish was two killed. We captured General Johnson, his Adjutant General, Major Winfrey and several other officers and twenty or thirty privates. In the two engagements the enemy left sixty-four dead on the field, and a number of wounded. About two hundred prisoners were taken.
This force had been selected with great care from all the cavalry of Buell's army, and placed under General Johnson, regarded as one of their best and most dashing officers, for the express purpose of hunting Morgan. It was completely disorganized and shattered by this defeat. A great deal of censure was cast at the time upon these men, and they were accused of arrant cowardice by the Northern press. Nothing could have been more unjust, and many who joined in denouncing them, afterward behaved much more badly. They attacked with spirit and without hesitation, and were unable to close with us on account of their heavy loss in men and horses. They returned two or three times to the attack until they found their efforts unavailing. They could not use their sabers, and they found their breech-loading carbines only incumbrances. They may have shown trepidation and panic toward the last, but, to an enemy (while they were evidently trying to get away) they appeared resolute although dispirited. I have seen troops much more highly boasted than these were before their defeat, behave not nearly so well. Johnson had been very confident. He had boasted as he passed through Hartsville, that he would "catch Morgan and bring him back in a band-box."
Hearing the day before the fight that Forrest was in his rear, he had, very properly, pressed on to fight Morgan before the former came up. His attack was made promptly and in splendid style, his dispositions throughout the first fight were good, and he exhibited fine personal courage and energy. I could never understand his reason for giving battle the second time, without fresh troops, when his men were already dispirited by defeat, and pressed by an enemy flushed with recent victory. He could have gotten off without a fight by a prompt retreat, immediately after his last message to Morgan, and protected, by a judicious use of detachments composed of his best men as rear guards. He was evidently a fine officer, but seemed not to comprehend the "new style of cavalry," at all.
Our loss, in both engagements, was seven killed and eighteen wounded. The conduct of men and officers was unexceptionable. Captains Cassell and Hutchinson and Lieutenant White, of the Second Kentucky, and Lieutenant Rogers of the advance guard, were especially mentioned. Nothing could have exceeded the dash and gallantry of the officers and men of Gano's squadron. The junior Captain Huffman had his arm shattered early in the action, but went through it all, despite the suffering he endured, at the head of his men.
Colonel Morgan in his address to his men, thus summed up the results of the last two days:
"All communications cut off between Gallatin and Nashville; a body of infantry, three hundred strong, totally cut to pieces or taken prisoners the liberation of those kind friends arrested by our revengeful foes, for no other reason than their compassionate care of our sick and wounded, would have been laurels sufficient for your brows. But soldiers, the utter annihilation of General Jonson's brigade, composed of twenty-four picked companies, sent on purpose to take us, raises your reputation as soldiers, and strikes fear into the craven hearts of your enemies. General Johnson and his staff, with two hundred men taken prisoners, sixty-four killed, and one hundred wounded, attests the resistance made, and bears testimony to your valor."
Having burned all the bridges the day before that were under his then immediate supervision, and preferring Hartsville as a place for a somewhat lengthened encampment, he returned to that place on the evening of the 21st. A good writer and excellent officer of Morgan's old command very truly says, in reference to the choice of Hartsville in this respect:
"The selection of this little unknown village was a proof of Morgan's consummate strategic ability." It was a point where it was literally impossible to entrap him. While here, a deserter taken in arms and fighting, was tried by court-martial, sentenced and shot in presence of the command. Forrest reached Hartsville on the 22nd with a portion of his command. He had hurried on to reinforce Morgan before the latter fought Johnson, fearing that the entire original force of infantry, artillery and cavalry, which had left McMinnville with Johnson, would be too much for us. Learning that he was no longer needed in Sumner county, he crossed the river without delay, and in a day or two we heard of his sweeping every thing clean around Nashville. So demoralizing was the effect of the system of immediately paroling prisoners, and sending them off by routes which prevented them from meeting troops of their own army, which had been instituted and practiced, for some time previously to this date, that General Buell found it necessary to issue an order on the subject.
Morgan and Forrest inaugurated the system, and hundreds of prisoners were induced to fall into their hands, by the facilities thus offered them of getting home, who, otherwise, would never have been captured. A man, thus paroled, was lost to the Federal army for months at least, for, even if not inclined to respect his parole, it was hard for the authorities to find him. His gun and equipments, also, became ours. In his order, General Buell said: "The system of paroles as practiced in this army has run into an intolerable abuse. Hereafter no officer or soldier belonging to the forces in this district will give his parole not to take up arms, for the purpose of leaving the enemy's lines, without the sanction of the General commanding this army, except when by reason of wounds or disease, he could not be removed without endangering his life. Any parole given in violation of this order will not be recognized, and the person giving it will be required to perform military duty, and take the risks prescribed by the laws of war," etc.
This order was issued on the 8th of August, before the surrender of Boone. While we were at Hartsville a case of types and printing press had been found in the deserted room once occupied as a printing office, and were immediately put to use. Poor Niles, who had once been an editor, went to work and organized a corps of assistants from among the practical printers, of whom there were several in the Second Kentucky, and issued a small sheet which he called the Vidette. It was printed on any sort of paper that could be procured, and consequently, although perfectly consistent in its politics, it appeared at different times in different colors. Sometimes it would be a drab, sometimes a pale rose color, and, my recollection is, that Boone's surrender was recorded upon a page of delicate pea-green. Colonel Morgan finding the pleasure that it gave the men, took great pains to promote the enterprise. The Vidette was expected with as much interest by the soldiers of the command, and country people, as the Tribune or News, by the reading people of New York. General orders were published in it, promotions announced, and complimentary notices made by Colonel Morgan of the deserving. Full accounts of all our operations were published, and the reports of the various scouting parties filled up the column devoted to "local news." The editors indulged in the most profound and brilliant speculations on the political future, and got off the ablest critiques upon the conduct of the war. As every thing "good" was published, some tremendous and overwhelmingly decisive Confederate victories, of which the official records make no mention, even by name, were described in the Vidette, and the horrors of Federal invasion were depicted in terms which made the citizen reader's blood freeze in his veins.
Contemporary papers were encouraged, or rebuked, as the case might require, with becoming zeal, and the "pestilent opposition sheets" were attacked with that felicitous but inexorable sarcasm which distinguishes editorial contests. The rhetorical expression of contempt or indignation, and the large share which these passions had in the leading articles, justly entitled the "Vidette" to an eminent place among the journals of the period.
About this time there had recently been another call for some hundreds of thousands of men by the Federal Government, and Morgan hoped to avail himself of the disinclination of the Kentuckians to be drafted, to increase his own force. He had dispatched many recruiting agents into the counties of Southern Kentucky, and had instructed them to inform all young men who wished to avoid the draft, that the best way to do it effectually, was to join him. As a great many preferred (of the two armies) the Confederate, they came, when forced to a decision, to the latter. Many, too, had long hesitatingly contemplated "joining Morgan," and the imminent danger of being placed, forcibly, in the other army, quickened their wits and resolution, and they came.
Adam R. Johnson and Woodward, who were at this time operating very successfully in Southwestern Kentucky, got a large number of recruits seeking to avoid the draft. A great many came to Morgan—enough to fill up Desha's company, and, besides increasing all the old companies, to add another company to the regiment. This one was lettered M, and was commanded by Captain W.H. Jones, who became a fine officer, although he had then seen no service. To remedy all trouble from the inexperience of the Captain, Colonel Morgan, in accordance with his usual policy, appointed, as First and Second Lieutenants, Sergeants Thomas Quirk and Ben Drake of Company A. Both had previously distinguished themselves, and both made their mark as officers. Henry Hukill, another Sergeant of Company A, and an excellent soldier, was appointed First Lieutenant of Company L. Gano, also, recruited another company for his squadron at this time. It was a large and fine one, and was commanded by Captain Theophilus Steele, formerly Surgeon of the Second Kentucky infantry, but he was one of that kind of Surgeons, who, in war, prefer inflicting wounds to curing them.
A short repose at Hartsville was interrupted by the most welcome and stirring summons we had ever received. This was an order from General Kirby Smith to Colonel Morgan, to meet him at Lexington, Kentucky, on the 2nd of the coming month (September).
It will be impossible for the men, whose history I am writing, to ever forget this period of their lives. The beautiful country in which it was passed, the blue-grass pastures and the noble trees, the encampments in the shady forests, through which ran the clear cool Tennessee waters, the lazy enjoyments of the green bivouacs, changing abruptly to the excitement of the chase and the action, the midnight moonlit rides amidst the lovely scenery, cause the recollections which crowd our minds, when we think of Gallatin and Hartsville, to mingle almost inseparably with the descriptions of romance. In this country live a people worthy of it. In all the qualities which win respect and love, in generosity, honesty, devoted friendship, zealous adherence to what they deem the right, unflinching support of those who labor for it, in hospitality and kindliness, the Creator never made a people to excel them. May God bless and prosper them, and may they and their children, only, at the judgment day, "arise from that corner of the earth, to answer for the sins of the brave."
Bidding our friends at Hartsville farewell, we set out for the heart of Kentucky on the morning of the 29th. Never were men in higher and more exultant spirits, and cheer after cheer rang from the front to the rear of the column, and when these evidences of enthusiastic joy at length ceased the way was enlivened with laugh, jest, and song. Passing by the Red Sulphur Springs, we reached Scottsville, in Allen county, Kentucky, on that night and encamped at 12 o'clock a few miles beyond. Stokes' and Haggard's regiments of Federal cavalry were reported to be in that section of the country, and the necessity for somewhat careful scouting could not be ignored. We saw nothing of them, however, and resuming our march early the next morning, reached Glasgow about 10 A.M.
At Glasgow we found rumors prevailing, as yet undefined and crude, of Kirby Smith's advance through Southeastern Kentucky. Our friends in Glasgow welcomed us with their usual kindness and after enjoying their hospitality for some hours, we marched off on the Columbia road. Encamping that night at Green river, we reached Columbia, in Adair county, on the next day about 12 P.M., and remained there until the next morning.
The reason for the slow marching of the last two days, had been Colonel Morgan's anxiety to obtain some information of the two howitzers, which were being escorted from Knoxville, under charge of his brother and Aide-Campe Captain C.H. Morgan, with an escort of seventy-five men. This escort was composed of men who had been granted furloughs, and of convalescent sick and wounded men, returning to the command. These men were all well armed, and were under the immediate command of Captain Allen, who was assisted by several excellent officers. When this party reached Sparta, it marched, in accordance with instructions sent there for its guidance, to Carthage, and thence to Red Sulphur Springs, following, then, directly in the track of the column. Stokes' cavalry heard of them, and pursued. Once, this regiment came very near falling foul of them. The party had encamped late at night, and as a measure of precaution, the horses were taken back some distance into the woods, and the men were made to lie down in line, concealed by the brush—the howitzers were planted to sweep the road. No fires were lighted. Shortly afterward, the regiment in pursuit of them passed by, moving not more than twenty yards from the line, without discovering it; whether a discovery would have benefited the said regiment, will never be known, although there are many private opinions about the matter.
When the party reached Glasgow—it was in the middle of the night—Captain Morgan could get no information about the whereabouts of the command for some time. He was supposed to be a Federal officer. At last he was recognized and, at once, got the necessary information.
On the same occasion, an incident occurred, which illustrated well the coolness and self-possession which characterized the men of Morgan's command, in the peculiar service to which they were inured. A party of some twenty men had been sent, before Colonel Morgan left Hartsville, to carry dispatches to Johnson and Woodward, inviting them to co-operate with Morgan. In returning, this party learned that Colonel Morgan was on the march for Central Kentucky, and immediately changed route to join him the more speedily, and this change brought them to Glasgow at this time. Neither of these parties knew of the other's presence, or anticipated any such meeting, until they suddenly encountered in the streets of Glasgow. Fortunately, the party coming from the West was under the command of a young officer of more than ordinary coolness and shrewdness, as well as daring—Lieutenant Houston Hopkins. Each of these detachments had every reason to believe that the other was an enemy. The bulk of the command had long passed this point, so long that the rear-guard, scouts, every thing of the kind, ought to have been gone, and the enemy in considerable numbers was not far off. Yet, with a sort of instinct, each forbore to fire, until more positively assured of what the other was. They came within twenty yards of each other—so close that the officers of each, could hear the muttered speculations of the others as to their probable character.
The larger detachment, under Captain Allen, immediately formed across the road, and advanced slowly, with guns at a "ready." The other wheeled rapidly, and fell back about two hundred yards, halted, and also formed. Lieutenant Hopkins then rode back to within a short distance of Captain Allen, and entered into a parley with him, which, of course, soon ended in recognition. When it is remembered that the first wish and impulse of both parties, when two hostile detachments meet, is, generally, to get the first fire, and make the quickest dash, it will be conceded that on this occasion there was exhibited rare coolness and discretion.
Captain Morgan had dispatched a courier to his brother, informing him of his line of march, which courier reached Columbia soon after the command had gone into camp there. Gano's squadron was immediately sent back to reinforce the escort, and met it shortly after it had left Glasgow. The necessary delay for the arrival of the guns caused us to remain at Columbia for two days. Resuming the march on the day after they came, at an early hour the command moved in the direction of Liberty, in Casey County. In the vicinity of this place, we saw, in the brief time that we remained, more active and business-like bushwhacking than ever before in our entire service. The hills along the road seemed alive with them, and from behind every fourth or fifth tree apparently, they were blazing away at us. Every Southern reader will understand at once what sort of individual is meant by a "bushwhacker"—that he is a gentleman of leisure, who lives in a wild and, generally, a mountainous country, does not join the army, but shoots, from the tops of hills, or from behind trees and rocks, at those who are so unfortunate as to differ with him in politics. It is his way of expressing his opinions. His style of fighting is very similar to that of the outlying scouts of partisan cavalry, except that he esteems it a weakness and an unnecessary inconvenience to take prisoners, and generally kills his captives. Sometimes, and especially toward the latter part of the war, these fellows would band together in considerable numbers, make certain portions of the country impassable, except to strong detachments, and even undertake expeditions into neighboring sections.
There were "Union bushwhackers" and "Southern bushwhackers;" in Kentucky, the former were more numerous. "It is a gratifying reflection," to use the language of one of Colonel Clarence Prentice's official reports, "that many of them will 'whack' no more." In the Northern mind, bushwhackers and guerrillas are confounded together, an egregious error in classification. It is probable that the bushwhacker of this country would answer exactly to the guerrilla of European warfare; but the guerrilla of North America is, or rather was (for happily he is almost, if not quite extinct), an animal entirely distinct from either. Formerly the Northern press styled all the Southern cavalry guerrillas, because they traveled about the country freely, and gave their enemies some trouble. This, however, was when the Federal cavalry used to still ride with pillows on their saddles, were put to bed carefully every night by the General commanding, and encamped on the march in the midst of infantry regiments, who were instructed to see that their horses did not hurt them, etc. When the hardy, dashing regiments of the latter part of the war—after, indeed, the first eighteen months—began to do real service, the Northern writers found that they would be called on to record as cavalry operations the very kind of affairs which they had been accustomed to chronicle as guerrilla irregularities.
A guerrilla was, properly speaking, a man who had belonged to some army, and had deserted and gone to making war on his private account. He was necessarily a marauder, sometimes spared his former friend, and was much admired by weak young women who were afflicted with a tendency toward shoddy romance.
On this march through Casey county, the bushwhackers were unusually officious. The advance-guard, which for some reason had gone on some distance in front, reached Liberty about two hours before the column, and during that time were fairly besieged in the place. Colonel Morgan himself made a narrow escape. One fellow, more daring than the others, had come down from the hills, and had approached within seventy yards of the road. He fired at Morgan, missing him, but wounded a little negro boy, his servant, who was riding by his side, receiving some order. The man, who fired, at once ran back to the hill, followed by one or two of our fellows from the head of the column. He was killed by private, afterward Captain Thomas Franks, who made an excellent shot, hitting the bushwhacker in the head while he was running at top speed, and Franks himself was going at a rapid gallop.
That night we reached Houstonville, about fourteen miles from Danville, and learned there of General Smith's complete victory at Richmond, and of the probability that he was already at Lexington. This news excited the men very much, and sleep was banished from the camp that night. Early on the next morning we started for a good day's march, and reached Danville about ten A.M., halted there some three hours, and, resuming the march, reached Nicholasville, twenty-three miles distant, and twelve from Lexington, at dusk.
On the next day, the 4th of September, the command entered Lexington about 10 A.M., amid the most enthusiastic shouts, plaudits, and congratulations. Colonel Morgan (as has been said) and many of his officers and men, were formerly citizens of Lexington, and many others came from the vicinity of the place; relations and friends, therefore, by the score, were in the crowd which thronged the streets of the town.
The people of this particular section of Kentucky, known as the Blue-grass region, had always been strongly Southern in their views and sympathies, and this occasion, except that of General Smith's entrance a day or two before, was the first chance they had ever had to manifest their political proclivities. Some of them shortly afterward were very sorry, doubtless, that they had been so candid. The command, at this time, numbered about eleven hundred men. The Second Kentucky had been greatly increased, and, after deducting all losses, was nearly, if not quite nine hundred strong. Gano's squadron numbered about two hundred effectives. The rapidity with which recruits came to Morgan was astonishing. Captain Breckinridge was immediately granted authority, by General Smith, to raise a battalion of four companies, to serve in Morgan's brigade. He was permitted to take his own company (I) out of the Second Kentucky, as a nucleus for his battalion organization, and in a very short time he had gotten three other large and fine companies, and he could (if he had been permitted) have recruited a regiment with as little trouble.
Gano was granted authority to raise a regiment, and in a very short time had recruited three companies. Active service, which necessitated rapid and continuous marching, interfered for a time with the organization of his regiment, but it was eventually completed. Second Lieutenant Alexander, of Company E, Second Kentucky, was given permission to raise a company, in the vicinity of Harrodsburg, Mercer county, and in four or five days returned with a company of over sixty men, which was admitted into the Second Kentucky, and lettered H, a letter which had been in disuse in the regiment, since the partition of the company which bore Alston into a Captaincy. Lieutenant S.D. Morgan, of Company A, was also authorized to recruit a company, and soon did it. It was admitted into the Second Kentucky as Company I, in place of Breckinridge's. The Second Kentucky now numbered twelve companies, and nearly eleven hundred effective men. Almost immediately, upon arriving at Lexington, Captain Desha resigned the Captaincy of Company L. He was a very fine officer, and we all regretted to part with him. He received authority to recruit a regiment of infantry, and had partially succeeded, when the retreat from Kentucky commenced. He then entered Colonel Thomas Hunt's regiment, the Fifth Kentucky infantry. In the last year of the war he was offered a Brigadier's commission, but declined it upon the ground that ill-health would not permit him to exercise the duties required of him, in such a station, without delay. Private John Cooper, of Company A, was appointed Captain in his stead—he had previously been elected color-bearer of the regiment, when Colonel Morgan had directed the officers to choose the best man in the regiment to bear a flag presented to him by the ladies of the State.
Every company of the Second Kentucky was increased by recruits, during the first week after our arrival. Two gentlemen, Colonels Cluke and Chenault, were authorized to recruit regiments for Morgan's brigade, and immediately went to work to do so.
As soon as the first greetings had been passed with our friends, every man was curious to learn the particulars of General Smith's march through Southeastern Kentucky, and of the fight at Richmond. General Smith had collected at Knoxville, and other points in East Tennessee, some twenty thousand men, and leaving eight thousand, under General Stephenson, in front of Cumberland Gap, then occupied by the Federal General G.W. Morgan, with eight or nine thousand men, he, with twelve thousand men, and thirty or forty pieces of artillery, pressed through the Big Creek and Rogers gaps (of the Cumberland mountains), and marched rapidly for the Blue-grass country. Master of Lexington, he would have the terminus of the two railroads, and, indeed, one half of the State of Kentucky. A complete defeat of the forces, then in that region, would clear his path to Louisville, in the one direction, and to Covington in the other. He would be in no danger, until forces were collected and organized in sufficient strength at Cincinnati, to march against and push him away. As for Buell's army, it was General Bragg's duty to take care of that. General Smith had with his army about one thousand cavalry. This force, under Colonel John Scott, advancing some distance in his front, fell upon Metcalfe's regiment, eleven or twelve hundred strong, on the Bighill, fifteen miles from Richmond, and thoroughly defeated and dispersed it. Even after this affair, the Federal commander remained in ignorance of any force, besides the cavalry under Scott, having approached in that direction, until General Smith, having pressed on with wonderful celerity and secrecy, had gotten within a few miles of Richmond.
Then every available man was concentrated at Richmond and pushed out to meet the invading column. The collision occurred on the 29th of August. General Smith had marched so rapidly, his men had fared so badly (having subsisted for ten days on green corn), and their badly shod feet were so cut by the rough stony way, that his column was necessarily somewhat prolonged, although there was little of what might be called straggling. Consequently, he could put into the fight only about six thousand men. Heath was some distance in the rear. He attacked as soon as he came upon the enemy, drove them, and although three several stands were made, his advance was never seriously checked. The last stand, and hardest fight, was made in the outskirts of the little town of Richmond itself, and when the enemy was driven from the town, his route was complete. The Federal commander General Nelson was wounded. The enemy's loss was over one thousand in killed and wounded, and six thousand prisoners were taken and paroled. General Smith's loss was nine hundred in killed and wounded.
Scott with the cavalry, pressed the fugitives for many miles. The route and disintegration of the Federal army was such, that perhaps not a single command maintained its organization, and the stream of fugitives poured through Lexington all Saturday night and Sunday, toward Louisville and Cincinnati. This decisive victory finished General Smith's part of the programme, and closed his campaign, for the time, with the possession of all that part of Kentucky. On the 1st of September, General Smith took possession of Lexington, and on the 2nd or 3rd he dispatched General Heath with five or six thousand men toward Covington. General Smith issued the strictest orders for the maintenance of order and discipline, and the prevention of excesses or mal-conduct among his troops, of any description. Such was the state of discipline that he had brought his army to before, that these orders were little needed. He also went energetically to work to encourage enlistments in his ranks, to organize every department, necessary to the subsistence and equipment of his army, and to collect supplies.
Notwithstanding the efforts that were made to induce the Kentuckians to enlist as infantry, very few would do so, and those who did, joined regiments which came in with General Smith; not a single infantry regiment was raised during the time that the Confederate army was in the State. All of the Kentuckians who joined at that time, wanted to ride. As a people, they are fond of horses, and if they went to war at all, they thought it a too great tax upon them to make them walk.
A brigadier's commission was given to Captain Abram Buford (formerly of the regular army), a man well known and very popular in this portion of Kentucky, and he was authorized to recruit a mixed brigade of infantry and cavalry. He got three fine regiments of cavalry, under Colonels Butler, Smith and Grigsby, without any trouble, but not an infantryman. The two last of the above named regiments, were subsequently assigned to Morgan. One reason why so many enlisted in cavalry (independently of the decided preference of the Kentuckians for that branch of the service), was the fact, that companies and regiments had, in many instances, their men bespoken and ready to enlist with them as soon as a favorable opportunity should occur. Many (also), had made up their minds to join Morgan when he next came through the country. Men who expected to become soldiers (under such circumstances), would of course wish to join the cavalry, and made all their preparations to enlist in that arm of the service.
Had a decisive battle been fought and won by General Bragg, there is little doubt but that the majority of that class of men, who were waiting for that event before they enlisted, would then have enlisted as infantry. Two or three days after we reached Lexington, four companies of the Second Kentucky were sent with the two howitzers, to capture the stockade at the bridge over Salt river, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and burn the bridge. The expedition was under command of Captain Hutchinson. This officer had some days previously been made, at my request, Acting Lieutenant Colonel of my regiment (the Second Kentucky), and he was always afterward addressed by that title, and was subsequently given the position. Hutchinson was a singularly active and energetic officer, and possessed the shrewdness as well as daring which eminently qualified him for the command of detachments. He made a tremendous march, and arrived at his destination, before any Federal force, which could have intercepted him or have marched to prevent his purpose, heard of his coming.
The garrison of the stockade was some one hundred and fifty strong. He placed his men in position around it, and planted his howitzers to command it. He then sent Captain Bowles to demand the surrender of the garrison, telling him that he would allow but twenty minutes for the negotiation.