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John Hunt Morgan

By John T. Marck

Although he was born in Huntsville, Alabama on June 1, 1825, he family moved Kentucky where they were one of the states more renowned families. Morgan went to Transylvania College in Lexington for only two years, as he was suspended for problems he got into with another student, leaving in 1842.

For one year, from 1846 to 1847, Morgan fought in the Mexican War, serving as a lieutenant of volunteers. In 1847 on his return home from Mexico, he purchased a hemp (plants that yields a course fiber) factory and woolen mill. Ten years later in 1857, he established the Lexington Rifles, a local militia unit, that upon the start of the Civil War in 1861, followed Morgan in the Confederate army.

Morgan first served under Confederate General Simon B. Buckner, and was promoted to colonel of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry on April 4, 1862. That December, on the eleventh, he was promoted to brigadier general. Morgan began very well known as one of the Confederacy's most daring, legendary commanders, noted for his various raiding parties. Morgan was a quintessential cavalry fighter, like his counterpart in the East, J.E.B. Stuart. Even in battle, Morgan, who dressed impeccably, was the perfect picture of a Southern gentleman. Although he did not have much formal military training, he did process an instinctive talent that seemed to compensate for his lack of training. A fearless commander, he soon earned the respect and dedication of his men.

Having operated almost exclusively in the West under the ultimate command of Major General Joseph Wheeler, he was most famous for his raids into Tennessee and Kentucky. In July 1862, their raids and rampaging in Kentucky lasted three weeks, in spite of being pursued by Union troops, but remained seemingly invincible.

In July 1863, Morgan and his raiders went on their final cavalry romp, in a reckless twenty-four day ride through southern Indiana and Ohio, ending upon Morgan's capture. He was then sent to Ohio Penitentiary, where he eventually escaped. On September 3, 1864, in a surprise Union cavalry fight at Greeneville, Tennessee, John Hunt Morgan was shot and killed.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.