Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Forrest's and Morgan's Kentucky and Tennessee Raids, 1862

Dates: 4-27 July, 1862


Union: Major General Don Carlos Buell, command the Army of the Ohio.

Confederate: Colonels John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Prelude: At this point in the war in Tennessee, the Federals were making inroads into the state. There was an offensive to take the Mississippi River at the west end of the state, while another offensive, led by Buell, was aimed at taking Chattanooga. While the Confederate Army in the West tried to stem the tide on the river, it was decided to see how Buell could be tied up. There were no other organized armies in the area, however, there was cavalry that could be used. Two bodies of cavalry were available, under commanders who were proving in the early stages of the war to be both bold and capable.

Forrest did not have any military experience. He actually was a plantation owner who also did business as a slave trader. When the Civil War broke out, the Tennessee native enlisted as a private in a local cavalry outfit. He soon organized and outfitted (at his own expense) his own unit, becoming its colonel. Forrest displayed his independent streak by taking his command out of Fort Donelson the night before its surrender.

Morgan did have some military experience, with service in the Mexican War. Pre-Civil War, he was a merchant who sided with the South, even though his state of Kentucky never seceded.

Both would prove a pain in the side to the Federals.

4 July, 1862: Morgan departs Knoxville, TN on his raid.

The 2nd KY Cavalry, with 876 troopers, heads west to Crossville, then to Sparta, where they turn north. They are joined by Georgians, Texans, and Tennesseans. Over the next few days, they ride on to Cookville, then head northwest to Celina, finally crossing the line into Kentucky.

9 July, 1862: Forrest departs Chattanooga with 1400 troopers, heading northwest to McMinnville. He will spend a few days there.

On that same day, Morgan’s force surprises, then drives off, a Union cavalry detachment at Tomkinsville.

Morgan has plans for information gathering. The Federals had the area wired for telegraph communication. Among his troopers was a telegrapher who was able to tap into Union lines and monitor their communications. This would keep Morgan away from any traps.
Morgan’s troopers then headed north to Glasgow, then Horse Cove, on the Louisville and Kentucky Railroad. Afterwards, they cut east, then north, heading towards Lebanon.

11-12 July, 1862: Morgan’s raiders strike Lebanon, driving off its garrison of 100 and seizing a large number of supplies. The supplies would be needed for troopers living in the saddle.

13 July, 1862: Meanwhile, Forrest was not idle; his troops ride past Woodbury, then turned west to hit a Union garrison of 1040 commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Crittenden at Murfreesboro. They were able to capture the garrison and free some hostages being held there. Afterwards, they rode back to McMinnville.

Now these Union troops who were taken prisoner could not be taken with the raiders. There were not enough horses, nor troopers who could be spared. Both Morgan and Forrest took the parole of their captives, keeping them out of the fight until an equal number of Confederates that were being held prisoner were released.

Morgan had the intention to take Lexington, but the growing number of defending Federals prevented this. Instead, Morgan continues northeast.

17 July, 1862: Morgan’s troops reach Cynthiana, surrounding and then capturing the town after a fierce battle, losing eight killed and 28 wounded to the Federals 17 killed and 34 wounded.

Morgan decides that this is enough, he decides to head back to Tennessee. His troopers first go north to Clarksville, then turn south, riding to Paris, Winchester, Richmond, Crab Orchard, Somerset, and Monticello before crossing back into Tennessee. He finally stops at Livingston, completing his raid, on or about 22 July.

Forrest was also ready to create some more havoc.

18 July, 1862: Forrest leaves McMinnville with 700 men and proceeds to raid the countryside. They head north to Smithville, but then heads west to Liberty. Passing Liberty, they then head for Lebanon (this one in Tennessee), where there was a Federal garrison.

20 July, 1862: At Lebanon, the sight of hundreds of screaming Confederate cavalry troops shocked the small Federal garrison, causing then to run for their lives towards Nashville, Forrest follows.

21 July, 1862: Forrest’s troops strike the Union picket line near Nashville. They ride through the area south of the city, tearing up bridges, rail lines, and telegraph lines. Not wanting to force a major engagement with a major Union garrison, Forrest heads south.

The Federals send out a detachment to try to stop Forrest, but he manages to keep away from any more engagements. The Union troops begin guarding rail lines in order to keep Forrest away.

27 July, 1862: Forrest attacks a Union detachment guarding the rail line between Murfreesboro and McMinnville, killing three and taking 15 prisoners. Forrest then returns to McMinnville, where the operation comes to an end.

Morgan traveled 1000 miles, captured or destroyed millions of dollars of supplies, and captured 1200 Federal soldiers, all for a loss of 90.

Forrest did not travel as far as that, but his effect was no less spectacular.

12 August, 1862: To put an exclamation point on his operations, Morgan destroyed the tunnel on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, severing Buell’s supply line and putting Chattanooga out of reach for the time being.

The Union offensive in Eastern Tennessee was stopped.

The Confederates were ready to defend their territory with any means necessary.

Morgan would make his famous raid into Indiana and Ohio the next year.

Forrest would go on to various cavalry commands, both with the Army of Tennessee as well as independent commands. He would be a fixture in the Deep South for quite a while yet.

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