John Hunt Morgan, the ‘Thunderbolt of the Confederacy’, came from a well-to-do background, unlike his fellow raider, Nathan Bedford Forrest. His division ‘represented a full share of the chivalry and flower’ of Southern gentry ‘including doctors, lawyers… even clergymen’. But when unleashed they were brutally effective. The Kentucky raid of 1862 was meant to clear the way for the forthcoming Confederate invasion of the state, by destroying Union communications links and supply bases. In this, it was successful, routing Union cavalry at Tomkinsville, destroying their stores at Lebanon. The climax was a pitched battle at Cynthiana, where the raiders prevailed, destroying the Union rail depot and camp. Their secondary aim was to stir pro-Confederacy sentiment to prompt recruitment to the southern cause. Morgan was fêted wherever he went, and claimed that the Kentuckians were ready to flock to the Confederate cause. Subsequent events would prove this optimism misplaced.
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