Friday, December 28, 2012
Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan, with a knack for raiding and disrupting Union rail and supply lines, embarked on his famed Christmas raid into Kentucky.
Morgan and about 4,000 Confederate cavalry troops under his command left Tennessee on Dec. 22, 1862, beginning a mission to harass and disrupt Union troops and supply lines in the key border state.
All told, his troopers destroyed miles of railroad tracks, cut telegraph lines, burned supply depots and briefly occupied several Kentucky towns along the way, capturing and then paroling numerous Union troops.
By Dec. 28, 1862, he approached a key objective: two tall railroad trestles of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. After an artillery barrage on two nearby Union stockades, Morgan captured hundreds of prisoners and burned the trestles.
Then, after New Year's Eve, his forces retreated into Tennessee. Many in the South would boast of his daring. By May he would be lauded by the Confederate Congress for his heroic service to the secession.
Still later in the war, he was captured and imprisoned by the Union. He later escaped, making his way back behind Confederate lines, only to be shot and killed in Tennessee in 1864.