One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry
edited by Kent Masterson Brown, University Press of Kentucky
Few Civil War units enjoy the high profile and popularity that John Hunt Morgan’s “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy” cavalry commands with modern audiences. Respected historian Kent Masterson Brown has edited an account of life in Morgan’s command penned by Lieutenant John Marion Porter, a seemingly ordinary farmer and dry-goods clerk from Butler County, Ky., who wrote about his experiences following the war.
Porter’s absorbing account blurs the line between soldier and partisan as he moves in and out of Kentucky (and uniform), avoiding capture by Union occupying forces, destroying railroad and river transports and frequently stealing time with friends and family in Butler County. Porter often worked away from Morgan’s main command, participating in small raiding parties. But he returned to the division regularly, thus providing insight into both small-unit tactics and larger strategic moves in conjunction with the Army of Tennessee.
A thoughtful observer, Porter chronicles some of the bitter divisions that occurred in Kentucky as both Unionists and Southern sympathizers attempted to remain true to their principles and live together in the midst of a controversial Union occupation and ongoing guerrilla warfare. An interesting aspect of Porter’s account is the frequency with which he reports being fired upon in Kentucky—not by Union troops, but by bushwhackers and angry citizens.
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.