Monroe County strongly supported the Union during the Civil War. There were over 800 Monroe Countians who joined the Union army compared to less than 30 joining the Confederacy. It is said that more men served in the Union army, here, than in any other county in Kentucky. Both Union and Confederate forces considered Kentucky crucial to success. Lincoln is reputed to have said that he hoped to have God on his side, but that he must have Kentucky. In Kentucky, more than any other state, the Civil War was truly a war of brother against brother. There are many people who visit Civil War sites and trace Morgan's battles here in Tompkinsville and in the county. His famous First Kentucky Raid was the biggest event to happen in Monroe County during the Civil War.
The Battle of Tompkinsville
9th of July 1862
During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces sought control over Monroe County and especially Tompkinsville. The first part of 1862 saw an increased number of Confederates in the area. The Union, trying to maintain supremacy in this part of the state, sent four companies of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry to Tompkinsville. They were led by Major Thomas Jefferson Jordan, had 230 soldiers, and contained a large supply train. Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan was launching his famous First Kentucky Raid and his first objective was the destruction of the Union forces in Tompkinsville. Morgan and his raiders left Celina, Tennessee on July 8th at 10:00 PM and marched all night to surprise his foe. The early morning of July 9, 1862, the peaceful little town of Tompkinsville was awakened by the thunder of cannon fire. At 5:00am the Confederate forces surprised and surrounded the Union garrison. The raiders positioned two cannons and fired into the camp, then carried it by a dashing charge. Within two hours the battle was over. The Confederates had captured the garrison and many Union soldiers, including Major Jordan. This, Morgan's first raid, yielded 20 wagons, 50 mules, 40 cavalry horses, supplies of sugar, coffee, etc. Union and Confederate reports contradict each other as to the tactics, number of troops, injuries, and fatalities of the battle. The following, official reports written by the commanding officers, best describe the battle. They are copied from War of the Rebellion, Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Colonel Morgan's official report, written immediately after the battle to Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, reads as follows:
Reports of Col. John H. Morgan, Second Kentucky Cavalry (Confederate) commanding expedition. BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, Tompkinsville, Ky., July 9, 1862. SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived with my command at the Cumberland River and passed the ford at about 2pm yesterday, 8th instant. My forces consisted of Colonel Hunt's Georgia regiment cavalry, my own regiment, and a squadron of Texas Rangers; we were joined at the river by two companies under Captains Hamilton and McMillin. I received information that the enemy had passed the Cumberland River at Celina the day of my arrival with about 180 men, but did not deem it right to attack that force, as I was aware that a considerable body of cavalry, about 380 or 400 strong, were stationed at this town, and I thought by rapid night march I might succeed in surprising them. I left the river at 10pm on the 8th instant, and at 5am this day I surprised the enemy, and having surrounded them, threw four shells into their camp, and then carried it by a dashing charge. The enemy fled, leaving about 22 dead and 30 to 40 wounded in our hands. We have 30 prisoners and my Texas squadron are still in pursuit of the fugitives. Among the prisoners is Major Jordan, their commander, and two lieutenants. The tents, stores, and camp equipage I have destroyed, but a valuable baggage train, consisting of some 20 wagons and 50 mules is in my possession; also some 40 cavalry horses, and supplies of sugar, coffee, etc. I did not lose a single man in killed, but have to regret that Colonel Hunt, while leading a brilliant charge, received a severe wound in the leg, which prevents his going on with the command. I also had three members of the Texas squadron wounded, but not seriously... Very respectfully, JOHN H. MORGAN, Colonel, Commanding.
He practiced law and ran a lumber business in Harrisburg until the Civil War broke out. He immediately took a commission as aide to Major-General William Hugh Keim. Keim was raising volunteers in Pennsylvania and subsequently commanded a brigade in the Shenandoah Valley. With Keim, Jordan first saw action at Falling Waters in early July 1861. During the summer that followed, he was promoted to Major and ordered to assist in the recruiting and organization of a cavalry unit that became the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry in October 1861. Known as the "Lochiel Cavalry," it had also the designation of Ninety-Second U.S. Volunteer Cavalry. The unit was deployed to the Cumberland Valley with Major Jordan as the commander of its Third Battalion and saw action in Kentucky and Tennessee in early 1862. At Tompkinsville, Kentucky, on July 9, 1862, a superior force of Confederate raiders surprised Jordan and three companies of the Third Battalion. Jordan organized a fighting retreat but elements of the rearguard and Jordan himself were captured. As a prisoner, he came under attack for alleged ill-treatment of civilians in Sparta, Tennessee the previous May and was moved from Richmond's Libby Prison to Castle Thunder Prison in the city to face charges. Investigations found that his unit had only been in Sparta for a few hours and that the charges were based on Jordan's demand to the women of the town quickly to prepare a meal for his men. He was exonerated and subsequently exchanged. He returned to his regiment in January 1863 and was appointed as commanding colonel. He distinguished himself at Shelbyville and at Chickamauga and was appointed a brigade commander in the 3rd Cavalry Division participating in the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. He ended the war in North Carolina and his unit was disbanded and mustered out on July 18, 1865. He himself had been named Brevet Brigadier-General of Volunteers earlier, in February. He had married before the war and he corresponded extensively with his wife, Jane, during the war. Thomas Jefferson Jordan died in Wilmington, Delaware on April 3, 1895 and was buried in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery. He was seventy-three years old.
Major Jordan, captured during the battle, wrote his official report of the battle to Brigadier General J. T. Boyle on December 29, 1862, while at Louisville, KY. It is more complete in battle detail. His report reads as follows:
Reports of Maj. Thomas J. Jordan, Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Union), of the capture of Tompkinsville. Louisville KY., December 29, 1862. SIR: On July 6, I was in command of the post at Tompkinsville, KY. having with me companies C, I, and M of the 9th Pennsylvania Calvary. During that day I was informed that a large body of the enemy were collecting at Celina, a little village on the south side of the Cumberland River, some 20 miles from me. About the same time I learned that Company E, of my regiment, was at Glasgow, KY, 27 miles north of me. I at once ordered that company to join me, which it did about noon of the 7th, thus making my command about 230 effective men. With this force I determined to attack Celina, and, if possible, capture or disperse the forces of the enemy at that point before they could be fully concentrated. At 8 o'clock on that night I moved from my camp with my whole command, leaving only a detachment of Company M to guard my tent and stores. I succeeded in crossing the Cumberland at a point 12 miles north of Celina, and at daylight on the morning of the 8th entered the place, but I was disappointed in not finding the enemy. I made every inquiry probable from the inhabitants, but all denied any knowledge of forces being either there or in the neighborhood. Thinking that I had been misled, but far from being satisfied, I marched back to my camp, at which I arrived about 8 o'clock in the evening. I at once ordered the usual pickets to be posted on all the roads leading to my position, and also an extra one far out on the Celina Road, so as to secure my camp against surprise during the night. As day broke on the morning of the 9th revile was sounded, and in a few moments my men were busily engaged in feeding and cleaning their horses. My officers were all at their posts, when a faint discharge of firearms was heard far out on the Celina Road. I at once ordered the horses to be saddled, and in a few moments my pickets reported the enemy approaching in large force, and within a minute the head of Colonel Morgan's command began to deploy from the woods into an open field some 300 yards from me. I soon found that his force outnumbered mine by six to one, but as he showed no disposition to charge me, I deemed it not prudent to retreat. His command soon opened to the right and left in front of me, displaying two pieces of cannon in position, which at once opened upon me with shell. I replied with my carbines, and could distinctly see that we were doing good execution. Finding at the tenth round of the enemy that they were getting my range and seeing a movement from their right flank intended to gain my rear I gave the order to wheel and retreat. This movement was done with the precision of a parade, my men remaining perfectly cool and obedient to my orders.
To gain the Burkesville Road it was necessary that my retreat should go through a deep woods in my rear. I had not entered it but a few yards when I was opened upon by a line of the enemy, consisting of two squadrons of Texas Rangers, who had been thrown in my rear. I at once ordered my men to charge the line, which they did in the most gallant style, literally overturning the Rangers and driving them from the field. The Burkesville Road being gained, my retreat was conducted in a most orderly manner, the enemy not pursuing us until we had gained some 2 miles, when, hearing firing in my rear, I deemed it proper for me to personally look to my rear guard, that I had placed under charge of Lt. Sullivan, of Company E. For this purpose I rode to the rear of my column and found that the firing proceeded from beyond a turn in the road some 200 yards behind my rear guard. Fearing that some of my men might have been separated from my command and were being attacked I rode back to the turn, so as to be able to see, when I discovered Lt. Sullivan in the act of being murdered by some 20 of the enemy, who had surrounded him. I at once turned my horse for the purpose of rejoining my command, when I found two of the enemy already in the road before me and in a moment after they were increased to 6, thus entirely cutting me off from my men. I determined to try to force my way through them, with my pistol answering to their shot-guns, but I soon found that resistance would be a madness and surrendered myself as a prisoner of war. After I had surrendered I was fired upon at the distance of but a few feet, the charge, happily for me, missing its mark but blackening the side of my face with powder. The forces of Colonel Morgan on that occasion consisted of his own brigade, Colonel Hunt's (Fifth Georgia) regiment of cavalry, a regiment of Alabama cavalry, two squadrons of Texas Rangers, and the independent companies of Captains Bledsoe, Hamilton, McMillin, and Ferguson, numbering in all some 2,000 men, with two pieces of artillery. My loss was 4 killed (including Lt. Sullivan), 7 wounded, and 19 prisoners. I also lost my tents, wagons, mules, and personal baggage of my command. On the part of the enemy, I have been informed that 19 were killed or mortally wounded and 28 slightly. Colonel Hunt was mortally wounded and died at Tompkinsville. I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and bravery displayed by my officers and men. My orders were promptly obeyed and every one did his whole duty... Respectfully Submitted. THOS. J. JORDAN, Major, Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Col. Thomas F. Berry, one of Morgan's Men, wrote another conflicting report of the Battle of Tompkinsville in his autobiography Four years with Morgan and Forrest. It states the following:
Continuing our march, we reached Tompkinsville, where we encountered a Federal force of 500 men under Colonel Jordan. We tried to surround them, only to find that they had been apprised of our approach, and were prepared to receive us. We opened on them. The battle did not last long. We captured the camp, 20 wagons, 60 prisoners, killed 46, wounded 109. Our loss was four killed. Colonel Hunt's leg was shattered, the wound causing death in a few days. After the battle, Morgan's raiders marched on to Glasgow and continued north. In just twenty four days, Morgan and his raiders traveled over one thousand miles, captured seventeen towns, destroyed all of the government supplies and arms in them, and paroled nearly twelve hundred Union troops. Four months later, Morgan would return to Tompkinsville, newly married and promoted to brigadier general. This time he and his raiders were only camping here as they began their next Kentucky raid - The Christmas Raid, 1862-1863.
The Christmas Raid
22nd of December 1862
In early December, direct from running interference for Gen. Bragg in Kentucky, Morgan and his Raiders were back in Murfreesboro, Tn. As Bragg's army began to set up their tents, Morgan was planning to capture the Federal storehouse at Hartsville, Tn. Despite a contingent of 2500 Federals standing guard, Morgan assured Bragg he could capture it on December 7th, as he did with the Federals putting up a determined resistance. In addition to 2000 prisoners, he captured several wagonloads of supplies. After the Hartsville raid, a special train arrived from Chattanooga with President Davis on board. Bragg's army was getting a presidential review and announcing promotions for John Morgan to brigadier general and Basil Duke to full colonel. After the promotion Morgan married Martha Ready on December 14th. Intelligence reports indicated that Gen. Rosecrans was rapidly stockpiling supplies at Nashville for a strong offensive, probably in early spring. His principal supply line was the railroad from Louisville to Nashville. The Confederate generals surmised that a raid back into Kentucky was in order to cut the supply line. The most likely spot was Muldraugh's Hill about 35-miles south of Louisville. With Bragg's blessings, Morgan set out for Alexandria, Tn. This was his point to embark into Kentucky after assembling his men. The morning of December 22nd after his wife had left back for Murfreesboro under escort, he passed the word "Forward March!" to Basil Duke. The men marched smartly toward Kentucky to carry out "Morgan's Christmas Raid". By nightfall on the 23rd, the raiders crossed into Monroe County near Tompkinsville. Cheer after cheer resounded through the ranks. Lt. McCreary wrote in his diary "tonight we are camped on the sacred soil of Kentucky, and it fills my heart with joy and pride". On Christmas eve they continued into the Bluegrass state through Glasgow, Cave City, Munfordville, Upton, & Elizabethtown to Muldraugh's Hill to their targets. They turned the Muldraugh trestles into ashes. Heading back to Tennessee, as they crossed the state line, even the Kentuckians in the raid were glad to be leaving their beloved state. On January 5th they arrived in Smithville, Tn. This was the official ending point of the Christmas Raid. Morgan took stock- they had been gone 2 weeks, thrown a good scare into the Federals, the railroad was a wreck from Upton to Shepherdsville, nearly 2000 prisoners and supplies were captured; among his men- 2 were killed, 24 wounded, and 64 was missing. Despite all the destruction and the agony exerted to achieve it, trains were again running by early February 1963.
Courthouse burned in Tompkinsville
22nd of April 1863
Guerilla warfare usually consisted of doing damage behind enemy lines in the unsettled conditions of the war. Small parties sought to disrupt communications, supply lines, destroy military property, secure horses, etc. There were army units that were officially sanctioned to carry out these activities, and groups that were not. Unionists often called John Hunt Morgan a guerilla, but his was a unit in the Confederate Army that employed guerilla tactics. Then there were outlaws who took advantage of the war to prey upon anyone, regardless of allegiance to the Union or the Confederacy. During the last 2 years of the war, and even after the war's end, these rebels terrorized much of Kentucky. No county was safe from their outrages. The courthouse in Tompkinsville, built in 1822, was the first brick structure in the county. Confederate guerillas under the command of Col. Ollie Hamilton burned the courthouse on April 22nd in reprisal for the burning of the courthouse in Celina, Tenn. by Federal troops. The courthouse was rebuilt in 1864 on the same foundation. The courthouse was consumed by fire again in 1877. The third courthouse (pictured) was built in 1887. This courthouse was dismantled in 1975 and rebuilt in 1976 and is presently in use today.
No one had more of an effect on the loyalty of Monroe County and perhaps South Central Kentucky as did John M. Fraim. John Fraim was born in Jackson (Clay) County, Tennessee in 1813. He moved to Monroe County 25 years before the war began and had obtained about 1,000 acres of land on Indian Creek near Flippin. At the outbreak of the war he owned 30 slaves but was bitterly opposed to secession. In order to help the Union cause, he went to Indiana to get 300 rifles and offered one to every person who would fight for President Lincoln. Fraim thus recruited the Ninth Kentucky Infantry and camped the men on his farm. They named the site Camp Anderson. He took his recruits to Columbia for mustering in; there he was captured by Confederate troops and taken as a prisoner to Nashville. After being interrogated he was released and on his way home was shot in the breast by guerillas. After falling to the ground one of the guerillas placed a revolver near his head to finish him off. But in the dark Fraim moved his head a little to one side and the shot missed. Feigning death, Fraim made his way to a house in Jamestown (Fountain Run) where he was carefully tended and in a few days given a Union escort to Glasgow, Kentucky by Colonel Graham. Camp Anderson was used as a rendezvous by Union forces, and as a place for drill and instruction during the early months of the war. It became a primary target for Confederate troops, and was eventually taken by Colonel S. S. Stanton who captured and burned Camp Anderson in October 1861, shortly after it had been evacuated by Union soldiers. The 9th KY Infantry would eventually take part in the Battles of Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, & Kenesaw Mountain.
The Morgan's Raid battlefield site is located in the southeastern portion of Tompkinsville, on KY 163 South. The Kentucky historical marker is located at the entrance to the Tompkinsville Elementary School. Today, Morgan's old 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment is now Tompkinsville's local National Guard unit and has been renamed Battery A 623d Field Artillery Battalion. It is still known as Morgan's Men. The original site of Camp Anderson is marked by a Kentucky historical marker and located on Highway 1366 near the community of Flippin on Indian Creek. John M. Fraim (1813-1888) is buried in the Fraim Cemetery at the intersection of Hwy 100 and Hwy 678 in the town of Flippin.
Researched by Chad Comer & George Stewart
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