Monday, May 29, 2017

Cynthiana - Where the Perryville Campaign Begins!

Sure, the title might be a bit of a stretch, but let's consider a few thoughts as to why my seemingly silly statement might warrant some merit.

John H. Morgan's summer raid of 1862 eventually led him to Cynthiana, a small town along the Kentucky Central Railroad just sixty miles south of Cincinnati, the seventh largest city in the United States.  The railroad itself was an important supply route as it connected Covington (just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati) to Lexington and into Nicholasville, which itself was a few miles by road to Camp Dick Robinson, an early recruiting camp for Kentucky troops.  The Kentucky Central Railroad was guarded by various Federal detachments throughout the war, including my home county's own 35th Ohio during the fall of 1861 just north of Cynthiana at Camp Frazer.  Cynthiana itself was described by Captain Edward O. Guerrant in 1864 as "the best rebel town of our Native State."  In fact, during the heady days of 1861 six companies of Confederate infantry were raised in Cynthiana and Harrison County, while only two went for the Union.  Sympathies for the south extended within the town, and on the large horse farms in the southern portion of Harrison County, while the northern part of the county with its less forgiving terrain and smaller farms, generally sided with the north.

When Morgan made his assertion on July 16th to Edmund Kirby Smith that "the whole country can be secured, and 25,000 or 30,000 men will join you at once" he most likely would have felt that same euphoria when he took control of Cynthiana the next day.  While he did detain many of the local citizenry for their support of the Federal forces during the fighting on July 17th, his men were also "...literally wined and dined" by those supporting the rebel cause.  It was this bold statement by Morgan to Smith that convinced Smith and later Braxton Bragg to invade Kentucky in August 1862, which led to the Battle of Perryville.  Therefore, one could possibly state that the battle at Cynthiana, the "best rebel town" in Kentucky, and the support the locals provided to Morgan and his men after the battle, might be the beginning of the failed Kentucky Campaign.  Had Morgan not received such an outpouring of vocal support, he might have not written those fated words that convinced his higher commanders to invade the bluegrass.  Morgan had, not intentionally, misrepresented the amount of troops that would flock to the Confederate banners.  Vocal support was a lot different than men joining the muster rolls, and while Morgan did recruit an additional company for his 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, only one-tenth of that alleged 25,000 joined Bragg's and Smith's forces later that summer.

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