". . . I was at our mess place near an old
scaly bark hickory that was five or six feet in diameter when one of my mess came up who
had been at the officer's tent and said to me "Bill we are going with Morgan and I
heard Dr. Toomer (our surgeon) tell Capt. Palmer that you would have to be left as you
were not well enough to take the trip". I got behind the old tree and wrapped up head
and ears in my blanket but I heard orderly Sgt. Duncan call "Talley, W. R." but
I would (52) not answer. After a while this boy hollered to Sgt. Duncan "Here he is
behind a tree". I didn't cuss him but I blessed him out and got up and went to the
officers tent. Dr. Toomer said to me "Billie, we have got to leave you as you are not
strong enough to take the trip". Capt. Palmer said "Yes, you would give out and
we'd have to leave you in Ky. And the Yankees would get you". Tears came into my eyes
and I begged to go but "No" was all I could get. Dr. Toomer said "Billie,
we have made arrangements with Major Montgomery for you to stay with his headquarters. Eat
at his table and sleep in one of his tents and I will leave you Janie to ride and feed her
from the Major's crib". (Janie was a fine mare that he brought from home and (she)
had gravel in one foot, but was nearly well. The next morning I stood with an aching heart
and saw my battery leave and I was not to go with them."
William Ralston Talley, 1924
Morgan with two brigades, Duke's and Breckinridge's, thirty-nine
hundred in all, with two light batteries of seven pieces,
left Alexandria, Tennessee, December 22, 1862, his object being to destroy the Louisville
and Nashville Railroad and interrupt Rosecran's communications with the north."
John Allen Wyeth, 1911
". . . Palmer's battery of four pieces
(two twelve-pounder howitzers, and two six-pounder guns,) was attached to this brigade.
To [Breckinridge's] brigade was attached one three inch Parrott commanded by Captain
White, and two mountain howitzers under Lieutenant Corbett."
Basil Wilson Duke, 1867
"They started with three day's cooked rations. Every man
carried his own ammunition, two extra horseshoes, twelve nails, one blanket in addition to
the saddle blanket, and an oil-cloth or overcoat. With the exception
of the artillery which was double-teamed, there was nothing on wheels."
"By the night of the 22nd, the first brigade had forded the
Cumberland River at Sand Shoal, and at dawn the second had crossed the stream. . . By
sundown [of the 23rd] the column had covered thirty miles. There was heavy work ahead.
They would meet and attack Federal garrisons who were in stockades and forts. This made it necessary to have artillery; but the guns, however important,
slowed down the speed of the march."
"By the 24th of December Morgan had reached into Barren county, five miles from
Glascow and ninety miles from the place where he had started."
Bennett H. Young, 1914
"The next morning (December 25) I passed through Glascow and
took the Bear Wallow turnpike in the direction of Munfordville. About 10 miles from Green
River my scouts reported that a battalion of cavalry was drawn up in line, awaiting our
approach. I threw forward two companies and a section of artillery to engage them, made my dispositions for an
extended engagement, and advanced as rapidly as possible. The enemy, however, did not wait
to receive the charge of the force I had sent forward, but, after firing a few random
shots, took to flight and left the road clear. I then made the best of my way through to
Green River, which I succeeded in crossing with considerable difficulty, owing to the
steep and muddy banks, and reached Hammondsville with my command at midnight.
John Hunt Morgan, 1863
"That night we crossed Green River. The first brigade being
in advance had little trouble comparatively, although Captain Palmer
had to exert energy and skill to get his battery promptly across."
"The next morning (December 26) I sent Duke's and [R. M.]
Gano's [Seventh Kentucky Cavalry] regiments and a section of
Palmer's battery, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [John B.] Hutcheson [Second
Kentucky Cavalry], to attack the stockade at Bacon Creek, while I moved on with the main
body of the forces to Upton. A heavy rain had fallen during the night, and it was with the
utmost difficulty that the artillery and trains made any
progress whatever. It was, therefore, nearly 11 o'clock before I heard Colonel Hutcheson's
"Hutchinson was sent, with several companies of the Second
Kentucky, and the Third Kentucky, to destroy the bridge at Bacon Creek. There was not more
than one hundred men, at the most, in the stockade which protected the bridges, and he was expected to reduce the stockade with the two pieces of
artillery, which he carried with him, . . . Although severely shelled, the garrison held
out stubbornly, . . .A number of shells burst within the stockade. Some shots penetrated
the walls and an old barn, which had been foolishly included within the work, was knocked
to pieces, the falling timbers stunning some of the men."
"It being now nearly 3 p. m., I sent forward to Nolin, under
charge of Colonel Duke, the remainder of the forces, with the exception of Johnson's
regiment and the other section of Palmer's battery. With
these troops . . . I moved down to Bacon Creek to assist Colonel Hutcheson. On my arrival
there, I immediately sent in a flag of truce, and demanded an unconditional surrender of
the place, which, after considerable hesitation on the part of the commanding officer,
Captain James, was finally acceded to. The stockade and trestle were immediately fired and
destroyed, and I moved on with the command to Nolin. The force at the trestle near Nolin,
surrendered to Colonel Duke without opposition."
"The stockade at Nolin surrendered to me without a fight. The commandant agreed to surrender if I would show him a certain number of
pieces of artillery. They were shown, but when I pressed him to comply with his
part of the bargain, he hesitated, and said he would return and consult his officers. I
think that (as two of the pieces shown him were the little
howitzers, which I happened to have temporarily) he thought he could hold out for
while, and gild his surrender with a fight. He was permitted to return, but not until, in
his presence, the artillery was planted close to the work,
and the riflemen posted to command, as well as possible, the loop-holes. He came to us
again, after a few minutes, with a surrender."
"We camped that night, December 26th, a few miles from
Elizabethtown, which place, we captured on the 27th . The town was surrounded, the artillery brought up, and after the raiders fired a number of shells and solid shot, which knocked great holes in the
houses, the garrison surrendered.
"Leaving one regiment and a howitzer in reserve to guard the
trains, I ordered Colonel Duke to deploy his command to the right and Colonel Breckinridge
to deploy his command to the left of the town, and to throw forward skirmishers to
discover the position of the enemy. It soon became apparent that he had taken possession
of several brick houses on the outskirts of town, and expected to make a street fight of
it. I therefore immediately placed my artillery in position on a
hill a little to the left of the road, which completely commanded the town, and sent Capt.
C. C. Corbett, with one mountain howitzer, to attack the town on the right. After about
half hour's vigorous shelling, the place surrendered, and 652 prisoners, including
25 officers, fell into our hands.
At this point I wish particularly to notice the excellent service
done on this occasion by Capt. Palmer and his battery, to whose rapid and accurate fire
(nearly every shot striking the houses occupied by the enemy) the quick reduction of the
place is in a great measure due;
"The Parrott gun was placed in the
pike; it was opened as soon as the last message from Colonel Smith was received; and, as
suddenly as if its flash had ignited them, Palmer's four guns roared out from the hill on
the left of the road, about six hundred yards from the town, where General Morgan himself
was superintending their fire. . . The enemy had no artillery, and ours was battering the
bricks about their heads in fine style. Palmer, who was a capital officer--cool and
clearheaded--concentrated his fire upon the building where the flag floated and the enemy
seemed thickest, and moved his six pounders into the very edge of town."
"On the 28th, the two great trestles on the Louisville and
Nashville Railroad at Muldraugh's Hill were destroyed. They were guarded by two strong
stockade forts, garrisoned by an Indiana regiment of infantry. Both strongholds were
assailed at the same time, the artillery doing effective work,
and in less than two hours, the two garrisons of seven hundred men were prisoners."
"On this expedition Captains Palmer and
Corbett handled the artillery with consummate skill and bravery. Their well-directed shots
in a brief while brought both garrisons to terms."
"The following morning (December 29) I sent Colonel [R. S.]
Cluke's regiment, with one piece of artillery, to attack and
burn the bridge over Rolling Fork; Colonel [D. W.] Chenault's regiment [Eleventh Kentucky
Cavalry], and one piece of artillery in advance, to burn the
stockade and trestle at Boston, and three companies of Breckinridge's regiment and one mountain howitzer, to attack New Haven. Having completed
these dispositions, I set my command in motion. Just as the rear regiments were crossing
Rolling Fork, a large force of the enemy--consisting of cavalry, infantry, and several pieces of artillery, which had followed us from
Elizabethtown--came up and began to shell the ford at which
the troops were crossing."
"The rain of a few days before had filled its bed with angry
currents and good fords were infrequent, and particularly fords that
would let artillery over.
There was a peculiar pride in part of the artillery that made the
command ready to fight savagely for them. One of the pieces was a Parrott gun, a trophy of
their valor at Hartsville. It was called "Long Tom" because of its extreme
length. Closely associated with the victory at Hartsville, it became a great pet of the
division, and was treasured as a mascot."
"In this affair only 3 men were hurt on our side--Colonel
Duke, Captain [V. M.] Pendleton [Company D, Eighth Kentucky Cavalry], (who was struck by a
ball while gallantly leading a charge on the enemy's artillery),
and a private slightly wounded."
"We reached Bardstown at dusk on the 29th."
"On the morning of the 30th I left Bardstown and marched to
Springfield, a distance of some 18 miles . . . My position was now sufficiently hazardous.
A superior force only a few miles in my rear, a force nearly treble my own in my front,
and a vastly superior force, which had only about half the distance to march that I had,
moving to intercept my passage of the river. In this emergency, I determined to make a
detour to the right of Lebanon, and, by a night march, to conceal my movements from the
enemy, . . ."
"Reaching Springfield in the gloom of December 30th, we were
ordered on to Lebanon, nine miles further, to drive in the pickets there and build fires
in order to give the foe the impression that we were up in force and were only awaiting
daylight to attack. We piled rails and made fires until late at night, while Morgan was
making a detour along a narrow and little used country road around Lebanon. Later we
overtook the command, and acted as rear guard throughout that awful night.
Between the bitter, penetrating cold, the fatigue, the overwhelming desire to sleep, so
difficult to overcome and under the conditions we were experiencing so fatal if yielded
to, the numerous halts to get the artillery out of bad places,
the impenetrable darkness, and the inevitable confusion which attends the moving of troops
and artillery along a narrow country road, we endured a night
of misery never to be forgotten.
As morning neared, it became our chief duty to keep each other awake. All through the
night the sleet pelted us unmercifully, and covered our coats and oilcloths with a sheet
About ten o'clock on the morning of December 31st, . . . the rear guard was crossing
Rolling Fork some five or six miles south of Lebanon.
Midday, December 31st, we rested an hour, and then on to Campbellsville where we arrived
at dark, having been thirty-six hours in the saddle. That night we slept eight hours, and
New Year's Day, 1863, left for Columbia."
"It was twenty-two miles to Columbia. The
artillery had good roads and fresh horses and they could keep any pace the cavalry might
"By a night march from this place [Columbia], I reached
Burkesville at daylight the following morning [January 2]. Here I halted the command for a
few hours to rest and feed, then crossed the Cumberland without molestation. Traveling,
then, by easy stages, I reached this point [Smithville] on the evening of January 5, with
"This was Morgan's most successful expedition. The Louisville
and Nashville Railroad was a wreck from Bacon Creek to Shepardsville, a distance of sixty
miles. We had captured about nineteen hundred prisoners, destroyed a vast amount of
Government property, with a loss of only two men killed, twenty-four wounded, and
sixty-four missing. The command returned well armed and better mounted than when it set
" . . . the defenders of Bacon's Creek were not very
numerous, . . . Those at Nolin were less so . . . Those at
Elizabethtown and the Muldraugh trestles had no chance against the well-directed artillery
of the Confederates, backed by thirty-five hundred cavalry."