Historical Marker #696 in Paris tells the story of famed Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, who rode into Paris on July 18, 1862, after a furious battle that defeated a larger Union force the day before, 14 miles north at Cynthiana.
Morgan and his nearly 900 men entered the Paris courthouse square after token resistance from some loyalist residents and a few Union troops stationed at Paris. The Union troops were there to protect the railroad line.
Bourbon County and its county seat, Paris- like much of Central Kentucky in 1862-were severely divided over the question of secession. Most residents of town tended to be pro-Union, but many county residents supported the Confederacy. However, there were many exceptions. Families and church congregations often divided over allegiances and the scars of that division lasted for decades after the war.
After capturing Paris, the Confederate raiders took what they wanted from the Federal supplies and destroyed the rest. They also helped themselves to what they found in the possession of Union sympathizing citizens, including several well-bred thoroughbred horses.
In this, his first raid into Kentucky, Morgan swept in a wide arc through the state, during which he raided 17 towns, reportedly captured and paroled more than 1,200 Union troops, acquired several hundred horses, and destroyed huge amounts of Federal supplies. Morgan unnerved Kentucky's Union military government, and President Abraham Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he commented that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky."
Morgan and his men did not stay long in Paris during this visit, moving out just ahead of two large Union columns in pursuit of the Confederate marauders. Morgan stayed in the state just long enough to capture Winchester and Richmond.
Confederate forces returned to Paris two months later in September of 1862 after capturing Versailles and Frankfort, Kentucky's capital. This time they stayed for seven weeks before withdrawing in front of converging Union columns. After this incursion by Morgan, Federal authorities decided to maintain a large garrison of troops in Paris for the rest of the war. Camp Bourbon was established on the old Bourbon County Fairgrounds across from the Paris Cemetery, south of the center of town. There were, at times, as many as 3,000 Union troops stationed there.
In the summer of 1863, Morgan staged a large raid into Indiana and Ohio with as many as 3,000 men. The raid ended in failure when Morgan and many of his men were captured trying to re-cross the Ohio River into Kentucky. He and some of his officers escaped from their Ohio prison in November, 1863. On September 4, 1864, Morgan was surprised by a Union cavalry attack on Greeneville, Tennessee, where he was shot and killed.