Historical Marker #524 in Monroe County notes when John Hunt Morgan struck Tompkinsville. Commonly called “Morgan’s First Raid,” the actions undertaken by Morgan and his men were best described as war pillaging. “Raids” into hostile or enemy territory served to distract opposing forces, cut supply lines, sow fear and political discord among civilians, or steal needed supplies. Raids were common tactics of guerrilla forces and combatants that are outnumbered or have limited strategic advantages.
In July 1862, Morgan and his regiments entered Kentucky for the first time to disrupt Union lines of communication. On July 9, his two regiments hit Tompkinsville, where they attacked about 300 members of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Early that morning, Morgan’s men surrounded the Pennsylvanians’ camp, fired several artillery shells, and charged. A sharp fight erupted, and the Union troops were driven off. Morgan captured 30 men, destroyed their tents and stores, and captured wagons, horses, mules, and supplies.
Morgan’s success at Tompkinsville foreshadowed the entire course of his campaign. Over twenty-four days, his horsemen rode 1,000 miles, captured 1,200 prisoners, and damaged many Union supplies. In comparison, Morgan lost fewer than 100 troopers.
At the end of his raid, Morgan believed that thousands of Kentuckians would join the Confederate Army if a larger force returned to the state. Armed with this information, Rebel leaders decided to invade the Commonwealth later that summer. That invasion prompted bloody, the battles at Richmond, Munfordville, and Perryville. Union forces drove the Confederates from the state and Kentucky remained in Union hands for the rest of the war.
The marker text reads:
July 9, 1862, Morgan's Raiders, coming from Tenn. on first raid into Ky., attacked force of 9th Pa. Cav. at USA garrison. Raiders captured 30 of retreating enemy and destroyed tents and stores. They took 20 wagons, 50 mules, 40 horses, sugar and coffee supplies. At Glasgow they burned supplies, then went north, raiding 16 other towns before returning to Tenn.