Sunday, March 4, 2007

Gorin: "'Morgan is Coming!' : Confederate Raiders in the Heartland of Kentucky"

["Morgan Is Coming!": Confederate Raiders in the Heartland of Kentucky by Betty J. Gorin (Harmony House: Prospect, KY. 2006) Hardback, photos, illustrations, maps, appendices, notes. Pp. 434. ISBN 1-56469-134-9 $25.95]

With her book "Morgan is Coming!": Confederate Raiders in the Heartland of Kentucky (Harmony House Publishers, 2006 2nd ed.), Campbellsville historian Betty J. Gorin has written an exceptional piece of local history. Beginning with a short background sketch of Campbellsville, Kentucky, Gorin devotes succeeding chapters to capsule histories of the various John Hunt Morgan cavalry raids that passed through her main geographic region of study (roughly the counties of Marion, Taylor, and Green). These include Morgan's Pleasant Hill Raid, First Kentucky Raid, Christmas Raid, and 1863 Great Raid. However, Morgan's capture at the end of the Great Raid did not end these unwelcome visitations. In November 1864, brutal pro-Confederate guerrilla Henry C. Magruder attacked Campbellsville. In addition, at the end of December, raider Hylan B. Lyon passed through Taylor County during an almost month long raid into Kentucky.

"Morgan is Coming!" is clearly a labor of love for the author and the product of many years of meticulous research in primary sources. Gorin's expert knowledge of the people, places, and events of the Civil War in south central Kentucky really shines through in the book's centerpiece, a dazzling study of the stretch of Morgan's Great Raid from the crossing of the Cumberland River through the capture of Lebanon. This includes detailed accounts of the battles at Columbia, Tebbs Bend, and Lebanon. According equal attention to each side, the microtactical treatment of the Battle of Tebbs Bend is exceptional in depth and in its analysis of terrain and tactics. The book's exposition of the twists and turns of the career of the Union hero of Tebbs Bend, the 25th Michigan's commander Orlando H. Moore, is particularly fascinating. Gorin also traces how post war politics affected the battle's commemoration.

The text is enhanced immeasurably by the inclusion of many dozens of photographs (both period and modern), drawings, and artwork. Several archival maps are reproduced in the text and end pages. Additional original maps (operational and tactical scale) are sprinkled throughout the text, all well done. Numerous appendices contribute election data, demographic information, casualty lists, letters, official reports, local legends, and even poetry. The production of such a beautiful, richly detailed book certainly is the result of an unusual level of dedication by the writer and publisher.

Historians, researchers, local residents, genealogists, battlefield tourists -- any reader interested in Morgan's raiders or Civil War cavalry and Kentucky's wartime history in general -- will benefit greatly from digesting the rich offerings of this prodigiously researched study. Highly recommended.


  1. Drew:

    I didn't realize that this contained inforamtion on the 1863 "Great Raid."

    Will have to put it on my list.


  2. The publisher has nice, helpful people but their website unfortunately doesn't give any more information about their books than a simple list that doesn't even include the author's name. I heard about the book about a year ago when I stumbled upon a nice website run by a gentleman compiling a listing of sources dealing with the CW in Kentucky. It's the only place I've ever seen the book promoted.


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