Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"One of Morgan's Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry"

I'll take editor Kent Masterson Brown's word for it that memoirs written by the officers and men of John Hunt Morgan’s various Confederate cavalry commands are rare. Given that, the publication of One of Morgan's Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry (University Press of Kentucky, 2011) is significant news for students of Confederate mounted operations in the western theater. Even better, it is a great source of information.

Porter joined the Confederate army at Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1861. Taken prisoner at Ft. Donelson and released, he attached himself to John Hunt Morgan’s command in July, participating in several celebrated raids, including Morgan’s disastrous 1863’s “Great Raid” across the Ohio River that resulted in the capture of most of his force. Unfortunately for Porter, this second imprisonment was essentially for the duration.

In addition to Porter's penning a remarkably accurate reminiscence, Brown appreciates the Kentuckian's in depth coverage of many obscure mounted operations poorly documented in the literature. These include the post-Stone's River fighting and raiding activities by Morgan's division around the towns of Auburn, Milton, Liberty, and Snow Hill. An obscure yet successful February 1863 reconnaissance mission that also destroyed much in the way of enemy material resources is also detailed in the book.

Brown's lengthy and scholarly notes add context, amply assisting the reader in the sorting out of persons, places, and events mentioned in the text. The book's operational maps tracing the various raid routes forged by Morgan's men are similarly helpful. Porter's memoir is very deserving of publication, and the editing work that ultimately brought it there is exemplary. All students of the Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee, particularly those readers interested in Confederate cavalry operations, will benefit from reading One of Morgan’s Men.

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