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1864 June 11: John Morgan in Kentucky, Plus Black Kentuckians “Stampeding” to Join the Union Army

June 15, 2014

News from Kentucky from the June 11, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The first item is a prelude to John Hunt Morgan’s Second Battle of Cynthiana, which will take place on June 11 and 12, 1864.

John Morgan in Kentucky.


A rebel force, supposed to be under command of John Morgan, made an entry into eastern Kentucky a few days ago, and this morning captured the town of Mount Sterling.  They also destroyed bridges and tore up the track of the Ky Central Railroad between Cynthiana and Paris, and cut the telegraph wires.—Trains coming north returned safely to Lexington.

Another gang attacked a passenger train on the Louisville and Lexington Railroad this morning, near Springfield.  Two passenger cars and the baggage car were burned, the express car robbed and the engine thrown off the track.  None of the passengers were hurt.

The Kentucky Exodus.

Within a few days the negroes of Kentucky have become impressed with the idea that the road to freedom lies through military service, and there has been a stamped [sic] from the farms to the recruiting offices.  The able bodied blacks are turning out almost unanimously, and the women and children are disposed to go with the crowd.  The consequence is, the railroads of the State have not the capacity to transport the negroes who are finding their way to the United States camps.  The white people of Kentucky are taking this extraordinary commotion among the negroes very coolly, looking upon it as one of the phenomena of the times, and acquiescing in it as a part of the drift of destiny.  Slave property has been recognized in Kentucky a[s] very precarious in its nature, ever since the Southern fanatics insisted that sectional difficulties should culminate in war.  The negroes have not been in good working order for some time, and their rush for the army is not as serious a matter for the agricultural interests of the State as might be expected.  Then they are relieving the State of the draft, [__] and forever for enough of them are swarming to meet all probably calls in the future.  If the Government chooses to accept black men for soldiers, and the blacks want to go, and the whites don’t, it is absurd for the whites to complain, the policy tht practically exemppts them and receives an inferior article in full all demands.  The uprising, if we can so call it, of the negroes of Kentucky now in progress, is one of the most remarkable and significant events of the war.—Cincinnati Commercial, June

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