To disrupt General Buell's offensive to seize Chattanooga, Confederate Colonels John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest led slashing cavalry raids into central Kentucky and middle Tennessee to cut Federal supply lines, and throw Buell's operation into confusion.
Morgan left Knoxville on July 4, with 876 officers and men in the newly formed Second Kentucky Cavalry Led by a vanguard of 60 scouts, the column rode north for the bluegrass state of Kentucky. For 24 days, Morgan's Kentuckians raided throughout their home state, winning engagements at Tomkinsville (July 9); Lebanon (July 12), and Cynthiana (July 17), before returning to Livingston, Tennessee on July 28. The raid covered over 1,000 miles, during which Morgan captured - and paroled - 1,200 prisoners, at a loss of fewer than 90 raiders. He also destroyed railroad and telegraph lines, bridges and supply depots. Morgan's success damaged northern morale and resulted in sharp criticism of Buell.
On August 12, Morgan and his Kentuckians struck again, this time at Gallatin above Nashville, where they completely destroyed an 800-foot tunnel on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. This action successfully severed Buell's invading army from its main supply base at Louisville, Kentucky.
Concurrent with Morgan's Kentucky raid, Forrest left Chattanooga on July 9, and proceeded to devastate Federal occupation forces in middle Tennessee. At 4.30 am on July 13 - his 41st birthday - having ridden 50 miles in just over fourteen hours, Forrest thundered into Murfreesboro ahead of his 1,4.00 screaming troopers and surprised and captured General Thomas T Crittenden and his 1,040-man Federal garrison. After securing Union supplies estimated at a million dollars, Forrest withdrew to McMinnville. On the 18th, "old Bedford" had his men back in the saddle and marching to Lebanon where they forced the Union garrison to abandon the town. Following the retreating Federals northward to Nashville, Forrest destroyed two bridges below the city on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, putting the line out of operation for a week; forced the moblization of two Federal divisions to protect the railroad and destroy the Confederate raiders; and panicked Governor Andrew Johnson into thinking Nashville faced imminent capture.
The combined raids of Morgan and Forrest immobilized Buell's 40,000-man Union army; stalled the campaign to seize
_jeni i>om tfiyinetsboit) to punish the raiders. Avniá^ng major action, Forrest -returnsM-Yúilm.^ : 24ih tontas normanda
July 9: Forrest crosses the Tennessee with 1,400 troopers, and bivouacks at McMinnville from July 11-12
July 13: Smashing through Federal pickets, Forrest enters Murfreesboro, frees several civilian hostages and captures entire Union force then returns to McMinnville
^ July 18: Forrest departs McMinnville with
700 men and for two days raiders range through middle Tennessee before striking Lebanon on 20th, forcing Union garrison to retreat, Forrest follows, riding north along railroad
. July 21: Forrest drives Union pickets towards Nashville, destroys rail bridges over MfflGmk, smashes rail and releían i. 1¡ i íes south of the city, then writs sotitMa harass Nelson's division
Chattanooga; and illustrated the Confederacy's strategic advantage of fighting an aggressive defensive in their own territory.
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