|The following incident is sent us by Captain
J. H. Carter, of Lexington, Kentucky, who got it at the time from the participants
and other eye- witnesses, and vouches for its accuracy. We should be glad
and publish many well authenticated incidents
of the prowess of our gallant "boys in gray."]
During the retreat of the Confederate
army from Kentucky (Bragg's invasion), in the fall of 1862, Colonel Basil
W. Duke's regiment of Morgan's cavalry was left, by order of General Kirby
Smith, at Falmouth to guard the roads and watch the approach of the Federals,
then advancing in large numbers from Cincinnati, Ohio, into the State -
the Covington and Georgetown turnpike being their centre line of march.
When they had reached a point about
one mile from
Walton, Boone county, and camped
for the night, Duke
left Falmouth about midnight, and
by a hard ride reached
the turnpike, about equi-distant
from Walton and the
Federal encampment just as day
broke. The advance
vidette here reported a Federal
picket post of ten men
in sight. These were captured by
a small force under Lieutenant Messic, going round and in their rear.
Duke then ordered Sergeant Will
Hays, of Covington, Kentucky, to select six men from the famous "Advance
guard" and proceed down the pike, find the enemy, and ascertain his position
and strength. Hays chose Ash Welsh,
of Cynthiana, Kentucky; Joseph
M. Jones, of Paris, Kentucky; Thomas Franks, of Holly Springs, Mississippi;
Frank Riggs, Hughes Conradt and Chapin Bartlett, of Covington, Kentucky,
and at once commenced the dangerous mission.
Each man felt the responsibility
resting upon him and nerved himself for the worst. The Turnpike
here was remarkably crooked, and on one side was sheltered by a thick growth
of small tress, vines and weeds.
Reaching a point about a quarter of a mile from the starting place, and
in rounding an abrupt turn in the road, our little squad found themselves
plump into a picket-stand of sixty-nine infantrymen. In a moment
every man of both parties had his gun cocked and leveled.
The seven Confederates were all young and hot-blooded, and had, under the
lead of Morgan and Duke, faced many forms of danger, but never before were
odds so great against them as now,
and their mettle was
to be put to the highest test.
With the eye of a soldier, each
one realized the perilous position
he and his comrades occupied. Hays at once, in a ringing tone, demanded
an immediate surrender, saying that a regiment of John
Morgan's cavalry was near at hand
(it was one-quarter of
a mile distant), and that if a
shot was fired not a Federal should escape alive. The officer
- a lieutenant - seemed bewildered to think that seven men should ride
boldly into sixty-nine of his men and make such a demand, and especially
when not more than five hundred yards away
the entire Federal army was drawn
up as if ready to march, their guns and arms glistening in the bright October
then just rising over the eastern
hills. But the manner in which the demand was made, the bearing
of each of the Confederates - each ready to "kill his man" at the word
fire - together with the magical name of Morgan, combined to
and did save them.
The officer at once surrendered his sword to Jones - who happened to be
immediately in his
front with his gun drawn on him
-and Hays at once placed
the prisoners in position and ordered
a double-quick back
to the regiment. As
the march began a Federal infantry regiment was rapidly advancing to the
rescue of their picket comrades, but a turn in the road hid them from view,
they did not follow farther.
The sight was a novel one,
even for war times -seven Confederates
driving sixty-nine armed Federals before them as prisoners.
Duke, with a company was soon met, coming to ascertain the situation
of his little squad.
He was profuse in his compliments to
his men for their achievement.
The Federals were Michiganders, and the lieutenant's name was Clarke.
his history of "Morgan and his
Men," Duke briefly refers
to the affair, but does not give
the names of the participants. He uses this language: "This exploit was,
perhaps, never paralleled during the war." The facts were reported to
General Morgan, and each of the
seven men - privates at
that time - were some afterwards
commissioned as officers
for "Gallantry." These gallant
troopers deserve to have their names enrolled in the future history of
the mighty struggle.
J. H. CARTER,
Late Captain in Morgan's Commanding.
*Taken from the Southern Historical
Volume VIII, Richmond,Va, March,
1880 pages 122-124
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