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CSA at Paris, 1862

Historic Marker #696 is located on the Courthouse lawn, US 27, Paris, Kentucky.

Famed Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, rode into Paris on July 18, 1862 after a furious battle that defeated a larger Union force the day before 14 miles north at Cynthiana. Morgan and his nearly 900 men entered the Paris courthouse square after token resistance from some loyalist residents and a few Union troops stationed at Paris to protect the rail line.

Bourbon County and its county seat, Paris, was like much of Central Kentucky in 1862, severely divided over the question of succession. While, for the most part, residents of town tended to be pro-Union, many county residents supported the Confederacy. Of course, there were many exceptions. Families and church congregations were divided and the scars of that division lasted for decades after the war.

After capturing Paris, the Confederate raiders took what they wanted from the Federal supplies and destroyed the rest, and also helped themselves to what they found in the possession of Union supporters, including several well-bred Thoroughbreds.

In this, his first raid into Kentucky, Morgan swept in a wide arc through the state, during which he captured 17 towns, reportedly capturing and paroling more than 1,200 Union troops and acquiring several hundred horses and destroying huge amounts of Federal supplies. He unnerved Kentucky’s Union military government, and President Abraham Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he commented that “they are having a stampede in Kentucky.”

Morgan and his men didn’t stay long in Paris during this visit, moving out just ahead of two large Union columns in pursuit of the Confederate marauders. Morgan stayed in the state just long enough to capture Winchester and Richmond.

Confederate forces returned to Paris two months later in September of 1862 after capturing Versailles and Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital. This time they stayed for seven weeks before withdrawing in front of converging Union columns. After this incursion by Morgan, Federal authorities decided to maintain a large garrison of troops in Paris for the rest of the war. Camp Bourbon was established on the old Bourbon County Fairgrounds across from the Paris Cemetery, south of the center of town. There were, at times, as many as 3,000 troops stationed there.

In the summer of 1863, Morgan staged a large raid into Indiana and Ohio with as many as 3,000 men in an attempt to distract Federal troops from the battles to come that summer at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The raid ended as a failure when Morgan and many of his men were captured trying to re-cross the Ohio River into Kentucky. He and some of his officers escaped from their Ohio prison in November, 1863. On September 4, 1864, he was surprised by a Union attack and was shot and killed by Union cavalrymen during a raid on Greeneville, Tennessee.

John Hunt Morgan

John Hunt Morgan

Morgan and his “Raiders” on Court House Square, Paris, Kentucky, levying contributions on the inhabitants.