Civil War Book Review: One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry

by James Durney on May 9, 2011 · 0 comments

One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry
John M. Porter (Author), Kent Masterson Brown (Editor)

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863 by Jeffry D. Wert

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (February 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813129893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813129891
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches

A Sunday afternoon in Kentucky, Grandma’s good dinner sits nice making you warm and lazy.  Adults on the porch, children play quietly in the yard.  Lemonade and discreet bourbon coupled with a cigar.  Our family sits and enjoys the good things in life.  Cousin John starts talking about his experiences during the war.  John was with General John Hunt Morgan, acting as a scout with much of his war spent behind Yankee lines.  They caught him a couple of times and he was at Johnson Island for over a year.  With women and children here, John keeps the blood and screaming death to himself.  He talks about long rides, quick fights, people who helped, dedication and loss.  While a loyal citizen of the United States of America, Cousin John never really surrendered and his heart still belongs to the Confederate States of America.

Have you ever wanted to be able to hear a Civil War veteran talk about the war?

Do you want to sit on that porch and listen to Cousin John?

Do you want to hear how it felt to have given your all and lost?

While those voices are gone, their memories and feeling have survived.  We can “listen” to one them and hear his story in this fine book.

In 1861, John M. Porter left home in Kentucky and enlisted in the Confederate cavalry.  His regiment became part of John Hunt Morgan’s command.  Lieutenant Porter became a trusted scout spending much of the war behind Union lines raiding and gathering information.  Captured in 1863, he spends 19 months at the Johnson Island POW camp.  Years after the war, a widower, he wrote a manuscript for his daughter.

Kent Masterson Brown did a masterful job editing this document.  He identified the people and places, corrected spelling errors and generally improved readability.  He did not change the tone or content of Porter’s words.  This decision means the reader can “listen” to the stories without the editor intervening.  The sense of loss and dedication is still evident, years after the war.

John Porter was not in a line regiment lost in a mass of thousands.  His war is small actions, long rides and hardship.  He was one of the “bushwhackers” that raided depots, burned bridges, attacked picket lines and made life miserable behind the lines.  This is a personal war in a divided area with all the problems and dangers that entails.

The 63 pages of notes are a second book giving us a glimpse of Kentucky and Tennessee during the war years.  These notes tell us about places and people as they existed during the war.   I enjoyed the notes almost as much as the book.  This is a well-illustrated book with adequate maps, a Bibliography and full index.


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