Friday, April 06, 2007

John Hunt Morgan and Two Mothers-in-Law

There is a reason for my absence from this blog. I have been finishing a book. It is about the clandestine affair of the escape of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan from a Yankee prison in 1863, among other things and is called General Morgan’s Legacy.

While I have been writing I have not been keeping up with the news. But when I came up to the surface of current events, I was amazed at the escapade of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her trip to the Middle East seems fraught with concerns for the President and the State Department. And for the future.

Suppose in 2008 Mrs. Clinton wins the election and Mrs. Pelosi is still Speaker of the House. Mrs. Pelosi decides that Mrs. Clinton is not handling foreign affairs to her (Pelosi’s) satisfaction and Mrs. P. decides to talk directly with Middle Easterners about it. Would we soon find that there is room in Washington for only one mother-in-law? I suspect we would.

And there would be a great fall-out that would go far beyond any mere Conservative-Liberal disagreement so far.


47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just curious if you have heard the story of the possibility that General Morgan was not truly killed that day in 1864 but went on to lead a long life that ended eventually in Oklahoma.

Thomas Fiske said...

Dear Anonymous,

No I had not heard that story. Rather, people were much more concerned in 1864 that Morgan was murdered for escaping from the Yankees the first time, not just "killed in battle." So the concern was murder vs battle death, not survival. Certainly Captain Hines, his aide seemed convinced that Morgan was dead. He got away to be come a super spy for the South. He wrote an account of the escape in 1893, and never mentioned that Morgan was still alive. Morgan's nephew, a scientist at Caltech in the 1920's seemed to be unaware that his uncle was still alive.

While I do not know the facts of your story, I am reminded of the old guy who claimed that Jesse James was not killed, but survived, etc, and died long after. He told his sons who he was Jesse, and they caused Jesse's grave to be dug up, finding that the bones in the grave were related by DNA to descendants of Jesse' sister, while the old man who died was was found not related to descendants of Jesse's sister.

Also Prez. Lincoln was dug up three times to prove that he was really, really, finally dead.

Tom

Anonymous said...

I cannot for obvious reasons go into great detail regarding this theory...but I do know the children and grandchildren of the gentleman who claimed to be General John Hunt Morgan heard accounts and facts of Morgan's escapades and feats that could only be told by someone who was there...The story he told his children is that he was shot that day in Virginia....(this was proven by a scar front and back on the left side of his lower body) and during the silence of the 30 minute or so retreat after the battle, Morgan managed to crawl to a dead soldier, plant his coat on the body and disfigure the face of the dead soldier with a pistol. Morgan then with the help of his lifelong friend and slave (who had been hiding in the barn)...made it into the barn and eventually to a Dr. and from there, still with the help of the "freed" slave who remained loyal to Morgan, and the help of the slave's friends, escaped through Va, Ohio, Indiana, Illinoise, Missouri and finally Oklahoma (Indian Territory at that time, so off limits to anybody looking for him.)
Notably, history books about Morgan state that he rode into Greenville with his Auburn Hair and Beard Dyed Black. Yet the same history books state eyewitnesses to the parading of the body into town described the body bore sandy hair and a beard and appeared about 5 feet nice inches. This is interesting in particular because Morgan in fact (again according to history) was at least a full 6 feet tall. Eyewitness also say the face was swollen bruised and disfigured beyond positive recognition.
Basil Duke and Morgan's brother Richard positively identified the body..maybe because they knew it wasn't him and assumed he had escaped?? After all he was known for his skill of elusiveness.
The family of the man who claimed to be John Hunt Morgan, but went by the name of John Hunt Cole (again incidentally John Hunt Cole claimed the same birth date as John Hunt Morgan) have spent many years trying to disprove the story. At every front, they are unable to do so. Perhaps one of the most compelling pieces of this puzzle is the family tree of John Hunt Cole can be traced no further back than Jasper County Illinois in the year of 1864, after the Greenville battle.
If one has studied Morgan...it is a well known fact that at the time of Greenville, Morgan had fallen out of favor with the Southern Military, in fact was facing Court Martial hearings and perhaps prison. He was most definitely wanted by the North..these facts provide more than enough reason to get the heck out of the South....
The family of John Hunt Cole have copyrighted their story, and may publish it eventually to preserve the story for the Cole family.
I believe when it is all said and done, there will be sufficient evidence to prove the story true or at least no evidence to prove the story not true. Interestingly, this is not a family out to claim some sort of fame or fortune (or they would've already put something out there, it would make an interesting fiction story) but have quietly and simply been on a quest to find the roots...the beginning of their family, only to run into a dead end at every turn leaving them with Jasper County Illinois, 1864.

Thomas Fiske said...

Dear Anonymous,

What a wonderful story! Thanks for telling it. There are no direct descendants of John Hunt Morgan around, but lots of descendants of his family so a DNA test can probably solve the mystery, unless Cole and Morgans are already related.

Tom

Anonymous said...

Yes DNA would and could completely solve the mystery....The Cole family and the Morgan family have had a great deal of contact through the years and although the Morgan family very much agrees the story is highly plausible, they are not in favor of revealing the Southern Hero as a Deserter. Also the 'Sons of the Confederacy" refuse to believe their beloved hero would do such a thing....although if I had been Morgan in that situation and weighing the odds of Death by the Northern Military or Court Martial procedures from the Southern Military...I don't think I would have hesitated to choose the same course. Regardless - If in fact John Hunt Cole was in reality General John Hunt Morgan, he is and always will be a hero. The sadness here is the Cole family will never know their family heritage for certain beyond the year 1864.
Thanks for listening!

Thomas Fiske said...

Dear Anonymous,

As I read it Southern leaders were not anxious to give Morgan much of a second command because he disobeyed orders not to cross the Ohio River and invade Yankee territory. That is what got him captured in the first place.

The assignment of second class soldiers may have been responsible for his Tennessee defeat.

Tom

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According to the book, and to the facebook page. The Cole family has to confirmed DNA matches to the Morgan family. The Cole family is currently seeking the third Morgan family member to participate in donating a DNA sample to validate the testing. Knowone from the Morgan family is now willing to do so.

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