Gary R.Matthews

Basil Wilson Duke, CSA

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After practicing law for several years in St. Louis, Basil Wilson Duke (1838--1916) enlisted in the Confederate army in 1861 and was elected first lieutenant of John Hunt Morgan's legendary cavalry unit. As second in command, he was, Morgan recorded, “wise in counsel, gallant in the field,” and always “the right man in the right place.” Duke was twice wounded in battle and was captured during Morgan's Great Raid and held prisoner for over a year. When Morgan, who was also Duke's brother-in-law, was killed in 1864, Duke was promoted to brigadier general and appointed commander of Morgan's men. Moving to join forces with those of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina, he was assigned to the force escorting Jefferson Davis in his retreat from Richmond at the close of the war. Duke later opened a law office in Louisville and was elected as a Democrat to the Kentucky House, where he served until 1870. He was counsel and chief lobbyist for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad for over twenty years and a founder of the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. An avid amateur historian, Duke published several books, including A History of Morgan's Cavalry. Basil Wilson Duke, CSA, the definitive biography of this important but often overlooked figure in Civil War history, establishes that Duke was in fact the brilliant tactician behind much of the success of Morgan's cavalry. Author Gary Robert Matthews not only offers an in-depth study of Duke's celebrated Civil War exploits but also traces his varied postwar literary, legal, and political careers.
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683 printed pages
Original publication



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