The Peters and the Morgans

If you recall from our previous blog entry, the Window on the War exhibit will be opening on February 12th. Frances Peter, the focus of the exhibit, wrote a diary documenting the Civil War as she witnessed it from the confines of her family’s house. Frances, afflicted with epilepsy, wrote her diary between January 1862 and April 1864, before succumbing to her illness on August 5th, 1864. Before the start of the Civil War, the Peter and Morgan families had been friends and neighbors; when the war began, the families chose different sides to support and all amicable connections ended. Frances Peter wrote many entries in her diary about the Morgan family, including how the city of Lexington viewed the Morgans, John Hunt Morgan’s Raid and subsequent imprisonment, and what she viewed as their traitorous activities. Below are some excerpts from Frances’ diary regarding the Morgans — to read more of Frances’ diary, come to the Window on the War exhibit, opening February 12th at 6pm. francespeter

Monday July 14th, 1862

Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Curd were sent out of town as the people threatened to level their houses with the ground and Major Bracht said he could protect them no longer…

Thursday Sept 18th, 1862
The secesh had said that when John Morgan came he would have such a welcome as had never been seen before, I confess I was disappointed. When he did come they did indeed ring the church bells in a doleful way and the secesh ladies paraded about with the stars and bars in the hands and streamers of red white and red on their dresses and bonnets. But so far from Lexington being thrown open to them, it looked like it was deserted, the stores were shut, houses closed and the only hurrahing was made by themselves and a few rowdies…

Wednesday July 28th, 1863
The Secretary of War is said to have issued an order that Morgan and his commissioned officers should be confined in the Columbus Penitentiary… Mrs. Morgan went to Cincinnati to see John but was refused permission.

Friday Jan 22nd, 1864
Cincinnati Gazette contains a good deal of Southern news. John Morgan’s address to his troops calling on them to rally to him once more. I suppose he intends resuming his former trade. If he lets us get hold of him again his neck will not be so safe as last time.

Wednesday Jan 27th, 1864
As for Morgan’s being ‘the favorite son’ of Ky and our officers being delighted to see him, I never saw a more barefaced lie in a rebel paper, which is saying a great deal, for these document stand first in that accomplishment. In the first place I have always heard that Morgan was born in Alabama, as for favorite! His character here was always that of a gambler and libertine and before this war no gentleman in Lexington would associate with him, and none would, now but those who have placed themselves on the same level with him by becoming secessionists. […] I should not be surprised if Morgan wrote that piece himself. It sounds like some of his vainglorious boasting.

Make sure to come to the Window on the War exhibit opening February 12th at 6pm to help us celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial. Along with the new exhibit, there will be a reception featuring foods made by Mary Todd Lincoln and a lecture presented by Donna McCreary about Mary Todd, “the Quintessential Hostess.” The entire evening is free, so please stop by!


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