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Famous Adventures and Prison Escapes of the Civil War (Civil War Classics) - Diversion Books

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Coffey on Matthews, 'Basil Wilson Duke, CSA: The Right Man in the Right Place' | H-CivWar | H-Net

Checkout Your Cart Price. Add to cart. Description Details Customer Reviews This is a reproduction of a book published before Duke's lasting impact was as a historian and communicator of the Confederate experience. As a historian he helped to found the Filson Club Historical Society and started the preserving of the Shiloh battlefield. He wrote numerous books and magazine articles, most notably in the Southern Bivouac. When he died, he was one of the few high-ranking Confederate officers still alive. Historian James A. Duke and his wife, the former Mary Pickett Currie. Duke's parents died during his childhood: Mary, when Basil was eight, and Nathaniel when Basil was 11; save for an instance in his Reminiscences , he seldom mentioned them.

After graduating in , he went to St. Louis, Missouri in to practice law, as his older cousin, also named Basil Duke, was practicing law there, and there were already a multitude of lawyers in Lexington.

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When the American Civil War started in , Duke was still in Missouri, where he helped in the initial forays for Missouri 's secession from the United States. Missouri would have both Federal and Confederate governments during the War.

On January 7, , he and four others created The Minute Men, a pro-secession militia-like organization, in response to many pro-Northern politicians being recently elected in St. Duke quickly became the leader, despite being only 23 years old.

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He formed the organization into five companies and sought to acquire the federal arsenal in St. Louis for the secessionist movement. He made a habit of placing secessionist flags at prominent locations, looking to start fights with pro-Union forces.

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He would eventually be indicted for arson and treason but managed to escape back into Kentucky. Their wedding took place on June 19, Hardee 's insistence. By October , he had enlisted in his brother-in-law's Morgan's command and was subsequently elected Second Lieutenant. Duke was twice wounded during the War.


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At the Battle of Shiloh , he was swinging his saber at a Union soldier when he was shot in the left shoulder by a Brown Bess musket. The bullet exited his right shoulder, barely missing the spine. After recuperating, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and a few months later, to colonel. Duke's second wound came at Elizabethtown, Kentucky 's Rolling Fork River during Morgan's Christmas Raid of , when, on December 29, he was hit by a shell fragment while leading the back guard as the rest of Morgan's men crossed a stream; his men initially assumed he was dead.

Duke was the principal trainer for mounted combat for Morgan's Raiders and participated in Morgan's audacious Ohio Raid, during which he was captured at the Battle of Buffington Island on July 19, , while leading troops in a delaying tactic which allowed other Confederate forces either to escape across the Ohio River with Adam "Stovepipe" Johnson or to advance further into Ohio with Morgan, although shortly thereafter, he too was captured.

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Duke would remain in captivity until August 3, , when he was exchanged. He could probably have escaped with Morgan and Thomas Hines but felt that to do so would hurt their chances, as Morgan was easily replaced in his cell by his brother, but no similar replacement as a temporary deception was there for Duke.


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After Morgan was killed on September 4, , Duke assumed command of Morgan's forces and on September 15, , was promoted to brigadier general and sent to Virginia. Duke surrendered to Union officials on May 10, , in Washington, Georgia. As an officer, Duke's way of "gently ordering" soldiers under his command allowed him to have friendly relations with his men.

He loved fighting, was steadfast during difficult moments in conflicts, and was described as a "spit-and-polish" officer. After the war, Duke moved to Louisville, Kentucky , in March , where he would live for most of his remaining life.