The series of events that resulted in the last devastating raid on Guntersville during the Civil War began with an order given by Gen. John Bell Hood in Tennessee.
In late fall of 1864, Gen. Hylan Lyon, a commander of a brigade in Forrest’s Division, was given command of more than 800 raw Kentucky Cavalry. Lyon organized his forces in two brigades.
The first brigade was commanded by Col. J.J. Turner of the 13th Tennessee Infantry and the second brigade under Col. J.Q. Chenoweth of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry. These units were designated the 6th Kentucky Cavalry.
He was ordered to take his troops on a raid into Kentucky to draw pressure off Gen. John Bell Hood, who was in a standoff with U.S. Gen. George Thomas at Nashville.
The plan worked as about 4,500 federal cavalry, the First Cavalry Division commanded by Gen. Edward McCook, chased Lyon throughout Kentucky. Lyon’s raid became known as the “Courthouse Burning Raid.”
Lyon burned eight fortified courthouses as well as several railroad bridges and U.S. Army supply depots.
During this successful raid, Lyon got word that Hood’s Army of Tennessee had begun a retreat to Corinth, Miss. This had a demoralizing effect on his command of new recruits.
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