The Great Raid
—July 2, 1863 —
After the initial wave of Morgan's 1st Brigade crossed the Cumberland River, he sent about twenty men to reconnoiter west of Burkesville. The objective was to deflect the attention of the 3,000 Union soldiers camped at Marrowbone, seven miles west, from the river crossing being made by Morgan's 2nd Brigade.
The Confederate cavalrymen left the Courthouse Square in Burkesville and galloped out the Glasgow Road toward the Union camp. After engaging Union pickets, the scouts were joined by the 9th Tennessee Cavalry and supported by the 6th Kentucky Cavalry.
Here at Norris Branch, Morgan surprised the advance elements of a 300-man Union cavalry column with rifle and artillery fire. The Federals quickly turned their mounts and headed back down the road. With a whoop, the Rebels tore after the bluecoats.
The ensuing route raised a cloud of dust, preventing the Southerners from seeing that Union regiment had formed in the line of battle. One of Quirk's scouts spotted the enemy and grabbed the reins of General Morgan's horse, stopping the charge. The Yanks fired a volley at short range, so surprising Maj. William P. Elliott that he was temporarily unhorsed. In the exchange of fire, two Confederates were mortally wounded and two others slightly wounded. Captain Tom Quirk received a severe wound to his left wrist,
which broke his arm. Federal losses were 5 killed and 15 wounded.
"When the enemy realized the smallness of the force that was chasing them, they halted in a strong position and showed fight;but out General...was too shrewd for them.
"Quickly detaching a single scout around to their left flank secretly, with orders to fire his gun (rifle) and navies (pistols) in rapid succession into their line. ...Back they flew again, using their spurs...
"Morgan on his horse, Glencoe, was riding behind the scouts, hat in hand, cheering the boys with "Charge them, boys; charge them!"" Kelion Peddicord
This skirmish cost Morgan his chief scout. Tom Quirk's wound forced him to return to Tennessee just as the Great Raid was beginning. two days later, at Tebbs Bend, the Confederates paid a great price for poorly scouting a strong Union position.