On May 11, 1862 Col. John Hunt Morgan and his advance guard seized the Cave City depot and captured the next train that stopped. Morgan's entire command arrived shortly thereafter. Morgan's troops proceeded to destroy the train; four passenger cars, a locomotive, and forty-five freight cars. The firebox was filled with wood and set on fire. The Confederates then fired each car and sent the train racing down the tracks toward Bowling Green. Morgan remembered "It was a grand sight, that burning train going at head long speed to destruction." For weeks passengers going through Cave City gazed in amazement at the scene where the locomotive had exploded. For a hundred yards on both sides of the track, the underbrush and grass were burned, trees were torn out by their roots, and wreckage was scattered on the ground.
The next day at noon, guards north of Cave City heard a passenger train approaching, bound for Nashville from Louisville. Morgan's men blocked the tracks, stopping the train while other troops threw logs on the tracks behind the train, preventing a reverse run. Morgan confiscated $6,000 in cash from the express agent and captured two Union officers and several enlisted men. He then allowed the train to return to Louisville safely. Stories of the Cave City Raid and its success took on the trappings of a romantic saga of chivalry due to the way Morgan treated the train's female passengers. "I have no right to look into ladies baggage, or to examine their trunks. Southern gentlemen do no such thing" Morgan is reported as saying.
Col. John Hunt Morgan. After Morgan's defeat in Lebanon, Tennessee he set out on a brief raid into Kentucky to the Green River country, where he began his military career. He found Bowling Green was to well guarded, so he rode north to Cave City.
Gen. George W. Morgan. After Morgan's Cave City Raid, Union Gen. George W. Morgan deployed infantry to guard trains and stations in Central Kentucky. (George W. and John Hunt Morgan are not related.)