Basil Duke was a Leader in War and Peace

Basil Duke

Basil Duke

We had so many positive responses to a previous story, which included a sample scene from Thunderbolt Raiders, that we’re going to do it again.

The scene is set in 1913, at the Olympian Springs Resort in Kentucky.  History tells us that 75-year-old Basil Duke was there, as president of the Morgan’s Men Association, which he founded when Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s body was reinterred in the family cemetery plot in Lexington in 1868.

Despite the fact that the Civil War had been over nearly a half century, many of the Thunderbolt Raiders who rode with Morgan and Duke attended their annual reunion.  They were accompanied by wives, children, grand children and perhaps some great-grandchildren.

This scene takes place very near the beginning of our script.  Duke and his driver, young Leighton, are arriving for the reunion.  As they walk through the hotel lobby an elderly man with only one arm, puts his hand on Duke’s shoulder. Here’s a bit of our script:

INTERIOR. HOTEL LOBBY-–DAY

LEIGHTON

Unhand the General!

ONE-ARM MAN (to Duke)

I fought with you at Shiloh.

DUKE

Cavalry or infantry?

ONE-ARM MAN

6TH Iowa Volunteers, General Sherman’s 5th division.

Stony silence, then

ONE-ARM MAN (ignoring Leighton)

Believe I’m the one who shotcha.

QUICK FRAME FLASHBACK

Shiloh Battlefield Depiction

Shiloh Battlefield Depiction

EXTERIOR SHILOH BATTLE (1862)—DAY

Leading Confederate cavalry against Union infantry, Young Duke is shot and falls from his horse.

QUICK FRAME FLASHBACK ENDS

INTERIOR HOTEL LOBBY—DAY

 DUKE

Very unlikely. The Federal who delivered my wound at Shiloh was dispatched to his maker forthwith.

ONE-ARM MAN

Can you swear to it?  You swooned.

DUKE

Reliable witnesses recounted.

ONE-ARM MAN

       Whether his missile struck you or mine, we’ll learn in the By-And-By.    

       But we durn sure shared alike purpose!

th-3Duke, of course, was a Confederate officer who was General John Hunt Morgan’s second-in-command and successor.  After the war he was a leading businessman and behind-the-scenes politician in Kentucky, and a good friend of President Teddy Roosevelt.

We took dramatic license in creating the other characters in this scene to enhance our story.  In our script, Duke is confronted later that same evening by an aggressive young reporter who wants to interview him about the “real” John Hunt Morgan, not the one Duke portrayed in two books and many magazine articles.

Basil Duke

Basil Duke

As for the Morgan’s Men Association, it withered away as the last of the old Confederates died by the middle decades of the 20th century.

But a few years ago, some descendants of Thunderbolt Raiders reorganized the group, and it now meets annually, near one of the many locations where their forefathers fought 150 years ago.

For more information: Morgan’s Men Association

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