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Dunbar's Guerillas
Active 1861–1865
Country Confederate States of America
Allegiance CSA Dixie
Branch Forrest's Cavalry/Independents
Type Cavalry
Engagements Battle of Fort Donelson
Battle of Shiloh
Raid on Muffreesboro
Kentucky Campaign
Forrest's West Tennessee Campaign
Battle of Saltville
Battle of Greeneville

Dunbar's Guerrillas was an independent company of Confederate cavalrymen during the American Civil War. They were raised by Captain William Dunbar, who was from Russell County, Kentucky and lived on the Cumberland River.

Dunbar raised men from family and friends in southeastern Kentucky. They rode into Tennessee to fight for the South. Dunbar himself was regularly commissioned in Nashville, as well as his nephew, Lieutenant Silas Dunbar. They joined Nathan Bedford Forrest and served under Colonel Lawton who commanded a battalion of likewise independent companies.

Dunbar's men served at Shiloh and at the raid on Murfreesboro. At Murfreesboro they played a role in freeing the town from the Union occupation. At some point between just before the Kentucky Campaign or just after Dunbar's men disbanded, they were the element of attack that rode through the town to attack the union camps while Forrest sprung the townspeople from the city jail.

After the disbandment[]

Many of Dunbar's men stayed with Forrest. Some joined Morgan, a fellow Kentuckian, while others went home or continued as guerrillas in their own personal wars.

Reorganization[]

William and Silas Dunbar arranged to gather up parts of the old company along with new recruits to work behind Union lines as partisan rangers along the Cumberland Plateau and in southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee. They fought in the desperate, bloody, neighbor-against-neighbor fights of the hills, sometimes collaborating with Champ Ferguson and his men. Dunbar's men fought from southwestern Virginia all across the mountains and down into Middle Tennessee. They fought in every battle or skirmish and also bushwhacked many a Federal garrison. Upon hearing that Forrest was coming into Tennessee, they went west and fought alongside him once more. They raised many new recruits from Southern-sympathizing eastern Tennesseans who wanted to break the Union occupation of their state. However, their efforts were futile, and on August 20, 1864 Dunbar's men were ambushed and slaughtered in Greene County, Tennessee. They were coming home from western Tennessee; many of the men had family in that area and they were probably visiting when the ambush came up. William Dunbar was killed in the ambush; the other names of those killed are lost to history.

After the war[]

Lt. Silas Dunbar survived the war. He later made his living sharecropping with a comrade named Sabre Wooldridge, a former slave on Alexander Wooldridge's tobacco plantation. Wooldridge was a member of both Dunbar's Guerrilla's and Forrest's Scouts. Sabre had been a faithful servant all through the war for Wooldridge.

Partial roster[]

Names Notes
William Dunbar Captain
Silas Dunbar Lieutenant and Enrolling Officer
Jasper Dunbar 2nd Kentucky Cavalry (Woodward's)
Alexander Wooldridge Forrest's Scouts
Sabre Wooldridge Forrest's Scouts w/ Alex
William T. Kelsey 8th Kentucky Cavalry (Cluke's)
Robert Long Forrest's Scouts
Carroll Wooldridge 3rd Tennessee Cavalry (Forrest's)

References[]

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