General John Hunt Morgan

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John Hunt Morgan
 Brigadier General
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The story of John Hunt Morgan is presented here, inasmuch as my own great-great grandfather, under the name of G.B.F. McCullum, served under his command, during the War for Confederate Independence.  John Hunt Morgan was a businessman in Lexington before the war. He was an inventor in the field of cavalry raids.  Morgan discarded the sabre in favor of pistols and carbines.  When about to enter battle, Morgan’s raiders often dismounted and fought as an infantry unit.  Raids took him and his force to Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee.
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In the first raid, one thousand miles were covered in 24 days. 100 of the 800 men and officers were lost, but huge damage was inflicted on Union forces, and property and 1,200 prisoners were taken (and paroled).  In the third raid (with 4,000 men), he took 1,800 prisoners for the loss of only two men and destroyed two million dollars worth of property.  The fourth raid to Ohio in July 1863 was the most spectacular, but his force was eventually surrounded and captured by Union forces.
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John Hunt Morgan the Guerrilla Fighter
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On July 4th, 1863, the Union was celebrating victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, but in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, a storm was brewing and his name was General Hunt Morgan.  Morgan was moving north through Kentucky, with Union forces hot on his heels, his plan was to invade above the Ohio River, drawing forces from the East to help Lee on his invasion into Pennsylvania.  When Morgan invaded Indiana, he hoped for support from Copperheads that had been very vocal in their support of the Confederate States.  Unfortunately, few or none showed to help, Morgan had to fight his way East through mostly hostile territory.  All along his way he ran into militia or Union Forces, as he entered Ohio on the 13th near Harrison, he found a state that was in terror.  Citizens were arming themselves, to try and protect themselves and their belongings from this terror coming from the west.  Morgan though was looking more for away back across the river and into friendly territory. He had found out about the defeat of Lee and the fall of Vicksburg.  As he made his way East, Union Forces under Gen. Hobson were not far behind. As he entered Southern Ohio, he had burned what he could and his men looted what they could.
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"All day July 15, as they continued eastward, forage parties scoured the countryside for food and horses, especially horses. A few miles out of Williamsburg, Dick Morgan and Tom Hines led the scouts off in a fast march twenty miles south to Ripley on the Ohio River, to search out possible crossings, but when they rejoined the main column late that evening at Locust Grove their report was negative. The Ohio was running full and ferries were under heavy guard. They would have to march on to Buffington Island, one of the fords selected by Captain Sam Taylor when he made his secret journey to Ohio back in the spring. And Buffington was almost a hundred miles to the east.
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On Thursday, July 16, they were continually harassed by home guards who had ripped up bridges, felled trees across narrow roads, sometimes fired into advance from concealment. "The enemy are now pressing us from all sides," James McCreary wrote that day, "and the woods swarm with militia. We capture hundreds of prisoners, but, a parole being null, we can only sweep them as chaff out of our way." At sundown they were in Jasper on the Scioto River. After ransacking the town they crossed the river to Piketon, breaking up a futile attempt by home guards to stand them off.
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But behind them, Michigan and Kentucky Union cavalry regiments were regaining ground lost in the long ride around Cincinnati, and Morgan ordered another all-night march. For forty-five miles they rode steadily and at dawn on the seventeenth were in Jackson. Buffington Bar was still fifty miles away."
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Jackson to Buffington Island

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As Morgan entered Jackson on the 17th, his men were exhausted; fallen trees, which militia and citizens had cut along their route, were hampering them.  Union Forces were coming up from the West; they were losing men who fell behind, being either shot or captured.  As they entered Jackson, the town was undefended; the men took time to rest and take care of business.  They looted stores, burned the depot, the RR turntable, engine house, freight cars, bridges, a grist mill, and the press of the Jackson Standard newspaper.  Morgan split his forces into two, sending some southeast into Vinton and some due west to Wilkesville.
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Both forces worked their way towards Middleport. After encountering heavy sniper fire on Bradbury Hill, north of town, they had to run a 5-mile "gauntlet of fire" from Union Forces all the way to Chester.  After resting briefly, they worked their way toward Bashan, running into some small opposition. They continued southeast toward Portland.  An early and heavy darkness, brought on by a heavy fog, and barricaded militia stopped them for the night.
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"They halted in Jackson only long enough to take what they wanted from stores; some of the boys of the 2nd Regiment appropriated one dry goods establishment's stock of women's blue veils to use as sunshades.  The veils proved to be useful accoutrements as the troopers faced into the brilliant morning sun, but Ohioans were astonished when they saw this group riding by, looking for all the world like a company of harem ladies on parade.
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During the past two days the column had acquired a number of odd pieces of rolling stock for transporting baggage and ailing members of the division - old lumbering omnibuses, a monstrous two-story peddler's wagon, a dozen or more hackney coaches used as ambulances, a number of barouches, top and open buggies, and several ordinary farm and express wagons.
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A Buckeye citizen forced to act as a guide reported after his release that he had ridden near the front with General Morgan in a barouche, and that the General was carrying "a pair of lady's fine kid boots suspended by a tiny silk lacings from one of the posts which supported the top of the vehicle."   Morgan evidently had also visited a dry goods store to obtain a present for his young bride!
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A short distance east of Jackson, the brigades took separate routes, Duke's men proceeding northeastward through Wilkesville, Johnson's following the southerly route through Vinton.  Local militia again were felling trees in front of the 2nd Regiment, and the constant cry was "axes to the front" as the advance slowed down to cut away the blockades.  At Wilkesville there was token resistance in addition to log barricades, delaying Duke's column until long after midnight.
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Day was breaking as the 2nd passed through Rutland, and when the advance joined Johnson's brigade near Pomeroy they found their comrades engaged in a sharp skirmish with regular Union troops.  The latter were under command of General Henry M. Judah - Indiana and Illinois cavalry brought upriver from Louisville by steamboats to head off the raiders.
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General Judah had arrived too late, however, to do more than brush Morgan's flanks, shielded by hills, the raiders were around Pomeroy at a trot before the pursuit could engage them.  Major Webber marched the 2nd Kentucky in the rearm fighting off darting attacks from militia and units of regular Ohio troops.
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Throughout the morning the column was virtually running a gauntlet past strongly defended crossroads and hills, but Adam Johnson afterward recalled a reassuring meeting with General Morgan during a five-minute stop to rest horses.  "I found him sitting on the gallery of a crossroads store, where there was a fine well; the boys were filling their canteens from the pump.  The General greeted me with his bright smile, asking me to get down and rest a little, remarking: 'all our troubles are now over, the river is only twenty-five miles away, and tomorrow we will be on Southern soil.”
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About one o'clock that afternoon advance regiments were entering Chester; they quickly invested the town, preparing for an attack, which never came.  It was here that Morgan ordered a halt of about two hours - a delay that many of the men afterward believed was the turning point of their luck.  The Ohio River was still eighteen miles away, and because of the long stop the raiders were unable to reach Buffington Island until dark - forcing them to postpone their planned river crossing until the following morning.
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Yet Morgan could scarcely have avoided a halt in Chester; because of the continual harassment from the enemies along the way, his regiments had become intermixed, long gaps had broken the columns, men were marching in complete disorder, and horses were at the point of exhaustion.
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By mid-afternoon they were out on the road to Portland, the sun scorching their backs, local militia active as hornets in their front.  The "Every Bridge had been destroyed," said Lieutenant Peddicord, "and at every pass and ravine the road was blockaded and defended by troops in concealment.  A large number of 'blockaders' were captured and compelled to clear away the obstructions that many of them had assisted in making.  Poor fellows, they felt their time had come, so badly were they frightened.
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Oftentimes the boys would dismount, and go in pursuit of these bushwhackers and command them to halt, but on they ran.... never stopping until the boys laid violent hands upon them, holding them fast by main force.  Even then they would strive hard to get away, just as some wild animals would do."
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It was eight o'clock when the scouts fumbled their way into Portland on the Ohio River, under a sky veiled with a scud of clouds that brought early darkness. The first thing that most of the men wanted to do was stare across the liquid blackness of the river to vague shapes of hills that were Virginia.
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"All were now on the qui vive," Major McCreary noted upon his arrival, "for the Ohio River is full of gunboats and transports, and an immense force of cavalry is hovering in our rear...A dense fog wraps this woodland scene."  In the darkness of the night and fog, the raiders could learn little more than that the approach to Buffington ford was defended by three hundred Union infantrymen with two pieces of artillery, dug in behind a strong earthwork.
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Should they attack and try for the river?  Or should they wait until morning?  It was a difficult decision for Morgan and his officers to make! After some discussion they finally agreed that even if they could capture the earthwork without severe losses, the dark river probably would claim many lives.  The Ohio was running much higher than normal because of unseasonably heavy rains upstream, and Buffington Island and its sand shallows were indiscernible.
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Deciding to wait, Morgan ordered Warren Grigsby's 6th Kentucky, D. Howard Smith's 5th Kentucky, and Captain Byrne's battery to approach within four hundred yards of the earthwork.  At the first light of dawn these units were to storm the Yankee defenders; in the meantime scouts moved out in both directions along the river, searching for other possible fords.  One of these parties found a number of leaky flatboats about a mile and a half upstream, and as best they could in the darkness set about caulking the seams.
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Most of the boys in the 2nd Kentucky had no special duties on this night!  Junior Officers and sergeants making a hasty check of ammunition supplies found that some men had no more than two or three rounds left.  But no one worried too much about that; Virginia and safety lay across the ford.  After engaging in rearguard action all day, they should have fallen into exhausted sleep, but somehow sleep would not come easily.
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Here and there musicians with guitars, banjos, and fiddles - confiscated from luckless Ohio merchants along the way - began playing sentimental tunes.  In the darkness the musicians drew together, and a few of the boys came to listen!  Soon they were singing and playing "My Old Kentucky Home," then "Juanita," and "The Hills of Tennessee."
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To show off his dexterity a fiddler played a fast version of "The Arkansas Traveler," and some of the listeners tried to dance a mock reel on the wet stubble of the Wheatfield in which they were camped.  When weariness overcame the last of the music-makers, the foggy night lapsed into silence broken only by the occasional snort of a horse, a soldier calling out in his sleep, and a muddy river murmuring unceasingly in the darkness."
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Attack on Nelson Ohio
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Nelsonville was a small town at the time, but the Hocking Canal ran through it providing economic stability!  Although there were reports of Morgan being in the area, the citizens were caught unaware when they came riding into the center of town.  Morgan had a good lead on the Union Forces pursuing him. His men began their work they performed so well.  There were 10 boats docked at Nelsonville at the time, the Forest Rose, Swan, Comstock, Hibernia, Ontario, Fame, Eureka, Quebec, Valley, and Virginia.
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They all were set on fire. The Covered Bridge on the outskirts of town was set ablaze to slow their pursuers down. But the citizens were able to put it out after Morgan left. Could this be the Covered Bridge, which Morgan tried to burn?  When the Union Forces arrived, two hours behind, they found a feast laid out for them by the citizens. This further delayed them in their pursuit. This gave time for Morgan's men to rest near Eagle port on the Muskingum River. Time he needed badly.
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The Battle of Tebbs Bend at Green
River. 
USA Commander Col. G. H.
Moore!  CSA Commander General
John H. Morgan!

On the night of July 2, 1863, Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan crossed the Cumberland River at Burkesville, KY. With 2500 troops and headed north on his great raid into Indiana and Ohio.  Exceeding his commander Braxton Bragg’s order, Morgan planned to take Louisville, cross the Ohio River, and take the war into northern territory.  Some historians think Moorage’s ultimate goal was to link up with Lee’s army in Pennsylvania.
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On the night of July 3, 1863 the confederates camped at Cane Valley between Campbellsville and Columbia.  On July 4th Morgan planned to cross the Green River at Ebbs Bend after defeating the Federal garrison of approx. 200 men under Col. Orlando H. Moore.  Morgan divided his forces and sent over half of his troops around the position to cut off a Union retreat.  At sunrise on July 4, the Union pickets opened fire on approaching Confederate troops. Confederate artillery, located 500 yards south, fired on the rifle pit, wounding two Federal soldiers.
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At 7 am, a delegation composed of Col. Alton, Lt. Col. Tucker and Major Elliott approached Moor’s position under a flag of truce and demanded surrender to avoid useless bloodshed.  Moore came forward and replied, present my compliments to General Morgan and say, this being the Fourth of July, I cannot entertain the proposition to surrender.  The officers returned to their respective sides. Southern artillery fired on the breast works again. When northern sharpshooters picked off the gunners, Ed Brynes’ Confederate battery was silenced.
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The 3rd and 11th Kentucky Cavalry Regiments of Morgan’s Second Brigade under Col. "Stovepipe" Johnson, about 400 dismounted men, charged the strongly defended position.  The Union forces abandoned the rifle pit and the Confederates overran it; there they came under fire from the union forces behind the abatis.  The Confederate attackers began to run out of ammunition and suffered heavy casualties, as Johnson had feared.
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Confederate General Basil Duke sent in the 5th Kentucky, commanded by white-bearded Col. Howard Smith, to support Johnson. The Confederate forces charged the abatis with hideous Rebel yells.  The woods were alive with the sound of battle as the Confederates charged the abatis eight times in 3 ½ hours.  The defenders, whose fire was very efficient, were ordered by Moore to remain silent in order not to reveal their numerical weakness.  They could hear the Southern commanders trying to rally their troops; one last time, the Rebels reached the timber, but were unable to hold it in hand-to-hand combat, and retreated.
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In the meantime, a flanking maneuver up the precipitous bluff around Moore’s right side led by Col. Chenault of the 11th Kentucky, reached the main Union position.  The gallant Chenault was killed as he charged the felled trees of the abatis and his men fell back under the command of James McCreary.  Moore, holding I company of the 25th Michigan in reserve, sounded his bugle and Captain Deboe led his men forward.  This action thoroughly demoralized the Southern forces, which thought the North’s reinforcements had arrived.
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A second delegation under flag of truce was sent in to Moore by the Southern forces to request permission to bury their dead. Permission was granted.  Morgan’s troops began to withdraw along the bluffs of the Green River, across Johnson ford, through Lemon’s Bend toward Campbellsville.  That evening they camped outside Lebanon, where another fierce battle occurred July 5th; Confederate dead were first buried in a long grave by the side of the road.
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The confederate estimate of casualties was 35 killed and 45 wounded. The Union reported 6 killed and 23 wounded, but records indicate that 24 men were wounded. The Union dead was interred in the National Cemetery in Lebanon. Lizzie Compton, a 16 yr. Old woman from London, Ontario, was among the wounded. She was serving in the Louisville Journal, even though it was not reflected in casualty reports.

  1. Campsite of the 25th Michigan: whose mission was to guard the Green River Bridge on this north south route.
  2. Stage Coach stop used, as Union Hospital was located across the road.
  3. Green River Bridge Skirmish Site is on the river bottomland. The 40 soldiers of the 8th Michigan Infantry, commanded by Lt. Hogan, and a few members of the 79th New York successfully defended this bridge from a cavalry attack led by Confederate Col. Cluke on July 4, 1863.
The night of July 3, Moore ordered men on horseback to go back and forth over the bridge to make it appear he was receiving reinforcements. In fact, there was no help for the outnumbered Union forces within 30 miles.The Union Army kept supplies in this area. Earlier, during Morgan’s Christmas raid, New Year’s Day, 1863, the Confederates set fire to Union stores, burned the bridge and the Green River Stockade guarding the bridge on its southern approaches. Union forces rebuilt the bridge!
  1. Soldiers Springs, so called since the war, are known for their clear, cold water.
  2. Site of Green River Stockade; notice man-made trenches on the bluff. Since the stockade had been burned on a previous raid, Colonel Orlando Moore felt that he could not defend this position. He abandoned it and chose to make his stand .8 miles down the pike
To the left of the stockade, a Union tent hospital was set up. The Confederates captured Sergeant Merrill, a wounded Union soldier. He told his captors that reinforcements were on their way. Later, during the battle, the Confederates remembered remark and they assumed that Colonel Moore’s bugle call meant that these reinforcements had arrived.
  1. Union Defensive Line, consisting of an abatis of felled trees, was flanked on both sides by the Green River. Moore chose to defend this marrow neck of land, about 100 yards wide. Confederate General Basil Duke described it as one of the strongest natural positions he had ever seen.
  2. Union Sharpshooters pit and site of Confederate attack. In addition to the abatis of trees constructed by the 25th Michigan, Colonel Moore ordered that a trench over 100 feet long with earthen breastworks be built. He stationed 50-75 riflemen in it. The position was protected by felled trees, sharpened sticks, wore and fence rails. Moore anticipated that his men would withdraw from this pit in the first stage of the enemy attack.

Site of two-story single pen log house captured by Confederates as they approached the Union Troops. The Atkinson-Griffin House was used as a Confederate hospital.

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On July 4, 1863, at the beginning of what would become Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Great Raid into Indiana and Ohio, a significant battle took place in Taylor County, Kentucky. This battle was fought just south of Campbellsville, Kentucky near a bend in the Green River known as Tebbs Bend. Morgan’s Confederates greatly out numbered the Union troops and the Southerners had four pieces of artillery. Prior to attacking the out manned Union force Morgan made his usual demand for surrender.
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The Federal commander, Colonel O. H. Moore replied: "This being the Fourth of July, I cannot entertain your proposition to surrender."  After the demand for surrender was rejected the Confederates made eight heroic, but fruitless charges against the well entrenched 200 men of the 25th Michigan Infantry.  Colonel Moore’s Federals inflected heavy casualties on the rebel troops.  The Southern objective was to clear Northern defenders from the area near the strategic bridge so they could proceed northward.

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The Confederates failed and were forced to withdraw and bypass the area; Confederate Monument at Tebbs
Bend Battlefield erected in 1872.  Tebbs Bend is regarded as one of the bloodiest encounters of the war in the western theater, even though relatively small numbers were involved, and the fighting was of short duration.  Morgan lost 24 experienced officers, including a colonel, a major, four captains and eight lieutenants, and 50 good men. The Confederates could ill afford to lose such leadership.
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A future Kentucky, governor Major James B. McCreary, wrote in his diary: "Many of our best men were killed or wounded. The beginning of this raid is ominous."  Some historians claim that this engagement helped deflect Morgan’s Confederate raiders from Louisville, which at the time was poorly defended. 
This site demonstrates how crucial it is in a battle to occupy the ground that dominates the surrounding terrain with fields of fire covering enemy approaches.
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Moore, the Federal commander, had 200 troops, while Morgan had 2,500 men, about 800 of whom he committed to the battle.  The Northern forces were protected by a well constructed earthen fortification including the text book abatis, were able to defeat the much superior Southern force.

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Green River Bridge
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The Battle of Tebbs Bend was of strategic significance since it was fought for control of the Lebanon- Campbellsville-Columbia Turnpike, over which thousands of Federal troops traveled south.  This road was crucial to the Federal supply route as rail lined ended at Lebanon some 20 miles north.  The Union army utilized the turnpike to transport men and material to south central Kentucky.

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General George H. Thomas marched a portion of his army over the same road a year earlier to engage a Southern army at Mill Springs.  Morgan had utilized the same road on his Christmas Raid of 1862 and again on the Great Raid in the summer of 1863.
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“God governs in the affairs of man.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?  We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.  I firmly believe this.  I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel”
Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech … Benjamin Franklin
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