Courthouse Burned

Historical Marker #585 in Lebanon notes the burning of the Marion County clerk's office by Morgan's Raiders on July 5, 1863.

Marion County, Kentucky-s eighty-fourth county to be established, was created from Washington County in 1834. The following year a courthouse and jail were constructed, and, in 1838, a county clerk's office was added. During the Battle of Lebanon, on July 5, 1863, John Hunt Morgan's Confederate cavalry captured the Union garrison at Lebanon which was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Hanson.

During the fighting, the Confederates set fire to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot, which the Union forces were using as a defensive position. In addition to the depot, the rebels burned the Lebanon Hotel, the Harris House, and several other residences. When the Southerners learned that the county jail held some of their comrades, they released them and burned the jail. The county clerk’s office, which was apparently a detached structure from the courthouse, was also put to the torch. The clerk's office was targeted because it contained county records, which included treason indictments against several of Morgan’s men.

The surviving courthouse served Marion County for the next century. However, in the early 1930s, Judge T. Scott Mayes held court on the lawn to protest the building's poor condition. In 1935, the courthouse was condemned and a new building was constructed. That building served as the county’s seat of government until a new judicial center was constructed in 2011.

Images

Charles S. Hanson

Charles S. Hanson

Kentuckian Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Hanson, shown here, commanded the Union forces at Lebanon during the battle. Courtesy of the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. View File Details Page

Marion County Courthouse

Marion County Courthouse

This Marion County courthouse was constructed in 1935 and used until the present facility was recently built. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Morgan's Raiders

Morgan's Raiders

This drawing of "John Morgan's Highwaymen Sacking a Peaceful Village in the West," was created by noted artist Thomas Nast and was printed in "Harper's Weekly" in the summer of 1862. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Tim Talbott, “Courthouse Burned,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 23, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/255.

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