The Battle of Tebbs Bend

Historical Marker #706 in Taylor County notes the Battle of Tebbs Bend. There, on July 4, 1863, Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan's command ran into a much smaller Federal force on the Green River and was soundly defeated. This engagement set an ominous tone for what became Morgan's great raid through Indiana and Ohio.

On July 2, 1863, Morgan's 2,000 horsemen left Tennessee, crossed the Cumberland River near Burkesville, Kentucky, and rode toward Campbellsville. Two days later, Morgan attacked five companies of the 25th Michigan Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Orlando H. Moore, who guarded the nearby Green River Bridge.

After a short but sharp engagement, Morgan demanded that Moore, who was heavily outnumbered, surrender. Because it was Independence Day, Moore replied, "It is a bad day for surrender, and I would rather not." Confederate trooper J. T. Tucker later wrote that when he learned that Moore had refused to surrender, "I knew then that it was a fight to the death."

Rebuffed but resolute, Morgan resumed the fight. He ordered his men forward on multiple frontal attacks, all of which were repulsed. Although Morgan's men initially succeeded in capturing the forward Federal rifle pits, Moore's larger earthworks were well defended and impregnable. Confederate cavalryman James B. McCreary, who later became governor of Kentucky, commented, "many of our best men were killed and wounded."

After fighting for nearly four hours, Morgan again sent forward a flag of truce. Instead of asking Moore to surrender, the rebel raider asked to collect his killed and wounded. Morgan then withdrew and continued north to Lebanon, Kentucky, where he fought another engagement. McCreary noted that the fight at Tebbs Bend "was a sad, sorrowful day, and more tears of grief rolled over my weatherbeaten cheeks on this mournful occasion than have before for years. The commencement of this raid is ominous."

On July 8, Morgan reached the Ohio River at Brandenburg and crossed into Indiana. His raid continued through southern Indiana and Ohio. Relentlessly chased by Union soldiers, Morgan and most of his command were captured in Ohio in late July. Morgan and many of his officers were imprisoned in the Ohio State Penitentiary. Morgan's defeat at Tebbs Bend foreshadowed his failure to carry the war into northern states.

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