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.

Images

Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan

Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan

Morgan's Confederate horsemen attacked Union soldiers at Tebbs Bend in Taylor County on July 4, 1863. As it was Independence Day, the Union commander refused to surrender and instead repulsed multiple Confederate attacks. After the fight, Morgan's men rode to Lebanon, where they defeated Union soldiers there, and then traveled into Indiana and Ohio where many of them were captured and imprisoned. Courtesy the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Union Colonel Orlando Moore

Union Colonel Orlando Moore

On July 4, 1863, Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan called for Union Colonel Orlando Moore to surrender. Because of the date - Independence Day - Moore replied, "It is a bad day for surrender, and I would rather not." Image from the Collections of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, Michigan. View File Details Page

Governor James B. McCreary

Governor James B. McCreary

Future Kentucky governor James B. McCreary fought with John Hunt Morgan's Confederate cavalry at the Battle of Tebbs Bend. After the loss there, McCreary lamented, it "was a sad, sorrowful day." Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Confederate monument at Tebbs Bend

Confederate monument at Tebbs Bend

Confederate monument at Tebbs Bend. Courtesy of Tim Talbott. View File Details Page

Union Colonel Edward Henry Hobson's frock coat.

Union Colonel Edward Henry Hobson's frock coat.

Union Colonel Edward Henry Hobson, a Kentucky native, was commander of one of the Union regiments that chased John Hunt Morgan's Confederates through Indiana and Ohio. Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Confederate Colonel William W. Ward's pistol

Confederate Colonel William W. Ward's pistol

This Model 1854 LeFaucheux pistol was owned by Confederate Colonel William W. Ward, who commanded the 9th Tennessee Cavalry in John Hunt Morgan's raiders. Ward and many of his men were captured on Morgan's failed raid into Ohio and Indiana. Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Confederate Captain Charlton Morgan's frock coat

Confederate Captain Charlton Morgan's frock coat

This frock coat was worn by Confederate Captain Charlton Morgan, a younger brother of famed rebel raider John Hunt Morgan. Charlton rode with Morgan's Raiders, was an aide to Confederate General John C. Breckinridge, and was captured several times during the Civil War. Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Talbott, “The Battle of Tebbs Bend,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 22, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/97.

Subjects

Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story