Death of a Morgan

Historical marker #543 in Lebanon notes the death of General John Hunt Morgan's brother, Thomas, who was killed during an engagement there on July 5, 1863.

Morgan's attempt at a great raid into Indiana and Ohio started, and ended, badly for the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy." Morgan began his raid by swooping into Kentucky from Tennessee. He met stubborn resistance by a small Union force at Tebbs Bend in Taylor County on July 4, 1863, which cost him valuable men and time. The next day, Morgan's command moved north and struck Lebanon.

Morgan's Raiders battled Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Hanson's small Union force for nearly six hours. During the fight, the Confederates pushed the federals through the town. The Union troops used the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot as a defensive position and Morgan tried to burn them out by setting fire to nearby buildings. The strategy worked and the Union troops surrendered.

Although Morgan was victorious at the Battle of Lebanon, tragedy struck his family. During the late stages of the fight, Morgan’s younger brother, Thomas, was killed when he attacked the railroad depot. Shot in the heart, Thomas died in the arms of his brother Calvin. Initially buried in Lebanon, Thomas's remains were moved to the Lexington Cemetery in 1868.

Thomas Morgan enlisted as a private in Company A of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry on November 11, 1861, at Camp Burnham in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was eventually promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Company I. In addition to John and Calvin, two other brothers, Richard and Charlton Morgan, also fought for the Confederacy.

After the Battle of Lebanon, General Morgan's misfortune continued as his command was pursued through Indiana and into Ohio, where he was captured on July 26, 1863. Incarcerated in the Ohio State Penitentiary, Morgan escaped that November and made his way back to Confederate lines. After another disastrous raid into Kentucky in the summer of 1864, Morgan briefly commanded the Department of Western Virginia and East Tennessee. After his command was taken away, Morgan was killed in Greeneville, Tennessee, on September 4, 1864.