Home of Thomas Hines

Historical Marker #769 in Warren County marks the home of lawyer and Civil War captain Thomas Henry Hines.

Hines was born in Butler County, Kentucky, on October 9, 1838. While Hines had little formal schooling, his education was acquired outside of the schoolhouse. Described as "studious and anxious for self-improvement," Hines used all the means at his disposal to improve his intellect. His rapid advancement in knowledge earned Hines a teaching position at the Masonic University of LaGrange at age twenty-one, where he remained until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Hines was deeply sympathetic to the South, joined the Confederate army, and, in June 1862, was commissioned as a captain in John Hunt Morgan's Company E, 9th Kentucky Cavalry.

Hines, Morgan, and dozens of other members of "Morgan’s Raiders" were taken prisoner in July 1863, after a failed raid into Ohio. While Hines was a prisoner in Columbus, Ohio, he became the mastermind of what some historians call "the most incredible prison escape of the Civil War."

While theories surrounding the Morgan's escape abound, Hines's narrative is fascinating. Using stolen cutlery, in November 1863, after discovering an air chamber under the prison, Hines and five other captains began digging into the prison's concrete floor. Hines and the men used an intricate system of signals to communicate when to work, when to stop, and when a guard was approaching. By the third day, a hole of fourteen inches in diameter had been chipped out. After the fourth day of work, the hole was large enough for a man to fit through.

Upon exploring the chamber underneath the prison, the men decided that the next step was to remove the foundation and dig out into the prison yard, a task made easier with a stolen shovel. On November 20, the tunnel and holes in the floor were complete. Just after midnight, Hines, Morgan, and five others disappeared into the air chamber and slipped out of the prison. To protect all involved, Hines rarely shared any secrets pertaining to November 1863. Therefore, some gaps in the story endure.

Hines was also involved in the failed Northwest conspiracy to free Confederate prisoners in 1864. After the war, he studied law in Canada before returning to the United States in 1867, where he opened a law practice in Bowling Green. Hines served as a judge on the court of appeals before his death on January 23, 1898. He is buried in Bowling Green.