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Death of General John H. Morgan.

H. V. Redfield. [Second article.]
It is a singular fact that nearly two-thirds of the able-bodied white men of East Tennessee enlisted in the Federal army and fought the war through on the side of the Union. Singular, I say, because northward, in Kentucky, the Southern cause had more aid and encouragement than in East Tennessee; while Virginia, on the eastern boundary, was nearly unanimously Confederate, as well as Georgia and Alabama upon the southern border and Middle Tennessee upon the west. How is this to be accounted for? What strange freak made East Tennessee so loyal to the government, while upon all sides, North, East, South, and West, she was surrounded by the hosts in rebellion? That Kentucky was partially loyal, we can account for only because of her geographical position, making her more a Western than a Southern State; but here is East Tennessee, bordering upon the Cotton States, and allied to them by every interest, yet taking up arms for the Union with as much alacrity as though she bordered upon Lake Erie instead of the Cotton States. For illustration, take the two counties of Marion and Franklin, lying together, the former in the division of the State known as East Tennessee and the latter in Middle Tennessee, Marion bordering upon the Georgia and Alabama line and Franklin upon that of Alabama. The people of these two counties were identical in interest, and no argument could reach one that did not apply to the other. Yet, when the issue came these two counties stood as far apart as the poles. Marion voted for the Union until the last, when ballots were superceded [615] by bullets, while Franklin unanimously voted to take the State out of the Union. Indeed, at the June election, 1861, there was but one vote cast for the Union in that county! And so furious were the people in the cause that they held a sort of convention, passed a so-called ordinance of secession, and declared Franklin county out of the Union in advance of the State's action! The first regiment raised upon Tennessee soil was raised there — that of Colonel Peter Turney--which hurried off to Virginia, twelve hundred strong, before the State had formally “seceded.” A capital command was this, going forth amid the huzzas and plaudits of the people, but never returning again as a regiment. A fragment came back-that was all. But in the adjacent county of Marion, how different was the feeling of the people! A majority were for the Union, and neither the firing upon Sumter or the President's proclamation could shake their allegiance to the old government. And when it came to the test and every able-bodied man had to go into one army or the other, a majority of the citizens of Marion made their way northward and entered the Federal ranks.

Although East Tennessee had a population of only about two hundred and fifty thousand, she put twenty-one cavalry regiments into the Union army and eight infantry regiments. Of this number twelve were organized as cavalry and the rest as mounted infantry, which is the same. In this there is no account taken of the Tennesseeans who enlisted in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois regiments, of whom there were thousands. The policy of the government in mounting so large a proportion of the Tennessee troops was to get the benefit of their gallant horsemanship. Accustomed from early youth to horseback exercise they excelled in that branch of service. Some of the best cavalry in the service was from Tennessee. The Tennessee troops in the Union army are without a historian. There has been no extended narratives of their battles and exploits. And to this day it is not generally known in the North how great the aid the national cause received from the strong arms of the Tennessee Unionists. Had all the border slave States taken the course of East Tennessee, the war would not have lasted a year. But south of the Ohio and the Potomac there was no territory, not even Eastern Kentucky or Western Virginia, the population of which was as loyal to the government as that of East Tennessee. Virginia proper, lying eastward and northward of this section, was so true to the Confederacy that the whole State did not furnish five hundred white men to the Union army. Of course, in this estimate, I do not include what is known as Western Virginia, or any part of it. For the year [616] ending May 1st, 1866, the records show that nearly fifteen thousand white Tennesseeans were mustered out of the Union army and eighty-five Virginians! Why this vast difference in sentiment in communities of the same blood, institutions, habits, customs, and interests?

A detail of the exploits of the Tennessee troops in the Union army would fill volumes; but so far from a single volume on the subject, there has never been anything like a connected narrative. The Tennessee troops were fighters, rather than writers, and they left little record of their transactions. It was Tennessee troops who finally routed the famous cavalry command of John H. Morgan and killed that daring raider. He vanquished armies, and captured more prisoners on single raids than his own men numbered; yet a strange fate decreed that he should meet his fate at the hands of Tennessee Unionists — the Thirteenth and Ninth Tennessee Cavalry regiments, aided by the Tenth Michigan. This brigade killed the great raider, and effectually broke up and scattered his command. In the garden of Mrs. Williams, in Greenville, Tennessee, a plain stone is set on the spot where Morgan fell. After his marvelous escape from the Ohio Penitentiary, he reorganized his command and entered Kentucky again. The expedition was unfortunate, and he returned to Virginia, and from thence operated in East Tennessee. He formed a plan to attack a brigade of Tennessee and Michigan troops at Bull's gap, above Knoxville. On the 3d of September he arrived in Greenville, his command camping near by, and a portion of his staff taking up their quarters at the residence of Mrs. Williams. This is the finest residence in Greenville — a large double brick house, not far from that of the late Andrew Johnson, but much larger and finer than any Johnson ever lived in, except the White House. It was built by Dr. Alexander Williams, who died a few years before the war, and, at the time of the tragedy, was occupied by his widow and a few members of the family. Mrs. Williams is now dead, but the house stands just as it did, and the surroundings are almost precisely the same as on that moist and gloomy September morning, in the year 1864, when the roof sheltered John H. Morgan the last night he spent on earth. I have passed the house dozens of times, but never without casting my eyes on the spot where the great cavalryman fell, and also at the point in the road where Private Andrew Campbell stood, whose unerring bullet pierced the heart of Morgan.

Morgan is accused of carelessness in posting himself and command, for the night, so near the enemy, and with so little precaution. The prime cause of the calamity to his command and death [617] of himself was owing to the fact that he had ridden his troops very rapidly; they were worn out, and the pickets on the east side of the town fell asleep. Colonel Miller, who was posted near Bull's gap, did not know of the presence of Morgan in that part of the country until six P. M., September 3d. It is said that a woman brought him the news, and many pictures have been painted of her rapid horseback ride from Greenville to the gap; but upon a recent visit to Greenville, those having personal knowledge of the matter denied that there was “a woman in it.” But, however this may be, when the news came, Colonel Miller and General Gilliam held a short consultation, and the command was ordered to be in readiness to move. At eleven o'clock that night, in the midst of a terrible thunder-storm, which fairly drenched the soldiers, the Thirteenth Tennessee moved out toward Greenville, by way of the Arnett road. At midnight they were followed by the rest of the command, making a total of about two thousand men, fifteen hundred of whom were Tennesseeans. The storm increased, the rain fell in torrents, the heavens fairly shook with rolling thunder, while there was no light other than the flashes of lightning. But the dark column of horsemen moved steadily on, and John Morgan slept his last sleep on earth. In so stormy and tempestuous a night he may have felt secure from intrusion, be the enemy ever so vigilant. Just before the first streak of dawn the advance swung around in rear of Morgan's command, captured the pickets who were asleep, and virtually got between Morgan and his soldiers. Sharp fighting ensued and great confusion. At the opportune moment Colonel Ingerton, commanding the Thirteenth Regiment, sent Companies I and G on a bold dash into town, in hopes of getting the great cavalry chieftain. It was not yet fairly daylight, and the Federals had all the advantage. These companies surrounded the Williams house, some of Company G occupying the street which leads from the depot to Main street. The first intimation Morgan had was from a servant, who rushed to his room, saying, “the Yankees are coming!” Morgan did not believe it, and prepared to go to sleep again. Again the news came, and with it was the accompaniment of musketry firing, which gave forth no uncertain sound. Looking out he was horrified to see the enemy around the house, and without waiting to fully dress he and Major Gassett, of his staff, rushed out into the garden, or back yard. Escape seeming to be cut off in that direction they ran into the cellar, where they remained a few moments. Feeling that death or capture awaited them there, and observing from the enemy's movements that their whereabouts was known, they ran out into the [618] garden again, Gassett concealing himself in an outhouse and Morgan attempting to hide among the grape vines. His white shirt betrayed him as he crouched behind the vines and posts. Private Andrew Campbell saw him from the street, not over fifty yards distant, and fired, hitting Morgan plump in the breast, and killing him instantly. He never spoke. Morgan's friends claim that he was foully murdered, and that he had called out that he would surrender. Campbell says that he was trying to get away, and making no motion that looked like a surrender. The soldiers carried the body of Morgan to the street, threw it across a horse and rapidly returned to the main column, who were engaged with Morgan's command, which they routed. They captured two cannon, many wagons, and prisoners, and, in fact, virtually broke up Morgan's command. The forces engaged on the Union side were the Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Miller; Ninth Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Brownlow, and Tenth Michigan, Major Newell. So complete was the surprise and rout of Morgan's command that the Federal loss was but two killed and four wounded.

Morgan's body was carried on a horse about one mile, where it was laid by the roadside, and afterward turned over to some of Morgan's friends, who came for it with a flag of truce. The body was carried to Abington, Virginia, and buried, and soon after removed to Richmond. Whatever became of Campbell I do not know. He is marked on the muster rolls as having moved to Ohio. Immediately after the victory, he was promoted to second lieutenant in Company E, same regiment, by General Order No. 95, which states that the promotion is made as “a reward for his gallantry in the engagement at Greenville, Tennessee, on the 4th instant, and for his success in arresting, by an accurate shot, the flight of General John H. Morgan, one of our country's most prominent enemies.”

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