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General John Morgan, [from the New Orleans Picayune, July 5, 1903.]

The celebrated Confederate Cavalry leader.

Circumstantial account of his death, by Colonel J. W. Scully, U. S. A., an eyewitness.

Atlanta, Ga., July 3, 1903.
Editor Picayune:
dear Sir,—In the Confederate Column of your issue of the 28th ult. appears an article by P. H. Hora, giving what he asserts to be a true account of ‘How General John H. Morgan was killed.’ The romantic picture of Mrs. Williams' house in Greenville is, I presume, correct, but, with the exception of the facts that Morgan was killed in Mrs. Williams' garden, and that there was a chapel at the end of the grounds, the story and the conclusions drawn therefrom are simply errors. I have from time to time read many conflicting stories of this affair, and having been a prominent actor in it, concluded that the time had come when an eyewitness should give the public the truth of the matter.

I shall commence by stating that I was the next ranking officer to General Gillem on that expedition. It was a force placed under the exclusive orders of General Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee (afterwards President of the United States), and composed of Tennessee troops, but just before the combat at Greenville we were joined by a squadron of the Tenth Michigan Cavalry under Major Newell. Our force consisted of the Ninth and Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry; Company A, Tenth Tennessee Cavalry (headquarters escort); Battery B, First Tennessee Artillery, and the aforementioned Michigan squadron. My regiment, the Tenth Tennessee Infantry, not being mounted, was not detailed for this raid, but I, on General Gillem's request, accompanied him and acted as chief of staff. The object of the expedition was to rid east Tennessee of guerrilla bands that were being formed on both sides, and incidentally to destroy the salt works at Saltville, Va.

On August 23, 1864, we had a sharp fight with Colonel Giltner's command of Morgan's troops at Blue Springs, Tenn., about halfway between Bulls Gap and Greenville, defeating Giltner in a couple [126] of hours. After pursuing him several miles beyond Greenville, we returned to Bulls Gap to await supplies from Knoxville, and it was here we learned that John Morgan was on his way from the Watauga to ‘clean us up.’ The following is actually what occurred:

About 9 o'clock on the night of September 3, 1864, I was in my tent conversing with Captain Sterling Hambright, commander of the headquarters escort, when my orderly, Private David Cahill, knocked and told that ‘little Jimmy Leddy’ wished to speak to me. Knowing the boy since the affair at Blue Springs, near his mother's house, I invited him in, and he told me that Morgan's men were all around his mother's place; that they took his mare, but that he afterwards found her and stole her from the soldiers, and came direct to our camp. I at first doubted his story, but finally concluded to awake General Gillem, who was asleep in the next tent to mine. Gillem acted immediately upon the boy's information; the command was silently aroused, and at about 10 P. M. Lieutenant-Colonel Ingerton, with the 13th Tennessee Cavalry, started. Ingerton's instructions were to get in the rear of the enemy and to attack as soon as he heard firing in front. The main column, consisting of the 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Brownlow; 10th Michigan Cavalry, Major Newell; Patterson's battery of six guns; Colonel John K. Miller, 13th Tennessee Cavalry; General Gillem, staff and escort, started at 12 o'clock, midnight. The night was pitch dark; one of the most fearful thunder storms I ever witnessed prevailed for several hours, and had it not been for the constant flashes of lightning we could not have continued our march. About 5:30 o'clock on the morning of the 4th, we came upon the pickets, and the action commenced about 6. Colonels Vaughan and Giltner, of Morgan's force, who commanded in front, were completely surprised, and retreated at once. Colonel Ingerton, having been successful in getting to the rear of the enemy, was awaiting developments in his front, when a negro boy rode up and told him that Morgan and staff were asleep at Mrs. Williams' house in Greenville. Ingerton directed Captain Wilcox, of his regiment, to take two companies and capture Morgan. This force surprised the premises at 6 o'clock, and the soldiers began firing from their horses over the high board fence that inclosed the garden. It was from this fire that General Morgan received his death wound. The bullet entered his back, penetrating the heart, and death was instantaneous. He left the house as soon as he heard the firing, and walked down the garden. He was only partially [127] dressed, and had on neither coat nor hat. Captain Rogers, of his staff, was captured in the house, and Colonel Withers, Adjutant-General, and Captain Hines were discovered in the chapel at the end of the garden.

A private of the 10th Tennessee Cavalry, named Andrew Campbell, claimed to have shot General Morgan, and with the assistance of a comrade, placed the body across his horse and rode with it about half a mile, when General Gillem and I met him. We both denounced Campbell's conduct, had the remains placed upon a caisson and carried back to Mrs. Williams' house, where they were decently cared for and sent under a flag of truce to Jonesboro, and there delivered to his late command. It was not believed by General Gillem, Colonel Miller, myself, or any of the field officers of the command that Campbell knew who shot General Morgan, for he was in the midst of a crowd of men, and outside of the fence, and all of them firing as fast as they could load. He probably was the first to discover the body as it lay within seventy-five feet of the fence and was partially hidden in a clump of gooseberry bushes. I examined the place at the time, and was then convinced that on that damp, foggy morning, before sunrise, a man's figure would appear only as a shadow, and that Morgan was killed by a volley. Wild stories about the ‘barbarous’ manner in which General Morgan was treated by General Gillem prevailed through the South for years, but Gillem and I refrained from contradicting them for the reason that we were both in the regular army, and the General's official report of the affair had never been published. I have a copy of that report now in my possession. It is signed by General Gillem. Your late and much lamented Major Nat. Burbank read this report, and exacted a promise that I would permit him to use it should the time arrive for an article on the subject.

Joe Williams, eldest son of Mrs. Williams, was a volunteer on the staff of General Burnside, and was absent, but his wife, who was a Miss Rumbough, of Greenville, when she saw Morgan's troops enter town, rode out to her farm, about seven miles distant, in the opposite direction from our camp. This caused the rumor that she carried the information of Morgan's presence to Gillem. I was for several weeks a guest of Mrs. Williams, and I never heard of any of those conversations mentioned by Mr. Hora, but, of course, romances will spring from an affair of that kind, especially after a lapse of nearly forty years. [128]

I did not know that Mrs. Morgan was a relative of the Williams family, but I do know that Mrs. Gillem's brother, Captain Mack Jones, C. S. A., married Miss Kate Sneed, a granddaughter of Mrs. Williams. Captain Jones was killed in the battle of Atlanta.

In conclusion, I would say that General Morgan's remains were not treated as stated by Mr. Hora. Campbell's act in carrying them to General Gillem was the only desecration they received, and that act was strongly denounced by all the officers of the command. I never heard of that heroic conduct of the negro, Tom Clem, in calmly standing within twenty feet of General Morgan with the bullets flying around like hail. I remember one of Mrs. Williams' negroes, named Tom, but I would wager that the aforesaid Tom was, with the other darkies, either under the house or in the ‘potato hole,’ on that eventful morning. The negro who gave Colonel Ingerton the information was lost sight of in the tumult, and never again appeared at headquarters.

Jimmy Leddy was the son of a widow living at Blue Springs, was taken by General Gillem to Nashville, and there placed at school, but he soon tired of that and returned to his home.

Captain Rogers, of Morgan's staff, was my guest for over a week after his capture, and he afterwards spoke in the highest terms of the manner in which they were treated by General Gillem, and also of the treatment of Morgan's remains, with the exception, of course, of Campbell's conduct.

Colonel, U. S. A. (retired), Colonel Tenth Tennessee Volunteers, Chief of Staff to General Gillem when General John H. Morgan was killed. [129] [From the New Orleans, La., Picayune, October 4-11, 1903.]

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