The Battle of Tebbs Bend

On July 4, 1863, at Tebbs Bend of Green River, Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates were defeated in an engagement on the Great Raid into Indiana and Ohio by a small force of green 25th Michigan Union troops commanded by Col. Orlando H. Moore.

The battle, which lasted under four hours, is regarded as one of the bloodiest of the war in the Western Theater, even though relatively small numbers were involved. The Confederates suffered heavy casualties losing twenty experienced officers including a colonel, a major, four captains, and eight lieutenants. Future governor Major James B. McCreary wrote in his diary: “Many of our best men were killed or wounded. The beginning of this raid is ominous.”

The battle of Tebbs Bend was “one of the most outstanding small victories in the Civil War. It was unusual for a small Union force to resist Morgan, and to fight so fiercely and effectively,” observed historian James Ramage.

This site demonstrates how crucial it is in battle to occupy the ground that dominates the surrounding terrain with fields of fire covering enemy approaches. Moore had 200 troops, while Morgan had 2,500 men, 1000 of whom he committed to battle. The Northern forces, well dug in and protected by an abatis and the banks of Green River on both flanks, defeated the much superior Southern force.

Morgan did not have good intelligence of the Yank position, the Union troops had new long-range Enfields which matched the range of the Southern artillery, and the terrain gave Morgan few options except frontal assault or bypass the position—which he should have done.

After Morgan’s initial artillery round, he demanded surrender at 7 a.m. Moore replied, “This being the 4th day of July, I cannot entertain the proposition to surrender.”

The conflict resumed and after eight determined assaults from the Rebel dismounted cavalry, Morgan, under flag of truce, asked for his casualties to be brought to the front of the line. Many of the Confederates were buried in a mass grave at Tebbs Bend; the Union killed were interred in the Lebanon National Cemetery after the war. Confederates lost at least 36 dead, 45 wounded, and 30 captured. Federals lost 6 killed, 2 mortally wounded, and 14 wounded.

Morgan planned for Moore to surrender his men at Tebbs Bend, parole the captives, and march to Lebanon on the early afternoon of July 4th. Instead, his rearguard did not leave Campbellsville until dusk and were marching long into the night.

Moore had one company of Dutchmen who played a key role in repelling the Confederates’ last assault and a woman named Lizzie Compton who pretended to be a soldier who probably helped in the Union hospital. Morgan’s men, particularly officers, were accompanied by a significant number of African-American personal servants.

The Tebbs Bend Battlefield, Confederate monument, and cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cemetery is a part of the National Discovery Civil War Trail and the John Hunt Morgan in Kentucky Heritage Trail.

Tebbs Bend Battlefield Driving Tour – Tebbs Bend Road between Campbellsville & Columbia, off Ky 55 So, 12 stops: 24/7. Free admission.

Atkinson-Griffin House-Confederate Hospital – at Green River Lake Visitors Center, Corps of Engineers, Ky 55 South of Campbellsville, Open daily Apr-Oct, 8-5 p.m. Open M-F, winter. Free admission.

Contact info:

Tebbs Bend-Green River Bridge Battlefield Association, Inc.
Address: 2218 Tebbs Bend Road, Campbellsville, KY 42718
Phone: Tourism info: 1-800-738-4719;
Phone: Battlefield historian: 270.465.8726
Email: taylorcountytourism@windstream.net
Website address: http://www.TebbsBend.com

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