Adair County News, March 10, 1909
[It appears this article was published
in its original form in the Louisville Courier-Journal
c. 1892. Mr. Bridgewater subsequently revised that version and sent it
to "the Dispatch" (almost
certainly the Louisville Dispatch) in 1898 for publication. The latter
version then appeared in the Adair County News
FIGHT AT GREEN RIVER BRIDGE
Patrick H. Bridgewater Gives the
Dispatch a Graphic Account of that Thrilling Battle
WITHOUT MORGAN'S CONSENT.
Famous General Did Not Know the Attack
on the Federals Was to Be Made.
History of His Much Vaunted Overcoat,
Which is Now Held by the Writer.
Hon. Patrick H. Bridgewater, of near Cane Valley, Adair county, Ky.,
furnished the Dispatch with the
following most interesting history of John Morgan's overcoat, and sketch
of the Green River Bridge in the year 1863:
To the Editor of the Dispatch:
About six years ago I had published in the Louisville
Courier-Journal a sketch of the
battle and overcoat of John Morgan, in which I made some mistakes, not
as to the overcoat, but as to the battle, so I herein correct the
mistakes and request the Dispatch
to republish it in its revised form.
But to return to the overcoat: I have in my possession the overcoat of
the Confederate Gen., John H. Morgan. This relic of the war came into my
possession in this wise. On the night of July third, 1863, Gen. Morgan
and his staff stayed all night at my father's house, in Cane Valley,
Adair county, Ky. The next morning being the Fourth of July, some of
Morgan's forces attacked the Yankees at Green River Bridge, while the
General was still back at my father's. When General Morgan learned of
the fight he hastened to the battleground, and in his hurry, he left his
overcoat at my father's house, which remained in my father's possession
till his death. Since then it has been in the possession of the writer.
A short history of the battle of Green River Bridge may be interesting
to some of the readers of the Louisville Dispatch. This bridge is
situated over Green river, in Tibe's
[sic] bend, in Taylor county, on the Campbellsville and Columbia
pike, eight miles from the former and twelve miles from the latter town.
When Gen. Morgan arrived in the vicinity of the bridge he was informed
that the bridge was held by the Twenty-fifth Michigan Infantry,
commanded by Col. C.D. Moore. Morgan wished to pass on north without
hindrance, demanded a surrender of the bridge on the evening of the 3rd
of July, 1863, which the General thought was accorded, as his scouts
reported the enemy evacuating the bridge on the night of the 3rd.
But the next morning, the Fourth of July, Col. Johnson, of Morgan's
command, found the Yankees strongly entrenched in a small opening close
to and facing the pike. The Confederates held a short conference as to
the best plan of attack. Col. Johnson asked if there was a man in the
regiment acquainted with the locality of the bridge. He was informed
that Capt. R.A. Webster was well acquainted with the whole country about
the bridge. Capt. Webster was hunted up and went to Col. Johnson and
drew a diagram in the dust of the road, of the situation of the bridge
and the country around the bridge.
It was then decided that Capt. Webster should take a company of the best
troopers and go around through Lemon's bend and across the river at
Hatcher's warehouse, a point below the bridge which intersected with the
pike at or near James Caldwell's farm, and then go back to the bridge
and then Morgan was to attack the enemy from both ends of the pike.
However, before Capt. Webster crossed the river with his troopers, Col.
Johnson, in his eagerness for the attack, advanced within 400 yards of
the enemy's entrenchment and opened fire. After killing some of the
Yankees the remainder ran out of their entrenchments and fell back down
the pike behind their breastworks, which consisted of large trees cut
down for that purpose.
A small portion of Johnson's command dismounted and pursued the enemy
within a few yards of their breastworks. Only a few Confederates could
get at them. As each side of the pike was so densely covered with
underbrush you could scarcely see a man twenty yards standing up.
So the Yankees shot down Morgan's men as fast as they advanced on them.
This attack was made without Gen. Morgan's consent or knowledge; it was
done while the General was back at my father's house, six miles from the
bridge. In the meantime Gen. Morgan arrived on the battleground, and,
seeing the situation of the enemy, he was convinced of the hopelessness
of further resistance on his part and he felt it his duty to shift from
himself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood.
He ordered a flank move, which was done in good order, carrying off all
his guns and the wounded, but leaving his dead in the hands of the
enemy, who buried them all in one pit by the side of the pike.
The Federals reported many Confederates killed but few Yankees, as was
usual in those days.
I assisted in the re-interment of the Confederate dead about seven years
after the battle, and we exhumed only twenty-three skulls. Those
together with the bones of other brave Confederate boys, now lie on top
of the high
cliff of Green river, in Taylor county, within a few hundred yards of
where they fell, and a handsome marker has been erected over their
remains to mark the spot of their last resting place.
They had fought their last battle.
They had slept their last sleep,
No sound could e'er awake them to glory
Patrick H. Bridgewater,
Cane Valley, Adair county, Ky.
July 9th, 1898. +
* These are variant lines from the
poem, "The Grave of Bonaparte," frequently attributed to H.S.
[The author of this article, Patrick H.
born in 1834, the oldest child of John
F. & Elizabeth (Groves) Bridgewater, and died in 1912. Gen. Morgan's
overcoat passed to Patrick H. Bridgewater's daughter, Annie E., who had
married Nathan Champness "Champ" Butler. It then passed to Annie E.'s
daughter, Nellie E. Butler, who married Hugh Hutchison; then to Nellie's
daughter, Elizabeth Hutchison, who married Ralph Eugene "Pete" Grider;
and then to the present-day (early 2008) owner, Elizabeth's daughter,
JoNell Grider, who married Charles Smith. I recall hearing Mrs. Nellie
Butler Hutchison speak of the overcoat in the early 1960s.-- jg, 2008