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MIKE WATSON: Patrick Bridgewater & Gen. Morgan's Overcoat

FILE PHOTO LEFT - Mike Watson presentation at Adair County Public Library. (Where big things are happening today, Thu 14 Dec 2017, with both Ms. Kessler for Congressman Comer and Mr. Claus paying are paying visits at different times. See CM Events for 14 Dec 2017)

By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

Another Adair County Civil War Story from the memory of one who was near the incident, Patrick Henry Bridgewater of Cane Valley, and his telling of the Battle of Tebb's Bend, but more importantly, the well-known Confederate Over-coat.
Gen. Morgan's Overcoat
How He Lost It at the Battle of Green River Bridge

Cane Valley, Ky., June 24, '98
About six years ago I had published in the Louisville Courier-Journal a sketch of the battle and the overcoat, in which I made some mistakes--not in the overcoat, but in the battle. So I herein correct the mistakes and request the editor of the Adair County News to republish it in its revised state.

But to return to the overcoat. I have in my possession the overcoat of the Confederate general, John H. Morgan. This relic of the war came into my possession in this wise: On the night of the 3rd of July, 1863, Gen. Morgan and his staff stayed all night at my father's house, J.F. Bridgewater, in Cane Valley, Adair County, Ky. The next morning, being the 4th 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 Gen. Morgan learned of the fight, he hastened to the battle ground, and, in his hurry, he left his overcoat, which remained in my father's possession till his death, since which time it has remained 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 Adair County News. The bridge is situated over Green river at Tibe's (sic-Tebb's) bend, in Taylor county, on the Campbellsville and Columbia road, 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. D.C. More (sic-Moore).

He, wishing to pass on north without hindrance, demanded a surrender of the bridge on the evening of the 3rd of July, which Gen. Morgan thought was accorded, as his scouts reported the enemy evacuating the bridge on the night of the 3rd of July. But the next morning, the 4th 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 that was acquainted with the locality around the bridge. He was informed that Capt. R.A. Webster was well acquainted with the whole country about the bridge. So 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 round about the bridge. It was decided that Capt. Webster should take a company or the best troopers and go round through Lemon's bend and cross the river at Hatcher's warehouse, a point below the bridge, and intersect the pike at or near James Caldwell's farm, and go back to the bridge and attack the enemy from both ends of the pike, but before Capt. Webster crossed the river with his troopers Col. Johnson, in his eagerness for the attack, advanced his battery within about four hundred yards of the enemy's entrenchment and opened fire on them.

After killing some, the rest of the Yankees ran out of their entrenchment and fell back down the pike behind their breast works, consisting of large trees cut down for the purpose. A small portion of Johnson's command dismounted and pursued the enemy to within a few yards of their breastwork. Only a few could get at them--just the width of the pike--as each side of the pike was densely covered with underbrush. You could scarcely see a man twenty yards standing up. The Yankees shot down Morgan's men as fast as they advanced on them.

That 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 battle ground 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 wounded, but leaving his dead in the hands of the enemy, who buried them all in one pit by the side of the pike. There were no prisoners captured on either side. The Federals reported many Confederates killed and but few of theirs, 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 other bones of the brave Confederate boys, now lie on top of a high cliff on Green river in Taylor county, within a few hundred yards of where they fell with a handsome monument 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 awake them to glory again. - Patrick H. Bridg(e)water

The Courier-Journal had printed Mr. Bridgewater's account some years previously, but he had learned more about the battle in more recent times and wished to relay that information to his fellow Adair County News readers. --MIKE WATSON, 12 December 2017

This story was posted on 2017-12-14 06:17:22
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