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General John Hunt Morgan's Funeral Was Held four Years After His Death

On April 17, 1868 Two Morgan Brothers Were Re-Interred In Lexington Cemetery

Editor's Note: No other person is more associated with the Civil War in Kentucky than is General John Hunt Morgan. His raiders left their mark on every part of our state. For the first few years of the war it seemed that Fate smiled on Morgan. His troops seemingly accomplished feats that others could not. However, as the war raged on his Southern raiders began to suffer from lack of supplies and morale fell. On September 4, 1864 Morgan's luck ran out. He was shot and killed during an ambush in Greenville, Tennessee. He was first buried in Richmond, Virginia. However, after the war his remains were brought back to Lexington, the town in which he grew to manhood, and buried on April 17, 1868 in the Lexington Cemetery. His brother Tom was also killed in action during the Civil War and was first buried at Lebanon, Kentucky in 1863. His remains were removed to Lexington in April of 1868 and in a double ceremony were buried at the same time as his brother.


Louisville Journal - 1868


Yesterday the city of Lexington consigned to his last resting place another of her distinguished sons who fell during the late war. In her beautiful cemetery, green with perennial verdure, and gemmed here and there by the first frail flowers of spring, the remains of General John H. Morgan were buried in the presence of hundreds of his old comrades in arms, who had come from far and near to pay a last tribute of love to the memory of their former commander. There were present, too, hundreds of those from all the surrounding country, who knew and loved him in life and mourn him dead.

The train which bore the remains from Covington arrived at the depot at Lexington at half past 11 o'clock a. m., where it was met by a sub-committee from the Committee of Arrangements, consisting of the following named gentlemen: Gen. A. Buford, Gen. Wm. Preston, Gen. Kirby Smith, and Gen. John S. Williams.

Upon the arrival of the train, the members present of "Morgan's Old Squadron," about 100 in number, formed in front of the Phoenix Hotel, and marched to Christ Church, on Market Street, where they received the remains of their old commander, borne from the depot in a hearse beautifully decorated with garlands and wreaths of evergreens, and drawn by two white horses.

Here, too, in discharge of their appropriate duties were the other members of the Committee of Arrangements: General J. F. Robinson, Colonel W. C. P. Breckinridge, Colonel Cicero Coleman, Major George B. Pickett, Major Hart Gibson, Captain Thos. Quirk, Captain Ben. Drake, Dr. J. G. Chinn, Dr. J. R. Desha, and Dr. D. L. Price.

The coffin was carried into the church and placed in front of the altar, and upon it were laid several beautiful wreaths of flowers; among them one from a young lady of Louisville, and another from a young lady of Lexington. The building was soon crowded to its utmost capacity, while on the street were many hundreds who could not obtain admittance. The solemn and impressive funeral service of the Episcopal Church was read by the Rector, Rev. J. S. Shipman. When the coffin was again placed in the hearse and borne to the cemetery, the cortege moved in the following order: Chief Marshal; Committee of Arrangements; Music; Members of the Masonic Order; Clergyman and Chairman of Covington Committee; Pallbearers; Hearse; Pallbearers; Family and Relatives; Morgan's Old Squadron; Comrades and Command; Citizens on Foot; Carriages; Horsemen; and Deputy Marshals.

The pallbearers were: Gen. E. Kirby Smith, Gen. Wm. Preston, Gen. J. S. Williams, Gen. A. Buford, Gen. George B. Hodge, Col. J. W. Bowles, Col. Spence, Capt. Thos. Quirk, Capt. Ben. Biggerstaff, Capt. Wagner, Dr. Hays, and William Jones.

Chief Marshal: Major B. G. Thomas. Deputy Marshals: Capt. T. H. Hines, Lieutenant J. B. Rodes, Capt. Geo. W. Didlake, Major P. P. Johnston, John M. Vanmeter, Shelley Mann, Capt. Ben. Drake, Dr. Logan, James R. Price, and perhaps one or two others.

The long procession, "with dirges due and sad array," marched from the church to Limestone Street, down Limestone to Main, and down Main to the cemetery. Thousands of men, women, and children thronged the sidewalks all along the route of the procession, and every window, doorway, and balcony were filled with spectators. The day was bright and beautiful, the sky, broken only here and there by a few fleecy clouds drifting southward, was as blue as that of Italy; and the whole city seemed to have turned out to witness the solemn and imposing spectacle. Within the cemetery, midway between the main entrance and the new made grave, lay, in his coffin, the gallant young soldier, Lieut. Thomas H. Morgan, awaiting the coming of his elder brother to lie down to slumber with him beneath the self-same sod. After an earthly separation of five years the two brothers, in life dearer the one to the other than life itself, or, perchance, even than the cause beneath whose flag they fell, were about to be again united upon the green turf where their infant feet had strayed, and beneath that turf to sleep side by side their long, last sleep. The elder, with whose name and with whose deeds of high emprise the broad land once rang, is borne to the solemn meeting of once warm, but now cold, unconscious hearts, with funeral strains that burden all the air with a weight of mournful melody; the younger, cut off in the fresh-blown flower of manhood, while yet "the birds of fame" stood with wings half-poised to bear his name away to meet its applause, lies, waiting, beneath an over-arching pine, from whose leaves, like aeolian harp strings, the April breeze strikes with invisible fingers a low, sad dirge, audible to none save the loving few who stand silently near; a dirge for the brave young dead; a dirge for him the doubly dead, in that he died so young.

Lieutenant Morgan, of Company I, 2nd Kentucky (Confederate) Cavalry, scarcely more than 20 years of age at the time of his death, was killed at Lebanon, in this state, on the 5th day of July 1863. He was buried at Lebanon, and about the first of the present month his remains were removed to the vault in the cemetery at Lexington, to await the re-interment of his brother, General Morgan, in order that they both might be buried in the same grave. While waiting the approach of the procession, the coffin, adorned with wreaths of flowers, stood upon a bier, surrounded by the pallbearers, Lieut. C. W. West, Thomas S. Logwood, H. C. Elder, F. Clarer, R. H. Owen, Frank P. Helm, Henry Hopkins, Henry Beach, W. C. Piatt, and A. D. Piatt, all of whom were Lieut. Morgan's companions in arms.

Among the former officers of General Morgan's command who were present at the funeral, were the following, in addition to those already named: Gen. Bazil W. Duke, Col. D. Howard Smith, Col. J. W. Grigsby, Maj. Stoddard Johnston, Capt. J. B. Castleman, Col. J. D. Morris, Col. Robert J. Breckinridge, Col. R. W. Woolley, Capt. Robert Logan, Col. Lemon, Capt. J. Cabel Breckinridge, Maj. Ben. Desha, Capt. Joe Desha, Col. J. B. McCreary, Capt. T. W. Bullitt, Maj. R. S. Bullock, Maj. Allen McAfee, Capt. Leland Halloway, Capt. L. Wheeler, Adjutant J. A. Lewis, Surgeon Keller, Capt. J. Lawrence Jones, Col. Russell Butler, Colonel Campbell, Lieut. W. S. Fogg, Lieut. Drake, Capt. Wolfe, Capt. Wilson, Capt. Trigg, Captain George Cantrell, Captain J. C. Cantrell, Lieutenant Hart, Lieutenant Hunt, Lieut. Hickey, Lieut. Berry, Lieut. Ferguson, Lieut. Spillman, Lieut. J. F. Witherspoon, Lieut. James Thompson, Lieut. W. B. Black, Lieut. Hathaway, Lieut S. Marr, Lieut. Williams, Lieut. Skillman, Lieut. Conaltey, Lieut. Offutt, Lieut. Triplett, Lieut. Cooper, and many others. There were also present a large number of non-commissioned officers, and hundreds of the rank and file.

The closing scene at the grave was in the highest degree impressive. The solemn words of the minister, "earth to earth and dust to dust," uttered in the presence of a proud, high-wrought humanity slumbering in the dreamless immobility of death, must ever awaken in the idlest mind such thoughts of life's uncertainty and of the dread hereafter as "Wake to perish never." Here, then, at the wide, deep grave of two young and vigorous lives crushed in the hour of their pride and strength, the solemn lesson of death and eternity must have appealed with even more than a two-fold force to the minds and consciences of all. With bowed, uncovered heads, and with hearts, "Sadder than a star that sets at twilight in a land of reeds," the throng of "Morgan's Men" saw their dead comrades laid away in that calm, untroubled slumber which the loving voice of friend nor the battle cry of foe may never break, and each turned away from the spot with the thought and the faith, if not the words, "Farewell, ye high, heroic hearts, farewell! Inspired lips shall teach the world, ere-long your hallowed story."