The Battle of Tebbs' Bend (or Tebbs Bend or Green River) was fought on July 4, 1863, near the Green River in Taylor County, Kentucky during Morgan's Raid in the American Civil War. Despite being badly outnumbered, elements of the Union army thwarted repeated attacks by Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan's dismounted cavalry.
General Morgan and his 2,460 handpicked Confederate cavalrymen rode west from Sparta in middle Tennessee on June 11, 1863, intending to divert the attention of the Union Army of the Ohio from Southern forces in the state. Morgan moved northward on June 23, bound for Kentucky. On the night of July 2, he crossed the rain-swollen Cumberland River and advanced into Kentucky, proceeding as far as Cane Valley, camping between Campbellsville and Columbia. The next day, he planned to cross the Green River at Tebbs' Bend, which was guarded by five companies of the 25th Michigan Infantry (approximately 200 men under Col. Orlando H. Moore). Moore had erected earthworks in the woods near the river crossing, guarded by a line of abatis of felled trees and several forward rifle pits. His goal was to protect the Lebanon-Campbellsville-Columbia Turnpike, a vital supply line and the easiest route for Morgan to take to reach Louisville.
Morgan divided his force, sending the bulk of his cavalry to flank the small garrison and cut off their avenue of retreat. At sunrise on July 4, Union pickets opened fire on approaching enemy cavalrymen. Soon, Morgan's artillery answered, wounding two Union soldiers in the rifle pits. About 7 a.m., Morgan called a cease fire and sent forward three officers under a flag of truce, demanding that Moore surrender, wishing to avoid further bloodshed. However, the Union commander refused and firing resumed. Sharpshooters soon silenced Morgan's artillery battery of four guns.
Morgan sent forward two dismounted regiments under Col. Adam R. Johnson, about 400 troopers, who easily overran the advanced rifle pits. However, the attack stalled under heavy fire from Federals concealed behind the abatis. Morgan then sent in the 5th Kentucky Cavalry from Col. Basil W. Duke's brigade to support Johnson. Over a three-hour period, Morgan pushed forward a total of eight separate attacks, with each one being repulsed, including the flanking column. Finally acknowledging that he could not seize the fortifications, Morgan sent another delegation under a flag of truce to Colonel Moore to request permission to collect his wounded and bury his dead. That task completed, Morgan withdrew southward along the bluffs of the Green River, finally crossing the bend at Johnson Ford and heading back towards Campbellsville. The next day, he would fight again at the Battle of Lebanon.
Morgan lost 35 killed and 45 wounded, while Moore counted 6 killed and 23 wounded. Of significance, among Morgan's casualties were 24 experienced officers, who were a particular target of the Michigan sharpshooters.
A Confederate Monument at the Tebbs' Bend Battlefield was erected in 1872. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and the battlefield two years later.
- Duke, Basil Wilson, A History of Morgan's Cavalry. Cincinnati, Ohio: Miami Printing and Pub. Co., 1867. On-line version
- Horwitz, Lester V., The Longest Raid of the Civil War. Cincinnati, Ohio: Farmcourt Publishing, Inc., 1999. ISBN 0-9670267-3-3.
- Ramage, James A., Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1986. ISBN 0-8131-1576-0.
- U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes in 4 series. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1880-1901. On-line version