Elizabethtown Welcomes General Morgan
Assistant Editor of The News-Enterprise
Dec. 28, 1992
…Elizabethtown now belonged to Morgan’s Raiders and the Confederacy. …The first chore for the poorly supplied Rebels was to strip Union soldiers of their rifles, boots and overcoats.
Next came a shopping spree where soldiers used Confederate currency to buy extra trousers, boots, and leather. But with no wagons or pack animals in the fast-moving cavalry, men were forced to don several shirts and pants giving them an absurd overstuffed appearance.
Morgan went shopping too, spending more than $1,200 for silks and other items for his new bride, Mattie, back in Tennessee. The 37-year-old general had married the 21-year-old Southern belle just eight days before the raid into Kentucky….
Picture Courtesy Second Regiment Ky. Infantry
Soon after the mid-morning assault, the general was swaggering through the streets of Elizabethtown chatting with well-known Confederate sympathizer Miss Belle McDowell on his arm. The general, sporting a butternut shirt and jeans, long, black cavalry boots and a blue overcoat, told Belle his new bride was “the prettiest lady in the South.” He lamented the difficulty in leaving Mattie behind, but her patriotism required that Morgan do his duty.
“You should not have married,” Belle warned, “for there are a thousand hearts that beat at the sound of your name.”
A peculiar backdrop to this conquering scene were workers who scrambled to rescue the wounded.
The scene of the two tragedies where so many soldiers were killed was the Foerg Building and Eagle House Hotel. The Foerg was torn down and Crain Co. now stands on that spot. The Eagle House, however, still exists as the Duff Insurance building. …
Other houses played prominent roles that day as well.
· To escape attack, many townspeople fled toward the home of Morgan’s lifelong friend, Samuel. B. Thomas—more commonly known today as the Brewer House on Poplar Street.
But when Union soldiers joined the crowd, the Rebels lifted their guns and began lobbing
shells into that area of town. Thomas scrambled to his rooftop, waving a white bed sheet
so the firing would stop.
· On Helm Street is Horace Bird’s house. In the family for generations, the mammoth mansion built around 1802 by Maj. Benjamin Helm, once had a front lawn that stretched to present-day Dixie Avenue. The yard was so cluttered by cannon fire that family members, who included Horace’s great-grandmother, collected the balls and dropped them into one of seven wells on the property. The well has long since been filled, and the house would later serve as an infirmary for Union and Confederate soldiers.
· And, the Brown-Pusey House is believed to be where Morgan dined and spent the night. Once word leaked as to the whereabouts of the famous general, many of Elizabethtown’s most prominent ladies flocked for a first-hand look. Many left with a souvenir as Morgan consented to having the buttons of his coat clipped.