September 1861 MORGAN CAUGHT SMUGGLING CONFEDERATE UNIFORMS
After Confederate forces occupied Columbus, a city in far western Kentucky, President Lincoln proclaimed that commercial trade with the Confederacy be stopped.
Southern-leaning John Hunt Morgan, a Lexington hemp producer, ignored the blockade. He, along with four companions, attempted to take two wagonloads of jeans used for Confederate uniforms through the federal blockade. Their route to Tennessee brought them down the old Lexington-to-Nashville Road, which ran by this church. They were caught by Taylor County Home Guards in the nearby village of Saloma.
Morgan was placed inside the log meeting house here at Pleasant Hill. When a "rebel force collected to attempt his rescue," 30 Home Guards kept guard over him. After three days, he was released. After his return to Lexington, Morgan organized his followers from the Lexington Rifles, and in mid September, they rode out of the city with their weapons under a load of hay and enlisted as a cavalry company in the Confederate Army.
PLEASANT HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
In the 1830s, neighbors in the area assembled in homes for church services. In 1837, Henry Sanders, a large land owner and operator of Sanders Tavern and Stage Coach Stop, donated land for the church and had the log meeting house built at his own expense. He named it Pleasant Hill after a place in his native Virginia. In May 1840 Good Hope, its mother church, gave permission for members to officially organize this congregation.
28b - Morgan's Revenge
January 31, 1862
MORGAN CAPTURED FEDERAL TELEGRAPHERS
Morgan did not forget his imprisonment in Pleasant Hill Church.
No longer a private citizen, Captain John H. Morgan, with nine men and a guide, left Camp Ash near Bowling Green. Traveling by night and sleeping in the daytime, Morgan reached the inn of southern sympathizer Daniel Williams, near the Green-Taylor county line. Dressed in Union uniforms, they pretended to be carrying messages for the Union army. They picked up a guide at Lloyd Thurmans and proceeded to the church.
It happened that Union telegraphers, commanded by Capt. W. G. Fuller, were storing a large quantity of equipment and food in the church. After the Union victory at Mill Springs on January 19, 1862, Federal telegraph lines were being strung to connect Lebanon with Somerset. Captain Fuller left the camp to go to Lebanon to get funds to pay his crew.
The 24 lineman left camp early and were stringing wire near Bear Tract Road. Here the camp squad was preparing to move the camp south. They had three wagons and nine horses to do the job.
In mid-morning, Morgan "pounced" upon the camp squad at Pleasant Hill. To Morgans delight, he captured all the supplies, the wagons, the horses, and Captain Fullers fine field glass, which he used to his advantage for the rest of the war.
While Morgan was here, John Feather, a miller from the neighborhood, came riding by. Still dressed in Union uniforms, the Confederates asked Feather, "What do you think of Morgan?" Feather replied, "I think burning is too good for him." The Rebels replied, "Well, thats what well do to you."
At that, the mens true identity was revealed, and Feather was made a captive in the Pleasant Hill Church.
MORGAN ORDERS CHURCH SET FIRE
After a trip to see Mary Ann Sanders at Clay Hill and to view the Union camps at New Market, Morgan ordered the church set firewith the prisoner John Feather in it. John Feather ran a mill on Big Pitman Creek. Today the stream is known as Feather Creek.
Feather pulled the wooden benches to a window of the church, stacked them, and when the smoke caused the horses to flee, the guards abandoned their stations. Feather jumped out the window and hid in one of the barrels. Later he escaped into the woods.
Morgan and his men took the telegraph crew to Tennessee and later released them there.
An infamous outrage was committed at Pleasant Hill Church, Taylor County....Marauders known to have come from Bowling Green, led by a man named Morgan...came up to the church, where the Union men were stopping, and pretended to be Union men...They carried two of the government wagons very close to the church, fastened an old man [Feather] up in the church and then set it on fire...."
After the burning of the enlarged two-door log meeting house with its fine shake roof, the church was not rebuilt until the year 1867. The present brick church was constructed in 1946.
George Prentice, editor of the Louisville Journal, ran the story February 5, 1862: CAPTURE OF TELEGRAPHIC WORKMENARREST OF UNION MEN AND THEFT OF PROPERTYCHURCH BURNING.
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