Things to Do In Campbellsville

Kat’s current work schedule is four days a week, leaving three to fill.  The first day off is for rest, the second calls for local amusement, and the third is to prepare for the coming week.  After three seasons here we have seen all the surrounding fairs and festivals, and with Saturday and Sunday now on her work schedule, we can’t revisit them.  Fortunately neither of us wants to.  It’s too early for fall color, and thus too soon for our annual visit to Bernheim Forest.


Trip Advisor gamely offered some advice on Things to Do in C’ville.  #1, #4, and #10 involve campgrounds on Green River Lake.  We have camped in one of them and visited the others.  #2 The Awaken Boutique, #3 Green Room Day Spa, #5 Magnolia Alley (gifts and arrangements) and #7 C’ville Peddlers’ Mart all fail miserably at floating either of our boats.  I almost can’t believe  that #9, The Baptist Bookstore, is on the list but it is.  I frequent its contract Post Office, but aside from stamps there’s nothing of interest.  That leaves two:  Tebbs Bend Battlefield and the Atkinson-Griffin Log House and Confederate Hospital.

Working on the Worst Kind of Wound: Abdominal.
Working on the Worst Kind of Wound: Abdominal.

Faced with choices like that you must go.  We’ve seen famous Civil War battlefields at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Antietam, and Appomattox Courthouse.   In Kentucky we’ve visited a re-enactment of the Battle of Munfordsville (authentic uniforms and weapons, but T-bones and beans from Kroger).  Kentucky never seceded from the Union, but its near equal numbers of southern and Union combatants made the fighting here much more personal.  Today I see more Confederate flags than Stars and Stripes, and believe it or not, Kentucky is now redder than Texas.

A Surgeon's Tool Kit
A Surgeon’s Tool Kit

Tebbs Bend was a clash between General John Hunt Morgan’s Kentucky Mounted Infantry and the 25th Michigan Infantry Brigade.   Morgan had the advantage in numbers, 3,000 to 800, but Colonel O. H. Moore’s Michiganders held the high ground and used their time to prepare an excellent defensive position.  Early in the morning of July 4, 1863, Morgan’s four guns rolled up into close range of the Union position and fired several rounds.  Under a white flag, Confederate officers rode out to offer terms of surrender, only to be rebuffed politely but firmly.  Half an hour later fighting resumed.

The Atkinson House. Note the pegs above the windows. Those support the second floor.
The Atkinson House. Note the pegs above the windows. Those support the second floor.

I went to school in the south.  In the 60’s southern history teachers at the middle school and high school level told us all (at least in the white schools) “The South had better fighting men and much better generals.  The Union had better supplies — the factories were up north.”  I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of my education.   The legendary Robert E. Lee ruined his army at Gettysburg in an attack that in any assessment of the open terrain Pickett had to cross had no chance of success.   Morgan too was famous, if on a smaller scale.  But at Tebbs Bend, he made mistake upon mistake.  He brought his cannons within rifle range of his target and soon lost all his gunners.  Then he pulled his cannons out of artillery range of his objective.  Despite having great numerical superiority, he staged eight attacks, twenty minutes apart, each with just 100 men.  Military doctrine demands one mass his forces at the point of attack, especially when single shot rifles requiring 20 seconds to reload are the weapon of choice.  Morgan’s casualties were three times Moore’s.  After losing 24 combat officers and over 60 enlisted men, Morgan asked for a truce to recover his wounded and bury the dead.


Louisville, 100 miles to the northwest, was home to several Union supply warehouses.  Those had been Morgan’s target, but Moore and the 25th Michigan stopped him here, just south of Campbellsville.

Colonel Moore with Staff of 25th Michigan
Colonel Moore with Staff of 25th Michigan

Even then it was a small world.  The key unit in the Union defense, Company I, was primarily Dutchmen from around Holland, Michigan.  We were there this summer.  Morgan’s attackers were horsemen from Kentucky, where we are now.   The 25th Michigan marched 500 miles over six months.  Perhaps Indiana’s highways were better then, than now?

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