Elizabethtown in Hardin County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
“Make a Street Fight Out of It”
Christmas Raid, December 27, 1862
On December 27, 1862, Morgan's cavalry attacked Elizabethtown, which was defended by some 600 men of the 91st Illinois under the command of Lieut. Col. H.S. Smith. Because Morgan outnumbered the Union defenders almost five to one, Smith felt that his best chance lay in occupying the buildings in and around the town square. He hoped to be able to hold out against Morgan until other Federal forces could come to his aid.
When Smith refused to surrender, Morgan's artillery opened fire and battered the town both solid shot and canister. Morgan then ordered detachments under Col. Basil Duke and Col. William C.P. Breckinridge into town where they would make, as Morgan phrased it, "a street fight out of it." The Confederates moved into town, fording the freezing waters of the swollen Valley Creek, as artillery shells screamed overhead. The fighting was soon street-to-street and building-to-building. The Federal troops, divided among many buildings, were unable to concentrate their fire or coordinate
One by one, surrounded and overcome, pockets of Federal troops hoisted the flag of surrender. Troops nearby, seeing the surrender flag in one building, believed a general order of surrender had been issued and they too, surrendered. After several hours Smith realized he had no hope of holding Elizabethtown until help arrived. Smith surrendered to Morgan, freeing the Confederates to advance and destroy the trestles of the L&N the following day. The captured Union soldiers were paroled and sent marching to Louisville.
Caption for the image at the bottom of the marker: Morgan ordered his artillery, which had been placed at several locations around the city including atop of Cemetery Hill, to fire upon Elizabethtown.
Marker series. This marker is included in the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail in Kentucky marker series.
Location. 37° 41.514′ N, 85° 51.386′ W. Marker is in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in Hardin County. Marker is on Dixie Highway East (U.S. 31W), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elizabethtown KY 42701, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. General Custer Here (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln-Haycraft Memorial Bridge (about 600 feet away); The Cannonball (about 800 feet away); Commodore Joshua Barney / First Brick House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Elizabethtown Battle (approx. ¼ mile away); Morgan's Second Raid (approx. ¼ mile away); Three Forts (approx. ¼ mile away); Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elizabethtown.
More about this marker. This is one of 15 markers in the "John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail in Kentucky that focuses on the Christmas Raid of 1862."
Caption of the image to the top, middle, right: Morgan ordered his soldiers into town to dislodge the Union defenders. Street by street, building by building, the Federal resistance was finally overcome.
On the top, right is a portrait of W.C.P. Breckinridge. On the bottom, right is a portrait of Basil Duke.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 5, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,085 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 5, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.