Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Morgan 4: John Morgan Funeral Address, Part 2 of 3

There is another line of experience in the history of Elder John Morgan that I wish to mention and of which little is known by the brethren and sisters at large; for he was ever modest in any reference to it. He was a soldier. In his youth the great civil war broke out. He joined the Union army and fought through all the years of the great rebellion, serving in honor in the armies of this country. Many a time I have walked with him over Missionary Ridge, where a great battle was fought; along Chickamauga Creek, where the Confederates won a great victory; around the cities of Chattanooga, Franklin, Columbia, Murfreesboro, Knoxville, and throughout the northern part of Alabama.

Upon the casket lying before us is the bullet-torn and battle-stained flag of the 123rd Illinois Regiment. When the Union forces were attacking the rebel breastworks at Selma, Alabama, three men who carried that old flag during the assault were shot down; as it fell from the hand of the third man John Morgan seized it, leaped over the breastworks and planted it triumphantly inside the enemies’ lines where the regiment maintained it. In recognition of his great bravery on that occasion the regiment made him a present of its flag, and how often have I heard him refer to “his flag” with pride. I am glad to see it form part of the decoration of his casket, for it is the emblem of a brave deed—and of itself, an inheritance to his sons. I speak of these things because during his lifetime he said so little of them in public; but being with him so much in the South and traveling over those battle fields, the war was often the subject of our conversation, and it was most interesting to have him point out the different places where engagements were fought and his own connection with them.

He was wounded during the war, but in what battle I do not remember; twice he was captured; once exchanged and once he made his escape; and may, with all propriety, be classed as one of the heroes of our country.

The only public references he ever made to these services for his country, so far as I know, occurred a few years ago, when mistaken members of the Grand Army of the Republic passing through our territory arrogated to themselves all the patriotism in the land, and something more than hinted at the supposed disloyalty of the “Mormon” people.

Indignant at the course these men pursued, in the presence of thousands, he vindicated the loyalty of the Latter-day Saints and referred to his own services in the Civil war, saying that he permitted no man to go further than he would go in making sacrifice for the flag of his country. With shame and humiliation many of these mistaken men confessed that they were in error. His record as a soldier on that occasion brought honor to the community in which he lived as did his record in all his labors in life.

To be continued...

Part 1.
Part 3.

Note: if you follow the link to the regiment, you will see that someone incorrectly linked this regiment to Rudger Clawson instead of John Morgan. Anyone know how to correct wikipedia entries? [Done.]


  1. Thanks for the story. I can correct Wikipedia (all you have to do is click edit). Some entries require a login but many do not.

  2. Thanks, Jared. Rudger Clawson was born in 1857, so he definitely didn't fight in the Civil War. ("I'm only fo-ur!")

  3. It's edited with a link to this post. I'll take off Rudger Clawson since he was so young.

  4. I have to add that thanks to Wikipedia I found a 2005 dissertation on religious violence in the late 1800s in the South. Maybe you've already read it. There are tons of references to and quotes from John Morgan because he was the mission president there for so long.

  5. Yes, there are many great documents online, including that dissertation, and I'll be getting to a number of them over the next few weeks. This funeral address might be an unusual way to introduce everyone to John Morgan, but I'll follow it up with an overview of his life before getting back to other primary sources.

    Down on the sidebar, there is a link to the blog Amateur Mormon Historian. It's written by a man in Tennessee who is doing some wonderful work on the early church in the Southern States. He alerted me to a very fascinating side-note to the history of John Morgan and the Southern States Mission. I'll post about it one of these days...

    By the way, one of the readers of this blog alerted me to the fact that there was some punctuation missing in the first paragraph of this post:

    Many a time I have walked with him over Missionary Ridge, where a great battle was fought [important semicolon was missing here] along Chickamauga Creek, where the Confederates won a great victory...

    I sure appreciate input and comments and corrections and links to sources! Thanks, Jared and others!