Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Guerrilla Tom" Henry

Captain Thomas L. Henry, or "Guerrilla Tom" Henry as he was most commonly known, has been called one of the bravest men in Kentucky. When the Civil War broke out, he answered the South's call to arms by joining the Confederate Army. He was a man who would rather die than surrender and  at one time was on a battlefield in Kentucky literally shot to pieces and left for dead. However, he survived and lived many more years.

"Guerrilla Tom" joined the First Kentucky Infantry under Capt. Ingram, serving with Gen. Forrest for some time, but after three years of hard service, he joined Quantrell's band.  It is said that after Quantrell's band merged into the James band, a raid on the Morganfield Bank was arranged, but saved by Henry, after which he left the gang. During the war, Henry was captured, and so anxious were they to hold him that a double guard was put over him, but Capt. Tom Henry knocked them down left and right and after stealing two of their best horses, made good his escape and joined his men the next morning.

At the Battle of Fort Donaldson, Capt. Henry refused to quit fighting and when a surrender was inevitable, he swam the river under heavy fire and made good his escape.

One of his bravest and most daring acts was when he, with two other men, rode into Henderson while the city was overrun with Union soldiers with their flag flying from the court house, left his horse with his two followers, boldly walked through the guards, who thought he surely must have a pass. He took the flag, rushed down to his companions, and all made their escape.

Years later while Frank James was visiting W.W. Wynns in Sturgis and hearing that Mr. Henry lived nearby, requested to have him sent for, which was done. Mr. James told Mr. Wynns that Tom Henry was the truest and bravest man he had ever known.

After President Lincoln was assassinated, Henry was arrested as a guerrilla and brought before a court in Louisville, was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged, but was pardoned by President Johnson.  Henry died without ever having taken the oath of allegiance to his country.

He came home after the war, showing many marks of hard fought battles. Besides his face and body being marked from many bullets, the finger of one hand was shot off and also lost a portion of his tongue, which made it difficult for him to talk.

Thomas L. Henry was born in Union County, Kentucky 31 October 1841. His parents were William and Mary Henry. While he was in prison in Louisville, 1865, he professed religion. When he was released from prison he went to Texas, where he met Miss Lizzie Russell and married her 27 December 1866. To this union were born seven children, four daughters and three sons, all of whom survived Henry except one son.   Henry passed away at his home near Mattoon, Crittenden County, Kentucky 9 April 1909 and was buried at Bethel Cemetery, Union County.

Confederate soldiers and friends gathered in great numbers for the funeral of "Guerrilla Tom" Henry. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. R.C. Love of the Methodist Church of Marion.

"Thomas L. Henry Passes Away," Crittenden Record-Press, 22 April 1909, p. 1
"Henry, Brave Follower of Quantrell, Dead," Henderson Journal, 11 April 1909, p. 1.
"Henderson People Knew Guerrilla Tom Henry: The Funeral," Henderson Journal, 12 April 1909, p. 8

"Captured Union Flag in Henderson," Henderson Journal, 16 April 1909, p. 1

Published 12 January 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/


Lori Jo Humphreys Basting said...

I Love this biography! Thank you for all your years of hard work in teaching and preserving our priceless heritage and history in Western Kentucky!

Lori Jo

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

And thank you for the compliment!