Bio of

Thomas Morton

Private, Company E, 5th United States Colored Cavalry


By Robert Morton, Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson

Thomas Morton was born in 1837, most likely as a slave on the plantation of Jonathan Morton of Clark County KY.  We know that on the 1850 census, Jonathan Morton of Clark County, KY; reported on his slave schedule that he owned a twelve year old male black slave at the time, and no other slaves around that age (on the slave schedules, slaves were only mentioned by age, gender, black or mulatto).  We believe that this twelve year old boy was Thomas Morton.  John Morton of Clark County, KY; was the brother of Jonathan Morton and he also owned slaves at the time, but none of his male slaves were around twelve years of age in 1850. The reason that all of this information matters is because In 1865 John Morton, the brother of Jonathan Morton, signed the bed card of his slave to receive a one-hundred dollar bounty for his service in the Union Army and that slave's name was Thomas Morton. 

Thomas Morton was twenty-seven years old in 1865 and that would have made him around twelve 1850.  When John Morton signed for the bounty for Thomas Morton in 1865 and indicated that he was his slave owner, for the first time we knew where to start looking.   Now that we had John Mortonís name and where he lived at the time, the fact that he was the slave owner of Thomas provided us with a wealth of information.  Having gained that knowledge was more than half of the battle, because all we had to do next was to subtract the age of Thomas in 1865 to see how old he would have been in 1850, and he would have been around twelve years old.  We then looked at the 1850 slave schedule for John Morton to determine if he owned a slave boy around twelve years old. Although we found to our dismay that he didnít, we learned that his brother Jonathan did.  When Jonathan died on Nov 11, 1852 he willed all of his slaves to his wife China Benton (Thompson) Morton and his brother John Morton and we know that the ownership of Thomas Morton was transferred to his brother John Morton, where he remained until September of 1864. 

On September 12th 1864, Thomas Morton was around twenty-six years old and mustered into the 5th Regiment Cavalry of the U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County Ky.  He served as a private and was enlisted in Company E.  The 5th Regiment Cavalry U.S. Colored Troops participated in several battles during the Civil War including, Saltville, VA; Oct 2, 1864, Harrodsburg, KY; Oct 21, 1864, Hopkinsville, KY; Dec 12, 1864, Marion, VA; the battle of Marion on Dec 17-18, 1864.  Then they fought at Saltville, VA; once again on Dec 20-21 1864.

Thomas Morton was more than likely present at all of those battles. In addition, not only was he present in Simpsonville, KY on January 25th 1865, he was wounded and survived the "Simpsonville Massacre."  It has been reported that twenty-two men were killed by Confederate guerillas in Simpsonville. In addition, eight men were wounded in the ambush and only two of the eight wounded men survived their injuries. Thomas was one of the two wounded men who survived.  Other reports suggest that in addition to the twenty-two causalities, another twenty-two men were MIA after Simpsonville.   Thomas suffered major trauma to his right hand in Simpsonville and was hospitalized for almost nine months, based on his military records.  In September 1865, Thomas Morton returned to duty and continued to serve until he mustered out of the 5th USCC in Helena, Arkansas on March 16th 1866. 


submitted April 8, 2010