Harry T. Morgan, ninth child of George Washington Morgan and Mary Alice Boyd Morgan, was born on January 17, 1922 at his family’s farm in Rhea County. When Harry was only ten years old, his father, a farmer and Deputy Sheriff, passed away and Harry’s mother sold areas of the family farm as cemetery plots to help the family get by. These plots were next to Buttram Cemetery.
Harry lived in the house in which he was born all his life; that house is still standing next to Buttram Cemetery and has been in the Morgan family since Harry’s grandfather bought the original farm in 1907. However, the farm has since decreased to its size of forty-five acres of today, and is still owned by the Morgan family. The grandfather of Harry, William Nelson Morgan, was the brother of John Morgan who began Morgan Furniture Store in Dayton. As John was busy with the furniture business, his brother, William Nelson Morgan’s livelihood was farming in Rhea County.
On November 25, 1942, Harry Morgan was called to active duty, and served in Italy with Company E, 350th Infantry Regiment. During September 24, 1944, he was wounded at Castle Del Rio, Italy, where he and PFC Sherman Snyder along with PFC James W. Vaughn took Mt. Battagalia in Northern Italy and held it for seven days against almost continuous German counterattack and close quarter fighting. Almost the entire siege was fought at a range permitting the use of hand grenades by both sides, with the Germans even throwing potato mashers uphill and receiving fragmentation grenades in exchange. For the wounds he endured during this battle, Harry received the Purple Heart. However, his mother, Mary, received letters from the War Department updating her on his condition during his post-surgery and recovery, until he returned to active duty.
Harry T. Morgan was honorably discharged on October 23, 1945, and returned to his family home and farm, spending the rest of his life farming and raising dairy cows. He passed away on April 2, 2012 at the age of 90, and is buried next to his parents in Buttram Cemetery. Harry was not only an Army veteran, but belonged to the American Legion Brady Williams Post 100 in Dayton.
Harry Taylor Morgan was not only a veteran, but a patriot who came from a family believing in sacrificing for their country. His grandfather, William Nelson Morgan, was the last surviving Civil War Veteran in Tennessee. He served with Company C, 7th Regiment, Tennessee Mounted Infantry for the Union Army (“The Last Civil War Veterans” by Frank L. Grzyb). Also, Harry’s two older brothers served during World War II; Sylvester was in England and Albert was in France. All three of the siblings returned home after the war.
The family of Harry Morgan has given the Rhea County Historical Society his uniform, some pictures taken during his tour of duty and copies of other information relating to his war experiences. These items will be placed on display in the Courthouse Museum as space permits. Much can be learned from the life of a veteran such as Morgan; we can gain insight into the hardships these soldiers suffered during World War II, and see their return to family life after the war. Therefore, we should study the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.
Pat Guffey can be reached at email@example.com