Throwback Thursday – Captain Thomas Henry Hines

Throwback Thursday this week features a little known Civil War story about a Bowling Green man. We’re on Fairview Avenue just past the entrance of Fairview Cemetery, near the former home of Confederate Captain Thomas Henry Hines. An underrated strategist, the captain played a role of intrigue and conspiracy.

Thomas Henry Hines was born nearby in Butler County, in October of 1838. Though he had no formal education, his tenacity for learning outside a classroom and willingness to work led him to a teaching position at the Masonic University of LaGrange by 1861. 

When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate cause alongside infamous General John Hunt Morgan, helping lead raids against borderline northern states along the Ohio River. Captain Hines and several of his men were taken prisoner in 1863 after a failed raid, and some say he orchestrated one of the most intricate prison escapes of the entire war. 

Over the course of a week, between stolen silverware and a shovel, mixed with hidden communication signals for digging, Hines and his men were able to dig underneath their prison and create a series of tunnels to escape. 

Captain Hines moved further into Union territory, as he was charged with leading the Northwest Conspiracy. It was the belief of Confederate leadership that small bands of rebels could incite riots and the downfall of major northern strongholds. Hines attempted to overtake Camp Douglass just outside Chicago, set more than 20 fires in New York City, and plotted out of Toronto, Canada.

The Northwest Conspiracy attempts failed. Captain Hines lived secretly in Canada when the war ended while he studied law. President Johnson granted amnesty to Confederate officers and Captain Hines returned to Bowling Green to set up a law office.

Hines then served two terms as Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, living here the rest of his days until 1898.