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Civil War Ohio

Morgan's Raid into Ohio.



Morgan's Raid into Ohio—

Adapted from the Diaries of S. J. Kelly

       Ohio seemed far away from most of the strife of the Civil War. The State had not been forth coming in establishing a militia because it was felt that Ohio just wasn't close to the heart of the war. The young able bodied men had volunteered to fight and had gone to war leaving the old and very young at home. The militia had been established but was not functioning in an organized fashion. In July of 1863, John Hunt Morgan was to show Ohio just how unprepared they were.

     General John Hunt Morgan, a Kentuckian, was already, at the age of 38, a

hero to the South, known for his courage, resourcefulness and his dignity. To the North, who had suffered from his hard hitting Cavalry raids, he was a freebooter- guerrilla-horse thief, a " Blackbeard" with a bridle.

It was in June 1863, that General Morgan conceived his ill-fated plan He was commanded by General Braxton Bragg to take his men and raid anywhere in Kentucky that he wanted and to make an attempt to capture Louisville. The scheme was to keep General Ambrose Burnside diverted at Cincinnati and to delay his impending invasion of Eastern Tennessee.

On July 2, 1863, Morgan's men, numbering 2,460, launched their operation

near Burkesville, Kentucky. At Brandenburg, on the Ohio River, they commandeered two steamboats and on July 8th, crossed the River into Indiana. By this time they were well ahead of General Edward H. Hobson and his pursuing Cavalry.

Morgan had been ordered not to cross the Ohio. However, he had predetermined to travel into Indiana and Ohio, scouting possible places to ford the Ohio. He and his forces struck out Northeastward across Indiana. General Burnside felt that they would try to re-cross the Ohio to the south of Cincinnati. With this in mind, he declared martial law in the city and Governor Tod called out the militia in 32 southern Ohio counties. That afternoon, Morgan neared Harrison, a small community west of Cincinnati, but after resting his men, they disappeared into the night. During the night, they skirted to the north of Cincinnati, skirmishing with the pickets at Camp Dennison and burning a number of wagons. This was on July 14th, 1863.

They rode through Batavia to Williamsburg, 28 miles from Cincinnati, by 4 pm that afternoon, they had covered 90 miles in only 35 hours. The men from Camp Dennison pursued as far as Batavia where they halted and fell trees across the road to prevent Morgan's return that way. The Ohioans prepared as best they could for his advance, but they were ill prepared and Morgan and his men found little resistance as they pressed on in search of a place to ford the river. The inexperience untrained militia was no match for Morgan's men, who were seasoned and hardened by the battles of war.

Colonel Richard Morgan, the General's brother, in the meantime, led his troops to the south through Georgetown, to Ripley, then back through West Union, to Locust Grove, where he joined the main force. Together, they advanced on through Jasper, Piketon, Jackson, Vinton, Cheshire, Pomeroy, and Chester, plundering and ransacking stores on the way. It must be said that Morgan and his men kept mainly to the businesses and

left personal homes and farmland alone.

Reaching Buffington Ford, their previously scouted place to ford the river, about 40 miles south of Marietta, late on Saturday the 18th of July, he found that the ford was guarded by 300 Union men. These men abandoned their earthworks in the night. Morgan still elected to cross the next day and they were quickly ambushed as they began to ford the river. They were overtaken by Hobson's cavalry and were soon pinned down by gunboat fire and overrun by the seventh Michigan Cavalry. Eventually 700 would be captured, including Colonel Richard Morgan and Colonel Basil W. Duke, the General's brother-in-law. The rest narrowly escaped back into Ohio. They attempted to cross again fifteen miles up river but only 300 reached West Virginia before they were again under gunboat fire. They doubled back inland and for the next week were dogged every step on the way. They traveled northeastward through Zaleski, Nelsonville, New Straitsville, Zeno, Cumberland, Old Washington, Hendrysburg and Wintersville.

General J.M. Shakelford's cavalry caught up with them at Salineville on Sunday morning. July 26. Morgan and some men eluded capture for a short time. It is said that he finally surrendered to a local militia Captain in Columbiana County, on the road between Lisbon and West Point, on the condition that he and his men would be paroled.

This would not be the case as Major General George W. Rue, of the 9th

Cavalry, arrived a short time later and took them into captivity. A telegraph sent by Major General Rue said; " I captured John Morgan today at two o'clock P.M. taking 336 prisoners, 400 horses, and arms." Morgan and his surviving officers were taken by order of Major General Henry W. Halleck, to the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus. The men were treated more like criminals than prisoners of war, even undergoing the indignity of

having their heads shaved.

Four months after his capture, on November 27,1863, Morgan and six companions escaped through a tunnel they had dug through a 4 ft thick stone wall and 20 ft of dirt. They scaled the prison outer walls and made a clean escape into the night. Morgan arrived safely in the south, only to be killed less than a year later on September 4, 1864, at Greenville, Tennessee.

The impact on Ohio was that more than 200 northern lives were lost in the two weeks period of Morgan's Raid of Ohio with at least 350 casualties. 4,375 people in twenty-nine counties filed claims for damages and were awarded $428,168.

The Union forces were also charged with damages totaling $ 141,855, the militia being held accountable for $ 6,202. Upwards of 2,500 horses were commandeered and collected by Morgan. There were 49,357 militia men called to duty costing the State $45,000. The total cost to the State was more than $ 100,000.

The biggest impact on Ohio at the time was the realization that they were truly unprepared for the war to be in their own backyard. They felt secure by the distance from the south and had not put much effort into preparations for defense. Morgan was almost able to traverse the whole State.

Morgan's Raid