On July 13, 1863 the majority of Morgan's Raiders entered the state of Ohio hotly pursued by Union cavalry. Union leadership, eager for news of the latest developments, kept the telegraph wires humming with reports and inquires.
“Lawrenceburg, July 13, 1863 – 12 m.
Lieutenant-Colonel Richmond, Assistant Adjutant-General:
Reliable information just received. Rebels crossed Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad at Harmon’s and Van Wedden’s, going on the Harrison road. From best information I can get, they are going to Harrison. They burned the bridge at Guilford this morning, and scouts report them advancing on this place. I am of opinion it is but a small party that has been left to commit depredations, for the purpose of covering Morgan’s advance.
Mahlon D. Manson,
“Louisville, July 13, 1863 – 1 a. m.
Judah arrived with portion of his forces. Balance will be here early this morning. Reports in regard to Morgan’s movements are conflicting: but from information I have, it is my opinion, that he has divided his forces, and may possibly attempt to return across the river below this city. I have sent an armed force down the river to intercept any parties attempting to cross.
J. T. Boyle,
Chicago, July 13, 1863
General Ambrose E. Burnside:
I answer that I am heartily in favor of the declaration of martial law, as you suggest.
“July 13, 1863
General Boyle, Louisville,
Send Judah’s force up by steamers, with all the serviceable horses, and over 500 horses will be furnished to them here to replace the broken-down ones. Coal will be sent to Lawrenceburg if possible. Let the boats take on enough to last to this place if they can. Let there be no delay to send the force up.
A. E. Burnside,
“July 13, 1863
General Boyle, Louisville:
General Hartsuff, Lexington:
Governor Robinson, Frankfort:
The indications are now that Morgan will try to cross the Whitewater at Harrison, and move toward Hamilton. Hobson is close on his rear, and I am congregating forces in his front to impede his march.
A. E. Burnside,
“July 13, 1863 – 11:30 a. m.
General Manson, Lawrenceburg:
Hold your forces ready to move to this place at a moment’s notice. Forward all information as rapidly as possible to these headquarters.
A. E. Burnside,
July 13, 1863 – 1:45 p. m.
General Manson, Lawrenceburg:
Move your whole force up here at once, and leave Colonel Gavin to hold the bridge.
A. E. Burnside,
“Cleveland, July 13, 1863
Unless a general order is issued relieving telegraph operators from military service, the telegraph lines in the State will be inoperative for military purposes; it is impossible to supply their places at present. I respectfully ask your early consideration of this subject.
Superintendent United States Military Telegraph.”[vi]
Of the 2,500 Confederates who had begun the raid, fewer than 2,000 remained. Over 500 of Morgan’s men had already been killed, wounded, or captured.[vii] Those who remained were rapidly becoming rode weary. Riding through the outskirts of Cincinnati in pitch darkness, the column began to stretch and thin out. Misdirection became a common problem. Men resorted to tacking the direction of the column by the layer of dust on roadside plants or drops of slaver from the horses. Stragglers, suffering with exhaustion, further complicated progress. Those men who fell out for just a few moments sleep often awoke as Union prisoners.
“On to Summansville, leaving here early on morning of 13th July. We reached Harrison, Ohio in the afternoon. General Morgan began to maneuver and use strategy. We were about 50 miles from Cincinnati and Morgan wanted to Federals to think we were going to attack Cincinnati, so that they might draw their forces to that place. We reached Cincinnati suburbs after dark and we rode all night apparently in the suburbs. It was a very dark night and we had much difficulty in keeping the column closed up. Some would get behind by going to sleep on their horses and we would have to strike matches and burn papers to see the road or street they would take. We could usually tell by the saliva or slobber of the horses on the way the dust settled a head of us. When day came we had passed through Glendale and was near the little Miami Rail Road and crossed it and halted to feed our horses in sight of camp Dennison. We had quite a skirmish here with the enemy. Then we resumed our march after burning some government stores and wagons. And at 5 P.M. we were at Williamsburg 28 miles east of Cincinnati. We went into camp having marched over 90 miles in 35 hours.”
~ John Weatherred, 9th Tennessee Cavalry[viii]
“We were on a high range of hills still in Indiana. The road led to the right down the side of the hill. At the foot of the hills run the White water river and a canal. Beyond was the city of Harrison and a large rich valley like strip of bottom land, which was cultivated mostly in corn. The finest of the season that I had seen. The scenery would make a splendid picture for an artist. As we wound our way to the bottom of the hill I looked up and back at our long string of Horseman displayed against the face of the hill and felt proud of them. We crossed the river and canal bridge and quietly entered the city. A wagon was seen to leave hurriedly.
~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[ix]
As Morgan’s rear guard entered Harrison, the bridge over the Whitewater River was burned forestalling the pursuing Union troops.
“Friday, July 13
Daylight - off again: Feed horses and breakfast at Versailles. Enemy 1/2 day before us. Feed at Wiseburgh. Cross the White river. Camp on the line, horses in Ohio and we sleep in Indiana.”
~ Charles W. Durling, Company G, 45th Ohio Infantry[x]
“On July 13, Morgan’s raiders crossed into Ohio at Harrison, pursued by several columns of Union cavalry under overall direction of Brig. Gen. Edward H. Hobson.”[xi]
General Burnside, greatly relieved to be freed from the restrains placed upon him in Indiana by Governor Morton, was liberated by Governor Tod to coordinate the pursuit of Morgan in the State of Ohio however he saw fit. Thus Burnside, headquartered in Cincinnati, spent the vast majority of his time with telegraph messages to and from the commanders and local administrators.
“July 13, 1863 -2:15
Major Keith, Hamilton:
From information received, it is advancing either on this place or Hamilton. Keep the roads in the direction of Harrison well picketed, and send frequent reports to these headquarters. Notify the people along the line of the road who have no occasion to use their horses to hide them away.
A. E. Burnside,
“Guilford, July 13, 1863 – 2:15
Major –General Burnside:
I have reliable information that the enemy, about 3,000 strong, with artillery, crossed this road at Weisburg, 7 miles above this station, between 6 and 8 o’clock, following the road toward Harrison.
H. C. Lord”[xiii]
Hamilton, Ohio, July 13, 1863 -6:30 p.m.
General: Enemy’s advance came through New Haven about 4 o’clock. New Haven is 16 miles from here. At that place they divided, part coming this way and part going further west. I have about 600 men, but only 400 armed. Will fight to the last.
Major, Commanding.” [xiv]
Hamilton, July 13, 1863
Another scout just in. Says the enemy have encamped at Shakertown, 15 miles from this place, southwest.
The harried Raiders continued their long westward ride.
“Morgan set the pegs for us, and set them high every day. The longest march made by Morgan’s command at one stretch was nearly one hundred miles in thirty-five hours, being the jump he made from a point in Indiana, west of Cincinnati, to Williamsburg, Ohio, east of Cincinnati.”
~Captain Theodore F. Allen, 7th Ohio Cavalry [xvi]
Upon leaving Harrison, Morgan again attempted to throw the Union troops off his scent. He sent a party of about 500 men off toward Miamitown while the remainder of his men continued toward New Baltimore. The two groups rejoined near Bevis where they rested until midnight.
Wisely heeding the intelligence his scouts, the newspapers, and information gathered from tapping into telegraph wires, Morgan skirted Cincinnati selecting a route to the north of the city. The march around Cincinnati would prove the most grueling part of the raid. For the next thirty-five hours, the Raiders would ride non-stop and cover over ninety miles.
“July 13. Today we reach Harrison, The most beautiful town I have yet seen in the North – A place, seemingly, where love, peace, and prosperity, sanctified by true religion, might hold high carnival. Here we destroyed a magnificent bridge and saw many beautiful women. From here we moved to Miami Town, where we destroyed another splendid bridge over the Miami River. The bridge at Harrison was across the Whitewater River. From Miami Town we passed through the most fertile and lovely region of Ohio. County seat after county seat reared itself in stately splendor, now scarcely distinguishable for the clouds of dust. Town after town and city after city are passed. A part of Morgan’s command makes a feint on Cincinnati, and we move at this rate a distance of eighty-three miles, all in sixteen hours. If there be a man who boasts of a march, let him excel this. After this Gilpin race we rested by capturing a train of cars on the Little Miami and a considerable number of prisoners. Then we surrounded Camp Dennison, captured a large train of wagons, and about two hundred mules. From there we moved on Winchester, where we destroyed a fine bridge, and thence to Jackson.”
~ Lt. Col. James B. McCreary, 11th Kentucky Cavalry CSA[xvii]
“On July 13 he passed from Indiana to Ohio at Harrison. No one knew with any accuracy his direction or his intentions. Cincinnati panicked. As one citizen of Springdale stationed at the McLean Barracks reported of the urban folk, "many [were] shaking in their boots for fear they would have to shoulder the musket or that Morgan might come and sake [sic] the city." At 1 a.m. on July 14 a fast-riding courier reported to Burnside that Morgan was approaching with twenty-five hundred men and six artillery and that he seemed headed toward New Burlington or Springdale. As Morgan crossed the Miami River he literally burned his bridge behind him.
As the red flames created by the great burning timbers rose skyward, they illumined the entire valley. Before midnight the cavalry were brushing the northern outskirts of Cincinnati, all houses darkened, the night extraordinarily black and airless.
The men carried lighted flares made of paper which they had stolen on the way.
The bells in the cupola of the Springdale church rang the alarm of imminent danger. General Morgan and his fatigued but hard-riding raiders dashed down Sharon Hill into neighboring Glendale. Union forces under General Hobson were in pursuit but still twelve hours behind. Both forces needed fresh horses. Springdale farmers tried, more or less successfully, to hide their horses. C.A.B. Kemper herded his fine stock into a ravine on his property. Friends feared Morgan might have found the horses, "they being good travelers [that] would suit him well." But they underestimated the practical, quick-thinking farmer. Another farmer, Charles Leggett, lost four animals from his stable, located just outside the billage. According to Sam Hunt, narrowly escaped from "thieving marauders" belonging to Hobson's band while riding his brother's mare. All in all, Morgan brought more excitement to Springdale than it had enjoyed in many years. Nevertheless the fact that the village escaped the pillaging so many expected did nothing to diminish the complaints of its citizens. Many who had lost their horses resented having to travel to Gallipolis to reclaim them after Morgan’s capture.” [xviii]
“In some places there was small settlements of neat looking houses mostly inhabited by Dutch. We had good roads to travel on. At one time we came near going to Cincinnati through mistake. We were within three miles of the city, and our advance drove the Yankee vidett into the city. We then turned back and took another road. Our object was to go around Cincinnati. We traveled all night passing through several towns that I did not learn the names of.
~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[xix]
Approaching Glendale, Morgan broke his forces into small detachments before crossing the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad. During this night march, Morgan constantly tried to confuse the Union as to his movement. He sent one detachment toward Hamilton and another toward Cincinnati as he led a third into Glendale. This tactic allowed his men to scatter out and procure fresh horses.
“Last night I went to bed earlier than usual and about two o’clock in the morning while I was asleep John Morgan (but I don’t think he deserves the name John) and about three thousand of his troops passed through Glendale right by the College and about half a dozen of them went into the barn and took Mr. Drake’s horse (it was a very fine one the nicest one in the barn).”
~ excerpt from a letter written by 9 year old Katie Huntington[xx]
“General Orders No. 114
Hdqrs. Department of the Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio, July 13, 1863
Martial law is hereby declared in the cities of Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport. All business will be suspended until further orders, and all citizens will be required to organize in accordance with the directions of the State and municipal authorities. The commanding general, convinced that no one whose services are necessary for the defense of these cities would care to leave now, places no restriction upon travel.
By command of Major-General Burnside:
The frenetic pace of the march coupled with the lack of sleep took a physical toil on the men.
“It was a terrible and trying march. Strong men fell out of their saddles, and at every halt the officers were compelled to move continually about in their respective companies and pull and haul the men, who would drop asleep in the road. It was the only way to keep them awake.”
~ Brigadier-General Basil Duke[xxii]
“Many is the hour that I have set astride my bay pony fast asleep, trusting solely to his unerring instinct to follow the column and keep at the head of my company.”
~ Captain Thomas M. Combs, 5th KY Cavalry[xxiii]
“The boys got so sleepy that they would sometimes go fast to sleep riding along. About midnight Gen. Morgan halted us at a house. The Gen. wished some information. It was some time before the man of the house could be roused, and he wanted to know how on earth we ever got there. Most of us got off of our horses and laid in the fence corners and tied of held the reins while we took a nap. I laid on the hard side of some rails and took a nap, and was awakened by the fence tumbling down on me and my horse, and the next horse fighting over me. When we were ready to start half of the regiment had to be aroused from slumbers that they so much needed. A few strayed off too far in fence corners or other places and were left behind asleep. Every now and then could be heard the wish of some sleepy horseman for only a few minutes sleep. Everybody was kept in ranks.
~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B [xxiv]
"...When the war is o'er
And not before
Will I go home
Base cowards shrink
Fools stop to think
Till Freedom is gone"
~Lieutenant Benjamin J. Lancaster, Co. K, 8th KY Cavalry, of Lebanon, Kentucky
Garrisoned in Cincinnati, Burnside continued brace for Morgan’s arrival. Rumors of Morgan’s intent flew wildly.
“Lawrenceburg, July 13, 1863 – 5:36 p. m.
Am just in. Colonel Shuler’s command of Minute-men arrived just as we left the train. Enemy at New Alsace, on Big Tanner’s Creek, feeding, 4 miles in advance, two hours before his arrival. General Hobson’s forces a few hours behind. Horses much jaded. Colonel Schryock follows in his rear. The evidence all leads to show Morgan moving on Harrison; his men worn out by serve marches. From the prisoners taken at Old Vernon I learned that he fears nothing but mounted infantry. He evidently will move toward upper waters of the Ohio, and has said that Camp Chase will furnish him some recruits.
J. H. Burkham,
“Cincinnati, July 13, 1863
Brig. Gen. John S. Mason, Columbus, Ohio:
How many prisoners have you at Camp Chase at the present time?
A. E. Burnside
Columbus, July 13, 1863 -8 p.m.
We have about 900.
John S. Mason
“Lawrenceburg, July 13, 1863 – 9 p. m.
Lieutenant-Colonel Richmond, Chief of Staff:
I sent out a scout of 100 cavalry at daylight from Aurora. I have received a message from them. They report the enemy moving in the direction of Manchester. If this be true, they will cross the Whitewater at or near Harrison, and probably strike for Hamilton. Have sent out citizen scouts. Jones, clerk of the court, confirms the above.
Mahlon D. Manson
While the raid took its toil upon the physical and mental states of both Confederate and Union men, there was at least one being who was enjoying herself.
“Morgan’s troopers were exceedingly well mounted, having many of the best blooded horses of Kentucky, horses capable of long and rapid marches, and in justice to General Morgan and his officers, it must be said that they handled their men and horses with superb skill. It was on this raid that General Morgan established the world’s record for moving cavalry. It must be understood that there are many individual horses that can march a hundred miles in thirty-five hours, but the speed of a column of cavalry is not measured by the speed of the fastest and best horses, but by the speed of the slowest horses. Furthermore, it was General Morgan’s task to keep his two thousand horses in such condition as to be able to march one hundred miles any day or every day he might call upon them for the effort, and all with only brief periods of rest. The horses impressed by General Morgan and by General Hobson, as we traveled across the state, were not of much value, they being soft, grass-fed, big bellied animals that gave out after making only a few miles at the rapid pace set by the seasoned cavalry horses. ‘Morgan’s Men’ were not alone in having good horses; we too had good horses, hard as nails and tough as leather – horses which had been seasoned by campaigning and knew how to strike the pace of the column and keep it at an even gait day and night. In General Morgan’s command, and also in General Hobson’s, there were many horses that made the entire march from start to finish, On this march I rode a well-seasoned black mare over the entire route, and on our return trip to Kentucky, when I rode into camp at Stanford, after covering fully a thousand miles, this mare, Nellie, after recognizing her old camp, pranced in sideways, thereby saying to me, in language without words: ‘If there is any one thing I like better than another, it is these little thousand-mile excursions.’”
~ Captain Theodore F. Allen, 7th Ohio Cavalry [xxviii]
[i] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.738.
[ii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.745.
[iii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.738.
[iv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.739.
[v] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.744.
[vi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.745-46.
[vii] Basil W. Duke, “History of Morgan’s Cavalry,” 1867, page 442
[viii] The Wartime Diary of John Weatherred
[ix] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[x] Diary of Charles W. Durling
[xi] CWSAC Battle Summaries, NPS http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/battles_trans.htm
[xii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.741.
[xiii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.743.
[xiv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.741.
[xv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.742.
[xvi] Allen, Theodore F. “In Pursuit of John Morgan,” Sketches of War History 1861-1865, Papers prepared for the Commandery of the Sate of Ohio, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States 1896 -1903, p. 231
[xvii] Diary of James B. McCreary
[xviii] Comprehensive History of Springdale 1787 – 1987 http://www.springdale.org/history/spring5.html.
[xix] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xx] Letter written by Katie Huntington to her father John Caldwell Huntington of Cincinnati, Ohio. Visiting relatives near Glendale, Ohio, Katie recounts the events of July 13, 1863 when Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry entered Ohio near the Hamilton-Butler County line. http://ohiosyesterdays.blogspot.com/2008/10/katie-huntington-and-morgans-raid.html
[xxi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.745.
[xxii] Duke, Basil W. “History of Morgan’s Cavalry,” 1867, page 444.
[xxiii] Letter written by Thomas M. Coombs to his wife Lou, August 14, 1863
[xxiv] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xxv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, pages 740-741.
[xxvi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 744.
[xxvii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 744.
[xxviii] Allen, Theodore F. “In Pursuit of John Morgan,” Sketches of War History 1861-1865, Papers prepared for the Commandery of the Sate of Ohio, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States 1896 -1903, pages 231-232.