Sunday, January 25, 2009

Morgan’s Path Across Ohio

*Warning: An excerpt from period writing quoted in today’s posting contains derogatory racial remarks. These remarks in no way reflect the views and beliefs of the blogger. Parental and/or teacher discretion advised. Frank and open discussions regarding racism strongly recommended.

“Relieved of the depressing suspense incident to the march around Cincinnati, and having enjoyed a night’s rest at Williamsburg, the invaders resumed their merry ways. Looking toward the bordering little hills beyond the river they began to sing ‘The Old Kentucky Home.’ Among them were many musicians, white and colored. Somewhere, en route, they had ‘confiscated’ two violins, a guitar and a banjo. The sentimental guitarist was softly singing ‘Juanita,’ when he was interrupted by a rollicking fiddler who played ‘The Hills of Tennessee.’ Simultaneously another gay violinist broke one of the three strings in an attempt to play ‘The Arkansas Traveler’ and then inconsiderately threw away the fiddle and the bow. A homesick little darky took possession of the banjo and sang: ‘All up and down the whole creation, Sadly I roam, Still longing for the old plantation, And for the old folks at home.’ Bugle sounds interrupted the inharmonic musicale, and soon the cavaliers were in their saddles, bound for the ford at Buffington Island.”

~ George Dallas Mosgrove, 4th Kentucky Cavalry[i]

The Union troops were rapidly gaining ground and closing on the rear of Morgan’s main column.

“Wednesday, July 15
After Johnny again. Country very fine. Pass through Batavia.”

~ Charles W. Durling, Company G, 45th Ohio Infantry[ii]

“We were now at home in Southern Ohio, and many of the troopers of our regiment passed their own doorsteps, stopping only long enough to kiss the members of their families. The Second Lieutenant of my company picked up two of his children on the road-side, they having run to meet him from their home near by.”

~ Captain Theodore F. Allen, 7th Ohio Calvary [iii]

Burnside increased the number of troops pursuing Morgan. Union forces closed on Morgan from the west and southwest.

“Two Miles East Of Williamsburg, July 15, 1863

Major-General Burnside:
Morgan has gone in the direction of Hillsborough. He possibly designs crossing at Portsmouth. I am pushing on as fast as my stock and men can travel. If I had fresh cavalry to pursue with, or could get him intercepted, there would be some hope of capturing or dispersing his forces. It is difficult to procure fresh horses, as his advantages are superior to mine, and give him the benefit of all good horses on the route. Colonel Sanders reported to me this morning with 250 men. I have been expecting, from the tone of your dispatch yesterday, to have re-enforcements of 2,500 cavalry from the city, but have not heard anything of them. I will do the best I can.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. H. Hobson,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.”

“Portsmouth, July 15, 1863 – 5:30 p.m.
(Via Maysville, July 16 – 12:35 a. m)

Major General Burnside:
The enemy reached Jasper about 2 p.m. today. He will make for Jacksonville or Oak Hill, on the Scioto or Hocking Railroad. With the lights before me, I have determined to move to Oak Hill. If anything occurs to change my determination, I will advise you of it. I have requested Captain Fitch to move immediately, with the gunboats, to Pomeroy and Gallipolis. I sent up boats to Colonel White, directing him to ship cavalry and a little infantry, and send up, under convoy of the gunboats, to Gallipolis or Pomeroy, as may be directed.

H. M. Judah,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.”

“Maysville, July 15, 1863 – 7:30 a.m.

Lieutenant-Colonel Richmond:
Arrived here this morning with most of forces. Our steamer Melnott, with cavalry, not up. Cannot get any definite information of the enemy. Magnolia gone up river. Will wait further orders.

Mahlon D. Manson,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.”

In the midst of this troop buildup, Governor Morton, a Republican whose political views differed from General Burnsides’, demanded that his Indiana militia be sent home at once. Knowing that a few marginally equipped and generally untrained men were not worth a political battle in the press, Burnside complied.

“Cincinnati, July 15, 1863 – 6:45 p.m.

General Willcox, Indianapolis:
Let the militia of Indian be disbanded at once, and allowed to go to their homes, if it is in accordance with the wishes of Governor Morton. I am satisfied that their services will no longer be needed in this emergency, and their interests at home need looking after.

A. E. Burnside,

The people of Ohio, including the Democrat Governor David Tod, were much more supportive of Burnside and the Union Troops.

“Cincinnati, July 15, 1863

Governor Tod, Columbus:
The chairman of military committee of Highland County says they need two thousand arms, with ammunition, for militia already organized in that vicinity. We have issued all we have. Can you send them? They should have them immediately, if possible. Morgan is closely followed by a heavy force. I have ordered roads obstructed with trees, and planking of bridges removed in his front, so as to enable our troops to overtake him. The militia along the line of the Marietta road should have first supply of arms and ammunition after Highland, so that if he turns north, he may find them prepared. The militia assembling at Gallipolis are directed to remain there till future orders.

J. D. Cox,

Cincinnati, July 15, 1863

J. G. Dameron, Mayor of Gallipolis:
The militia of Gallipolis may remain in that vicinity. If Morgan should be heard of as positively moving in that direction, they must be used to fell timber into the roads and remove planking of bridges, so as to delay him till our troops can overtake him. Show this to the militia commanders as authority. We do not think Morgan will get across the Scioto; but if he does, the directions above should be spread everywhere and carried out by the militia and people.

J. D. Cox,
Brigadier-General, Commanding"

Even Lieutenant-Colonel Neff of Camp Dennison, which had just weathered Morgan’s attack, sent emergency rations to the beleaguered General Hobson.

“Camp Dennison, July 15, 1863

General Burnside:
General Hobson has sent me word that he has no subsistence for his men, and that Morgan has left none on his route. I am preparing a train, to send him 10,000 rations.

Geo. W. Neff,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Military Commander.

Camp Dennison, July 15, 1863

General Burnside:
Messenger just in. Left General Hobson at Batavia at noon. Advance was in Williamsburg, about 5 miles beyond Georgetown, going in direction of Mayville or Ripley.

Geo. W. Neff,
Lieutenant-Colonel .”

Knowing General Hobson’s forces were close behind him, John Hunt Morgan split his men into two groups after they had past safety through Williamsburg, Ohio. Morgan’s brother, Col. Richard Morgan, was placed in command of the group which would ride South through Bethel, Georgetown, and Ripley.

The command went straight on. I learned that our regiment was going on a scout to Georgetown, Ohio. We traveled steady and lively keeping a good lookout for bushwhackers.”

~Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[x]

At Ripley, scouts reported that it would be impossible to cross the Ohio River due to the heavy concentration of Ohio militiamen.

“It happened sometimes at night, when we came to diverging roads, we would be at a loss to know which road to take. As it was midsummer and exceedingly hot and dry, Morgan’s two thousand troopers could not avoid leaving a broad trail of dust. At diverging roads all we had to do was to scout the roads for a short distance till we found the heavy trail of dust which had settled upon the weeds and bushes of the roadside, but generally the country people were present in large numbers, ready and willing to guide us.”

~ Captain Theodore F. Allen, Seventh Ohio Cavalry [xi]

Meanwhile, John Hunt Morgan led his group toward Buffington Island, believing they could cross the Ohio River there. Normally, in the area of Buffington Island, the river ebbed to a shallow two foot dept in heat of July. This level would be too shallow for Union gunboats to navigate but not too deep to cross on horseback. However, this year, due to heavy rains upstream, the Ohio River was flowing so deeply it was impossible to cross at Buffington Island without swimming or using a boat.

"2 a. m. -A dispatch from Hamilton says: It is believed that the main portion of Morgan's force is moving in that direction going east. At this writing, quarter past two, a. m., it is the impression that Morgan's main force is going east, while he has sent squads to burn bridges on the C. H. & D. railroad and over the Miami River, but, he may turn and come down this way on some of the roads leading through Walnut Hills or Mt. Auburn. That night while the much enduring printers were putting such stories in type, John Morgan's entire command, now reduced to a strength of bare 2,000 was marching through the suburbs of this city of a quarter million inhabitants, within reach of troops enough to eat them up absolutely unopposed, almost without meeting a solitary picket or receiving a hostile shot." [xii]

The newspapers continued to cover Morgan’s every move.

“MORGAN’S GREAT RAID –HIS MOVEMENTS IN OHIO- Camp Dennison, Near Cincinnati, Threatened.
Cincinnati, Tuesday July 14
Morgan’s rebel forces crossed the Big Miami at Venice last night and burned the bridge behind them. They passed through Burlington and Springdale and crossed the Hamilton and Dayton Railroad at Glendale this morning, moving toward Camp Dennison. It is not known how much damage the rebels have done at Glendale or to the Hamilton and Dayton Railroad. Telegraphic communication is still open with Hamilton. Morgan’s men are reported to be jaded with their rapid march, and will have to rest soon. Six of Morgan’s men were captured at Milford, Clermont County, on Sunday night, and four more at New Boston.
Cincinnati, Tuesday July 14 – 9 o’clock A. M.
Morgan’s rebel forces reached Miamiville on the Little Miami road this morning, tore up the track, and fired into the accommodation train coming west. The train put quickly back to Loveland.”

~ The New York Times [xiii]

Morgan’s main column passed through Piketon, Jackson, and Vinton.

“July 15. Today we traveled through several unimportant towns, destroyed one bridge, and Bivouacked at Walnut Grove.”

~ Lt. Col. James B. McCreary, 11th Kentucky Cavalry CSA[xiv]

The scouting party passed through Georgetown then traveled along the Scioto River.

“I noticed by the show bills that was pasted on blacksmith shops that a circus was but a few days ahead of us. About dust we fell in line and moved on. After riding two hours we took the wrong road and had to turn back half a mile. Then went down a long rough steep road and came to the Sciota [sic] river and rode along its bank in a deep sandy beach almost in a keen jump. It was very dark and several of the boy’s horses stumbled over stumps and logs throwing them on the sand. We soon got to Jacksville, [Jackson? Jacksonville?]Ohio where we found the command camped near the river.

~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[xv]

Manson, moving northward from Maysville, took note of the Confederate scouting party moving eastward from Georgetown.

“Maysville, July 15, 1863

General Burnside:
Morgan’s line extends from near Georgetown to Eckmansville; he was, at 7 o’clock, moving toward Locust Grove. It will be very difficult to get a courier to Sardinia, as I would have to pass through his lines, but I can try. I have heard nothing from Judah.

Mahlon D. Manson,

Maysville, July 15, 1863

Lieutenant-Colonel Richmond:
Part of Morgan’s force came within 5 miles of Riley at noon, from thence to Russellville and Winchester. His advance is at West Union, and he is in force at North Liberty, 7 miles north of West Union. This information is considered reliable. I am patrolling the river from Riley to Manchester. I think I can prevent his crossing. Have heard nothing from you today.

Mahlon D. Manson,

“Maysville, July 15, 1863 – 12:50 p.m.

Colonel Richmond:
Have received information the rebels camped 24 miles from Ripley, and moved this morning at 7 o’clock in direction of that place. Last heard from them within a mile of Ripley. I will move down and ascertain whether they design crossing at that place, but I shall also watch the road from Decatur to Maysville. They are reported over 4,000 strong.

Mahlon D. Manson,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.”

As Morgan and his “terrible men” moved across Ohio, Northern sentiment was swelling against them. Every literary tool from poetry to public speech sought to vilify his name.

"I'm sent to warn the neighbors, He isn't a mile behind;
He sweeps up all the horses, every horse that he can find;
Morgan, Morgan the raider, and Morgan's terrible men;
With bowie knives and pistols, are galloping up the glen..."[xviii]

“Even the women frowned, their voluble speech being uncomplimentary. Neither in Indiana nor in Ohio did Morgan’s ‘Rough Riders’ see any ‘bright smiles to haunt them still.’”[xix]

“I think Morgan's raid has done more good than harm, as it has aroused the people out of their lethargy and tended to unite the people."

~ J. Eberle West, St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio[xx]


[i] Mosgrove, George Dallas. “Following Morgan’s Plume Through Indiana and Ohio,” Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXV. Richmond, VA., January – December. 1907.
[ii] Diary of Charles W. Durling.
[iii] 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. 233.
[iv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.752.
[v] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, pages 752 – 753.
[vi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.753.
[vii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.755.
[viii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.755.
[ix] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.754.
[x] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xi] 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. 226.
[xii] Reid, Whitelaw. "Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers" Vol. 1, 1868, page 140.
[xiii] The New York Times, July 15, 1863.
[xiv] Diary of James B. McCreary.
[xv] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xvi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.753.
[xvii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.754.
[xviii] Woolson, Constance Fenimore .“Kentucky Belle.”
[xix] Mosgrove, George Dallas. “Following Morgan’s Plume Through Indiana and Ohio,” Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXV. Richmond, VA., January – December. 1907.
[xx] West, J. Eberle. "Morgan's Raid," Indiana Magazine of History 20, no. 1, March 1924, p.92-96.

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