Monday, March 9, 2009

July 20, 1863: Capture in Cheshire

Buffington Bar, July 20, 1863.
(Received July 21.)

Col. Lewis Richmond:
I have just received 81 prisoners from General Shackelford and Colonel Wolford. At Chester there are 135 more, captured by the Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry. My command is scouting in every direction. Of those sent from this place today, 600 were captured by my command, including Cols. Dick Morgan, Duke, Ward, and others; also the notorious Captain Hines. My troops fought at two points on yesterday. The citizens have buried 47 rebels, and Dr. Scriven buried 7. They are perfectly demoralized, broken up, and are endeavoring to escape in small squads. I will use every exertion to capture them all. The pursuit of Morgan has been difficult, and required a vast amount of patience and industry to effect a success. I have Colonel Huffman, brought in since I commenced writing, also several surgeons, as prisoners; the colonel is wounded.
Very respectfully,

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

During the last confused hours of the Battle of Buffington Island, James Edward Evans, my second great grandfather, escaped with a group of men under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel James B. McCreary. McCreary hastily, and rather disjointedly, recorded these traumatizing events in his diary.

“Jul 20. Today we reached Cheshire. There Buffington was entrenched to a certain extent. The Yankees pressed us in the rear and fired upon us from their gunboats in front, Thus forcing us back to a high hill, where, after exhausting our ammunition, we surrendered 700 men. I saw Gen. Shackleford and arranged the terms of surrender. He allowed all field officers to retain side arms and horses, and all others to retain private property. This proposition I announced to all the officers and all voted to surrender, and thus ended the saddest day of my life.”

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

James Bennett McCreary later served in the U. S. Senate and as Governor of Kentucky

Legend holds that the men escaping with Lieutenant Colonel McCreary crossed this covered bridge in Megis County, Ohio as they fled. [iii]

General Shackelford had pursued escaping Raiders through out the night of July 19th and into the next afternoon of July 20th. In the late afternoon, he over took them near Kyger Creek, roughly ten miles from Gallipolis. Shackelford’s forces skirmished with the Raiders driving them to the top of a high bluff before demanding their surrender. Colonel Cicero Coleman was select from the remaining officers to broker the terms of surrender. The sun had set and rain was falling when the Raiders moved down hill to surrender.

Members of the Fifth Kentucky Cavalry recorded their capture in their diaries and letters to loved ones.

“20th of July at 4 P.M. we arrived at Cheshire ,O., on the river some 50 or 60 miles below Buffington. For several hours previous to arriving at Cheshire the 5th Ky. under my Comd. & the 6th Comd. by R. D. Logan were actively engaged with Woolford's and Judah's Cavalry that hotly pressed our rear. Ammunition being entirely exhausted, and one-half the command having lost their guns during the rapid retreat of the preceding day and night, and the river being impassable, we were forced to surrender. We held a Council of War on a high hill about 4 mi. below Cheshire and sent a flag of truce to [the commanding Union officer]. Col. Coleman, of Cluke's Regt. was our senior officer left, & the terms of surrender was agreed about sunset.”

~ Captain Thomas Monroe Coombs, Co. c, 5th KY Cavalry, Morgan’s Division, CSA [iv]

“Here an act of General Morgan’s gives the emphatic lie to the base slander started by Federal Officers and the Yankee Press that the General was taking care of himself and trying to leave his men to get out the best way they could. Some of our men had crossed and the General, who was riding a splendid horse, had started into the river, when the advancing gun boat attracted his attention. His practiced eye saw at a glance that it would arrive before one-third of our men could cross, he turned his horse and came back to the Ohio shore, nobly disdaining to place himself in safety and leave his followers under existing difficulties. Failing the second attempt to cross the river, we again turned and taking a course nearly north, we traveled almost incessantly for twenty-five or thirty miles, passing on the night of the 19th almost through a large camp of the enemy; then turning to the left we again came to the river on the evening of the 20th at Cheshire, some sixty or seventy miles below Buffington.

Here, again we found the river past fording and gun boats covering its surface, while overpowering numbers of the enemy were rapidly advancing in our rear; half our men were without guns, having left them in the fight and retreat of the previous day, and nearly all without ammunition. Confusion took the place of order, and Officers could not control the men, and thus every man for himself, we again commenced to retreat down the river. In the confusion the general part of Duke’s and Cluke’s regiments became separated from the rest of the command. We kept our way down the river three or four miles, took a position on a high hill and prepared to fight them again, but soon discovered that we were not only cut off from our leader and the head of the column, but that we were surrounded by a vastly superior force of the enemy. ‘Twas madness to contend against fate, and after a consultation, we surrendered. General Morgan with the remainder of the force was not captured until the 26th.”

~ Captain Thomas M. Combs, Company G, 5th KY Cavalry[v]

General Judah eagerly reported their capture.

Pomeroy, July 21, 1863 – 3 a. m.

General Burnside:
I have just returned form Champaign Creek and Cheshire. One thousand and twenty prisoners are on the river at the latter place. They surrendered to General Shackelford at 5 p. m. last evening. I have seen them myself. I think the Fifth Indiana and Fourteenth Illinois will finish up tomorrow, if other forces do not. Boats should be sent up with infantry guards as soon as possible to these points and Cheshire for prisoners. I shall be here till daylight, perhaps longer.

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

The Raiders, now Union prisoners, were loaded onto steamboats.

Pomeroy, July 21, 1863.

General Burnside:
I dare not trust the prisoners going down with the Cincinnati six months’ men. I will wait for Manson’s or other infantry. The Fifth Indiana Cavalry found roads obstructed. I detained the regiment for the present. It is needed as guard to prisoners. Shackleford was last night at Cheshire.

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

Pomeroy, July 22, 1863.

Major-General Burnside:
The following is a list of prisoners: Sent on Starlight and Ingomar, 790; sent by General Hobson, 96; to go from here, 227; at Cheshire, 1,100; taken down by General Scammon, 160; total 2,321 [2,373]. Assuming at least 100 to have crossed the river, 2,450 are accounted for. Colonel Duke assured me that Morgan had but 2,800 men to cross the Ohio River with. I believe him. He accounted for the balance. Where shall I order General Shackelford’s forces to go, and where the troops of my division? I leave Kautz in command of 1,000 men, until all is quiet. I must dismount cavalry as guards to prisoners; the men can thus more readily join their commands. Captured horses will go by land; it is less expensive, and better for them.

H. M. Judah,

James Edward Evans, captured in Cheshire, Gallia County, Ohio on July 20, 1863, was one of the prisoners taken by steamboat to Cincinnati, Ohio for processing. On July 26, 1863 he was moved to Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio.[ix] Camp Chase was originally a prison for civilian political prisoners but began processing military prisoners in preparation for exchange in 1862. After the collapses of the Dix-Hill Cartel, July 13, 1863, the population of Camp Chase rose dramatically. The prisoners were “accommodated” in wood frame buildings and huts. [x]

“Monday, July 20
The rest of his men leave full chisel during night. Daylight press after them again. Go out foraging for company. Get lot of bread. 1012 rebs surrender to union forces. Take them to Chester on river.

Tuesday, July 21 .
Changing old horses for captured ones. Several citizens claiming horses and taking them away.

Wednesday, July 22
Nothing of importance happens in camp. 180 of Morgan's men reported to have been captured.

Thursday, July 23
Orders to saddle. Prisoners to go away. 45th to guard them. Co. G takes passage on steamer Navigator. Start 5 p.m. Travel all night. On duty from 12 p.m. till 4 a.m. Friday evening very pleasant.

Friday, July 24
Still floating on the bosom of the old Ohio. Prisoners very quiet. Halt at Maysville. Plenty of apples to be had. Land at Cincinnati at dusk. ”

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

Everywhere the prisoners were taken, local citizens pressed around them hoping to catch a glimpse of "Morgan’s celebrated horse thieves."

“I was afraid that my journal would be taken from me so I hid most of it in my comfort [blanket] and the rest I hid under sand where I was sitting. The bank above was crowded with union citizens and soldiers looking at us, making it hard to hide anything. Fortunately, before it came to my turn to be searched, Major Coffee of Wolford’s cavalry came along and stopped the search, making the Yanks give back the things that they had taken. Major Coffee was once a prisoner in the hands of Morgan’s command and had been treated well. I found all of my papers again, but three or four days items of the raid.”

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

“The prisoners arrived on the afternoon train from Cincinnati, which stopped at the State Avenue crossing, thus saving the trouble of marching them from the depot. A detachment of the Provost Guard had been detailed to keep the road from the track to the penitentiary clear of people —a measure that was absolutely necessary, considering: the large crowd that had collected.”

~ Harper’s Weekly [xiii]

“Cincinnati, July 24, 1863.

General Hartsuff:
I am granting no permits whatever to se the prisoners. Morgan, with his small remnant of 400 to 500, is across Muskingum, and evidently making for the Ohio. Shackelford is only 5 miles behind, and Major Rue with cavalry in front. We hope to get him yet.

A. E. Burnside,

The last of the stolen horses, whose fate I have pondered for over 30 years, were distributed to local Ohio farmers or became property of the Union army.

Pomeroy, July 21, 1863.

General Burnside:
Most of the captured horses belong to farmers, who are suffering for want of them. Are you willing that they be restored to owners upon affidavit of proprietorship, the whole to be collected here and placed in hands of the provost-marshal of this county or some other agent or officer? I am beleaguered with applications for restoration.

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

On July 26, 1863 John Hunt Morgan was surrendered to James Burbick, a Union "Home Guard" who was acting as Morgan’s guide, near Salineville, Ohio. Burbick, overwhelmed at the prospect of accepting a surrender, conveyed Morgan’s desire to Major Rue who in turn notified General Shackelford.

The Great Raid was at last over.

"Cincinnati, July 27, 1863.

Governor Tod:

Salineville, 26th.

General Burnside:
I captured John Morgan today at 2 p.m. taking 336 prisoners, 400 horses and arms. Morgan presented me his fine sorrel mare.

G. W. Rue,
Major Ninth Kentucky Cavalry.

This is one of the commands which you recommended should go to Bellaire, and Way, who brought him to a stand, was the other command, that were sent over the railroad. Your suggestions were good.

A. E. Burnside,


[i] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 780.
[ii] Diary of James B. McCreary
[iii] Ohio Historical Society
[iv] Diary of Thomas M. Coombs
[v] Letter from Thomas M. Combs to his Wife Lou, August 14-15, 1863
[vi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, pages 783 - 784.
[vii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 784.
[viii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 788.
[ix] Compiled Military Service Record of James Edward Evans 1862 – 1865
[x] Further information regarding Camp Chase provided by the National Parks Service can be found at:
[xi] Diary of Charles W. Durling. Charles was killed in the siege of Knoxville, November 18, 1863
[xii] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xiii] Harper’s Weekly, “Morgan’s Raid” August 15, 1863
[xiv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, pages 796 - 797.
[xv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p. 785.

[xvi]"Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," Part I - Reports, p. 808.