Monday, August 1, 2011

Morgan's Great Raid . . . part 3, Ohio

And rich Ohio sat startled, through all those summer days,
For strange wild men were galloping over her broad highways
Now here, now there, now seen, now gone, now north, now east, now west.
Through river valleys and corn lands, sweeping away her best.

A bold ride, and a long ride! But they were taken at last;
They almost reached the river, by riding hard and fast.
But the boys in blue were upon them, ere ever gained the ford.
And Morgan, Morgan the Raider, laid down his terrible sword!

Excerpt from the poem Kentucky Belle by Constance Fenimore Woolson

In 1860, Ohio was the third most populous state in the US (after N.Y. and Pa.) with 2,339,511 people. Cincinnati was the seventh largest city in the country with 161,044 residents (Louisville was ranked 12th with a population of 68,033). When Morgan and men crossed that street in Harrison separating Indiana and Ohio, the numbers of the opposition the raiders would encounter would be far greater than anything previously experienced. And, they were still being pursued by Hobson, Wolford, etc.

At the time of the raid, Camp Dennison was the largest military hospital in Ohio. Noted on an information plaque at the site is this admission, "In July of 1863, Morgan's Raiders passed embarrassingly close to the garrison at Camp Dennison and without any challenge burnt a locomotive and 3 coaches of the Little Miami Railroad."

Once past Cincinnati, Morgan and his men were able to relax a little bit. In Boston (now Owensville) Basil Duke encountered some of his men standing about a table covered with pies. Inquiring as to why they were not eating them, they quipped that they thought the pies might be poisoned. Duke exclaimed, "Here, hand me one." And with that, he devoured the whole thing. The rest of the pies did not last much longer. At Williamsburg, Morgan carved into this doorstep (above photo), "John Morgan, July 14, 1863, 3000 men." Unfortunately, the writing is now indistinguishable.

While in Wilkesville, Morgan stayed in this house belonging to Dr. William Cline (one of the richest men in Vinton County). Morgan hoped this was to be his last night in Ohio.

This swinging bridge is built upon the abutments of a covered bridge destroyed by Morgan's raiders in the small town of Vinton in Gallia County.

As the pressure was closing in on Morgan and his men, they had to pass through this area dubbed "the gauntlet" as they desperately tried to get to the Ohio River crossing at Buffington Island.

Just a few miles from the river crossing in Chester, Morgan propped his feet up on the railing of this house and told Stovepipe Johnson, "All our troubles are over. The river is only twenty-five miles away. Tomorrow we will be on Southern soil."

Just out of Bashan is a small cemetery where the raiders once again interfered with a funeral procession . . . except this time they took the horses and the hearse, which they filled up with the wounded. Bashan is also near the birthplace of the great Ambrose Bierce.

All roads lead to . . . Portland, Ohio and Buffington Island. At least for Morgan, his raiders, and all of those who pursued him, including the US Navy! A costly delay back at Chester caused Morgan to arrive at the river too late in the evening to cross. Another bit of unlucky timing pertained to the river itself: only two weeks earlier the water level at this point was only two feet, which would have been too shallow for the Union gunboats to aid in the conflict.

Early on the morning of July 19th, fresh Union troops under the command of Henry Judah somewhat unexpectedly found themselves attacking a part of Duke's command. Shortly thereafter Hobson and his men attacked parts of Johnson's command from the north. All the while, the Union gunboat the USS Moose arrived (later joined by the Allegheny Belle) and began harassing the few Morgan men who had begun to ford the river. Less than 50 raiders made it across before the ford was blocked by the gunboats. Morgan's only option was to escape and try to ford elsewhere. The remainder of his command of about 1,100 men (Morgan's casualties at the battle were 57 killed, 150-200 wounded, and about 750 captured) attempted another crossing about 6 miles upstream at Reedsville. About 330 raiders made it across to West Virginia (which was only admitted to the Union the month before) before the Moose forced Morgan inland once again. John Hunt Morgan himself was actually half way across the river, but he returned so as not to abandon the majority of his command who would be stranded on the Ohio side.

The prettiest photo from the trip, and it was taken by Dudeboy . . . from a moving car! The location is near Triadelphia.

This is the Helmick Mill (Island Run) Covered Bridge. One source states that "as a small band of the raiders approached Island Run, they were captured by Morgan County Militiamen." However, for us, it was a nice respite from the heat and long day of driving.

A nearby historical marker states that "Morgan's forces halted in Old Washington on the morning of July 24 for rest and provisions [read looting]. Three pursuing Union cavalry units . . . assembled on Cemetery Hill . . . and began firing on the Confederates in town. The raiders returned fire. In the exchange three Confederates were killed and several wounded." This is the grave marker for those three soldiers. Boldly stated on the marker is that Morgan "was overtaken and defeated by Federal cavalrymen." I doubt Morgan saw it that way, still he was prompted to move on in a timely fashion. His movements from Old Washington was back in the direction towards the river.

But that river crossing was not to happen. The pursuers continually checked any movement towards to the river. Under constant pursuit, Morgan's emotionally and physically exhausted men encountered Shackelford and his cavalry command here at Monroeville.

Morgan's men were pushed towards this cemetery (West Grove). Here are the graves of two of the raiders . . . John Miller and an unknown . . . "a mere boy."

Amazingly Morgan escaped yet again, but his command had now dwindled down to under 400 men. This monument outside of Salineville marks the last shots of the raid. From here, Morgan continued to flee, but the end came near West Point where his command was surrounded (by other Kentuckians, including those under the command of Wolford).

It was another Kentuckian, Major George Rue of the 9th Kentucky Calvary, who finally met up with Morgan exclaiming "General Morgan, I'm glad to see you." To which Morgan replied, "You have beat me this time. If I had to be caught, I'm glad it was by another Kentuckian." A bit of serendipity . . . unplanned, we arrived only three hours late on the actual surrender date, which was 148 years before. I didn't realize this could happen until a day or two before we left for the trip.


Adonis Gorr said...

Was any chocolate gravy encountered?

Anonymous said...

See what you mean about the covered brdige. Can see the spray paint scrawl, but still is a beauty. Dudeboy, that is a really nice picture of the Ohio countryside. Was also interesting that you passed Bierce's birthplace. Did you see any footprints with the middle toe missing on the right foot?

Merkin J. Pus-Tart said...

"Did you see any footprints with the middle toe missing on the right foot?" Those paranormal guys might find that at the Octagon House when they film there.

Anonymous said...

Good gravy!! Mr. Gorr is quite the comedian. Does he not realize that Capt. Jack McClain is buried atop a hill overlooking the lovely village of Burkesville...thought it was the closest he'd ever get to heaven. Even John Muir was captivated by the beauty of Burkesville. Dudeboy and Merkin, I'm surprised that you would associate with such a boor as Mr. Gorr.
Uncle Burke

Merkin J. Pus-Tart said...

Mr. Gorr can never understand chocolate gravy . . . too much Yankee blood coursing through his veins.