transcribed by Laura Vogel
History of Hamilton Co. Index
Hamilton Co., OHGenWeb
THE great Rebellion brought two notable and memorable events to Hamilton county - the "Siege of Cincinnati" in the summer and fall of 1862, and the raid of John MORGAN through southern Ohio, traversing the entire length of this county as he entered the State, in July, 1863. The story of the former will be related in the history of Cincinnati; that of the latter will be told here, in the general history of the county. It is extracted, very nearly, from Whitelaw REID's admirable chapter on the subject in the first volume of his Ohio in the War, omitting some of the less important foot-notes, and embodying others in the text.1 In July, 1863, ROSECRANS lay at Stone River, menacing BRAGG at Tullahoma, BURNSIDE was at Cincinnati organizing a force for the redemption of east Tennessee, which was already moved well down toward the confines of that land of steadfast but sore-tried loyalty. BRAGG felt himself unable to confront ROSECRANS; BUCKNER had in East Tennessee an inadequate force to confront BURNSIDE. But the communications of both ROSECRANS and BURNSIDE ran through Kentucky, covered mostly by the troops (numbering perhaps ten thousand in all) under General JUDAH. If these communications were threatened, this last force would at least be kept from reinforcing ROSECRANS or BURNSIDE, and the advance of one or both of these officers might e delayed. So reasoned BRAGG as, with anxious forebodings, he looked about the lowering horizon for aid in his extremity.
He had an officer who carried the reasoning to bolder conclusion. If, after a raid through Kentucky, which should endanger the communications and fully occupy General JUDAH, he should cross the border and carry terror to the peaceful homes of Indiana and Ohio, he might create such a panic as should delay the new troops about to be sent to ROSECRANS, and derange the plans of the Federal campaign. There was no adequate force, he argued, in Indiana or Ohio to oppose him; he could brush aside the local militia like house-flies, and outride any cavalry that could be seat in pursuit; while in his career he would inevitably draw the whole Union force in Kentucky after him, thus diminishing the pressure upon BRAGG and delaying the attack upon East Tennessee. This was John MORGAN's plan.
BRAGG did not approve it. He ordered MORGAN to make a raid in Kentucky; gave him carte blanche to go wherever he chose in that State, and particularly urged upon him the capture of Louisville, but forbade the crossing of the Ohio. Then he turned to the perils with which ROSECRANS' masterly strategy was environing him.
Morgan prepared at once to execute his orders; but at the same time he gave confidential information to Basil W. DUKE, his second in command, of his intention to disregard BRAGG's prohibition. He even went further. Weeks before his movement began, he sent men to examine the fords of the upper Ohio, that at Buffington Island among them, and expressed an intention to recross in that vicinity, unless LEE's movements in Pennsylvania should make it advisable to continue his march on northern soil, until he thus joined the army of northern Virginia.
Here, then, was a man who knew precisely what he wanted to do. He arranged a plan far-reaching, comprehensive, and perhaps the boldest that the cavalry service of the war disclosed; and before the immensely superior forces which he evaded could comprehend what he was about, he had half executed it. On the second of July he began to cross the Cumberland at Burkesville and Turkey Neck Bend, almost in the face of JUDAH's cavalry, which, lying twelve miles away, at Marrowbone, trusted to the swollen river as sufficient to render the crossing impracticable. The mistake was fatal. Before JUDAH moved down to resist, two regiments and portions of others were across. With these MORGAN attacked, drove the cavalry into its camp at Marrowbone, and was then checked by the artillery. But his crossing was thus secured, and long before JUDAH could get his forces gathered together, MORGAN was half way to Columbia. He had two thousand four hundred and sixty men, all told. Before him lay three States - Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio - which he meant to traverse; one filled with hostile troops, the others with a hostile swarming population. The next day, at the crossing of Green River, he came upon Colonel MOORE, with a Michigan regiment, whom he vainly summoned to surrender, and vainly strove to dislodge. The fight was severe for the little time it lasted; and MORGAN, who had no time to spare, drew off, found another crossing, and pushed on through Campbellsville to Lebanon. Here came the last opportunity to stop him. Three regiments held the position, but two of them were at some little distance from the town. Falling upon the one in the town, he overwhelmed it before the others could get up, left them hopelessly in his rear, and double-quicked his prisoners eight miles northward to Springfield, before he could stop long enough to parole them.2 Then, turning northwestward, with his foes far behind him, he marched straight for Brandenburgh, on the Ohio River, some sixty miles below Louisville. A couple of companies were sent forward to capture boats for the crossing; others were detached to cross below and effect a diversion; and still others were sent toward Crab Orchard to distract the attention of the Union commanders. He tapped the telegraph wires, thereby finding that he was expected at Louisville, and that the force there was too strong for him; captured a train from Nashville within thirty miles of Louisville; picked up squads of prisoners here and there, and
When the advance companies, sent forward to secure boats, entered Brandenburgh, they took care to make as little confusion as possible. Presently the Henderson and Louisville packet, the J. J. McCoombs, came steaming up the river, and landed as usual at the wharf-boat. As it made fast its lines, thirty or forty of MORGAN's men quietly walked on board and took possession. Soon afterward the Alice Dean, a fine boat running in the Memphis and Cincinnati trade, came around the bend. As she gave no sign of landing, they steamed out to meet her, and before captain or crew could comprehend the matter, the Alice Dean was likewise transferred to the Confederate service. When MORGAN rode into town a few hours later, the boats were ready for his crossing.
Indiana had just driven out a previous invader - Captain HINES, of MORGAN's command - who, with a small force, had crossed over "to stir up the Copperheads," as the rebel accounts pleasantly express it. Finding the country too hot for him, he had retired, after doing considerable damage; and in Brandenburgh he was now awaiting his chief.
Preparations were at once made for crossing over, but the men crowding down incautiously to the river bank, revealed their presence to the militia on the Indiana side, whom Captain HINES' recent performance had made unwontedly watchful. They at once opened a sharp fusilade across the stream, with musketry and an old cannon which they had mounted on wagon-wheels. MORGAN speedily silenced this fire by bringing up his Parrott rifles; then hastily dismounted two of his regiments and sent them across. The militia retreated and the two rebel regiments pursued. Just then a little tin-clad, the Springfield, which Commander Leroy FITCH had dispatched from New Albany, on the first news of something wrong down the river, came steaming towards the scene of action. Suddenly "checking her way," writes the rebel historian of the raid, Colonel Basil DUKE, in his history of MORGAN's cavalry, "she tossed her snubnose defiantly, like an angry beauty of the coal-pits, sidled a little toward the town, and commenced to scold. A bluish-white, funnel-shaped cloud spouted ,out from her left-hand bow, and a shot flew at the town, and then, changing front forward, she snapped a shell at the men on the other side. I wish I were sufficiently master of nautical phraseology to do justice to this little vixen's style of fighting; but she was so unlike a horse or even a piece of light artillery, that I cannot venture to attempt it." He adds that the rebel regiments on the Indiana side found shelter, and that thus the gunboat fire proved wholly without effect. After a little MORGAN trained his Parrotts upon her; and the inequality in the range of the guns was such that she speedily turned up the river again.
The situation had seemed sufficiently dangerous. Two regiments were isolated on the Indiana side; the gunboat was between them and their main body; while every hour of delay brought HOBSON nearer on the Kentucky side, and speeded the mustering of the Indiana militia. But the moment the gunboat turned up the river, all danger for the moment was past. MORGAN rapidly crossed the rest of his command, burned the boats behind him, scattered the militia and rode out into Indiana. There was yet time to make a march of six miles before nightfall.
The task now before MORGAN was a simple one, and for several days could not be other than an easy one. His distinctly formed plan was to march through southern Indiana and Ohio, avoiding large towns and large bodies of militia, spreading alarm through the country, making all the noise, he could, and disappearing again across the upper fords of the Ohio before the organizations of militia could get such shape and consistency as to be able to make head against him. For some days, at least, he need expect no adequate resistance, and, while the bewilderment as to his purposes and uncertainty as to the direction he was taking should paralyze the gathering militia, he meant to place many a long mile between them and his hard riders.
Spreading, therefore, all manner of reports as to his purposes and assuring the most that he meant to penetrate to the heart of the State and lay Indianapolis in ashes, he turned the beads of his horses up the river towards Cincinnati; scattered the militia with the charges of his advance brigade; burnt bridges and cut telegraph wires right and left; marched twenty-one hours out of twenty-four, and rarely made less than fifty or sixty miles a day.
His movement had at first attracted little attention. The North was used to having Kentucky in a panic about invasion from John MORGAN, and had come to look upon it mainly as a suggestion of a few more blooded horses from the "Blue Grass" that were to be speedily impressed into the rebel service. Gettysburg had just been fought; Vicksburgh had just fallen; what were John MORGAN and his horse-thieves? Let Kentucky guard her own stables against her own outlaws!
Presently he came nearer and Louisville fell into a panic. Martial law was proclaimed; business was suspended; every preparation for defence was hastened. Still, few thought of danger beyond the river, and the most, remembering the siege of Cincinnati, were disposed to regard as very humorous the ditching and the drill by the terrified people of the Kentucky metropolis.
Then came the crossing. The governor of Indiana straightway proclaimed martial law, and called out the legion. General BURNSIDE was full of wise plans for "bagging" the invader, of which the newspapers gave mysterious hints. Thoroughly trustworthy gentlemen hastened with their "reliable reports" of the rebel strength. They had stood on the wharf-boat and kept tally of the cavalry crossed; and there was not a man less than five thousand of them. Others had talked with them, and been confidently assured that they were going up to Indianapolis to burn the State house. Others, on the same veracious authority, were assured that they were heading for New Albany and Jeffersonville to burn Government stores. The militia everywhere
Still the purpose of the
movement was not divined - its very audacity was its protection.
BURNSIDE concluded that HOBSON was pressing the invaders so hard,
that they must swim across the Ohio below Madison to escape, and his
for intercepting them proceeded on that theory. The Louisville packets
were warned not to leave Cincinnati, lest MORGAN should bring with them
his artillery and force them to ferry him back into Kentucky. Efforts
made to raise regiments to aid the Indianians, if only to reciprocate
favor they had shown when Cincinnati was under siege; but the people
tired of such alarms, and could not be induced to believe in the
By Sunday, July 12, three days after MORGAN's entry upon northern soil,
the authorities had advanced their theory of his plan to correspond
the news of his movements. They now thought he would swim the Ohio a
below Cincinnati, at or near Aurora; but the citizens were more
They began to talk about a "sudden dash into the city." The mayor
that business be suspended and that the citizens assemble in their
wards for defence. Finally General BURNSIDE came to the same view,
martial law, and ordered the suspension of business. Navigation was
stopped, and gun-boats scoured the river banks to remove all scows and
flat-boats which might aid MORGAN in his escape to the Kentucky shore.
Later in the evening apprehensions that, after all, MORGAN might not be
so anxious to escape, prevailed. Governor TOD was among the earliest to
recognize the danger; and, while there was still time to secure
in the newspapers of Monday morning, he telegraphed to the press a
calling out the militia:
Whereas, this State is in imminent danger of invasion by an armed force, now, therefore, to prevent the same, I, David TOD, Governor of the State of Ohio, and commander-in-chief of the militia force thereof, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of said State, do hereby call into active service that portion of the militia force which has been organized into companies within the counties of Hamilton, Butler, Montgomery, Clermont, Brown, Clinton, Warren, Greene, Fayette, Ross, Monroe, Washington, Morgan, Noble, Athens, Meigs, Scioto, Jackson, Adams, Vinton, Hocking, Lawrence, Pickaway, Franklin, Madison, Fairfield, Clark, Preble, Pike, Gallia, Highland, and Perry. I do hereby further order all such forces, residing within the counties of Hamilton, Butler, and Clermont, to report forthwith to Major General A. E. BURNSIDE, at his headquarters in the city of Cincinnati, who is hereby authorized and required to cause said forces to be organized into battalions or regiments, and appoint all necessary officers therefor. And it is further ordered that all such forces residing in the counties of Montgomery, Warren, Clinton, Fayette, Ross, Highland, and Brown, report forthwith to Colonel NEFF, the military commander at Camp Dennison, who is hereby authorized to organize said forces into battalions or regiments, and to appoint, temporarily, officers therefor; and it is further ordered that all of such forces residing in the counties of Franklin, Madison, Clark, Greene, Pickaway, and Fairfield, report forthwith at Camp Chase to Brigadier General S. MASON, who is hereby authorized to organize said forces into battalions or regiments, and appoint, temporarily, officers therefor; it is further ordered that all such forces residing in the counties of Washington, Monroe, Noble, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Hocking, and Athens, report forthwith to Colonel William R. PUTNAM, at Camp Marietta, who is hereby authorized to organize said forces into battalions or regiments, and appoint, temporarily, officers therefor.
This was a wise and prudent action in the audacious rebel commander; but, well as he read the purposes of his antagonists, he here made a mistake. He supposed that he was to be confronted by military men, acting on military principles. As it was, he deceived everybody. The Hamilton people telegraphed in great alarm that MORGAN was marching on their town. A fire was seen burning at Venice; and straightway they threw out pickets to guard the main roads in that direction, to watch for MORGAN's coming. Harrison sent in word of the passage of the rebel cavalry through that place at one o'clock, and of the belief that they were going to Hamilton. Wise, deputy sheriff, who had been captured by MORGAN and parolled, hastened to tell that the rebel chief had conversed very freely with him, had shown no hesitation in speaking of his plans, and had assured him that he was going to Hamilton. All this was retailed at
That night, while the much enduring printers were putting these stories in type, John MORGAN's entire command, now reduced to a strength of barely two thousand, was marching through the suburbs of this city of a quarter of a million inhabitants, within reach of troops enough to eat them up, absolutely unopposed, almost without meeting a solitary picket or receiving a hostile shot.
"In this night march around Cincinnati," writes again the historian of MORGAN's cavalry, "we met with the greatest difficulty in keeping our column together. The guides were all in front with General MORGAN, who rode at the head of the Second brigade, then marching in advance. This brigade had, consequently, no trouble, but the First brigade was embarrassed beyond measure. CLARK's regiment was marching in the rear of the Second; if it had kept closer up we would have had no trouble, for the entire column would have been directed by the guides. But this regiment, although composed of superb material, and unsurpassed in fighting qualities, had, from the period of its organization, been under lax and careless discipline; and the effect of it was now observable. The rear companies straggled, halted, and delayed the First brigade - for it was impossible to ascertain immediately whether the halt was that of the brigade in advance or only these stragglers - and, when forced to move on, they would go off at a gallop. A great gap would thus be opened between the rear of our brigade and the advance of the other; and we who were behind were forced to grope our way as best we could. When we would come to one of the many junctions of roads which occur in the suburbs of a large city, we would be compelled to consult all sorts of indications in order to hit upon the right road. The night was intensely dark, and we would set on fire large bundles of paper or splinters of wood to afford a light. The horses' tracks on roads so much travelled would give us no clue to the route which the other brigade had taken at such points; but we could trace it by noticing the direction in which the dust 'settled' or floated. We could also trace the column by the slaver dropped from the horses' mouths. It was a terrible, 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. Quite a number crept off into the fields and slept until awakened by the enemy. At length day appeared, just as we reached the last point where we had to anticipate danger. We had passed through Glendale and across all of the principal suburban roads, and were near the Little Miami railroad. Those who have marched much at night will remember that the fresh air of morning invariably has a cheering effect upon the tired and drowsy, and awakens and invigorates them. It had this effect on our men on this occasion, and relieved us also from the necessity of groping our way. We crossed the railroad without opposition, and halted to feed our horses in sight of Camp Dennison. After a short rest here, and a picket skirmish, we resumed our march, burning in this neighborhood a park of government wagons. That evening at four o'clock, we were at Williamsburg, twenty-eight miles east of Cincinnati, having marched since leaving Sunmansville, in Indiana, in a period of about thirty-five hours, more than ninety miles - the greatest march that even MORGAN had ever made. Feeling comparatively safe here, he permitted the division to go into camp and remain during the night."
From this picture, by a participant,
of the march of two thousand rebel cavalry, unopposed, through the
of Cincinnati, we turn to the heart of the city. Through the day there
had been a little excitement and some drilling. Part of the business
were closed, but the attendance at the ward meetings was very meagre.
COX, under directions from General BURNSIDE, had divided the city and
into militia districts, assigned commanders to each, and ordered the
of their organizations. The following is that part of the orders which
relates to the county at large:
Hamilton county, beyond the limits of the city, will be divided into military districts as follows, and commandants of military companies will report to the following named officers:
1. Mill Creek township,
report to General J. H. BATES, city.
2. Anderson, Columbia and Spencer townships, report to James PEAL, Pleasant Ridge.
3. Sycamore and Symmes townships, report to C. CONSTABLE, Montgomery.
4. Springfield and ___________ [probably Colerain] townships, report to Henry GULICK, Bevis post office.
5. Crosby, Harrison, Miami, and Whitewater townships, report to W. F. CONVERSE, Harrison.
6. Delhi, Storrs, and Green townships, report to Major Peter ZINN, Delhi.
The above named officers will immediately assume command and establish their headquarters.
The district commandants
had ordered the militia to - "parade to-morrow!" By "to-morrow," as we
have seen, John MORGAN, after riding through the suburbs, was
miles away. Toward midnight glimmerings of how it was being overreached
began to dawn upon the public mind, as may be seen from the latest
from headquarters, which the newspapers were permitted to publish.
the printers were busy with them, MORGAN was marching his straggling,
scattered columns through the suburbs of Cincinnati. About the time
readers were glancing over them, he was feeding his horses and driving
off the pickets at Camp Dennison:
11:30 P. M. - A courier arrived last evening at General BURNSIDE's headquarters, having left Cheviot at half past eight in the afternoon, with information for the general. Cheviot is only seven miles from the city. He states that about five hundred of MORGAN's men had crossed the river at Miamitown, and attacked our pickets, killing or capturing one of them. MORGAN's main force, said to be three thousand strong, was then crossing the river. A portion of the rebel force had been up to New Haven, and another had gone to New Baltimore, and partially destroyed both of those places. The light of the burning towns was seen by our men. When the courier left, MORGAN was moving up, it was reported, to attack our advance.
1 A. M. - A courier has just arrived at headquarters from Colerain, with dispatches for General BURNSIDE. He reports that the enemy, supposed to be two thousand five hundred strong, with six pieces of artillery, crossed the Colerain pike at dark at Bevis, going toward New Burlington, or to the Cincinnati and Hamilton pike, in the direction of Springdale.
1:30 A. M. - A dispatch from Jones's station state that the enemy are now encamped between Venice and New Baltimore.
2 A. M. - Another dispatch says the enemy are coming in, or a squad of them, from New Baltimore toward Glendale, for the supposed purpose of destroying a bridge over the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton railroad near Glendale.
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 - a quarter past two in the afternoon - it is the impression that MORGAN's main force is going east, while he has sent squads to burn bridges on the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton railroad, and over the Miami river; but he may turn and come down this way on some of the roads leading through Walnut Hills and Mount Auburn.
As a matter of fact, squads of MORGAN's men did pass from Lockland through Sharpsburgh and Montgomery, and even so close to the city as Duck creek, two miles from the corporation line, stealing all the fine horses they could lay their hands upon.
The next day, with the revelation that MORGAN was gone, began the gathering of the militia. Some hurried to Camp Chase, to be there held for the protection of the capital, or thence thrown toward southeastern Ohio, on his front. Others assembled at Camp Dennison hurried by rail after him. All over the southern part of the State was a hasty mustering and crowding upon extra trains, and rush to the points of danger. HOBSON, who, in spite of MORGAN's tremendous marching, was only a few hours behind, pressed so hard upon his trail that the flying band had little time for the burning of railroad bridges, or indeed for aught but the impressment of fresh horses. JUDAH, with his troops, was dispatched by boats to gain the front of the galloping column and head it off from the river.
Meantime the excitement and apprehension in all the towns and villages within thirty or forty miles of MORGAN's line of march was unprecedented in the history of the State. Thrifty farmers drove off their horses and cattle to the woods. Thrifty housewives buried their silver spoons. At least one terrified matron, in a pleasant inland town forty miles from the rebel route, in her husband's absence, resolved to protect the family carriage horse at all hazards; and, having no safer place, led him into the house and stabled him in the parlor, locking and bolting doors and windows, whence the noise of his dismal tramping on the resounding floor sounded through the livelong night like distant peals of artillery, and kept half the citizens awake and watching for MORGAN's entrance.
There was, indeed, sufficient cause for considering property insecure anywhere within reach of the invaders. Horses and food, of course, they took wherever and whenever they wanted them; our own raiding parties generally did the same. But the mania for plunder which befel this command and made its line of march look like a procession of peddlers, was something beyond all ordinary cavalry plundering. We need look for no other stronger words, in describing it, than the second in command has himself chosen to use: "The disposition for wholesale plundering," he frankly admits, "exceeded anything that any of us had ever seen before. The men seemed actuated by a desire to pay off in the enemy's country all scores that the Union army had chalked up in the South. The great cause for apprehension which our situation might have inspired seemed only to make them reckless. Calico was the staple article of appropriation. Each man who could get one, tied a bolt of it to his saddle, only to throw it away and get a fresh one at the first opportunity. They did not pillage with any sort of method or reason. It seemed to be a mania, senseless and purposeless. One man carried a bird cage, with three canaries in it, for two days. Another rode with a chafing dish, which looked like a small metallic coffin, on the pommel of his saddle, till an officer forced him to throw it away. Although the weather was intensely warm, another slung seven pairs of skates around his neck, and chuckled over the acquisition. I saw very few articles of real value taken; they pillaged like boys robbing an orchard. I would not have believed that such a passion could have been developed so ludicrously among any body of civilized men. At Piketon, Ohio, some days later, one man broke through the guard posted at a store, rushed in, trembling with excitement and avarice, and filled his pockets with horn buttons. They would, with few exceptions, throw away their plunder after a while, like children tired of their toys."
Some movements of our own were, after their different fashion, scarcely less ludicrous. Some militia from Camp Dennison, for example, marched after MORGAN till near Batavia, when they gravely halted and began felling the trees, to check him in case he should decide to come back over the route he had just travelled! A worthy militia officer telegraphed to Governor TOD MORGAN's exact position, and assured him that the rebel forces numbered precisely four thousand seven hundred and fifty men! BURNSIDE himself telegraphed that it was now definitely ascertained that MORGAN had about four thousand men. At Chillicothe they mistook some of their own militia for rebel scouts, and by way of protection burned a bridge across a stream that was, at that season, fordable anywhere, and near the bridge the water scarcely came to the horses' knees! Governor TOD felt sure that only the heavy concentration of militia at Camp Chase had kept MORGAN from seizing Columbus and plundering the State treasury. Several days after the bulk of the raiding force had been captured the governor gravely wrote to a militia officer at Cleveland, whom he was exhorting to renewed vigilance: "I announce to you that MORGAN may yet reach the lake shore."
But if there was an error in the zeal displayed, it was on the safe side. Over fifty thousand Ohio militia actually took the field against the sore-pressed fleeing band. Not half of them, however, at any time got within three-score miles of MORGAN.
That officer was meantime intent neither upon the lake shore nor yet upon the treasury vaults at Columbus; but, entirely satisfied with the commotion he had created, was doing his best to get out of the State. He came very near doing it.
On the morning of the sixteenth of July, he was stopping to feed his horses in sight of Camp Dennison. That evening he encamped at Williamsburgh, twenty-eight miles east of Cincinnati. Then, marching through Washington Court-house, Piketon (with Colonel Richard MORGAN going through Georgetown), Jackson, Vinton,
Until he reached Pomeroy, he encountered comparatively little resistance. At Camp Dennison there was a little skirmish, in which a rebel lieutenant and several privates were captured; but Lieutenant Colonel NEFF wisely limited his efforts to the protection of the bridge and camp. A train of the Little Miami road was thrown off the track. At Berlin there was a skirmish with the militia under Colonel RUNKLE. Small militia skirmishes were constantly occurring, the citizen soldiery hanging on the flanks of the flying invaders and wounding two or three men every day, and occasionally killing one.
At last the daring little column approached its goal. All the troops in Kentucky had been evaded and left behind. All the militia in Indiana had been dashed aside or outstripped. The fifty thousand militia in Ohio had failed to turn it from its pre-determined path. Within precisely fifteen days from the morning it had crossed the Cumberland - nine days from its crossing into Indiana - it stood once more on the banks of the Ohio. A few hours more of daylight, and it would be safely across, in the midst again of a population to which it might look for sympathy if not for aid.
But the circle of the hunt was narrowing. JUDAH, with his fresh cavalry, was up, and was marching out from the river against MORGAN. HOBSON was hard on his rear. Colonel RUNKLE, commanding a division of militia, was north of him. And, at last, the local militia in advance of him were beginning to fell trees and tear up bridges to obstruct his progress. Near Pomeroy they made a stand. For four or five miles his road ran through a ravine, with occasional intersections from hill roads. At all these cross-roads he found the militia posted; and from the hills above him they made his passage through the ravine a perfect running of the gauntlet. On front, flank, and rear, the militia pressed; and, as MORGAN's first subordinate ruefully expressed it, "closed eagerly upon our track." In such plight he passed through the ravine and shaking clear of his pursuers for a while, pressed on to Chester, where he arrived about one o'clock in the afternoon of the eighteenth of July.
Here he made the first serious military mistake that had marked his course on northern soil. He was within a few hours' ride of the ford at which he hoped to cross; and the skirmishing about Pomeroy should have given him ample admonition of the necessity for haste. But he had been advancing through the ravine at a gallop. He halted now to breathe his horses and to hunt a guide. Three hours and a half thus lost went far toward deciding his fate.
When his column was well closed up, and his guide was found he moved forward. It was eight o'clock before he reached Portland, the little village on the bank of the Ohio nearly opposite Buffington Island. Night had fallen - a night of solid darkness, as the rebel officers declared. The entrance to that ford was guarded by a little earthwork manned by only two or three hundred infantry. This alone stood between him and an easy passage to Virginia.
But his evil genius was upon him. He had lost an hour and a half at Chester in the afternoon - the most precious hour and a half since his feet touched Northern soil; and he now decided to waste the night. In the hurried council with his exhausted officers it was admitted on all hands that JUDAH had arrived - that some of his troops had given force to the skirmishing near Pomeroy - that they would certainly be at Buffington by morning, and that gun-boats would accompany them. But his men were in bad condition, and he feared to trust them in a night attack upon a fortified position which he had not reconnoitred. The fear was fatal. Even yet, by abandoning his wagon-train and his wounded, he might have reached unguarded fords a little higher up. This, too, was mentioned by his officers. He would save all, he promptly replied, or would lose all together. And so he gave mortgages to fate. By morning JUDAH was up. At daybreak DUKE advanced with a couple of rebel regiments to storm the earthwork, but found it abandoned. He was rapidly proceeding to make dispositions for crossing, when JUDAH's advance struck him. At first he repulsed it, and took a number of prisoners, the adjutant general of JUDAH's staff among them. MORGAN then ordered him to hold the force on his front in check. He was not able to return to his command till it had been broken and thrown in full retreat before an impetuous charge of JUDAH's cavalry, headed by Lieutenant O'NEIL, of the Fifth Indiana. He succeeded in rallying and reforming his line. But now advancing up the Chester and Pomeroy road came the gallant cavalry that, over three States, had been galloping on their track - the three thousand of HOBSON's command - who for now nearly two weeks had been only a day, a forenoon, an hour be- hind them.
As HOBSON's guideons fluttered out in the little valley by the river bank where they fought, every man of that band that had so long defied a hundred thousand knew that the contest was over. They were almost out of ammunition, exhausted, and scarcely two thousand strong; against whom were HOBSON's three thousand and JUDAH's still larger force. To complete the overwhelming odds, that in spite of their efforts had at last been concentrated upon them, the ironclad gun-boats steamed up and opened fire.
MORGAN comprehended the situation as fast as the hard-riding troopers, who, still clinging to their bolts of calico, were already galloping toward the rear. He at once essayed to extricate his trains, and then to withdraw his regiments by column of fours from right of companies, keeping up meanwhile as sturdy resistance as he might. For some distance the withdrawal was made in tolerable order; then, under a charge of a Michigan cavalry regiment, the retreat became a rout. MORGAN, with not quiet twelve hundred men, escaped. His brother, with Colonels DUKE, WARD, HUFFMAN, and about seven hundred men were taken prisoners.
This was the battle of Buffington Island. It was brief and decisive. But for his two mistakes of the night be-
The prisoners were at once sent down the river to Cincinnati, on the transports which had brought up some of their prisoners, in charge of Captain DAY, of General JUDAH's staff, of whose manly and soldiery courtesy they made grateful mention, albeit not much given to praiseing the treatment they received at the North. The troops, with little rest, pushed on after MORGAN.
And now began the dreariest experience of the rebel chief. Twenty miles above Buffington he struck the river again, got three hundred of his command across, and was himself midway in the stream when the approaching gun-boats checked the passage. Returning to the nine hundred still on the Ohio side, he once more renewed the hurried flight. His men were worn down and exhausted by long-continued and enormous work; they were demoralized by pillage, discouraged by the scattering of their command, weakened most of all by the loss of faith in themselves and their commander, surrounded by a multitude of foes, harassed at every hand, intercepted at every loophole of escape, hunted like game night and day, driven hither and thither in their vain efforts to double on their remorseless pursuers. It was the early type and token of a similar fate under pursuit of which the great army of the confederacy was to fade out; and no other words are needed to finish the story we have now to tell than those with which the historian of the army of the Potomac (SWINTON) describes the tragic flight to Appomattox Court House:
Dark divisions sinking in the woods for a few hours' repose, would hear suddenly in the woods the boom of hostile guns and the clatter of the troops of the ubiquitous cavalry, and had to be up to hasten off. Thus pressed on all sides, driven like sheep before prowling wolves, amid hunger, fatigue, and sleeplessness, continuing day after day, they fared toward the rising sun:
"Such resting found the soles of unblest feet."
Yet to the very last the energy this daring cavalryman displayed was such as to extort our admiration. From the jaws of disaster he drew out the remnants of his command at Buffington. When foiled in the attempted crossing above, he headed for the Muskingum. Foiled here by the militia under REMKLE, he doubled on his track and turned again toward Blennerhasset Island. The clouds of dust that marked his track betrayed the movement and on three sides the pursuers closed in upon him. While they slept in peaceful expectation of receiving his surrender in the morning, he stole out along a hillside that had been thought impassable - his men walking in single file and leading their horses; and by midnight he was out of the toils, and once more marching hard to outstrip his pursuers. At last he found an unguarded crossing of the Muskingum at Eaglesport, above McConnellsville; and then, with an open country before him, struck out once more for the Ohio.
This time Governor TOD's sagacity was vindicated. He urged the shipment of troops by rail to Bellaire, near Wheeling; and by great-good fortune Major WAY, of the Ninth Michigan cavalry, received the orders. Presently this officer was on the scent. "MORGAN is making for Hammondsville," he telegraphed General BURNSIDE on the twenty-fifth, "and will attempt to cross the Ohio river at Wellsville. I have my section of battery, and shall follow him closely." He kept his word, and gave the finishing stroke. "MORGAN was attacked, with the remnant of his command, at 8 o'clock this morning," announced General BURNSIDE on the next day, July 26th, "at Salineville, by Major WAY, who, after a severe fight, routed the enemy, killed about thirty, wounded some fifty, and took some two hundred prisoners." Six hours later the long race ended: "I captured John MORGAN today, at 2 o'clock P. M.," telegraphed Major RUE, of the Ninth Kentucky cavalry, on the evening of the twenty-sixth, "taking three hundred and twenty-six prisoners, four hundred horses and arms."
Salineville is in Columbiana county, but a few miles below the most northerly point of the State touched by the Ohio river, and between Steubenville and Wellsville, nearly two-thirds of the way up the eastern border of the State. Over such distances had MORGAN passed, after the disaster at Buffington, which all had supposed certain to end his career, and so near had he come to making his escape from the State, with the handful he was still able to keep together.
The circumstances of the final surrender were peculiar, and subsequently led to an unpleasant dispute. MORGAN was being guided to the Pennsylvania line by a Mr. BRUBECK, who had gone out with a small squad of volunteers against him, but with whom, according to MOGAN's statement, an arrangement had been made that, on condition that he would disturb no property in the county, he was to be safely conducted out of it. Seeing by the clouds of dust on a road parallel with the one he was on that the cavalry force was rapidly gaining his front, and that thus his escape was definitely cut off, he undertook to make a virtue of his necessity and try to gain terms by volunteering surrender to his guide. BRUBECK eagerly swallowed the bait, and accepted the surrender upon condition that officers and men were to be immediately parolled. In a few minutes Major RUE was upon them. He doubted the propriety of such a surrender, and referred the case to General SHACKELFORD, the second in command in HOBSON's column, who at once disapproved and refused to recognize it.
MORGAN thereupon appealed to Governor TOD, as commander of the Ohio militia, claiming to have surrendered upon terms with one of his subordinates, and calling upon him to maintain the honor of his officer thus pledged.
I find the facts substantially as follows: a private citizen of New Lisbon, by the name of BRUBECK, went out with some fifteen or sixteen others to meet your forces, in advance of an organized military body from the same place, under the command of Captain CURRY. Said BRUBECK is not, and never was, a militia officer in the service of this State. He was captured by you, and travelled with you some distance before your surrender. Upon his discovering the regular military forces of the United States to be in your advance in line of battle, you surrendered to said BRUBECK, then your prisoner. Whether you supposed him to be a captain in the militia service or not, is entirely immaterial.
The officers of MORGAN's command - not so much, perhaps, because of the lack of other secure accommodations, as through a desire to gratify the popular feeling that they be treated rather as horse-thieves than as soldiers, and with a wish also to retaliate in kind for the close confinement to which the officers of Colonel STREIGHT's raiding party were then subjected to in rebel prisons - were immured in the cells of the Ohio penitentiary. They afterwards made bitter complaints of this indignity, as well as of the treatment there received, there-by only illustrating the different feelings with which men regard Andersonvilles and Salisburies from those with which they themselves regard from the inside places much less objectionable.
After some months of confinement, MORGAN himself and six other prisoners made their escape, on the night of the twenty-seventh of November, by cutting through the floors of their cells with knives carried off from the prison table, till they reached the air-chamber below; tunneling from that under the walls of the building into the outer yard, and climbing the wall that surrounds the grounds by the aid of ropes made from their bed-clothes. The State authorities were very much mortified at the escape, and ordered an investigation. It was thus disclosed that the neglect which enabled the prisoners to prosecute the tedious task of cutting through the stone floors undiscovered had its origin in the coarse-minded suggestion of one of the directors of the penitentiary that the daily sweeping of the cells be omited, and the "d__d rebles made sweep out their own cells." This poor effort to treat the prisoners of war worse than he treated the convicts enabled them to cover up their work and conceal it from any inspection of cells that was made. It was officially reported that misunderstandings between the military authorities at Columbus and the civil authorities of the penitentiary led to the escape. MORGAN quietly took the Little Miami train for Cincinnati on the night of his escape, leaped off it a little outside the city, made his way across the river, and was straightway concealed and, forwarded toward the confederate lines by his Kentucky friends. He lived to lead one more raid into the heart of his favorite "Blue Grass," to witness the decline of his popularity, to be harassed by officers in Richmond who did not understand him and by difficulties in his command, and finally to fall while fleeing through a kitchen garden in a morning skirmish in an obscure little village in East Tennessee. He left a name second only to those of FOREST and STUART among the cavalry men of the confederacy, and a character which, amid much to be condemned, was not without traces of a noble nature.
Of the fifty thousand militia
stated in round numbers as the total number taking the field in this
during the MORGAN raid, Hamilton county was reported by the adjutant
to have furnished fifteen companies, with an agregate of one thousand,
four hundred and sixty-one men on duty, to whom were paid by the State
the sum of eight thousand and one dollars. The military committees of
different counties through which MORGAN passed, including Hamilton
were called on by the governor to furnish full statements of the
both public and private, from the raid, and the names of the sufferers.
In 1864 the legislature ordered the appointment of a board of
to pass upon these claimes. - Messrs., Albert McVEIGH, George W.
and Henry S. BABBITT were appointed, passed over the track of MORGAN,
had public hearings for the examination of claims. In Hamilton county
hundred and thirty-six claims were presented - for damages done by the
rebels, sixty-two thousand six hundred and twenty-two dollars and
cents; for damages by Union forces commanded by Federal officers,
thousand two hundred and twenty-three dollars and fourteen cents; for
by Union forces not under such command, one hundred and twenty-seven
and fifty cents; - total sum claimed, eighty-seven thousand, nine
and seventy-three dollars, and one cent. The commission allowed - for
damage, fifty-three thousand, six hundred and forty-six dollars; damage
by Union troops commanded by United States officers, twenty thousand,
hundred and twenty-nine dollars; damage by Union troops not so
one hundred dollars; - total allowed, seventy-four thousand, two
and dollars. Property to the amount of four thousand four hundred and
dollars taken from Hamilton county was traced into possession of the
forces, and was duly accounted and paid for. The total expense of the
to the State as estimated by the governor, inclusive of the pay proper
of the militia, but exclusive of the heavy expense of subsisting and
them, was eight hundred and ninety-seven thousand dollars.
History of Hamilton Co. Index
Hamilton Co., OHGenWeb
© 2000 by Tina Hursh & Linda Boorom