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Morgan's Ohio Raid

The Following is transcribed from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Volume III Part II, p 634-635.

Morgan's Ohio Raid

          In the summer of 1863, the Confederate army at Tullahoma having been weakened by detachments for the defense of Vicksburg. Bragg found himself exposed to the risk of an attack by Rosecrans from Mufreesboro' simultaneously with a movement by Burnside from the Ohio to drive Buckner out of Knoxville. Bragg therefore determined to fall back to Chattanooga. To cover the retreat he ordered Brigadier General John H. Morgan with a picked force from his division of mounted infantry into Kentucky, breaking up the railroad, attacking Rosecrans's detachments, and threatening Louisville. To gain more time, Morgan wanted to extend the raid by a wide sweep beyond the Ohio, but Bragg would not consent.

          Morgan set out from Burkesville, on the 2d of July, with 2,460 men and 4 guns, ostensibly to execute Bragg's orders, but really bent on carrying out his own plan. Although ten thousand Federal troops under Generals Hartsuff and Judah were watching the Cumberland at various points, Morgan skillfully effected the difficult crossing, overcame Judah's opposition, and rode north, followed by all the Federal detachments within reach.

          On the 4th he attacked the 25th Michigan, Col. Orlando H. Moore, in a strong position guarding the bridge over the Green River, and drew off with heavy loss. On the 5th he defeated and captured the garrison of Lebanon, and then marched, by Springfield and Bardstown, to Brandenburg, on the Ohio, where he arrived on the morning of the 9th, and at once began crossing on two captured steamboats. The passage was disputed by a gun-boat, and by some home-guards with a field-piece on the Indiana shore, but by midnight the whole command was in Indiana. Twenty-four hours later General E. H. Hobson followed, leading the advance of Judah's forces in pursuit. But Indiana and Ohio were now in arms, and at every step their militia had to be eluded or overcome; to do either caused delay.

          Turning to the east, Morgan rode through Corydon, Salem, Vienna, Lexington, Paris, Vernon, Dupont, Sumansville, and Harrison, Ohio, detaching to burn bridges and confuse the pursuit, impressing fresh horses, his men pillaging freely. Under cover of a feint on Hamilton, Ohio, he marched by night unmolested through the suburbs of Cincinnati, and at last, after dark on the evening of the July 18th, reached the bank of the Ohio, near Buffington Bar and Blennerhassett's Island, where from the first he had planned to escape. Morning found his pursers closing in from  all directions. Morgan, with about half his men, eluded the net. (Of these many men were drowned, but about three hundred escaped across the river.) All the rest were killed or captured. (About 120 were killed and wounded, and 700 captured.) After nearly reaching the West Virginia shore Morgan himself returned, and with the remnant made for Pennsylvania, hotly pursued, and finally surrendered on the 26th of July, near Beaver Creek, with 364 officers and men. (Morgan was confine in the State Penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio, until November 27th, when he made his escape by tunneling.)

          Later on Morgan commanded in south-western Virginia. After another disastrous raid into Kentucky, he was killed at Greenville, Tennessee, on the 4th of September, 1864.

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