Morgan’s Raid

In June of 1863, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his group of Cavalrymen began an 1,100-mile raid that would bring Confederate troops within 40 miles of Pittsburgh. Morgan’s Raid was meant to coincide with the Confederate Vicksburg and Gettysburg campaigns. Morgan and his 2,460 handpicked cavalrymen rode out from Sparta, Tennessee through Kentucky where they were met with cheers from Confederate sympathizers. As they attempted to cross the Green River, Morgan’s troops encountered the 25th Michigan Infantry at Tebb’s Bend as the Battle of Gettysburg was occurring. On July 5, 1863, Morgan captured a very small Union Garrison at Lebanon, Kentucky. Morgan and his troops continued north crossing into Indiana. Morgan had a union split off and head East to confuse Union soldiers, but the unit was soon captured by the Union. After crossing into Indiana, a member of Morgan’s unit tapped telegraph lines and gave the war office several different descriptions of which way the troops were going, this caused great concern throughout the state as some thought the troops were headed to Indianapolis. Morgan and his troops continued East, crossing into Ohio. Major General Ambrose Burnside who was the commander of the Department of the Ohio for the Union Army tried to quickly organize Local troops and militia to stop and capture Morgan and his troops. Morgan and his troops were able to outflank Burnside and his troops and continued east through Indiana, pillaging food and supplies along the way. On July 13, 1863, Morgan and his troops crossed into Ohio, passing just north of Cincinnati.

Morgan - American Battlefield Trust
Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan – American Battlefield Trust

“The raid of the rebel Morgan into Indiana, which he seems to be pursuing with great boldness, has thoroughly aroused the people of that State and of Ohio to a sense of their danger. On 13th General Burnside declared martial law in Cincinnati, and in Covington and Newport on the Kentucky side. All business is suspended until further orders, and all citizens are required to organize in accordance with the direction of the State and municipal authorities. There is nothing definite as to Morgan’s whereabouts; but it is supposed that he will endeavor to move around the city of Cincinnati and cross the river between there and Maysville. The militia is concentrating, in obedience to the order of Governor Tod.”

Morgan and his Cavalrymen continued across Ohio, bypassing Burnside’s troops guarding Cincinnati, The Ohio Governor and General Burnside called for all available men to form militias and take up arms against the invaders. Morgan and his men encountered multiple skirmishes as they crossed Ohio, continuing to pillage and steal items along the way. Morgan’s troops reached the Ohio River, Burnside had troops and a gunboat waiting for Morgan there. Morgan and his men arrived there on the evening of July 18, 1863, Morgan decided not to engage the Union troops with daylight fading. By morning, the Union troops were had the advantage and the Battle of Buffington Island began. 750 of Morgan’s troops were captured by the Union, Morgan and his 400 remaining troops headed North through Ohio, not far from the river. Morgan and his men took rest in Triadelphia, WV, about 20 miles from the Pennsylvania border. On July 26, Morgan and his men had their final encounter with Union troops at Salinesville, Ohio, after Union soldiers had received notice that Morgan and his men passed just West of Steubenville. After a brief encounter, Morgan and his men were captured, and the raid ended. The reaction in the Pittsburgh area of the raid was one of fear, earthworks were built up and reinforced around the city and troops based in Pittsburgh were readied for an attack that luckily never came.

Entry_of_Morgan's_Raiders_into_Washington,_Ohio - Ohio History Central
Morgan in Washington, Ohio – Ohio Historical Society

One of the issues with the panic caused from the Confederate incursions was that many companies and the City of Pittsburgh itself too on expenses fortifying the city for a potential attack. While the City and its businesses would have had much to lose in a Confederate invasion, they felt they should be paid a common wage. The City of Pittsburgh billed the federal government $73,000 for workers and supplies, however, denied the claims and refused payment. The city continued to fight for his citizens and businesses. The U.S. Congress finally agreed to pay the city for these expenses in 1905. Payment was finally made in 1913, 50 years after the work had been done.

Another important part of the Pittsburgh area’s role in the Civil War was the old Western Penitentiary which was in what is now West Park in Pittsburgh’s Northside, Then Allegheny City. The first two prisoners arrived in Pittsburgh with many of the wounded from the Battle of Shiloh, the two men were also wounded and treated at the Marine Hospital in what is now Pittsburgh’s Wood Run neighborhood. After they were cleared by the staff at the Marine Hospital, they were transferred to Western Penitentiary. On June 9, 1863, 2,000-Rebel prisoners arrived in Pittsburgh and marched through the streets from the Pennsylvania Railroad station to another train headed for the prisoner camp ate Fort Delaware, these men had been captured by General Sherman’s troops at the Battle of Vicksburg. From the Summer of 1863 until Spring 1864, 111 Confederate prisoners were held at Western Penitentiary, these men were all from Morgan’s Raid. After Morgan and several of his officers escaped form the Ohio State Prison in Columbus, the 111 prisoners at Western Penitentiary were separated and placed in individual cells away from each other. notification of the change of their confinement was sent to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and published in the Pittsburgh Gazette on December 27, 1863.

“Humanity and justice for your captured officers require that you have their present situation told you. In Western Penitentiary, Allegheny City, there are 106 (actually 111) of Morgan’s officers, principally Lieutenants. Since the escape of General Morgan, they have all been separated, put in the condemned cells and kept there day and night. The are allowed to cook twice a week, a small allowance of bacon and a few cold potatoes.”  – Warden Captain Birmingham.

Morgans-Raid-by-M-Kunstler-1080 - Montgomery County History
Morgan’s Raid – Montgomery History, Ohio


Ohio History Central. n.d. Ohio History Connection – Morgan’s Raid. Accessed April 2018.

Fox, Arthur B. 2002. Pittsburgh During the American Civil War 1860-1865

Harper’s Weekly. 1863. July 25: 467.

Historic Destinations in Ohio

Continuing the series of historic sites to visit for free or inexpensively, this week, we go to Ohio. The sites listed below are free to visit unless otherwise noted. The descriptions below are a mix of my words and the words of the sites.

Allen County Museum and History Center – Lima OH – The Allen County Historical Society has helped preserve the rich history of Allen County and Lima, Ohio for over 100 years. The museum has exhibits featuring transportation, industry, local art and photographs as well as a rocks and minerals exhibit.

Southeast Ohio History Center – Athens OH – The Athens County Historical Society and Museum showcase the history of Athens County. The collection features permanent and changing exhibits that explore the region’s history. Genealogists are available to assist visitors with researching family history.

Historic Bear’s Mill – Greenville OH – Bears Mill is a working grain mill still powered by hydro-motors from the waterway that passes by. Self guided tours are free during regular business hours.

Buffington Island Monument – Portland OH – The Buffington Island Monument is a monument to Ohio civil war soldiers who fought raiders from the Confederacy during Morgan’s Raid. There is no website for the site, the address is 55890 State Route 124 in Portland, Ohio.

Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis Historic Site – Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Toledo, Ohio is the historic battle site where General Anthony Wayne had a decisive victory resulting in the Indians of the Northwest Territory signing the Treaty of Greenville. The treaty gave the southern and eastern regions of Ohio to the settlers. The name Fallen Timbers was derived due to a massive windstorm knocking down trees just before the battle. The park also has a monument honoring Wayne, the soldiers, and Indians who died there.

Fort Amanda – Wapakoneta OH – Fort Amanda captures what war was like in 1812. Visitors can read the diary of Ohio militiaman Ensign William Schillinger, which provides a daily account from everything like the weather, events unfolding, personal thoughts, and other observations. The fort itself served as an important supply depot during the War of 1812. It included five blockhouses, cabins, and storage buildings. The walls of the fort were nearly 12-feet above ground.

Gnadenhutten Museum and Memorial – Gnadenhutten OH – Gnadenhutten, Ohio’s oldest existing settlement, prospered until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War when the Indians were driven from their homes. In February 1782, they were allowed to return to their village. On March 8, 1782, following a night of hymn singing and prayer, 90 men, women and children were massacred and all of the cabins were set on fire by the Pennsylvania Militia. Today, a museum, mass grave and monument, and two reconstructed log buildings commemorate this tragic event. In 1798, the village was re-established as a white settlement. A 35-foot monument was erected on the grounds of the Historical Park. The museum houses artifacts as well as an extensive arrowhead collection.

Inscription Rock – Port Clinton OH – Inscription rock has Native American petroglyphs that are dated between 1200 and 1600 BCE. To reach the island, you must take a the Kelley’s Island ferry, information for that is available on the website.

Leo Petroglyph State Memorial – Ray OH – Leo Petroglyph State Memorial has around 37 inscriptions in sandstone marking the culture of the Fort Ancient Indians, dating between the years 1000 and 1650. The drawings, who’s meanings have not yet been translated, are of Indians and animals representing the time and region. Today, visitors can view these creations as well as a scenic ravine, gorge, and cliffs.

Lima Firefighters Memorial Museum – Lima OH – The Lima Firefighters Memorial Museum is a local tribute honoring the brave firefighters of the area. It features vintage displays depicting their history of service to the surrounding community. Here, you’ll see a horse-drawn steam pumper from the 1800’s, a memorial to those who were lost in service, and of course homage paid to firefighters past and present.

Mahler Museum – Berea OH – The Mahler Museum is dedicated to the local history of women in the Berea area. The museum documents women’s history from the 1800’s through the 20th century and had women’s activist records from 1882 – 1936.

Mansfield Soldiers and Sailors Memorial – Mansfield OH – The Mansfield Soldiers & Sailors Memorial was built in 1888 and is the oldest building in Richland County. It displays artifacts of the county’s military, civil, and natural history artifacts.

Massillon Museum – Massilon OH – The Massillon Museum has a room filled with circus memorabilia. Local history and its many artifacts are found in this museum as well. The museum itself is located in the former Stark Dry Goods building, which was renovated to house the museum and its belongings.

For further free sites in Ohio, visit HERE! I hop you get out to enjoy some of these sites. Next week we will focus on New York State also a non-series post coming out on Friday.