From the 'Illustrated historical and business review of Meigs and Gallia counties, Ohio', originally published in 1891. Transcribed and furnished by Sharon Rickerson.

The Morgan Raid (pg. 39)

John Morgan, the famous raider, had, up to this time, July 1863, made numerous raids and forays across the mountains of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee into the Blue Grass region of Kentucky. These forays were a source of alarm to the Unionists, and exultation to the secessionists. And, now that he had actually invaded Northern territory, even crossing the Great Ohio, and though pursued fastly descended his forces to the east around Cincinnati and threatening even the State's capital.

Let us view the situation here in Meigs county, even the possibility upon us of Morgan's evading all motives of capture and coming down upon even our own quiet community.

The Telegraph and daily papers announced the raid of Morgan into Indiana, but little did the citizens of Meigs county think that the marauders would resist all capture and come down on their own quiet little Meigs, but such was destined to be, and it was manifest Morgan was making for this region, and on Friday morning, July 17th, the militia companies that had been unable to report at Marietta, numbering about three or four hundred together with the citizens began obstructing the road over which Morgan must pass and preparing to "bushwhack" the invaders. Scouts reported them on the way from Jackson, stealing horses, sacking stores, robbing private families and occasionally committing cold-blooded murders on the way. They camped on Friday night in Rutland, and all night rumors of all kinds startled the citizens, who from hour to hour expected an attack. No attack was made, and the gun-boats which had quietly dropped their anchors in front of Pomeroy were ready to give the invaders a welcome. It was supposed then that Hobson's forces were thirty or forty miles in the rear, and Judah's nearly as far. The object of our little force of militia was to obstruct the roads and harrass the rebels in the hope of detaining them until the pursuing forces could overtake them. In this they succeeded so far as to detain them some eight or ten hours. Morgan was deceived by the "bushwhacking" our boys gave him, supposing they were but the pickets of a large force in town. Early in the day he moved towards Pomeroy and Middleport on several roads, but was met by our boys behind their blockades, with such a reception as deceived Morgan, as before stated. He might, however, have succeeded in reaching town, but for the timely arrival at that moment, of the 23d Ohio, and 18th Va. regiments from the Kanawha, who, on double-quick, went to the relief of our militia; these blue coats diverted the rebels from their attempt to reach town, and they passed up the creek by the old fair grounds, a mile in our rear, and so onwards to Chester.

Our militia boys stood fire like veterans, the balls whistling round them like hornets from a disturbed nest, but none of them were hurt. The rebels did not escape so well, several being tumbled from their horses by our skirmishers.

Just before night, and about the time Morgan reached Chester, Gen. Judah's forces filed into town. Never was soldier's presence more welcome. They had ridden thirty miles, and were exhausted, tired and hungry. They stopped in the street some three or four hours to feed their jaded horses, and refresh and rest the weary men, and then followed on in the pursuit, correctly judging that Morgan was making for Buffington's Island, with a view of escaping into the Virginia hills. Soon after Gen. Judah left here our scouts reported Gen. Hobson passing up the road in the rear of the town on the trail of Morgan. It was a night of anxious suspense to our people, but it wore away at last, and soon on Sunday the report reached here, that the battle had opened in earnest at Buffington. In the fast flying and contradictory rumors, the desire to hear the result was most intense. Couriers were sent out, but each returned with a different story. All, however, agreed that Morgan was whipped, creating such a feeling of exultation as cannot be described.

It is not our purpose, as we have not room, to give a description of the fight. We could only do so from the representations of others, and not from personal observations. General results is all we are attempting, and the result of the collision was the defeat of Morgan in his attempt to cross the river--the killing of a number of his men, the wounding of more, and the capture of about eight hundred prisoners, with all his train, and an immense amount of stolen plunder which the thieves had collected from the stores and houses they had sacked on the route.

We think the truth of history requires us to say that there were some blunders committed, by which means Morgan, and a large part of his forces escaped at that time. He was effectually whipped--was completely hemmed in--had lost all of his artillery--was confused, wearied out, discouraged, and ready to surrender. In this state of things several of the subordinate officers begged the permission to take them at once, as they felt sure they could do. They were not permitted, being told that Morgan could not possibly get away, and would surely surrender without another fight, or attempt to escape. But, unfortunately, Morgan found a pilot who led him by private path-ways out of the trap, and our commander waked up to see his game gone.

About two hundred succeeded in crossing at Buffington, before the gun-boats got there. The Marietta militia, who were on the ground to resist his passage, spiked their cannon, threw them over the bank and fled without firing a shot, thus leaving the ford clear. But, fortunately, the gunboats arrived in time to prevent the main body from crossing. It is supposed that about thirty were drowned.

Morgan having been thus led out of the trap, proceeded with his force to Bellville, where about one hundred more succeeded in crossing when the gunboat made its appearance and drove them back. Our forces were again on his trail and his immediate capture, was considered sure. In fact he was considered captured. It was reported on high official authority that Morgan and his whole army had surrendered there to Gen. Scammon. We suppose the officers of the gunboats believed the story, for they immediately left the scene, passed Pomeroy early in the day and proceeded on their way to Cincinnati! Soon after the gunboats had passed down, however, word was brought that the story of the capture of Morgan was false, that he was on his way back with three thousand men and would, undoubtly burn Pomeroy in retaliation for the resistance he had me here on his way up. Lips unaccustomed to swear then gave vent to oaths as sharp and finished as if turned out from old practioners. These curses were leveled at whoever controlled the movement of affairs. Morgan, with three thousand of his desperadoes were upon us, and the gunboats steaming away with the pleasant falsehood that he had surrendered to Gen. Scammon! It must be confessed that the prospect of having our town sacked under such circumstances, was not the most pleasing. It was hoped for a while that the boats would not certainly pass out out of reach suddenly; but that hope was soon dispelled. Souts came in from Harrisonvile and Rutland and reported Morgan on the way to Middleport with all speed. He laughed at those whom he captured and questioned, when told he would be met by the gunboats! He knew exactly when the gunboats passed and knew he would not be disturbed by them. The excitement of Saturday, was nothing to this. Our people could have stood to be sacked then without much grumbling. But knowing that any mischief Morgan could do them now would be the result of the sheerest blundering of those they had hailed the day before as their delivers made them doubly mad. Every man and boy who could get a gun of any kind determined to give the great "raider" the best fight he could, and moved off to meet, to intercept the rebels, who it was now ascertained were making for eight mile Island to cross, and that Hobson was close in the rear. The rebels reaching the ford, fired into a steamer coming up to compel her to ferry them over, and a few had entered the water to cross, when the Condor steamed in sight! Morgan mistook her for a gunboat and skedaddled.

Worn out, disappointed, and hopeless, Morgan's crowd went on awhile, when, overcome with fatigue, they tumbled down to rest! In this condition our pursuing forces came upon them! But we could not well take them while asleep and to wake them up in a hurry might cause some of them to get hurt; so a flag of truce was sent to Morgan by our commander. We don't know what message it carried, but believe it was something like an apology for disturbing him after he had encamped for the night, and respectfully suggesting to him the propriety of surrendering. General Morgan thought probably he had better surrender, but would like to have an hour or two to consider the matter--Ordinary politeness required that the time should be given. It was given, and at its expiration Morgan and all his men who were not too profoundly asleep to be awakened, were several miles away! We gobbled up about 1020 that he left, and went in the pursuit.

It is hardly necessary to attempt a detail of the chase since leaving this section, as the reports are too conflicting to be depended upon. They have been chased from this, through Gallia, Vinton, Athens, Morgan, Muskingum, Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Carroll, and Jefferson, into Columbiana County, where Morgan and some 600 of his men who had escaped up to that time, were captured, on Sunday the 26th, just a week from the date of his defeat at Buffington. The chase is unexampled by anything on record, and its results will prove of great importance.

To the rebels the loss was great. Morgan had acquired a reputation which few of the traitors enjoyed. He was furnished with an army of 5000 picked men, the very flower of the South, as to physical endurance. They were mounted on the best horses which Tennessee and Kentucky could produce. They were armed with the best of guns, revolvers, sabers &c, which British or American armories could furnish, and had one of the finest batteries of artillery in the country. All this was lost to the South and acquired by the Union.

The material lose in arms, horses, munitions, &c., was not less than $500,000 in good money, and could not be replaced for $5, 000,000 in Confederate funds. But this was not the worst loss to the South. She had lost the prestige which the name of Morgan had heretofore carried with it. It was upon the whole, one of the severest inflictions of the war.


We see, by the papers, that the track of the marauders, from the time they crossed the Ohio, marked with scenes of theft, robbery, arson and murder. We have only space for a few items which occurred in this immediate vicinity. Hard as they were pressed they exercised their thieving propensity to the fullest extent. From the best information we can gather, more than a thousand horses were stolen by the gang, in this county. Every store on the line of their march, we believe, without an exception, was sacked and utterly robbed. Thousands of dollars worth of goods which could be of no use to them were carried off and destroyed, seemingly in pure wantonness. Many private houses were entered and robbed of everything of value that could be found, even to women's shawls and children's clothing. But in this they seemed to be as capricious as wanton; for many escaped unharmed, nothing being taken from them but their horses, and provisions. Many of the citizens along the route were captured and robbed of their money, watches, and even penknives. Some were compelled, at the threat of their lives, to pilot them through their neighborhoods. Some of these they abused outrageously, and some they treated respectfully and even offered to reward liberally. Truth compels us to say that they did not, as a general thing, show special favors to those who announced themselves as "Vallandigham Democrats." In fact we have heard of several instances where they not only treated such pretensions with contempt, but actually committed personal violence upon them, denouncing them as "cowardly poltroons" for occupying the position they did. This may have been because they did not believe they were honest in their statement, not conceiving how men could be so base as to claim friendship with the invaders of their country. This we think is the truest explanation, for we have heard of some instances in this county, and see it stated as the case in several others, that they exacted a pledge to vote for Vallandigham as a condition of the release of captured citizens, in addition to the ordinary parole. Beyond Chester they stopped a large funeral procession, took the coffin from the hearse and stole and carried away every horse in the procession. Time will not permit us to recount the thousandth part of the scenes of pillage and destruction of private property. The fine new bridge across Shade River, at Chester, and the Mills at the same place, were burned, in pure wantonness.

But these outrages only proved Morgan to be the leader of a band of thieves, robbers and incendiaries. To the disgrace of human nature, and as if to place the gang in its true light before the world, they committed numerous coldblooded murders, and attempted to commit many more by shooting at unarmed and peaceable citizens, many of whom escaped as if by miracle, having their clothes perforated by the balls of their murderous weapons. We give a few instances which occurred in our immediate neighborhood.

Holiday Hysell, an old man, seventy years of age, living four miles from town, "hazzahed!" for the Union. For this they shot him dead!

Dr. Hudson, known to all our citizens, also over seventy years of age, universally repected by all who knew him, lived neighbor to Hysell and started to go to him, when the dastardly murderers shot him, inflicting a mortal wound, from which he died the next day. In the murder of Hysell, they had the "traitor's plea" that a word spoken for the "Union" maddened them in their mission for its destruction. But for the murder of Dr. Hudson, they had not even that pretense of an excuse. He was simply on a mission of mercy; he taunted them with no word of patriotism or otherwise; his murder was simply cold-blooded, ferocious, brutal, devilish!

At Rock Spring, they captured Isaac Carleton Jr., son of Carleton of Syracuse, and another young man whose name we do not know. After robbing them and keeping them some time they released them and ordered them to run on "double quick." They did so, and when at some distance the demons fired on them as hunters would upon wolves. Carleton was shot in the back, the ball passing through his body; and out of the right breast, and left for dead. His companion escaped with some holes in his clothes.

We cannot close without giving one instance more of the thieving propensity of Morgan's gang. Between two and three hundred had been captured by our militia, and confined in the Court House. In one case one hundred and twenty-five of them surrendered to seventeen of our boys, and begged like whipped dogs not to be shot. But safely in the Court House, and finding that they were not to be treated as they knew they deserved, the old propensity returned. The Ladies of the Soldier's Aid Society used one of the jury rooms in the Court House as the depot of the clothing and other stores prepared for our sick and wounded soldiers. They had a large stock on hand. And these precious thieves, while prisoners, broke open the room and stole the whole stock! Yes, these very villians, who, two days before, one hundred and twenty-five of them, with arms in their hands, begged for their lives at the hands of seventeen men, had the audacity to rob this depository, and, dressed in the stolen clothes, marched out of the house threatening vengeance against the "d---d Abolition town;" swearing that as soon as paroled they would come back and burn it up!

We have made this article too long already, but must say, in conclusion, that the conduct of our soldiers won the admiration of all our citizens. There were troops here from Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. They camped in our streets, in our yards, in every vacant space in and about our houses and gardens, they had free access everywhere at all hours, and no damage was done! We don't believe there was ever a considerable crowd of men congregated together at any place where the rights and property of the citizens were so scrupuously respected. And on the other hand we feel proud of our citizens for the noble liberality with which they treated the soldiers. Every latch string was out, and every blue coat was welcome as long as a morsel of provision remained. We heard hundreds of the soldiers say they never met with such a reception before, and that the remembrance of Pomeroy would be a bright spot in their recollections of the war.