Civil War Arrives in Guernsey County with
Judie Perkowski The Daily Jeffersonian Published: August 21,
The Civil War, 1861-1865, was the darkest period in American
history. The North against the South, many times, brother
against brother. More than four million soldiers fought,
almost 600,000 perished. There were several reasons the
Civil War erupted, but the primary issue was whether the
states' rights to maintain slavery were superseded by the
federal government. Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 set
in motion a series of events that led to the catastrophic
war. By the time Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, seven
states had seceded from the Union because of Lincoln's
antislavery views. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces
opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Three days
later, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to counter the
Among the names of the Civil War's legendary military
leaders, none of which draws more adoration (from the South)
and animosity (from the North) than Brig. Gen. John Hunt
Morgan, whom, along with his calvary known infamously as
Morgan's Raiders rode more than 1,000 miles from Tennessee,
through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
The following description of Morgan's Raid in Ohio was
recorded in 1933, when Old Washington resident 86-year-old
Elizabeth McMullin recounted what she witnessed when the
Raiders rode into Old Washington, formerly known as
Washington, in Guernsey County.
'The Most Exciting Day in the History of Washington'
(Old) Washington, Thursday, July 23, 1863 --
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth McMullin was scared, and worried
about what would happen when she heard that Morgan and his
men were coming to town.
"We were all frightened ... The townspeople hid their
horses and buried their valuables, The town was almost
defenseless, since most of their men had joined the Union
and gone off to war. Capt. John Laughlin, who lives south of
town, was home on furlough and advised the residents to
offer no resistance. Nearly all the town gathered at the
corner where the Campbell's Station-Winchester Road crossed
"Riding two abreast, the rebels came up the road. Rev.
Ferguson, our Presbyterian minister, stepped out in front
and waved a white handkerchief. The rebels did not pass
through as we had hoped, but dismounted and gathered along
the street. They entered homes and ordered dinners to be
prepared for them immediately. Morgan and his staff of 14
men went to the American Hotel, rebel guards were placed
around the town ... Anyone could come in, but nobody was
permitted to go out.
"Morgan and his staff ordered dinner at the hotel and the
Smiths called in some of us older girls to help prepare the
meal. I waited on the table ... His soldiers having eaten
their dinner and fed their horses, were lying on the street
from one end of town to the other ... Suddenly a gun was
fired by one of the rebel guards as a signal that Gen.
Shackelford was near. The soldiers ran to the horses and
headed toward the Winchester road (now Morgan's Way). There
were in (Old) Washington for two or three hours.
"We saw Shackelford's army gathering on Cemetery Hill.
They began firing at the Confederates, who, in turn, shot
back. Above the noise of the battle we could hear voices
from the Federal lines ordering women and children to run to
cellars. I ran to one that was nearest, where 20 or 30 other
persons had gathered. The shooting continued. The Union men
were firing from the south, the Confederates from the north.
We could hear the bullets whizzing over our heads, and the
crash of broken glass. It was terrible.
"The shooting ceased and we ventured out. Morgan's men
had gone to Winchester (Winterset) and Shackelford's
soldiers were sweeping across the town. Two rebels lay dead
in the street and others were wounded. Some of the
Confederates were cut off from Morgan's main army and were
taken prisoners. The were placed in the old academy building
and guarded until the next morning when they were marched to
Cambridge and locked in the jail. They were afterwards taken
"Some of us girls went into the room that had been
occupied by Morgan at the hotel. On the bureau I found a
picture of a young man. Some of the Confederates who were
held as prisoners at the academy said his name was William
Cloud, Morgan's physician. I have the picture yet, a
reminder of the most exciting day in the history of
Who was Morgan and why were his men called Raiders?
John Hunt Morgan was born June 1, 1825 in Huntsville,
Ala., one of 12 children, the oldest son of six, and six
daughters, born to Calvin and Henrietta Hunt Morgan,
aristocrats and slave owners. In 1830, the family moved to
Morgan attended Transylvania University in Lexington for
two years before he was expelled for dueling. He fought in
the U.S. Mexican War and attained the rank of first
lieutenant in a calvary regiment.
He mustered out in 1847 and commenced the manufacture of
hemp and engaged in the general merchandising business left
to him by his grandfather.
John was married twice. First to 18-year-old Rebecca
Gratz Bruce in 1848. In 1853, his wife delivered a stillborn
son and contracted an infection in her leg, known at the
time as "milk leg." John cared for his wife until she died
in 1861. John married Martha "Maddie" Ready of Tennessee in
1863. They had two daughters, only one survived named
Johnnie, born in 1865 after John's death.
With the onset of the Civil War Morgan enlisted in the
Confederate Army in Tennessee as a captain of the Kentucky
Volunteers. He proved to be an able cavalry leader and
served under the Gen. Braxton Bragg's command. In 1862, he
raised the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, shortly thereafter
his rank was raised to colonel.
Bragg sent Morgan and his command on raids against the
Union army's supply depot and transportation lines in
Kentucky and Tennessee. At Huntsville, Tenn. Morgan
succeeded in capturing an entire garrison of 1,200 Union
soldiers, acquired several hundred horses and destroyed
massive quantities of supplies. The Confederate government
promoted Morgan to brigadier general after his victory.
Four of his brothers also joined the Confederacy and
accompanied Morgan in his Ohio-Indiana Raid.. His youngest
brother, 1st Lt. Thomas Morgan, was killed when Gen.
Morgan's men attacked a Union garrison in Kentucky in 1863.
Morgan never dressed in a uniform, unless he was
masquerading as a Yankee. His "uniform" was a linen jacket,
void of any rank insignia, white shirt, gray pants and
knee-high leather boots with spurs. He topped off his
swashbuckling look with a wide-brimmed felt hat. He was
tall, handsome, sometimes moody, very charismatic, and had
the respect of all he commanded.
On May 1, 1863, Morgan and his men were presented with a
congratulatory vote by the Confederate Congress, that said
Morgan and his men were "entitled to the love and gratitude
of their countrymen for the magnificent feat of preserving
Middle Tennessee for the (CSA) government."
Morgan's raids were a means to and end, they were meant
to instill fear, to become a distraction and a diversion for
Gen. Bragg's forces. His detachment, now known as Morgan's
Raiders, followed a general course of small and scattered
units. Morgan was a brilliant strategist who employed
guerilla tactics. He was anointed "Thunderbolt of the
Confederacy" by an adoring South and described as "King of
the Horse Thieves" by Northern sympathizers.
The Raiders robbed farms, stores and building with food
supplies for men and horses, and demanded dinners for his
hungry forces at local homes, but usually refrained from
destroying personal property. They stole whatever they could
carry or eat. He threatened business owners to pay a ransom
or their businesses would be burned to the ground. They left
their tired horses and took fresh ones, and was always one
step ahead of Union troops, rattling the nerves of many
Union leaders -- especially Union Gen. John Shackelford.
Morgan's most famous exploit -- his raid into Indiana and
Ohio and the Battle at Buffington Island
Morgan proposed a plan to Gen. Bragg that would allow
Morgan to lead his forces behind enemy lines and cross the
Ohio River into Indiana and Ohio. He said his men had more
experience fighting behind enemy lines, and because Union
soldiers would be chasing him, they would forget about
Bragg. To which Bragg responded with a resounding "No." He
told Morgan it was a good idea to create turmoil in
Kentucky, and maybe even capture Louisville (in hopes of
signing on more men for the Confederacy) but, under no
circumstances was he to cross the Ohio River. Morgan ignored
Morgan and his force of 2,460 cavalrymen departed from
McMinnville, Tenn., on June 11, 1863, intending to divert
the attention of the Union army from southern forces in the
state. July 2, Morgan rode into Kentucky where his admiring
public openly welcomed his men. After several skirmishes,
Morgan and his force of now 1,800 men, headed toward Ohio.
July 8, Morgan seized two steamboats on the Ohio River to
transport his men to Indiana. Four days later, the Raiders
left Indiana with the Federal cavalry in hot pursuit. On
July 13, as the Indiana militia descended upon Morgan's men
the Confederates entered Ohio where they destroyed bridges,
railroads and government buildings and spread terror across
southern and central Ohio.
Union Generals Hobson and Burnside were in the hunt
calling for soldiers and gunboats to patrol the river.
Burnside surmised that Morgan would attempt to cross the
river at a shallow ford near Buffington Island. Burnside
sent a militia regiment from Marietta to hold the ford until
the Federal forces could arrive. Morgan arrived the evening
of July 18, but decided not to attack the militia until
morning. It was a big mistake. By morning, the gunboats and
Union soldiers arrived under the command of Generals Hobson
and Judah, blocking Morgan's escape. On July 19, 1863, the
Battle at Buffington Island commenced, the only major battle
fought in Ohio during the Civil War. More than 750 of
Morgan's men were captured or killed. Two of Morgan's
brothers, Richard and Charleton, were among the prisoners.
Approximately 200 Raiders managed to escaped into West
Virginia, but Morgan chose to remain on the Ohio side with
his dwindling force.
Finale -- Morgan and his Raiders captured
Morgan and his men retreated westward and then turned to
a northeastern direction through 12 Ohio counties before the
Union cavalry, under the command of Major W.B. Way and Major
G.W. Rue, surrounded the Confederates. Morgan and 350 of his
men were captured July 27, 1863, in West Point, Columbiana
County, Ohio, It was the northern-most point of penetration
in Ohio by the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Northern soldiers took Morgan and his men to Columbus
where they were separated. On October 1, 1863, the enlisted
men were confined in the Camp Chase Confederate prison camp.
Morgan and six of his officers were jailed in the Ohio
Penitentiary, and immediately made plans to escape.
On Nov. 27, 1863, Morgan and three of his officers
tunneled out of their cell into an airshaft which led to the
prison yard. They fashioned a rope from their prison
blankets and scaled down the wall to freedom.
Money smuggled into the prison in a Bible by his Morgan's
sister allowed the men to purchase train tickets to
Cincinnati. With help from Southern sympathizers, Morgan
eventually made his escape across the Ohio River back into
Kentucky and returned to the Confederate military where he
led forces in Tennessee and Kentucky.
On Sept. 4, 1864, Northern soldiers surrounded a
farmhouse near Greenville, Tenn, where Morgan was hiding
out. He attempted to escape but was shot and killed by Union
soldiers. Gen. John Hunt Morgan was dead at the age of 39.
According to the 1868 Louisville (Ky.) Journal, Morgan
was first buried in Richmond, Va. After the war his remains
were brought back to Lexington, Ky., and were buried in
Lexington Cemetery, April 17, 1868. His brother, Tom, who
was also killed in action, was buried in Lebanon, Ky., in
1863, His remains were removed to Lexington where at double
ceremony he was buried next to his brother. Morgan's funeral
was as impressive as his short life with thousands paying
homage to their wartime hero.
Morgan's Raid is more famous in local historical records
than in national ones, as it was considered by many,
especially Northerners, to be nothing more than a skirmish
for the glory of its leaders. They site few positive results
for the Southern military. It provided hope to Confederate
civilians that their military could still succeed following
their victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in early July of
1863, And, while it generated fear in the civilian
population, it also inspired many of these people to fight
even harder to defeat the Confederacy.
Approximately 4,400 Ohioans filed claims for compensation
with the federal government for items they lost to the
Confederates during The Raid. The claims amounted to
$678,915 with the government authorizing $576,225.
Kentucky and Indiana have the John Hunt Morgan Heritage
Trail that allows tourists to follow the route through their
states, along with websites and written tour guides. An
equestrian stature of Gen. Morgan was erected and dedicated
in 1910 in downtown Lexington, Ky.
Ohio's plans for a similar formal trail have not yet come
to fruition, but the state has erected more than 100
separate historical markers commemorating specific actions
or towns visited by the Raiders. The state has placed a John
Hunt Morgan historical marker on the site of the Ohio
Penitentiary, in remembrance of his imprisonment and daring
The Library of Congress
Wolfe, William G., "The Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio."
Booth, Russell, "A Brief History of Guernsey County, Ohio."
Horwitz, Lester V., "The Longest Raid of the Civil War."
Ohio History Central