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Morgan’s Raid


In the summer of 1863, Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan led 2,460 cavalry men on a long raid across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, before remnants of his force escaped southward through West Virginia. This raid was the only time a large Southern force entered Indiana or Ohio. The raiders led the local militias and growing numbers of regular Union troops on a wild chase across three states.

In planning his ambitious 1863 raid, Morgan sought to carry the war to the North. Crossing into Indiana on July 9, 1863, he proceeded to push his cavalry to Cincinnati by the 14th. Though his units spread destruction and havoc across southern Ohio, they lost men and horses quickly. The northern forces closed in on Morgan at Buffington Island, Ohio, across the river from Ravenswood, West Virginia. On the morning of July 19th, a battle was fought here that sealed Morgan’s fate. The 13th West Virginia Infantry was part of the blocking force. The Union men were aided by several gunboats guarding the fords.

The defeated Confederates began to swim the river to the West Virginia side in small groups. Many drowned, but those that did make it were helped back to Southern lines by West Virginia Confederate supporters who hid them and gave them food and guidance. Several hundred Confederates, often aided by local Confederate partisan rangers, eventually filtered through West Virginia to rejoin the Confederate army. Morgan had fled farther north along the river and was captured a week later near East Liverpool, Ohio.

Written by Greg Carroll