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Morgan County, Ohio
History & Genealogy


of some of its
By Charles Robertson, M. D.
Revised and Extended by the Publishers
L. H. Watkins & Co.

 pg. 227 - 235

His raid in Ohio - Morgan's Retreat - He Encamps in Deerfield Township - Experience of the Zanesville Scouts - Consternation at McConnelsville on Receipt of a Despatch, "Morgan is Coming" - The Crossing of the River at Eagleport by the Rebels - The Skirmish - A Citizen Killed - Capture and Imprisonment of Morgan - His Escape - Supplementary Documents.

     ON the 2d of July, 1863, with a force of about 3,000 men, Morgan crossed the Cumberland River at Turkey Bend, near Burksville, Ky., and thence onward to Columbia, Adair County; he crossed Green River in Hart County, proceeding thence to Campbellsville, in Taylor County, and Lebanon, Mairon County, reaching the  Ohio River at Bradensburg, Mead County, Ky., sixty miles below Louisville.  There he crossed the Ohio into Indiana, having traversed that part of Kentucky in five days.  His course in Indiana was from Harrison through the counties bordering on the Ohio River to Dearborn County.  On the 13th he was at Harrison, in Hamilton County, Ohio, at 1 p. m., and on that night, with his entire force, he passed around and through the suburbs of Cincinnati, through Glendale, crossing the Little Miami Railroad at daylight in sight of Camp Dennison, eight or ten miles from Cincinnati, halted and rested and fed his horses, and at night encamped at Williamsburg, Clermont County, within twenty-eight miles of Cincinnati.
     On the night of the 14th at 12 o'clock he passed through or near Georgetown, Brown County.  On the 10th, at the same hour, he was at West Union, Adams County, ten miles from the river; thence he went to Piketon, Pike County, Jackson, Jackson County, and into Meigs County.  Near Pomeroy he met his first military obstruction, which, with difficulty and some loss, he escaped by a ride of four or five miles through a deep ravine; halted at Chester for some time, and encamped at Portland, on the bank of the river at Buffington, where he had originally intended to cross the Ohio.  On Sunday morning when he made the attempt he encountered the combined forces of the gunboats and Hobson’s and Judah's command, and then ensued the “Battle of Buffington,” and Morgan’s retreat with about 1,200 men, which number was subsequently much reduced by desertions.  He turned again to Chester, thence to Millersburg, in Meigs County; then through Athens and Perry Counties, by way of Chapel Hill and Portersville, he came into

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Morgan County and encamped on Deacon Wright’s farm in Deerfield Township, at the headwaters of Island Run, seven miles from Malta.  This was done so quietly that none were aware of his locality until the next morning.
     At 8 o’clock on the morning of Thursday, July 23, he was at Eagleport, on the Muskingum, where he was able, through pressing the pilot and the ferry boat into his service, to cross to the east side of the river.
     After his reverse at Buffington, where he lost at least one-half of his force, including a number of his best officers, and his harassing march through Meigs County, his only object appears to have been, as at Buffington, to recross the Ohio.  Thus far he had in this State eluded a militia of not less than 5,000, besides some well equipped pursuers; hence his marches by day and night were made with as much quiet as could be maintained by a body of 500 or 600 mounted men.  This quiet was observed when he encamped on Deacon Wright’s farm, and was previously manifested in the capture of a number of the Zanesville mounted scouts after dusk near Chapel Hill.
     General Morgan was not probably aware at the time that he had in his retinue “men of choice and rarest party.”
     Mr. Evans was a resident lawyer of Muskingum County, and had been a resident of Morgan and at one time a judge of the court of common pleas.  Mr. Fouts was a resident of Morgan County, of which he had been sheriff.
     But to return to the subject of Morgan’s men in this county.  On Wednesday afternoon, July 22, a special messenger from Zanesville stated that Governor Tod had telegraphed there that Morgan was at McArthur, in Vinton County; that his object was “to strike the (Ohio) river above the reach of our gunboats, and may visit your place,” and requested scouts to be sent into Perry and Morgan Counties.
     This dispatch produced much excitement in McConnelsville and along the river above, for it was apparent that Morgan’s object was to avoid the larger places in the interior and keep as near the Ohio as practicable.  And as his course tended directly to the Muskingum it was evident that his objective point was either McConnelsville or Eagleport, as there was no ford below and only one above, at Taylorsville, ten miles below Zanesville.  There was a supposition (afterward confirmed) that he was fully posted as to the safer place.
     The citizens gathered in consultation in crowds on the streets, rang the bells, and discussed the subject and the position in which, from injudicious official arrangements, they were placed, and proposed plans of offense and defense without having the men or means to control or effect either, or even to retard his progress, until the arrival of troops known to be below and of those expected from above.  Old shotguns and old muskets were in demand, only to be used by old men and boys who, few in number, thus armed, with others with axes, started for the west side of the river to cut down trees across and guard the roads and the fording places of the river, and by Governor Tod’s request to look for Morgan.
     In the meantime the non-combatants were busily engaged in storing the silverware, jewelry and other valuables easy of transportation in places where they supposed Morgan’s men would not

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look for them.  All was confusion, not unlike

     “ A herd of beeves, that hear dismayed
       The lion roaring through the midnight shade.”

     About the same time in the afternoon a message was received from Colonel Hill, who had that morning left Marietta on the steamer “Jonas Powell” with 500 men well armed and two brass fieldpieces, that Morgan was between Athens and McConnelsville, and after dark a report from Zanesville stated that he was at Nelsonville coming this way.
     The first reliable and definite report was by S. C. Beckwith and some others of the scouting parties from McConnelsville, who stated that Morgan had that afternoon passed Millertown, Chapel Hill and near Portersville, and having come this way was then encamped at the headwaters of Island Run.  This news was in a short time confirmed, making it certain that Eagleport, on the river at the mouth of the run, was his object, which he knew was unguarded.
     This information was forthwith communicated to Colonel Hill (then at Windsor, nine miles below McConnelsville and seventeen miles below Eagleport) by C. L. Barker and J. E. Thomas, and subsequently during the night twice repeated.  Yet although he was thus often and personally urged, and a full statement of facts presented, he refused not only to come with his command on the boat but also to permit Captain Marsh with his company to come up by land.  But about 9 o’clock next day, after Morgan had crossed at Eagleport, the boat landed below town and the Colonel with his two fieldpieces and men passed through and took the Ridge Road to within two miles of where Morgan had passed nearly two hours before.
     Captain Marsh with his company continued up the River Road for three or four miles, until he learned that Morgan had crossed, and the route he had gone when he left the river, with the intention of flanking Morgan on his left or of rejoining Colonel Hill.  The latter he only effected.
     The steamer “Powell” awaited Colonel Hill's return and took him on board without the loss of a man or material, except a few rounds from his fieldpieces, the sound of which did not reach Morgan but produced a perceptible impression on Meloy’s barn.
     Early on Thursday morning, when it became certain that Morgan intended to cross at Eagleport, all the “armed” men and boys in town, with the curiosity seekers and those along the river, went on “the double quick” to meet the “fearful foe.” At 8 a. m. the sound of his bugle announced his presence at the river about 200 yards below the ford, the head of his column halting at or near Devol’s store in Eagleport.
     The ford is close to the eastern shore, about one hundred yards below the dam, and at low-water mark, as it then was, does not exceed one hundred feet in width, with a depth for a limited space of not more than four feet.  Fifty yards above the ford the river is seven hundred feet wide, varying in depth from ten to forty feet.  At low water, Bald Eagle Island occupies more than three-fourths of the western side of the river, leaving dry land almost to the eastern shore, over which the road crosses to the ford.  Immediately opposite the ford on the east is a deep ravine, crossed by the road, formed by a small stream, which forms a curve

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and empties into the river some fifty yards below, leaving a high embankment at and within fifty or seventy-five yards of the ford, sufficient, in addition to the deep cut in the road, to have protected and enabled a small body of well-armed men to prevent its passage by any number who should hazard the attempt.
     The citizen soldiers, aware of the peculiarity of the ford, and of this protective defense, were there with rides and shotguns prepared for action. 
     When Morgan came to the river he had no reliable pilot for the ford, and being aware of the situation made no attempt to cross; but when the rides and shotguns prematurely opened on him, his men, who were dismounted, responded.  The latter were to some extent protected by their horses, and, with carbines that were reputed to carry one thousand yards, sprinkled their bullets freely along the entire line among those on the east side - Mr. Weaver’s house receiving a proportionate share -  though apparently they did not positively intend to do any serious injury to the small number of citizens who were present.  But unfortunately the ferry-boat above the dam was at Morgan's command, and was immediately put in use to convey some twenty of his men over. The rifles, having opened the fight, kept up their fire, though aware that their missiles fell short of the mark, and yet confident of their service in the deep and narrow part when the ford should be attempted.
     When it was supposed that a sufficient number of the cavalry had crossed, the order, in tones audible to those on both sides, was passed down the rebel lines to cease firing; they were now ready for the charge down the river, and that charge ended the fight.  Hostilities having ceased, their next desire was for a pilot across by the ford.  Soon they ascertained that David Powers, the lock-tender, was well versed in the soundings, and he was induced to occupy the position, crossing and re-crossing until all were over.
     Among the citizens of the west side who were at Eagleport as lookers-on was ex-sheriff Andrew Fonts, who, good-natured and credulous, was led by means of the southern urbanity and courtesy of Morgan, or some of his officers, to speak of his familiarity with the country, and specifically of the eastern portion.  he was complacently informed that a horse was at his service, with the promise and penalty to

     “ Guide as faithful from that day
       As Hesperius, that leads the sun his way,"

while his geographical attainments should be required.
     As they crossed the raiders gave their attention to the collection of supplies from the several dwellings in the vicinity.  At David Weaver’s a fine stock of liquors was found in the cellar, and as time, as well as whisky, was of importance to them, the heads of the barrels were removed as neatly as possible with an axe, and it is said that our old friend Charles Kinsell was deputed to ladle the liquor into their canteens with as much expedition as circumstances required. He was kept active during their stay.
     At Richard McElhiney’s every apartment of the house was closely scrutinized, the food already prepared was soon disposed of, with all the milk in the cellar.  The bedrooms and wardrobes were stripped of all that the raiders could use, clothing, hats, watches,

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jewelry and cash.  In addition a jug of choice liquor, kept for medical purposes, was drawn from its seclusion.
     Although Hiram Winchell was in their employ he was not neglected, even losing the hat he was wearing while transporting them across the river in his ferry-boat.
     After David Powers was discharged one of the officers with his staff visited his saloon, and lunched on his prepared viands, assisting digestion by use of his entire stock of beer and whisky.  When the bill of fare was disposed of, the official presented Mr. Powers with $3 “to purchase another stock.”
     During their stay on the West side the raiders discovered a man named Henry Kelly on the brow of the hill above the stone quarry, who, with his brother, had followed them from Nelsonville.  Five of the raiders standing on Devol’s store steps took deliberate aim at him; three of their shots took effect, killing him instantly.  The distance is about 250 yards.  The body was brought to Devol’s store and a temporary coffin provided, in which, wrapped in muslin, it was placed and conveyed to his late home by Mr.
     Of the raiders one was killed and two wounded.  The “Dime” Steamboat Company make a possible claim to the killing and wounding, but there is strong presumptive evidence that it was done at the river, and from the east side.  The man was killed with a United States rifle, the only one in the citizen corps, by a Mr. Finley, who fired from Weaver’s house.  This was the cause of the special attention given the house by the carbines.  Moreover, blood was found at a certain locality in Eagleport,and the trace followed to the place on the hill above McElhiney’s, where the man had been left with a pillow taken from a house near the ford under his head.  Near by was found a rope, which probably had been used to tie him on his horse.  The body was buried where it was found.  Afterward, in consequence of a road being laid out which passed over the grave, the remains were removed a short distance.  The occasion was used to ascertain the fact that the shot was made by a United States rifle, the ball entering the right hip bone and passing out above the other.
     The rebel said to have been severely wounded was found on the day of the fight at the place where he was shot, about three-quarters of a mile from the river, and a short distance west of where the dead man was found.  His wound in the breast was made by a ball from a squirrel rifle.  When found he was speechless and insensible, with no probability of living only a short time.  An individual who owned a squirrel rifle claimed the honor of sending the death-dealing bullet, but in a short time, when the wounded man was able to give his version of the transaction and charged the shooter with robbing him of his pocketbook and gold ring, he discarded the laurels.   The man was carried across the river to Devol’s store and cared for until hewas sufficiently recovered to be sent to Columbus.
     The one reported to be slightly wounded was shot from Weaver’s with the United States rifle, the wound being the loss of almost his entire nose.
     As in most other engagements there were prisoners as well as killed and wounded.  Those taken by Morgan were citizen scouts.  Those taken from Morgan were armed cavalry - scouts

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oil the lookout for fallen trees or other military impediments, captured while on “the lookout for Morgan” on Island Run on the night preceding his appearance at Eagleport.  But the brief, unadorned relation of a feat of undaunted courage,

     “Where darkness and surprise made conquest

is best told by the principal participant in the “bloodless victory”:
     “ I left Deavertown at 11 o’clock p. m. in company with Reeves McAdoo
and James Foraker (two boys) and Eli Longstreth and Doc Longstreth.  At the Baptist Church east of the village the Longstreths left us, going northeast, the other two and myself going southeast.  We were soon after joined by Jacob Knopp, armed with an axe.  Our equipments then for offense and defense consisted of his axe, one gun for one of the boys and one for myself.  We proceeded toward the river, intending to fell trees in order to retard the progress of the raiders as much as possible.  We began cutting a tree just west of Helmick’s mill, but concluding it would not effect our object, abandoned it.  The tree is yet standing and bears the marks of Jacob’s axe.  This was about 1 o’clock and it was intensely dark.  Then passing on toward the river we heard Morgan’s men approaching, the clank of their sabers telling us that they were soldiers.  I at once called a halt in the road, and when they came up within ten or fifteen feet of us I commanded them to halt in a tone of as much authority as I could assume, and demanded an immediate surrender, at the same time ordering my boys to keep quiet and not to discharge their guns, thus giving the idea that our force was large.
     “ They were ordered to dismount and give up their arms, which they did with as much grace as though it were in strict conformity with army regulations.  The captured consisted of Captain Williams and four men, horses and equipments.  One of the five men in the rear put the spurs to his horse and escaped.  With them was Michael Longstreth, whom they had captured.  The prisoners were matched to the mill and guarded until morning.  One escaped during the night.  Soon after we entered the mill we were visited by John Laughlin, Joseph Helmick, John Bankes and N. Dietrick.  The latter remained with us until morning.  About an hour after the capture, and while they were with us, a party of mounted men came up and were halted.  They said they were citizens from Zanesville, and passed on toward the river.  About daylight a company headed by Colonel Ball came up, who received the prisoners from me.
     “ The horses were handed over to the authorities at Eagleport.  Some days afterward a man came from Zanesville and demanded the arms.  I replied to him that this was Morgan County and not Muskingum.  But soon after some parties came from McConnelsville, claiming to have authority, and took the arms.
     “I might add that before parting the force that captured him was presented to Captain Williams, lie seemed somewhat chagrined, but recognized it as the natural consequence of war.
     “Thus you have the ‘Report’ of our ‘bloodless victory ’ on Island Run, which is at your service.
                                  "Yours respectfully,
                                         "Thomas L. Gray"

     Morgan's stay at Eagleport and on

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the east side of the river did not exceed an hour and a half, and he left with the intimation that he would leave the river at Gaysport and pass thence through Rockville.  But about a mile up the steamer “Dime,” from Zanesville, with part of the 86th Regiment on board, came in sight, when he returned and passed up a ravine above Weaver’s, crossed McElhiney’s run a mile from the river and the Zanesville Ridge Road.
     When he wheeled about, his advance guard was left in sight of the troops on the boat, who landed under the impression that this was his entire force, and took a favorable position on the side of the hill in the rear of Bell’s salt-furnace to await their coining.  But after a convenient time the raiders put themselves out of sight of the troops, who, after a short tramp over the bill, returned to the boat and steamed for Zanesville.
     After leaving the river Morgan’s route led over the hill through Bloom Township, in the vicinity of McGune’s and Reed’s.  He left Morgan County near the corner of Bloom and Bristol Townships, and of Meigs Township, Muskingum County.
     He marched thence through Cumberland, Senecaville and Campbell’s Station to Washington, Guernsey County.  While at Washington, as his men were lying about the streets, resting, he was overtaken by Shackelford, and after some skirmishing for three or four miles was far enough in advance to burn a bridge at Hanna’s Mills.  He kept on through or near Flushing, Belmont County, Harrisville, Harrison County, and Jefferson, to the vicinity of Salineville, Columbiana County, and the most northern part of the State on the Ohio River between Wellsville and Steubenville.  Here, after having traversed two-thirds of the eastern part of the State, on the 26th of July, he changed his route, and with a number of his staff took boarding at the expense of the State at Columbus.
     Some time during the summer or fall a slight misunderstanding occurred in reference to the sweeping of the rooms occupied by the prisoners.  This, in addition to the sedentary pursuits rendered compulsory by the rules of the institution, dissatisfied them, and on the night of the 27th of November they all left.
     As an addendum, illustrative of the excitement and credulity of the community in all that pertained to his movements, the following deserves notice: On the day after Morgan had passed through the county a party consisting of J. E. Hanna, James M. Gaylord, Eli Shepard, D. H. Sheets and one or two others, led by curiosity, made a trip in buggies as far as Washington, Guernsey County, following his track.  After viewing the locality of the scrimmage they turned their course toward Zanesville.  As they passed through Concord they observed some excitement, and that apparently  more notice was taken of their appearance than the occasion warranted.  This was especially observed by Mr. Shepard, who, when opportuniorty ofered for a jocular deception, seldom let it pass unaided by his capacity for the development.  Without an idea of the cause of the curious glances, they passed at a brisk trot, apparently regardless of anything unusual, but with a disposition to increase the enchantment by distance.  As they were ascending the hill to Norwich an indi-

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vidual, evidently much excited, approached the buggy occupied by Mr. Shepard and made some inquiries in reference to Morgan.  This developed the idea; he gave an evasive answer and increased the speed of his team, as a manifestation that further interrogatories were not desirable.
     A short distance from Zanesville they were met by a gentleman who informed them that there was great excitement in the city in consequence of a telegram from Concord that a squad of Morgan’s men were approaching Zanesville, and that the military committee had called out Captain Marsh’s company to capture them.  On entering the city they found his statements verified.  There was unusual commotion on the streets, and when they stopped at the Stacy House they were surrounded by the military!
     But the immediate appearance of the captain disclosed the fact that instead of being John Morgan’s men they were Morgan County men, but anxious, nevertheless, for a distribution of rations.
     In his “Ohio in the War” the literary author, after leaving Morgan at Buffington and turning him toward Blennerhasset Island, gives him a pathetic, gloomy mention, likening him to a traveler, who, having lost his way, feels it “necessary to go onward with the hope of arriving at some point,” unfriended, melancholy, slow and unobserved, “until at last he found an unguarded crossing of the Muskingum at Eagleport, above McConnelsville, and then, with an open country before him, struck out once more for the Ohio.  This time Governor Tod’s sagacity* was vindicated.  He urged “the shipment of troops by rail to Bellaire,” and there, “ by great good fortune,” Colonel Way, of the 9th Michigan Cavalry, was put on “the scent” of Morgan, after his forces had been reduced to “336 men and 400 horses.”**
     The truth of history requires the explanation of why this crossing of the Muskingum was “unguarded.”
     By an act of the legislature, April, 1863, the State had been divided into military districts, and in July the sheriff of Morgan County, in accordance with the law, had organized the militia of the county into regiments and companies.  The number of companies for the different townships was: Windsor, three; Meigsville, two; Manchester, one; Bristol, two; constituting the 1st Regiment of ten companies.  Morgan, three; Bloom, one; York, one; Malta, two; Deerfield, one; constituting the 2d Regiment of eight companies.  Marion, two; Penn, two; Homer, two; Union, two; constituting the 3d Regiment, making an aggregate of 2,800 men.
     On the 12th of July, 1863, at the “earnest solicitation of General Burnside,” Governor Tod ordered the militia from a number of counties contiguous to the Ohio, named in his proclamation,
to report immediately at camps therein designated, and “all such forces residing in the counties of Washington, Morgan, Noble, Monroe, Athens, Meigs, Perry and Hocking,” were “ordered to

     * "Ohio in the War," pp. 47-48.
     ** A question might be raised as to the sagacity displayed in "the shipment of troops to Bellaire," where the Ohio was not fordable, and only distant a few miles form Marietta, then protected by the militia of eight counties, but where the river was fordable at very low water.

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report forthwith to William R. Putnam, at Camp Marietta.”  This order was promptly responded to the next day by Morgan, Malta and Penn, and by the other townships within three days, so that before Saturday night Morgan County was represented at Camp Putnam by 2,400 men, only 400 less than the full complement for the three regiments.
     Now it will be observed that if the other seven counties responded as Morgan did - which assumption the records sustain - Colonel Putnam must have had command of nearly 15,000 men.  Yet the number of armed men is uncertain.  few being armed in the companies which first responded from this county.  Some of them reported, on their return, that they were kept on duty with spades and shovels, and in the transportation of hay, straw and other material to impede Morgan’s progress from Harmar to Marietta; and these were only discharged two or three days after Morgan had crossed at Eagleport.





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