Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Confederates’

Following Morgan’s Raiders Trail 150 Years Later

Sketch of Brig Gen John Hunt Morgan

Sketch of Brig Gen John Hunt Morgan

During the Civil War, 150 years ago in July of 1863, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led a band of scoundrels, known as Morgan’s Raiders, through Ohio on a two week expedition consisting of many raids and robberies. Their purpose was to create terror and deviate the attention of the Union troops from Confederate forces.

The Ohio Historical Society has commemorated that John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail with 56 interpretive signs from Cincinnati to West Point in northeastern Ohio. Official dedication took place at the entry point into Ohio at Harrison in July of 2013, although planning has taken several years.

First Morgan's Trail sign in Guernsey County at Cumberland, Ohio

First Morgan’s Trail sign in Guernsey County at Cumberland, Ohio

Wanting to explore the local side of this route, my drive began in Cumberland, Ohio, which is the first place in Guernsey County, my home county, that Morgan’s Raiders appeared. Here in front of the old Cumberland High School is plaque #39, which begins the local trail of clever escapes by Morgan. Having invited themselves as dinner guests, Morgan’s men stole horses, cash, and even a guide before heading on to Point Pleasant (today’s Pleasant City).

Watch for signs like this to follow the trail easily.

Watch for signs like this to follow the trail easily. Former Pleasant City High School sits in the background.

Morgan’s Trail is well-marked with signs at frequent intervals so you can rest assured you are still on the correct route. Stories on the plaques tell about real events that happened near each marker and all contain a couple beautiful old pictures from Civil War days. Each sign also explains, in the lower left hand corner, the location of the next commemorative stop

At the corner of State Routes 313 and 285 in Senecaville, followers will find plaque #40. On July 24 at 3 am, Morgan’s men rode into the village boldly knocking on doors to find out local road information. Lucky for Morgan, Colonel William Wallace of the Ohio Infantry had received an erroneous report and hours earlier had moved from that very crossroads. Ever since the battle at Buffington Island, Brig. Gen. James Shackelford had been in hot pursuit of the Raiders and seemed to be closing the gap.

Interpretive sign #41 at Lore City trailhead.

Interpretive sign #41 at Lore City trailhead.

Campbell’s Station (today’s Lore City) had the most destruction of any place in Guernsey County with Shackelford being only seven miles behind. Located at the trailhead of the Guernsey Trail, #41 plaque area was the only one in Guernsey County that had been expanded with other information about the history of that area, as well as beautiful flowers.

At the edge of town on Old Mill Road, the battle at Washington (today’s Old Washington) is recognized. Sign #42 is near Cemetery Hill where Shackelford’s troops began firing on Morgan’s Raiders, who had spent the night in Washington. The officers had moved in, unwanted, to the American Hotel while others slept throughout the town, even in the streets. It came as a surprise that the plaque was not downtown with the 1927 monument to this skirmish.

Those four stops mark the route through Guernsey County, then the Trail guides you on toward Piedmont. By now you are beginning to get caught up in the thrill of the chase and to understand the lay of the territory they are crossing. Winding roads follow the Trail as best they possibly can, but Morgan’s Raiders attempted to travel through the woods quite often so the route is close, but can’t possibly be perfect.

Imagine the surprise and fear when up to 2000 Confederate soldiers arrived in one of these small towns along the way.  No wonder the unruly children were disciplined with the phrase: Morgan will get you!

Monument to honor Morgan's Raid erected by Carroll County Historical Society in 1868.

Monument to honor Morgan’s Raid erected by Carroll County Historical Society in 1868.

My original plan had been to follow Morgan’s Trail just through Guernsey County, but once caught up in following Morgan’s Raiders, it was impossible to stop before reaching the spot where Morgan was captured. Being led through Harrison, Monroe, Jefferson and Carroll counties, the posted signs by the Ohio Historical Society were  easy to follow.

With troop numbers diminishing at each spot, Morgan continued to use clever escape tactics as long as he could.  The Raiders might pretend to be Union soldiers, stir up dust to hide themselves, or give promises they could never fulfill.

The last few marked encounters led through rugged, gravel roads. As you slowed down on these rutted and often muddy roads, you could almost feel the weariness of the troops.

End of Trail near West Point, Ohio

End of Trail near West Point, Ohio

Finally, Morgan’s Trail, with plaque #56 entitled West End, came to an end in someone’s front yard where a monument had also been placed years ago. Morgan had tried his best to get back to cross the Ohio River and he was getting so close. Minutes later, I saw the beautiful Ohio River and felt a little sympathy for Morgan’s never reaching it.

The Heritage Trail from Cumberland to West End took Morgan’s Raiders four days from July 23 – July 26. By car, it took about eight and a half hours and I didn’t steal any horses, demand any dinners, or burn any buildings. They must have been worn out to have covered all that territory so quickly on horseback.

Even though he was captured for the moment, his cleverness helped him escape prison and travel unknowingly with a Union soldier on a train back home. Despite the chaos and destruction left behind, he taught the importance of never giving up in your quest to reach a goal.

Advertisements

Civil War Encampment Days Beyond the Skirmish

Will the Yanks run the Rebels out of town? Reenactors lined the streets of McConnelsville, Ohio for their 25th Annual Civil War Encampment Days, Ohio’s longest consecutive running reenactment.  What a great place to observe the living history of the Civil War.

Everyone dressed in period costume in the soldier camps seemed eager to discuss their life style, and patiently answered all questions.  Their canvas tents provided great cover from rain storms.  However, they reminded those in attendance that it was important not to touch the canvas with your fingers during a rain.  Seems the oil on your fingers would make the canvas leak. Rains were important for their War Gardens, which provided food for the army as well as land owners.

Since death was frequently a visitor during this time, ladies told about the cemeteries where they often held picnics. Union stones were flat so you might sit on them, but the Confederate stones had a pointed top so “Yankees” couldn’t sit on their tombstones. The ladies also mentioned that black wreaths were hung on doors when someone died as a notice of death, since it was the only method of letting the neighbors know.

Many medical treatments were explained by the blood stained Head Surgeon of the Confederate regiment. When asked what might be used to help a headache, the major informed visitors that opium would be used if it was severe, while a relaxing morphine or sassafras would be used  for minor headaches. If the headache was too bad, they would just bore a hole in the head to release the evil spirits. Upset stomachs were treated with licorice or ketchup, and beef extract provided a soothing soup for many ailments. They even had a hollow doll that was used to smuggle medicine through the opposing lines.  Later in the afternoon at the field hospital, the surgeon cured a case of gangrene and subsequent blood poisoning by sawing off the leg of the victim.

Walked down to the Courthouse for “Squirmish on the Square”, where a staged battle occurred between soldiers from the North and South. Much ceremony was involved in the presentation of the battle both before and afterwards. There was even a bit of humor thrown in as they robbed a Wells Fargo box and then blew it up. The closing ceremony showed soldiers from both sides presenting arms, taps were played and a wreath was placed on the Civil War Private monument standing in the center of Main Street.  The base of this monument is made of stone from Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address is engraved on one side of the monument.

After a hot afternoon on the square, it was time for a drink. As Yosemite Sam would have said, “Sasparilly, and make it snappy!” Sarsaparillo was a popular drink of the Civil War era and a cold bottle hit the spot.  Made from sarsaparilla roots, this drink is  called “The Granddaddy of All Root Beers”.  Originally the bitter root brew was used for medicinal purposes treating digestive problems, but later sugar water was added to make it more palatable. ..and a soft drink was born.

Ladies’ Tea was served amid beautiful hooped gowns and lovely flowered hats. Cucumber sandwiches, fresh fruit, and small cakes were part of the traditional menu. After tea, Verna Owens of St Mary’s, West Virginia told tea drinkers about Women During the War…from the Confederate viewpoint. Her leader was President Jefferson Davis, who had his Confederate White House at Richmond.

She described the proper dress and manners for a Southern lady, who always carried a parasol and wore a hat.  Her cooling fan accomplished an additional task as a means of expressing her thoughts without saying a word.  For example a fan closed in a snap meant she was angry with what was being said, while fanning quickly might mean she couldn’t believe what was happening, or as we might say, “Oh, my!” Many toys of the time were explained and on display. Quiet dolls for church were made out of handkerchiefs, and there was a cow’s jaw for musical entertainment. When soldiers were leaving for battle they gave their sweethearts a tear bottle to collect their tears while they were gone.  Upon their return, they hoped to find it at least half full. Verna closed by saying one truth learned from the war was that we definitely should learn to get along.

In the evening, a Civil War Ball captured the beauty that sometimes appears in the midst of turmoil. Ladies were dressed in their finest, but few hats were worn to the ball…just ribbons or flowers in their hair. Some men wore their uniforms while others were dressed in their best tailcoat. Dancers swirled around the floor doing The Promenade, Waltz, Virginia Reel, and Patty Cake Polka with music provided by Back Porch Swing Band.  What a great ending to a Civil War Day.

This particular Civil War Encampment occurred in McConnelsville, Ohio which is just South of Zanesville, Ohio on Route 669 following the beautiful Muskingum River.  Located riverside just north of town is The Boondocks, one of Ohio’s best small-town eateries being featured in many magazines across the state. Their specialties are their award winning BBQ as well as their great and friendly service.  Could be worth a Sunday drive for a nice meal even if there isn’t an encampment happening!

Tag Cloud