Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘John Hunt Morgan’

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.

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John Morgan’s Raid in Ohio 150th Anniversary Celebration

Morgan's Freebooters enter Washington, Ohio ~Harper's Weekly, Aug, 1863

Morgan’s Freebooters enter Washington, Ohio
~Harper’s Weekly, Aug, 1863

John Morgan with the remnant of a band composed of the most villanous cut-throats and scoundrels….made his way into this county on Thursday, the 22nd. (Guernsey Times Extra Addition Cambridge, Ohio July 28, 1863)

This statement by the local newspaper back in 1863  sums up the feeling of Northern residents regarding the antics of Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, who led his raiders on a chase through Ohio during the Civil War.  His main goals were to destroy supply lines while creating chaos and fear.

Cannon fire ignites celebration.

Cannon fire ignites celebration.

This special celebration took place in Lore City, Ohio at the Leatherwood Park trailhead of The Great Guernsey Trail, which is a paved pathway from Lore City to Cambridge used for walking and biking.  Often you see parents pushing their children in strollers, or children pushing their parents in wheelchairs. This six mile trail has become a favorite spot to exercise and get some fresh air in the Guernsey County area.

Andy Warhola, Civil War speaker

Andy Warhola, Civil War speaker

Local Civil War Roundtable members, Andy Warhola and Tom Snyder, explained Morgan’s ravaging two week raid through Ohio with slides, maps and pictures. They told of Morgan’s stealing two steamboats in order to cross the Ohio River into Indiana. Proceeding into Ohio above Cincinnati, they headed across the state with Union forces in pursuit.

Thinking the best way to escape was to again cross the Ohio River, Morgan led his men to a ford, which would let them have easy access to Buffington Island, a stepping stone across the Ohio. But his plan went amiss when Morgan decided to wait until morning for the crossing instead of attempting to move in the pitch darkness of night. The next morning however produced heavy fog, so again he was delayed, thus giving the USS Moose time to reach their crossing point. This is said to be the only Civil War battle in Ohio. Here the Union turned Morgan and his Confederates away with heavy losses.  What had started out as 2500 men, was down to approximatley 1100 after the battle at Buffington Island.

After this they headed towards Guernsey County entering at Cumberland and continuing to Londonderry. Finally they were captured in Salineville, heading to the Ohio River again. Along the way they were hungry and needed horses so there was plenty of thievery and destruction.

In the town of Campbell’s Station, which is today Lore City, there was more financial damage than anywhere else in the county.  They robbed the safe in the warehouse of $4,000, then burned the warehouse, train station and bridge as well as three railroad cars filled with tobacco…all this before the Union forces arrived.

Couple in Civil War dress

Couple in Civil War dress

Nearly 150 years later, Lore City was filled with a Civil War feeling as many dressed in clothing of the time. A cannon was fired several times after careful loading by a group of Morgan County Re-enactors dressed as Confederate soldiers.

Local historian, Dave Adair, described the town of Campbell’s Station, which at the time of attack had only about sixty people. Their telegraph office was kept busy sending messages and receiving replies regarding Morgan’s Raiders. Due to the messages, Morgan and his Rebel scoundrels changed their route to avoid a railroad trestle, where a hundred men were waiting to ambush them.

Dave Adair speaks in the pavilion, which was the site of the original train station in Campbell's Station.

Dave Adair speaks in the pavilion, which was the site of the original train station in Campbell’s Station.

Dave also explained why Campbell’s Station changed its name to Lore City.  There happened to be two Campbell’s Stations at that time and the larger one kept the name. When deciding what to rename the smaller town, the Irish Catholics had a big hand in it. Their church were attempting to educate the people in this small community; therefore devised the new name as The City of Learning or Lore City… lore meaning knowledge or learning.

Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers

Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers

Spinning and weaving demonstrations were given by members of The Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers, who also added stories of working conditions during the Civil War. Music was plentiful from start to finish. Bluegrass music, which included many Civil War songs, was provided by Mr and Mrs Small. While many of the Civil War songs were of a sad nature, Mrs. Small had written a happy song, Black Berries, to which everyone sang along. Cambridge City Band swung into action with their rendition of Civil War hits such as: Listen to the Mockingbird, Swanee River and many more. This was followed later by Dynamic Trio, who played 50’s and 60’s rock and roll.

Riders enjoying the horse and wagon ride were greeted by Mayor Carpenter and wife, Sharon.

Horse and wagon riders were greeted by Mayor Carpenter and wife, Sharon.

Horses were an important part of the Civil War and it is estimated that over a million horses and mules were lost during the battles. General Morgan was indeed known as “The King of Horse Thieves”.  Wagon rides, which seemed fitting for the anniversary celebration, were provided along a segment of the Lore City trailhead in a wagon resembling the wagons used during the war to carry generals, the wounded and supplies.

If you want to get a little more adventuresome, today you can follow the trail that Morgan made during his raid. Signs have been posted from Cumberland to Londonderry with information regarding the events that took place in that particular area. Would make an interesting Sunday drive!

Lore City, Ohio is located in Guernsey County just east of I-77. Take exit 46, US Route 40 east, then follow Route 40 for four miles and turn right on State Route 265.  Continue on 265 until a four way stop, where a right hand turn leads you over the bridge to Lore City.  Leatherwood Park is to the left after you cross the bridge.

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