Capturing the Daily Stagecoach
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan
and his raiders galloped into Winchester about 8:30 am
on July 15, 1863. The rebels immediately began searching
businesses and private residences for firearms, food, horses
and anything else that suited their fancy.
In the afternoon, Morgan sent a detachment to intercept
the daily stage. The raiders stopped the stagecoach a short
distance south of town, commandeered it, and drove it into
Winchester, where they delivered the daily mail to Morgan.
Meanwhile, the rugged roads and lack of fresh horses caused
the pursuing Union cavalry under Brigadier General
Edward Hobson to fall behind the Confederates' fast pace.
At Winchester the following morning, Hobson ordered
Colonel August V. Kautz and his brigade to lead the pursuit.
Kautz's orders were to engage and stall Morgan's Raiders long
enough for the rest of Hobson's men to catch up.
Kautz knew the area well, having lived in nearby Georgetown.
Kautz's cavalrymen rode nonstop to Jasper, arriving that night
only to find the smoldering ruins of the canal bridge and
Morgan even farther ahead.
General Joseph Darlinton founded Winchester on
the Simon Kenton Trace in 1815. He named the village
after his hometown in Virginia.
left: Morgan's Raiders depended on letters and newspapers confiscated from the mail to keep them informed of the Union pursuit.
Bottom left: Gilbert Paul was the driver of the stagecoach waylaid and captured by Morgan's Raiders near Winchester.
Top right: Dr. Abel C. Lewis, Winchester's first resident physician, erected this home on South Street about 1845. Dr. Lewis was an ardent abolitionist and used his home as a station on the Underground Railroad. It is unclear whether any of Morgan's Raiders were aware of this history when they entered the home to demand food.
Text: Stephen Kelley & David L. Mowery
Illustrations: Bev Kirk