Derailment of the “Kilgour”
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan's
2,000 cavalrymen, laden with artillery and wagons,
began fording the Little Miami River around 7 am
on July 14, 1863. Scouts rode ahead to establish
defensive perimeters. About half a mile southeast
of Porter's Mill Ford, they sabotaged the Little
Miami Railroad by wedging railroad ties into
a cattle gap and severing telegraph wires.
As a passenger train, pulled by the locomotive the
"Kilgour" — chugging south toward Camp Dennison
with 115 raw Union recruits — passed Dangerous
Crossing, the Confederate raiders fired shots.
Picking up steam, the train rounded a blind curve
and struck the wedged ties at full speed.
"There lay the monster floundering in the field like
a fish out of water, with nothing but the tender
attached," recalled Lieutenant Kelion Peddicord
of Morgan's scouts. "Her coupling must have broken,
for the passenger carriages and express were still on
the track." John Redman, the locomotive engineer,
was severely hurt in the derailment, while fireman
Cornelius Conway was killed. The civilians and
recruits on board sustained only minor injuries.
After evacuating the passengers, Morgan's men set
fire to the train cars and marched their captives
to Jacob Thompson's house. There Morgan paroled
the prisoners, telling
them to walk the rest of the way
to Camp Dennison.
Morgan's Raid in Ohio
The Civil War, which most thought would
be over quickly, had bogged down into a long
fight between the states. Heavy fighting was
going on in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and
in Vicksburg, Mississippi, when Confederate
Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan
brought the war to the northern home
Racing through Indiana, he crossed into
southwestern Ohio on July 13, 1863,
and brought more than 2,000 veteran
raiders with him. Their mission in crossing
the state was to occupy and divert as many
Union troops as possible. Department of
the Ohio commander Maior General
Ambrose Burnside sought to stop Morgan,
but that would prove a much harder job
than he expected.
Top left: Morgan's scouts derailed a passenger train, pulled by the "Kilgour," that carried Union army recruits, including a regimental brass band. Equipped with only a few sidearms, the recruits surrendered without a shot.
Bottom left map: After sunrise July 14, 1863, while Duke's brigade escorted the wagon train from Sharonville,
(1) Johnson's brigade was turned away by Proctor's Union forces at the Crossroads Skirmish and forced through Montgomery. (2) Morgan's Division crossed the river at Porter's Mill Ford as scouts (3) derailed the "Kilgour" and (4)
captured the Madisonville Pike Bridge. (5) Duke's attack at the Little Miami Railroad Bridge bought time for Johnson's brigade to (6) negotiate Dangerous Crossing, (7) fight off the Loveland Militia, and send the wagons through Ward's Corner. (8) Before leaving the area in the early afternoon, Morgan plundered Camp Shady. (9) Hobson's Union cavalry made camp nearby about 9 pm.
Text: David L. Mowery
Illustration and Map: Bev Kirk