Morgan's Raiders: “The Scum of the South”
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
The advanced guard of Brigadier General John Hunt
Morgan's Confederate raiders arrived in Jackson about
9:30 pm on July 16, 1863, and found a tree barricade
near the Isham House on Main Street defended by old
men and boys. Local militia forces were busy guarding
Portsmouth to prevent a possible Confederate crossing.
As soon as the advance guard of raiders arrived
the defenders scattered.
Morgan's main force arrived a half-hour later. The defenders
were rounded up, marched to the fairgrounds, and kept
under guard through the night. Some raiders ransacked
the town while others rested. During the night, the raiders
burned the depot and other valuable railroad facilities
including two bridges.
The next morning, Morgan visited the office of the Jackson
When he read an editorial that referred to him
and his men as "the scum of the South," the troops located
the printing room on the third floor, threw the type boxes
out a window, and smashed the press itself with a pick axe.
The raiders began to leave Jackson about noon on July 17.
Morgan's forces split, as Colonel Basil Duke's column
moved northeast through Jamestown toward Berlin
Crossroads, while Colonel Adam Johnson and his men
moved southeast toward Vinton in Gallia County.
All were heading toward Middleport in Meigs
on the Ohio River.
The Search for a Crossing
By mid-July 1863, Confederate
Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan
had made it around several obstacles,
the largest being the Union garrison
at Cincinnati, Ohio, commanded by
Union Major General Ambrose
Burnside. A scouting party led by
Morgan's brother, Colonel Richard
Morgan, was sent to Ripley, Ohio,
in search of an Ohio River crossing,
but after discovering a fortified guard
at Ripley, they returned to the
Morgan and his raiders also faced
increased local delaying tactics, such as
felled trees across the main roads and
the strategic burning of bridges to
slow their advance and aid the Union
pursuit. Morgan continued across
southern Ohio seeking another river
crossing He could not have predicted
he was heading for a showdown.
Top left: Confederates ransacked numerous stores in Jackson and destroyed the office of the Republican newspaper, the Jackson Standard. When Union forces arrived several hours later, they retaliated by attacking the newspaper office of the Jackson Express, owned and edited by a "Peace" Democrat.
Bottom left: Brigadier General Edward H. Hobson, a Kentucky banker-turned-soldier,
led the Union mounted troops chasing Morgan's Raiders. After rebuilding
the canal bridge at Jasper,
Hobson's men headed for Jackson, where they
encamped on the night of July 17. They were back in the saddle by 3 am.
Text: Edd Sharp & David L. Mowery
Illustrations: Bev Kirk