An All-Too-Brief Rest
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his men
arrived in Wilkesville just before dark on July 17, 1863. The local
home guard offered very little resistance to the invaders. The raiders
plundered the village office and local stores.
Morgan always sought out the best hotel or house in a community
to use as his headquarters. This time he requisitioned the home of
local physician Dr. William Cline, who was an ardent abolitionist
known to assist runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.
The doctor's wife, Ruth Virginia Althar, was reported to be
Morgan's first cousin.
Morgan readied his command to move out in a few hours and
then retired for a brief rest. It has been rumored that Morgan's
African American valet escaped with the general's wallet while
he slept. When Morgan awoke, there was little time to search
as his Union pursuers drew closer by the minute.
The Confederates started to move out around 3 am on July 18
and headed for the ford at Buffington Island to cross back into
friendly territory. As they left town, Morgan further divided
his force, sending one company north toward Harrisonville
and another south to Danville. The main group headed east,
aiming to eventually reach Middleport on the Ohio River.
Skirmish at Cheshire
After the Battle of
General Morgan and about 800 raiders fled
to Cheshire, approximately 15 miles
southeast of here. They planned to cross
the Ohio River at Eight Mile Island Ford.
Brigadier General James Shackelford and
about 1,000 Union cavalrymen chased
Morgan to Cheshire. In the late afternoon
of July 20, 1863, Colonel Frank Wolford's
brigade skirmished with the Confederate
rear guard under Lieutenant Colonel Cicero
Coleman for an hour on Kyger Creek and
Coal Hill. Outnumbered and surrounded,
Coleman surrendered his 80 raiders to
Shackelford, while Morgan escaped with
the rest toward Addison.
[Photo caption]: General Morgan reportedly found a familiar face at the Cline House near Wilkesville.
Text: Edd Sharp & David L. Mowery
Illustration: Bev Kirk