—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
While Confederate Colonel Basil Duke attempted to
stop the Union advance up the Ohio River Valley from
the south early on July 19, 1863, Brigadier General
John Hunt Morgan still thought that the path to the
Buffington Island ford was clear.
Around 6 am, sporadic fire from the west signaled
that Union cavalrymen under Brigadier General
Edward Hobson had arrived. They were soon pressing
Colonel Adam Johnson's Confederate troops.
The Confederate situation deteriorated further
as gunboats on the Ohio River began firing.
Morgan realized the crossing was impossible, and he
abandoned all his wagons that had stretched along
the roads awaiting the morning crossing. His baggage
train came under heavy fire from the Union gunboats
and from artillery units to the west. Gathering as many
horsemen as he could, Morgan ordered Colonel Duke
to delay the Union forces while he escaped with the rest.
Top left: Despite being exposed to artillery fire and running short of ammunition, Confederate troops under Colonel Basil Duke and Colonel Adam Johnson fought a valiant rear guard action, allowing the escape of a large portion of Morgan's force.
Bottom left portrait: For nearly two weeks, Kentucky-born Brigadier General Edward Henry Hobson led Union forces on a
600-mile pursuit of Morgan through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
Bottom second portrait: Kentuckian Adam R. "Stovepipe" Johnson commanded Morgan's Second Brigade. He escaped the battlefield and later successfully crossed the Ohio River near Reedsville, Ohio, with several hundred Confederate raiders.
Top right map: When pressure from the Union land attack under Generals Hobson and Judah
combined with the naval bombardment from Lieutenant Commander Fitch's
tinclads became too great, Morgan ordered a retreat to the northern end
of the Portland valley. To prevent the capture of Morgan's whole division,
a portion of Duke's and Johnson's brigades fought a delaying action in this
immediate vicinity. The field on the opposite side of SR 124 was the scene
of bloody fighting as Morgan's troopers were overpowered by Spencer carbines
and heavy cannon fire. Overturned wagons on the Old Portland Road in
Lauck's Run ravine 0.3 mile northwest of here blocked the Confederates'
escape and created great panic. Around 7:30 am, Duke and his 50-man rear
guard were captured, but not before Morgan, Johnson, and 1,100 men
had escaped to the northwest.
Text: Edd Sharp & David L. Mowery
Illustrations: Bev Kirk