Ford and Redoubt Site
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan had
been searching for a place like Buffington Island — a ford
where he could lead his 1,900-man raider force back onto
friendly soil — since crossing into Ohio. This ford, which had
been used for decades, ordinarily was only about three feet
deep and an easy place to cross the Ohio River. But on
July 19, 1863, heavy rainfall in Pennsylvania had raised
the level to a surging five feet.
The 200-man Marietta militia, commanded by Union
Captain D. L. Wood, had been ordered to this location
to guard the Buffington Island ford and, at all costs,
to prevent Morgan from crossing. They constructed a smal
earthen redoubt (defensive barrier) on the hill behind you
and placed two cannons there. The emplacement helped
to delay Morgan's crossing until morning, by which time
Union forces were near at hand. The militia units watched
as Morgan's men came into the valley. During the night,
the militia was ordered to abandon their position.
They spiked their guns, rolled them down the hill,
and fled across the river. Surprisingly, they did it
without alerting the Confederates.
A Historic Crossing
The Buffington Island ford also was the site of the
Ohio River crossing by about 350 Confederate
cavalrymen under Brigadier General Albert G.
on September 3, 1862. Raiding Portland
and Racine in search of horses and arms,
the half-day expedition on Ohio soil took 25
animals and shot a deaf man who was unable
to hear the Confederates' order to halt. The ford
was also an important crossing for fugitive slaves
escaping on the Underground Railroad.
[Photo caption]: Before the Ohio River was dammed in the 20th century, Buffington Island ford was passable at normal water levels. The flooding of the river, and the fact that Confederate scouts were unable to determine the strength of the Union forces guarding the ford, fatefully delayed Morgan's crossing here.
Text: Edd Sharp & David L. Mowery
Illustration: Bev Kirk