War Reaches Ohio
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
After thirty-eight days of raiding for supplies,
damaging bridges and rail lines, and drawing
the pursuit of Union troops, Morgan's men arrived
here on the evening of July 18, 1863. His objective
was to reach the Buffington Island ford where
his troops could safely cross the Ohio River into
As a dense fog and darkness settled in, Morgan
received word from his scouts that the crossing
was blocked by an undetermined force hidden in
trenches. Not wanting to attempt a crossing at
night or leave behind the wounded, Morgan
decided to camp for the night. They would wait
until dawn to confront the forces before crossing
onto friendlier soil. Morgan did not realize that
Union forces were closing in on him from
The next morning the Battle of Buffington Island
began. This was the only Civil War battle in Ohio
and the most significant battle fought north of
the Ohio River. It was here that 3,000 Union
artillery, infantry, and cavalry, accompanied by
U.S. Navy gunboats, caught up with Morgan's
1,800 Confederate troops.
Morgan's Raid in Ohio
By 1863, the Civil War, which most thought
would be over quickly, had bogged down into
a long fight between the states. On the heels
of the great Battle of Gettysburg and
the surrender at Vicksburg, Morgan brought
war into Ohio. Racing through Indiana,
he crossed into southwestern Ohio on July 13,
bringing over 2,000 veteran raiders with him.
Morgan's objective was to divert the attention
of Union troops away from their normal duties
and strike fear in the civilian population.
Top left: John Hunt Morgan - Riding into Ohio through Harrison on the Indiana-Ohio border on July 13, Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and his men embarked on a raid through southern Ohio.
Bottom left: Major General Ambrose Burnside - Department of the Ohio commander Major General Ambrose Burnside ordered several thousand troops to pursue and stop Morgan. But that would prove a much harder job than he expected.
Top right map:Route of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail