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Morgan's Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio Raid

  • Time Period: July 2-26, 1863
  • Area: Kentucky, Indiana, and OHIO

Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan conducted his famous Ohio Raid in defiance of orders from Gen. Braxton Bragg to operate only south of the Ohio River. Morgan beleived that the pressure being applied to the South could be relieved only by bringing war to the citizens of the North and persuading Copperheads (peace Democrats) to rise in support of the Confederacy. He destroyed any possibility of such support by holding business' for ransom, destroying commercial buildings, and looting local treasuries, making no distinction between enemies and friends. He was more successful in attaining his 1st objective; the raid brought panic to the North, reinspired the flagging spirits of the South, and delayed the fall of East Tennessee.

Morgan crossed the Cumberland River near Burkesville on July 2nd and began a series of running skirmishes with the Union troops. He passed through Lebanon on the 5th, moved on to Bardstown, then crossed the Ohio River at Brandenburg and proceeded east through Lexington and north to Summansville. From Summansville, he marched through the suburbs of Cincinnati, completing the longest continuous march of the war by covering 90 miles in 35 hours. He reached Pomeroy on the 18th, leaving in his wake a wide path of destruction and hundreds of stragglers who continued to terrorize the population. During the raid, Confederates captured 6,000 Federals, pulled 14,000 Regulars from other duty, caused 120,000 militia to be mustered in 2 states, destroyed 34 bridges, demolished railroads to more than 60 locations, and damaged hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property. The raiders also made history by conducting the longest cavalry raid of the war, traveling more than 700 miles in 25 days while almost constantly in combat.

But the raid turned against Morgan on the 19th, when a strong Union column under Brig. Gen. Edward H. Hobson defeated his men at Buffington Island. Hobson pursued the remnants of Morgan's troops relentlessly, capturing them and their leader at New Lisbon on the 26th.

The Confederates' reward for their raid was confinement in the Ohio Penitentiary as common criminals. The pillaging of Morgan and his "Terrible Men" left an indelible mark in the annals of warfare.

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