Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Morgan’s Raid

Dates: 11 June to 26 July, 1863.


Union: Major General Ambrose Burnside, commanding the Department of the Ohio.

Confederate: Brigadier General John H. Morgan, commanding an independent unit of cavalry.

Prelude: This was an operation that was eclipsed by the battles of Vicksburg, MS and Gettysburg, PA that were occurring at the same time. It did have the effect of drawing Federal resources from the other two battles in order to pursue him. This also struck fear into the Northern communities his men visited. The War was being taken into the North, into states thought safe from Confederate invasion.

Lieutenant General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee, approved a plan to have Morgan invade Kentucky. He did not, however, give permission to cross the Ohio River, but gave carte blanche to all that could be done in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Morgan had other plans.

11 June, 1864: Morgan and 2500 troopers leave Sparta, TN and ride toward Kentucky.

They carried what supplies they could; food and horses could be foraged from nearby farms, ammunition could be taken from captured Federal stocks, and water from the many streams on the region.

They rode from Sparta, through Alexandria and Carthage, crossing the Kentucky line south of Tompkinsville.

1 July, 1863: Morgan’s troops have a brief engagement with Federal cavalry at Burkesville.

4 July, 1863: Battle of Tebbs Bend: After camping for the night near Campbellsville, Morgan and his men found a Federal force of about 200, the 25th MI, guarding a river crossing called Tebbs Bend that Morgan needed. With his force of 2500, he decides to attack. As his cavalry approached, the Federals opened fire. Morgan then had his artillery open fire. Soon he sent a truce rider with a surrender demand. It was refused. Perhaps the Union troops were encouraged by the fact that their sharpshooters were taking out Morgan’s artillery crews. For the next three hours, Morgan launched eight separate attacks, each one being repulsed. After a truce to collect his wounded, his force rode off in search of another crossing. He lost 35 killed and 45 wounded in the engagement.

Morgan did manage to cross the Green River after all and was soon at Lebanon, TN.
5 July, 1863: Battle of Lebanon: At the last minute, the 400 men of the 20th Kentucky Infantry saw Morgan’s men approaching and prepared to defend the town. Morgan first offered the lat the garrison surrender. That was refused. Morgan then launched his attack, pushing the Union troops through the town to the rail station. The Federals held out for six hours, but when Morgan started setting fire to nearby buildings, things soon became untenable. In the last Confederate assault, Morgan’s younger brother, Lieutenant Thomas Morgan, was killed. The Union garrison was finally captured and released on parole.

Morgan continued to head north, until reaching Brandenburg, on the Ohio River.

7 July, 1863: Morgan sent off a few detachments to confuse the Federals as to his true intentions. An advance force captured a few boats and waited while Morgan’s main force approached, destroying rail lines and bridges as he went.

8 July, 1863: Using the captured boats, Morgan and his troops cross into Indiana, in violation of General Bragg’s orders.

After crossing into Indiana, Morgan sought out the local Copperhead group for assistance. The Copperheads were pro-Confederate Northerners who’s main aim was to derail the Union war effort. This group, however, decided to provide no help to Morgan.

Morgan’s troops move across Indiana, wrecking rail lines, bridges, and depots, in short, causing havoc and panic.

Indiana Governor Oliver Morton ordered the call up of militia to defend the state, hoping to slow the Confederates long enough for Federal troops from the Army of the Ohio, who was at that time engaged in the Tullahoma Campaign. Burnside did organize some troops from local garrisons. But Morgan was proving to be slippery, as he diverted to the north.

9 July, 1863: Battle of Corydon, IN: Morgan encountered a small Union force while approaching the town. Another brother, Colonel Richard Morgan, launched an attack which had the Union militiamen flanked within the hour. Morgan captured the town and ransomed some cash and supplies in exchange for leaving. At nearby farms, horses were taken and a Lutheran minister, who owned one of the farms, was killed while resisting.

10 July, 1863: Morgan reaches the town of Vienna, where the rail depot was burned.

11 July, 1863: Morgan loses some of his men when they were captured by troops of the 73rd IN and 5th US Infantry.

12 July, 1863: Morgan’s troops enter Salem, where the depot was burned and the local stores looted.

Morgan then headed east, with Ohio in his sights.

13 July, 1863: Morgan and his now shrinking force crosses into Ohio, but Federal cavalry is pursuing.

They soon sidestepped Burnside’s scratch force (considering the type of commander Burnside was, it was not a surprise). They proceeded to destroy rail lines, bridges, and supply depots.

Fatigue was taking over Morgan’s men, supplies were short and there was still Federal cavalry after them. Morgan decides to head for the southern tip of Ohio and cross back into Kentucky.

Burnside actually guesses right about Morgan’s intentions and sent troops into the same area.

18 July, 1863; Morgan and his force reach Buffington Island, on the Ohio River. While scouting for a crossing, which was difficult because the river was swollen by recent rains, Federal cavalry showed up, trapping Morgan’s force between then and the river. Morgan orders his group to the north, but everything came unraveled. Over half of the Confederate force was captured near the town of Portland, while Morgan and the rest escaped.

Morgan followed the river north, hoping to find a crossing, even if it took him into West Virginia.

26 July, 1863: The fortunes of war finally ran out for Morgan, as he and his remaining force was cornered by Union cavalry, first at Salineville and finally at West Point, where Morgan was finally compelled to surrender.

The officers were taken to the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus, while the enlisted were sent to Camp Douglas, near Chicago, IL.

This effectively ended Morgan’s Raid.

27 November, 1863: Morgan and six others tunneled out of the penitentiary and ran for Kentucky. Morgan and four of them succeeded.

Morgan was given other commands in Tennessee. He was killed on 4 September, 1864 at Greenville, TN while attempting to escape from a Federal raid.

Morgan’s Raid accomplished the following:

6000 Union troops and militia captures and paroled.

34 Bridges destroyed.

Rail lines cut in 60 places.
Thousands of dollars of supplies looted.

Thousands of horses stolen (2500 in Ohio alone).

4375 homes and business raided.

Ohio taxpayers paid $600,000 to repair public property and another $200,000 to pay the wages of Ohio militiamen.

It was called the Great Raid in the South.

In the end it did delay, but not stop the Union progress in Tennessee.

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