Confederate raider John Morgan and a thousand cavalry invaded and raced across Ohio in July of 1863. The account of his capture that was published in the Mt. Vernon Republican, a weekly newspaper, gives hearty contradiction to the opinion that Ohioans were terrified of the brazen marauder:
These are the particulars of the closing scene of John Morgan’s great steeple chase through the Buckeye State. On Saturday evening, July 25, at Springfield, the militia were stationed on a hill overlooking a road which Morgan was expected to traverse. A regiment of Pennsylvania infantry, under command of Col. Gallagher, were posted on some rising ground with orders to prevent Morgan’s passage. The houses were closed, doors and windows locked and barred, and women and children stampeding into the country with whatever portable property could be carried along. The men who had weapons and courage turned out to resist the progress of the dreaded rebel.
In a short time the expected rebels made their appearance around a bend in the road. On catching sight of the infantry, they halted and turned their horses’ heads in another direction. Before they could get out of the trap they found themselves in, Major Way, with 250 men of the 9th Michigan Cavalry, dashed among them. The rebels made but a brief resistance.
Morgan himself was riding in a carriage drawn by two white horses. He jumped out, leaped over a fence, seized a horse and galloped off as fast as horse-flesh, spurred by frightened heels, could carry him. In the buggy was found his “rations,” of a loaf of bread, some hard boiled eggs, and a bottle of whisky, along with several thousand dollars in stolen Greenbacks.
Morgan and the remainder of his scattered forces pressed three citizens of Salineville into their service as guides, and continued their flight on the New Lisbon Road. On Sunday, July 26, by two o’clock in the afternoon, the rebels were driven to a bluff. Thus cooped, Morgan concluded that “discretion was the better part of valor,” and came down gracefully, he and the more than 350 remaining in his gang surrendering to Col. Shackleford. Nearly 400 spent horses were also captured.
Morgan’s men were poorly dressed, ragged, dirty and badly used up. They were very much discouraged at the result of their raid, and the prospect of affairs generally, but Morgan himself appeared quite unconcerned at his ill luck, giving him a most fitting resemblance not to an errant knight of the confederacy but to the madman he has proved himself to be.
Thus is the termination of the thieving Morgan raid and the commencement of Prison Life for its heartless perpetrators. Its end bespeaks the lasting gratitude of the patriotic people of Ohio to the heavenly rains that swelled the Ohio River beyond its fords and bridges, trapping the raiders among the Buckeyes, who are ever vigilant and loyal to the greatness of the Union.
In the words of one loyal witness to Morgan’s capture, “I guess he has not accomplished very much, and good riddance.”
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An excerpt of THE COLOR OF PRAYER, a novel
based on the Civil War diaries of Edwin Lybarger:
Near the end of the week, Papa told them the raiders had crossed into Muskingum County, only sixty miles away. Sophronia feared that Morgan could ride that distance in a single day. But Papa asked them to think of one good reason why the raiders would bother riding north when their only hope of escape was to the south. When they couldn’t think of any, he got them smiling again when he suggested that it might be time for Sophronia and Josephine to have new summer dresses.
The next afternoon, Sophronia sent Mama and Josephine to the Mercantile for the dress yardage, promising to be pleased with anything they chose for her. She liked having the house to herself. After she took the berry pie out of the oven and carried it on the windowsill to cool, she sat by the open window to read her novel while the bread dough finished rising. The heroine Fanny, disguised as a pirate to free her kidnapped lover, had just brandished her sword to fight the pirate ship’s captain.
The kitchen door burst open.
“This is a raid,” a harsh voice called out. “Give us that pie.”
Sophronia’s heart stopped. Two figures loomed in the doorway in riding boots and gray, hooded cloaks. She couldn’t make out their faces. As the first one stepped across the threshold, she threw her book at him.
“Ow,” the victim hollered. “Criminy, Phrone.” Holding his head he stumbled back and the other intruder caught him.
Their hoods fell and she saw Jeremy and Mordecai Jessup dressed up like Confederate raiders. Jeremy was only fourteen, but thin as a rail and tall as any man, and the younger Mordecai was nearly his brother’s height. They made believable raiders. Her heart still thudding, anger found her tongue.
“That’s the meanest thing,” she scolded, “scaring me on purpose. Shame on you.” She retrieved her book from the floor, annoyed to have lost her place.
“He’s hurt,” Jeremy said.
Blood trickled through Mordecai’s fingers and dripped onto his cheek. Sophronia’s first thought was that it served him right.
“Put your head back, Mordecai,” she ordered, pointing to the rocker. “Sit.” She pulled a tea towel from the rack and folded it for a bandage. “Let me see.”
Mordecai lifted his hand away, his eyes never leaving her face. The cut on his forehead was shallow and nowhere near his eye, but it was several inches long and a bleeder. She pressed the towel down on it and raised Mordecai’s bloodied hand.
“Press it down,” she said.
“You didn’t have to kill him,” Jeremy said. “We just wanted a piece of pie.”