Morgan's Raid in Butler County

There were two features of the war here that were entirely different from its manifestations in most of the counties of Ohio. The southern line of this county lies only eleven miles from the Kentucky border, and twice during the four years' conflict were we in danger from the attacks of Confederate troops. Happily, the invader did not touch our soil, although very near us, and we were fortunate that our only losses were of time and money. The first time Butler County was threatened was when Kirby SMITH was advancing towards Cincinnati. That city would have supplied every thing he or the Southern States lacked - foundries, machine shops, provisions, arms, and ammunition. On the 1st of September, 1862, he entered Lexington in triumph, and a little later he sent General HEATH against Covington and Cincinnati. There were no regular troops there, and nothing to resist him, should he get within gunshot. Every one was frightened, for few Northern people had ever thought that the war might be brought to their own doors. The City Council of Cincinnati at once met, and the whole resources of the city were pledged to meet any expenses that might be incurred. General Lew WALLACE took the command, martial law was proclaimed, business was stopped, and the ferry-boats and horse-cars ceased running. He was thoroughly alive to the emergency, and was well supported by public opinion. Back of Newport and Covington breast-works, rifle-pits, and redoubts were thrown up. Governor TOD was soon on hand, and telegraphed for all available troops to be sent down. Companies of men from Preble and Butler Counties at once started for the scene of action, and were warmly received. These were the advance guard of the Squirrel Hunters, a name destined to last as long as Ohio itself. They came in by thousands, from every nook and corner of the State, some with good modern rifles and clean new uniforms, and others with old shot guns and clothes that had long since seen their best days.. Where the fountain now is was their eating house. Three thousand men, judges, mechanics, clergymen, bankers, clerks, labored each day upon the fortifications. On the 10th and 11th it was believed that the attack, then deferred a week and a half, was about to begin, and the entrenchments were manned, and gun-boats placed in the river. But the advance of Buell caused Bragg to call back Kirby SMITH. On the 12th it was known that danger was over, and on the 15th every kind of labor was resumed. Cincinnati owed its salvation to the promptness with which its citizens and those of the interior answered to the call for defense. Of those who thus aided the people of Cincinnati none deserve more credit than those of Butler County. (Photograph is John Hunt Morgan)


But in the next campaign begun by the rebels against Southern Ohio much real damage was done. The path of MORGAN was marked with devastation, and that Butler County escaped his presence may be counted among her instances of good luck. John MORGAN, one of the most noted of the guerrilla leaders of the last war, was a native of the city of Lexington, Kentucky, and before the war was there engaged as a manufacturer of woolen goods. At about the outbreak of hostilities he was arrested for sending goods through the lines, and in September, 1861, he abandoned his business and joined the rebel forces, acting as captain. His first formidable raid into Kentucky was in July, 1862, and his were some of the troops that caused the consternation at Cincinnati. On the 17th of July he defeated the Union troops at Cynthiana. In September Augusta was captured, and on the 17th of October the forces of the United States at Lexington were defeated. Elizabethtown, on the 27th of December, was captured. During the course of the next season he won several victories, was once or twice beaten off, and once defeated at McMinnville. The great expedition, however, with which MORGAN's name is associated is that begun in 1863, in the Summer, which went through the three States of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. After ravaging Kentucky, he crossed over into Indiana at Brandenburg, and marched through Corydon, being attacked by the citizens there. No sooner had it been learned in Indiana that the Confederates had crossed the border than the feeling became intense. Within forty-eight hours from the time troops were called out sixty-five thousand men responded, and the victorious march which MORGAN had intended became converted into a flight. There can be no doubt that this campaign was designed to relieve General LEE, who was then engaged in his Pennsylvania campaign, by causing the Union forces to be divided. Indiana was passed through in five days, and on his way he avoided the large towns. He reached the Ohio line on Monday, July 13th, at Harrison.


The approach of the Morgan raiders to this city caused the most intense excitement. No desire to make terms with the enemy was manifested, but an almost unanimous intention to fight was shown. Upon receipt of the dispatches on the 12th, the organization of companies was at once commenced. Monday afternoon five full companies, numbering full six hundred men, marched out on the Venice road to meet the raiders. Of these, three hundred were armed with government arms, one hundred and twenty-five with carbines from GWYN & CAMPBELL's factory, and some with rifles, etc., while not a few marched with no arms save such as nature had provided them with, but with the evident determination to throw stones if the could find no better weapons. If the enemy had carried out his supposed intention of attacking this city Monday night he would have met with serious resistance; but the active pursuit by HOBSON and the determined action of the Butler County men saved Hamilton from a visit.


Tuesday night they were again on duty, picketing the roads south of town. No praise can be too great for the men of all classes and of all creeds who left their business and their families to oppose the march of veteran soldiers upon their homes.


MORGAN's original object was, doubtless, to scour Indiana and Ohio, capturing horses, carriages, etc., destroying railroad bridges, mills,and in all respects to eclipse the Grierson raid. By the vigorous action of the Indiana and Ohio home guards, and the United States troops sent in pursuit, this intention was changed to that of getting across the Ohio as rapidly as possible with his tired out men and their plunder. The rapidity of his march since Sunday, his evident determination to avoid battle, his neglecting to destroy the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton, and the Little Miami Railroads, or other bridges or tracks except in his direct route, prove this conclusively. The river was patrolled by armed boats, and HOBSON's troops were close upon his rear. The militia were rising in his front; if turned back his exhausted men and horses must of necessity have fallen an easy prey to the troops in pursuit. If he reached and attempted to cross the swollen Ohio, he would have done so at the loss of his artillery and with the loss of many, if not all, of his men.


Hamilton was crowded during Tuesday and Wednesday, the 14th and 15th, with militia and squirrel rifels from Butler, Montgomery, Preble, and other counties, and from Indiana. The entire Eleventh Indiana militia, under Colonel GRAY, the Nineteenth Ohio Battery, part of the Twelfth Michigan Battery, a detachment of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and two companies of cavalry from Indiana, were here. It is estimated that not less than six thousand troops were present.


The Telegraph remarks:


"We have had a speck of war at home - two days of soldiering; no holiday affair, but real strapping on of accouterments, shouldering of muskets, and marching out to meet the foe; two nights of anxiety, when our roads were guarded and our streets patrolled; our men all out on the expected field of battle, and our women tortured with visions of suffering fathers, husbands, and brothers, and of visits from the rude enemy. MORGAN's men have gone, and with them the watching, the feverish expectation of marching our untrained men against his well drilled regiments.


"Our citizens determined to give fight. Some towns had surrendered to the enemy at his approach, others had fallen after a feeble defense; our citizens determined to save Hamilton from either disgrace, and at once made every preparation within their reach. The situation was not very promising. At the first called meeting it was discovered that there werre not arms in the city for more than two hundred men, and as yet no promises of help had been made, while MORGAN's men were distant but one day's march, and heading directly for our town. But the exigency only hastened the preparations here


"As soon as the approach of the enemy became certain, scouts were sent out a full day's march, to gather information of his advance, and so close did our scouts hang on the front of the enemy that several of them were captured. Companies were rapidly organized, till, within two days after the first alarm, our city furnished over seven hundred well armed and equipped men for duty. These men went out Monday afternoon, and were posted where, in the view of the commander of the post, they could most effectually check the enemy.


"Up to this time no considerable force from any other point had re-enforced us, and it is certain that MORGAN's intended visit to Hamilton was postponed by reason of the preparations made by our own citizens to repulse him. It will forever stand to the credit and honor of our town that she beheld the approach of an army of rebels, not with any cowardly desire to capitulate, but with the determination of repulsing the enemy even at the expense of the blood of her best citizens.


"Captain R. SMITH commanded the post until the arrival of Major KEITH from Dayton. Martial law was declared throughout Butler County Monday, and all men ordered to duty. Six companies from this city went out on the Venice road Monday night, and remained till Tuesday morning. The roads east of the river were guarded by Dayton companies, and a detachment of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. As MORGAN's intention was developed by his march eastward from New Baltimore, the companies were drawn in from the different roads and were held awaiting orders. Tuesday there were at least five thousand men here, three-fourths of them armed, and the enemy only fifteen miles distant, but no attempt was made either to march men or throw them in front of the enemy by railway.


"Finally, Tuesday evening, the Indiana militia were sent to Cincinnati, and the city companies were thrown out on picket on the roads east of town.


"Wednesday morning they were recalled with a considerable accumulation of grit in their clothing and skins, if not in their souls, and thus ended the active operations of Butler County against MORGAN. Tuesday and Wednesday the square and our streets were thronged with militia from our town and other counties. These mostly left Wednesday, although some companies from out of town remained till Friday morning."

The following is a statement of the different companies from Butler, Preble, and Montgomery Counties in Hamilton on Tuesday, July 14, 1862. We mention first the companies from Hamilton, and of these we give the number on duty that day:


Captain S. W. POTTER, 98; Captain Thomas MOORE, 110; Captain Ransford SMITH, 113; Captain F. BENDER, 94; Captain John WILSON, 122; Captain J. P. BRUCK, 115; Captain Jos. TRABER, 50. Total 703.


Madison Township. - Captain Ben. THOMAS, 86 men; Captain G. C. WARVEL, 67; Captain W. C. SMITH, 40; Captain G. H. GEBHART, 80. Total, 273. These men had no arms.


Wayne Township. - Captain Joseph A. MILTRODE, 71 men, no arms.


Lemon Township. - Captain A. B. COOLEY, 96 men, no arms; Captain D. B. SCHURZ, 97 men, no arms.


Morgan Township. - Captain Timothy CORCORAN, 40 men, no arms.


Middletown. - Captain WEITZEL, 119 men, armed.


Oxford. - Captain J. T. PORTER, 34 men, no arms.


Preble County. - Captain SLOCUM, Eldorado, 72 men, armed; Captain OVERPECK, Gratis Township, 60 men, no arms; Captain Dan MAY, Harrison Township, 97 men, no arms; Captain WHITESIDE, Camden, 60 men, no arms.


Montgomery County. - Captain George HATFIELD, Dayton, 57 men; Captain G. G. PRUGH, Dayton, 90; Captain Ed. JONES, Dayton, 84; Captain Jas. TURNER, Dayton, 40; Captain SHUSAN, Miamisburg, 46; Captain POMROY, Miamisburg, 65; Captain SCHOENFIELD, Miami Township, 60; Captain Geo. WINDER, Miami Township, 71. All armed.



Hamilton City,






Total from Butler County,




" Preble County,



" Montgomery County,






Total of Ohio militia present,




Indiana militia under General Haskel,







A detachment of the One Hundred
and Fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry,



Two companies of Indiana Cavalry,



Six gun battery, Nineteenth Ohio,



Total here Tuesday, July 14th,




Of the Ohio militia a large number were unarmed. Some other companies in this and other counties telegraphed, offering their services, but were not wanted. One full company from Oxford, under Captain WELPLEY, went on to Cincinnati. It is impossible to get at perfect accuracy in this report, but is is mainly correct.


On Saturday night the city was illuminated in honor of the splendid successes, which, within the previous month, had crowned our arms. The affair was got up suddenly, and was not so complete as longer notice would have made it; but the crowd out doors was large, while the various decorations, transparencies, etc., reflected much credit on the patriotism and taste of our citizens. The national colors, in every conceivable variety of form, were shining from the windows and yards of most of the residences, and from many of the business houses. Conspicuous among the latter were noticed the stores of HOWEL, J. W. DAVIS, JACKSON & Co., H. BEARDSLEY, SCHWARTZ's Bakery, PECK's Bank, and others. The telegraph office had the windows fronting on High Street filled with the red, white, and blue, arranged in graceful patterns and bearing various mottoes. The windows of most of our citizens were brilliantly lighted. The most extensive preparations were at the residences of D. CONNER, in the First, Thomas MILLIKIN, in the Second, and Thomas V. HOWELL in the Third Ward. The displays at the houses of Israel WILLIAMS, James BOYDEN, E. G. DYER, Ezra POTTER, J. SNYDER, James THOMAS, Mrs. HILL, S. ARNOLD, Dr. PECK, Dr. FALCONER, Russell POTTER, Colonel CAMPBELL, D. CONNER, Jr., Isaac ROBERTSON, N. CURTIS, James WHITAKER, Thomas STERRITT, Captain F. LANDIS, S. SHAFFER, Lieutenant ANDREWS, and many others were very pretty. Bonfires burned at the intersections of the principal streets.


A large torch-light procession, with music and transparencies, marched through the city, and finally collected on High Street, near Second, where speeches were made by Colonel CAMPBELL and Thomas MILLIKIN.


The effect of the MORGAN raid was to stimulate the local militia. Many new companies were organized. The following companies, under the militia laws of this State, were organized in this county:


"Oxford Guards," Oxford. - Captain, Marmaduke WELPLEY; First Lieutenant, James E. STEWART; Second Lieutenant John P. CLOUGH.


"Morgan Guards," Paddy's Run. - Captain, Edward T. JONES; First Lieutenant, Samuel W. WOODRUFF; Second Lieutenant, Henry DAWSON.


"Sigel Guards," Hamilton. - Captain, John Frederick BENDER; First Lieutenant, Jacob KURZ; Second Lieutenant, Philip WINKELHAUS.


"Millikin Guards," Seven-Mile. - Captain, Benjamin BOOKWALTER; First Lieutenant, Augustus W. ECKERT; Second Lieutenant, David T. STEWART.


"Butler Guards," Miltonville. - Captain, George C. WARVEL; First Lieutenant, Benjamin F. BANKER; Second Lieutenant, John BUSENBARK.


"Hamilton Rifles," Hamilton. - Captain, Thomas MOORE; First Lieutenant, Lafayette TRABER; Second Lieutenant, Samuel S. GARVER.


"Grant Rifles," Middletown. - Captain, Philip WEITZEL; First Lieutenant, Theodore R. MARTIN; Second Lieutenant, Jos. MANTZ.


"Milford Guards," Somerville. - Captain, Jas. H. STEPHENS; First Lieutenant, Daniel S. KEIL; Second Lieutenant, Henry P. DOVE.


"Van Derveer Guards," Reily. - Captain, Samuel K. WICKARD; First Lieutenant, Jas. COE; Second Lieutenant, Henry C. GRAY.


"Milville Guards," Millville. - Captain, Daniel K. ZELLER; First Lieutenant, John A. KUMLER; Second Lieutenant, Washington B. DAVIS.


"Union Guards," Hamilton. - Captain, John C. LEWIS; First Lieutenant, William E. SCOBEY; Second Lieutenant, James T. IMLAY.


"Oxford Scouts," Oxford. - Captain, John Francis PORTER; First Lieutenant, Philip H. WELTY; Second Lieutenant, Frank J. CONE.


It will thus be seen that MORGAN made his flying raid through Hamilton County without injuring the lives or property of those in this county. But there were damages done by the State and United States troops, which were laid before the State government, and the amounts paid. A few of his men crossed the Miami River at Venice, but the great bulk of them at New Baltimore. MORGAN fled on and on, until it seemed likely that he would reach the Kentucky shore in safety. But at one point the troops came up near enough to give him battle and defeated him, not so badly, however, but that with twelve hundred of his men he was able to escape. Further on he tried to cross the Ohio, but after three hundred had reached the opposite shore in safety he was obliged to return and head the retreat of the remainder of his men on the north shore. He became environed by the militia, and the volunteers and regulars who were following were close upon him. "MORGAN approaches Pennsylvania," says a historian. "Major RUE, of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, commanding detachments of the Ninth and Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry, and stragglers from different regiments, freshly mounted and sent ahead by order of General BURNSIDE, on the cars, came up on the nick of time. Two roads came to a common road. The struggle is which shall arrive first. MORGAN leads; RUE, almost despairing, pursues him. Seeing a road leading off, almost by intuition, he asks a bystander, 'Does that road come into this one again, and is it nearer to the point where they approach than the main road?' 'It does, and is much nearer.' With renewed hope he dashed off, and ran in ahead about a hundred and fifty yards, and rapidly formed a line of battle. MORGAN, with his usual audacity, sends in a flag of truce, and demands an unconditional surrender. RUE indignantly informs the messenger that he does not belong to the militia that he can be deceived in that manner; that he is a major of ther Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, and that if MORGAN does not surrender at once he will fire upon him. The officer replied, with an oath, that the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry was everywhere. MORGAN, finding he could not impose on RUE by the flag of truce, tries another dodge. He now informs him that he had already surrendered to some Ohio militia captain, and that he had paroled them. This captain was a captive in MORGAN's hands. He informs MORGAN that he will pay no attention to any such surrender, and that he will hold him and his command until his superior, General SHACKELFORD, arrives. In about an hour the general makes his appearance, and then MORGAN surrenders, and thus ends the most remarkable chase known in history."


On the evening of the 23d of July, 1863, Major RUE left the barracks at Covington, Kentucky, with a command of three hundred and seventy-five cavalry and three pieces of artillery, from the Fifteenth Indiana Battery. The command departed for Bellaire, via Columbus, arriving there at one o'clock P. M., on Friday, the 24th. On the following day the banks of the Ohio were patrolled, and at one o'clock word was received from Major-general BROOKS for Major RUE to proceed with his forces with all possible speed for Steubenville. Not stopping here, he passed on to Shanghee, where he disembarked his command at seven o'clock P. M., Saturday. From this point he proceeded along the public road to Knoxville, where he learned that MORGAN had already passed through Richmond at four o'clock of that day, the 25th, and was still pushing north-east. The major left Knoxville at four o'clock Sunday morning, joining General SHACKELFORD at Hamondsville, and proceeded at once to Salinesville, his command in advance. At this place it was learned that MORGAN had been seen last at Mooreville, going eastwardly to Smith's Ford on the Ohio River. General SHACKELFORD sent RUE with the advance to intercept MORGAN at some point on this road. Marching his men at the rate of seven miles an hour, he started forward, his command having been reduced to three hundred men. When within half a mile of the junction of the road, he learned that MORGAN was passing that point on a gallop. discovering a private road, however, they cut over the fields, and came out on the main road just one hundred and fifty yards in advance of the rebels. A detachment of thirty men were attacking their rear, and the enemy was completely surrounded. A flag of truce was sent by MORGAN, demanding RUE's surrender. Major RUE replied that he demanded the unconditional surrender of MORGAN and all his men. Major RUE's terms were acceded to. MORGAN surrendered, and kept the prisoners until General SHACKELFORD arrived, when they were turned over to his superior officer.


"The number of rebels captured was three hundred and eighty-four, and four hundred horses. In face of these facts, fully authentic and corroborated by reports, how can General SHACKELFORD lay claim to capturing John MORGAN? He, at the time of the surrender, was some miles away, and knew nothing of it until he came to the Beaver Creek Road and met the prisoner. The honor belongs to George W. RUE.


Since writing the above, we have seen the statement of James BURBECK, to whom MORGAN claimed that he had surrendered. He was a captain of a squad, elected to that position by his neighbors, and all his men, except eight, had run away and gone home. MORGAN, it will be remembered, had three hundred and eighty-four men. After meeting MORGAN under the protection of a white flag, the rebel general asked if he would accept his surrender, and then would grant them a parole. He agreed to the proposition, although expressing doubts as to whether the surrender would be binding. MORGAN reassured him, and said, "These are my men, and I can surrender them to a woman if I want to." He pointed in a north-westerly direction, to a cloud of dust rising in the road, and said to BURBECK, "That's the Union forces." Then he took a white handkerchief, tied it to a stick, and gave it to BURBECK. The Union forces got around by another road and drew up in line of battle. They were SHACKELFORD's men, commanded by Major RUE. One of MORGAN's captains and Mr. BURBECK rode forward and explained matters. The major sent word to Colonel SHACKELFORD, who was eating dinner at a farm-house about four miles back. The colonel came up and accepted the surrender, but made it unconditional. When taken to Columbus he claimed that he had surrendered conditionally to a militia captain, and should be granted a parole. Governor TOD received Mr. BURBECK's statement of the affair, and as he was not a regularly commissioned officer, MORGAN was held. These statements are BURBECK's.


MORGAN appealed at once to Governor TOD, as commander-in-chief of the Ohio militia. He took a little time to examine the case, and on the 1st of August responded: "I find the facts substantially as follows: A private citizen of New Lisbon, by the name of BURBECK, went out with some fifteen or sixteen others to meet your forces, in advance of a volunteer organized military body from the same place, under the command of Captain CURRY. Said BURBECK is not and never was a militia officer in the service of this State. He was captured by you, and traveled with you some considerable distance before your surrender. Upon his discovering the regular military forces of the United States to be in your advance in line of battle, you surrendered to said BURBECK, then your prisoner. Whether you supposed him to be a captain in the militia service or not is entirely immaterial."


The end of MORGAN's raid is soon told. He and his officers were immured, by order of General HALLECK, in the Ohio Penitentiary, from which the general and six of his fellow officers escaped on the 27th of November. He was killed before the close of the war.

During his expedition Butler County had in the State service fourteen companies and twelve hundred and two men. There were paid for them $3,220.73. In 1864 the Legislature appointed a commission to examine and pass upon the claims for damages to property in this raid. This county claimed for damages done by the United States forces $4,818; damages done by other Union forces, not under command of United States officers, $666; amount allowed for the first $4,175, and the second $516.