Some weeks previous to this conference, by Morgan's direction I had sent competent men to examine the fords of the upper Ohio. He had even then contemplated such an expedition. It had long been his conviction that the Confederacy could maintain the struggle only by transferring hostilities and waging war, whenever opportunity offered, on Northern soil. Upon his return from this interview he told me what had been discussed, and what were General Bragg's instructions. He said that he meant to disobey them; that the emergency, he believed, justified disobedience. He was resolved to cross the Ohio River and invade Indiana and Ohio. His command would probably be captured, he said; but in no other way could he give substantial aid to the army. General Bragg had directed Morgan to detail two thousand men for the expedition. From the two brigades commanded respectively by myself and Colonel Adam R. Johnson, Morgan selected twenty-four hundred and sixty of the best-mounted and most effective. He took with him four pieces of artillery—two 3-inch Parrotts, attached to the First Brigade, and two 12-pounder howitzers, attached to the Second.
I should state that Morgan had thoroughly planned the raid before he marched from Tennessee. He meant to cross the Cumberland in the vicinity of Burkesville, and to march directly across Kentucky to the nearest point at which he could reach the Ohio west of Louisville, so closely approaching Louisville as to compel belief that he meant to attempt its capture. Turning to the right after entering Indiana, and marching as nearly due east as possible, he would reduce to a minimum the distance necessary to be covered, and yet threaten and alarm the population of the two States as completely as by penetrating deeply into them; more so, indeed, for pursuing this line he would reach the immediate vicinity of Cincinnati and excite fears for the safety of that city. While he intended to prolong the raid to the uttermost, he proposed to be at no time far from the Ohio, so that he might avail himself of an opportunity to recross. On reaching the borders of Pennsylvania, he intended, if General Lee should be in that State, to make every effort to join him; failing in that, to make his escape through West Virginia. Information he had gotten about the fords of the upper Ohio had induced him to indicate Buffington's Island as the point where he would attempt to recross that stream. He deemed the passage of the Cumberland one of the four chief difficulties of the expedition that might prove really dangerous and insuperable; the other three were the passage of the Ohio, the circuit around Cincinnati, and the recrossing of the Ohio.
Before noon on the 2d of July my brigade began to cross the Cumberland at Burkesville and at Scott's Ferry, two miles higher up the stream. The river, swollen by heavy and long-continued rains, was pouring down a volume of water which overspread its banks and rushed with a velocity that seemed to defy any attempt to stem it. Two or three canoes lashed together and two small flats served to transport the men and the field-pieces, while the horses were made to swim. Many of them were swept far down by the boiling flood. This process was necessarily slow, as well as precarious. Colonel Johnson, whose brigade was crossing at Turkey Neck Bend, several miles below Burkesville, was scarcely so well provided with the means of ferriage as myself. About 3 P.M. the enemy began to threaten both brigades. Had these demonstrations been made earlier, and vigorously, we could have gotten over the river. Fortunately by this time we had taken over the 6th Kentucky and 9th Tennessee of my brigade—aggregating nearly six hundred men—and also the two pieces of artillery. These regiments were moved beyond Burkesville and placed in a position which served all the purposes of an ambuscade. When the enemy approached, one or two volleys caused his column to recoil in confusion. General Morgan instantly charged it with Quirk's scouts and some companies of the 9th Tennessee, and not only prevented it from rallying, but drove it all the way back to Marrowbone, entering the encampment there with the troops he was pursuing in a pell-mell dash. He was soon driven back, however, by the enemy's infantry and artillery.
The effect of this blow was to keep the enemy quiet for the rest of the day and night. The forces threatening Colonel Johnson were also withdrawn, and we both accomplished the passage of the river without further molestation. That night the division marched out on the Columbia road and encamped about two miles from Burkesville. On the next day Judah concentrated the three brigades of his cavalry command in that region, while orders were sent to all the other Federal detachments in Kentucky to close in upon our line of march.
General Bragg had sent with the expedition a large party of commissaries of subsistence, who were directed to collect cattle north of the Cumberland and drive them, guarded by one of our regiments, to Tullahoma. I have never understood how he expected us to be able, under the circumstances, to collect the cattle, or the foragers to drive them out. The commissaries did not attempt to carry out their instructions, but followed us the entire distance and pulled up in prison. They were gallant fellows and made no complaint of danger or hardship, seeming rather to enjoy it.
There was one case, however, which excited universal pity. An old farmer and excellent man, who lived near Sparta, had accompanied us to Burkesville; that is, he meant to go no farther, and thought we would not. He wished to procure a barrel of salt, as the supply of that commodity was exhausted in his part of the country. He readily purchased the salt, but learned, to his consternation, that the march to Burkesville was a mere preliminary canter. He was confronted with the alternative of going on a dangerous raid or of returning alone through a region swarming with the fierce bushwhackers of "Tinker Dave" Beattie, who never gave quarter to Confederate soldier or Southern sympathizer. He knew that if he fell into their hands they would pickle him with his own salt. So this old man sadly yet wisely resolved to follow the fortunes of Morgan. He made the grand tour, was hurried along day after day through battle and ambush, dragged night after night on the remorseless march, ferried over the broad Ohio under fire of the militia and gunboats, and lodged at last in a "loathsome dungeon." On one occasion, in Ohio, when the home guards were peppering us in rather livelier fashion than usual, he said to Captain C.H. Morgan, with tears in his voice: "I sw'ar if I wouldn't give all the salt in Kaintucky to stand once more safe and sound on the banks of Calfkiller Creek."
Pushing on before dawn of the 3d, we reached Columbia in the afternoon. The place was occupied by a detachment of Colonel Frank Wolford's brigade, which was quickly driven out. Encamping that evening some eight miles from Columbia, we could hear all night the ringing of the axes near Green River bridge, on the road from Columbia to Campbellsville. Three or four hundred of the 25th Michigan Infantry were stationed at the bridge to protect it; but the commander, Colonel Orlando H. Moore, deliberately quitting the elaborate stockade erected near the bridge,—in which nine officers out of ten would have remained, but where we could have shelled him into surrender without losing a man ourselves,—selected one of the strongest natural positions I ever saw, and fortified it skilfully although simply. The Green River makes here an immense horseshoe sweep, with the bridge at the toe of the horseshoe; and more than a mile south of it was the point where Colonel Moore elected to make his fight. The river there wound back so nearly upon its previous course that the peninsula, or "neck," was scarcely a hundred yards wide. This narrow neck was also very short, the river bending almost immediately to the west again. At that time it was thickly covered with trees and undergrowth, and Colonel Moore, felling the heaviest timber, had constructed a formidable abatis across the narrowest part of it. Just in front of the abatis there was open ground for perhaps two hundred yards. South of the open was a deep ravine. The road ran on the east side of the cleared place, and the banks of the river were high and precipitous. The center of the open space rose into a swell, sloping gently away both to the north and south. On the crest of the swell Moore had thrown up a slight earthwork, which was manned when we approached. An officer was promptly despatched with a flag to demand his surrender. Colonel Moore responded that an officer of the United States ought not to surrender on the Fourth of July, and he must therefore decline. Captain "Ed" Byrne had planted one of the Parrott guns about six hundred yards from the earthwork, and on the return of the bearer of the flag opened fire, probing the work with a round shot. One man in the trench was killed by this shot, and the others ran back to the abatis.
Colonel Johnson, whose brigade was in advance, immediately dashed forward with the 3d and 11th Kentucky to attack the main position. Artillery could not be used, for the guns could bear upon the abatis only from the crest of which I have spoken, and if posted there the cannoneers, at the very short range, would not have been able to serve their pieces. The position could be won only by direct assault. The men rushed up to the fallen timber, but became entangled in the network of trunks and branches, and were shot down while trying to climb over or push through them. I reinforced Johnson with a part of Smith's regiment, the 5th Kentucky, but the jam and confusion incident to moving in so circumscribed an area and through the dense undergrowth broke the force of the charge. The enemy was quite numerous enough to defend a line so short and strong and perfectly protected on both flanks. We had not more than six hundred men actually engaged, and the fighting lasted not longer than fifteen or twenty minutes. Our loss was about ninety, nearly as many killed as wounded. Afterward we learned that Colonel Moore's loss was six killed and twenty-three wounded. When General Morgan ordered the attack he was not aware of the strength of the position; nor had he anticipated a resistance so spirited and so skilfully planned. He reluctantly drew off without another assault, convinced that to capture the abatis and its defenders would cost him half his command. Among the killed were Colonel D.W. Chenault and Captain Alexander Treble of the 11th Kentucky, Lieutenant Robert Cowan of the 3d, and Major Thomas Y. Brent, Jr., and Lieutenants Holloway and Ferguson of the 5th. These officers were all killed literally at the muzzles of the rifles.
Colonel Moore's position might easily have been avoided; indeed, we passed around it immediately afterward, crossing the river at a ford about two miles below the bridge. Morgan assailed it merely in accordance with his habitual policy when advancing of attacking all in his path except very superior forces.
On the same afternoon Captain William M. Magenis, assistant adjutant-general of the division, a valuable officer, was murdered by a Captain Murphy, whom he had placed under arrest for robbing a citizen. Murphy made his escape from the guard two or three days subsequently, just as the court-martial which was to have tried him was convening.
On the morning of July 5th the column reached Lebanon, which was garrisoned by the 20th Kentucky Infantry, commanded by Colonel Charles S. Hanson. The 8th and 9th Michigan Cavalry and the 11th Michigan Battery, under command of Colonel James I. David, were approaching by the Danville road to reinforce the garrison, necessitating a large detachment to observe them. Morgan's demand for surrender having been refused, artillery fire was directed upon the railroad depot and other buildings in which the enemy had established himself; but, as the Federals endured it with great firmness, it became necessary to carry the town by assault. Our loss was some forty in killed and wounded, including several excellent officers. One death universally deplored was that of the General's brother, Lieutenant Thomas H. Morgan. He was a bright, handsome, and very gallant lad of nineteen, the favorite of the division. He was killed in front of the 2d Kentucky in the charge upon the depot. The Federal loss was three killed and sixteen wounded, and three hundred and eighty were prisoners.
Without delay we passed through Springfield and Bardstown, crossing the Louisville and Nashville Railroad at Lebanon Junction, thirty miles from Louisville, on the evening of the 6th. At Springfield two companies of about ninety men were sent toward Harrodsburg and Danville to occupy the attention of the Federal cavalry in that quarter. From Bardstown, Captain W.C. Davis, acting assistant adjutant-general of the First Brigade, was sent with a detachment of one hundred and thirty men to scout in the vicinity of Louisville, to produce the impression that the city was about to be attacked, and to divert attention from the passage of the Ohio by the main body at Brandenburg. He was instructed to cross the river somewhere east of Louisville and to rejoin the column on its line of march through Indiana. He executed the first part of the program perfectly, but was unable to get across the river. Tapping the wires at Lebanon Junction, we learned from intercepted despatches that the garrison at Louisville was much alarmed, and in expectation of an immediate attack.
The detachments I have just mentioned, with some smaller ones previously sent off on similar service, aggregated not less than two hundred and sixty men permanently separated from the division; which, with a loss in killed and wounded, in Kentucky, of about one hundred and fifty, had reduced our effective strength at the Ohio, by more than four hundred.
The rapid and constant marching already began to tell upon both horses and men, but we reached the Ohio at Brandenburg at 9 A.M. on the 8th. Captains Samuel Taylor and H.C. Meriwether of the 10th Kentucky had been sent forward the day before, with their companies, to capture steamboats. We found them in possession of two large craft. One had been surprised at the wharf, and steaming out on her, they had captured the other. Preparations for crossing were begun; but, just as the first boat was about to push off, an unexpected musketry fire was opened from the Indiana side by a party of home-guards collected behind some houses and haystacks. They were in pursuit of Captain Thomas H. Hines, who had that morning returned from Indiana to Kentucky, after having undertaken a brief expedition of his own. This fire did no harm, the river here being eight hundred or a thousand yards wide. But in a few minutes the bright gleam of a field-piece spouted through the low-hanging mist on the farther bank. Its shell pitched into a group near the wharf, severely wounding Captain W.H. Wilson, acting quartermaster of the First Brigade. Several shots from this piece followed in quick succession, but it was silenced by Lieutenant Lawrence with his Parrotts. The 2d Kentucky and 9th Tennessee were speedily ferried over without their horses, and forming under the bluff they advanced upon the militia, which had retired to a wooded ridge some six hundred yards from the river-bank, abandoning the gun. The two regiments were moving across some open ground, toward the ridge, sustaining no loss from the volleys fired at them, and the boats had scarcely returned for further service when a more formidable enemy appeared. A gunboat, the Elk, steamed rapidly round the bend, and began firing alternately upon the troops in the town and those already across. The situation was now extremely critical. We could not continue the ferriage while this little vixen remained, for one well-directed shot would have sent either of the boats to the bottom. Delay was exceedingly hazardous, affording the enemy opportunity to cut off the regiments we had already sent over, and giving the cavalry in pursuit of us time to come up. If forced to give up the attempt to cross the river, we must also abandon our comrades on the other side. So every piece of artillery was planted and opened on the gunboat, and after an hour or two of vigorous cannonading she was driven off. By midnight all our troops were over.
About noon of the 9th the column reached the little town of Corydon, Indiana, which proved not nearly so gentle as its name. Our advance-guard, commanded by Colonel R.C. Morgan, found a body of militia there, ensconced behind stout barricades of fence rails, stretching for some distance on each side of the road. Colonel Morgan charged the barricade, his horses could not leap it, the militia stood resolutely, and he lost sixteen men. A few dismounted skirmishers thrown upon the flanks, and a shot or two from one of the pieces which accompanied the advance-guard, quickly dispersed them, however, and we entered the town without further resistance.
Our progress, quite rapid in Kentucky, was now accelerated, and we were habitually twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four in the saddle, very frequently not halting at night or going into camp at all. For the first three or four days we saw nothing of the inhabitants save in their character as militia, when they forced themselves on our attention much more frequently than we desired. The houses were entirely deserted. Often we found the kitchen fire blazing, the keys hanging in the cupboard lock, and the chickens sauntering about the yard with a confidence which proved that they had never before seen soldiers.
As the first scare wore off, however, we found the women and children remaining at home, while the men went to the muster. When a thirsty cavalryman rode up to a house to inquire for buttermilk, he was generally met by a buxom dame, with a half-dozen or more small children peeping out from her voluminous skirts, who, in response to a question about the "old man," would say: "The men hev all gone to the 'rally'; you'll see 'em soon." We experienced little difficulty in procuring food for man and horse. Usually upon our raids it was much easier to obtain meat than bread. But in Indiana and Ohio we always found bread ready baked at every house. In Ohio, on more than one occasion, in deserted houses we found pies, hot from the oven, displayed upon tables conveniently spread. The first time that I witnessed this sort of hospitality was when I rode up to a house where a party of my men were standing around a table garnished as I have described, eyeing the pies hungrily, but showing no disposition to touch them. I asked, in astonishment, why they were so abstinent. One of them replied that they feared the pies might be poisoned. I was quite sure, on the contrary, that they were intended as a propitiatory offering. I have always been fond of pies,—these were of luscious apples,—so I made the spokesman hand me one of the largest, and proceeded to eat it. The men watched me vigilantly for two or three minutes, and then, as I seemed much better after my repast, they took hold ravenously.
The severe marching made an exchange of horses a necessity, though as a rule the horses we took were very inferior to the Kentucky and Tennessee stock we had brought with us, and which had generally a large infusion of thoroughbred blood. The horses we impressed were for the most part heavy, sluggish beasts, barefooted and grass-fed, and gave out after a day or two, sometimes in a few hours. A strong provost guard, under Major Steele of the 3d Kentucky, had been organized to prevent the two practices most prejudicial to discipline and efficiency—straggling and pillage. There were very good reasons, independent of the provost guard, why the men should not straggle far from the line of march; but the well-filled stores and gaudy shop-windows of the Indiana and Ohio towns seemed to stimulate, in men accustomed to impoverished and unpretentious Dixie, the propensity to appropriate beyond limit or restraint. I had never before seen anything like this disposition to plunder. Our perilous situation only seemed to render the men more reckless. At the same time, anything more ludicrous than the manner in which they indulged their predatory tastes can scarcely be imagined. The weather was intensely warm,—the hot July sun burned the earth to powder, and we were breathing superheated dust,—yet one man rode for three days with seven pairs of skates slung about his neck; another loaded himself with sleigh-bells. A large chafing-dish, a medium-sized Dutch clock, a green glass decanter with goblets to match, a bag of horn buttons, a chandelier, and a bird-cage containing three canaries were some of the articles I saw borne off and jealously fondled. The officers usually waited a reasonable period, until the novelty had worn off, and then had this rubbish thrown away. Baby shoes and calico, however, were the staple articles of appropriation. A fellow would procure a bolt of calico, carry it carefully for a day or two, then cast it aside and get another.
From Corydon our route was via Salem, Vienna, Lexington, Paris, Vernon, Dupont, and Sumanville to Harrison, near the Ohio State line and twenty-five miles from Cincinnati. Detachments were sent to Madison, Versailles, and other points, to burn bridges, bewilder and confuse those before and behind us, and keep bodies of military stationary that might otherwise give trouble. All were drawn in before we reached Harrison. At this point Morgan began demonstrations intended to convey the impression that he would cross the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad at Hamilton. He had always anticipated difficulty in getting over this road; fearing that the troops from Kentucky would be concentrated at or near Cincinnati, and that every effort would be made to intercept him there. If these troops lined the railroad and were judiciously posted, he knew it would be extremely difficult to elude them or cut his way through them. He believed that if he could pass this ordeal safely, the success of the expedition would be assured, unless the river should be so high that the boats would be able to transport troops to intercept him at the upper fords.
After remaining at Harrison two or three hours, and sending detachments in the direction of Hamilton, he moved with the entire column on the Hamilton road. But as soon as he was clear of the town, he cut the telegraph-wires—previously left intact with the hope that they might be used to convey intelligence of his apparent movement toward Hamilton—and, turning across the country, gained the direct road to Cincinnati. He hoped that, deceived by his demonstrations at Harrison, the larger part of the troops at Cincinnati would be sent to Hamilton, and that it would be too late to recall them when his movement toward Cincinnati was discovered. He trusted that those remaining would be drawn into the city, under the impression that he meant to attack, leaving the way clear for his rapid transit. He has been criticized for not attempting the capture of Cincinnati, but he had no mind to involve his handful of wearied men in a labyrinth of streets. We felt very much more at home amid rural surroundings. But if he had taken Cincinnati, and had safely crossed the river there, the raid would have been so much briefer, and its principal object to that extent defeated by the release of the troops pursuing us.
We reached the environs of Cincinnati about ten o'clock at night, and were not clear of them until after daybreak. My brigade was marching in the rear, and the guides were with General Morgan in the front. The continual straggling of some companies in the rear of Johnson's brigade caused me to become separated from the remainder of the column by a wide gap, and I was for some time entirely ignorant of what direction I should take. The night was pitch-dark, and I was compelled to light torches and seek the track of the column by the foam dropped from the mouths of the horses and the dust kicked up by their feet. At every halt which this groping search necessitated, scores of tired men would fall asleep and drop out of their saddles. Daylight appeared after we had crossed all of the principal suburban roads, and were near the Little Miami Railroad. I never welcomed the fresh, invigorating air of morning more gratefully. That afternoon we reached Williamsburg, twenty-eight miles east of Cincinnati.
The Ohio militia were more numerous and aggressive than those of Indiana. We had frequent skirmishes with them daily, and although hundreds were captured, they resumed operations as soon as they were turned loose. What excited in us more astonishment than all else we saw were the crowds of able-bodied men. The contrast with the South, drained of adult males to recruit her armies, was striking, and suggestive of anything but confidence on our part in the result of the struggle.
At Piketon we learned that Vicksburg had fallen, and that General Lee, having been repulsed at Gettysburg, had retreated across the Potomac. Under the circumstances this information was peculiarly disheartening. As we approached Pomeroy the militia began to embarrass our march by felling trees and erecting barricades across the roads. In passing near that town we were assailed by regular troops,—as we called the volunteers, in contradistinction to the militia,—and forced a passage only by some sharp fighting. At 1 P.M. on the 18th we reached Chester, eighteen miles from Buffington's Island. A halt here of nearly two hours proved disastrous, as it caused us to arrive at the river after nightfall, and delayed any attempt at crossing until the next morning. Morgan thoroughly appreciated the importance of crossing the river at once, but it was impossible. The darkness was intense, we were ignorant of the ford and without guides, and were encumbered with nearly two hundred wounded, whom we were unwilling to abandon. By instruction I placed the 5th and 6th Kentucky in position to attack, as soon as day broke, an earthwork commanding the ford, and which we learned was mounted with two guns and manned by three hundred infantry. At dawn I moved upon the work, and found it had been evacuated and the guns thrown over the bluff. Pressing on a few hundred yards to reconnoiter the Pomeroy road, we suddenly encountered the enemy. It proved to be General Judah's advance. The 5th and 6th Kentucky instantly attacked and dispersed it, taking a piece of artillery and forty or fifty prisoners, inflicting some loss in killed and wounded.
The position in which we found ourselves, now that we had light enough to examine the ground, was anything but favorable. The valley we had entered, about a mile long and perhaps eight hundred yards wide at its southern extremity,—the river running here nearly due north and south,—gradually narrows, as the ridge which is its western boundary closely approaches the river-bank, until it becomes a mere ravine. The Chester road enters the valley at a point about equidistant from either end. As the 5th Kentucky fell back that it might be aligned on the 6th Kentucky, across the southern end of the valley, into which Judah's whole force was now pouring, it was charged by the 8th and 9th Michigan and a detachment of the 5th Indiana. A part of the 5th Kentucky was cut off by this charge, the gun we had taken was recaptured, and our Parrotts also fell into the hands of the enemy. They were so clogged with dust, however, as to be almost unserviceable, and their ammunition was expended. Bringing up a part of the 2d Kentucky, I succeeded in checking and driving back the regiments that first bore down on us, but they were quickly reinforced and immediately returned to the attack. In the mean time Colonel Johnson's videttes on the Chester road had been driven in, and the cavalry under Hobson, which had followed us throughout our long march, deployed on the ridge, and attacked on that side. I sent a courier to General Morgan, advising that he retreat up the river and out of the valley with all the men he could extricate, while Colonel Johnson and I, with the troops already engaged, would endeavor to hold the enemy in check. The action was soon hot from both directions, and the gunboats, steaming up the river abreast of us, commenced shelling vigorously. We were now between three assailants. A sharp artillery fire was opened by each, and the peculiar formation we were compelled to adopt exposed us to a severe cross-fire of small arms.
We were in no condition to make a successful or energetic resistance. The men were worn out and demoralized by the tremendous march, and the fatigue and lack of sleep for the ten days that had elapsed since they had crossed the Ohio. Having had no opportunity to replenish their cartridge-boxes, they were almost destitute of ammunition, and after firing two or three rounds were virtually unarmed. To this fact is attributable the very small loss our assailants sustained. Broken down as we were, if we had been supplied with cartridges we could have piled the ground with Judah's men as they advanced over the open plain into the valley. As the line, seeking to cover the withdrawal of the troops taken off by General Morgan, was rolled back by the repeated charges of the enemy, the stragglers were rushing wildly about the valley, with bolts of calico streaming from their saddles, and changing direction with every shrieking shell. When the rear-guard neared the northern end of the valley,—out of which General Morgan with the greater part of the command had now passed,—and perceived that the only avenue of escape was through a narrow gorge, a general rush was made for it. The Michigan regiments dashed into the mass of fugitives, and the gunboats swept the narrow pass with grape. All order lost in a wild tide of flight.
About seven hundred were captured here, and perhaps a hundred and twenty killed and wounded. Probably a thousand men got out with General Morgan. Of these some three hundred succeeded in swimming the river at a point twenty miles above Buffington, while many were drowned in the attempt. The arrival of the gunboats prevented others from crossing. General Morgan had gotten nearly over, when, seeing that the bulk of his command must remain on the Ohio side, he returned. For six more days Morgan taxed energy and ingenuity to the utmost to escape the toils. Absolutely exhausted, he surrendered near the Pennsylvania line, on the 26th day of July, with three hundred and sixty-four men.
The expedition was of immediate benefit, since a part of the forces that would otherwise have harassed Bragg's retreat and swollen Rosecrans's muster-roll at Chickamauga were carried by the pursuit of Morgan so far northward that they were kept from participating in that battle.
But Morgan's cavalry was almost destroyed, and his prestige impaired. Much the larger number of the captured men lingered in the Northern prisons until the close of the war. That portion of his command which had remained in Tennessee became disintegrated; the men either were incorporated in other organizations, or, attracted by the fascinations of irregular warfare, were virtually lost to the service. Morgan, after four or five months' imprisonment in the Ohio penitentiary, effected an escape which has scarcely a parallel for ingenuity and daring. He was received in the South enthusiastically. The authorities at Richmond seemed at first to share the popular sympathy and admiration. But it soon became apparent that his infraction of discipline in crossing the Ohio was not forgiven. Placed for a short time in practical command of the Department of Southwestern Virginia, he was given inadequate means for its defense, and bound with instructions which accorded neither with his temperament nor with his situation. The troops he commanded were not, like his old riders, accustomed to his methods, confident in his genius, and devoted to his fortunes. He attempted aggressive operations with his former energy and self-reliance, but not with his former success. He drove out of West Virginia two invading columns, and then made an incursion into the heart of Kentucky—known as his last Kentucky raid—in the hope of anticipating and deterring a movement into his own territory. Very successful at first, this raid ended, too, in disaster. After capturing and dispersing Federal forces in the aggregate much larger than his own, he encountered at Cynthiana a vastly superior force, and was defeated. Two months later, September 4, 1864, he was killed at Greeneville, Tennessee, while advancing to attack the Federal detachments stationed in front of Knoxville.
[Footnote 5: E.W. Doran of Greeneville, Tenn., gives the following particulars of General Morgan's death:
General Morgan came to Greeneville on September 3, and stationed his troops on a hill overlooking the town from the east, while he and his staff were entertained at the "Williams Mansion," the finest residence in town. At this time Captain Robert C. Carter, in command of a company of Colonel Crawford's regiment, was stationed three or four miles north of the town. He got accurate information of Morgan's whereabouts, and sent a messenger at once to General A.C. Gillem, at Bull's Gap, sixteen miles distant. This message was intrusted to John Davis and two other young men of his company, who rode through a fearful storm, picking their way by the lightning-flashes and arriving there some time before midnight. Other messages were probably sent to Gillem that night from Greeneville, but this was the first received. The report usually given in the histories to the effect that Mrs. Joseph Williams carried the news is not correct, as she was known to be in an opposite direction several miles, and knew nothing of the affair. In an hour after the message was delivered Gillem's forces were hurrying on their way to Greeneville, where they arrived about daylight, and surrounded the house where Morgan was. He ran out, without waiting to dress, to conceal himself in the shrubbery and grape arbors, but was seen from the street and shot by Andrew G. Campbell, a private in the 13th Tennessee. Campbell was promoted to a lieutenancy. Morgan's body was afterward secured by his friends and given decent burial. But little firing was done by either army; and after Morgan was killed his forces marched out of town while the Union forces marched in, in easy range of each other, yet not a shot was fired on either side.]
The remnant of his old command served during the gloomy winter of 1864-65 in the region where their leader met death, fighting often on the same ground. When Richmond fell, and Lee surrendered, they marched to join Joseph E. Johnston. After his capitulation they were part of the escort that guarded, Jefferson Davis in his aimless retreat from Charlotte and laid down their arms at Woodville, Georgia, by order of John. C. Breckinridge, when the armies of the Confederacy were disbanded, and its President became a fugitive.
II. THE CAPTURE
BY ORLANDO B. WILLCOX
When it was known at Indianapolis that General Morgan, with a large force, had crossed the Ohio, the city was panic-stricken. The State had been literally depleted of troops to assist Kentucky, and everybody knew it. The very worst was apprehended—that railways would be cut up, passenger and freight trains robbed, bridges and depots burned, our arsenal pillaged, two thousand Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton liberated, and Jeffersonville, with all its Government stores, and possibly Indianapolis itself, destroyed.
Nor was this all. It had been reported, and partly believed, as afterward indeed proved to be the fact, that the State was literally undermined with rebel sympathizers banded together in secret organizations. The coming of Morgan had been looked for, and his progress through Kentucky watched with considerable anxiety. It was gloomily predicted that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of "Knights of the Golden Circle" and of "Sons of Liberty" would flock to his standard and endeavor to carry the State over to the Confederacy.
Morgan probably had fair reason to believe that his ranks would be at least largely recruited in the southern counties of Indiana. The governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton, went to work with all his tremendous energy and indomitable will, in the face of the greatest opposition that had been encountered in any Northern State, amounting, just before, almost to open rebellion. He proclaimed martial law, though not in express terms, and ordered out the "Legion," or militia, and called upon the loyal citizens of the State to enroll themselves as minute-men, to organize and report for arms and for martial duty. Thousands responded to the call within twenty-four hours—many within two hours. Everything possible was done by telegraph, until the lines were cut. Some arms were found in the State Arsenal, and more with accoutrements and ammunition, together with whole batteries of artillery, were procured from Chicago and St. Louis.
[Footnote 6: According to the report of the adjutant-general of Indiana, 30,000 militia assembled within thirty-six hours, and about the time Morgan was leaving the State 65,000 men were in the field. In Ohio, according to a report made to the adjutant-general, 55,000 militia turned out; many of them refused pay, yet $232,000 were disbursed for services during the raid. It would appear, therefore, that 120,000 militia took the field against Morgan, in addition to the three brigades of General Judah's United State cavalry.—EDITOR.]
The disposition of the State levies that came thronging in was left to me as fast as they were armed. The three great junctions of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad in Indiana, over which troops and supplies were shipped from all points to Rosecrans at Chattanooga—viz., Mitchell, Seymour, and Vernon,—were first to be made secure; for surely Morgan must have some military objectives, and these appeared to be the most likely. The westerly junction was Mitchell. This was quickly occupied and guarded by General James Hughes, with Legion men, reinforced by the new organizations rising in that quarter. Seymour was the most central, and lay directly on the road to Cincinnati and Indianapolis from Louisville; and at Seymour a brigade was assembled from the center of the State, with General John Love, a skilful old army officer, to command it, with instructions to have an eye to Vernon likewise. To this last point Burnside ordered a battery from Cincinnati; and what few troops I had in Michigan, though half organized, came down to Vernon and to General Love. Besides these thus rendezvoused, the people of the southern counties were called upon to bushwhack the enemy, to obstruct roads, to guard trains, bridges, etc., and to make themselves generally useful and pestiferous.
Our militia first came in contact with the enemy opposite Brandenburg, where he crossed; but it made the stand at Corydon Junction, where the road runs between two abrupt hills, across which Colonel Lewis Jordan threw up some light intrenchments. Morgan's advance attempted to ride over these "rail-piles" rough-shod, but lost some twenty troopers unhorsed. They brought up their reserve and artillery, flanked, and finally surrounded Colonel Jordan, who, after an hour's resolute resistance, surrendered.
This gave the raiders the town, and the citizens the first taste of Morgan's style, which somewhat disgusted the numerous class of Southern sympathizers. The shops were given up to plunder, and the ladies levied on for meals for the whole command.
Throwing out columns in various directions, Morgan pushed for Mitchell, where no doubt he expected to cut the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, got as far as Salem in that direction, captured or dispersed a few squads of badly armed minute-men who were guarding depots and bridges, which he burned, and doubtless hearing from his scouts, sent out in citizens' clothes, of Hughes's force collected at Mitchell, he discreetly turned off northeastward, apparently aiming next for Seymour. This I heard with great satisfaction.
The panic at Indianapolis began to subside. Still I felt uneasy for Seymour, as I next heard of Morgan at Vienna, where he tapped the telegraph-lines and learned what he could of all our plans to catch him. He came within nine miles of Seymour. General Love sent out a reconnaissance of sharpshooters under Colonel C.V. De Land, with a couple of field-pieces. They found that Morgan had turned off eastward. Love divined his object, and started De Land and two Indiana regiments of militia for Vernon. Here Morgan next turned up, planted his Parrotts, and demanded surrender. He was defied until Love's arrival with the rest of his militia, and then he swept off in a hurry from Vernon, followed by our men, who captured his pickets and rear-guard, but who, having no cavalry, were soon outmarched.
Morgan secured a great advantage by seizing all the horses within reach, leaving none for the militia or for General E.H. Hobson, which enabled him to gain on his pursuers, and he would then have left Hobson far out of sight but for the home guard, who obstructed the roads somewhat, and bushwhacked his men from every hedge, hill, or tree, when it could be done. But the trouble was that we could not attack him with sufficient organized numbers.
[Footnote 7: General J.M. Shackelford says in his official report: "Our pursuit was much retarded by the enemy's burning all the bridges in our front. He had every advantage. His system of horse-stealing was perfect. He would despatch men from the head of each regiment, on each side of the road, to go five miles into the country, seizing every horse, and then fall in at the rear of the column. In this way he swept the country for ten miles of all the horses."—EDITOR.]
After he left Vernon we felt safe at Indianapolis. "Defensive sites" were abandoned, and the banks brought back their deposits which they had sent off by express to Chicago and the North. Some fears, or hopes, were entertained as to Madison, toward which Morgan next bent his way—fears for the safety of that city, and hopes that, with the help of Judah's troops and the gunboats now on the way up the river, we might put an end to the raid. From Indianapolis we started General Lew Wallace with a good brigade of minute-men, and with high hopes that at either Madison or Lawrenceburg, farther up the river, he might "capture them." The people ahead were asked by telegraph to cooeperate. But after going down that line as far as Dupont, Morgan turned northeast for Versailles, where we next heard of him threatening the Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway. This was a nice bit of work. He baffled all our calculations, and did some damage on both the Ohio and Mississippi and Cincinnati railroads, sending off flying columns in a dozen directions at a time for the purpose, as well as to throw Hobson off the scent. Some of these columns looked like traveling circuses adorned with useless plunder and an excess of clowns. Thus they went through Pierceville and Milan to Harrison, on White River, and on the Ohio line. Here Hobson's advance came upon them, but unfortunately it paused to plant artillery, instead of dashing across the bridge and engaging the raiders until the main body should arrive. This lost us the bridge, which was burned before our eyes, and many hours' delay, marching round by the ford. Their next demonstration was toward Hamilton. Here there was a fine railway bridge over the Big Miami. Hobson followed in such close pursuit through New Baltimore, Glendale, and Miamiville that the raiders did little damage. Their attempt to burn a bridge at Miamiville was repulsed by the home guard. My last troops were despatched from Indianapolis to head them off at Hamilton, after five hours' delay caused by the intoxication of their commander. His successor in command was General Hascall, who swore like a trooper to find himself "just in time to be too late." He proceeded through Hamilton, Ohio, as far as Loveland. But Morgan had sent only a detachment toward Hamilton to divert attention from Cincinnati, toward which he made a rapid march with his whole united force.
Governor Tod of Ohio had already called out the militia and proclaimed martial law. He raised men enough, but Burnside had to organize and arm them. Morgan found the great city guarded, but he passed through the very suburbs by a night march around it, unmolested. He crossed the Little Miami Railroad at daylight, and came north in sight of Camp Dennison, where Colonel Neff half armed his convalescents, threw out pickets, dug rifle-pits, and threw up intrenchments. His fiery old veterans saved a railway bridge, and actually captured a lieutenant and others before they sheered off and went some ten miles northward to Williamsburg. From that point they seemed to be steering for the great bend of the Ohio at Pomeroy.
In the vicinity of Cincinnati, Colonel W.P. Sanders, the splendid raider of East Tennessee, came up from Kentucky with some Michigan cavalry, and joined Hobson in pursuit, and these were about the only fresh horses in the chase. Sanders had come by steamer, and, landing at Cincinnati, had been thrown out from there, it was hoped, ahead of Morgan, who, however, was too quick for him. They met later on.
Under the good management of Colonel A.V. Kautz in advance, with his brigade, and of Sanders, the men now marched more steadily and gained ground. Kautz had observed how the other brigade commanders had lost distance and blown their horses by following false leads, halting and closing up rapidly at the frequent reports of "enemy in front," and by stopping to plant artillery. Marching in his own way, at a steady walk, his brigade forming the rear-guard, he had arrived at Batavia two hours before the main body, that had been "cavorting round the country" all day, "misled by two citizen guides"—possibly Morgan's own men.
Not stopping to draw the rations sent out to him from Cincinnati, Hobson urged his jaded horses through Brown, Adams, and Pike counties, now under the lead of Kautz, and reached Jasper, on the Scioto, at midnight of the 16th, Morgan having passed there at sundown. The next day they raced through Jackson. On the 18th, Hobson, at Rutland, learned that Morgan had been turned off by the militia at Pomeroy, and had taken the Chester road for Portland and the fords of the Ohio. The chase became animated. Our troopers made a march of fifty miles that day and still had twenty-five miles to reach Chester. They arrived there without a halt at eleven at night, and had still fifteen miles to reach the ford. They kept on, and at dawn of the 19th struck the enemy's pickets. Two miles out from Portland, Morgan was brought to bay—and not by Hobson alone. First came the militia, then came Judah. His division had pushed up the river in steamers parallel with Morgan's course. Lieutenant John O'Neil, afterward of Fenian fame, with a troop of Indiana cavalry, kept up the touch on Morgan's right flank by a running fight, stinging it at every vulnerable point, and reporting Morgan's course to Judah in the neck-and-neck race. Aided by the local militia, O'Neil now dashed ahead and fearlessly skirmished with the enemy's flankers from every coign of vantage. He reached the last descent to the river-bottom near Buffington Bar, and near the historical Blennerhasset's Island, early on the morning of the 19th.
The Ohio River was up. It had risen unexpectedly. But here Morgan must cross, if at all. It could not be forded by night, when he got here. He tried the ford at Blennerhasset. Failing in this, his men collected flatboats, and set to work calking them, meantime sending a party to Buffington Bar, where they found a small earthwork and captured its guard; and these things delayed them until morning. General Judah attempted a reconnaissance, resulting in a fight, which he describes as follows in his report:
Before leaving Pomeroy I despatched a courier to General Hobson, apprising him of my direction, and requesting him to press the enemy's rear with all the forces he could bring up. Traveling all night, I reached the last descent to the river-bottom at Buffington Bar at 5.30 A.M. on the 19th. Here, halting my force, and placing my artillery in a commanding position, I determined to make a reconnaissance in person, for the purpose of ascertaining if a report just made to me—that the gunboats had left on a previous evening, the home guards had retreated, and that the enemy had been crossing all night—was true. A very dense fog enveloped everything, confining the view of surrounding objects to a radius of about fifty yards. I was accompanied by a small advance-guard, my escort, and one piece of Henshaw's battery, a section of which, under Captain Henshaw, I had ordered to join my force. I advanced slowly and cautiously along a road leading toward the river, ... when my little force found itself enveloped on three sides—front and both flanks—by three regiments, dismounted, and led by Colonel Basil Ẉ Duke, just discernible through the fog, at a distance of from fifty to a hundred yards. This force, as I afterward learned, had been disposed for the capture of the home guards, intrenched on the bank of the river. To use Colonel Duke's own expression after his capture, "He could not have been more surprised at the presence of my force if it had been dropped from the clouds." As soon as discovered, the enemy opened a heavy fire, advancing so rapidly that before the piece of artillery could be brought into battery it was captured, as were also Captain R.C. Kise, my assistant adjutant-general, Captain Grafton, volunteer aide-de-camp, and between twenty and thirty of my men. Two privates were killed. Major McCook (since dead), paymaster and volunteer aide-de-camp, Lieutenant F.G. Price, aide-de-camp, and ten men were wounded. Searching in vain for an opening through which to charge and temporarily beat back the enemy, I was compelled to fall back upon the main body, which I rapidly brought up into position, and opened a rapid and beautifully accurate artillery fire from the pieces of the 5th Indiana upon a battery of two pieces which the enemy had opened upon me, as well as upon his deployed dismounted force in line. Obstructing fences prevented a charge by my cavalry. In less than half an hour the enemy's lines were broken and in retreat. The advance of my artillery, and a charge of cavalry made by Lieutenant O'Neil, 5th Indiana Cavalry, with only fifty men, converted his retreat into a rout, and drove him upon General Hobson's forces, which had engaged him upon the other road. His prisoners, the piece of artillery lost by me, all of his own artillery (five pieces), his camp equipage, and transportation and plunder of all kinds, were abandoned and captured. We also captured large numbers of prisoners, including Colonels Basil Ẉ Duke, Dick [R.C.] Morgan, and Allen [Ward?], and the most of General Morgan's staff.
[Footnote 8: Major Daniel McCook, father of the famous fighting family, who pushed himself in, against remonstrance, to find the slayer of his son (General Robert L. McCook), reported to be with Morgan.]
Yet with a considerable force Morgan succeeded in making his escape, and started into the interior like a fox for cover. Passing around the advanced column of his enemy, he suddenly came upon the end of Shackelford's column, under Wolford, whom he at once attacked with his usual audacity. Shackelford reversed his column, selected his best horses, and gave pursuit. He overtook the enemy at Backum Church, where Wolford's Kentucky fellows rushed upon Morgan's men with drawn sabers and Kentucky yells, and chased them until next afternoon, when they were found collected on a high bluff, where some hundreds surrendered; but Morgan again escaped, and with over six hundred horsemen gave our fellows a long chase yet by the dirt road and by rail. Continuing north through several counties, he veered northwest toward the Pennsylvania line, even now burning buildings, car-loads of freight, and bridges by the way, though hotly hounded by Shackelford, and flanked and headed off by troops in cars.
Among the latter was Major W.B. Way, of the 9th Michigan, with a battalion of his regiment. Way had left the cars at Mingo and marched over near to Steubenville, where he began a skirmish which lasted over twenty-five miles toward Salineville, away up in Columbiana County. Here he brought Morgan to bay. The latter still fought desperately, losing 200 prisoners, and over 70 of his men killed or wounded, and skipped away. Another Union detachment came up by rail under Major George W. Rue, of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry, joined Shackelford at Hammondsville, and took the advance with 300 men.
[Footnote 9: Mr. E.E. Day makes the following statement in regard to Morgan's brief stay at Wintersville:
Defeated at Buffington Bar, Morgan abandoned his plan of making a watering trough of Lake Erie, and fled north through the tier of river counties, keeping within a few miles of the Ohio. The river was low, but not fordable except at Coxe's Riffle, a few miles below Steubenville. Headed at this point also, he struck across the country and passed through Wintersville, a small village five miles west of Steubenville. That was a memorable Saturday in Wintersville. Morgan's progress across the State had been watched with the most feverish anxiety, and the dread that the village might lie in his path filled the hearts of many. The wildest rumors passed current. Morgan and his "guerrillas," it was said, would kill all the men, lay the village in ashes, and carry off the women and children. The militia, or "hundred-day men," who lived in or near the village, drilled in the village streets, and fired rattling volleys of blank cartridges at a board fence, in preparation for the coming conflict. On Friday evening word came that Morgan would attempt to force a passage at Coxe's Riffle the next morning, and the militia marched to Steubenville to help intercept him. A bloody battle was expected. About the middle of the forenoon a horseman dashed into the village shouting, "Morgan's coming! He's just down at John Hanna's!" and galloped on to warn others. Mr. Hanna was a farmer living about a mile south of the village. He had shouldered his musket and gone with the militia, leaving his wife and two children at home. About ten o'clock Morgan's men were seen coming up the road. Mrs. Hanna with her children attempted to reach a neighbor's house, but they were overtaken and ordered to the house, which they found full of soldiers. Morgan and his officers were stretched, dusty clothes, boots, and all, upon her beds, and a negro was getting dinner. While the third table was eating, a squad of militiamen appeared on a neighboring hill. Morgan ordered their capture, saying, "What will those Yankees do with the thousand men I have?" A number of Morgan's men started to carry out their chief's command, but the militia made good their escape. Soon after, word came that Shackelford's men were near, and Morgan left so hurriedly that he neglected to take the quilts and blankets his men had selected.
In the village all was consternation. Many of the women and children gathered at the Maxwell Tavern. Their terror upon hearing that Morgan was "just down at Hanna's" cannot be described. Word had been sent to Steubenville, and Colonel James Collier marched out with a force of about eight hundred militia, sending a squad under command of Captain Prentiss to reconnoiter. They galloped through the village, and as Morgan's advance came in sight began firing. The fire was returned, and a private named Parks, from Steubenville, was wounded. Morgan's men charged the scouting party, sending them through the village back to the main body in a very demoralized condition. The frightened women, and still worse frightened children, no sooner saw the "dust-brown ranks" of the head of Morgan's column than they beat a hasty retreat down the alley to the house of Dr. Markle, the village physician. This change of base was made under fire, as Morgan's men were shooting at the retreating militia, and also at a house owned by William Fisher, in which they had heard there were a number of militiamen. At the doctor's house all crowded into one room, and were led in prayer by the minister's wife. The retreat of the scouting party did not have a very cheering effect upon the advancing militia. As they passed a field of broom-corn several men suddenly disappeared, their swift course through the cane being easily followed by the swaying of the tassels. The militia were met by rumors that the village was in ashes. Morgan did not set fire to the village, but his men found time to explore the village store, and to search the Fisher house, in the second story of which they found a flag. Morgan's men were hardly out of sight on the Richmond road when Colonel Collier and the militia appeared. They formed line of battle on a hill east of the village just in time to see Shackelford's advance coming along the road over which they were expecting Morgan. The colonel at once opened fire with his six-pounder loaded with scrap-iron. The first shot did little damage. One piece of scrap-iron found its way to the right, and struck with a resounding thwack against the end of the Maxwell Tavern. The second shot did not hit anything. One of Shackelford's officers rode across the field and inquired, "What are you fools shooting at?" The colonel then learned, to his astonishment, that Morgan was at least two miles out on the Richmond road. Many who had been conspicuously absent then showed themselves, and the daring deeds and hairbreadth escapes which came to light are not to be lightly referred to. At least a dozen dead rebels, it was said, would be discovered in the fields when the farmers came to cut their oats, but for some reason the bodies were never found.]
At Salineville he found Morgan, pursued by Major Way, pushing for Smith's Ford on the Ohio. Breaking into trot and gallop, he outmarched and intercepted the fugitives at the cross-roads near Beaver Creek, and had gained the enemy's front and flank when a flag of truce was raised, and Morgan coolly demanded his surrender. Rue's threat to open fire brought Morgan to terms, when another issue was raised. It was now claimed that Morgan had already surrendered, namely, to a militia officer, and had been by him paroled. This "officer" turned out to be "Captain" James Burbick, of the home guard. Rue held Morgan, with 364 officers and men and 400 horses, till General Shackelford came up, who held them as prisoners of war.
[Footnote 10: General W.T.H. Brooks says in his report:
Morgan had passed a company of citizens from New Lisbon, and agreed not to fire upon them if they would not fire upon him. He had taken two or three of their men prisoners, and was using them as guides. Among them was a Mr. Burbick, of New Lisbon, who had gone out at the head of a small squad of mounted men. When Morgan saw that his advance was about to be cut off by Major Rue, he said to this Captain Burbick: "I would prefer to surrender to the militia rather than to United States troops. I will surrender to you if you will agree to respect private property and parole the officers and men as soon as we get to Cincinnati." Burbick replied that he knew nothing about this business. Morgan said, "Give me an answer, yes or no." Burbick, evidently in confusion, said, "Yes."
James Burbick sent a statement to Governor Tod, in which he said that he was not a prisoner with Morgan, but that he was guiding him voluntarily away from the vicinity of New Lisbon, after Morgan had agreed not to pass through that town. Burbick reported that he accepted Morgan's surrender, and started for the rear with a handkerchief tied to a stick to intercept the advancing troops, while Lieutenant C.D. Maus, a prisoner with Morgan, was sent with another flag of truce across the fields.]
And thus ended the greatest of Morgan's raids. By it Bragg lost a fine large division of cavalry, that, if added to Buckner's force,—already equal to Burnside's in East Tennessee,—might have defeated Burnside; or, if thrown across Rosecrans's flanks or long lines of supply and communication, or used in reconnaissance on the Tennessee River, might have baffled Rosecrans's plans altogether. As it was, Rosecrans was able to deceive Bragg by counterfeit movements that could easily have been detected by Morgan.
III. THE ESCAPE
BY THOMAS H. HINES
On the 31st of July and the 1st of August, 1863, General John H. Morgan, General Basil W. Duke, and sixty-eight other officers of Morgan's command, were, by order of General Burnside, confined in the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus. Before entering the main prison we were searched and relieved of our pocket-knives, money, and of all other articles of value, subjected to a bath, the shaving of our faces, and the cutting of our hair. We were placed each in a separate cell in the first and second tiers on the south side in the east wing of the prison. General Morgan and General Duke were on the second range, General Morgan being confined in the last cell at the east end, those who escaped with General Morgan having their cells in the first range.
[Footnote 11: Condensed from "The Bivouac" of June, 1885.]
From five o'clock in the evening until seven o'clock in the morning we were locked into our cells, with no possible means of communication with one another; but in the day, between these hours, we were permitted to mingle together in the narrow hall, twelve feet wide and one hundred and sixty long, which was cut off from the other portion of the building, occupied by the convicts, by a plank partition, in one end of which was a wooden door. At each end of the hall, and within the partitions, was an armed military sentinel, while the civil guards of the prison passed at irregular intervals among us, and very frequently the warden or his deputy came through in order to see that we were secure and not violating the prison rules. We were not permitted to talk with or in any way to communicate with the convicts, nor were we permitted to see any of our relatives or friends that might come from a distance to see us, except upon the written order of General Burnside, and then only in the presence of a guard. Our correspondence underwent the censorship of the warden, we receiving and he sending only such as met his approbation; we were not permitted to have newspapers, or to receive information of what was going on in the outside busy world.
Many plans for escape, ingenious and desperate, were suggested, discussed, and rejected because deemed impracticable. Among them was bribery of the guards. This was thought not feasible because of the double set of guards, military and civil, who were jealous and watchful of each other, so that it was never attempted, although we could have commanded, through our friends in Kentucky and elsewhere, an almost unlimited amount of money.
On a morning in the last days of October I was rudely treated, without cause, by the deputy warden. There was no means of redress, and it was not wise to seek relief by retort, since I knew, from the experience of my comrades, that it would result in my confinement in a dark dungeon, with bread and water for diet. I retired to my cell, and closed the door with the determination that I would neither eat nor sleep until I had devised some means of escape. I ate nothing and drank nothing during the day, and by nine o'clock I had matured the plan that we carried into execution. It may be that I owed something to the fact that I had just completed the reading of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," containing such vivid delineations of the wonderful escapes of Jean Valjean, and of the subterranean passages of the city of Paris. This may have led me to the line of thought that terminated in the plan of escape adopted. It was this: I had observed that the floor of my cell was upon a level with the ground upon the outside of the building, which was low and flat, and also that the floor of the cell was perfectly dry and free from mold. It occurred to me that, as the rear of the cell was to a great extent excluded from the light and air, this dryness and freedom from mold could not exist unless there was underneath something in the nature of an air-chamber to prevent the dampness from rising up the walls and through the floor. If this chamber should be found to exist, and could be reached, a tunnel might be run through the foundations into the yard, from which we might escape by scaling the outer wall, the air-chamber furnishing a receptacle for the earth and stone to be taken out in running the tunnel. The next morning, when our cells were unlocked, and we were permitted to assemble in the hall, I went to General Morgan's cell, he having been for several days quite unwell, and laid before him the plan as I have sketched it. Its feasibility appeared to him unquestioned, and to it he gave a hearty and unqualified approval. If, then, our supposition was correct as to the existence of the air-chamber beneath the lower range of cells, a limited number of those occupying that range could escape, and only a limited number, because the greater the number the longer the time required to complete the work, and the greater the danger of discovery while prosecuting it, in making our way over the outer wall, and in escaping afterward.
With these considerations in view, General Morgan and myself agreed upon the following officers, whose cells were nearest the point at which the tunnel was to begin, to join us in the enterprise: Captain J.C. Bennett, Captain L.D. Hockersmith, Captain C.S. Magee, Captain Ralph Sheldon, and Captain Samuel B. Taylor. The plan was then laid before these gentlemen, and received their approval. It was agreed that work should begin in my cell, and continue from there until completed. In order, however, to do this without detection, it was necessary that some means should be found to prevent the daily inspection of that cell, it being the custom of the deputy warden, with the guards, to visit and have each cell swept every morning. This end was accomplished by my obtaining permission from the warden to furnish a broom and sweep my own cell. For a few mornings thereafter the deputy warden would pass, glance into my cell, compliment me on its neatness, and go on to the inspection of the other cells. After a few days my cell was allowed to go without any inspection whatever, and then we were ready to begin work, having obtained, through some of our associates who had been sent to the hospital, some table-knives made of flat steel files. In my cell, as in the others, there was a narrow iron cot, which could be folded and propped up to the cell wall. I thought the work could be completed within a month.
On the 4th of November work was begun in the back part of my cell, under the rear end of my cot. We cut through six inches of cement, and took out six layers of brick put in and cemented with the ends up. Here we came to the air-chamber, as I had calculated, and found it six feet wide by four feet high, and running the entire length of the range of cells. The cement and brick taken out in effecting an entrance to the chamber were placed in my bed-tick, upon which I slept during the progress of this portion of the work, after which the material was removed to the chamber. We found the chamber heavily grated at the end, against which a large quantity of coal had been heaped, cutting off any chance of exit in that way. We then began a tunnel, running it at right angles from the side of the chamber, and almost directly beneath my cell. We cut through the foundation wall, five feet thick, of the cell block; through twelve feet of grouting, to the outer wall of the east wing of the prison; through this wall, six feet in thickness; and four feet up near the surface of the yard, in an unfrequented place between this wing and the female department of the prison.
During the progress of the work, in which we were greatly assisted by several of our comrades who were not to go out, notably among them Captain Thomas W. Bullitt of Louisville, Kentucky, I sat at the entrance to my cell studiously engaged on Gibbon's Rome and in trying to master French. By this device I was enabled to be constantly on guard without being suspected, as I had pursued the same course during the whole period of my imprisonment. Those who did the work were relieved every hour. This was accomplished, and the danger of the guards overhearing the work as they passed obviated, by adopting a system of signals, which consisted in giving taps on the floor over the chamber. One knock was to suspend work, two to proceed, and three to come out. On one occasion, by oversight, we came near being discovered. The prisoners were taken out to their meals by ranges, and on this day those confined in the first range were called for dinner while Captain Hockersmith was in the tunnel. The deputy warden, on calling the roll, missed Hockersmith, and came back to inquire for him. General Morgan engaged the attention of the warden by asking his opinion as to the propriety of a remonstrance that the general had prepared to be sent to General Burnside. Flattered by the deference shown to his opinion by General Morgan, the warden unwittingly gave Captain Hockersmith time to get out and fall into line for dinner. While the tunnel was being run, Colonel R.C. Morgan, a brother of General Morgan, made a rope, in links, of bed-ticking, thirty-five feet in length, and from the iron poker of the hall stove we made a hook, in the nature of a grappling-iron, to attach to the end of the rope.
The work was now complete with the exception of making an entrance from each of the cells of those who were to go out. This could be done with safety only by working from the chamber upward, as the cells were daily inspected. The difficulty presented in doing this was the fact that we did not know at what point to begin in order to open the holes in the cells at the proper place. To accomplish this a measurement was necessary, but we had nothing to measure with. Fortunately the deputy warden again ignorantly aided us. I got into a discussion with him as to the length of the hall, and to convince me of my error he sent for his measuring-line, and after the hall had been measured, and his statement verified, General Morgan occupied his attention, while I took the line, measured the distance from center to center of the cells,—all being of uniform size,—and marked it upon the stick used in my cell for propping up my cot. With this stick, measuring from the middle of the hole in my cell, the proper distance was marked off in the chamber for the holes in the other cells. The chamber was quite dark, and light being necessary for the work, we had obtained candles and matches through our sick comrades in the hospital. The hole in my cell during the progress of the work was kept covered with a large hand-satchel containing my change of clothing. We cut from underneath upward until there was only a thin crust of the cement left in each of the cells. Money was necessary to pay expenses of transportation and for other contingencies as they might arise. General Morgan had some money that the search had not discovered, but it was not enough. Shortly after we began work I wrote to my sister in Kentucky a letter, which through a trusted convict I sent out and mailed, requesting her to go to my library and get certain books, and in the back of a designated one, which she was to open with a thin knife, place a certain amount of Federal money, repaste the back, write my name across the inside of the back where the money was concealed, and send the box by express. In due course of time the books with the money came to hand. It only remained now to get information as to the time of the running of the trains and to await a cloudy night, as it was then full moon. Our trusty convict was again found useful. He was quite an old man, called Heavy, had been in the penitentiary for many years, and as he had been so faithful, and his time having almost expired, he was permitted to go on errands for the officials to the city. I gave him ten dollars to bring us a daily paper and six ounces of French brandy. Neither he nor any one within the prison or on the outside had any intimation of our contemplated escape.
It was our first thought to make our way to the Confederacy by way of Canada; but, on inspecting the time-table in the paper, it was seen that a knowledge of the escape would necessarily come to the prison officials before we could reach the Canadian border. There was nothing left, then, but to take the train south, which we found, if on time, would reach Cincinnati, Ohio, before the cells were opened in the morning, at which time we expected our absence to be discovered. One thing more remained to be done, and that was to ascertain the easiest and safest place at which to scale the outside wall of the prison. The windows opening outward were so high that we could not see the wall. In the hall was a ladder resting against the wall, fifty feet long, that had been used for sweeping down the wall. A view from the top of the ladder would give us a correct idea of the outside, but the difficulty was to get that view without exciting suspicion.
Fortunately the warden came in while we were discussing the great strength and activity of Captain Samuel B. Taylor, who was very small of stature, when it was suggested that Taylor could go hand over hand on the under side of the ladder to the top, and, with a moment's rest, return in the same way. To the warden this seemed impossible, and, to convince him, Taylor was permitted to make the trial, which he did successfully. At the top of the ladder he rested for a minute and took a mental photograph of the wall. When the warden had left, Taylor communicated the fact that directly south of and at almost right angles from the east end of the block in which we were confined there was a double gate to the outer wall, the inside one being of wooden uprights four inches apart, and the outside one as solid as the wall; the wooden gate being supported by the wing wall of the female department, which joined to the main outer wall.
On the evening of the 27th of November the cloudy weather so anxiously waited for came; and prior to being locked in our cells it was agreed to make the attempt at escape that night. Cell No. 21, next to my cell, No. 20, on the first range, was occupied by Colonel R.C. Morgan, a brother of General Morgan. That cell had been prepared for General Morgan by opening a hole to the chamber, and when the hour for locking up came, General Morgan stepped into Cell 21, and Colonel Morgan into General Morgan's cell in the second range. The guard did not discover the exchange, as General Morgan and Colonel Morgan were of about the same physical proportions, and each stood with his back to the cell door when it was being locked.
At intervals of two hours every night, beginning at eight, the guards came around to each cell and passed a light through the grating to see that all was well with the prisoners. The approach of the guard was often so stealthily made that a knowledge of his presence was first had by seeing him at the door of the cell. To avoid a surprise of this kind we sprinkled fine coal along in front of the cells, walking upon which would give us warning. By a singular coincidence that might have been a fatality, on the day we had determined upon for the escape General Morgan received a letter from Lexington, Kentucky, begging and warning him not to attempt to escape, and by the same mail I received a letter from a member of my family saying that it was rumored and generally believed at home that I had escaped. Fortunately these letters did not put the officials on their guard. We ascertained from the paper we had procured that a train left for Cincinnati at 1.15 A.M., and as the regular time for the guard to make his round of the cells was twelve o'clock, we arranged to descend to the chamber immediately thereafter. Captain Taylor was to descend first, and, passing under each cell, notify the others. General Morgan had been permitted to keep his watch, and this he gave to Taylor that he might not mistake the time to go.
At the appointed hour Taylor gave the signal, each of us arranged his cot with the seat in his cell so as to represent a sleeping prisoner, and, easily breaking the thin layer of cement, descended to the chamber, passed through the tunnel, breaking through the thin stratum of earth at the end. We came out near the wall of the female prison,—it was raining slightly,—crawled by the side of the wall to the wooden gate, cast our grappling-iron attached to the rope over the gate, made it fast, ascended the rope to the top of the gate, drew up the rope, and made our way by the wing wall to the outside wall, where we entered a sentry-box and divested ourselves of our soiled outer garments. In the daytime sentinels were placed on this wall, but at night they were on the inside of the walls and at the main entrance to the prison. On the top of the wall we found a cord running along the outer edge and connecting with a bell in the office of the prison. This cord General Morgan cut with one of the knives we had used in tunneling. Before leaving my cell I wrote and left, addressed to N. Merion, the warden, the following:
CASTLE MERION, CELL NO. 20, November 27, 1863.—Commencement, November 4, 1863; conclusion, November 24, 1863; number of hours for labor per day, five; tools, two small knives. La patience est amere, mais son fruit est doux. By order of my six honorable Confederates. THOMAS H. HINES, Captain, C.S.A.
Having removed all trace of soil from our clothes and persons, we attached the iron hook to the railing on the outer edge of the wall, and descended to the ground within sixty yards of where the prison guards were sitting round a fire and conversing. Here we separated, General Morgan and myself going to the depot, about a quarter, of a mile from the prison, where I purchased two tickets for Cincinnati, and entered the car that just then came in. General Morgan took a seat beside a Federal major in uniform, and I sat immediately in their rear. The general entered into conversation with the major, who was made the more talkative by a copious drink of my French brandy. As the train passed near the prison-wall where we had descended, the major remarked, "There is where the rebel General Morgan and his officers are put for safe-keeping." The general replied, "I hope they will keep him as safe as he is now." Our train passed through Dayton, Ohio, and there, for some unknown reason, we were delayed an hour. This rendered it extra hazardous to go to the depot in the city of Cincinnati, since by that time the prison officials would, in all probability, know of our escape, and telegraph to intercept us. In fact, they did telegraph in every direction, and offered a reward for our recapture. Instead, then, of going to the depot in Cincinnati, we got off, while the train was moving slowly, in the outskirts of the city, near Ludlow Ferry, on the Ohio River. Going directly to the ferry we were crossed over in a skiff and landed immediately in front of the residence of Mrs. Ludlow. We rang the door-bell, a servant came, and General Morgan wrote upon a visiting-card, "General Morgan and Captain Hines, escaped." We were warmly received, took a cup of coffee with the family, were furnished a guide, and walked some three miles in the country, where we were furnished horses. Thence we went through Florence to Union, in Boone County, Kentucky, where we took supper with Daniel Piatt. On making ourselves known to Mr. Piatt, who had two sons in our command, we were treated with the most cordial hospitality and kindness by the entire family. We there met Dr. John J. Dulaney of Florence, Kentucky, who was of great benefit in giving us information as to the best route. That night we went to Mr. Corbin's, near Union,—who also had gallant sons in our command,—where we remained concealed until the next night, and where friends supplied us with fresh horses and a pair of pistols each.
On the evening of the 29th of November we left Union with a voluntary guide, passed through the eastern edge of Gallatin County, and after traveling all night spent the day of the 30th at the house of a friend on the Owen County line. Passing through New Liberty, in Owen County, and crossing the Kentucky River at the ferry on the road to New Castle, in Henry County, we stopped at the house of Mr. Pollard at 2 A.M., December 1. Our guide did not know the people nor the roads farther than the ferry, at which point he turned back. Not knowing the politics of Mr. Pollard, it was necessary to proceed with caution. On reaching his house we aroused him and made known our desire to spend the remainder of the night with him. He admitted us and took us into the family room, where there was a lamp dimly burning on a center-table. On the light being turned up I discovered a Cincinnati "Enquirer" with large displayed head-lines, announcing the escape of General Morgan, Captain Hines, and five other officers from the Ohio penitentiary. The fact that this newspaper was taken by Mr. Pollard was to me sufficient evidence that he was a Southern sympathizer. Glancing at the paper, I looked up and remarked, "I see that General Morgan, Hines, and other officers have escaped from the penitentiary." He responded, "Yes; and you are Captain Hines, are you not?" I replied, "Yes; and what is your name?" "Pollard," he answered. "Allow me, then, to introduce General Morgan," I found that I had not made a mistake.
After rest and a late breakfast and a discussion of the situation, it was deemed inexpedient to remain during the day, as the house was immediately on a public highway, besides the danger of such unexplained delay exciting the suspicion of the negroes on the place. We assumed the character of cattle-buyers, Mr. Pollard furnishing us with cattle-whips to make the assumption plausible. Our first objective point was the residence of Judge W.S. Pryor, in the outskirts of New Castle. After dinner Judge Pryor rode with us some distance, and put us in charge of a guide, who conducted us that night to Major Helm's, near Shelbyville, where we remained during the day of the 2d, and were there joined by four of our command in citizen's dress. That night we passed through Taylorsville, and stopped on the morning of the 3d near Bardstown.
The night of the 4th we resumed our journey, and stopped on the morning of the 5th at Mr. McCormack's at Rolling Fork Creek, in Nelson County, thence through Taylor, Green (passing near Greensburg), Adair, and Cumberland counties, crossing Cumberland River some nine miles below Burkesville. We crossed the Cumberland, which was quite high, by swimming our horses by the side of a canoe. Near the place of crossing, on the south side, we stopped overnight with a private in Colonel R.T. Jacob's Federal cavalry, passing ourselves as citizens on the lookout for stolen horses. Next morning, in approaching the road from Burkesville to Sparta, Tennessee, we came out of a byway immediately in the rear of and some hundred yards from a dwelling fronting on the Burkesville-Sparta road, and screening us from view on the Burkesville end. As we emerged from the woodland a woman appeared at the back door of the dwelling and motioned us back. We withdrew from view, but kept in sight of the door from which the signal to retire was given, when after a few minutes the woman again appeared and signaled us to come forward. She informed us that a body of Federal cavalry had just passed, going in the direction of Burkesville, and that the officer in command informed her that he was trying to intercept General Morgan. We followed the Burkesville road something like a mile, and in sight of the rear-guard. We crossed Obey's River near the mouth of Wolf, and halted for two days in the hills of Overton County, where we came upon forty of our men, who had been separated from the force on the expedition into Indiana and Ohio. These men were placed under my command, and thence we moved directly toward the Tennessee River, striking it about fifteen miles below Kingston, at Bridges's Ferry, December 13. There was no boat to be used in crossing, and the river was very high and angry, and about one hundred and fifty yards wide. We obtained an ax from a house near by, and proceeded to split logs and make a raft on which to cross, and by which to swim our horses. We had learned that two miles and a half below us was a Federal cavalry camp. This stimulated us to the utmost, but notwithstanding our greatest efforts we were three hours in crossing over five horses and twenty-five men. At this juncture the enemy appeared opposite, and began to fire on our men.
Here General Morgan gave characteristic evidence of devotion to his men. When the firing began he insisted on staying with the dismounted men and taking their chances, and was dissuaded only by my earnest appeal and representation that such a course would endanger the men as well as ourselves. The men, by scattering in the mountains, did ultimately make their way to the Confederacy.
General Morgan, myself, and the four mounted men crossed over a spur of the mountains and descended by a bridle-path to a ravine or gulch upon the opposite side, and halted in some thick underbrush about ten steps from a path passing along the ravine. Not knowing the country, it was necessary to have information, or a guide, and observing a log cabin about a hundred yards up the ravine, I rode there to get directions, leaving General Morgan and the others on their horses near the path. I found at the house a woman and some children. She could not direct me over the other spur of the mountain, but consented that her ten-year-old son might go with me and show the way. He mounted behind me, and by the time he was seated I heard the clatter of hoofs down the ravine, and, looking, I saw a body of about seventy-five cavalry coming directly toward me, and passing within ten steps of where the general and his men were sitting on their horses. I saw that my own escape was doubtful, and that any halt or delay of the cavalry would certainly result in the discovery and capture of General Morgan. I lifted the boy from behind me and dashed to the head of the column, exclaiming, "Hurry up, Major, or the rebels will escape!" He responded, "Who are you?" I answered, "I belong to the home-guard company in the bend: hurry, or they are gone." We dashed on, I riding by the major at the head of the column about half a mile, when we came to where a dry branch crossed the road, and, as it had been raining that day, it was easily seen from the soil that had washed down from the side of the mountain that no one had passed there since the rain. Seeing this, the command was halted, and the major again demanded to know who I was. I replied that I was a member of General Morgan's command. "Yes, —— you! You have led me off from Morgan; I have a notion to hang you for it." "No, that was not General Morgan. I have served under him two years and know him well, and have no object in deceiving you; for if it was Morgan, he is now safe." "You lie, for he was recognized at the house where you got the ax. I would not have missed getting him for ten thousand dollars. It would have been a brigadier's commission to me. I will hang you for it." Up to this time I had taken the situation smilingly and pleasantly, because I did not apprehend violence; but the officer, livid with rage from disappointment, directed one of his men to take the halter from his horse and hang me to a designated limb of a tree. The halter was adjusted around my neck, and thrown over the limb. Seeing that the officer was desperately in earnest, I said, "Major, before you perform this operation, allow me to make a suggestion." "Be quick about it, then." "Suppose that was General Morgan, as you insist, and I have led you astray, as you insist, wouldn't I, being a member of his command, deserve to be hung if I had not done what you charge me with?" He dropped his head for a moment, looked up with a more pleasant expression, and said, "Boys, he is right; let him alone."