A large quantity of ammunition, many fine rifles, an abundant supply of medicines, and a field full of ambulances and wagons were the fruits of this victory. The prisoners were double-quicked to Springfield, eight miles distant, for the dilatory Michiganders had at length began to move, and there was no reason for fighting, although we could have whipped them. At Springfield the prisoners were paroled. Company H, of the Second Kentucky, was detached here, and a company of the Sixth Kentucky went off without leave or orders. Company H was sent to Harrodsburg to occupy the attention of Burnside's cavalry. The division marched all night, reaching Bardstown at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 6th. During the night Lieut.-Colonel Alston (acting chief of staff to General Morgan) lay down to sleep in the porch of a house, and awakened to find himself in the hands of the enemy.
At Bardstown, Captain Sheldon, of Company C, Second Kentucky, detached at Muldraugh's hill to reconnoiter toward Louisville, and rejoin us at Bardstown, was patiently watching a party of twenty Federal soldiers, whom he had penned up in a stable. The tramp of the column marching through the town alarmed them, and they surrendered. Leaving Bardstown at ten A.M. on the 6th, the division marched steadily all day. Just at dark the train from Nashville was captured at a point some thirty miles from Louisville. A little of Ellsworth's art applied here discovered for us the fact that Morgan was expected at Louisville, confidently and anxiously, but that an impression prevailed that he would meet with a warm reception. He had no idea of going to receive it.
We marched during the entire night, and on the next morning, after crossing the bridge over Salt river, halted for two or three hours. Captains Taylor and Merriwether, of the Tenth Kentucky, were sent forward to capture boats to enable us to cross the Ohio, and went about their errand in good earnest. On the afternoon of that day, Captain Davis, A.A. General of the first brigade, was selected by General Morgan to undertake a service very important to the success of the expedition. He was directed to proceed, with Company D of the Second Kentucky, and Company A, of Cluke's regiment, to cross the river at Twelve Mile Island, seize boats and cross the river, keep the militia of lower Indiana employed in watching their own "firesides," chicken coops, and stables, so that the column might be comparatively free from molestation, in at least one direction, and to rejoin the division at Salem, Indiana. These two companies, the two detached at Springfield—or rather one detached there; the other marched off without leave—and Captain Salter's company detached near Columbia, to attract Burnside's attention to the country around Crab Orchard, Stanford, etc., (whither he at once hastened and did splendid service, keeping the enemy as busily employed as an ordinary-sized brigade might have done), these companies made five, in all, which were permanently detached from the division.
On the afternoon of the 7th, the column halted at Garnettsville, in Hardin county, and went into camp. It has been frequently surmised, in the North, that Morgan crossed the Ohio river to escape from Hobson. Of all the many wildly and utterly absurd ideas which have prevailed regarding the late war, this is, perhaps, the most preposterous. It is difficult to understand how, even the people whose ideas of military operations are derived from a vague rendition of the newspaper phrases of "bagging" armies, "dispositions made to capture," "deriving material advantages," when the derivers were running like scared deer, it is hard to comprehend how even such people, if they ever look upon maps, or reflect for a moment upon what they read, can receive, as correct, such assertions as the one under consideration. Hobson was from twenty-four to thirty-six hours behind us. He was pursuing us, it should be stated, with the cavalry of Judah's corps—he was, at any rate, a good fifty miles in our rear, and could learn our track only by following it closely. General Morgan, if anxious to escape Hobson, and actuated by no other motive, would have turned at Bardstown, and gone out of Kentucky through the western part of the State, where he would have encountered no hostile force that he could not have easily repulsed. It was not too late to pursue the same general route when we were at Garnettsville. Roads, traversable by artillery and excellent for cavalry, ran thence in every direction. Hobson would have had as little chance to intercept us, as a single hunter has to corner a wild horse in an open prairie. To rush across the Ohio river, as a means of escape, would have been the choice of an idiot, and yet such conduct has been ascribed to the shrewdest, most wide-awake, most far-seeing Captain (in his own chosen method of warfare), the greatest master of "cavalry strategy," that ever lived. That military men in the North should have entertained this opinion, proves, only, that in armies so vast, as that which the United States put into the field, there must necessarily be many men of very small capacity. General Morgan certainly believed that he could, with energy and care, preserve his command from capture after crossing the Ohio, but he no more believed that it would be safer, after having gained the Northern side of the river, than he believed that it was safer in Kentucky than south of the Cumberland.
The division marched from Garnettsville, shortly after midnight, and by 9 or 10 A.M. we were in Brandenburg, upon the banks of the river. Here we found Captains Samuel Taylor and Clay Merriwether, awaiting our arrival. They had succeeded in capturing two fine steamers; one had been taken at the wharf, and, manning her strongly, they cruised about the river until they found and caught the other. We were rejoined here by another officer, whose course had been somewhat eccentric, and his adventure very romantic. This was Captain Thomas Hines, of the Ninth Kentucky, then enjoying a high reputation in our command for skill, shrewdness, and exceeding gallantry, but destined to become much more widely celebrated. While the division was lying along the Cumberland in May, Captain Hines had been sent to Clinton county, with the men of the Ninth Kentucky, whose horses were especially unserviceable, to place them where, with good feeding, rest and attention, the stock might be recruited—to establish, in other words, what was technically known as a "convalescent camp," and in regimental "slang," a "dead horse camp." Captain Hines established his camp and put it into successful operation, but then sought permission to undertake more active and exciting work. He was not exactly the style of man to stay quiet at a "convalescent camp;" it would have been as difficult to keep him there, as to confine Napoleon to Elba, or force the "Wandering Jew" to remain on a cobbler's bench. He obtained from General Morgan an order to take such of his men as were best mounted, and scout "north of the Cumberland." He, therefore, selected thirty or forty of his "convalescents," whose horses were able to hobble, and crossed the river with them. Immediately exchanging his crippled horses for good, sound ones, he commenced a very pleasant and adventurous career, which lasted for some weeks. He attacked and harassed the marching columns of the enemy, and kept the smaller garrisons constantly in fear, and moved about with such celerity that there was no getting at him, occasionally interluding his other occupations by catching and burning a railroad train. He once came very near being entirely destroyed. The enemy succeeded, on one occasion, in eluding his vigilance and surprising him. While he and his men were peacefully bathing in a creek, molesting no one, they were suddenly attacked. Several were captured and the rest were dispersed, but Hines collected them, again, in a day or two.
After a while, finding Kentucky grow warm for him, and not wishing to return to the command to be remanded to the "convalescent camp," he determined to cross over into Indiana and try and stir up the "copperheads." He thought that (according to the tenor of his instructions), he had the right to do so. The order did not specify when he should return from his scout, and Indiana was certainly "north of the Cumberland." He accordingly crossed into Indiana—made his presence known to the people of the State in various ways—and penetrated as far into the interior of the State, as Seymour, at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi and Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroads. He here effected a junction with a greatly more numerous body of militia, which induced him to retrace his steps rapidly to the Ohio (which he recrossed), and arrived at Brandenburg on the very day that we got there. We found him leaning against the side of the wharf-boat, with sleepy, melancholy look—apparently the most listless, inoffensive youth that was ever imposed upon. I do not know what explanation he made General Morgan (of the lively manner in which he had acted under his order), but it seemed to be perfectly satisfactory, and he was ordered to report to Colonel Morgan to assume the position left vacant by the wounding of Captain Franks.
Just before the crossing of the river was commenced, an unexpected fusillade was delivered, from the Indiana shore, upon the men who showed themselves in the little town and upon the boats, which was soon followed by the sharp report of a rifled-cannon. The river at this point is some eight hundred or a thousand yards wide—and the musketry produced no effect. The shell, however, from the piece of artillery pitched into a group on the river bank, scattering it, and wounding Captain Wilson, Quartermaster of the First Brigade. The mist, hanging thick over the river, had prevented us from seeing the parties who directed this firing, take position. Soon the mist lifted or was dispersed by the bright sun, and disclosed a squad of combatants posted behind one or two small houses, a clump of hay stacks, and along the brink of the river on the other side. Apparently, from the mixture of uniforms and plain clothes, which could be discovered by the glass, this force was composed of militia and some regular troops. Several shots were fired from the gun while we were getting our pieces in readiness to reply—but as soon as Lawrence opened upon them with his Parrots, a manifest disposition to retire was seen among our friends who had shown themselves so anxious to give us a warm and early welcome. They attempted to carry the piece of artillery off with them, but were induced by Lawrence to relinquish it. It was mounted upon the wheels of a wagon from which the body had been removed, and, as they moved it by hand, its transportation was difficult and tedious and very disagreeable under fire.
Leaving the piece, they fell back to a wooded ridge five or six hundred yards from the river bank and parallel with it. The Second Kentucky and Ninth Tennessee were immediately put across the river, leaving their horses on the Kentucky shore, and were formed under the bluff bank. As they ascended the bank they were greeted by a volley from the enemy which did no damage, and Colonel Ward and Major Webber at once pressed them on toward the ridge. Scarcely had the boats returned, and while yet the two regiments on the other side were moving across the open fields between the river and the ridge, when a small boat which had for some minutes been in sight, steaming rapidly down the river, began to take a part in the affair. We had watched her with great interest, and were inclined to think, from her bold unhesitating advance, that she was a river gunboat, and when she came within a mile of the town all doubts upon the subject were dispelled. Suddenly checking her way, she tossed her snub nose defiantly, like an angry beauty of the coal-pits, sidled a little toward the town, and commenced to scold. A bluish-white, funnel-shaped cloud spouted out from her left-hand bow and a shot flew at the town, and then changing front forward, she snapped a shell at the men on the other side. The ridge was soon gained by the regiments, however, the enemy not remaining to contest it, and they were sheltered by it from the gunboat's fire. I wish I were sufficiently master of nautical phraseology to do justice to this little vixen's style of fighting, but she was so unlike a horse, or a piece of light artillery, even, that I can not venture to attempt it. She was boarded up tightly with tiers of heavy oak planking, in which embrasures were cut for the guns, of which she carried three bronze twelve-pounder howitzers, apparently. Captain Byrnes transferred the two Parrots to an eminence just upon the river and above the town, and answered her fire. His solid shot skipped about her, in close proximity, and his shells burst close to her, but none seemed to touch her—although it was occasionally hard to tell whether she was hit or not. This duel was watched with the most breathless interest by the whole division; the men crowded in intense excitement upon the bluffs, near the town, to witness it, and General Morgan exhibited an emotion he rarely permitted to be seen.
Two of his best regiments were separated from him by the broad river, and were dismounted, a condition which always appeals to a cavalryman's strongest sympathies; they might at any moment, he feared, be attacked by overwhelming forces, for he did not know what was upon the other side, or how large a swarm Hines had stirred up in the hornet's nest. He himself might be attacked, if delayed too long, by the enemy that he well knew must be following his track. Independently of all considerations of immediate danger, he was impatient at delay and anxious to try his fortune in the new field he had selected. There were many with him who could appreciate his feelings. Behind us two broad States separated us from our friends—a multitude of foes, although we thought little of them, were gathering in our rear.
On the other side of the great river were our comrades needing our aid, perhaps never to be received. When we, too, were across, we would stand face to face with the hostile and angry North—an immense and infuriated population, and a soldiery out-numbering us twenty to one, would confront us. Telegraph lines, tracing the country in every direction, would tell constantly of our movements; railways would bring assailants against us from every quarter, and we would have to run this gauntlet, night and day, without rest or one moment of safety, for six hundred miles. As we looked on the river, rolling before us, we felt that it divided us from a momentous future, and we were eager to learn our fate. After an hour perhaps had elapsed, but which seemed a dozen, the gunboat backed out and steamed up the river. Her shells had nearly all burst short, doing no damage. The boats were put to work again without a moment's delay, to ferry the command over. First, the horses of the men on the other side were carried to them, affording them exquisite gratification. Although no time was lost, and the boats were of good capacity, it was nearly dark before the first brigade was all across. The gunboat returned about five P.M., accompanied by a consort, but a few shots from the Parrots, which had been kept in position, drove them away without any intermission having occurred in the ferriage. The second brigade and the artillery were gotten across by midnight. One of the boats, which was in Government employ, was burned; the other was released.
The first brigade encamped that night about six miles from the river. "A great fear" had fallen upon the inhabitants of that part of the State of Indiana. They had left their houses, with open doors and unlocked larders, and had fled to the thickets and "caves of the hills." At the houses at which I stopped, every thing was just in the condition in which the fugitive owners had left it, an hour or two before. A bright fire was blazing upon the kitchen hearth, bread half made up was in the tray, and many indications convinced us that we had interrupted preparations for supper. The chickens were strolling before the door with a confidence that was touching, but misplaced. General Morgan rode by soon afterward, and was induced to "stop all night." We completed the preparations, so suddenly abandoned, and made the best show for Indiana hospitality that was possible under the disturbing circumstances.
On the next day, the 9th, the division marched at an early hour, the second brigade in advance. At the little town of Corydon, Colonel Morgan's advance guard found a body of militia posted behind rail barricades. He charged them, but they resolutely defended their rail piles, killing and wounding several men, among the latter Lieutenant Thorpe, of Company A, Second Kentucky, Colonel Morgan's acting Adjutant, and a very fine young officer. A demonstration was made upon the flank of the enemy, by one regiment of the second brigade, and Colonel Morgan again advanced upon their front, when, not understanding such a fashion of fighting upon two or three sides at once, the militia broke and ran, with great rapidity, into the town, their progress accelerated (as they got fairly into the streets) by a shot dropped among them from one of the pieces.
Passing through Corydon, we took the Salem road, and encamped some sixteen or eighteen miles from the latter place. On the morning of the 10th, we set out for Salem. Major Webber was ordered to take the advance, and let nothing stop him. He accordingly put his regiment at the head of the column, and struck out briskly. Lieutenant Welsh, of Company K, had the extreme advance with twelve men. As he neared Salem, he saw the enemy forming to receive him, and, without hesitation, dashed in among them. The party he attacked was about one hundred and fifty strong, but badly armed and perfectly raw, and he quickly routed them. He pursued as they fled, and soon, supported by Captain W.J. Jones' company, drove them pell-mell into the town. Here some two or three hundred were collected, but, as the Second Kentucky came pouring upon them, they fled in haste, scattering their guns in the streets. A small swivel, used by the younger population of Salem to celebrate Christmas and the Fourth of July, had been planted to receive us: about eighteen inches long, it was loaded to the muzzle, and mounted in the public square by being propped against a stick of fire wood. It was not fired, however, for the man deputed to perform that important duty, somewhat astounded by the sudden dash into the town, dropped the coal of fire with which he should have touched it off, and before he could get another the rebels captured the piece. The shuddering imagination refuses to contemplate the consequences had that swivel been touched off. Major Webber might have had some trouble with this force, which was being rapidly augmented, but for the promptness and vigor of his attack. He made favorable mention of Captain Cooper, of Company K, and Lieutenant West, of Company I, for gallant and judicious conduct.
A short halt was made in Salem to feed men and horses, and during that time several railroad bridges were burned. The Provost guard had great difficulty in restraining the men from pillaging, and was unsuccessful in some instances, Major Steele, of the Third Kentucky, had been appointed Provost Marshal of the division, and was assisted by picked officers and men from each of the brigades. Major Steele was a most resolute, vigilant, energetic officer, and yet he found it impossible to stop a practice which neither company nor regimental officers were able to aid him in suppressing. This disposition for wholesale plunder exceeded any thing that any of us had ever seen before. The men seemed actuated by a desire to "pay off" in the "enemy's country" all scores that the Federal army had chalked up in the South. The great cause for apprehension, which our situation might have inspired, seemed only to make them reckless. Calico was the staple article of appropriation—each man (who could get one) tied a bolt of it to his saddle, only to throw it away and get a fresh one at the first opportunity. They did not pillage with any sort of method or reason—it seemed to be a mania, senseless and purposeless. One man carried a bird-cage, with three canaries in it, for two days. Another rode with a chafing-dish, which looked like a small metallic coffin, on the pummel of his saddle, until an officer forced him to throw it away. Although the weather was intensely warm, another, still, slung seven pairs of skates around his neck, and chuckled over his acquisition. I saw very few articles of real value taken—they pillaged like boys robbing an orchard. I would not have believed that such a passion could have been developed, so ludicrously, among any body of civilized men. At Piketon, Ohio, some days later, one man broke through the guard posted at a store, rushed in (trembling with excitement and avarice), and filled his pockets with horn buttons. They would (with few exceptions) throw away their plunder after awhile, like children tired of their toys.
Leaving Salem at one or two o'clock, we marched rapidly and steadily. At nightfall we reached Vienna, on the Indianapolis and Jeffersonville railroad. General Morgan placed Ellsworth in the telegraph office here, the operator having been captured before he could give the alarm. Ellsworth soon learned all the news to be had from Louisville and Indianapolis, some of it valuable to us. General Morgan ascertained also that orders had been issued to the militia to fell timber and blockade all of the roads we would be likely to travel—our rapid marching had, hitherto, saved us this annoyance. That night we went into camp near Lexington, a little place six or seven miles from Vienna. General Morgan slept in the town with a small escort, and during the night a party of Federal cavalry entered the town and advanced as far as the house in which he slept, but retired as suddenly as they came. We moved at an early hour on the road to Paris—Colonel Smith was detached to feint against Madison, in order to hold there troops who might prove troublesome if they came out. The division moved quietly through Paris, and in the afternoon arrived in sight of Vernon. Here Colonel Smith rejoined us. A strong force was posted in Vernon, which General Morgan did not care to attack. Fortunately, there were men in the command who knew the country, and the General was enabled to carry the division around the place to the Dupont road. Skirmishers were thrown out on the road, leading into the town which we had left, and also upon the other road, while this movement was being executed. General Morgan sent a demand for the surrender of the place, which was declined, but the officer commanding asked two hours to remove the non-combatants, which reasonable request General Morgan granted. Humane considerations are never inopportune. By the time that the non-combatants were safely removed, the column had become straightened out on the new road, and the skirmishers, after they had burned a bridge or two, were withdrawn.
We encamped that night at 12 P.M., and moved next morning at 3. The fatigue of the marches, from the date of the crossing of the Ohio to the period of the close of the raid, was tremendous. We had marched hard in Kentucky, but we now averaged twenty-one hours in the saddle. Passing through Dupont a little after daylight, a new feature in the practice of appropriation was developed. A large meat packing establishment was in this town, and each man had a ham slung at his saddle. There was no difficulty at any time in supplying men and horses, in either Indiana or Ohio—forage and provisions were to be had in abundance, stop where we would. There is a custom prevailing in those States, which is of admirable assistance to soldiery, and should be encouraged—a practice of baking bread once a week in large quantities. Every house is full of it. The people were still laboring under vast apprehensions regarding us, and it was a rare thing to see an entire family remaining at home. The men met us oftener in their capacity of militia than at their houses, and the "Copperheads" and "Vallandighammers" fought harder than the others. Wherever we passed, bridges and depots, water-tanks, etc., were burned and the railroads torn up, but I knew of but one private dwelling being burned upon the entire raid, and we were fired upon from that one. The country, for the most part, was in a high state of cultivation, and magnificent crops of wheat, especially, attracted our notice on all sides.
What was peculiarly noticeable, however, to men who were fighting against these people, and just from thinned out "Dixie," was the dense population, apparently untouched by the demands of the war. The country was full, the towns were full, and the ranks of the militia were full. I am satisfied that we saw often as many as ten thousand militia in one day, posted at different points. They would frequently fight, if attacked in strong position, but could be dispersed by maneuvering. Had they come upon us as the fierce Kentucky Home-guards would have done, if collected in such numbers, we could not have forced our way through them.
In this immediate country had been recruited the regiment which burned the homes of Company F, the Mississippi company of the Second Kentucky. Colonel Grigsby was detached with his regiment to press on and burn the bridges near Versailles. He dashed into the town, where several hundred militia were collected devising the best means of defending the place, and broke up the council. He captured a large number of horses, rather better stock than had hitherto been procured in Indiana. Marching on steadily all day and the greater part of the next night, we reached a point on the Ohio and Mississippi road, twenty-five miles from Harrison, called Summansville. Here twenty-five hundred militia lay loaded into box cars. We halted to rest, and, unconscious of our presence, although we were close upon them, they moved off in the morning toward Cincinnati. Moving at 5 A.M., we reached Harrison by one o'clock of the 13th. Here General Morgan began to maneuver for the benefit of the commanding officer, at Cincinnati. He took it for granted (for it was utterly impossible moving as rapidly as we were forced to do, and in the midst of a strange and hostile population, to get positive information regarding any matter), that there was a strong force of regular troops in Cincinnati. Burnside had them not far off, and General Morgan supposed that they would, of course, be brought there. If we could get past Cincinnati safely, the danger of the expedition, he thought, would be more than half over. Here he expected to be confronted by the concentrated forces of Judah and Burnside, and he anticipated great difficulty in eluding or cutting his way through them. Once safely through this peril, his escape would be certain, unless the river remained so high that the transports could carry troops to intercept him at the upper crossings. The cavalry following in his rear could not overtake him as long as he kept in motion, and the infantry could not be transported so rapidly by rail to the eastern part of the State that it could be concentrated in sufficient strength to stop him. His object, therefore, entertaining these views and believing that the great effort to capture him would be made as he crossed the Hamilton and Dayton railroad, was to deceive the enemy as to the exact point where he would cross this road, and denude that point as much as possible of troops. He sent detachments in various directions, seeking, however, to create the impression that he was marching to Hamilton.
After two or three hours' halt at Harrison, the division moved directly toward Cincinnati, the detachment coming in in the course of that afternoon. Hoping that his previous demonstrations would induce the sending of the bulk of the troops up the road, and that if any were left at Cincinnati his subsequent threatening movements would cause them to draw into the city, remain on the defensive, and permit him to pass around it without attacking him, he sought to approach the city as nearly as possible without actually entering it and involving his command in a fight with any garrison which might be there. He has been sometimes accused of a lack of enterprise in not capturing Cincinnati. It must be remembered that Cincinnati was not the objective point of this raid; it was not undertaken to capture that city. General Morgan knew nothing, and, in the nature of things, could know nothing of the condition of affairs in the city, or whether it was weakly or strongly garrisoned.
Starting that morning from a point fifty miles distant from Cincinnati, and reaching the vicinity of the city after nightfall, he must have possessed more than human means of obtaining information, had he known these things then, and he did not have a rapping medium on his staff. Moreover, of the twenty-four hundred and sixty effectives with which he had started, he had not two thousand left. He could get fights enough to employ this force handsomely, without running into a labyrinth of streets, and among houses (each one of which might be made a fortification), with the hope that the town might be unoccupied with troops, or that it might be surrendered. Our "Copperhead friends," who could have given us the necessary information, were too loyal, or too busy dodging Burnside's Dutch corporals to come out.
The men in our ranks were worn down and demoralized with the tremendous fatigue, which no man can realize or form the faintest conception of until he has experienced it. It is as different from the fatigue of an ordinary long march, followed by some rest, as the pain given by an hour's deprivation of water is unlike the burning, rabid thirst of fever. Had the city been given up to us, and had the least delay occurred in getting boats with which to cross the river, the men would have scattered to all quarters of the city, and twenty-four hours might have been required to collect them. In that time the net would have been drawn around us. But it must be borne in mind (independently of all these considerations) that General Morgan had given himself a particular work to accomplish. He determined, as has been stated, to traverse Ohio.
To have recrossed the river at Cincinnati, would have shortened the raid by many days, have released the troops pursuing us, and have abandoned the principal benefits expected to be derived from the expedition.
In this night march around Cincinnati, we met with the greatest difficulty in keeping the column together. The guides were all in front with General Morgan, who rode at the head of the second brigade then marching in advance. This brigade had no trouble consequently. But the first brigade was embarrassed beyond measure. Cluke's regiment was marching in the rear of the second brigade, and if it had kept closed up, we would have had no trouble, for the entire column would have been directed by the guides. But this regiment, although composed of superb material, and unsurpassed in fighting qualities, had, from the period of its organization, been under lax and careless discipline, and the effect of it was now observable. The rear companies straggled, halted, delayed the first brigade, for it was impossible to ascertain immediately, whether the halt was that of the brigade in advance, or only of these stragglers, and when forced to move on, they would go off at a gallop. A great gap would be thus opened between the rear of one brigade and the advance of the other, and we who were behind were forced to grope our way as we best could. When we would come to one of the many junctions of roads which occur in the suburbs of a large city, we would be compelled to consult all sorts of indications in order to hit upon the right road. The night was intensely dark, and we would set on fire large bundles of paper, or splinters of wood to afford a light. The horses' tracks (on roads so much traveled), would give us no clue to the route which the other brigade had taken, at such points, but we could trace it by noticing the direction in which the dust "settled," or floated. When the night is calm, the dust kicked up by the passage of a large number of horses will remain suspended in the air for a considerable length of time, and it will also move slowly in the same direction that the horses which have disturbed it have traveled. We could also trace the column by the slaver dropped from the horses' mouths. It was a terrible, trying march. Strong men fell out of their saddles, and at every halt the officers were compelled to move continually about in their respective companies and pull and haul the men who would drop asleep in the road—it was the only way to keep them awake. Quite a number crept off into the fields and slept until they were awakened by the enemy. The rear of the first brigade was prevented from going to pieces, principally by the energetic exertions of Colonel Grigsby. Major Steele was sent in the extreme advance to drive pickets, scouts, and all parties of the enemy which might be abroad from the road. He was given a picked body of men, and executed the mission in fine style.
At length day appeared, just as we reached the last point where we had to anticipate danger. We had passed through Glendale and across all of the principal suburban roads, and were near the Little Miami Railroad. Those who have marched much at night, will remember that the fresh air of morning almost invariably has a cheering effect upon the tired and drowsy, and awakens and invigorates them. It had this effect upon our men on this occasion, and relieved us also from the necessity of groping our way.
We crossed the railroad without meeting with opposition, and halted to feed the horses in sight of Camp Dennison. After a short rest here, and a picket skirmish, we resumed our march, burning in this neighborhood a park of Government wagons. That evening at 4 P.M. we were at Williamsburg, twenty-eight miles east of Cincinnati, having marched, since leaving Summansville, in Indiana, in a period of about thirty-five hours, more than ninety miles—the greatest march that even Morgan had ever made.
Feeling comparatively safe here, General Morgan permitted the division to go into camp and remain during the night. One great drawback upon our marches, was the inferiority of the Indiana and Ohio horses for such service. After parting with our Kentucky stock, the men were compelled to exchange constantly. Sometimes three or four times in twenty four hours. The horses obtained were, not only unable to endure the hard riding for a reasonable length of time, but they were also unshod and grew lame directly. After leaving Williamsburg, we marched through Piketon (Colonel Morgan was sent with his regiment by way of Georgetown), Jackson, Vinton and Berlin (at which latter place we had a skirmish with the militia), and several towns whose names I have forgotten, as well as the order in which they came. In the skirmish at Berlin, Tom Murphy, popularly known as the "Wild Irishman," and technically described by his officers as the "goingest man" (in the advance-guard), was severely wounded. Small fights with the militia were of daily occurrence. They hung around the column, wounding two or three men every day and sometimes killing one. We captured hundreds of them daily, but could only turn them loose again after destroying their guns.
On one occasion a very gallant fellow of the Second Kentucky, Charlie Haddox, came upon five of them, who had made some of the command prisoners. He captured them, in turn, and brought them in. The prisoners who could be taken by such men hardly deserved to be released. Two men distinguished themselves very much as advance videttes, privates Carneal Warfield and Burks. The latter frequently caused the capture of parties of militia, without blood-shed on either side, by boldly riding up to them, representing himself as one of the advance guard of a body of Federal cavalry, and detaining them in conversation until the column arrived. But it is impossible to recount the one tenth part of the incidents of this nature which occurred. At Wilkesville we halted again before nightfall, and remained until 3 o'clock next morning. The militia, about this time, turned their attention seriously to felling trees, tearing up bridges, and impeding our progress in every conceivable way. The advance guard was forced to carry axes to cut away the frequent blockades. In passing near Pomeroy, on the 18th, there was one continual fight, but, now, not with the militia only, for some regular troops made their appearance and took part in the programme. The road we were traveling runs for several miles at no great distance from the town of Pomeroy, which is situated on the Ohio river. Many by-roads run from the main one into the town, and at the mouths of these roads we always found the enemy. The road runs, also, for nearly five miles through a ravine, and steep hills upon each side of it. These hills were occupied, at various points, by the enemy, and we had to run the gauntlet. Colonel Grigsby took the lead with the Sixth Kentucky, and dashed through at a gallop, halting when fired on, dismounting his men and dislodging the enemy, and again resuming his rapid march. Major Webber brought up the rear of the division and held back the enemy, who closed eagerly upon our track.
About 1 o'clock of that day we reached Chester and halted, for an hour and a half, to enable the column to close up, to breathe the horses, and also to obtain a guide, if possible (General Morgan declaring that he would no longer march without one). That halt proved disastrous—it brought us to Buffington ford after night had fallen, and delayed our attempt at crossing until the next morning.
Before quitting Ohio, it is but just to acknowledge the kind hospitality of these last two days. At every house that we approached, the dwellers thereof, themselves absent, perhaps unable to endure a meeting that would have been painful, had left warm pies, freshly baked, upon the tables. This touching attention to our tastes was appreciated. Some individuals were indelicate enough to hint that the pies were intended to propitiate us and prevent the plunder of the houses.
We reached Portland, a little village upon the bank of the river, and a short distance above Buffington Island, about 8 P.M., and the night was one of solid darkness. General Morgan consulted one or two of his officers upon the propriety of at once attacking an earthwork, thrown up to guard the ford. From all the information he could gather, this work was manned with about three hundred infantry—regular troops—and two heavy guns were mounted in it. Our arrival at this place after dark had involved us in a dilemma. If we did not cross the river that night, there was every chance of our being attacked on the next day by heavy odds. The troops we had seen at Pomeroy were, we at once and correctly conjectured, a portion of the infantry which had been sent after us from Kentucky, and they had been brought by the river, which had risen several feet in the previous week, to intercept us. If transports could pass Pomeroy, the General knew that they could also run up to the bar at Buffington Island. The transports would certainly be accompanied by gunboats, and our crossing could have been prevented by the latter alone, because our artillery ammunition was nearly exhausted—there was not more than three cartridges to the piece, and we could not have driven off gunboats with small arms. Moreover, if it was necessary, the troops could march from Pomeroy to Buffington by an excellent road, and reach the latter place in the morning. This they did. General Morgan fully appreciated these reasons for getting across the river that night, as did those with whom he advised, but there were, also, very strong reasons against attacking the work at night; and without the capture of the work, which commanded the ford, it would be impossible to cross. The night, as I have stated, was thoroughly dark. Attacks in the dark are always hazardous experiments—in this case it would have been doubly so. We knew nothing of the ground, and could not procure guides. Our choice of the direction in which to move to the attack would have been purely guess work. The defenders of the work had only to lie still and fire with artillery and musketry directly to their front, but the assailants would have had a line to preserve, and would have had to exercise great care lest they should fall foul of each other in the obscurity. If this is a difficult business at all times, how much is the danger and trouble increased when it is attempted with broken-down and partially demoralized men?
General Morgan feared, too, that if the attacking party was repulsed, it would come back in such disorder and panic that the whole division would be seriously and injuriously affected. He determined, therefore, to take the work at early dawn and instantly commence the crossing, trusting that it would be effected rapidly and before the enemy arrived. By abandoning the long train of wagons which had been collected, the wounded men, and the artillery, a crossing might have been made, with little difficulty, higher up the river at deeper fords, which we could have reached by a rapid march before the enemy came near them. But General Morgan was determined (after having already hazarded so much) to save all if possible, at the risk of losing all. He ordered me to place two regiments of my brigade in position, as near the earthwork as I thought proper, and attack it at daybreak. I accordingly selected the Fifth and Sixth Kentucky, and formed them about four hundred yards from the work, or from the point where I judged it to be located. Lieutenant Lawrence was also directed to place his Parrots upon a tongue of land projecting northward from a range of hills running parallel with the river. It was intended that he should assist the attacking party, if, for any reason, artillery should be needed. Many efforts were made, during the night, to find other fords, but unsuccessfully.
As soon as the day dawned, the Fifth and Sixth Kentucky were moved against the work, but found it unoccupied. It had been evacuated during the night. Had our scouts, posted to observe it, been vigilant, and had this evacuation, which occurred about two P.M., been discovered and reported, we could have gotten almost the entire division across before the troops coming from Pomeroy arrived. The guns in the work had been dismounted and rolled over the bluff. I immediately sent Gen. Morgan information of the evacuation of the work, and instructed Colonel Smith to take command of the two regiments and move some four or five hundred yards further on the Pomeroy road, by which I supposed that the garrison had retreated. In a few minutes I heard the rattle of musketry in the direction that the regiments had moved, and riding forward to ascertain what occasioned it, found that Colonel Smith had unexpectedly come upon a Federal force advancing upon this road. He attacked and dispersed it, taking forty or fifty prisoners and a piece of artillery, and killing and wounding several. This force turned out to be General Judah's advance guard, and his command was reported to be eight or ten thousand strong, and not far off. Among the wounded was one of his staff, and his Adjutant-General was captured. I instructed Colonel Smith to bring the men back to the ground where they had been formed to attack the work, and rode myself to consult General Morgan and receive his orders. He instructed me to hold the enemy in check, and call for such troops as I might need for that purpose. This valley which we had entered the night before, and had bivouacked in, was about a mile long, and perhaps eight hundred yards wide at the southern extremity (the river runs here nearly due north and south), and gradually narrows toward the other end, until the ridge, which is its western boundary, runs to the water's edge. This ridge is parallel with the river at the southern end of the valley, but a few hundred yards further to the northward both river and ridge incline toward each other. About half way of the valley (equi-distant from either end) the road, by which we had marched from Chester, comes in.
Colonel Smith had posted his men, in accordance with directions given him, at the southern extremity of the valley, with the ridge upon his right flank. At this point the ridge, I should also state, bends almost at right angles to the westward. As I returned from consultation with General Morgan, I found both of the regiments under Colonel Smith in full retreat. When the main body of the enemy (which was now close upon us) appeared, an order had been issued by some one to "rally to horses." While doing this, the line was charged by the enemy's cavalry, of which they had three regiments, two of them, the Seventh and Eighth Michigan, were very fine ones. A detachment of the Fifth Indiana (led by a very gallant officer, Lieutenant O'Neil) headed this charge. The men rallied and turned, as soon as called on to do so, and had no difficulty in driving back the cavalry, but a portion of the Fifth Kentucky was cut off by this charge, and did not take part in the fight which succeeded. These two regiments were not more than two hundred and fifty strong each, and they were dismounted again, and formed across the valley. The Parrot guns had been captured, and, although our line was formed close to them, they were not again in our possession. I sent several couriers to General Morgan, asking for the Second Kentucky, a portion of which I wished to post upon the ridge, and I desired to strengthen the thin, weak line with the remainder. Colonel's Johnson's rear videttes (still kept during the night upon the Chester road) had a short time previously been driven in, and he had formed his brigade to receive the enemy coming from that direction. Colonel Johnson offered me a detachment of his own brigade with which to occupy the part of the ridge immediately upon my right—the necessity of holding it was immediately apparent to him. Believing that the Second Kentucky would soon arrive, I declined his offer.
The force advancing upon the Chester road was General Hobson's, which our late delays had permitted to overtake us. Neither Judah nor Hobson was aware of the other's vicinity, until apprised of it by the sound of their respective guns. We could not have defeated either alone, for Judah was several thousand strong, and Hobson three thousand. We were scarcely nineteen hundred strong, and our ammunition was nearly exhausted—either shot away or worn out in the pouches or cartridge-boxes. The men, had on an average, not more than five rounds in their boxes. If, however, either Judah or Hobson had attacked us singly, we could have made good our retreat, in order, and with little loss.
The attack commenced from both directions, almost simultaneously, and at the same time the gunboats steamed up and commented shelling us without fear or favor. I heartily wished that their fierce ardor, the result of a feeling of perfect security, could have been subjected to the test of two or three shots through their hulls. They were working, as well as I could judge, five or six guns, Hobson two, and Judah five or six. The shells coming thus from three different directions, seemed to fill the air with their fragments. Colonel Johnson's line, confronting Hobson, was formed at right angles to mine, and upon the level and unsheltered surface of the valley, each was equally exposed to shots aimed at the other. In addition to the infantry deployed in front of my line, the ridge upon the right of it was soon occupied by one of the Michigan regiments, dismounted and deployed as skirmishers. The peculiar formation we were forced to adopt, exposed our entire force engaged to a severe cross fire of musketry. The Second Kentucky and Ninth Tennessee, of the first brigade, were not engaged at all—nor the Eight and Eleventh Kentucky, of the second brigade. These regiments, however, were as completely under fire, in the commencement of the action, as were the others which were protecting the retreat.
The scene in the rear of the lines engaged, was one of indescribable confusion. While the bulk of the regiments, which General Morgan was drawing off, were moving from the field in perfect order, there were many stragglers from each, who were circling about the valley in a delirium of fright, clinging instinctively, in all their terror, to bolts of calico and holding on to led horses, but changing the direction in which they galloped, with every shell which whizzed or burst near them. The long train of wagons and ambulances dashed wildly in the only direction which promised escape, and becoming locked and entangled with each other in their flight, many were upset, and terrified horses broke lose from them and plunged wildly through the mass. Some of them in striving to make their way out of the valley, at the northern end, ran foul of the section of howitzers attached to the second brigade, and guns and wagons were rolled headlong into the steep ravine. Occasionally a solid shot or shell would strike one and bowl it over like a tumbled ten-pin. All this shelling did little damage, and only some twenty-odd men were killed by the musketry—the enemy lost quite as many—but the display of force against us, the cross fire, and our lack of ammunition, seriously disheartened the men, already partially demoralized by the great and unremitted fatigue.
The left flank of my line, between which and the river there was an interval of at least three hundred yards, was completely turned, and the Sixth Kentucky was almost surrounded. This regiment (under the command of Major William Bullitt, an officer of the calmest and most perfect bravery), behaved nobly. It stood the heavy attack of the enemy like a bastion. At length seeing that General Morgan had gotten out of the valley with the rest of the division, Colonel Johnson and myself, upon consultation, determined to withdraw simultaneously. We had checked this superior force for more than half an hour—which, as much as our assailants boasted of their victory, was quite as good as an equal number of the best of them could have done against such odds.
The men were remounted without confusion, and retreated in column of fours from right of companies, and for quite a mile in perfect order. The Sixth Kentucky formed to the "rear into line" three times, and with empty guns, kept the pursuing cavalry at bay. But when we neared the other end of the valley and saw that there were but two avenues of escape from it—the men broke ranks and rushed for them. In a moment, each was blocked. The gunboats sought to rake these roads with grape—and although they aimed too high to inflict much injury, the hiss of the dreaded missiles increased the panic. The Seventh Michigan soon came up and dashed pell-mell into the crowd of fugitives. Colonel Smith, Captain Campbell, Captain Thorpe, and myself, and some fifty other officers and men, were forced by the charge of this regiment into a ravine on the left of the road and soon afterward captured. Captain Thorpe saved me from capture at an earlier date, only to ultimately share my fate. He had acted as Adjutant General of the First Brigade, since the detachment of Captain Davis, and had performed all of his duties with untiring assiduity and perfect efficiency. On this day, there was allowed opportunity for the display of courage only, and for that he was ever distinguished.
About seven hundred prisoners were taken from us in this fight. Among the officers captured were Colonels Ward and Morgan, Lieutenant Colonel Huffman, who was also severely wounded, and Majors Bullock and Bullitt.
On the next day, the 20th, we were marched down the river bank some ten miles to the transport which was to take us to Cincinnati, and she steamed off as soon as we were aboard of her. A portion of the Ninth Tennessee had been put across the river, in a small flat, before the fight fairly commenced, and these men, under command of Captain Kirkpatrick, pressed horses and made their escape. Colonel Grigsby and Captain Byrnes also crossed the river here, and succeeded in escaping. Between eleven and twelve hundred men retreated with General Morgan, closely pursued by Hobson's cavalry—the indefatigable Woolford, as usual, in the lead. Some three hundred of the command crossed the river at a point about twenty miles above Buffington. Colonel Johnson and his staff swam the river here and got safely ashore, with the exception of two or three of the latter, who were drowned in the attempt.
The arrival of the gun boats prevented the entire force from crossing. General Morgan had gained the middle of the river, and, having a strong horse, could have gained the other shore without difficulty, but seeing that the bulk of his command would be forced to remain on the Ohio side, he returned to it. At this point, a negro boy named Box, a great favorite in the Second Kentucky, thorough rebel and deeply impressed with a sense of his own importance, entered the river and started across; General Morgan called to him to return, fearing that he would be drowned. "Marse John," said Box, "If dey catches you, dey may parole you, but if dis nigger is cotched in a free State he ain't a gwine to git away while de war lasts." He swam the river safely although nearly run down by a gun boat. From this time, for six days, it was a continual race and scramble. That men could have endured it, after the previous exhausting marches, is almost incredible.
The brigades were reorganized. Colonel Cluke was placed in command of the second, Major Webber of the first, each was a little more than four hundred strong. "The bold Cluke" had need of all of his audacity and vigor during these six days of trial. It is impossible for the reader to appreciate the true condition in which these brave men were placed. Worn down by tremendous and long sustained exertion, encompassed by a multitude of foes, and fresh ones springing up in their path at every mile, allowed no rest, but driven on night and day; attacked, harassed, intercepted at every moment, disheartened by the disasters already suffered—how magnificent was the nerve, energy and resolution which enabled them to bear up against all this and struggle so gallantly to the very last against capture. Major Webber had long been suffering from a painful and exhausting disease, and when he started upon the raid he could not climb into his saddle without assistance. But he could not endure the thought of being absent from such an expedition. He was one of the very best officers in the Confederate cavalry, and his ideas of duty were almost fanatical. All through the long march to Buffington, he rode at the head of the "old regulars," without a murmur escaping his lips to tell of the pain which paled his brave, manly face, but could not bend his erect form. Of his conduct after the Buffington disaster, General Morgan, and his comrades spoke in enthusiastic praise—one officer in describing his unflinching steadiness called him the "Iron man." No description could do justice to these six days, and I will not attempt one. One incident will serve to show how constantly the enemy pressed the command. Once, when there seemed leisure for it, General Morgan called a council of his officers. While it was in session, the enemy were skirmishing with the advance and rear-guards of the column, and were upon both flanks. A bullet struck within two inches of the General's head, while he was courteously listening to an opinion. When the council was closed, General Morgan moved the column back toward "Blennerhassett's Island," where he had previously attempted to cross the river. Clouds of dust marked his march (although he quitted the main road) and also the track of his enemies, and in that way the exact position of all the columns was known to each. That night he halted with a bold mountain upon one side of him and the enemy on the other three. His pursuers evidently thought that the morning would witness his surrender, for they made no effort to force him to yield that evening. But when night had fairly fallen and the camp fires of his foes were burning brightly, he formed his men, partially ascended the mountain, stole noiselessly and in single file along its rough slope and by midnight was out of the trap, and again working hard for safety.
Here is a description from Major Webber's diary, of how General Morgan eluded the enemy posted to ensnare him when he should cross the Muskingum. He had been compelled to drive off a strong force in order to obtain a crossing; after he had crossed he found himself thus situated. "The enemy had fallen back on all of the roads—guarding each one with a force in ambush much larger than ours—and to make our way through seemed utterly impossible; while Hobson had made his appearance with a large force on the opposite bank of the Muskingham so that to retrace our steps would be ruin. Finding every road strongly guarded, and every hill covered with troops, it would have been impossible for any one except Morgan to have led a column out of such a place, and he did it by what the citizens tell us, is the only place which a horse can go; and that down a narrow pass leading up a narrow spring branch hundreds of feet below the tops of the hills, the perpendicular sides of which pressed closely on our horses as we passed in single file. And then we went up another hill, or rather mountain side, up which nobody but a Morgan man could have carried a horse. Up that hill, for at least one thousand feet, we led our tired horses, where it seemed that a goat couldn't climb, until we reached the plain, and were soon in the rear of the enemy and on our road again. Colonel Cluke who was in the rear lost two men killed.
In looking around for a place to carry the column, Adjutant S.F. McKee and two of our men ran into an ambuscade, and were fired on, about thirty yards distant, by three hundred men, without striking either of them or their horses." But all this brave, persistent effort, was unavailing. General Morgan maintained his high spirit to the last, and seemed untouched by the weariness which bore down every one else, but he was forced at last to turn at bay, and a fresh disaster on the 26th, reducing his command to two hundred and fifty men, and a fresh swarm of enemies gathering around this remnant, left him no alternative (in justice to his men) but surrender. I may be permitted to mention (with natural pride), that the last charge made upon this expedition, was made by Company C, of my old regiment, the Second Kentucky, the "Regulars." This company had maintained its organization and discipline without any deterioration, although greatly reduced in numbers. In this last fight, it was ordered to charge a body of Federal cavalry, who were dismounted and lay behind a worm fence, firing upon the column with their Spencer rifles. Led by its gallant Captain, Ralph Sheldon, one of the best of our best, officers, this company dashed down upon the enemy. The tired horses breasted the fence, without being able to clear it, knocking off the top rails. But with their deadly revolvers our boys soon accomplished the mission upon which they were sent.
General Morgan surrendered in a very peculiar manner. He had, many days before, heard of the retreat of General Lee, after Gettysburg, from Pennsylvania, and of the fall of Vicksburg. In at least twenty towns through which we had passed, in Indiana and Ohio, we had witnessed the evidences of the illuminations in honor of these events. He feared that, in consequence of the great excess of prisoners thus coming in Federal possession, the cartel (providing for the exchange of prisoners and the paroling of the excess upon either side, within a short period after their capture) would be broken. He was anxious, therefore, to surrender "upon terms." Aware that he was not likely to get such terms as he wished, from any officer of the regular troops that were pursuing him, unless he might happen to hit upon Woolford, who was as noted for generosity to prisoners (if he respected their prowess) as for vigor and gallantry in the field, he looked around for some militia officer who might serve his turn. In the extreme eastern part of Ohio (where he now was), he came into the "district" of a Captain Burbeck, who had his militia under arms. General Morgan sent a message to Captain Burbeck, under flag of truce, requesting an interview with him. Burbeck consented to meet him, and, after a short conference, General Morgan concluded a treaty with him, by which he (Morgan) engaged to take and disturb nothing, and do no sort of damage in Burbeck's district, and Burbeck, on his part, covenanted to guide and escort Morgan to the Pennsylvania line. After riding a few miles, side by side, with his host, General Morgan, espying a long cloud of dust rolling rapidly upon a course parallel with his own (about a mile distant), and gaining his front, thought it was time to act. So he interrupted a pleasant conversation, by suddenly asking Burbeck how he would like to receive his (Morgan's) surrender. Burbeck answered that it would afford him inexpressible satisfaction to do so. "But," said Morgan, "perhaps you would not give me such terms as I wish." "General Morgan," replied Burbeck, "you might write your own terms, and I would grant them." "Very well, then," said Morgan; "it is a bargain. I will surrender to you." He, accordingly, formally surrendered to Captain Burbeck, of the Ohio militia, upon condition that officers and men were to be paroled, the latter retaining their horses, and the former horses and side-arms. When General Shackleford (Hobson's second in command, and the officer who was conducting the pursuit in that immediate region) arrived, he at once disapproved this arrangement, and took measures to prevent its being carried into effect. Some officers who had once been Morgan's prisoners, were anxious that it should be observed, and Woolford generously interested himself to have it done. The terms of this surrender were not carried out. The cartel (as Morgan had anticipated) had been repudiated, and the terms for which he had stipulated, under that apprehension, were repudiated also.
Although this expedition resulted disastrously, it was, even as a failure, incomparably the most brilliant raid of the entire war. The purposes sought to be achieved by it were grander and more important, the conception of the plan which should regulate it, was more masterly, and the skill with which it was conducted is unparalleled in the history of such affairs. It was no ride across a country stripped of troops, with a force larger than any it should chance to encounter.
It was not an expedition started from a point impregnably garrisoned, to dash by a well marked path to another point occupied by a friendly army. It differed from even the boldest of Confederate raids, not only in that it was vastly more extended, but also in the nerve with which the great natural obstacles were placed between the little band with which it was undertaken and home, and the unshrinking audacity with which that slight force penetrated into a populous and intensely hostile territory, and confidently exposed itself to such tremendous odds, and such overwhelming disadvantages. Over one hundred thousand men were in arms to catch Morgan (although not all employed at one time and place), and every advantage in the way of transporting troops, obtaining information, and disposing forces to intercept or oppose him, was possessed by his enemy, and yet his wily strategy enabled him to make his way to the river, at the very point where he had contemplated recrossing it when he started from, Tennessee; and he was prevented from recrossing and effecting his escape (which would then have been certain) only by the river having risen at a season at which it had not risen for more than twenty years before.
The objects of the raid were accomplished. General Bragg's retreat was unmolested by any flanking forces of the enemy, and I think that military men, who will review all the facts, will pronounce that this expedition delayed for weeks the fall of East Tennessee, and prevented the timely reinforcement of Rosecrans by troops that would otherwise have participated in the battle of Chickamauga. It destroyed Morgan's division, however, and left but a remnant of the Morgan cavalry. The companies in Kentucky became disintegrated—the men were either captured or so dispersed that few were ever again available. Captain Davis crossed into Indiana, with the two companies assigned him, but failed to rejoin the division, and was surrounded by overwhelming numbers, and himself and the greater part of his command captured. Some of the men in those companies escaped—the majority of them returned to the South, others remained in Kentucky to "guerrilla." Two fine companies of the Ninth Tennessee, under Captains Kirkpatrick and Sisson, crossed the river at Buffington; two companies of the Second Kentucky, under Captains Lea and Cooper, effected a crossing a day or two later. Besides these organized bodies of men, there were stragglers from all the regiments to the number of three or four hundred, who escaped. These men were collected by Colonels Johnson and Grigsby, and marched through Western Virginia to Morristown, in East Tennessee, where all that was left of Morgan's command was rendezvoused.
Although the consequences were so disastrous, although upon the greater part of those who followed Morgan in this raid was visited a long, cruel, wearisome imprisonment, there are few, I imagine, among them who ever regretted it. It was a sad infliction upon a soldier, especially upon one accustomed to the life the "Morgan men" had led, to eat his heart in the tedious, dreary prison existence, while the fight which he should have shared was daily growing deadlier. But to have, in our turn, been invaders, to have carried the war north of the Ohio, to have taught the people, who for long months had been pouring invading hosts into the South, something of the agony and terror of invasion—to have made them fly in fear from their homes, although they returned to find those homes not laid in ashes; to have scared them with the sound of hostile bugles, although no signals were sounded for flames and destruction—these luxuries were cheap at almost any price. It would have been an inexpiable shame if, in all the Confederate army, there had been no body of men found to carry the war, however briefly, across the Ohio, and Morgan by this raid saved us, at least, that disgrace.
One of the many articles which filled the Northern papers, upon the disastrous termination of this expedition, prophetically declared the true misfortune which would result to Morgan himself from his ill-success to-wit: the loss of his unexampled prestige—hitherto of itself a power adequate to ensure him victories, but never to be recovered. This writer more sagacious, as well as more fair than others of his class, said:
"The raid through Indiana and Ohio has proved an unfortunate business to him and his command. His career, hitherto has been dashing and brilliant, and but few rebel commanders had won a higher reputation throughout the South. He had been glorified by rebels in arms everywhere, but this last reckless adventure will doubtless rob his name of half its potency. The prestige of success is all powerful, while a failure is death to military reputation. It would now be a difficult matter to rally to his standard as many enthusiastic and promising young men, who infatuated and misguided, joined him during the period of his success. Many of them blindly seemed to entertain the opinion that no reverse could befall him, and all he had to do was to march along, and victory after victory would perch upon his banner. They couldn't even dream of a disaster or an end to his triumphs. Many of them have already sadly and dearly paid for their infatuation, while others are doomed to a similar fate. This remarkable raid, certainly the most daring of the war, is about at an end. Morgan is trapped at last and his forces scattered, and if he escapes himself it will only be as a fugitive. The race he has run since crossing the Cumberland river, eluding the thousands of troops which have been put upon his track, proved him a leader of extraordinary ability. The object of the raid is yet a mystery. Time alone will develop the plan, if plan there was. Moving on with such a force, far from all support—at the very time, too, that Bragg's army was falling back and scattering—makes the affair look like one of simple bravado, as if the leader was willing to be captured, provided he could end his career in a blaze of excitement created by his dash and daring. But it is useless to speculate now. Broken into squads, some few of his men will doubtless escape across the river, and make their way singly to the Confederacy, to tell the story of their long ride through Indiana and Ohio; but the power of the noted partisan chieftain and his bold riders is a thing of the past."
The prisoners taken at Buffington were carried to Cincinnati as rapidly as the low stage of water, and the speed of the little boat, upon which we were placed, would permit. We were some three days in making the trip. Fortunately for us, the officers and men appointed to guard us, were disposed to ameliorate our condition as much as possible. Our private soldiers, crowded on the hurricane decks, were, of course, subjected to inconvenience, but the wish of the guards was evidently to remedy it as much as possible. This crowding enabled a number of them to make their escape by leaping into the river at night, as the sentries could not possibly detect or prevent their efforts at escape. Captain Day, General Judah's inspector, who was in immediate charge of us, while he was rigidly careful to guard against escape, showed us the most manly and soldierly courtesy. As the only acknowledgment we could make him, the officers united in requesting him to accept a letter which we severally signed, declaring our appreciation of his kindness. We trusted that, if he should ever be so unfortunate as to become a prisoner himself, this evidence of his consideration for our situation would benefit him.
It was habitually remarked that, in the first two years of the war at least, there was a prevalent disposition among the men of both armies who served in "the front," to show courtesy to prisoners. The soldiers who guarded us from Buffington to Cincinnati were characterized by this spirit in an unusual degree, and carried out this practice, which even those who neglect it, approve, more thoroughly, I must say, than any troops I had ever seen. We met with treatment so different, afterward, that we had occasion to remember and compare. For my own part, I was more than once compelled, during my long and chequered imprisonment, to express my sense of courteous and considerate treatment; and, as I believe, that a gentleman ought not to say, at any time or in any event, that which he can not unhesitatingly confirm, however changed may be the circumstances (every legitimate ruse-de-guerre, being, of course, an exception), I shall take great pains, in the course of this chapter, to specify wherein and by whom such treatment was accorded me, or my comrades. I am aware that this is not customary, and the contrary habit, may have become an established canon of this sort of literature, the violation of which will occasion grave criticism. But my own people will appreciate my explanation. I should have accepted no kindness at the hands of my captors; I ought to have repelled every courtesy offered me, if clearly prompted by a generous and manly spirit; if I were capable of altogether omitting mention of such acts, in a description, purporting to be truthful and accurate, of my prison experience.
In all else, my readers may rest assured that the rule shall be observed. He would be a poor-spirited prisoner, who would not tell all the mean things he knows about his jailors, and since Wirtz was hung, at any rate, such gentry have become fair game.
When we arrived at Cincinnati, we met with a grand ovation. The fact that none of the citizens had come out to meet us, when we marched around the city, had caused us to conceive a very erroneous impression regarding them. They pressed closely upon the guard of soldiers who were drawn up around us, as we were marched through the streets to the city prison, and attempted many demonstrations of their feeling toward us. There seemed to be little sympathy between the soldiers and the populace. The former muttered pretty strong expressions of disgust for the previous tameness and present boldness of the latter, and once or twice when jostled, plied their bayonets. The privates were immediately sent to camps Morton and Douglass. The officers were kept at the city prison in Cincinnati for three days. During that time, we were reinforced by a good many others, taken in the two or three days which, succeeded Buffington fight.
On the last day of our sojourn here, we learned of General Morgan's capture. We had hoped and almost felt confident, that he would escape.
We were removed from this prison on the second of July (or within a day or two of that date), and taken to Johnson's Island. At every station on the railroad, from Cincinnati to Sandusky, large and enthusiastic crowds assembled to greet us. The enthusiasm, however, was scarcely of a nature to excite agreeable emotions in our bosoms. There seemed to be "universal suffrage" for our instant and collective execution, and its propriety was promulgated with much heat and emphasis. A change seemed to have come over the people of Ohio in the past two weeks. In our progress through the State, before our capture, the people left their homes—apparently from a modest disinclination to see us. But, now, they crowded to stare at us.
When we reached Sandusky, we were transferred to a small steam tug, and, in twenty minutes, were put across the arm of the lake which separates Johnson's Island from the main land. We were marched, as soon as landed, to the adjutant's office, and after roll-call, and a preliminary scrutiny to ascertain if we had money or weapons upon our persons, although it was, perhaps, the strict rule to search—the word of each man in our party was taken—we were introduced into the prison inclosure. It was the custom, in those days, in the various prisons for the older inmates to collect about the gates of the "Bull-pen" when "Fresh fish," as every lot of prisoners just arrived were termed, were brought in, and inspect them. We, consequently, met a large crowd of unfortunate rebels, when we entered, in which were not a few acquaintances, and some of our own immediate comrades. The first man I saw, or, at least, the first one to whom my attention was attracted, was First Lieutenant Charles Donegan, of the Second Kentucky. He had been a private in the heroic Fourth Alabama, and, when his term of service had expired in that regiment, he "joined Morgan," becoming a private in Company A, of the "old squadron." When the Second Kentucky was organized, he was made a non-commissioned officer, and was shortly afterward promoted to First Lieutenant for gallantry, excellent conduct, and strict attention to duty. In the prison he met with his old comrades of the Army of Northern Virginia, and was prompt to welcome all of the "Morgan men" who "happened in," and to initiate them in the art of making life in a prison endurable. A few months before, I had visited his father, one of the most hospitable men in Huntsville, famed for that virtue, and he charged me with a message to "Charlie," which I delivered in the barracks at Johnson's Island. Lieutenant Donegan remained in prison more than twenty months—one of those men whose patient heroism will never be justly appreciated.
It is only by citing personal instances of this kind, that the history of the Southern soldiery can be written so that it will be understood.
The Gettysburg prisoners had arrived, only a few days before, and from them we heard the first intelligible account of the great battle. Not a whit was the courage and fire of these gallant representatives of the army of heroes abated. They seemed to have perfect faith in the invincibility of their comrades, and they looked for the millenium to arrive, much sooner, than for serious discomfiture to befall "Uncle Robert."
Johnson's Island was the most agreeable prison I ever saw—which is much as if a man were to allude to the pleasantest dose of castor oil he ever swallowed. However, there is little doubt but that it would have been pleasant (for a short time), if it had not been a prison. The climate in the summer is delightful, and the prospect highly gratifying—except to a man who would like to escape and can not swim. The winters, there, are said to have been very severe—but then the barracks were open and airy. We, who were shortly afterward transferred to the Ohio Penitentiary, thought and spoke of Johnson's Island as (under the circumstances), a very "desirable location." The rations were good, and we were permitted to purchase any thing we wished from the sutler. As we were there only four days, however, it is possible that some others who remained nearly two years, may be right in contending that the regime (in process of time), underwent some change.
It was not uncommon to hear men say, that they would rather be sent to that locality which is conceded by all sects to be exceedingly uncomfortable, than go again to Johnson's Island—but a shuddering recollection of the bitter winter weather, evidently induced the preference. After remaining at Johnson's Island four days, some forty of us were called for one morning, and bidden to prepare for departure—whither we were not informed. But our worst fears were realized, when we were taken off of the cars at Columbus and marched to the penitentiary. The State of Ohio claimed Morgan and his officers, as her peculiar property—because we had been captured on her soil by Michiganders, Kentuckians, etc., and demanded us, that we might be subjected to the same treatment which she inflicted upon her felons. It was rumored, also, that Colonel Streight, an Ohio officer, captured by Forrest, had been placed in the penitentiary in Georgia, and we were told that we were being penitentiaried in retaliation. It turned out subsequently that Colonel Streight was treated precisely as the other prisoners in the South, but the Governor of Ohio having gotten hold of a batch of Confederate soldiers, captured for him by troops from other States, was disposed to make the most of them, and would not consent to let them out of his hands.
Two men figured in the "Ohio raid" and the subsequent treatment of the raiders, with a peculiar eclat. The Commander-in-Chief of the department, who prepared to flee from the city where his headquarters were established, upon the approach of two thousand wearied men, whom with an army of fine troops he could not stop—was one of them. The other was the Governor of a State he could not defend; but who could torture if he could not fight. Burnside turned us over to Todd—but instructed that, "these men shall be subjected to the usual prison discipline." He could part with his prisoners and enjoin, in doing so, that they be treated as convicted felons. But his name would blister the tongue of a brave man, and I should apologize for writing it.
When we entered this gloomy mansion of "crime and woe," it was with misery in our hearts, although an affected gaiety of manner. We could not escape the conviction, struggle against it as we would, that we were placed there to remain while the war lasted, and most of as believed that the war would outlast the generation. We were told, when we went in, that we "were there to stay," and there was something infernal in the gloom and the massive strength of the place, which seemed to bid us "leave all hope behind." While we were waiting in the hall, to which we were assigned, before being placed in our cells, a convict, as I supposed, spoke to me in a low voice from the grated door of one of the cells already occupied. I made some remark about the familiarity of our new friends on short acquaintance, when by the speaker's peculiar laugh I recognized General Morgan. He was so shaven and shorn, that his voice alone was recognizable, for I could not readily distinguish his figure. We were soon placed in our respective cells and the iron barred doors locked. Some of the officers declared subsequently, that when left alone, and the eyes of the keepers were taken off of them, they came near swooning. It was not the apprehension of hardship or harsh treatment that was so horrible; it was the stifling sense of close cramped confinement. The dead weight of the huge stone prison seemed resting on our breasts. On the next day we were taken out to undergo some of the "usual prison discipline," and were subjected to a sort of dress-parade. We were first placed man by man, in big hogsheads filled with water (of which there were two), and solemnly scrubbed by a couple of negro convicts. This they said was done for sanitary reasons. The baths in the lake at Johnson's Island were much pleasanter, and the twentieth man who was ordered into either tub, looked ruefully at the water, as if he thought it had already done enough for health. Then we were seated in barber chairs, our beards were taken off, and the officiating artists were ordered to give each man's hair "a decent cut." We found that according to the penitentiary code, the decent way of wearing the hair was to cut it all off—if the same rule had been adopted with regard to clothing, the Digger Indians would have been superfluously clad in comparison with (what would have been), our disheveled condition. Some young men lost beards and moustaches on this occasion, which they had assiduously cultivated with scanty returns, for years. Colonel Smith had a magnificent beard sweeping down to his waist, patriarchal in all save color—it gave him a leonine aspect that might have awed even a barber. He was placed in the chair, and in less time, perhaps, than Absalom staid on his mule after his hair brought him to grief, he was reduced to ordinary humanity. He felt his loss keenly. I ventured to compliment him on features which I had never seen till then, and he answered, with asperity, that it was "no jesting matter."
When we returned to the hall, we met General Morgan, Colonel Cluke, Calvin Morgan, Captain Gibson, and some twenty-six others—our party numbered sixty-eight in all. General Morgan and most of the officers who surrendered with him, had been taken to Cincinnati and lodged in the city prison (as we had been), with the difference, that we had been placed in the upper apartments (which were clean), and he and his party were confined in the lower rooms, in comparison with which the stalls of the Augean stables were boudoirs. After great efforts, General Morgan obtained an interview with Burnside, and urged that the terms upon which he had surrendered should be observed, but with no avail. He and the officers with him, were taken directly from Cincinnati to the Ohio Penitentiary, and had been there several days when we (who came from Johnson's Island), arrived. It is a difficult thing to describe, so that it will be clearly understood, the interior conformation of any large building, and I will have to trust that my readers will either catch a just idea of the subject from a very partial and inadequate description, or that they will regard it as a matter of little importance whether or no they shall understand the internal plan and structure of the Ohio State Prison. For my purpose, it is only necessary that the architecture of one part of it shall be understood. Let the reader imagine a large room (or rather wing of a building), four hundred feet in length, forty-odd in width, and with a ceiling forty-odd feet in hight. One half of this wing, although separated from the other by no traverse wall, is called the "East Hall."
In the walls of this hall are cut great windows, looking out upon one of the prison yards. If the reader will further imagine a building erected in the interior of this hall and reaching to the ceiling, upon each side of which, and between its walls and the walls of the hall, are alleys eleven feet wide and running the entire length of the hall, and at either extremity of this building, spaces twenty feet in width—he will have conceived a just idea of that part of the prison in which General Morgan and his officers were confined. In the interior building the cells are constructed—each about three feet and a half wide and seven feet long. The doors of the cells—a certain number of which are constructed in each side of this building—open upon the alleys which have been described. At the back of each, and of course separating the ranges of cells upon the opposite sides of the building, is a hollow space reaching from the floor to the ceiling, running the whole length of the building, and three or four feet wide. This space is left for the purpose of obtaining more thorough ventillation, and the back wall of every cell is perforated with a hole, three or four inches in diameter, to admit the air from this passage.
We were placed in the cells constructed in that face of the building which looks toward the town. No convicts were quartered in the cells on that side, except on the extreme upper tiers, but the cells on the other side of the building were all occupied by them. The cells are some seven feet in hight, and are built in ranges, or tiers, one above the other. They are numbered, range first, second, third, and so on—commencing at the lower one. The doors are grates of iron—the bars of which are about an inch and a quarter wide, and half an inch thick, and are, perhaps, two inches apart, leaving, as they are placed upright and athwart, open spaces of two inches square between them. In front of each range of cells were balconies three feet wide, and ladders led from each one of these to the other just above it.
We were permitted to exercise, during the day, in the alley in front of our cells, although prohibited from looking out of the windows. Twice a day we were taken to meals, crossing (when we went to breakfast) a portion of the yard, before mentioned, and passing through the kitchen into the large dining-hall of the institution. Here, seated at tables about two feet wide and the same distance apart, a great many prisoners could be fed at the same time. We were not allowed to breakfast and dine with the convicts, or they were not allowed to eat with us—I could never learn exactly how it was. We crossed the yard, on the way to breakfast, for the purpose of washing our faces, which was permitted by the prison regulations, but a certain method of doing it was prescribed. Two long troughs were erected and filled with water. The inhabitants of the First Range washed in one trough, and those of the Second Range used the other. We soon obtained permission to buy and keep our own towels. In returning from breakfast, and in going to and returning from dinner, we never quitted the prison building, but marched through a wing of the dining-room back to the long wing, in one end of which was our hall.
At seven P.M. in summer (earlier afterward), we were required to go to our respective cells at the tap of the turnkey's key on the stove, and he passed along the ranges and locked us in for the night. In a little while, then, we would hear the steady, rolling tramp of the convicts, who slept in the hall at the other end of the wing, as they marched in with military step and precision, changing after awhile from the sharp clatter of many feet simultaneously striking the stone floor to the hurried, muffled rattle of their ascent (in a trot) of the stairways. Then when each had gained his cell, and the locking-in commenced, the most infernal clash and clang, as huge bolts were fastened, would be heard that ever startled the ear of a sane man. When Satan receives a fresh lot of prisoners, he certainly must torture each half by compelling it to hear the other locked into cells with iron doors.