July 19

This Day in History

Civil War

Jul 19, 1863:

Morgan's raiders defeated at Buffington Island

Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's raid into Union-held territory is dealt a serious blow when a large part of his force is captured as they try to escape across the Ohio River at Buffington Island, Ohio. Cut off from the south, Morgan fled north with the remnants of his command and was captured a week later at Salineville, Ohio.

This was the last and most daring of Morgan's four raids into Union-held territory. The main purpose of the raid was to take pressure off of Chattanooga, Tennessee, by drawing Union troops away from the army of General William Rosecrans. It began on July 2 at Burkesville, Kentucky, and continued into Indiana. Morgan departed with more than 2,400 troopers, but he split his force on two occasions, and suffered many casualties in skirmishes with Federal detachments.

Morgan and his forces rode east into Ohio and feigned an advance toward a panicked Cincinnati, but bypassed the city and continued eastward to Pomeroy, Ohio. His men were worn down by the long days in the saddle, and the Yankee pursuit finally caught up at Buffington Island, just outside of Pomeroy. While Morgan made plans to cross the swollen Ohio River, Federal gunboats guarded the fords and Union cavalry attacked the Confederates. In a short time, Morgan lost 800 men, nearly all of who were captured.

Morgan escaped with 400 of his men, and fled north in search of a more suitable place to cross the river–which they never found. Morgan surrendered on July 26.

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