POMEROY – The Civil War will once again come alive in the area with the return of the Morgan’s Raid reenactment.
In preparation, two workshops have been scheduled for those interested in participating or learning about the period.
The first workshop will be 7 p.m. July 27 at Wolfe Mountain Entertainment. The workshop will focus on clothing of the Civil War era. Ladies from the Fabric Shop will present information on fabrics of the 1860s and information on clothing of the period. There will be information on women’s, children’s as well as men’s clothing both military and civilian. An introduction to the “language of the fan,” along with other customs of the period, will be presented. Light refreshments will be served. There is a five dollar fee for the workshop to cover materials.
The second workshop will be 7 p.m. July 28, also at Wolfe Mountain Entertainment. The workshop will be about preparation for the dances to be held during the Morgan’s Raid reenactment. Bruce Wolfe, of Wolfe Mountain Entertainment, will be teaching Civil War dances. Light refreshments will be served. The cost of the workshop is a five dollar to cover materials.
Morgan’s Raid reenactment of “The Pursuit” will bring cavalry reenactors to make the trek across Meigs County, just as Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his raiders did in 1863. The event has been held twice before. This time a contingent of Union infantry will be pursuing the Confederate horse soldiers and will eventually meet in Portland for the Battle of Buffington Island. The event starts in Sept. 14 in Wilkesville. There will be a dance in Wilkesville that evening. The event continues as the soldiers will move from Wilkesville to Chester and then to Portland, with the main battle being reenacted on Sept. 18. A dance will be held in Chester and one at Portland for the event as well.
More details about the events and activities related to “Morgan’s Raid: The Pursuit” will be released as the event approaches. It is sponsored by the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation. The foundation works to educate the public about Ohio’s only Civil War battlefield and to protect the hollowed ground Union and Confederate forces fought and died on at Portland, Ohio.
The Battle of Buffington Island was the most significant engagement in what is called Morgan’s Raid. During this battle two future U.S. presidents participated — Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.
Morgan began his famous ride by hand picking nearly 2,500 Confederate cavalrymen and artillerymen and set off from Sparta, Tenn., on June 11, 1863. Morgan’s intent was to divert forces away from the Rebel armies gathered in the West and interrupt Union communications everywhere he went. He and his men conducted a number of raids and small skirmishes on tows and garrisons in a ride that would take them more that 1,000 miles in 46 days. On July 2, 1863, while two great armies were battling in the hills surrounding Gettysburg and another two great armies were engaged at Vicksburg, these raiders entered Kentucky as they headed north toward Louisville. On July 8, Morgan crossed the Ohio River in to Indiana at Brandenbrug, Ky., near Cincinnati.
Along the way these men raided towns, stores and private homes, stole much needed horses to replace their worn out ones and cause great anxiety among the citizens around the state. As he continued north and east across the state, he encountered more and more militia and regular townspeople who began to harass his force and make life difficult.
Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside organized Union troops and militia units to prevent Morgan from escaping back to the South. Burnside sent forces under Generals Shackleford, Hobson and Judah in hot pursuit.
On July 18, 1863, after a long day of fighting with various Meigs county Militias and citizens Morgan arrived at Buffington Island with intention of using the ford back to friendlier territory. Worn out from a hard day of riding and fighting Morgan decided to rest and take on the Militia the next morning which allow General Judah’s pursuing forces to catch up to Morgan and the battle began at approximately 6 a.m. on July 19, 1863. Fighting rages across the fields along the river for most of the day, but as Morgan began to cross the river, the Union gunboats Moose and Allegheny Belle shelled the Confederates and prevented their crossing. As more Union forces arrived, Morgan was finally surrounded and ordered to surrender.
At about 3 p.m., Gen. Shackleford granted Morgan one hour to surrender, but they used that time to fortify their position instead. The battle continued until night fall when, Morgan, along with about 400 men, escaped while the rest of his force surrendered. He again tried to cross the river up between Reedsville and Hockingport, around Belleville but was again turned away by the Union gunboats and cavalry. While some of his men did reach the southern shore, others drown and Morgan was forced to turn north. Union forces continued to pursue Morgan until finally on July 26, 1863, he and his men were captured just north of East Liverpool in Columbiana County.
From best estimates, approximately 3,000 Union forces and 1800 Confederate were engaged and this ended the only battle of the Civil War to take place in Ohio.