The Portland Community Center and 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Civil War reenactment group all hosted the Buffington Island reenactment weekend, with assistance from Shelly Materials Inc. and the Ohio Historical Society. In addition to the reenactment, the weekend included two days of events celebrating not only the battle but all things pertaining to the Civil War era and its place in the history of Meigs County.
On Sunday, the actual reenactment of the battle began along Ohio 124 in a mowed hayfield as Union and Confederate troops exchanged a volley of gunfire before a crowd who’d gathered to watch amongst the growing corn and staked tomatoes. Despite an initial retreat, the Union charged back and began taking command of the battlefield, taking out more and more “Reb” soldiers. Dressed in period costumes and discharging period firearms, the soldiers disappeared at times in the clouds of gunsmoke which revealed an audience watching from their modern lawnchairs and contemporary vehicles. Many vehicles were from out of state, including Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana and Texas to name a few.
In addition to the Battle of Buffington Island, renactors put on the Battle of Corydon which took place in Indiana during Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raid, before he crossed into Ohio and eventually fought at Buffington Island. A memorial service was also conducted by the Sons of Union Veterans with a discussion of local history surrounding the Battle of Buffington Island following. Other military drills, period games and activities also took place this weekend, including fastest shot, corn husking and a cannonball toss.
The 146th Anniversary of the Battle of Buffington Island’s reenactment and coordinating activities helped bring people to Portland to also attend the Portland Community Center’s Civil War Museum, craft show and the Ohio River Producer’s Horse Fun Show in the Portland Arena Show Ring.
A history of the battle is as follows:
On July 13, 1863, Confederate cavalry under Morgan crossed into Ohio from Indiana at Harrison. They were being pursued by Union cavalry under the direction of Generals Henry M. Judah and Edward H. Hobson. On July 19, Union forces caught up to Morgan’s raiders and the Battle of Buffington Island was fought near Portland on the Ohio River. Of the 1,700 Confederate troops engaged, 900 were killed, wounded or captured. Only 25 of the 4,700 Union troops became casualties.
Morgan escaped the Buffington Island engagement with about 400 men and was captured on July 26 near Salineville in northeast Ohio while trying to find a safe place to cross the Ohio River. During the Ohio raid, Morgan’s men captured and paroled nearly 6,000 Union soldiers and militia, destroyed 34 bridges, disrupted railroads at more than 60 places and diverted tens of thousands of Union troops from other duties.