On behalf of the Sixth Ohio Cavalry Regiment, I would like to invite you and your unit to participate in the 2006 Morgan’s Raid Reenactment to take place in Vinton and Meigs Counties, Ohio on September 6-12, 2006. You will be joining up to 300 fellow Confederate Raiders, 2 six-horse teams of mounted artillery, and scores of horse drawn supply wagons on a 58 mile trek across rural southern Ohio on the same roads and trails that Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his band of Kentucky and Tennessee troopers traversed in July of 1863. For four days, you will be living out of your saddle, foraging local farms for food and fodder, fighting Union cavalry and a determined lot of state militia, and camping overnight at the very sites that Morgan and his men stayed. This will be a ride unlike any you have previously been involved in. If I dare say, this will be even better than Morgan’s Raid I!
Then… On July 2, 1863, while Lee and Meade were slugging it out on hallowed ground in Pennsylvania, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan crossed the Cumberland River at Burkesville, Kentucky with 2,460 men into Union territory and commenced the raid that soon became his legacy. Near Brandenburg, Kentucky, he commandeered two steamboats to transport his force across the Ohio River into Indiana. After a sharp skirmish at Corydon, Indiana, he arrived at Harrison on the Indiana-Ohio border by July 13th. He traversed ninety grueling miles in only thirty-five hours around Cincinnati to avoid a large garrison of Union troops and arrived at Williamsburg on the following day.
Morgan then plunged deep into southern Ohio, diverting attention of the Union forces away from General Braxton Bragg’s army in Tennessee and stirring up southern sympathy among the Copperheads in Ohio. As he approached southeastern Ohio, Morgan’s resolve began to wane and he soon turned his attention to securing a ford across the upper-Ohio to return to friendly soil.
At Wilkesville, Ohio, in Vinton County, he split his force in three. General Morgan and Colonel Basil Duke commanded the center group that marched due east into Meigs county. A brigade under Colonel Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson took a northerly parallel route. A small detachment under Morgan’s brother, Colonel Richard Morgan, proceeded along a southern route. This allowed Morgan to strip the countryside of horses and provisions and allowed his men to reconnoiter the river for a safe crossing. The forces met in Pomeroy on July 18th where the combined army headed east through Chester and Bashan towards Portland and the river ford near Buffington Island. Along the way, Union forces led by Brigadier General Henry Judah caught up to Morgan and together with two gunboats that blocked Morgan’s crossing at Buffington Island, forced a pitched battle that resulted in Morgan’s defeat.
2003 and Morgan’s Raid I
In 1999, I was asked to join the Ohio Bicentennial Commission Civil War Subcommittee, and brought with me the idea of reenacting the only significant Civil War battle that took place on Ohio soil. That was the birth of Morgan’s Raid I. Those of you that rode with us in 2003 understand what this event has to offer.
In the years leading up to 2003, we engaged in extensive research and long hours in the field traversing the actual roads used by Morgan’s men along his 440 mile ride through Ohio, and settled on the 58 mile route that Stovepipe Johnson’s brigade traveled through Vinton and Meigs Counties and after arriving in Chester, Ohio, and having met up with Morgan’s main body, the route along the Shade river leading to Bashan, Ohio and the eventual ford near Buffington Island. We chose this route for a number of reasons. The historical significance of this portion of the Raid cannot be over stated. At this point of the Raid, Judah’s Union cavalry was in hot pursuit of Morgan’s band. The battle at Buffington Island was the defining moment in the raid and led to its ultimate demise and Morgan’s surrender 10 days later near West Point, Ohio. It stands as the only large engagement of Union and Confederate forces on Ohio soil and Morgan’s surrender at West Point marked the farthest point north reached by a force of the Confederate army. This site and the reenactment met the committee’s goal of commemorating Ohio’s history in the Civil War, and gave us a wonderful platform to share this important period through the art of living history with the citizens of Ohio and surrounding states.
Another reason, and one not lost in the minds of the cavalry reenactor members of the committee, was the actual 58-mile route. Northern Vinton and Meigs counties look much like they did 140 years ago. The raid will start at the historic Kline farm in Wilkesville where Morgan and his men actually camped. The foundation to the original home is still there and the Italianate mansion built in 1867 allegedly with funds given to Dr. Kline by Morgan prominently stands above the 100 acres graciously loaned to us by the White family that currently owns the estate. From there, we head east along dirt roads toward our final destination. About 2/3 of the route goes along the actual route taken by Morgan’s men and about half of that will be along old roads and trails on private property that have not been open to the public since about the time of Morgan. The modern intrusions are minimal and for much of the ride, totally non-existent.
The support that we got from the local communities and landowners in 2003 was nothing short of phenomenal. Every person we have talked with along the way (and I mean every person) was excited about the project and opened up their land and barns for our use. Even more want to help us in 2006.
Morgan’s Raid II, “On to the Ford” will be even better. We will be traveling along the same route, but with some great twists. First off, we have been granted access to some more private land and will be eliminating some of the roadwork. Instead of riding around the 17,000 acres owned by The American Electric Power Company on Thursday in western Meigs County, we have been given permission to ride through it. Nothing but open fields and mining roads in there.
We have also laid out a track that will take us to the Ohio River and the actual ford near Buffington Island. We are working with the company that owns the actual ground that the Battle of Buffington Island was fought on, and if that works out, we will be reenacting that battle on the actual site. This adds an additional 8 miles of trail at the end of our ride. We will be traversing that last segment on Sunday morning.
In talking with all of you that rode with us in Morgan’s Raid I, most suggested that we should have more engagements. We agree. On Thursday, we are planning on riding out Blue and Gray. Morgan will leave Wilksville early Thursday morning with rations and ammunition. After a head start, the Union cavalry will follow. This will give the federal cavalry troopers an opportunity to ride under the stars and bars before galvanizing under Morgan for the rest of the ride. We have 20 miles to traverse and along the way, it will be up to Morgan to stay ahead of his pursuers. The opportunities for large-scale skirmishes will be plenty.
On Friday, we will all ride under Morgan and run into the local militia in the afternoon for school programs as we did in 2003. On Saturday, we will fight the battle of Bashan on the actual ground at Harry Spencer’s Farm. As stated, we will then ride to the Buffington Island Ford on Sunday morning for the finale.
Of course, some things will not change. We will camp in Chester on Friday evening and there will be a huge dance. In fact the dances were so popular with the local citizens in 2003 that you should look for one at Wilkesville Wednesday evening and a barn dance at the Spencer Farm on Saturday evening.
The one thing that did change, and the one thing we really have no control over, is that this time there will be $50 registration fee. In 2003, we were blessed with a significant Ohio Bicentennial Grant to fund the event. We don’t have those funds this time around. I understand the fee is substantial, and for that I do apologize. However, like we did in 2003, we will be feeding you and your horse for five whole days. That’s only $10 a day. That’s not all too bad. If we have any money left over, we will be donating it all to local civic and historical preservation projects in Vinton and Meigs Counties.
A TRULY UNIQUE CAVALRY EVENT
This event will once again bring together the best skilled mounted cavalrymen and women from both sides of the hobby’s Mason-Dixon line under a single flag (albeit a southern one). The Sixth Ohio we will once again team up with Captain David Hauser, unit commander of the 2nd Virginia, and his boys, to lay out the event and to choose the participants. We will all be working very hard with members of the organizing committee to make this a great event for all participants.
Keeping to the authentic historical theme of the Raid also makes this ride truly special. We will not be on a 58-mile joy ride like most rides of this nature that simply gets us from one place to another. We will ride under arms the entire way relying on forward videttes to guide us through the dangers of enemy territory. We will be harassed by local militia and dogged by dismounted Union cavalry at ambush sites along the way (all of which will be unknown to the raiders). We will have to fight our way through roadblocks. We will be forced to forage the countryside for provisions for horse and rider. We may have to liberate a horse or two, and certainly will requisition every fresh pie that we find on the windowsill of local inhabitants. We will simulate as best we can the danger, fatigue, and excitement that Morgan’s men must have experienced during the actual raid.
Finally, do not trivialize the physical challenge to horse and rider that this event poses. Again, you have been invited to participate because we feel your unit can handle the arduous task of riding 58 miles in three days. Having said that, there may be horses and riders in your unit that will not be able to handle this ride. DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY. THIS IS NOT FOR BEGGINNERS OR THE FAINT OF HEARTS. YOUR HORSE MUST BE IN TOP PHYSICAL SHAPE OR IT WILL NOT MAKE IT (LITERALLY). YOU MUST ALSO BE IN SHAPE OR YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT EITHER. We will be covering 20 hard hilly miles the first day. That will include skirmishes and foraging expeditions. If you have not logged long distances on horseback, do not make this your maiden voyage. Prepare your horse. You better do a few 20-mile days ahead of time before you put a burden on the event organizers with a jaded horse that we have to transport to a local veterinary hospital.
Your horse must not only be in physical shape, it must be a seasoned cavalry horse. It must be accustomed to gunfire. You never know what will be lurking behind that boulder or tree. It also better be totally trail safe. We will be fording rivers and streams, traversing steep hills, and riding over wooden unguarded bridges. It must also be safe on a picket line. All seasoned cavalry horses can do these things. If yours cannot, it better stay home.
We will be issuing more specific information early next year, including registration material. Our website will be up and running after the first of the year. Bob Vance, adjutant of the 6th Ohio will once again coordinate registration. Until then, we are open to suggestions and questions. This is an event planned and organized by cavalry reenactors for cavalry reenactors. Some of our bests ideas have come from fellow hobby members so do not be shy. In the meantime, save your vacation time and mark September 6-10 on your calendars.
You can reach me at email@example.com or by phone at 330 495-4952. Bob Vance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darrell Markijohn Commander, USV Cavalry Regiment
“Grumpy” Dave Towsen Potomac Legion, and somebody made me the President. Strong drink was involved. Columbia Rifles
"So many units could raise their 'impressions' by leaps and bounds by spending 3 minutes next to a trashcan." - Jerry Todd, CW Reenacting"
PS: I think Dave liked your "trashcan" quote!
If a Hurricane don't blow Florida off the map by next September, I will be there! Sounds like too-much-fun (and saddle sores) to miss! Mike Nickerson
Last Edit: Nov 25, 2005 10:41:34 GMT -5 by Jerry Todd