The Daring Ohio Raid of General John Hunt Morgan


By Bob Boldman - Contributing Columnist



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At the zenith of the American Civil War a dashing General would undertake a daring raid to the enemy on their home turf. In July 1863 General John Hunt Morgan of the 2nd Kentucky Regiment, Confederate Cavalry, undertook a raid onto Northern soil. The raid was to hopefully take pressure off the Army of General Bragg who was occupied in the eastern theatre of war. General Morgan and his 2,460 handpicked Confederate cavalrymen, along with four artillery pieces, departed from Sparta, Tn, on June 11, 1863. The dates of the raid were, July 2-July 26, 1863, and so on July 2, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry crossed the Cumberland River, beginning a raid through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio that ended on July 26, 1863, with Morgan’s surrender near West Point, Oh.

Morgan’s cavalry entered Adams County, where they shot a man and raided farms, homes and villages for food, supplies and fresh horses. Morgan’s men crossed the Harshville Covered Bridge and followed Wheat Ridge to Zane’s Trace, which is now Ohio 41, turning north and going through Jacksonville. The following morning Morgan rode into Locust Grove then turned east traveling into Pike County. Because of reports of the closeness of Morgan, Portsmouth was alerted. Colonel Peter Kinney was put in charge of the city’s defenses and raised a militia. But, because of close pursuit of Union forces – Morgan skirted Portsmouth. His forces rode into Jasper and raided local businesses & farms, (just 24 miles from Portsmouth.)

Newspapers of the day reported that a crew of men laid a huge barricade of timber across the road to Jasper. It took Morgan six hours to get past this defended obstacle. “Morgan’s scouts arrived about 1 p.m. They notified him of the barricade. Morgan realized that he would probably lose men in a direct charge. He ordered several companies of the Second Brigade to dismount and fire a volley at the barricade. “The surprised defenders were not expecting the dismounted attack. After firing several rounds, they surrendered. (It took Morgan six hours to get past this defended obstacle.) He made prisoners of the culprits who had caused this delay, and marched them on the double quick to Jasper in Pike County. “During the march back to town, the prisoners suffered verbal abuse from Morgan’s men. Most of the prisoners said nothing. Forty-seven-year-old Joseph McDougal, a staunch Unionist schoolteacher, made some disparaging remarks to his captors. “Because Morgan could not take the prisoners with him, he assigned Captain James W. Mitchell the task of paroling the home guard. Before paroling the men, Mitchell asked for directions to the Scioto River ford. No one volunteered the information. “Not much is known of what happened next. Written accounts of the incident vary. It is known that McDougal was pulled from the group of prisoners and bound. (Another source: “Money was taken from the prisoner and Joseph only had ten cents. He stated that was ten cents more than he wanted them to have.”) He was asked to step out of line and was taken to another area and questioned. Captain Mitchell ordered him placed in a small boat on either the Ohio & Erie Canal or the Scioto River. He then ordered two of his men to shoot McDougal, who was struck below the right eye and in the chest. (One story states: “The boat drifted along down the river, with the bloody corpse of McDougal as a warning to those who planned to resist the raiders.”) “Joseph McDougal is buried behind the old Jasper Methodist Church at the top of a hill. His broken tombstone inscription reads: ‘Joseph McDougal was shot by John Morgan’s men July 16, 1863. McDougal was Aged 47 yrs. 7 Mos. 9 days. “McDougal was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and five children ranging in age from one to seventeen years. Before leaving town the raiders stole one of the widow’s horses. At 3 p.m. on the 16th, the Confederates crossed the Scioto River Bridge and then burned it, to delay anyone who may have wanted to follow them. The column of smoke at Jasper gave folks the grim warning that Morgan was back in the Ohio Valley. Some historians reported that the raid didn’t accomplish much militarily, although it did keep the State of Ohio on alert for a while and thus occupied a few thousand Union troops for valuable days. Morgan gained enough time in his quest to help General Bragg to succeed in his endeavors.

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By Bob Boldman

Contributing Columnist

Bob Boldman is a local historian. He can be reached by email: g.boldman5@gmail.com

Bob Boldman is a local historian. He can be reached by email: g.boldman5@gmail.com