In July 1863, with battles raging in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, General Morgan initiated a raid to divert the attention of Union General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Ohio away from eastern Tennessee. Morgan had led his cavalry in previous successful raids in Tennessee and Kentucky. Morgan and his men went on a spree through Indiana and Ohio which ended when Morgan attempted a crossing at Buffington Island near Pomeroy, Ohio. The Confederates were defeated by northern forces and gunboats, and approximately 750 men were captured.
After the battle, Colonel Adam Johnson and 300 of the raiders escaped, crossing the Ohio just upriver from Buffington Island. The gunboats arrived before all the men could cross and while Morgan could have gone with Johnson, he chose to stay with the remainder of his force still in Ohio. The remnants of Morgan’s command fled into northeastern Ohio, where they were captured near West Point in Columbiana County on July 26.
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See a reenactment of Morgan’s Raid
After a four-month incarceration at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus, Morgan and six of his men escaped on November 27. This was the only successful escape from this structure during the 19th century. General Morgan returned south to take a small command and was killed at Greeneville, Tennessee in September 1864 while organizing another raid into Kentucky.
Morgan’s raid covered about 1,000 miles and was the longest sustained cavalry raid of the Civil War. While given little significance in the history of the war, it was a regarded as a major event along the route he traveled.