On Wednesday last, Morgan crossed the Ohio River at Brandenburg. He first seized the steamer John B McComb and with her seized and boarded the Alice Dean, one of the finest boats on the river. By the aid of the steamers, Morgan crossed with his whole force,consisting of about 4000 cavalrymen, with battery of guns. After crossing, he burned the Alice Dean.
They first destroyed a bridge on the Indianapolis and Jeffersonville Railroad, where they were met by small forces. The track was torn up on both roads for a considerable distance and the bridge at Seymour on the Ohio and Mississippi road destroyed. Our mails from Cincinnati having been cut off since Monday evening, we are without reliable intelligence as to the exact tenor of events in that region. We learn, however, by telegraph that
Morgan's forces have passed around Cincinnati,destroying Camp Dennison, and tearing up the track and otherwise injuring the Little Miami and the Marietta and Cincinnati roads, from fifteen to thirty miles out of Cincinnati. The latest reports assert them to be coming up this way, probably striking for the river about Maysville, so as to re-cross into Kentucky.
His forces, entirely of cavalry, Morgan can effectually elude pursuit, at least for a short time. The country having been completely stripped of solders, the Militia has been called out to arrest this progress. Until an overwhelming force is obtained, he may ride around at will but any attempt to re-cross the river must be extremely hazardous and almost impracticable.
Messrs. Editors: On Wednesday, the 22nd inst., about 11 o'clock A.M. the people here were thrown into great confusion by the unwelcome intelligence that the notorious John Morgan and his forces were within a mile of the town. Some seemed disposed to make sport of it, as his approach was so unexpected in this direction; for only the night before we had a report of his capture, and was rejoicing over the good news. Others again were greatly alarmed - men, women and children running about the street in wild confusion. But we had very little time left to get ourselves composed. We heard of their crossing the river bridge; then they came pouring in from all directions, and spreading over the town in less than no time.
There are various opinions as to their number. Some report 600, others 800. There were enough of them however, to pay each house more than a welcome visit, in regard to numbers, in search of something to eat: and you may depend on it there was never a meal given more begrudgingly, (although this is contrary to previous opinion, that the people of Nelsonville are noted for their hospitality.) As a general thing they behaved very civilly while we were handing out our provision, which was more than we expected, for thew were the hardest looking set of people we ever looked upon; and coming upon us so unexpectedly, it was enough to send terror to the stoniest heart. They were dirty and ragged, and their dress was all different, and of every possible description.
After they had eaten all they could find in the houses, they entered the stores and helped themselves to new clothes and other things that suited them. They paid for part of them. It is not known how much they took without pay. Some estimate their loss at $500, some $1000. They then visited all the stables and pastures near town, in search of horses, of which they took in possession all that were able to travel. The whole loss is estimated at $25,000.
When we first heard of their approach some rode their horses into the woods to save them while others were overtaken and had to deliver up. Farmers from the country had their horses unharnessed from their wagons and left to get home the best way they could.
The rebels went about their work of plunder so quietly that our excitement had nearly subsided, when we thought they were about to leave without further damage being done. Just then the cry of "fire" went out, when all was confusion again. We thought the final doom of our town was sealed; but they have spared us to feed them when they come through here again, which we are daily expecting. They fired the river bridge which they crossed on, and all the boats that were in port - 12 in number - turning families out upon the banks with saving a thing but the clothes on their backs. The kindled a fire in the cabin of one boat, where there was a sick woman. Her pleadings were of no avail, and she was obliged to make her escape the best way she could.
L.D. Poston's coal works caught fire from the boats, but was put out after the rebels left without much damage.
The plunderers remained in town about two hours. Morgan himself was recognized by several persons here. He seemed to be very uneasy, and gave orders to "fall in,' when they moved on, to the great relief of the people here, but only to spread terror and devastation all along the country through which they travel.
They left town between one and two P.M. Maj. Wolford entered with his cavalry at five o'clock in pursuit of them. We have had various reports as to Morgan's whereabouts since he left here - Some say he is surrounded and cannot escape: others that he is beaten back, and that we may expect his this way again which keeps us continually in alarm, for we are not in the least anxious for another visitation of the kind.
Yours with respect
Transcribed by Sandra Cummins
Joe Pickering, of Athens, O., though not yet 17, has already won a name as a daring soldier such as few gain in a lifetime. He enlisted in the three month's service last year under Capt. McVay, and cried with bitter vexation when compelled to surrender at Harper's ferry just before the battle of Antietan. He had two brothers, who enlisted in the 3rd O.V.I. on the the fall of Fort Sumpter, though neither 18 years of age. - One of these noble fellows, a great whole souled boy, who seems never to have felt fear, was instantly killed a Perryville, and young Joe has held the thought of revenge nearer than his won life.
Morgan's Raid furnished the opportunity, and rubbing up an old flintlock pistol, and taking a shot gun, he was off the find the rebels. On Saturday, he was beside Major D. H. Moore at Rutland, when Morgan entered the place, and the Major fired at a rebel, who was dashing up toward them with the intention to capture them. He admired the coolness with which he held his revolver, and the skillful shot that grazed his foe man's neck, and that was only avoided by a side spring of the well trained horse and a drop behind him for protection.
Their rebel looked at them only a moment, and wheeled his horse, and shortly a host of rebels came pouring into the village with drawn revolvers and loud impreinations against "the two Yankees." In the meantime, the Major had withdrawn, and Joe had thrown aside his blouse, and came out of a house wearing a large palm hat in his shirt-sleeves, an interested spectator of their mad ravings and indiscriminate plunder. One rebel not receiving a satisfactory reply to his question where is that d--d Yankee that as with the officer? replied, "your a d--d liar" and drew his revolver, but could not find it in his heart to shoot the peaceful farmer's boy that Joe seemed to be. After taking all they wanted including even women and children's shoes, the marauders moved on. Joe sought his horse and musket, where they had lain in the bushed unobserved by the horse-hunters, and came back to our forces.
The next day he and young Charley Finsterwald had joined the Union forces in the chase. They took five prisoners between them of which Charlie took one alone and Joe three. The other was a joint capture.
These were stragglers from Morgan's band, and one of them begged most lustily for his life as they comae up to them. Another that surrendered to Joe alone, trembled violently, and was very pale. He said, he as glad to get with our men. After these prisoners were reported to the rear, the boys set out again to the front of the column, and as soon as skirmishing began there, they galloped forward.
The Rebel volley was fired from a hill a little ahead, and a ball whistling rather close Joe's ears, he sent one in reply from his carbine and followed their retreat. The boys were now well supplied with arms from their recent captures, and when on the hill they heard the firing down in the hollow below. Joe struck his horse and dashed down the road to take part in the engagement. A squad of rebels had left their horses behind a large barn and come back up the road to a barn, built of logs, and opened out a perfect volley on our advance. These immediately dismounted and returned the fire. Joe fired twice and stepped out from behind his horse for a fairer shot, when a ball passed through his right thigh, inflicting a severe, though not dangerous wound.
Fearing they might strike a more, vital part next time. he stepped to a large sycamore and fired three other shots with deadly effect, when the rebels skedaddled in a hurry: but there were several empty saddles as the horses came into the road. The woman of the house said that when the boy by the sycamore fires, one man fell, and as he passed the house he was quite bloody, and on following the trail the evidence of a fearful revenge was fully apparent. Charley, who saw the whole fight, is confident that three of Joe's shots were fatal.
The bravery of these boys attracted the attention of Col. Shackleford, who inquired their names, and directed the Military Committee to make them suitable presents of the captured arms. Joe's wound is doing well.
We quote the following illustration from the Scioto Gazette:
During day the wildest reports were circulated about Morgan, and large number of people expected every moment to see the dreaded guerilla parade into town and "gobble up" militia, guns and all. About 6 o'clock p.m. some of our scouts came galloping up the pike south of town, and the men who were guarding the Paint Creek bridge took a panic, set fire to the bridge and then took to their heels, verily believing that Morgan was right after the Brave fellows! The bridge which cost about $10,000 was totally destroyed. The men say they acted according to the orders of a valiant Colonel, who told them if the rebels approached, to destroy the bridge, and they thought that burning was the quickest way to destroy it. How much the destruction of the bridge would have delayed the rebels, even if they had been coming, will be understood when we state that the water in the creek was not more than a foot deep at that time. That Colonel certainly ought to be promoted. Such brilliant military talent ought to be encouraged!
If anything was wanting to prove the liberality and generous patriotism of the ladies of Athens county, the following statistics will put it beyond a question. Our citizens are also much indebted to the order of our Military Committee, closing the liquor shops during the stay of the troops here, for the consequent quiet of the town till the time of the order expired.
During the week of the Morgan raid, provisions were furnished for the soldiers in Athens, as follows:
Friday, July 17th - Dinner on the College Green for 65, supper for 300.
Saturday - Breakfast for 200; lunch and coffee at the depot, at three o'clock pm for upwards of 3000; supper for 80.
Sunday - Breakfast for 90; dinner for 100; supper for 110.
Monday - Breakfast at 5 o'clock am for 150; at 6 am for 90; dinner at 12 noon. for 100; at 1 pm for 90; supper at 5 pm for 90; 6 pm for 68.
Tuesday - Breakfast 90.
Wednesday - Breakfast at 4:30 am for 112.
Friday - Lunch at the depot for 300.
The above has no reference to those who were provided for at private houses, or at the hotels, which were, all three, filled to overflowing.
The provisions were supplied for the first two or three days by the citizens of Athens. After that - the war committee furnishing bacon and coffee - abundant supplies of bread, biscuits, pies, cake, etc., poured in from the county around - four wagon-loads coming from the patriotic town of Nelsonville alone.