Morgan is coming! Morgan is coming!" This was the cry that startled the midnight air, in southern Perry (County), as a galloping horseman, like Paul Revere, rode over our hills to arouse the "country folk to be up and to arm." "Then there was hurrying to and fro" for the iron hoof of war was approaching. The silver spoons and the silver watch and the gold earrings,that were heirlooms in the family, were hidden behind the soap jar, in the dingiest corner of the smoke-house. And, Frank, the family horse, was suddenly aroused from his slumbers in the stall by the bridle bit slipping into his mouth.
He no doubt thought that now he would have to make a hurried run to New Lexington, Maxville or Oakfield for the doctor. But instead he was unceremoniously hustled down behind the barn, across ditches, through brier patches, to a remote ravine in the farthest corner of the farm, and tied to a sapling in a thicket, where he spent the remainder of the night in cogitation.
Morgan was indeed coming. What route he would take no one knew. He was headed our way. Many stories were afloat as to his methods. The report generally was that he was robbing and burning everything in his pathway. A part of this was true. But when John Morgan, the Confederate cavalry leader, went through Perry county, he was not bent so much on devastation as he was to get out of the country.
Fresh horses and food were the most that he wanted. He was in the enemy's country and his reception was a little warmer than he had anticipated. He had thought that there were only a few old men and boys left here. While it was true that the most of our able bodied men were in the service of their country, there was still a sufficient number here, to make it exceedingly interesting for him, even if the National Guard that was sent to Marietta, to intercept him were armed only with tin-cups. Morgan's original intention was to carry "grim-visaged war" into Ohio, but by the time he had been chased across the state and had zigzagged and criss-crossed his path several times, he had changed his mind to a considerable extent.
Morgan had come into Ohio from Indiana, crossing the boundary at Harrison just north of Cincinnati. He was being closely pursued by General Hobson's cavalry. Hurridly crossing the state through the southern tier of counties, he attempted to cross the river at Buffington Island in Meigs county. Gunboats had been sent up the river to intercept his crossing. Here on Sunday, July 18, 1863, was fought the only battle of the Civil War on Ohio soil. The Confederates numbered about two thousand men. Morgan, with eight hundred succeeded in crossing the river. Seeing that he could not get all of his army across, he, himself came back to the Ohio side and started toward the west. His intention was to get the gunboats to go down the river, when he would suddenly turn and cross before they would have time to come back again. At Harrisonville he turned south and reached the river at Cheshire in Gallia county. Still he could not effect a crossing. Turning to the west again for a dozen miles he suddenly veered toward the north-east. His object now was to outrun the pursuing cavalry, and reach the Ohio river in the neighborhood of Wheeling before the boats could arrive. It was on this race between him and General Shackleford, that he passed through our county.
Attack on Nelsonville, Ohio
Morgan reached Nelsonville about ten o'clock in the morning. Nelsonville was a small town at the time, but the Hocking Canal ran through it providing economic stability. Although there were reports of Morgan being in the area, the citizens were caught unaware when the Rebels came riding into the center of town. Morgan had a good lead on the Union Forces pursuing him. His men began their work they performed so well. There were 10 boats docked at Nelsonville at the time, the Forest Rose, Swan, Comstock, Hibernia, Ontario, Fame, Eureka, Quebec, Valley, and Virginia. They all were set on fire. The Covered Bridge on the outskirts of town was set ablaze to slow their pursuers down. But the citizens were able to put it out after Morgan left.
*Nicholas Bates lost two horses and two halters to the Raiders. Since the Bates' farm was located on the southwest outskirts of Nelsonville, on East Clayton Road, it was probably one of the first places in Nelsonville to be raided by the Rebels approaching the city from Starr in Hocking County. The rebels did however heed the pleas of a Mr. Stuart,who convinced them his canal boat, "The Custer," was a houseboat and not a coal or freight boat like the ten others the Rebels set fire to; and of a Mrs. Steenrod,who begged them not to burn the Steenrod flour mill. *Morgans Raid Losers,... R.S.Vore
Morgan rested his men till about two o'clock in the afternoon. He went only two miles more that day, then encamped for the night in a wheat field where a part of the village of Buchtel is now located. When the Union Forces arrived, two hours behind, they found a feast laid out for them by the citizens. This further delayed The Union Forces in their pursuit.
*"Indignant because the Rebels had turned northeast out of Nelsonville, instead of northwest toward Logan,a small group of men who had assembled to defend Logan set out cross-country to do battle with Morgan's Men. At Eagleport, where Morgan crossed the Muskingum River, they got their chance. However, Rebel fire soon drove them back to cover. Except for one daring, or foolhardy individual. Not heeding the advise of, his friends,he defiantly stood erect on a high rock over the river. This proved a fatal error. According to one account, four Rebels fired at the man from across the river killing him. The man, this version of the story said,was James Kelly, superintendent of the charcoal furnace at Logan,who had never fired a gun until he set off in pursuit of Morgan. According to another version, the man--Henry Kelley--fell dead with three bullets in his back, the bullets being fired by Morgans advance guard "The body of the hero,"says this account, "was taken back to Logan where it was placed in a 'box of ice' so that the awe-stricken populace might gaze upon the body." Now there is still a third version which claims Kelley's body was publicly exhibited in a casket set on Logan's Main Street, directly in front of the Court House, and that Logan mourners filed by for several days to pay their last respects to the only man from Hocking County to lose his life fighting against Morgan's Men." *Morgans Raid Losers,... R.S.Vore
When General Shackleford came into Nelsonville, his men and horses were dusty, tired and hungry. Morgan as he went along had taken the best horses and Shackleford was obliged to take what was left. Even with the Confederate force only two miles away, it was impossible to attempt their capture, after the four hours rest they had secured at Nelsonville. The next morning when Shackleford reached the top of the hill, from where he had seen on the evening before, the enemy in camp, he now saw that during the night the dashing Morgan had slipped away. He had gone up the tributary of Big Monday-creek, through where are now the towns of Orbiston and Murray, then crossing the Monday-creek - Sunday-creek divide, struck our county in Section 35, Coal township, came down into the valley at Hemlock, followed the Sundaycreek Branch through Buckingham and reached Millerstown sometime in the afternoon. Here he rested his men till six o'clock in the evening. He took some horses in the neighborhood of Buckingham. Four were taken from Squire McDonald, one each from Morgan Devore, Mr. Moore and Thomas Skenyon.
Shackleford reached Millertown during the night and camped on the ground where Morgan had rested his men in the afternoon. It can be seen that the Union General was here losing ground. His men were so completely exhausted and their horses were in such a condition that the progress was very slow. Richard Nuzurn, ex-county commissioner of Perry county, went up to Millertown the next morning and found men sleeping all around. It was ten o'clock before the union forces left Millertown. Meanwhile Morgan had passed through where Corning now is, climbed the hill to the Chapel Hill Church, passed up to Porterville and then out of the county, camping for the night on Island Run in Morgan county. Morgan had pressed Henry Kuntz, a citizen of our county, into his service as his pilot. Several New Lexington men whose curiosity was greater than their prudence went out on the trail of the Confederates. Suddenly they rode into the camp on Island Run. Two of them were captured. They were taken along, but were allowed their freedom somewhere over in Guernsey county. Morgan crossed the Muskingum at Eaglesport. At this place a furnace-man from Logan, who had joined Shackleford at Nelsonville, was shot by a sharp-shooter, while he was reconnoitering on the high bluffs above the Muskingum. General Shackelford captured Morgan near New Lisbon in Columbiana county. The Confederate leader, was imprisoned for several months in the Ohio Penitentiary from which he made his escape.
One of Morgan's men fell behind in our county. He was captured and taken to New Lexington, where he attracted considerable attention. He was sent to Camp Chase, Columbus, where Confederate prisoners were kept during the war.
Morgan's Raiders took what they wanted, and if no objections were made to their wholesale appropriations, no one was molested. In closing this account we quote from Colborn's History of Perry county. " A plucky woman of Monroe township, who was riding along the road gave the raiders a piece of her mind. They did not retaliate in words, but gently lifted the lady from her saddle and appropriated her horse. Dr. W. H. Holden of Millertown, then on a tour of visits to his patients, was promptly relieved of his horse, but was kindly permitted to retain his saddle-bags, which he carried the remainder of the way on his arm, as he trudged homeward on foot. A farmer was hauling a load of hay along the road. His team was halted, the harness stripped from the horses in a twinkling, and there the fanner sat upon his load of hay, a much astonished and bewildered individual. There was a wool-picking party at the house of a farmer; quite a number of ladies was there and supper was just announced. Morgan's men came in uninvited, appropriated all of the seats, and remarked that it was very impolite to take precedence of the ladies, but that they were in a great hurry and could not afford to wait. What they left in the way of eatables was hardly worth mentioning." sc This story in part: " HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY OHIO" BY CLEMENT L. MARTZOLFF, 1902