Morgan’s raiders ride again

WELLSVILLE – As with another, more recent, war-time event, Columbiana County had its own day that will “live in infamy,” when Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan surrendered just outside West Point, following the northernmost battle of the Civil War.

That surrender and the night leading up to it will be commemorated in the county July 27 and 28, and at a meeting this week of the Wellsville Historical Society, some of the upcoming events were discussed.

Over those two days, a host of events is planned, including a tour of the route Morgan and his raiders took to reach the point of surrender on what is today state Route 518 between Gavers and West Point.

Starting at Two Ridge Presbyterian Church in Wintersville, traveling to Bergholz, to West Grove Cemetery, Riley Church and then to the Sharp Farm on state Route 39 where a skirmish took place, to Bethesda Presbyterian Church and on to the surrender point, spectators will be able to get a feel for what residents experienced that day as they learned that the general and his troops were coming through the area.

It was in June 1863 that Morgan set out with 2,460 cavalrymen from Sparta, Tenn. Morgan’s Raid culminated 46 days later on July 26 when he and his men were captured eight miles northeast of Salineville near West Point.

Residents had reason to fear the on-coming forces after newspaper reporters dubbed it The Calico Raid due to Morgan’s men foraging stores and homes for personal clothing and goods.

Following his surrender, Morgan and his remaining troops were taken to Wellsville to await transport to the state prison in Columbus. At 3 p.m. on the 28th, author Lester Horwitz, who wrote the Pulitzer-nominated book, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War,” will be speaking, followed by a re-enactment of Morgan’s stay at the Whitacre House and his presentation of his sword to owner Thomas Whitacre. The sword will also be on display at the museum.

Although no provisions have been made for food concessions at the event, it was noted events at the museum are expected to culminate by 5 p.m., allowing visitors time to partake of local restaurants afterward.

It was reported by Virginia Glenn, who is coordinating events in Bergholz, that copies of a sketch by area artist Dave Barnhouse depicting the Mooretown Civil War monument are being sold for $50 each, and a second sketch depicting Morgan gifting Whitacre with his saber will also be drawn for sale.

In addition, the book, “Last Night and Last Day of John Hunt Morgan,” printed in 1913, will be reprinted and sold. This book includes anecdotes and stories by those involved in the raid and surrender and their descendants.

Proceeds from these sales will be shared among the area groups planning events on the 27th and 28th, according to Glenn, who noted her husband posed for the Mooretown sketch.

Bookmarks telling the story of Morgan are also being made to give to children.

It is anticipated the state will have available brochures showing the route Morgan took from Cincinnati to the surrender site, and John H. Barnett of the Carroll County Historical Society said he also hopes to make sure people are directed to Wellsville where the general stayed, because it is not listed on the state’s brochures.

Directional signs are being erected along the route, and kiosks have been installed at some of the key points, including on state Route 39 near Salineville, explaining Morgan’s actions.

“There will be an enormous amount of interest in this because the state is promoting it,” Barnett said, adding that thousands of people came to see a mock battle during the 100th commemoration in 1963.

Lisbon is also planning events in conjunction with the event, according to promoters, who said preliminary plans include a breakfast, ringing of church bells, gathering of the town folk and re-creating events of that fateful day.

Although Barnett said he spoke with someone in Salineville who said the town is not planning anything, Mayor Mary Smith said later she had not been advised of this conversation but would like to see the town which figured prominently in Morgan’s last raid participate and will be contacting Barnett.

Chairman of the Wellsville event is Matthew Watson of the Wellsville Historical Society.