Updated on Wednesday*:
We continue our series with letters and stories from the
Calhoun Historical Society’s book, “Calhoun County in the Civil War.”
This week begins a three-part series.
The disheartened Confederates of the Morgan raid, who
had succeeded in crossing the Ohio River at Buffington under the
leadership of Colonels Adam Johnson and J. Warren Grigsby, were in no
mood for rejoicing over the outcome of their foray through Northern
territory. The night of July 19, 1863, their commanders took charge of
the week-long withdrawal across the newly formed State of West Virginia.
“Sad and dispirited, we marched to Belleville, some 14
miles,” Capt. S.P. Cunningham, Morgan’s assistant adjutant general, told
a Richmond, Va., newspaper reporter on Aug. 1, almost two weeks after
the Buffington encounter.
“We impressed guides, collected together some 300 men
who had crossed, many without arms, having lost them in the river, and
marched out toward Claysville. After leaving the Ohio at Belleville on
that night, we marched to near Elizabeth-town in Wirt county,” said the
Basil Duke, Morgan’s brother-in-law and second in
command on the expedition, records that “two fine companies” of the
Nineteenth Tennessee, led by captains Kirkpatrick and Sisson, got across
the Ohio at Buffington earlier that Sunday, while two companies of
Duke’s own old regiment, the Second Kentucky, under captains Lea and
Cooper, succeeded in crossing within the next day or two.
In addition to the organized units, about three or four
hundred stragglers from the various regiments managed to cross singly or
in groups, and were rounded up by Johnson and Grigsby.
For the first part of the flight, their route roughly
paralleled the course of the Little Kanawha River, later striking south
toward Confederate territory.
Several years ago, Donald Starcher of Parkersburg
disclosed his recollection that his grandfather, Floyd Starcher, told
how some of the retreating cavalrymen came to the Perry Starcher farm on
Yellow Creek in Calhoun County in the evening.
Here they rested for the night, many of the tired young
horsemen bedding down on the hay in the Starcher barn. Floyd Starcher,
then a boy of 13, to the end of his life would never forget how he had
seen and talked with John Morgan’s feared and fabled men.
This Week's Editorial:By Helen Morris:
Calhoun County Map