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A Battle For Calhoun
Part 25; More Letters Home
by Maricia Mlynek

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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.


Hoped For Leader’s Escape: In Richmond, Cunningham spoke for the rest of Johnson’s troops in declaring that all during the retreat through West Virginia, they hoped Morgan might somehow escape his pursuers in Ohio because he “had three brothers with him of so close a resemblance to the General that any one of them might have been palmed off on Shackleford (Union general who chased Morgan across four states) as the veritable chieftain.

“But we fear,” Cunningham told the Richmond interviewer, “the Federal report of his capture is too true. It is gratifying to note that he passed entirely through the state of Ohio.”

Besides the 10th Kentucky, the Partisan Rangers led by Johnson, J. Warren Grigsby’s 6th Kentucky Cavalry was one of Morgan’s few units to get back almost intact from the Ohio raid. Their leader reached Richmond ahead of Johnson, and, to President Jefferson Davis and Adjutant General Samuel Cooper, argued heatedly in favor of the advantages of a plan to dismount Morgan’s men and make them into infantry.

Davis was inclined to reflect some of the animosity of Morgan’s commanding officer, Gen. Braxton Bragg, heading the Confederacy’s western armies. Bragg contended that Morgan’s Ohio raid was unauthorized by the Confederate high command and was determined to make things as unpleasant as possible for his remaining troops.

Morgan’s Men Report: Johnson, with Cooper’s sanction and permission to reorganize the command as “Morgan’s Men,” named Morristown in East Tennessee as the rendezvous. Within 60 days, more than 1,200 horsemen reported, many of them, of course, men who for one reason or another had not been able to go on the Ohio foray.

The powerful General Forrest was able to prevent Bragg from taking any repressive measures against Johnson and the reorganized command. By great effort, Johnson got his entire command mounted, and reported to Gen. Simon Buckner, division commander, with Bragg’s army, shortly after the Battle of Chattanooga in September. In this fiercely-fought encounter, Morgan’s men fired the first and the last shots.

Meanwhile, John Morgan, held in captivity in the Ohio penitentiary in Columbus, had begun to consider ways and means to escape from the northern bastille and rejoin his troopers.

(Source: The Parkersburg News, Sunday, Mar. 15, 1970, as written by Geraldine Muscari.)

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