Monday, April 6, 2015

Morgan's Raid

Lexington loves its Morgan legacy
Indiana's participation in the Civil War was far from unique, but it's worth noting that it ran at a fever pitch.

The state's history was essentially created from Southern roots with many of the original settlers coming to the territory from the Carolinas and Virginia.

The Virginia point of view was more tolerant toward slavery than one might have seen in nearby Ohio.

But as the rebellion began, the loudest and most prominent voices urged successfully that Indiana remain in the Union and to provide troops and support for the Union cause.

The war itself rarely impacted Indiana territory with one notable exception.

Morgan's Raid.

Southern Gen. John Hunt Morgan, in June of 1863, moved his troops northward through Kentucky, where they were able to cross the Ohio River and pursue an invasion into southern Indiana.

Key attacks were in Washington and Jennings counties, and there is some evidence to suggest Morgan actually had troops in Franklin County, perhaps near New Trenton. One can assume that his scouts explored their options as far north as Cedar Grove. There is no evidence they made it to Brookville. He did, however, make it to Versailles in Ripley County.

Morgan's raid served no especially useful purpose for the Confederate cause, though the Union army was forced to appropriate troops to the Indiana and Ohio fronts in an effort to deter Morgan.

In a nutshell, his campaign was more diversionary than practical. His legacy was effectively based on terror. His troops pillaged and looted but achieved anecdotal military success. But the incursion did show that civilian populations along the Ohio River were vulnerable in the face of a dedicated fighting force.

Morgan's men did burn several bridges and rip up several railroad tracks. In most cases, they captured Union soldiers and ransomed them back at the end of the day.

Ambrose Burnside of Liberty:
He invented "sideburns."
The Morgan campaign's chief opponent was Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was born in Union County. Burnside's legacy is that of a somewhat inept Army officer. He had wanted to declare martial law in Indiana to counter Morgan's raids.

Gov. Oliver Morton refused, though Ohio Gov. Tod did agree to martial law for his state.

Wrote Morton in response to Burnside's plea to invoke martial law in Indiana:

"I understand the purpose to be accomplished ... I am opposed to it, as I am unable to see any good to grow of it, but much possible harm. So far as the present invasion of Indiana is concerned it can certainly do no good, and so far as calling out and organizing militia either to repel invasion or maintain order, I am satisfied it can be not better done by State rather than Federal authority. I say to you frankly that so far as Indiana is concerned, it would be highly inexpedient in my judgment."



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