The Morgan’s ‘Terrible Men’ on the march.
Written by Ned Lodwick, US Grant Homestead Assoc.
“Morgan’s Raid” Part 2
After burning the covered bridges between Mt. Orab and Sardinia the main force of Morgan’s raiders road into Sardinia around 10 AM on July 15th, 1863. The stores were looted and horses taken as usual but something must have happened while the raiders were in Sardinia. In most towns Morgan threatened to burn or blow up the place if a certain amount of money wasn’t raised as ransom. Maybe that happened in Sardinia and the town needed a little demonstration to stimulate fund raising for in the 1970’s a mountain howitzer ball was found lodged in the bricks of a chimney. No record says a cannon was fired by Morgan’s men there but that was the type of artillery they had and the ball got there somehow.
A few raiders would stop at every house and ask for food. If they saw something else they needed they would take that too but they were generally polite as long as they didn’t get a lot of resistance from the homeowners. At one stop west of Sardinia, the Noah Dunn home, a raider struck up a conversation with young Sam Dunn, a young boy about his son’s age. The raider told Sam that his son back in Kentucky had no shoes and Sam gave the raider his shoes for the price of a bag of candy.
On the farm of Joshua and Mary Carey just outside of Fincastle, Mary was just taking bread out of the oven when she was warned of the raider’s proximity. She wrapped the bread in towels and hid them in the pillow bolsters on a spare bed. She sent her father-in-law to the woods with their horses and when the raiders arrived they looked around a little but left empty handed.
The raiders stopped Charles Dietrich on his way to Fincastle’s farm market. They took his produce, his huckster’s wagon, and his three horses. James Records saw his winter harness, including jingling sleigh bells ride of on a raiders horse.
The raiders were all surprised by the amount of service age men not yet in uniform when they rode through the north. Only wounded veterans or invalids were not in the army and off to war in the South. Everyone from 16 to 60 was serving in the South and here in the North the male population hardly seemed affected.
The status of the farms was another thing the soldiers noticed. While riding through Brown County an officer asked Sergeant Robert Bean what he thought the South’s chance of victory was. The sergeant took a few more minutes to look around as he rode then replied, “None! Look around at all the well kept farms, stocked with all kinds of animals for the prosperity of the owners. We in the South have not used a paint brush on our houses since the year the war commenced or made a rail to fence our fields”. The officer agreed with Bean but asked him to not tell the other troopers of his opinion.
The Ohio civilians were different than the Hoosiers in how they reacted to the raiders. In Indiana the citizens and officials did all they could to hurry the raiders on their way and out of the state. In Ohio very few roads were free of fallen trees and rarely were the raiders not able to hear the sound of axes felling more trees ahead of them in an attempt to slow them down so the Union cavalry could catch up. Morgan’s second in command, Colonel Basil Duke said, “Small fights with the militia were of daily occurrence. They hung around the column, wounding two or three men every day and sometimes killing one. We captured hundreds of them daily, but could only turn them loose after destroying their guns.”
Those raiders wounded to badly to ride were left in farmhouses to be cared for possibly by the very people who had fired the shots. Most of these makeshift hospitals gave very good care. Often these families had boys of their own in the Union army and hoped if their loved ones needed help that maybe a southern family would return their kindness. If the rebel died he was often buried in a local church yard and if he lived he was turned over to the authorities when he recovered. Some of these situations ended in a romance between a young raider and ‘nurse’. After the war several marriages occurred along the path of the raid.
Out of Sardinia and on the way east again Morgan’s scouts saw a barricade in the next town and armed men milling around behind it. A group of local militia was waiting in Fincastle and there appeared to be several men. Morgan knew he didn’t have all day to fight a militia group so he bypassed the problem and rode south of Fincastle on the way to Winchester.
By noon of July 15th the main force of raiders were out of Brown County but the 200 or so remaining would still cause a lot of panic for a few more hours. It would be many years before boys in Brown County weren’t heard reciting the verse:
“I’m sent to warn the neighbors. He isn’t a mile behind; He sweeps up all the horses-every horse that he can find. Morgan! Morgan the raider! And Morgan’s terrible men, With Bowie knives and pistols, are galloping up the glen.”
For more information see Les Horwitz’s book, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War”.