The Legislature after John Morgan.
July 28, 1863
The Legislature after John Morgan.
We did not have space to notice yesterday morning the naval expedition of the Legislature after John Morgan. The expedition left the wharf about two o’clock Saturday afternoon and proceeded up the river, under orders to guard the fords and prevent Morgan from crossing. The craft employed were the W. H. Harrison (a small steamer hitherto employed we believe, to ferry passengers over the river at Bellair) and a barge in tow. The force consisted of Capt. West’s company of provost guards, a section of Carlin’s battery, commanded by Lieut. Richards, and the volunteer company composed of the member of both branches of the Legislature and their officers, commanded by Gen. Kramer of the __________ Captain of volunteers. Reva. Barns, Clarke, Ball, Blakeney and McLure, and several citizens shouldered their arms and joined the Legislative company, the whole commanded by Captain Moore and Col. Darr. The battery was mounted on the barge surrounded by a breastwork made of baled hay.
The expedition touched at Warrenton, where about a thousand militiamen were under arms – among others a company of contrabands, and then proceeded to Wellsburg where a number, among them Treasurer Tarr got aboard. Great excitement exalted at Warrenton and Wellsburg. – Morgan had come within five miles of Warrenton intending to attempt a passage of the river there, but hearing of the large force there, proceeded north, stealing all the horses in his way. At Wellsburg, Dr. Caldwell of that place got aboard. He had just reached home, having spent the day with Morgan and been released but three or four hours before. He was out on a scout and fell in with Morgan’s men early in the morning and was captured and Morgan had compelled him to go along as guide.
Morgan, after leaving Warrenton intended to cross at Wellsburg but the doctor led him to believe there were gunboats and batteries and men without number in that neighborhood, so Morgan pushed on still further North, passing through Wintersville, six miles west of Steubenville, where he had a skirmish with our militia. The expedition passed on up to Steubenville reaching that place about nine o’clock. It lay there an hour or two and returned to Beach Bottom, a short distance below Wellsburg where a boat with a battery lay at anchor. The object of this movement did not transpire; but it was supposed to be strategy. On this trip the boat again touched at Wellsburg, and the Wellsburg delegation finding the accommodations on board not very luxurious, got off. The armada again moved up the river and reached the ford at Wills creek, at the foot of Brown’s Island, some two or three miles above Steubanville, where in obedience to orders from Gen. Brooks, we cast anchor, a short time before daylight. That night was one long to be remembered by the “brave volunteers.” Capt. West’s men didn’t mind it; they were used to it, besides they had blankets. But woe to the unfortunate volunteers, of whom the writer was one; There was ne’er a blanket of shawl or overcoat in all the “goodly company.” There was ne’er a berth or bed on the boat. There was a table running thro’ the middle of the cabin, made of tough poplar, and there was the floor, made like man was made – of dust, -- judging from appearances. Besides the cabin was small and the company large, and they all got sleepy at the same time. The table was covered first from end to end, one and two deep. Some tried to sleep in chairs, at the imminent risk of breaking their necks with nodding. Some becoming desperately sleepy and sleepily desperate, undertook to sleep on the floor, Capt. West’s men took the floor first and slept like “tops,” are supposed to sleep. But the tender jointed Legislators weren’t used to knotty pine mattresses, and though they piled down on the floor (to the ruin of their store clothes) with chairs for pillows, and made desperate efforts to imitate their more veteran companions in arms, it only amounted to a good deal of groaning, a good deal of revolving horizontally all to no purpose, a little folding of the hands together, and a little slumber” – and very little too. Like the ball at Brussells, there was “no sleep till morn” and not much then. Many slept out on the barge with no shelter but the blue ethereal canopy which the Creator spreads for all his creatures. A few tore a bale of hay to pieces and made beds of it. Fully one third of the whole company were dressed very light – linen coats – no vests – yet very few contracted colds. It will be supposed that there wasn’t much anxiety about an attack from Morgan, and there wasn’t.
Second day dawned as it always does, and “standing tiptoe on the misty mountain tops” looked on a curious scene in the cabin of the Harrison. It looked like a battlefield all but the dead horses and the debris. Human forms lay scattered promiscuously in every direction and every attitude – all vainly trying to persuade themselves that they had been sleeping. – At last they all become convinces it was a mistake – got up and found it Sabbath morning. The “abolutions” as Bob Lincoln said, were performed in the river and a soldier’s breakfast cooked. A few made wise by the infliction of hard tack and hitch for supper the previous evening went out very early on a scout. They discovered no enemy but found a Mr. Englebright who lives near and after arousing the family and convincing him they were not Morgan’s men were made happy by an excellent and bountiful breakfast for which the host would receive no pay but thanks. Numbers of members got breakfast at the house of this gentleman, and a good many on invitation went there to dinner. A party of a dozen went over a couple of miles from the river to the residence of venerable Jesse Edgington and partook of an excellent repast, which was none the less relished because it was presided over by bright eyes and served by fair hands. The hospitality here was as free and bountiful as at Mr. Englebright’s. An invitation was sent over from a mansion near the Wills creek bridge and a number of members went over and came back loud in the praise of host’s hospitality. A very good dinner was served up on board, consisting of “fish flesh,” (but not fowl, unless flitch is fowl,) potatoes, honey and hard tack. The “fish” were brought of an original son of Africa, who had a fishing establishment a short distance above – the “flesh” was mutton, or “lamb” in hotel parlance – the sheep having been bought (it was said) of a neighboring farmer. The honey was pro-…
the river – just how procured deponent saith not for deponent don’t know, but has a damaging suspicion that falls on some of Capt. West’s men.
About ten in the morning a courier returned from Steubenville with the news of a fight with Morgan progressing on Yellow Creek some 15 miles up the river, but no order to move up. After dinner, services were held on board, Rev. Mr. Clark preaching a very excellent sermon, and the other clergymen assisting in conducting the services.
During service a party of ladies and gentlemen from Mr. Edgington’s came over to visit the armada, and came a board and listened to the services. Mr. Englebright’s family also came down during the afternoon, to return the numerous visits of the Legislative party.
About half past three o’clock a dispatch from Steubanville brought news of the capture and killing part Morgan’s command, and the certainty of taking them all, and ordering the boats if the pilot thought he could get up, to go to Smith’s Ferry, some 30 miles up the river, and if he thought the water too low, to return to Wheeling . Under this order the armada dropped down to Steubenville, and had been there but a short time when the news was received of the capture of the remainder of Morgan’s command, and an order from Gen. Brooks ordering the Legislative gunboat fleet to return to Wheeling – which it did.
It ought to be mentioned that while the Harrison lay at Steubenville, it was honored by a visit from about fifty very pretty young ladies of the place, who swarmed all over it and manifested a good deal of admiration for Capt. West’s Virginia boys.
When the news of the capture of Morgan was received, a salute was fired by Lieut. Richards, and the Harrison shortly after moved off, amid shouts and waving of handkerchiefs from crowds of people on the landing.
All the way down the people on shore, when told of the capture of Morgan became wild with joy. Col. Darr took charge of the steam whistle, Mr. Sheets of Hampshire, took the tenor drum and Mr. McWhorter of Roane, the fife and some one else the base drum, and between their efforts and the extravaganza performed by Col. Darr on the steam whistle, pretty much all the snakes (not copperheads) along the Ohio river from Steubenville to Wheeling were waked up. Everybody on shore shouted and swung their bats and handkerchiefs and bonnets and aprons and everybody on the boats did the same, all except the aprons. At Warrenton particularly the people were almost insane. Men and women and children, darkeys and dogs they ran about hither and thither with most extravagant demonstrations of delight. One man on horseback attracted special attention. He swung his hat and dashed it about and yelled, while the frightened horse plunged about almost as furiously as the rider. He finally lost his hat altogether, and the last seen of him was dashing about the streets like mad.
The demonstrations all the way down were scarcely less extravagant, and the crowd that greeted the “Morgan eaters.” (as they were called along the river,) on their return to the landing of the city, was quite creditable by reason of its numbers, if it was not riotous in its enthusiasm like the Ohioans. We suppose Lieut. Richard’s salutes were chiefly instrumental in bringing it out.
It transpires that although the expedition did not get to go far enough up to have a hand in the capture of Morgan, it did material service where it was. Their scouts reported finding Morgan’s camp fires where he had stayed Saturday night within six miles of Brown’s Island, and subsequent information says he meditated and early crossing at that point, but his scouts reporting our gunboat there watching the ford, he moved on north.
We forget in the setting out to say that Auditor Crane and Secretary Boyers shouldered their guns and joined the legislative company in the expedition. All the members seemed greatly in earnest in the desire to get a shot at Morgan, and without doubt would have given a good account of themselves in a fight. It isn’t every day that we have a John Morgan raid up here along the Panhandle, and it isn’t every day a legislature volunteers en masse to help capture him; and when it does happen it deserves to be chronicled, though we could wish some one had done it better and more accurately than we have done in this rough and hasty sketch.
The Legislature of West Virginia Hunting John Morgan.
August 3, 1863
The Legislature of West Virginia Hunting John Morgan.
Much has been said relative to the Morgan race. We propose to add a little of our experience. You have already been informed how many of us volunteered, on Friday to look after Morgan, and how we marched up the dusty streets of Wheeling, and then marched down again. Early Saturday morning we were under arms again; we marched across the great suspension bridge and then marched back again; “and woe unto the mullen stalks that in our way we met.” Next we sailed up the great Ohio, “against the northern winds,” touching the shore here and there to learn Morgan’s whereabouts. Messrs. General Bowyer, Ballard, Hall and Kyle, privates in Capt. Kramer’s company, went on shore at _______for their support, & c., being detained longer than they should have been, did not reach the boat in time to get aboard, the boat being half a mile ahead, but with the indomitable courage of veterans they started to overtake us, and at the end of 3 miles race succeeded in overhauling the boat. Mr. Hall was first best, Kyle second, Bowyer and Ballard a tie race. The boys looked pretty red when they came up. But none of your insinuations. It was enough to start the blood to any man’s head to outrun a steamboat, on a hot day. Messrs. Wheat, Kyle and Robison were sent to move all the crafts from the Ohio side of the river, which they did by the means of a skiff. Mr. Wheat and a private of Capt. West’s company, went on shore to reconnoiter, but stayed so long that the balance of the squad left, leaving a skiff which had been captured, for Mr. Wheat and partner to convey themselves elsewhere; but neither of them being oarsmen, they drifted on to an island. However, they got off without serious damage, attacking a large water turtle, compelling his surrender. Not finding Morgan, we were ordered to “wheel the van,” and fall back down the river again, as a “strategic plan.” The night passed wearily away, there being but little sleeping done. We were entertained with anecdotes, & c., and amongst the most amusing anecdotes related during the night, was one told Mr. G in reference to a green horn of a young man, wedding another young man, who had imposed himself upon the greenhorn for a young lady. The parties disagreeing shortly after they retired to rest, the bride leaving quite indignant, followed by the groom in hot pursuit. The bride doning his proper habillaments the groom was not able to recognize his supposed lady love. In his vain search for the loved one, he described the object of his affections in a manner that would stir up the mirthfulness of the sedate sage of the holy church. Thus the night was passed, and morning found us moored and strand twenty-five miles above Wheeling, on the West Virginia shore, but no Morgan in sight. After breakfast, I was ordered by Lieut. T. K. McCann to cross the river with a scouting party, and if possible, to find out where Morgan and his band were. After sinking one skiff, the scouting party got safely across. We proceeded to the house of one rebel Valandighamite, where we passed four horses into the service. – The old man whined a little of course, but the sight of guns wilted him. Our bass drummer, whose name I do not remember, got the old man’s fine steed and set off in search of Morgan before the rest of us got our horses, as they were in fields. We mounted and out across the bills about 8 a.m.; calling at the house of a man we suspected for a butternut, we got a saddle for a soldier whose name I do not remember.
A. W. Mann, delegate from Greenbrier county, a soldier and your humble servant formed the scouting party, together with the drummer, who had gone on his own hook. We traveled westward about ten miles before we came across Morgan’s trail, we followed it but a short distance, learned he had turned north, we passed one mile north of Richmond, falling in with part of the 3d Ohio volunteer cavalry, who had been following Morgan from Kentucky – we marched with them. I had been compelled to ride an old red, wind-broken horse, who wheezed liky a steamboat at first, but the further we traveled, and the faster we went the better he got; and when we fell in with the regular cavalry, “old bay” was the most spirited horse in the crowd. Mann rode “old grey,” who could do some of the fastest and roughest trotting in the column. We soon forgot it was the Sabbath day, and dashed on Jebu like; but too far south to be present when John surrendered. All day we seen people running to and fro, some said Morgan was one place and some another. Finally in the evening John caved in, though we did not get to see him until next morning.
Sabbath evening we set out across the country, to the base of operations, (the gunboat,) stopping with a Union family we had passed in the morning, we look dinner and supper all in one. Here we felt at home, with kind friends, and what made us more contented, there were a few pretty young ladies there, of which bachelors are especially fond. I felt like lingering a while, Mann did not feel disposed to tarry; we presume he was thinking of “the girl he left behind him.” So we took leave of the pleasant family, after proposing to pay them for their kindness, which they refused. We mounted and set out, charging upon the ground squirrels and turkey buzzards, firing upon them in confusion; while old bay, old grey and little sorrel charged and looked wild, at the smell of gunpowder. After making a circuit of 30 or 40 miles we got back to the Ohio river, but found no gunboat. All was quiet as death. Not a human being was to be seen. We left the rebel’s horses and set out on foot to Steubenville, falling in with a kind gentleman, we rode with him in his wagon, passing down through town, he informed by bystanders and enquirers after Morgan, that I was the man, and you may presume a crowd followed.
Morgan came during the night, made quite a fluttering amongst the people, who desired a sight of the chief. About seven o’clock, A.M., Monday morning, he was ordered out of the cars, and then there was a rush such as I never saw before, except at Louisville, KY., when it was thought Buckner was going to sack the city. Morgan made his appearance at the car door; the men were bayoneted away, but, like scooping the water out of the Ohio river, the vacuum was soon filled with hoops, lawns, calico, silks, &c., which were so elastic and spongy that bayonets made but little impression upon them. Every man having a gun in his hand were ordered to drive the crowd back and open the way. I took advantage of the order; rushing forward I took my position by the side of Morgan and marched with him through the town, conversing with him on the way. As we passed along a thousand voices would enquire at once, “Which is Morgan?” Morgan frequently replied himself that he was the man. One woman asked him for a newspaper which he had rolled up in his hand. “Certainly madam,” said he, “anything I can do for you, you have my heart already.” One of his aids told me that they had been in the saddle thirty two days, and that one hundred and fifty thousand men had been after them during that time. At twenty minutes to eight, A.M., the cars started with Morgan and his staff for Columbus, and we came back to Wheeling, where I reported myself on Tuesday to Lieutenant T. K. McCann.
Col. K. V. Whaley, Ex-Congressmen, was with the gunboat party. We noticed he had buckled on the cartridge-box rifle in hand. He is an old soldier, and has three wounds on his person, received in different engagements, in Mexico, in the service of our country. S. Young. P.S. – We had the pleasure of finding some of Gen. Rosseau’s First Brigade of Cavalry, (which we recruited in Kentucky,) were at the taking of Morgan. S. Y.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: July 1863