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 supper, &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. They 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 ___,” and fall back down the river again, as a “____ 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 an other 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 pressed 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 the fields. We mounted and out across the hills 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, learning 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 like 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 troting in the column. We soon forgot it was the Sabbath day, and dashed on John 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 took 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 had 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 the 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 vacum 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.
P. S. – We had the pleasure of finding that some of Gen. Rosseau’s First Brigade of Cavalry (which we recruited in Kentucky,) were at the taking of Morgan.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1863