On July 18, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan reached Buffington Island at the Ohio River and hoped to cross his cavalry safely back to friendly territory after his most famous raid into Ohio. It had started over a month earlier on June 11 when Morgan took approximately 2,500 cavalrymen and headed north to try to distraction Union troops away from the Confederate forces in Tennessee. For 25 days the Confederates lived off the land and traveled nearly 1,000 miles through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Along the way, the citizens’ and militias’ boldness increased and Union cavalry joined the pursuit.
By the time, the Confederate cavalry arrived near Buffington Island, they were in a running fight with Union forces. Morgan took the remainder of July 18th to rest his raiders and the delay proved disastrous for him. On July 19th, Union cavalry and gunboats waited, resulting in hours of fighting at the river and forcing Morgan to retreat northward with about 1,100 men. The remainder of his cavalry surrendered. Morgan had a few more days of freedom that month, but he was eventually captured on July 26th and sent to prison (which lead to another daring escape).
The Battle of Buffington Island was the largest Civil War battle in the state of Ohio with historians estimating 3,000 Union troops and 1,800 Confederates involved.
Today, the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation is working to save and interpret the fighting area—approximately 1,230 acres of bottomland. Around the anniversary of the battle, a commemorative ceremony was hosted to remember the conflict and remind the local community and preservationists about the importance of this unique historic site.
For more information, please visit:
Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation – https://www.buffingtonbattlefieldfoundation.org/
“A Piece of History” (recent article about the commemorative event) – https://www.mydailysentinel.com/news/65141/a-piece-of-history-2