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Celebration of the Surrender of General John H. Morgan

From the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume XX, 1911:


On September 21, 1910, there was celebrated on the Crubaugh Farm, South of Lisbon; Columbiana county, near the historic spot where the event occurred, the 47th Anniversary of the Surrender of the Confederate Raider, General Morgan. Concerning the celebration the East Liverpool Tribune of September 22, 1910, made the following comment:

Romance and intrigue combined to make history in that hot July of 1863, when handsome, foolhardy General John H. Morgan, cavalier debonaire of the southland, and idol of the famous blue grass region of Kentucky, dashed from under cover of his native heath, through Indiana, into Ohio, and finally reached the highest point ever attained by a Confederate force before he was captured on the Crubaugh farm near West Point by another equally as intrepid as himself, also a Kentuckian by birth, but arrayed on the side of the Union, Major George W. Rue.

Morgan, the Confederate raider, has passed into the great beyond, but yesterday East Liverpool and Columbiana county was honored by the presence of his captor, Major George W. Rue, at the celebration in commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the occasion on the Crubaugh farm. The celebration was held in a grove near the historic West Beaver, within sight of the marker indicating the exact spot of the surrender, and erected through the efforts of the late lamented Will L. Thompson, that living epic of music and patriotic citizen.

Hundreds of interested people; city people in their automobiles and carriages, and country folk in their carryalls and on foot, veterans of the Civil war, the glorious remnants of the grandest army ever marshaled, the wives, sisters and sometimes their daughters, who suffered during that epoch-making strife; all these people stood with bared heads while Major Rue, erect and stalwart, with his six feet three in heighth and magnificent physique, even at the age of 83, related in simple and direct words the story of John H. Morgan's capture.

The following is the complete address of Major Rue:

I was born in Kentucky, south of Lexington. The old Rue family in Kentucky consisted of three brothers. They were among the earliest white pioneers of the state, and came from New Jersey. The Rues were French people, originally, and in France the name was LaRue, but when they came to this country, for some reason the prefix was dropped.

A soldier's life always had attractions for me. When eighteen years of age I enlisted in the Second Kentucky Infantry and served through the Mexican war, under General Zachary Taylor. At the battle of Buena Vista, two colonels of my regiment were killed in action, Col. McKee and Col. Henry Clay, Jr., a son of Kentucky's noted statesman.

Early in the Civil war I organized a company of cavalry in Kentucky, and was made captain. I was assigned to the Ninth Kentucky cavalry, of which Col. Jacobs was commander. I was kept busy chasing John Morgan out of Kentucky. Six times I drove him out of the state, on six different occasions, before the raid into Ohio, when he surrendered to me on the Crubaugh farm, where the monument has been erected.

A short time before Morgan started for Indiana, my regiment left me at a farm house, in southern Kentucky. I was sick and unable to go on with the regiment. John Morgan had tried to cross the Green river, and had been driven back. Morgan then crossed the river lower down and made a run for the Ohio river below Louisville. My regiment followed him, and became a part of Shackleford's command. They followed Morgan all through the raid, but were not up to the point of capture, when I caused Morgan to surrender. I was anxious to join my regiment, and as soon as possible left the farm house and went to the nearest railway station to take a train for Cincinnati. The conductor would not let me board the train because I was in uniform. He said he had orders forbidding him to carry soldiers in uniform without a pass from a superior officer. I then went to the house of a friend and exchanged my uniform for citizen's clothes. I stepped aboard the next train and soon reported to General Burnside in Cincinnati.

General Burnside told me he did not know where my regiment was, but said he would find me something to do for him. He placed me in command of Covington Barracks, just opposite Cincinnati. I took charge of four hundred men and a thousand horses. I found a detachment of about seventy men from my regiment, the Ninth Kentucky. They had been sent for ammunition, and were left behind by Shackleford and Col. Jacobs. All the rest of the men were U. S. Infantry, regular troops.

While Morgan was passing around Cincinnati, there were indications of a riot, or an uprising of sympathizers with the rebels in some of the worst districts of the city. General Burnside sent for me to bring over all the troops I could muster with horses. I did so, and could find no stables in which to keep the horses over night. General Burnside told me to make a stable of one of the parks, near Fountain Square. Objection was made, but I used the park for a stable that night. I slept with General Burnside, and we talked over the situation. It was thought Morgan might attempt to enter the city, and lay it in ashes. However there was no uprising, and Morgan continued his raid on through the state. I called Burnside's attention to the way Morgan was going where he pleased, and told him Morgan would never be taken with horses and troops following in his rear, and gave him as my opinion that the only way to capture Morgan would be with railway trains loaded with troops, and thus get ahead of him.

About three days later, Burnside summoned me to his headquarters, and informed me I was to go after Morgan. He gave me orders on the government stores for carbines, sabers, and ammunition. He ordered me to take all of the very best horses out of the thousand in the Covington Barracks, and mount every available man who could ride a horse. I soon had over four

hundred well armed men, with plenty of ammunition. Most of them were U. S. regular troops. I selected the very best horses, and went with my little command to the Little Miami depot.

Burnside had three trains, one for the men, one for the horses, and one for a battery of artillery, under Lieutenant Tarr. We reached Columbus Friday morning. Morgan having burned one of the Panhandle bridges, my trains were transferred to the B. & O. We reached Bellaire in the evening. Burnside wired me orders to leave the train there, and intercept Morgan as he came into that town that night. I unloaded men, horses and artillery, but Morgan came not.

Burnside ordered me next morning to go by trains about fifty miles up the river, and then take the first road out into the country and hunt for Morgan. I did not wait for the artillery to be reloaded at Bellaire. As soon as men and horses were on the trains, I ordered them pulled out, and left instructions for the artillery to follow. I did not leave the train at Steubenville, but got word through scouts, who had come in, that Morgan was heading for Salineville. I proceeded up the river, to what was then known as Shaghai station. After unloading my command, I took the shortest road to Wintersville, and got there late in the afternoon, just a little while after the Wintersville fight. Morgan had got away again, and was heading for some point on the C. & P. R. R., which runs up Big Yellow Creek. As it was nearly night, I concluded to go into camp, after going two or three miles from Wintersville in the direction Morgan was traveling.

About midnight General Shackleford came into my camp. He was camping about two miles away. His scouts had informed him of my presence in the neighborhood, and he came over to find out what troops were .in camp. I told him I was acting under orders from Burnside. He asked me to join with him in chasing Morgan the next day. This was Saturday night. I consented on condition that I be allowed to ride to the front, and head Morgan off, while Major May, with the Seventh Michigan Cavalry would attack from the rear. I called attention to my fresh men and splendid horses. Shackleford was reluctant to have me do this, but finally consented.

At the break of day, Sunday morning, my command was in the saddle and off over the Jefferson county hills for Hammondsville. I learned there that Morgan was heading for Salineville, to which place I at once proceeded, arriving there shortly after nine o'clock. I learned that Morgan's advance had reached the edge of Salineville, and discovering the presence of many Union troops, fled back towards Monroeville to inform their command. At about the same time, the Seventh Michigan, under Major Way, came through Monroeville and attacked Morgan's rear. Morgan instructed his rear guard to hold the Michigan troops in check, and put up a stiff fight. While this was going on, Morgan led the most of his command down a steep decline, and over the hills, away to the west. Virtually, turning on his tracks, he sacrificed the forty troops of his rear guard, a number of whom were wounded, and others taken prisoners by Major Way. These prisoners were brought into Salineville just after I arrived there. I recognized a number of them personally. They were rebels from my home county in Kentucky. Some I had known from boyhood.

At Salineville, I learned from scouts and telegraph operators that Morgan had crossed the C. & P. railroad and that his column was leisurely moving down the West Beaver road, which ran along the north side of the creek, some ten or twelve miles distant from Salineville. I lost no time and took the road leading towards the creek. When I got on the high ground, near a church, I met a man on horseback riding a good horse. He looked like an intelligent fellow, and I inquired where he was going and from whence he came. He said he was looking for Morgan. I asked him if he was acquainted with the roads leading to West Beaver creek. He said he was, and stated that he was a physician, and had practiced medicine all along the West Beaver valley for a number of years. I told him he was just the fellow I was looking for, and that if he would go with me, and show me the shortest roads, leading to the creek, I would promise to find Morgan for him before noon. He sized me up, and looked over my men, and turning his horse around said, "Come on." When we got to the high ground which overlooks the broad valley for several miles, I saw a cloud of dust arising over a mile away. I asked the doctor, he told me his name, but I do not recall it now, if the West Beaver creek was over where we saw the cloud of dust. The doctor said the dust was rising from the West Beaver road. It follows the creek, down the north side for several miles, where it leaves the creek and leads to the Ohio river. When I first saw the cloud of dust it was rising slowly. Soon it began to move faster. The doctor told me the road over which we were traveling crossed the creek and intercepted the road down the creek about two miles away. Morgan was traveling towards the point where these two roads came together. I had much the greater distance to travel. I at once ordered my command into a brisk trot.

About this time my command commenced to throw some dust. Morgan evidently soon noticed the dust we were raising, and his guides must have informed him that the road over which we were traveling led into the road which was leading him to wards the goal he was so anxious to reach, the Ohio river. Morgan's tired horses were spurred into a faster gait, and he beat me to where the roads came together. Most of his command had passed the point before I reached the creek. I could only fall in his rear and give him a chase. This I did not want to do. I wanted to meet Morgan and his raiders face to face, and fight him to a finish. Here the doctor suggested that by riding down the creek, along which he said was a private road, not very good, but over which horses could travel nicely. I found the creek bottom was level, almost with the road. It was not very rocky, and was suitable for fast riding, because there was but little water at most places.

We rode down that creek bottom at a gallop, probably a mile and a half or two miles, until we found a private road leading from the creek up through the fields, past a barn to the main road. It was a fast ride, with good horses. I remember it well. I shall never forget it. As soon as we reached the main road we wheeled to the left, arid rode to the crest of the first hill, up the creek. I found we were ahead of Morgan. I knew then I had him. I formed my command in line of battle across the road, quickly. My right rested in a bit of timberland, with the left of the line below the road, down in. the orchard. I had scarcely placed my troops in position for a fight, when over the crest of a hill about a quarter of a mile away, appeared the heads of the horses of Morgan's advance troops. As soon as they saw me, they halted and drew back, leaving one or two men to watch our movements.

Soon afterwards three troopers came riding over the crest of the bill and down into the little valley which lay between the two opposing lines. One of the men had a bit of white muslin tied on a saber, or on a ramrod, which he was waiving. This I supposed was intended for a flag of truce. I sent three of my men forward to find out what was wanted. My troopers came back and reported that General Morgan demanded my surrender. I at once recognized that as a John Morgan bluff. I sent word to Morgan that he must surrender or fight Major Geo. W. Rue, of the Ninth Kentucky cavalry. This must have been a surprise to Morgan, and no doubt was the first intimation to him that I was not still in Kentucky.

He next tried a ruse and sent back his men with a flag of truce, informing me that he had already surrendered to Captain Burdick. I had never heard of Captain Burdick until that moment. I inquired who he was, and to whose command he belonged. One of Morgan's men told me that Captain Burdick was captain of a militia company from a nearby town. I then sent word back to Morgan that I recognized no surrender, only one to myself, and informed his men that he must surrender or fight at once. They then went back to report, and in a few moments returned with the announcement that Morgan was willing to surrender to me.

I at once, with an escort, rode over into Morgan's camp. His men were lying on both sides of the road and nearly every one of them asleep. It was a hot July day and they were the tiredest lot of fellows I ever saw in my life. I rode quite a little distance through his men before I reached Morgan. When I met him he was on a fine Kentucky, thoroughbred sorrel mare, one that Morgan said was the only horse that came through from Kentucky, and which had withstood the strain of travel for twenty-seven consecutive days. Morgan was very loth to part with that sorrel mare. He gave the mare to me, supposing probably that I would take her back to Kentucky where he might

some day have a chance to steal her back.

John Morgan was the prince of horse thieves. He stole more horses than any other man who ever lived on earth. Some of the farmers of Columbiana county knew something about Morgan's way of trading horses. He kept the Southern Confederacy supplied with the very best of Kentucky horses. For this reason Morgan was dearly loved by all the generals in the rebel army. They all loved a good horse, and John Morgan was a good source of supply. Well, I never got that sorrel mare. She was sent to Cincinnati, I learned, and by some means, I never could learn why, she was turned over to Shackleford.

General Shackleford was very tired when I left him at Salineville between nine and ten o'clock that last Sunday morning. With my splendid horses I soon left him far behind. I had to send two messengers after Morgan had surrendered, before he came up to Morgan's camp. He was about five miles back, and had stopped at a farm house, where he was eating dinner. Neither Shackleford nor any of his troops took any part in the capture. The two of us escorted Morgan and his men to Salineville, and later to Wellsville, where General Brooks had arrived and made his headquarters.

When I first rode into Morgan's camp, I told him I was glad to see him, but I don't think he was glad to see me. I was operating an independent command under direct orders from General Burnside. I was even detached from duty with my regiment, which was with Shackleford, under Col. Jacobs. I had the authority to take Morgan and all my prisoners to Wellsville, and could have either turned them over to General Brooks, or have ordered up my special trains, and have placed Morgan on them and taken them back and delivered the whole command to General Burnside at Cincinnati.

However, I turned Morgan over to Shackleford, and he was sent from Wellsville to Cincinnati. Governor Tod telegraphed me to come to Columbus. He thanked me very much and complimented me on the quick capture of Morgan after I got after him. The governor went with me to see Gen. Burnside at Cincinnati. I told them both that John Morgan should be put in a safe place, where he could not steal any more horses, because he was supplying the rebel army with all the fresh thoroughbred horses they needed. They replied they had a safe place for him. Probably they thought they had. However, John Morgan was as wily as a fox, and as slippery as an eel. He stayed in the penitentiary only about three months.

Some folks say that Morgan dug a tunnel and crawled out, but others think a rebel woman from Covington, Kentucky, took thirty thousand dollars from Kentucky rebels, who loved John Morgan, and went to Columbus, where she had no difficulty in fixing fellows in charge of the penitentiary, or on duty there, so that Morgan and his comrades gained their freedom.

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