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The Civil War In Ohio
by [?]

Though the Ohio people were too plodding for Aaron Burr, and though they were taunted almost from the first as the Yankee state of the West, they seem to have had war in their blood, which may have been their heritage from the long struggle with the Indians. But after the peace with Great Britain in 1815 there was no war cloud in the Ohio sky until Morgan swept across our horizon with his hard-riders, except at one time in 1835. There had then arisen between our state authorities and those of Michigan a dispute concerning the border line between the two commonwealths, and matters went so far that the governors of both States called out their militia. The Michigan troops actually invaded Ohio, and overran the watermelon patches near Toledo, ate the chickens of the neighborhood, destroyed an ice house, and carried off one Ohioan prisoner. But the mere terror of the Ohio name sufficed to send them flying home again when they heard that our riflemen were waiting for them in Toledo, and many deserters from their ranks took to the woods on their way back. This vindicated the glory of our state; we cheerfully submitted when the arbitrators chosen to settle the dispute decided it mainly in favor of Michigan, and we have ever since lived at peace with that commonwealth.

All this seems now like a huge joke, and so it has ever since been regarded, but a war was coming which was serious enough. It might be said that the great Civil War began with “John Brown’s invasion of Virginia,” in 1859, but it might just as well be said that it began with the fighting for and against freedom in Kansas in 1856. In fact it might be said that it began with the mobbing of anti-slavery speakers and the rescue of runaway slaves all over the North, from 1830 onwards. Yet this would be fantastic, even if it were true, and we had better accept the dates which history gives. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President by the men opposed to the spread of slavery, and in 1861 the slave states, feeling that their mastery of the Union was gone, left it one after another, and the first fighting took place through the effort of the United States government to hold its forts in the South.

In this war, Ohio played so great a part, that it is hard for Ohio people to keep from claiming that she played the first part. Remembering that General Grant, General Sherman, General Sheridan, the three greatest soldiers of the war, were all Ohio men, we might be tempted to claim that without these the war would not have been won for the Union, but it is safer to claim nothing more than that Ohio gave the nation the generals who won the war. Our three greatest soldiers were only chief among many others under whose lead Ohio sent to the war some three hundred and twenty thousand men, during the four years of fighting, a force almost as great as that of whole nations in other times.

Ohio men shed their blood on all the battlefields of the South, but only once was the war which consumed her children by tens of thousands brought home to her own hearths. This was when the state was invaded by John Morgan and his hard-riders in 1863. Morgan was born at Huntsville in Alabama, and was of the true Southern type, gallant, reckless, independent. He was one of the bravest and luckiest chiefs of Confederate cavalry, and when he was ordered to march northward from Tennessee through Kentucky, and attempt the capture of Louisville, but not to pass the Ohio, he trusted to his fortune, and crossed the river into Indiana at the head of some twenty-three hundred horsemen. On the 13th of July he entered the state of Ohio, a few miles north of Cincinnati, and passed eastward unmolested by the Union general Burnside, who preferred not to bring him to battle in the neighborhood of the city, but to wait some chance of attacking him elsewhere. The militia had been called out by the governor, and the whole country was on the alert. But Morgan’s men passed through Clermont, Brown, Adams, Pike, Jackson, Vinton, Athens, and Gallia counties into Meigs with comparatively little molestation, though the militia learned rapidly to embarrass if not to imperil his course. His men suffered terribly in their long ride. They had to live on the country as best they could, and they were literally dropping with sleep as they pushed their jaded horses along the roads, everywhere threatened by the Ohio sharpshooters. They fell from their saddles and were left behind; they crawled off in the darkness and threw themselves down in the woods and fields, glad to awaken prisoners in the hands of their pursuers. At first the large towns were alarmed by the fear of pillage, but Morgan had hardly got into Ohio before it became his chief aim to get out again. His hard-riders were confined in their depredations mainly to the plunder of the country stores on their route. They stole what they could, but they stole without method or reason, except in the matter of horses, which they really needed and could use. They commonly left their worn-out chargers in exchange, but they took the freshest and strongest horses they could get, at any rate. In their horse stealing they were not so very unlike the Kentucky pioneers, who used to cross into the Ohio country for the ponies of the Indians, and they practiced it at much the same risk; for the Ohio people were becoming every moment madder and more mischievous. At first they only cut down trees to check Morgan’s march after he got by, but they soon began to obstruct the roads in front of him; and though they burned one bridge over a river that he could easily ford, it was not long before they learned to destroy bridges where the streams were otherwise impassable.