HARRISON, Ohio — Several Ohio communities have events marking the 150th anniversary of a daring Confederate raid that abruptly bought the Civil War into the state.
The city of Harrison on the Indiana border west of Cincinnati planned a Saturday of music, food and reenactments of the day Gen. John Hunt Morgan led his raiders into the state.
Also included, the dedication of a heritage trail that will help history buffs follow Morgan's path across the state with interpretive and directional signage. Morgan was eventually captured in eastern Ohio, escaped, and was killed by Union troops in 1864 in Tennessee.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/16XPs6C) that Harrison organizers also arranged reenactments of Civil War events that didn't take place in Ohio, such as the 1865 surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to southwest Ohio native Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
"You get two years of history in one afternoon," said Mary Lou Smith, president of the Harrison Village Historical Society. "We aren't celebrating the war or Morgan. But remembering its place in history."
Morgan led nearly 2,500 rebel soldiers from Tennessee through Kentucky, then into Indiana and Ohio. They battled state militias; seizing supplies, taking horses and causing Union troops and gunboats to be diverted to stop him as he stunned the North with his audacity. After battling Union troops at Buffington Island while trying to move into West Virginia, he and remaining raiders were captured July 26 near Salineville, Ohio. Held in the Ohio Penitentiary, Morgan and six of his officers escaped in late November.
"Many saw Morgan as a genius," said Civil War historian David Mowery of Milford, Ohio. "Others saw him as a simple horse thief."
The nearby Colerain Township organized a 5-mile run or walk along part of Morgan's route, while farther east, the city of Wilmington planned to become a living Civil War museum for the day.
The Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village arranged a Civil War Ball with live music, period-style beans and cornbread to eat along with home-churned ice cream. People had a chance to take horse-drawn wagon rides, and view a Civil War exhibit from the Ohio Historical Society.
The Cincinnati suburb of Evendale will have tours Sunday of a barn from where Morgan and his men took horses, and the nearby city of Blue Ash will dedicate its interpretive sign for the Morgan Heritage Trial.
Next week will find a July 20-21 commemoration and "living history weekend" with reenactments, tours and other events of the Battle of Buffington Island, the only significant Civil War battle fought in Ohio. Morgan lost most of his force there to Union troops, who pursued him until his capture the next week.