John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail marked
WINTERSVILLE – Soon arrows and signs designating the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail will appear in Jefferson County. The 80 reflector signs will mark the path the Confederate brigadier general made through Ohio 150 years ago, and the event will be celebrated in some localities in July.
Scott Fabian, Jefferson County Engineer’s Department safety supervisor and in charge of roads signs, said, “As soon as the weather breaks, we will be putting out the signs throughout the trail followed by Morgan and his men.”
The signs are provided by the Ohio Historical Society and show the outline of the state and the marked trail taken by the Confederates who were trying to draw the Union troops out of Kentucky, according to Virginia Glenn, who has studied Morgan’s route in planning for a Morgan’s Raid tour and re-enactment of the visit paid to old Nebo, as Bergholz was known then.
There will be a 36-by-24-inch kiosk called “Overnight at Old Nebo” in Bergholz, and the reflector kiosks will be erected at six other sites in the county, according to Fabian.
The History of Belmont and Jefferson counties shows what the loyal and patriotic Jefferson County residents could accomplish in fighting for a righteous cause. Thinking there were no adequate forces in Indiana and Ohio to oppose him and he could brush aside local militia like house flies, on July 9, 1863, they entered northern soil with 2,460 men, with that number reduced to some 500 or 600 men as Morgan left Harrison County. His chief loss occurred at Buffington Island before he entered Jefferson County at Adena on the morning of July 25, according to officials.
Crossing the road near Georgetown, they made their way along Short Creek, thinking of taking an unbroken march to the Ohio River. Fates decreed otherwise, and the soldiers met a warm reception at Warren where Morgan branched off at the mouth of Dry Fork passing through Smithfield, according to officials.
Hearing about their arrival, about 40 men went to meet and crush the invaders, with a Capt. Collins making himself conspicuous by boasts of his bravery in war at the lead.
Collin’s men were captured and marched through Smithfield with the self-proclaimed general on a mule and were told to tell the townspeople these were Hobson’s men and to feed them well. The people did not discover their mistake until Hobson’s men later appeared tired and hungry.
Morgan made a brief halt in New Alexander, as it was called then, and took diner at the houses of John Hannah and John Stone and went on to Wintersville, according to officials.
Morgan’s raiders passed through Richmond and proceeded to East Springfield, turning down Yellow Creek Road to Nebo.
The group camped at Nebo for the night and destroyed the bridge across Yellow Creek the next morning. Near Salineville they were overtaken by the advance guard of the 9th Michigan Cavalry. When they could not pass through Salineville, they broke through a cornfield and came out on the Mechanicstown Road, where they encountered the main body of the 9th Michigan group. One Rebel was killed, a few wounded and about 240 taken prisoners, officials said.
Morgan and the rest escaped but were captured at 2 p.m. on July 26, 1863, in Columbiana County by Maj. Rue who dispatched the message to Gov. Todd, “I captured John Morgan today at 2 p.m., taking 336 prisoners and 400 horses and arms.”
Some 20 men who first reached the coveted point with Rue formed across the road and others coming up saw they were caught and stopped. A fight was expected but instead a white flag came forward with a demand from Morgan to surrender, according to officials
This history will be spelled out on the seven kiosks to be located at Morgan’s historic stops, according to Fabian.
“A brochure/guide book on John Hunt Morgan’s Heritage Trail will soon be published by the Ohio Historical Society,” Fabian said. “There will also be the 80 logo signs and arrows mapping the trail for visitors.”
At 7 p.m. Thursday there will be an organizational meeting for a Nebo Commemoration for Morgan’s Raid at the Bergholz Fire Hall.
Salem Township Trustee Terry Bell said a rededication of the East Springfield Morgan’s Raid Monument set for July 25. Lyle Zerla is holding a tour from the beginning of Jefferson County to the Morgan’s Raid Monument in West Point in Columbiana County on July 27.