Story of Gen. Morgan retold

BERGHOLZ – Disobeying orders to cross the Ohio River was a downfall for Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan, and many small towns along his raiding and rampaging route were left without food, horses and clothing as a result.

The story of Morgan was told by Bill Nordan, living historian depicting the Confederate general at the Bergholz 150th Civil War anniversary event on Saturday.

The route was pointed out with John Hunt Morgan signs erected by the Jefferson County Highway Department and a contribution of the Ohio Historical Society. A drive-yourself tour was taken by many attending the Civil War event and most ended at the Bergholz Fire Department, where a luncheon was served to visitors.

Those mingling on the firehouse lawn saw the cannon from Union Cemetery on display. It was cast in Steubenville in the 1850s and Jeff Evans, historian, discussed its history. The iron work was done locally and a wheelwright made the iron-spoke wheels. The tube of the cannon weighs 800 pounds in itself and the cannon was used only once or twice a year, according to Evans.

The historian and teacher at Old Trail School in Cuyahoga Valley spoke of the Steubenville militia, noting that when the 1803 Militia Act went into effect, all men of the right age were to serve. In the 1850s, it was more of a social organization than a community service. Then in July 1863, most men in the area were going off to war, leaving behind just young boys and old men.

Although not well versed in handling weapons, the youngest and eldest were handed muskets and proceeded in shooting out the glass ball on the county courthouse by mistake.

The Steubenville militia encountered Confederate soldiers near Union Cemetery, and Henry L. Parks was shot in the abdomen. He later died and was buried in Union Cemetery, but not a Confederate soldier as had been reported, according to Evans,

Bill Nordan of Kentucky, a John Hunt Morgan re-enactor, told of the exploits of the Confederate general when he was unable to recross the Ohio River, as all access was blocked by Union forces and gun boats on the river.

On the night of July 25, 1863, Morgan went into camp at old Nebo, now Bergholz, with his soldiers exhausted and hungry. The men lied to get entrance to the David Allen house by saying they were Union men. They received food and blankets but had to make a quick retreat at 3 a.m., as Union soldiers were nearby.

While Morgan’s men were eating bread and butter and drinking buttermilk, Morgan was eating a chicken dinner at the home of Herdman Taylor, according to reports.

Morgan’s men were in the saddle for 20 hours a day and the general himself was so saddle sore he had to ride in a carriage, according to reports. Terms of the surrender of Morgan and his men were arranged near West Point, in Columbiana County, at 2:30 p.m. on July 26.

An honor guard and taps were observed at West Grove Cemetery by the Amsterdam Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 232 after Saturday’s luncheon and program. The cemetery is where two Civil War veterans are buried, along with Morgan’s relatives.