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Crossing the River.

When the column reached Brandenburg, early in the morning of July 8, General Morgan was delighted to find two good steamboats lying at the wharf, the transports having been secured by two of his most adventuresome captains, Sam Taylor and Clay Meriwether, who had been sent in advance for that purpose. [114]

Impatient of delay, Morgan made immediate preparations to cross the river. A dense fog prevented his seeing what was on the other side, but he knew that a strong force of determined Federal cavalry was close upon his rear. A shot from a rifled cannon and a volley of musketry announced the presence of an unseen enemy on the Indiana shore.

The disappearing mist, however, soon revealed a small force of combatants, presumably militia, and one piece of artillery, mounted upon two wheels of an ordinary road wagon. The first shot from one of the Parrott guns made the patriotic Indianians, unused to war's alarms, nervous, and the second induced them to abandon their ‘battery’ and flee to the wooded hills, six hundred yards from the river.

When two dismounted regiments had been transferred to the opposite shore, a small gunboat appeared and viciously threw shells at the Confederates on both sides of the river. For about an hour there was an interesting duel between the bellicose steamer and the Parrott guns planted on a high bluff on the Kentucky shore. To General Morgan it was a supreme moment—a time to try his soul. Two of his best regiments were separated from their comrades by the intervening river, and General Hobson's strong column of fine cavalry was closely pressing his rear. To his great relief, however, the saucy and disquieting little gunboat suddenly and unexpectedly withdrew from the combat, and, standing up the river, disappeared from view. By midnight Morgan's entire command had crossed to the Indiana shore. Duke's merry cavaliers, strangers in a strange land, singing

Here's the health to Duke and Morgan,
     Drink it down,

marched to a point six miles from the river and went into camp for a brief rest. The rear guard of Johnson's Brigade, the last to cross the river, stopped on the margin of the stream long enough to burn the transprts and to wave their hats, bidding Hobson's pursuing cavalry, then on the other shore, good-by. Then, following the column, they sang: [115]

The race is not to them that's got
     The longest legs to run,
Nor the battle to that people
     That shoots the biggest gun.

At Corydon, fifteen miles north of the river, a force of militia, or home guards, formidable in numbers only, attempted to delay the march, but when the advance guard charged their barricade of fence rails in front and a regiment threatened their flank, they unhesitatingly fled.

At Salem, thirty miles further north, there was a similar occurrence. Apparently the whole of Indiana was in arms, one blast upon a native's horn being worth a thousand men. The home guards were patriotic and commendably brave, but their inexperience and lack of discipline rendered them ineffective when opposing the march of Morgan's veteran cavaliers.

From Salem the column moved eastward to Vienna, where Ellsworth captured the telegraph operator and put himself in communication with Louisville and Indianapolis, sending the usual fiction regarding Morgan's movements and receiving desirable information as to those of the enemy.

As the invaders advanced, marching rapidly day and night, the needlessly alarmed people fled from their homes, leaving doors wide open and cooked ‘rations’ invitingly displayed in kitchen and dining hall, the quantity being great and the quality good. If the fleeting horsemen from Dixie fared sumptuously every day and night in a land where they had no friends, what must have been the abundance that greeted the swiftly pursuing cavalry, composed largely of Kentuckians, Ohioans and ‘Michiganders.’

At Vernon Morgan found himself confronted by the usual hostile multitude. Having thrown out detachments to threaten and deceive, he sent a truce flag to the commandant, courteously requesting him to capitulate. This overture the Federal officer declined, asking, however, for an armistice of two hours that the non-combatants might be removed beyond the zone of danger. Always humane, the Confederate chieftain readily granted the request. While the non-bellicose people were being removed from the town, the wily Morgan adroitly abandoned [116] the siege, and, making a detour, marched away, leaving the warlike force at Vernon unmolested.

What especially impressed the thoughtful men of Morgan's raiders was the dense population, apparently untouched by the demands of the war. In one day they encountered at least ten thousand home guards. Plainly the invaders were facing a condition, not a theory. The Morgan men, pardonably I think, point with pride to the fact that in a land swarming with their enemies, they burned only one private dwelling, and even that one would have been left uninjured had not a hostile band made a fortress of it. Their sins were many, but burning houses, making war on women and children and mistreating prisoners were not among them.

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