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Doc. 189.-Morgan's invasion of Indiana.

A rebel official narrative.

Richmond, Va., Friday, July 31, 1863.
To the Editors of the Enquirer:
Messrs. Editors: As much interest has been manifested in reference to the recent raid of General Morgan, I have thought it but right to add my “mite” to assist in appeasing the appetite of the public who are eagerly devouring every morsel or crumb of news coming from General Morgan's command. Sincerely sorry that the Federal gunboats cut off the finishing of the account, I shall at once commence.

The command of General J. H. Morgan, consisting of detachments from two brigades, numbering two thousand and twenty-eight effective men, with four pieces of artillery--two Parrotts and two howitzers — left Sparta, Tenn., on the twenty-seventh of June, crossed the Cumberland near Burkesville on the second of July, finished crossing at daylight on the third. Means of transportation — canoes and dug-outs, improvised for the occasion. Were met by Colonel Hobson's cavalry, estimated at six thousand, drove them back toward Jamestown, Ky., and our column marched on through Columbia, at which point found the advance of Wolford's celebrated Kentucky cavalry, numbering two hundred and fifty men, dispersed it, killing seven and wounding fifteen men. Our loss, two killed and two wounded. Marched on to stockade, at Green River, on the fourth. Colonel Johnson, commanding the Second brigade, attacking stockade rifle-pits and abattis of timber. After heavy slaughter on both sides, our forces withdrew — loss about sixty killed and wounded on each side. Of Morgan's command, the gallant Colonel Chenault fell pierced through the head by a Minie ball, as he led his men in a charge upon the riflepits. The lion-hearted Major Brent also poured out his life-blood upon the field. Indeed, this was the darkest day that ever shone upon our command--eleven commissioned officers were killed and nine wounded. Moving on to Lebanon on the fifth, we attacked the town, (fortified,) and after five hours hard fighting, captured the place, with a vast amount of stores, four hundred and eighty-three prisoners, one twenty-four pounder, and many fine horses. The commandant of the post was Colonel Charles Hanson, brother to the lamented Brigadier-General Roger Hanson, who fell at Murfreesboro. His command, raised in the heart of the Blue Grass regions, contained brothers and other near relatives to many of our brave boys; notwithstanding which, when the gallant patriot, young Lieutenant Tom Morgan, a brother to our General, and the idol of the command, fell, loud and deep were the maledictions that ascended against the cowardly cravens for seeking shelter in dwelling-houses, and the question was raised as to their right to receive quarter. The enemy lost nine killed and fifteen wounded; our loss, three killed and six wounded. Rapid marches brought us to Bradensburgh on the seventh, where Captain Sam Taylor, of the old Rough and Ready family, had succeeded in capturing two fine steamers. From eight A. M., on the eighth, until seven A. M., on the ninth, was consumed in fighting back the Federal gunboats, whipping out three hundred home-guards, with artillery, on the Indiana shore, and crossing the command. The first was accomplished by Captain Byrne with his battery, two Parrotts, and two twelve-pound howitzers; the second, by an advance regiment, capturing the guards, and securing a splendid Parrott gun, elegantly rigged. Ninth.--Marched on to Corydon, fighting near there four thousand five hundred State militia, and capturing three thousand four hundred of them, and dispersing the remainder; then moving without a halt through Salisbury and Palmyra to Salem, at which point, telegraphing with our operator, we first learned the station and numbers of the enemy aroused for the hunt — discovered that Indianapolis was running over with them — that New-Albany contained ten thousand-that three thousand had just arrived at Mitchell — and, in fact, twenty-five thousand men were armed, and ready to meet the “bloody invader.” Remaining at Salem only long enough to destroy the railroad bridge and track, we sent a scout to the Ohio and Mississippi [454] road, near Seymour, to burn two bridges, a depot, and destroy the track for two miles, which was effected in an incredibly short time. Then taking the road to Lexington, after riding all night, reached that point at daylight, capturing a number of supplies, and destroying during the night the depot and track at Vienna, on the Jeffersonville and Indianapolis Railroad. Leaving Lexington, passed on north to the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, near Vernon, where, finding General Manson with a heavy force of infantry, we skirmished with him two hours as a feint, while the main command moved round the town to Dupont, where squads were sent out to cut the roads between Vernon and Seymour on the west, Vernon and Laurenceburgh on the east, Vernon and Madison on the south, and Vernon and Columbus on the north. Not much brighter were the bonfires and illuminations in celebration of the Vicksburgh victory by the Yankees than our counter illuminations around Vernon. Many old ladies were aroused from their slumbers to rejoice over the brilliant victories recently achieved. Surmises were various and many. One old lady knew that the city of Richmond was on fire; another that Jeff Davis had been killed; a third that the army of Virginia was used up. Not one knew that General John H. was within two hundred miles of them. Daylight brought the news, and then for miles houses were found vacant. Loaves of bread and buckets of pure, fresh water, with an occasional sprinkle of wines, liquors, and sweetmeats, were thrust upon us. Terror was depicted upon every countenance, until a brief conversation assured them that we were not warring upon women and children. Then their natural effrontery would return, and their vials of uncorked wrath would pour upon us streams as muddy as if emanating from old Abe's brain. From Vernon we proceeded to Versailles, capturing five hundred militia there and gathering on the road. Near this point, Captain P----, a Presbyterian chaplain and former line officer in one of our regiments, actuated by a laudable desire to change steeds, moved ahead, flanking the advance, and running upon a full company of State militia. Imitating his commander's demeanor, he boldly rode up to the company and inquired for the captain. Being informed that there was a dispute as to who should lead them, he volunteered his services, expatiating largely upon the part he had played as an Indiana captain at Shiloh, and was soon elected to lead the valiant hoosiers against the “invading rebs.” Twenty minutes spent in drilling inspired complete confidence; and when the advance-guard of Morgan's command had passed without Captain P----permitting the hoosiers to fire, he ordered them into the road, and surrendered them to our command. Crestfallen, indeed, were the Yanks; but General Morgan, treating them kindly, returning to them their guns, advised them to go home and not come hunting such game again, as they had every thing to lose and nothing to gain by it.

From Versailles we moved without interruption across. to Harrison, Ohio, destroying the track and burning small bridges on the Lawrenceburgh and Indianapolis Railroad. At Harrison we burned a fine bridge. Leaving Harrison at dusk with noiseless tread, we moved around Cincinnati, passing between that city and Hamilton, destroying the railroad, and a scout running the Federal pickets into the city, the whole command marched within seven miles of it. Daylight of the fourteenth found us eighteen miles east of Cincinnati. Sunset had left us twenty-two miles west, but the circuitous route we travelled was not less than one hundred miles. During this night's march many of our men, from excessive fatigue, were riding along fast asleep. Indeed, hundreds would have been left asleep on the road, had it not been for the untiring vigilance of our gallant General. Up, and down the line he rode, laughing with this one, joking with that, assuming a fierce demeanor with another, and so on. None were left, and when we reached the railroad near Camp Dennison, few persons would have guessed the fatigue the men had undergone from their fresh and rosy appearance. A fight was imminent. Madame Rumor had been whispering that old Granny Burnside would pay us a visit that morning, but instead of arriving he sent us a train of cars with several of his officers, who were kindly received, and in honor of their arrival a grand fire was made of the cars, etc. Nothing of special importance occurred after passing Dennison, except at Camp Shady the destruction of seventy-five army-wagons, and a vast amount of forage, until the morning of the nineteenth our command had heavy marches over bad roads. Making detours, threatening both Chillicothe and Hillsboro, on the north, and Gallipolis on the south. Daily were we delayed by the annoying cry of “Axes to the front,” a cry that warned us of bushwhackers, ambuscades, and blockaded-roads. From the fourteenth to the nine-teenth every hillside contained an enemy, and every ravine a blockade. Dispirited and worn down, we reached the river at three A. M., on the nineteenth, at a ford above Pomroy, I think, called Portland. At four, two companies were thrown across the river, and were instantly opened upon by the enemy; a scout of three hundred men were sent down the river a half-mile, who reported back that they had found a small force behind rifle-pits, and asked permission of General Meade to charge. He assented, and by five he was notified that Colonel Smith had successfully charged the pits, capturing one hundred and fifty prisoners. Another courier arriving about the same time reported that a gunboat had approached near our battery, and on being fired upon had retired precipitately.

General Morgan finding both of these reports correct, and believing that he had sufficient time to cross the command, was using every exertion to accomplish the task, when simultaneously could be heard the discharge of artillery from down the river — a heavy, drumming sound of small arms in the rear and right, from the banks [455] of the river, came up three black columns of infantry, firing upon our men, who were in close column, preparing to cross. Seeing that the enemy had every advantage of position, an overwhelming force of infantry and cavalry, and that we were becoming completely environed in the meshes of the net set for us, the command was ordered to move up the river double-quick. The gallant field staff and line-officers acted with decision and promptitude, and the command was moved rapidly off the field, leaving three companies of dismounted men, and perhaps two hundred sick and wounded men in the enemy's possession. Our artillery was doubtless captured at the river, as two horses had been killed in one piece, and one in each of two others; and the mountain path, from which we made our exit, was too precipitous to convey them over. Two lieutenants and five privates were known to have been killed on our side. After leaving the river, at Portland, the command was marched to Belleville, some fourteen miles, and commenced fording, or rather swimming, at that point. Three hundred and thirty men had effected a crossing, when again the enemy's gunboats were upon us--one iron-clad and two transports. Again we moved up the river. The Second brigade, commanded by Colonel Adam R. Johnson, was ordered to cross, guides having represented the stream as fordable, In dashed the Colonel, closely followed by Lieutenant Woodson; Captain Helm, of Texas; young Rogers, of Texas; Captain McClain, A. C. S., Second brigade, and myself. The Colonel's noble mare falters, strikes out again, and boldly makes the shore. Woodson follows. My poor mare being too weak to carry me, turned over and commenced going down; encumbered by clothing, sabre, and pistols, I made but poor progress in the turbid stream, but the recollections of home, of a brighteyed maiden in the sunny South, the pressing need of soldiers, and an inherent love of life, actuated me to continue swimming. Behind me I heard the piercing call of young Rogers for help; on my right, Captain Helm was appealing to me for aid; and in the rear my friend, Captain McClain, was sinking. Gradually the gunboat was nearing me. Should I be able to hold up until it came; and would I then be saved to again undergo the horrors of a Federal bastile? But I hear something behind me snorting! I feel it passing! Thank God! I am saved! A riderless horse dashes by; I grasp his tail; onward he bears me, and the shore is reached. Colonel Johnson, on reaching the shore, seizes upon a ten-inch piece of board, jumps into a leaky skiff, and starts back to aid the drowning. He reaches Captain Helm, but Captain McClain any young Rogers are gone. Yes, Captain McClain, the true gentleman, faithful soldier, and pleasant companion, has been buried in the depths of the Ohio. We sadly miss him at quarters and in the field. His gential smile and merry laughter will no longer ring upon our ear. But from his manly piety and goodness of heart the angels of heaven will never mark him as an absentee. May the memory of his many virtues serve as a beacon-light to guide us all to the same heavenly abode, where he is now stationed!

Two men were drowned in the crossing. The gunboats and transports cutting us off again, General Morgan fell back again, and just as day-light was disappearing, the rear of his command was leaving the river. Sad and dispirited, we impressed guides, collected together three hundred and sixty men who had crossed — many without arms, having lost them in the river — and marched out toward Claysville. But before leaving the river, I will briefly recapitulate and sum up in short order the damage to the enemy in this raid, and the sufferings through which General Morgan's command passed. On first crossing the Cumberland, we detached two companies--one to operate on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the other to operate between Crab Orchard and Somerset, Ky. The first captured two trains, and returned to Tennessee. The second captured thirty-five wagons, and also returned. We then detached a hundred men at Springfield, who marched to Frankfort, and destroyed a train and the railroad near that point. We also captured a train, with a number of officers, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, near Shepherdsville, sent a detachment around Louisville, who captured a number of army supplies, and effected a crossing by capturing a steamer between Louisville and Cincinnati, at Carrolton, and rejoined us in Indiana. We paroled, up to the nineteenth, near six thousand Federals; they obligating themselves not to take up arms during the war. We destroyed thirty-four important bridges, destroying the track in sixty places. Our loss was by no means slight; twenty-eight commissioned officers killed, thirty-five wounded, and two hundred and fifty men killed, wounded, and captured. By the Federal accounts, we killed more than two hundred, wounded at least three hundred and fifty, and captured, as before stated, near six thousand. The damage to railroads, steamboats, and bridges, added to the destruction of public stores and depots, cannot fall far short of ten million dollars. We captured three pieces of artillery, and one twenty-four pounder, at Lebanon, which we destroyed; one, a Parrott three-inch gun at Brandenburgh, and a twelve-pounder at Portland. These guns may have fallen into the enemy's hands again; I do not know it to be so, but fear they have. After crossing into Indiana, the inhabitants fled in every direction, women and children begging us to spare their lives, and amazingly surprised to find we were humans. The Copperheads and Butternuts were always in the front opposing us. Occasionally we would meet with a pure Southron, generally persons banished from the Border States. In Indiana one recruit was obtained, a boy fourteen years old, who came as an orderly. Our command was bountifully fed, and I think the people of Indiana and Ohio are anxious for peace; and could the idea of their ability to conquer us once be gotten rid of, they would clamor for an immediate recognition. [456] Every town was illuminated, and the people everywhere rejoicing over the downfall of Vicksburgh.

Crops of wheat and oats are very good, but corn very poor indeed.

After leaving the Ohio at Belleville, on the night of the nineteenth, we marched to near Elizabethtown, in Wirt County, from there to Steer Creek, and across the mountains to Sutton; from Sutton on the Gauley Bridge road to Birch Creek, crossing Gauley at mouth of Cranberry, and thence into the Greenbrier County, crossing Cold Mountain, passing over a heavy blockaded road, tired steeds preventing rapid marches, and six days were consumed ere we reached Lewisburgh, near which we left Colonel Grigsby, with a detachment, which then numbered about four hundred and seventy-five men. From the crossing of the Ohio to our entrance into Greenbrier, our men lived on beef alone, without salt, and no bread. Yet their only wish seemed to be for the safety of General Morgan and the command.

To the kind officers, soldiers, and citizens that we have met upon our journey since reaching the Old Dominion, in behalf of our command, we tender them our undying regard, and assure them if unbounded success has not fallen to our lot this time, that we are more fully determined to strive for our country and cause than ever.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

S. P. Cunningham, A. A. A. General Morgan's Cavalry Division.

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