Travel: Buffington Island Battlefield Memorial Park (Portland, Ohio)

I like to plan what I am doing.  It is a huge component of my character.  I like to be familiar with the area, to read about it, to know a few facts.  That way, while I am there I can see it through a more educated perspective.  I thought to myself, Forked Run is all of 40 minutes from my house.  There is not too much about the area that I would not be aware of already.  I was mistaken.

While trying to find hiking maps for the area of Forked Run State Park (Ohio), I found a website for a Civil War site less than ten miles away.  I figured I could dedicate two hours of my time on Saturday to go see the site of the only significant Civil War battle in Ohio (that is according to the website…)

Also according to the website: “Buffington Island Battlefield is the site of the only significant Civil War battle in Ohio. On July 19, 1863, a Union force of 3,000 cavalry, artillery, infantry, and navy personnel routed a column of 1,800 Confederate cavalry and artillery commanded by Brigadier General John Hunt MorganFrom July 13 – 26, 1863, Morgan led a group of more than 2,000 men across Southern Ohio. His mission: to distract and divert as many Union troops as possible from the action in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Union forces under the command of Major General Ambrose Burnside gave chase.  It was at Buffington Island on the morning of July 19 that two Union cavalry columns led by brigadier generals Henry Judah and Edward Hobson, and two Union gunboats under Lieutenant Commander LeRoy Fitch, cornered Morgan and his men as the Confederates were trying to cross the Ohio River. The two-hour battle resulted in 6 killed and 20 wounded on the Union side and 57 killed, 63 wounded, and 71 captured on the Confederate side. Throughout the day following the battle, Union militia and regular troops captured 570 Confederates who had fled the field. The Union troops dealt a heavy blow to Morgan’s men and resources, but, despite losing nearly half his men and all of his artillery and supplies, Morgan escaped. Major Daniel McCook, patriarch of the fighting McCook family, was mortally wounded in the battle.  Morgan’s remaining raiders turned north, exhausted and desperate to find another place to cross. On July 26, near Salineville, in Columbiana County, Union cavalry under the command of Major W.B. Way defeated Morgan’s cavalrymen in a running fight, and later that day, Union Major G.W. Rue’s cavalry surrounded Morgan’s Raiders and succeeded in capturing General Morgan and the remnants of his command near West Point. Morgan’s capture marked the end of Morgan’s Raid.”

Although their website notes this is the only significant Civil War Battle fought in Ohio, a quick wiki search pulls up the Battle of Salineville.  Salineville is mentioned in the above quoted section, however they call that one a running fight culminating in Morgan being surrounded and captured.  Not sure if that is different than a battle and (if so) to what extent.  This is a four acre park one quarter of a mile away is where McCook was killed in battle.  The park is not actually located on the island but on the bank a short distance away.

From Forked Run, the trip to Buffington “should” be around a 10-15 minute drive.  Well, except for the huge chunk of road that fell off into the river causing a road closure for much longer than the locals care for (I know this by speaking with said locals who told me of a three mile dirt road around the closure and yes, I owe Bobby a truck wash.)  It was worth the trip.  Interesting site, found a Ohio burial mound and enjoyed a piece of history almost in my back yard.

This site is part of a larger Historic Byway that follows the path of the failed Morgan Raiders.


Pictures I took at this little memorial park:


Located at the battlefield memorial was an Ohio Mound.  I am impressed with two finds! Go Me!



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