Analysis Of John Hunt Morgan's Escape From The Ohio Penitentiary

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General John Hunt Morgan’s 1863 Escape from the Ohio Penitentiary Introduction John Hunt Morgan was a popular Confederate general and cavalry officer during the Civil War. He is most remembered for his Morgan’s Raid wherein he led several hundred men on a more-than thousand mile journey from the South into Kentucky and as far as southern Ohio, which is the farthest point reached by any Confederate group in the north during this war (Dupuy, Johnson and Bongard, 1992, 525). He sowed terror and fear in the hearts of ordinary people from Indiana and Ohio (Boyer, 1912, 164-165). This short paper will examine General Morgan’s escape from the Ohio Penitentiary in 1863, and provide insights as to how he was able to make this escape despite the presence …show more content…

One account in the website of Civilian Talk states that in July of 1863, Morgan was almost run to the ground by the forces of General Holson, and so Morgan and about 200 of his men surrendered near the Pennsylvania border of Ohio. Morgan and his men were first taken to the Cincinnati City Jail, and then were finally transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. In the website of Ohio History and in the online version of the Richmond Times Dispatch of 1863, it is mentioned that Morgan was actually captured in a standoff during the Battle of Buffington Island, wherein Morgan was unable to proceed to Buffington Island as he had been surrounded by Union troops. It is estimated that around 800 to 1000 of Morgan’s men were captured and that around 300 had escaped across the Ohio River. The Union captors then brought Morgan and his men to Columbus where they were placed in the Camp Chase Confederate Prison Camp, with Morgan and several of his close aids being brought finally to the Ohio Penitentiary on October 1, 1863. Thus these two differing accounts make a reader wonder if Morgan was actually captured, or by himself voluntarily surrendered to the Union …show more content…

According to this account, General Morgan, and his captains Taylor, Bennett, Hockersmith, Hines, Magee, and Sheldon were housed in the same wing, except that Morgan was housed in the second floor of the cell block, and all the other men were in the first floor. The airshaft ran between floors, and was intended to provide ventilation to the cells and to keep the inside of the cells from becoming too damp. Thus General Morgan dug a hole from the corner of his cell (under his bedstead) to the airshaft, while the other men dug their own holes from the first floor onto the airshaft. The airshaft measured 7 feet by 4.5 feet, enough for men to crawl into. Apparently the airshaft was surrounded only by a thin layer of brick and mortar that could easily be broken or removed even with the use of one’s feet. When Morgan and his men moved to the end of the airshaft, they removed the foundation stones about four feet and thickness, and initially met with the obstacle of 20,000 bushels of coal leaning against the same wall. They simply moved back by about 25 feet, and tried to make another hole. This hole then led to the southeast gate of the prison on the second floor, and when the actual escape pushed through, the captives were able to climb down through the use of a rope made out of cotton or linen textiles which were the beddings of the captives themselves

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