PORTLAND, Ohio — Meigs County is home to numerous historical events that have impacted the history of the United States, perhaps the most famous being the incursion of Morgan’s Raiders and their demise at the Battle of Buffington Island.
According to the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation:
The Battle of Buffington Island on July 19, 1863, was the major engagement during General John Hunt Morgan’s Great Raid into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio and was the only significant Civil War battle to be fought in Ohio. It was a decisive 2-hour encounter involving approximately 1,800 of John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate cavalrymen and 3,000 Union artillery, cavalry, and infantry supported by navy gunboats on the Ohio River. Morgan’s troopers were poised to cross the Buffington Island ford when a convergence of Union gunboats and troops thwarted the crossing, captured nearly a third of Morgan’s command, and scattered his forces to the north.
Morgan was finally captured in Columbiana County on July 26. The battle is also noteworthy because it included two future presidents of the United States, all with Ohio connections: Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.
Because of the significance of the battle, the Sons of Union Veterans hold a memorial service each year to honor those who fought and died on the site, and to keep the history of the event alive for future generations.
The annual memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 17. The event is hosted by Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Gallipolis, Ohio. They will be joined by other SUVCU and preservationist groups from throughout Ohio.
Jim Oiler, commander, stressed the importance of participation in the service, not just by the SUVCU or the Foundation, but by members of the community. He believes those who came before deserve to be honored and remembered, and that it is the responsibility of current and future generations carry it forward.
“History is too important to forget, there are valuable lessons that need to be remembered,” Oiler said. “Our efforts are to preserve as much of our history as we can for future generations.”
Included in the memorial service will be a history of the battle presented by Cadot-Blessing Camp member Sam Wilson and music by acclaimed singer-songwriter and Southeast Ohio native Steve Free. Free has been labeled the “Appalachian Jimmy Buffett” and has received numerous national and international musical awards. Named an official “Ohio Treasure” in 2009, today Free and his band have dedicated themselves to performing throughout the Tri-State area at diverse venues.
Guests are invited to join participants for lunch after the service at the adjacent Portland Community Center.
For more information visit: https://www.buffingtonbattlefieldfoundation.org.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.