Trumbull soldier tussled with Morgan’s men

Company E of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was chosen to pursue Gen. John Hunt Morgan. Isaac Gause – of Trumbull County – was in Company E, he and five other men survived the chase, otherwise they all managed to find food and water and exchange their jaded horses for farm horses. Charles Truesdale, who became an attorney in Warren after the war, was with Gause.

Their camp was near Somerset, Ky., and before they moved out Gause’s horse as well as others were declared unserviceable. Gause’s horse was small and of slender build, and although she had performed well, she did not meet government requirements.

The new horses arrived from Lexington, having been captured at the battle of Stone’s River, and the mare that was chosen for Gause was very good looking. A dark bay with black mane and tail which was so long Gause trimmed it so it would not drag on the ground. A half-inch under 15 hands, she was not worried by sudden movements and was trusted to stay where you left her until called.

Gause was chosen to get the mail in town, but the mail was so bulky, he had trouble mounting the horse. Half-way back, he stopped at a farm house and asked for something to eat for himself and his horse. The women said to get corn for his horse and come back for dinner. Before dinner a man dressed like a gentleman and with charming manners came to the house. Everyone was pleasant and friendly but Gause observed the man had recently shaved a beard, his forehead and nose was brown from the sun but cheeks and chin were white. He wondered if the man could have been a Confederate soldier returning home or even one of Morgan’s men, recruiting.

The mare took him safely back to camp where he learned a boyhood friend in Co. B, Henry Palmer had been wounded in an engagement with Morgan near Columbus. The company had three days’ rations. The first sign of Morgan’s presence was a wagon with harnesses in the middle of the road, Morgan had taken the horses. There was good forage for the horses but the men were at the good will of citizens, and since Morgan was first, he ate all the food available from the farmers.

No regular halts were made and the men had to fall out to refresh themselves and their mount then overtake the column. They were ferried across the Ohio River to enter Indiana, the same place Morgan had crossed. Many horses had lost their shoes, and with only one farrier, Gause and the other men borrowed tools to shoe their own horses.

The only halt was coming across burnt and destroyed bridges or ferries, until another crossing was found, the horses ate wheat or corn and the men fell asleep.

In Ohio, Col. Kautz’s brigade included the 7th O.V.C., 9th Michigan C., 2nd Ohio V.C. and the 2nd Tenn. Mounted Infantry. At Glendale, Ohio, the streets were crowded with ladies carrying buckets of water, and lemonade, pies, cakes, bread, butter and ham sandwiches. The ladies were elegantly dressed and joyful that the troopers were close to Morgan, as he had passed through only three hours before.

Passing by Camp Dennison and by the Little Miami River, they saw a train of cars with an engine that Morgan had derailed. At 7 p.m. Gause bathed in a stream, and changed into clean clothes, this was the first time he had taken his boots off. The 2nd O.V.C. took the lead with Co. E in advance. The road was hard to see at night, since this was home for the 7th O.V.C., a man from the 7th who had delivered mail for 10 years in the area guided them. The ranks had dwindled, from sickness, disabled horses and men who could not keep up.

Passing a house, a lady told them Morgan’s men had left at daybreak. A man along the road began running, stopped he pleaded that he was impressed to be a guide by Morgan and did not recognize the troopers as their blue uniforms were dusty hiding the color. This seemed not unusual, but at a steep turn on a grade they saw a horse, with large saddle pockets stuffed with material, boxes of pocket knives, spoons, needles and thread. The rest of the company caught up and the lieutenant told Gause to take the horse back to Kautz. After delivering the horse, Gause stopped at a house to ask for water or food, the woman said Morgan had stopped there last night and she had nothing. She did however, give him a revolver that one of the men had dropped during the night.

Catching up with his company, they were fired on by Morgan’s videttes. Charging into their camp the Confederates ran. Gause was required to hold the horses while the rest dismounted and charged down a ravine. Gause picked up another revolver one of the men had dropped, later after the surrender both revolvers were stolen from Gause’s saddle bags. Gause held the horses and watched. Guns began firing frightening the horses, harnessed to wagons, they were probably farm horses not used to gunfire. The contents of the overturned wagons flew everywhere. A bolt of material caught on a horse, billowing the material after the frightened animal.

The Confederates were divided, Morgan fled but about 1,000 were captured. For another week they pursued, coming upon Morgan’s rear guard who would always move back. On Sunday, the Confederates sent in a flag of truce, but it was learned that Morgan and a few men had gone north.

In Washington, Guernsey County, Gause and two other troopers took fire from Morgan for over 10 minutes, a miracle that none where hit. After this his mare drooped her ears and hung her head, a sign of collapse. Coming upon farmers riding their horses, Gause exchanged his mare. The farmer protested but the troopers had authority to get fresh horses. This was the first time her saddle had been removed. Gause told the farmer, take care of her, she is the best, most noble mount I’ve had; as he rode away he could not look back at her. Before the surrender this horse was exchanged for another farm horse and he chose a filly from the surrender stock.

The pursuit continued until Morgan surrendered on July 26, 1863. Only miles from his uncles, Gause and men from Salem received permission to round up stragglers, which was interpreted as permission to go home. He slept, even falling asleep when people came to see him. Women were alarmed thinking Morgan’s men were still in the area. The government seized both horses and the men were transported back south.

Carole Babyak, CW 150, sources: Isaac Gause, Four Years in Five Armies, Neale Publ. NY 1908; The Longest Raid of the Civil War, by Lester Horwitz, Farmcourt Publ. Cincinnati, 1999.

Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren’s Sutliff Museum.