|Brig. General John Morgan-A|
Kentucky-native, he ignored
his original orders and began
one of the most sensational
raids of the war in late
He placed USS Springfield and Victory at Louisville and Silver Lake and Fairplay further upstream towards Cannenlton, Indiana. Five other vessels, Reindeer, Naumkeag, Magnoila, Allegheny Belle, and Moose [Fitch's flagship], moved upstream towards West Virginia. Fitch's intelligence believed Morgan's main force was proceeding east. Fitch's problem was that there were at least six to eight fords that Morgan could cross the Ohio. Thus he had to keep one gunboat near each possible crossing.
|One of Fitch's gunboats-Tinclad Number 35, USS Reindeer|
July 19 brought more serious action. Fitch and Moose found Morgan's forces trying to cross the Ohio at Sandy Creek Shoals. Amidst a heavy fog, Fitch ordered Moose to flank speed. Concerned that Morgan would try to place his two 20-pounder Parrot Rifles in a position to fire at his ship, Fitch had Moose's forward guns open fire as soon as the fog allowed. Morgan's raiders retreated up the banks, with Moose's broadside guns firing at them. As they retreated, the two Parrot Rifles were left behind. The next morning, Allegheny Belle joined Moose.
Seeing that Union ground and river forces had them trapped, 750 of Morgan's men surrendered. Never able to find a secure way across the Ohio, Union ground forces captured Morgan himself along with 300 of his men a week later.
|Two of more Fitch's "tinclads"-|
USS Silver Lake ( Tinclad Number 23)(above)
and USS Fairplay (Tinclad Number 17) (below).
The raid was the longest distance of its kind during the war. There are several historic sites and markers along the Ohio River open to the public. The Ohio Civil War Trails Commission is currently working on a 557-mile trail route. The tinclads for the remainder of the war continued to be active along the Mississippi and Ohio River systems as Confederate partisan groups continued to be active.