Recent controversy over Confederate statues and clashes between white nationalists and those who oppose them has resulted in a painting of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan being taken down at Salt Fork Lodge.
During the Civil War, General Morgan led a raid into Ohio, which went through Guernsey County before Morgan and his men were captured near East Liverpool. In the painting, General Morgan is depicted leading his men in battle. Morgan's Raid has been a part of Guernsey County lore ever since the incidents in July of 1863.
The decision to take down the painting came through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
"We decided to take the painting down in light of recent events," Matt Eiselstein of ODNR said. "The painting, done on canvas, was carefully removed from the wall and is currently being safely stored."
The "recent events" referred to included a tragic incident in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 12, in which a young woman was killed and others injured during a clash between white nationalists and protestors who opposed them. On the eve of Saturday's rally, young white men wearing khakis and white polo shirts marched through the University of Virginia's campus, holding torches as they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next morning, many donned helmets and shields and clashed with counter-protesters before a car drove into the crowd, killing the 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.
In Durham, N.C., a group destroyed a Confederate statue following that clash. Interestingly, a new Confederate monument is slated to be unveiled in Alabama later this month. Jimmy Hill is commander of the Alabama division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He tells AL.com that the memorial to "unknown Confederate soldiers" will be unveiled at 2 p.m. on Aug. 27 in a Confederate memorial park about 50 miles south of Montgomery in an unincorporated area of Crenshaw County. He says the unveiling is open to the public.
Local historian Rick Booth has written articles about Morgan's Raid, calling it "an unusual affair, conducted against orders in mid-1863. From his base in Tennessee, Morgan had been ordered to take his roughly 2,500 cavalrymen up into Kentucky as a diversionary move to get Union troops to chase him instead of attacking some vulnerable Confederate troop positions in Tennessee. Specifically ordered to not cross the Ohio River, Morgan nevertheless did so near Mauckport, Indiana, less than a week after the twin debacles of Lee's defeat at Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg on the Mississippi. Living off the land (i.e. stealing food, money and horses), his men marauded eastward, passing north of Cincinnati. They then tried unsuccessfully to re-cross the Ohio River into Kentucky at Buffington Island, located about half way between Gallipolis and Parkersburg. They were narrowly prevented from doing so by Union troops and gunboats. A few days later, Morgan's men crossed Guernsey County from the southwest to the northeast in a desperate attempt to get away from pursuing cavalry and reach another place to cross the Ohio River farther north.
"Having lost men continuously along the course of the raid, General Morgan was finally forced to surrender near East Liverpool, Ohio.
"... Sent to the Ohio Penitentiary for ultra-safe keeping, the wily brigadier general escaped, made his way back to the South, and resumed his command of cavalry. The Ohio raid and his subsequent flight to freedom catapulted Morgan to the heights of rock star status inside the Confederacy."
While luck was with General Morgan and six of his men in the escape, he was not so lucky later in the war.
"By early September, 1864," Booth wrote, "he (Morgan) was leading a force of 1,500 men in the vicinity of Greeneville, Tenn. Underestimating the proximity and danger posed by Union troops nearby, Morgan opted to sleep the night in pampered luxury at a local mansion rather than tent uncomfortably with his men outside the town. When Union commanders chose to march on Greeneville through the night, Morgan's choice of pleasantries over safety turned fatal. As federal troops approached Greeneville, several reports came in that Morgan was resting in the lightly guarded town mansion. Two cavalry companies were quickly dispatched to rush into the town and surround the mansion with orders to bring back Morgan dead or alive.
"General Morgan, loathing the thought of ever spending time in Union captivity again, had promised his wife he would do everything in his power to avoid capture. And so, when confronted by an armed cavalryman demanding his surrender, Morgan chose to run. A shot rang out, and the man who barely a year before had led Confederate forces through Guernsey County's Cumberland, Senecaville, Lore City, Old Washington, Winterset and Antrim fell dead."