Jail Breaks General Morgan Escapes a Union Prison Part 2

About the famous Civil War jail break of General Morgan from a Union prison, history of the escape.


General Morgan Escapes a Union Jail-1863

On Nov. 26, after 23 days of toil, they reached the soil of the prison yard. They had cut through a 5-ft.-thick foundation wall, 12 ft. of grout, and a 6-ft.-thick outer wall to get from the air chamber to the yard. All that remained was to connect the tunnel to each cell so that all seven could escape together. They cut these passages upward from the tunnel so that the cells would appear normal as long as possible. Finally, only a thin facade remained of each cell wall where it joined the tunnel network.

Morgan's brother had made a 35-ft. rope ladder and had fashioned a grappling hook from the iron poker of their hall stove. Money and a train schedule had been smuggled in by a relative and a bribed inmate. Their preparations were complete.

At midnight on Nov. 27, Morgan and his men emerged from the tunnel at one edge of the prison yard. The night was stormy, so the guard dogs had retreated to their kennels and the sentries were snug by their fires. The escapees cut the rope of the prison bell and scaled the outer wall. Once free, they split into three groups in order to be less conspicuous.

Morgan and Hines traveled together by train to the outskirts of Cincinnati, where they jumped off. Their long trek south-often on stolen horses-was filled with intrigue. At one time they pretended they were chasing horse thieves; at another they were cattle dealers. Hines once led a group of Union cavalry on a wild-goose chase, having convinced them that he was a local home-guard soldier, while Morgan escaped.

Morgan finally reached Confederate lines in Georgia, but he never regained the stature he had lost by disobeying orders and entering Ohio, even though his raids there had been a demoralizing blow to the Union. He was given a lesser command, that of the Dept. of Southwestern Virginia, and a year later he was killed by Yankee troops at Greeneville, Tenn.

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