On July 19, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s daring raid across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio came to an end on Buffington Island, located in the Ohio River near Ravenswood in Jackson County.
Morgan’s raid was the only time a large Southern force entered Indiana or Ohio during the Civil War. His 2,400 raiders led local militias and growing numbers of Union troops on a wild chase across three states.
During his retreat, Morgan chose an Ohio River crossing known as Buffington’s Ford. On July 19—overtaken by federal troops, including the 13th West Virginia Infantry, local militia, and three U.S. Navy gunboats—Morgan turned and fought his pursuers on the Ohio mainland adjacent to the island. The battle scattered Morgan’s forces and spilled over onto Buffington Island when a number of his men crossed above the island to swim to the Jackson County shore. Many drowned, but some, with the aid of Confederate supporters in West Virginia, made it back to Southern lines.
The Battle of Buffington Island was the only significant naval action to occur in West Virginia waters during the Civil War.