Portland in Meigs County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Escape from the Ohio Penitentiary
Battle of Buﬃngton Island
Was it an Inside Job?
Entering the prison gates, the captured Confederate officers were immediately stripped, washed, shaved, and taken to their section of the prison. The men were treated much like the other inmates rather than prisoners of war, and were even subjected to solitary confinement in "the hole" when caught with contraband or badmouthing the guards. They were, however, allowed many amenities such as outbound mail, visitor privileges, and packages of food and clothing sent by friends and relatives.
Complaining of indecent, unlawful treatment, the Confederates continued to antagonize the guards and prison warden. The prisoners did not know when they would be released so they began to plot a desperate escape. On the night of November 27, 1863, after four months in prison, Morgan and several of his officers tunneled out of their cells, scaled the prison walls, changed into civilian clothes, and boarded a train for Cincinnati. From there, Morgan crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. Inside help with the escape has always been suspected.
Safety for Whom?
The Ohio Penitentiary was well known by the public as a place of horrific crimes. Newspapers published stories about bloodcurdling screams echoing throughout the prison, inmates attacking one another
Top left: One of the keys to John Hunt Morgan's jail cell.
Bottom left: A sketch of Morgan's escape by scaling the prison wall along with his generals.
Top right: A postcard image of the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. The jail opened in 1834 and served as Ohio's maximum security prison until 1979.
Erected by the Ohio Historical Society.
Location. 39° 0.139′ N, 81° 46.446′ W. Marker is in Portland, Ohio, in Meigs County. Marker can be reached from Ohio River Scenic Byway (Ohio Route 124) south of New Portland Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located within the Buffington Island Battlefield Memorial Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 56998 OH-124, Portland OH 45770, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Capture in Columbiana County (here, next to this marker); Confusion and Panic Attack from the West (here, next to this marker); Modern Day Buffington Island (here, next to this marker); Path of Destruction and Damage (here, next to this marker); Surprise Encounter (here, next to this marker); Buffington Island (here, next to this marker); The Battle of Buffington Island (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portland.
Also see . . . The Ohio Penitentiary - Many photos and history before demolition in 1998. (Submitted on September 17, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 79 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.