Battle of Buﬃngton Island
The Battle Site Then and Now
The Battle of Buffington Island did not take place
on the island in the Ohio River. Rather, Confederate
and Union troops fought in this area. Much of
the battlefield has not changed and continues
to be used for farming.
The Ohio River has changed over time. In the 19th
century, there were fords, including just upstream
of Buffington Island, where the river could be
crossed on foot or horseback. Heavy rains just
days before Morgan's arrival raised the river,
making it difficult for the raiders to cross but
easier for Union gunboats to navigate. The Ohio
River is much higher and wider now than it was
the day of the battle due to the creation of dams
in the 20th century to maintain the river depth for
shipping purposes and flood control. In addition,
there used to be a road alongside the river on
which Morgan traveled north to escape the battle.
The Second Battle of Buffington Island
In the 1960s, Shelly Materials quietly began
acquiring portions of the battlefield for quarrying.
The company sought a permit for a loading
facility in the mid-1990s triggering local
residents, preservationists and organizations
to fight the permit. The Buffington Island
Battlefield Preservation Foundation was
established and efforts are being made to list
entire battlefield on the National Register
of Historic Places. Despite these efforts, it is
expected that about a third of the battlefield
will be lost to quarrying.
Top left: This photograph, taken around 1929, of the northern tip of the island and the West Virginia coast is similar to what Morgan had hoped to see when he reached the island.
Top right: Created in 1933. Buffington Island State Memorial is a 3.97-acre park along the Ohio River. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Reenactors continue to portray Ohio's only Civil War battle at this park.