John Hunt Morgan was raised in Kentucky. His served in the United States Army during the Mexican American War, under General Zachary Taylor. When the Civil War started and the state of Kentucky didn’t secede, Morgan moved to Alabama. He made several raids into the north between 1862 and 63. On the last of these raids Morgan led his band of men through Kentucky, southern Indiana and into Ohio. After a tour through Cincinnati the raiders head for the Ohio River, their route was blocked at Buffington Island, Ohio by Union soldiers and about 700 of Morgan’s men were captured. Morgan turned his men back north, but most were captured along with Morgan at Salineville on July 26th 1863.
Morgan was placed in the newly built Ohio State Penitentiary along with some of his officers at Columbus, Ohio. Morgan and his men cut a hole into a ventilation space under Thomas Hines’ cell, through which they tunneled out into the inner yard; they then scaled the wall on November 27th 1863. Morgan caught a train for Cincinnati, and then hired a boat to take him across the river. They made their way back to Tennessee and safety in Confederate territory.