Myron (“Jack”) Smith, Jr., Tusculum College library director and professor of library science, has published the cover article in the September 2012 issue of “North & South,” the magazine of the Civil War Society.
“Le Roy Fitch vs. The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy” sheds new and detailed light on the July 19, 1863, Battle of Buffington Island in the Ohio River near Parkersburg, W.V. On that occasion, Confederate troops under Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan were largely prevented by a Union Navy gunboat under Fitch from escaping across the river from Federal troops who had them backed up against a riverbank in southern Ohio.
According to the article, the aggressive riverine defense by the Indiana sailor resulted in the capture of numerous Southerners, including Col. Basil Duke, the death of others and forced Morgan to retreat north into Columbiana County, Ohio, where he was caught by Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. James M. Shackelfod.
Morgan, though imprisoned, eventually escaped and was killed in Greeneville, Tenn. on September 4, 1864.
Copies of the magazine are available in supermarkets and newsstands nationwide.
The article is based on research undertaken by Smith for the first of his six books devoted to the Civil War on Western Waters, “Le Roy Fitch: The Civil War Career of a Union River Gunboat Commander,” which was published in 2007 and is available on Amazon.
As part of the Tusculum library’s outreach programming, Smith spoke on “USS Carondelet vs. CSS Arkansas, July 1862” before a large group at the August 14 meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable. The meeting, held in the Reardon Banquet Center, included a lecture and question and answer session.