The Cumberland Gap Campaign
June 20, 1861
Report of Col. John F. DeCourcy, 26th Brigade, Commanding
Web Author's Notes:
The 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry played an integral part in the advance on, occupation and defense of the Cumberland Gap, when Union forces first took possession of the Gap from the Confederates in the summer of 1862. The 16th OVI's colonel, John DeCourcy, was also made leader of the 26th Brigade, which included the 16th and 42nd OVIs and the 22nd Kentucky Volunteers, along with some artillery units. DeCourcy lead the brigade through nearly impossible obstacles, crossing the Cumberland Mountains at Roger'S Gap, and was the brigade that first occupied the Gap, just three hours after the Rebels fled. Due to a rather brilliant plan of illusion, Gen. Morgan and DeCourcy performed various maneuvers from the time they left Cumberland Ford, effectively fooling the Rebels into thinking the Union force was much larger than it really was. Thus, when DeCourcy approached the Gap, the Rebels chose to abandon allowing DeCourcy and the rest of General Morgan's division to simply march in and occupy it on June 18, 1862. However, the fact that Morgan's force at Cumberland Gap was not nearly as large as the Confederate forces staged south of the Gap at Knoxville and Chattanooga, spelled danger and risk. Morgan was able to occupy and defend the Gap against virtually any size force, however, he knew he needed a much larger force if he was to be able to guard his supply lines coming through the mountains. He also believed that, since he now held this strategic position, defending Kentucky and the north from Confederate raids or invasion, it was the right time to continue moving south and push the Rebels further, solidifying the Union hold on Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. To that end, Morgan repeatedly requested reinforcements be sent. These requests, however, received no response and Morgan was left to fare for himself through the summer months of 1862.