After camping near the ford of the Ohio River near Buffington Island on July 18, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan planned to cross the river into Kentucky the next day. During the night Federal forces on land and gunboats on the river caught up with Morgan. Surrounded, the Rebels were forced to fight their way out. During the battle around half of Morgan's cavalry was captured. Morgan and about 700 of his men escaped and headed northeast. About 300 of the Rebels managed to cross the river upstream at an unguarded ford opposite Belleville, West Virginia before Federal gunboats arrived. Morgan led the remaining 400 men into eastern Ohio in quest of an avenue of escape.