Hamilton County Ohio
Genealogy and History

Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led with Genealogy Trails History Group

The Siege of Cincinnati

[Source: "Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, And Soldiers", Chapter 8, by Whitelaw Reed, 1868

In the early days of 1862 a new name was growing at once into popular favor and popular fear among the prudent Rebels of the Kentucky border. It was first heard of in the achievement of carrying off the artillery belonging to the Lexington company of the Kentucky State Guard into the Confederate service. Gradually it came to be coupled with daring “scouts,” by little squads of the Rebel cavalry, within our contemplative picket lines along Green River; with sudden dashes, like the burning of the Bacon Creek Bridge
1, which the lack of enterprise, or even of ordinary vigilance on the part of some of our commanders permitted; with unexpected swoops; upon isolated supply trains or droves of army cattle; with saucy messages about an intention to burn the Yankees out of Woodsonvllle the next week, and the like. Then came dashes within our lines about Nashville, night attacks, audacious captures of whole squads of guards within sight of the camps and within half a mile of division head-quarters, the seizure of Gallatin, adroit impositions upon telegraph operators, which scoured whatever news about the National armies was passing over the wires. Then, after Mitchell had swept down into Northern Alabama, followed incursions upon his rear, cotton -burning exploits under the very noses of his guards, open pillage of citizens who had been encouraged by the advance the National armies to express their loyalty2. These acts covered a wide range of country, and followed each other in quick succession, but they were all traced to John Morgan’s Kentucky cavalry; and such were their frequency and daring, that by midsummer of 1862 Morgan and his men occupied almost as much of the popular attention in Kentucky and along the border as Beauregard or Lee.

The leader of the band was a native of Huntsville, Alabama, but from early boyhood a resident of Kentucky. He had grown up to the free and easy life of a slaveholding farmer’s son, in the heart of the “Blue Grass country,” near Lexington; had become a volunteer for the Mexican war at the early age of nineteen, and had risen to a First-Lieutenancy; had passed through his share of personal encounters and “affairs of honor” about Lexington—not without wounds—and had finally married and settled down as a manufacturer and speculator. He had lived freely, gambled freely, shared in all the dissipations of the time and place, and still had retained the early vigor of a powerful constitution, and a strong hold upon the confidence of the hot-blooded young men of Lexington. These followed him to the war. They were horsemen by instinct, accustomed to a dare-devil life, capable of doing their own thinking in emergencies without waiting for orders, and in all respects the best material for an independent band of partisan rangers the country had produced. They were allied by family connections with many of the leading people of the ‘‘Blue Grass” region and it could not but result that when they appeared in Kentucky—whatever army might be near—they found themselves among friends.

The people of Ohio had hardly recovered from the spasmodic effort to raise regiments in a day for a second defense of the capital, into which they had been thrown by the call of the Government in its alarm at Stonewall Jackson’s rush through the valley. They were now, rather languidly, turning to the effort of filling the now and unexpected call for seventy-four thousand three years’ men. Few had as yet been raised. Here and there through the State were the nuclei of forming regiments and there were a few arms, but there was no adequate protection for the Border, and none dreamed that any was necessary, Beauregard had evacuated Corinth; Memphis had fallen; Buell was moving eastward toward Chattanooga; the troops lately commanded by Mitchel held Tennessee and Northern Alabama; Kentucky was mainly in the hands of her Home-Guards, and, under the supervision of a State military board, was raising volunteers for the National army.

Suddenly, while the newspapers were still trying to explain McClellan's change of base, and clamoring against Buell's slow advances on Chattanooga, without a word or explanation, came the startling news that John Morgan was in Kentucky! The dispatches of Friday afternoon, the 11th of July, announced that he had fallen upon the little post of Tompkinsville, and killed or captured the entire garrison. By evening it was known that the prisoners were paroled; that Morgan had advanced unopposed to Glasgow; that he had issued a proclamation calling upon the Kentuckians to rise; that the authorities deemed it unsafe to attempt sending through the trains from Louisville to Nashville. By Saturday afternoon he was reported marching on Lexington, and General Boyle, the commandant in Kentucky, was telegraphing vigorously to Mayor Hatch, at Cincinnati, for militia to be sent in that direction.

A public meeting was at once called, and by nine o’clock that evening a concourse of several thousand citizens had gathered in the Fifth Street market-space. Meantime more and more urgency for aid had been expressed in successive dispatches from General Boyle. In one he fixed Morgan's force at two thousand eight hundred; in another he said that Morgan, with one thousand five hundred, had burned Perryville, and was marching on Danville; again, that the forces at his command were needed to defend Lexington! Some of these dispatches were read at the public meeting, and speeches were made by the Mayor, Judge Saffin, and others. Finally a committee was appointed,
3 headed by ex-Senator Geo. E. Pugh, to take such measures for organized effort as might be possible or necessary. Before the committee could organize came word that Governor Tod had ordered down such convalescent soldiers as could be gathered at Camp Dennison and Camp Chase, and had sent a thousand stand of arms. A little after midnight two hundred men belonging to the Fifty-Second Ohio arrived.

On Sunday morning the city was thoroughly alarmed. The streets were thronged at an early hour, and by nine o’clock another large meeting had gathered in the Fifth Street market-space. Speeches were made by ex-Senator Pugh, Thos. J. Gallagher, and Benj. Eggleston. It was announced that a battalion made up of the police force would be sent to Lexington in the evening. Arrangements were made to organize volunteer companies. Charles F. Wilstach and Eli C. Baldwin were authorized to procure rations for volunteers. The City Council met, resolved that it would pay any bills incurred by the committee appointed at the public meeting, and appropriated five thousand dollars for immediate wants. Eleven-hundred men—parts of the Eighty-Fifth and Eighty-Sixth Ohio from Camp Chase—arrived in the afternoon and went directly on to Lexington. The police force, under Colonel Dudley, their chief, and an artillery company, with a single piece, under Captain Wm. Glass, of the City Fire Department, also took the special train to Lexington in the evening. Similar scenes were witnessed across the river, at Covington, during the same period. While the troops were mustering, and the excited people were volunteering, it was discovered that a brother of John Morgan was a guest at one of the principal hotels. He made no concealment of his relationship, or his sympathy with the rebel cause, but produced a pass from General Boyle. He was detained.

Monday brought no further news of Morgan, and the alarm began to abate. Kentuckians expressed the belief that he only meant to attract attention by feints on Lexington and Frankfort, while he should make his way to Bourbon county, and destroy the long Townsend viaduct near Paris, which might cripple the railroad for weeks. The Secretary of War gave permission to use some cannon which Miles Greenwood had been casting for the Government, and Governor Morton furnished ammunition for them.
4 The tone of the press may be inferred from the advice of the Gazette that the “bands sent out to pursue Morgan” should take few prisoners—“the fewer the better.” “They are not worthy of being treated as soldiers,” it continued, “they are freebooters, thieves, and murderers, and should be dealt with accordingly.”

For a day or two there followed a state of uncertainty as to Morgan’s whereabouts, or the real nature of the danger. In answer to an application for artillery, the Secretary of War telegraphed that Morgan was retreating. Presently came dispatches from Kentucky that he was still advancing. Governor Dennison visited Cincinnati at the request of Governor Tod, consulted with the “Committee of Public Safety,” and passed on to Frankfort to look after the squads of Ohio troops that had been hastily forwarded to the points of danger.

The disorderly elements of the city took advantage of the absence of so large a portion of the police force at Lexington. Troubles broke out between the Irish and negroes, in which the former were the aggressors; houses were fired, and for a little time there were apprehensions of a serious riot. Several hundred leading property-holders met in alarm at the Merchant’s Exchange, and took measures for organizing a force of one thousand citizens for special service the ensuing night. For a day or two the excitement was kept up, but there were few additional outbreaks.

While Cincinnati was thus in confusion, and troops were hurrying to the defense of the threatened points, John Morgan was losing no time in idle debates. He had left Knoxville, East Tennessee, on the morning of the 4th of July; on the morning of the 9th he had fallen upon the garrison at Tompkinsville; before one o'clock the next morning had possession of Glasgow; by the 11th he had possession of Lebanon. On the Sunday (13th) on which Cincinnati had been so thoroughly aroused, he entered Harrodsburg. Then, feigning, on Frankfort, he made haste toward Lexington, striving, to delay re-enforcements by sending out parties to burn bridges; and hoping to find the town an easy capture. Monday morning he was within fifteen miles of Frankfort; before nightfall he was at Versailles — having marched between three and four hundred miles in eight days.

The Columbus authorities were asked for ammunition, and sent word that it would be furnished only on the requisition of a United States officer commanding a post. The Indianapolis authorities furnished it on the order of the Mayor; and the newspapers commented with some severity on what they called “the difference between the red-tapeism of Columbus, and the manner of doing business at Indianapolis.”

Moving thence to Midway, between Frankfort and Lexington, he surprised the telegraph operator, secured his office in good order, took off the dispatches that were flying back and forth; possessed himself of the plans and preparations of the Union officers at Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati; and audaciously sent dispatches in the name of the Midway operator, assuring the Lexington authorities that Morgan was then driving in the pickets at Frankfort! Then he hastened to Georgetown—twelve miles from Lexington, eighteen from Frankfort, and within easy striking distance of any point in the Blue Grass region. Here, with the Union commanders completely mystified as to his whereabouts and purposes, he coolly halted for a couple of days and rested his horses. Then, giving up all thought of attacking Lexington, as he found how strongly it was garrisoned, he decided — as his second in command naively tells us
5 — "to make a dash at Cynthiana, on the Kentucky Central Railroad, hoping to induce the impression that he was aiming at Cincinnati, and at the same time thoroughly bewilder the officer in command at Lexington regarding his real intentions." Thither, therefore, he went; and to some purpose. The town was garrisoned by a few hundred Kentucky cavalry, and some home guards, with Captain Glass’s firemen’s artillery company from Cincinnati—in all perhaps five hundred men. These were routed after some sharp fighting at the bridge and in the streets; the gun was captured, and four hundred and twenty prisoners were taken; besides abundance of stores, arms, and two or three hundred horses. At one o’clock he was off for Paris, which sent out a deputation of citizens to meet him and surrender. By this time the forces that had been gathering at Lexington had moved out against him with nearly double his strength; but the next morning he left Paris unmolested; and marching through Winchester, Richmond, Crab Orchard, and Somerset, crossed the Cumberland again at his leisure. He started with nine hundred men, and returned with one thousand two hundred—having captured and paroled nearly as many, and having destroyed all the Government arms and stores in seventeen towns.

Meanwhile the partially-lulled excitement in Cincinnati had risen again. A great meeting had been held in Court Street market-space, at which Judge Hugh J. Jewett, who had been the Democratic candidate for Governor, made an earnest appeal for rapid enlistments, to redeem the pledge of the Governor to assist Kentucky, and to prevent Morgan from recruiting a large army in that State. Quartermaster-General Wright had followed in a similar strain. The City Council, to silence doubts on the part of some, had taken the oath of allegiance as a body. The Chamber of Commerce had memorialized the Council to make an appropriation for bounties to volunteers; Colonel Burbank had been appointed Military Governor of the city,
6 and there had been rumors of martial law and a provost-marshal. The popular ferment largely took the shape of clamor for bounties as a means of stimulating volunteers. The newspapers called on the Governor to “take the responsibility,” and offer twenty-five dollars bounty for every recruit. Public-spirited citizens made contributions for such a purpose—Mr. J. Cleves Short a thousand dollars, Messrs. Tyler, Davidson & Co., one thousand two hundred, Mr. Kugler two thousand five hundred, Mr. Jacob Elsas five hundred. Two regiments for service in emergencies were hastily formed, which were known as the Cincinnati Reserves.

Yet, withal, the alarm never reached the height of the excitement on Sunday, the 13th of July when Morgan was first reported marching on Lexington. The papers said they should not be surprised any morning to see his cavalry on the hills opposite Cincinnati; but the people seemed to entertain less apprehension. They were soon to have greater occasion for fear.

For the invasion of Morgan was only a forerunner. It had served to illustrate to the Rebel commanders the ease with which their armies could be planted in Kentucky, and had set before them a tempting vision of the rich supplies of the “Blue Grass.”

July and August passed in comparative gloom. McClellan was recalled from the Peninsula. Pope was driven back from the Rapidan, and after a bewildering series of confused and bloody engagements, was forced to seek refuge under the defenses at Washington. In the Southwest our armies seemed torpid, and the enemy was advancing. In the department in which Ohio was specially interested there were grave delays in the long-awaited movement on Chattanooga, and finally it appeared that Bragg had arrived there before Buell.

Presently vague rumors of a new invasion began to be whispered, and at last while Bragg and Buell warily watched each the other's maneuvers, Kirby Smith, who had been posted at Knoxville, broke camp and marched straight for the heart of Kentucky with twelve thousand men and thirty or forty pieces of artillery.
7 With the first rumors of danger, Indiana and Ohio had both made strenuous exertions to throw forward the new levies, and Indiana in particular had hastily put into the field in Kentucky a large number of perfectly raw troops, fresh from the camps at which they had been recruited.

Through Big Creek and Rogers's Gaps Kirby Smith moved without molestation; passed the National forces at Cumberland Gap without waiting to attempt a reduction of the place, and absolutely pushed on into Kentucky unopposed, till within fifteen miles of Richmond and less than three times that distance from Lexington itself, he fell upon a Kentucky regiment of cavalry under Colonel Metcalf and scattered it in a single charge. The routed cavalry men bore back to Richmond and Lexington the first authentic news of the Rebel advance. The new troops were hastily pushed forward, in utter ignorance of the strength of the enemy, and apparently without any well-defined plans; and so, as the victorious invaders came up toward Richmond, they found this force opposing them. Smith seems scarcely to have halted, even to concentrate his command, but precipitating the advance of his column upon the raw line that confronted him, scattered it again at a charge.
8 General Manson, who commanded the National troops, had been caught before getting his men well in hand. A little farther back, he essayed the formation of another line, and the check of the rout; but while the broken line was steadying, Smith again came charging up, and the disorderly retreat was speedily renewed. A third and more determined stand was made, almost in the suburbs of the town, and some hard fighting ensued; but the undisciplined and ill-handled troops were no match for their enthusiastic assailants, and when they were this time driven, the rout became complete.9 The cavalry fell upon the fugitives, whole regiments were captured and instantly paroled ; those that escaped fled through fields and by-ways, and soon poured into Lexington with the story of the disaster.

Thither now went hurrying General H. G. Wright, the commander of the department. A glance at the condition of such troops as this battle of Richmond had left him, showed that an effort to hold Lexington would be hopeless. Before Kirby Smith could get up he evacuated the place, and was falling back in all haste on Louisville, while the railroad company was hurrying its stock toward the Cincinnati end of the road ; the banks were sending off their specie; Union men were fleeing, and the predominant rebel element was throwing off all disguise.

On the 1st of September General Kirby Smith entered Lexington in triumph. Two days later he dispatched Heath with five or six thousand men against Covington and Cincinnati; the next day he was joined by John Morgan, who had moved through Glasgow and Danville; and the overjoyed people of the city thronged the streets and shouted from every door and window their welcome to the invaders.
10 A few days later Buell was at Nashville. Bragg was moving into Kentucky, and the "race for Louisville," as it has sometimes been called, was begun. So swift was the Rebel rush upon Kentucky and the Ohio Border; so sudden the revolution in the aspect of the war in the South-west.

We have told the simple story of the Rebel progress. It would need move vivid colors to give an adequate picture of the state into which Cincinnati and the surrounding country were thereby thrown.

News of the disaster at Richmond was not received in Cincinnati till a late hour Saturday night.
11 It produced great excitement, but the full extent of its consequences was not realized. There were soldiers in plenty to drive back the invaders, it was argued, only a few experienced officers were needed. The Sanitary Commission hastened its shipments of stores toward the battle-field, and the State authorities began preparations for sending relief to the wounded; while the newspapers.gave vent to the general dissatisfaction in severe criticisms on the management of the battle, and in wonders as to what Buell could be doing. Thus Sunday passed. Monday afternoon rumors began to fly about that the troops were in no condition to make any sufficient opposition — that Lexington and Frankfort might have to be abandoned. Great crowds flocked about the newspaper offices and army head-quarters to ask the particulars, but all still thought that in any event there were plenty of troops between the invaders and themselves. By dusk it was known that instead of falling back on Cincinnati the troops were retreating through Frankfort to Louisville—that between Kirby Smith's flushed regiments and the banks and warehouses of the Queen City stood no obstacle more formidable than a few unmanned siege guns back of Covington, and the easily-crossed Ohio River.

The shock was profound. But none thought of anything save to seek what might be the most efficient means of defense. The City Council at once met in extra session—pledged the faith of the city to meet any expenses the military authorities might require in the emergency; authorized the Mayor to suspend all business, and summon every man, alien or citizen, who lived under the protection of the Government, to unite in military organizations for its defense; assured the General commanding the department
12 of their entire confidence, and requested him to call for men and means to any extent desired, no limit being proposed save the entire capacity of the community.

While the municipal authorities were thus tendering the whole resources of a city of a quarter of a million people, the Commander of the Department was sending them a General. Lewis Wallace was a dashing young officer of volunteers, who had been among the first from Indiana to enter the field at the outbreak of the war, and had risen to the highest promotion then attainable in the army. He was notably quick to take responsibilities, full of energy and enthusiasm, abundantly confident in his own resources, capable of bold plans. When the first indications of danger in Kentuckv appeared he had waived his
[missing text]

The Mayor waited upon him at once with notice of the action of the City Council. The Mayors of Newport and Covington soon came hurrying over. The few army officers on duty in the three towns also reported; and a few hours were spent in consultation.

Then, at two o'clock, the decisive step was taken. A proclamation of martial law was sent to the newspapers. Next morning the citizens read at their breakfast-tables—before yet any one knew that the Rebels were advancing on Cincinnati, two days in fact before the advance began—that all business must be suspended at nine o'clock, that they must assemble within an hour thereafter and await orders for work; that the ferry-boats should cease plying, save under military direction; that for the present the city police should enforce martial law; that in all this the principle to be adopted was: "Citizens for labor, soldiers for battle." It was the boldest and most vigorous order in the history of Cincinnati or of the war along the Border.

"If the enemy should not come after all this fuss," said one of the General's friends, "you will be ruined." "Very well," was the reply, "but they will come, or, if they do not, it will be because this same fuss has caused them to think better of it."

The city took courage from the bold course of its General; instead of a panic there was universal congratulation. "From the appearance of our streets," said one of the newspapers the next day, in describing the operations of martial law, "a stranger would imagine that some popular holiday was being celebrated. Indeed, were the millennium suddenly inaugurated, the populace could hardly seem better pleased." All cheerfully obeyed the order, though there was not military force enough present to have enforced it along a single street. Every business house was closed; in the unexpectedly scrupulous obedience to the letter of the proclamation, even the street-cars stopped running, and the teachers, closing their schools, reported for duty. But few hacks or wagons were to be seen save those on Government service. Working parties of citizens had been ordered to report to Colonel J. V. Guthrie; companies of citizen-soldiery to Major Malcom McDowell. Meetings assembled in every ward; great numbers of military organizations were formed; by noon thousands of citizens in fully organized companies were industriously drilling. Meanwhile, back of Newport and Covington, breastworks, rifle-pits, and redoubts had been hastily traced, guns had been mounted, pickets thrown out. Toward evening a sound of hammers and saws arose from the landing; by daybreak a pontoon bridge stretched from Cincinnati to Covington, and wagons loaded with lumber for barracks and material for fortifications were passing over.

In such spirit did Cincinnati herself confront the sudden danger. Not less vigorous was the action of the Governor. While Wallace was writing his proclamation of martial law and ordering the suspension of business, Tod was hurrying down to the scene of danger for consultation. Presently he was telegraphing from Cincinnati to his Adjutant-General to send whatever troops were accessible without a moment's delay. "Do not wait," he added, "to have them mustered or paid—that can be done here—they should be armed and furnished ammunition." To his Quartermaster he telegraphed: "Send five thousand stand of arms for the militia of this city, with fifty rounds of ammunition. Send also forty rounds for fifteen hundred guns (sixty-nine caliber)." To the people along the border through the press and the military committees he said:

"Our southern border is threatened with invasion. I have therefore to recommend that all the loyal men of your counties at once form themselves into military companies and regiments to beat back the enemy at any and all points he may attempt to invade our State. Gather up all the arms in the county, and furnish yourselves with ammunition for the same. The service will be of but a few days' duration. The soil of Ohio must not be invaded by the enemies of our glorious Government."

To Secretary Stanton he telegraphed that he had no doubt a large Rebel force was moving against Cincinnati, but it would be successfully met. The commander at Camp Dennison he directed to guard the track of the Little Miami Railroad against apprehended dangers, as far up as Xenia.

The rural districts were meanwhile hastening to the rescue. Early in the day—within an hour or two after the arrival of the Cincinnati papers with news of the danger—Preble and Butler counties telegraphed offers of large numbers of men. Warren, Greene, Franklin, and half a score of others, rapidly followed. Before night the Governor had sent a general answer in this proclamation:

"Cincinnati, September 2, 1862. "In response to several communications tendering companies and squads of men for the protection of Cincinnati, I announce that all such bodies of men who are armed will be received. They will repair at once to Cincinnati, and report to General Lew. Wallace, who will complete their further organization. None but armed men will be received, and such only until the 5th instant. Railroad companies will pass all such bodies of men at the expense of the State. It is not desired that any troops residing in any of the river counties leave their counties. All such are requested to organize and remain for the protection of their own counties.

"DAVID TOD, Governor."

Before daybreak the advance of the men that were thenceforward to be known in the history of the State as the "Squirrel Hunters," were filing through the streets. Next morning, throughout the interior, church and fire-bells rang; mounted men galloped through neighborhoods to spread the alarm; there was a hasty cleaning of rifles, and molding of bullets, and filling of powder-horns, and mustering at the villages; and every city-bound train ran burdened with the gathering host.
While these preparations were in progress perhaps Cincinnati might have been taken by a vigorous dash of Krby Smith's entire force, and held long enough for pillage. But the inaction for a day or two at Lexington was fatal to such hopes. Within two days after the proclamation of martial law the city was safe beyond peradventure.

Then, as men saw the vast preparations for an enemy that hand not come, they began, not unnaturally, to wonder if the need for such measures had been imperative. A few business men complained. Some Germans began tearing up a street railroad track, in revenge for the invidious distinction which, in spit of the danger, had adjudged the street cars indispensable, but not the lager-beer shops. The schools had unintentionally be closed by the operation of the first sweeping proclamation, and fresh orders had to be issued to open them; bake shops had been closed, and the people seemed in danger of getting no bread; the drug-stores had been closed, and the sick could get no medicines. Such oversights were speedily corrected, but they left irritation.

The Evening Times newspaper, giving voice to a sentiment that undoubtedly began to find expression among some classes, published a communication which pronounced the whole movement "a big scare," and ridiculed the efforts to place the city in a posture of defense.

To at least a slight extent the Commander of the Department would seem to have entertained the same opinion. After two days of martial law and mustering for the defense of the city, he directed, on his return from Louisville, a relaxation of the stringency of the first orders, and notified Governor Tod that no more men from the interior were wanted. Teh next day he relieved General Wallace of the command in Cincinnati, and sent him across the river to take charge of the defeses; permitted the resumption of all business save liquor-selling, only requiring that it should be suspended each afternoon at four o'clock, and that the evenings should be spent in drill; systematized the drain upon the city for labor on the fortifications, by directing that requisitions be made each evening for the number to be employed the next day, and that these be equitably apportioned among the several wards.

The day before the issue of this order had witnessed the most picturesque and inspiring sight ever seen in Cincinnati. From morning till night the streets resounded with the tramp of armed men marching to the defense of the city. From every quarter of the State they came, in every form of organization, with every species of arms. The "Squirrel Hunters," in their homespun, with powder-horn and buckskin pouch; half-organized regiments, some in uniform and some without it, some having waited long enough to draw their equipments and some having marched without them; cavalry and infantry; all poured out from the railroad depots and down toward the pontoon bridge. The ladies of the city furnished provisions by the wagon-load; the Fifth Street market-house was converted into a vast free eating saloon for the Squirrel Hunters; halls and warehouses were used as barracks.
On the 4th of September Governor Tod was able to telegraph General Wright: "I have now sent you for Kentucky twenty regiments. I have twenty-one more in process of organization, two of which I will send you this week, five or six next week, and the rest the week after, ... I have no means of knowing what number of gallant men responded to my call (on the militia) for the protection of Cincinnati, but presume they now count by thousands." And the next day he was forced to check the movement."

"Columbus, September 5, 1862"
"To the Press:
"The response to my proclamation asking volunteers for the protection of Cincinnati was most noble and generous. All may feel proud of the gallantry of the people of Ohio. No more volunteers are required for the protection of Cincinnati. Those now there may be expected home in a few days. I advise that the military organizations throughout the State, formed within the past few days, be kept up, and that the members meet at least once a week for drill. Recruiting for the old regiments is progressing quite satisfactorily, and with continued effort there is reason to believe that the requisite number may be obtained by the 15th instant. For the want of proper accommodations at this point, recruiting officers are directed to report their men to the camp nearest their locality, where they will remain until provision can be made for their removal. Commanding officers of the several camps will see that every facility is given necessary for the comfort of these recruits.
"David Tod, Governor."

The exertions at Cincinnati, however, were not abated. Judge Dickson, a well-known lawyer of the city, of Radical Republican politics, organized a negro brigade for labor on the fortifications, which did excellent and zealous service. Full details of white citizens, three thousand per day -- judges, lawyers, and clerks, merchant-prince and day-laborer, artist and artisan, side by side - were also kept at work with the spade, and to all payment at the rate of a dollar per day was promised. The militia organizations were kept up, "regiments of the reserve" were formed, and drilling went on vigorously. The Squirrel Hunters were entertained in rough but hearty fashion, and the ladies continued to furnish bountiful supplies of provisions.

Across the river regular engineers had done their best to give shape to the hasty fortifications. The trenches were manned every night, and after an imperfect fashion a little scouting went on in the front. General Wallace was vigilant and active, and there was no longer a possibility that the force under Kirby Smith could take the city.
At last this force began to move up as if actually intending attack. One or two little skirmishes occurred, and the commander of the Department, deceived into believing that now was the hour of his greatest peril, appealed hastily to Governor Tod for more militia. The Governor's response was prompt:
Columbus, September 10, 1862
"To the Press of Cleveland"
"To the several military committees of northern Ohio.
"By telegram from Major-General Wright, Commander-in-Chief of Western forces, received at two o'clock this morning, I am directed to send all armed men that can be raised immediately to Cincinnati. You will at once exert yourselves to execute this order. The men should be armed, each furnished with a blanket, and at least two days' rations.
"Railroad companies are requested to furnish transportation of troops to the exclusion of all other business.
"David Tod, Governor"

The excitement in the city once more sprang up. Every disposition was made for defense and the attack was hourly expected. The newspapers of September 11th announced that before they were distributed the sound of artillery might be heard on the heights of Covington; assured readers of the safety of the city, and exhorted all to "keep cool." Business was again suspended, and the militia companies were under arms. The intrenchments back of Covington were filled; and, lest a sudden concentration might break through the lines at some spot and leave the city at the mercy of the assailants, the roads leading to it were guarded, and only those provided with passes could travel to or fro, while the river was filled with gunboats, improvised from the steamers at the wharves.
But the expected attack did not come. As we now know, Kirby Smith had never been ordered to attack, but only to demonstrate; and about this very time the advance of Buell seemed to Bragg so menacing that he made haste to order Smith back to his support. General Wallace gradually pushed out his advance a little and the Rebel pickets fell back. By the 11th all felt that the danger was over. On the 12th Smith's hasty retreat was discovered. On the 13th Governor Tod checked the movement of the Squirrel Hunters, announced the safety of Cincinnati, and expressed his congratulations.
On this bright saturday afternoon the "Regiments of the Reserve" came marching across the pontoon bridge, with their dashing commander at the head of the column. Joyfully these young professional and business men traced their way through Front, Broadway, and Fourth Streets to the points where they were relieved from the restraints of military service, and permitted to seek the pleasures and rest of home! An examination of the dockets and day-books of that eventful fortnight, will show that the citizens of Cincinnati were absent from their usual avocations; but Monday, the 15th, brought again to the counting-rooms and work-shops the busy hum of labor.

General Wallace took his leave of the city he had so efficiently served in a graceful, and manly address:

"To the People of Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington:—For the present, at least, the enemy have fallen back, and your cities are safe. It is the time for acknowledgments, I beg leave to make you mine. When I assumed command there was nothing to defend you with, except a few half-finished works, and some dismounted guns; yet I was confident. The energies of a great city are boundless; they have only to be aroused, united and directed. You were appealed to. The answer will never be forgotten.

"Paris may have seen something like it in her revolutionary days, but the cities of America never did. Be proud that you have given them an example so splendid. The most commercial of people, you submitted to a total suspension of business, and without a murmur adopted my principle: 'Citizens for labor, soldiers for battle.'

"In coming time strangers, viewing the works on the hills of Newport and Covington, will ask, 'Who built these intrenchments?' You can answer, 'We built them.' If they ask, 'Who guarded them?' you can reply, 'We helped in thousands.' If they inquire the result, your answer will be, 'The enemy came and looked at them, and stole away in the night.'

"You have won much honor; keep your organizations ready to win more. Hereafter be always prepared to defend yourselves.
"LEWIS WALLACE, "Major-General Commanding."

He had done some things not wholly wise, and had brought upon the people much inconvenience not wholly necessary. But these were the inevitable necessities of the haste, the lack of preparation, and the pressure of the emergency. He took grave responsibilities; adopted a vigorous and needful policy; was prompt and peremptory when these qualities were the onljT salvation of the city. He will be held therefor in grateful remembrance so long as Cincinnati continues to cherish the memory of those who do her service.

As the regiments from the city were relieved from duty, so the Squirrel Hunters were disbanded and sought the routes of travel homeward, carrying with them the hearty thanks of a grateful populace.

While the attack was expected, there were many in Cincinnati who thought that the enemy might really be amusing the force on the front while preparing to cross the river at Maysville, above, and so swoop down on the city on the undefended side. To the extent of making a raid into Ohio at least, such an intention was actually entertained, and was subsequently undertaken by Colonel Basil W. Duke, of John Morgan's command, who was left to occupy the forces near Cincinnati as long as possible after Kirby Smith's withdrawal. He went so far as to enter Augusta, on the river above Cincinnati, where he was encountered by a determined party of home-guards, and given so bloody a reception that after a desperate little street fight he was glad to abandon his movement, and fall back in haste to Falmouth, and thence, soon after, toward the rest of the retreating forces.

The Legislature at its next session adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Ohio, That the Governor be and he is hereby authorized and directed to appropriate out of his contingent fund, a sufficient sum to pay for printing and lithographing discharges for the patriotic men of the State, who responded to the call of the Governor, and went to the southern border to repel the invader, and who will be known in history as the Squirrel Hunters.

"JAMES R. HUBBELL, "Speaker of the House of Representatives.
"P. HITCHCOCK, Columbus, March 11,1863. "President pro tem of the Senate."

Work on the fortifications was prudently continued, and some little time passed before the city lapsed into its accustomed ways; but the "Siege of Cincinnati" was over. The enemy was before it about eight days—at no time twelve thousand strong.

The following summary of persons in charge of some of the various duties connected with the sudden organization for the defense of the city may here be given:

Chief of Staff. Colonel J. C. Elston, jr.
Chief of Artillery Major C. M. Willard.
Aid-de-Camps: Captains James M. Ross, A. J. Ware, jr., James F. Troth, A. G. Sloo, G. P. Edgar, E. T. Wallace.
Volunteer Aid-de-Camps: Colonel J. V. Guthrie; Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Neff; Majors Malcom McDowell, E. B. Dennison; Captains James Thompson, A. S. Burt, Thomas Buchanan Read, S. C. Erwin, J. J. Henderson, J. C. Belman.

Commander Judge Dickson.
Commissary Hugh McBirney.
Quartermaster J. S. Hill.

In Charge Colonel J. V. Guthrie.
Commissary Captain Williamson.
Quartermaster Captain George B. Cassilly.
Camp Mitchel, under Captain Titus.
Camp Anderson, under Captain Storms.
Camp Shaler, (back of Newport) under Major Winters.

In Charge R. M. Corwine.
Aid Wm. Wiswell, jr.
Men in Millcreek, Green, Storrs, Delhi, Whitewater, Miami, Columbia, Spencer, and Anderson Townships, subject to orders of above.

Committee appointed by General Wallace: Wm. Chidsey, T. F. Rogers, T. Horton, T. F. Shaw, and A. D. Rogers.

Military Commander Lieut. Col. S. Burbank, U. S. A.
Aid John D. Caldwell.
Provost-Marshal A. E. Jones.

Hon. A. F. Perry, assisted by Hon. Benjamin Eggleston, Charles Thomas, and Thomas Gilpin.

About the same time and throughout the autumn, there was much alarm along the West Virginia and the upper part of the Kentucky border. Governor Tod was energetic in sending troops to the exposed points, and in enforcing upon all officers the duty of preventing invasion. "Stand firm," he telegraphed to one Captain commanding a post; "if you fall I will escort your remains home." At one time the danger from Guyandotte seemed imminent; but in spite of sad reverses and barbarities in West Virginia it passed away.


1As the burning is this Bacon Creek Bridge was once the subject of newspaper controversy and as it is not elsewhere spoken of in this work, It may be interesting here to show what view the Rebels themselves took of it. Colonel Basil W Duke, Morgan's second in command through- out the war in his “History of Morgan's Cavalry” pp 106, 107 says “This bridge had been destroyed at the time on forces fell back from Woodsonvllle. It was a small structure and easily replaced, but its reputation was necessary to the use of the road. The National army then lay encamped between Bacon and Nolan Creeks, the advance about three miles from Bacon Creek the outposts scarcely half a mile from the bridge. A few days' labor served to erect the wood work of the bridge, and it was ready to receive the iron rails, when Morgan asked leave to destroy it. It was granted, and he started from Bowling Green on the same night with his entire command, for he believed that he would find the bridge strongly guarded, and would have to fight for it. . . . Pressing on vigorously he reached the bridge, . . . and to his surprise and satisfaction found it without a guard, that which protected the workmen during the day having been withdrawn at night. The bridge was set on fire, and in three hours thoroughly destroyed, no interruption to the work being attempted by the enemy The damage inflicted was trifling, and the delay occasioned of little consequence. The benefit derived from it by Morgan was twofold. It increased the hardihood of his men in that species of service and gave himself still greater confidence in his own tactica”

2The command encamped that night in a loyal neighborhood, .and, mindful always of a decorous respect for the opinions of other people, Colonel Morgan made all of his men ‘play Union.’ They were consequently treated with distinguished consideration, and were furnished with fresh horses, for which they gave their kind friends orders (on the disbursing officers at Nashville) for their back pay. . . . Over one store the stars and stripes were floating resplendent. The men were so much pleased with this evidence of patriotism that they would patronize no other store in the place!” Basil W. Duke’s History Morgan’s Calvary, pp. 158-9.

3Consisting of Mayor Hatch, Geo. E. Pugh, Joshua Bates, Thos. J. Gallagher, Miles Greenwood, J. W. Hartwell, Peter Gibson, Bellamy Storer, and J. B. Stallo.

4Basile W. Duke’s History of Morgan’s Cavalry, P. 199. The foregoing statements of Morgan’s movements are derived from the same source.

5Under General Green Clay Smith

6This was done in response to a dispatch requesting it from Mayor Hatch, Captain J. H. Dickerson (then Post-Quartermaster, U. S. A.), and Joshua H. Bates, Chairman of the Cornmittee of Public Safety

7This statement of Smith’s strength follows the account of Colonel Basil W. Duke, History Morgan’s Cavalry, p. 285. He says Smith had in East Tennessee about twenty thousand, and that he left eight thousand in front of Cumberland Gap.

8 29th August, 1862.

9 General William Nelson arrived in time to command at this last struggle, and to exert all his influence in striving to check the rout. He subsequently claimed that the battle was brought on by disobedience to orders on the part of General Manson, and that his instructions, if obeyed, would have secured such a disposition of the troops as would have kept the Rebels from crossing the Kentucky River. He was himself wounded. But one Ohio regiment was in the action, the Ninety-Fifth. Its share may be found more fully described in Vol. II, pp 527—28.

10 Duke’s History Morgan’s Cavalry, pp. 233-14. Pollard says the bells of the city were rung, and every possible manifestation of joy was made.

11 30th August.

12 Major-General Horatio G. Wright.

13 The following is the text of this remarkable order, which practically saved Cincinnati:
“The undersigned, by order of Major-General Wright, assumes command of Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport.
“It is but fair to inform the citizens that an active, daring, and powerful enemy threatens them with every consequence of war; yet the cities must be defended, and their inhabitants must assist in the preparations. Patriotism, duty, honor, self-preservation, call them to the labor, and it must be performed equally by all classes.
“First. All business must be suspended. At nine o’clock to-day every business house must be closed.
“Second. Under the direction of their. Mayor, the citizens must, within an hour after the suspension of business (ten o’clock. A. M.), assemble in their convenient public place ready for orders. As soon as possible they will then be assigned to their work. This labor ought to be that of love, and the undersigned trusts and believes that it will be so; anyhow, it must be done. The willing shall be ‘properly credited, the unwilling promptly visited.
“The principle adopted is: Citizens for the labor, soldiers for the battle.
“Martial law is hereby proclaimed in the three cities, and until they can be relieved by the military, the injunction of this proclamation will be executed by the police.
“The- ferry-boats will cease plying the river after four o’clock, A. M., until further orders.
“LEWIS WALLACE,“Major-General Commanding.”

14 ”The Siege of Cincinnati,” by Thomas Buchanan Bead, in Atlantic Monthly, No. 64, Feb “ 1863. Mr. Read served during the siege on General Wallace’s staff.

15 The following order, issued by the Mayor, with the sanction of General Wallace, obviated the difficulties involved in the literal suspension of all business in a great city:
“1st. The banks and bankers of this city will be permitted to open their offices from one to two P. M.
“2d. Bakers are allowed to pursue their business.
“3d; Physicians are allowed to attend their patients.
“4th. Employees of newspapers are allowed to pursue their business
“5th. Funerals are permitted, but only mourners are allowed to leave the city.
“6th. All coffee-houses and places where intoxicating liquors are sold are to be closed and kept closed.
“7th. Eating and drinking houses are to close and keep closed.
“8th. All places of amusement are to close and keep closed.
“business. . .
“GEORGE HATCH, “Mayor of Cincinnati”

16 Within an hour or two after this publication, General Wallace suppressed the Times; for this article, as was generally supposed, although it was subsequently stated that the offensive matter was an editorial reviewing the military management on the Potomac. The zealous loyalty of the paper had always been so marked that General Wallace was soon made to feel the popular conviction of his having made a grave mistake, and the next day the Times was permitted to appear again as usual.

17 This order, which was hailed by the business community as sensible and timely, and width certainly gave great mitigation to the embarrassments caused by the suspension of business, viz. as follows:

“Cincinnati, September 6, 1862.
“General ORDER No. 11.
“The resumption of all lawful business in the city of Cincinnati, except the sale of liquor, hereby authorized until the hour of four o’clock, P. M., daily
“All druggists, manufacturers of breadstuffs, provision dealers, railroad, express, and train companies, persons connected with the public press, and all persons doing business for the Government, will be allowed to pursue their vocations without interruption.
“By command of Major-General Wright.
“Assistant General and Chief of Staff”


Copyright © Genealogy Trails