Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Milford, Camp Dennison, and Williamsburg

Near Milford, the Raiders destroyed a single span railroad bridge then crossed the Little Miami River at Miamiville.

“Daylight still found us on the march. The regiment passed through Miamiville, Ohio without halting. Six of us was detailed to stop and collect some axes. We then went to the houses each getting an ax, then double quicked to the front. The horse pressing and bumming for something to eat was still carried on. On approaching a house, milk was generally asked for first. We were death on milk.”

~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[i]

“Camp Dennison, July 14, 1863

General Burnside:
The Guide who brought Morgan through from Sharonville, on the Lebanon pike, was picked up by Capt. J. Piatt, who learned from him that at 1 o’clock last night he was pressed into John Morgan’s service as guide, Morgan informing him that he must take him through as direct a road as possible eastwardly; that he must make the road to Mayville short. The guide having, in the opinion of Morgan, taken a circuitous route 1 mile south of Montgomery, he pressed in a fresh guide, still carrying with him the old guide, crossing the Little Miami at Miamiville, or a short distance above there. They will probably strike the Milford to Goshen pike at or near what is called Newberry, in Claremont County. It was understood by the guide, whom he told to go about his business after paroling him, that they would take supper at Batavia, Clermont County; from there there is a good turnpike leading to Richmond, Ohio, and other good roads leading to Ripley and Maysville, Ky. There is no doubt that forces between what is called Amelia, Clermont County, and Bantam would head Morgan tonight.

Geo. W. Neff,

Crossing Clermont County, the Raiders came within sight of Camp Dennison.
Men training and convalescing at the Camp were called out to defend the Little Miami Railroad and the city of Cincinnati against the Raiders.

“July 14, 1863

Colonel Neff:
Let us know what you can learn of the route between you and us. The camp must be held. Morgan’s men are reported worn out, and have everywhere avoided a post where a thousand men make a bold stand. General Burnside is endeavoring to get re-enforcements ready for you. Will let you know if they start.

J. D. Cox,

July 14, 1863 – 1:30 a.m.

Lieutenant-Colonel Neff: Camp Dennison:
There are reports of some rebels passing east, near Glendale, which we think worth mentioning, to put you on your guard. Send out scouts in that direction, and collect information and give us the result.

J. D. Cox,

Burnside was receiving excellent intelligence reports on Morgan. He was in such good spirits that he ordered the release of Colonel Hanson who had been arrest on charges of surrendering his troops without properly asserting resistance when Morgan had marched into Lebanon, Kentucky.

“Cincinnati, July 14, 1863

General Hartsuff, Lexington, KY:
Governor Robinson, Frankfort, KY:
General Boyle, Louisville, KY:
Hobson is close on Morgan’s heels, in Clermont county. Morgan will evidently try to cross near or at Maysville. You can release Colonel Hanson from arrest. I am satisfied I made a mistake in arresting him. Please tell him so.

A. E. Burnside,
Major- General.”

At Camp Dennison, Colonel Neff and the men of the 43rd Company of the Second Battalion prepared for Morgan’s arrival by felling trees and entrenching themselves on the hills.

“Cincinnati, July 14, 1863

Colonel Neff, Commanding Camp Dennison:
What is the exact amount of your force, armed and unarmed?

A. E. Burnside,

Camp Dennison, July 14, 1863

Major-General Burnside:
Seven hundred armed; 1,200 unarmed.

Geo. W. Neff,

Colonel Neff greeted the Raiders with a hail of gunfire. The Raiders fired their artillery but discovered that the defenders of the fort were too well entrenched. Thus, Morgan withdrew and bypassed the fort selecting instead to focus on the railroads. The 21st Ohio Battery lay in wait at the railroad bridge while the 18th U. S. Infantry gave chase to the Raiders, sandwiching them between gun fire to the font and rear. A four hour battle ensued. The Raiders escaped crossing the river in small groups.

“Camp Dennison, July 14, 1863

General Burnside:
The main force has not crossed entirely. There is a road leads off from the road to Loveland, which circles the east side of the camp. I endeavor, as soon as possible, to find out which road they take. The great difficulty is the country round here is cut up with roads. It is hard to tell what their intentions are. They have their artillery in position, bearing on the camp, on the north side of a hill. Their intention may be to burn the railroad bridge.


Morgan’s forces failed to destroy the railroad bridge across the Little Miami River however, they did manage to derail a train and capture 150 Union recruits on their way to Camp Dennison.

“The train shot past us like a blazing meteor, and the next thing we saw was a dense cloud of steam about which flew large timbers. Out next sight startled out nerves, for there lay the monster floundering in the field like a fish out of water, with nothing but the tender attached. Her coupling might have broken, for the passenger carriages and express were still on the track, several yards ahead. One hundred and fifty raw recruits were on board, bound for Camp Dennison. They came tumbling and rolling out in every way imaginable.”

~Lieutenant Kelion Peddicord[vii]

“We forded a creek and companies B and C took a guide and went down the creek to capture a train of cars. The balance of the command went up the creek. We went a short distance, took down a fence on our left and went through a pasture, then took down another fence and went through a corn field, which brought us to a fence next to the railroad at a cow-gap. We dismounted and hitched our horses, then all set briskly to work piling logs, fence rails, etc. into the gap, and cutting the telegraph wires and posts. We had the pile at the gap about three feet above the track and still piling on logs and ties on the rails with a little fire put under them when someone hallowed, “ The trains coming, mount your horses.: We dropped everything and broke for our horses. I got to my horse, picked up my gun, and untied my horse. The cars were so close on us that I did not think that I would have time to mount before the cars got to us, and I expected they were full of Yankee infantry who would give us a volley, so I took up a row of corn leading my horse. The corn was higher than my head. As the train passed I looked back and saw the locomotive smash up. My horse got scared and pulled loose from me and went ahead. I was in hopes that he would strike the gap in the fence and go into the pasture, but when I got there I could not find him. I saw Pa without his horse also. He said that his horse had thrown him. Near half of the two companies was without their horses. The cars came on us so suddenly and so fast that they could no get to their horses. I saw that the train was a passenger train with no armed men on it, so I and several others went back in search of our horses. Sergeant Brown of company B went to the train with a flag of truce and received the surrender of the train and passengers.”

~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[viii]

“Camp Dennison, July 14, 1863

General Burnside:
I left General Morgan’s Headquarters about 10 o’clock, at which time his rear passed. The general and staff (mounted), armed, followed a few hundred years in the rear, which was about 2 miles east of Miamiville. I think he has 2,500 or 3,000 men, armed only with rifles. They have three sections of artillery. The men and horses are very much jaded. In the event of an engagement, three out of four dismount; the fourth takes charge of the horses. I think they are making for Batavia. They are leading no horses and have no train.

W. H. Roberts,
Conductor captured on train, L. M. R. R.”

“Cincinnati, July 14, 1863

Major-General Hartsuff, Lexington:
Morgan has crossed the Little Miami at Miamiville. Neff succeeded in saving the bridge and the camp. General Hobson is in pursuit, and we are making arrangements here to try and intercept him. Nothing definite from the Army of the Potomac.

A. E. Burnside,

Cincinnati, July 14, 1863

General Boyle, Louisville:
But for my extreme occupation, I should have telegraphed you before. Morgan crossed the Little Miami at Miamiville, and Hobson is about three or four hours in his rear. The gunboats have gone up to prevent crossing, and I am just arranging to start force up by boat. The chance for catching him is good.

A. E. Burnside,

Burnside was keen for Morgan’s capture even going as far as ordering his commanders to adopt Morgan’s rapid pace and guerrilla tactics of foraging for horses and food in the hope the Union troops would overtake the road weary Raiders.

“July 14, 1863

Colonel commanding Advance, Jones’ Station:
You must push on after Morgan. Press all the horses you can get your hands on. Feed on the country. I have sent force up the river to intercept Manson, in command of infantry, and I will try to get 2,500 cavalry and a battery off. What condition are you in? Morgan has gone to Batavia, I think. Report to me from Camp Dennison.

A. E. Burnside,

As well as covering the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, newspapers were now featuring reports on Morgan and his “terrible men.”

“You are aware that we have seen them; entertained them (unwillingly) in our houses; that our stables have been plundered; that a part of the harvest remains in the field, without horses, excepted the jaded, sore-bared, bony, lame ones, which Morgan traded us, to bring it to the barns, On Tuesday the 14th instant, at early dawn the inhabitants hereabouts were aroused from slumber by the clattering of hoofs upon the stony pike, and the clanking of stirrups ( I suppose, as I didn’t see any sabers or the like). On peeping through the window, I recognized them immediately as secesh, from their hard looks, their clothes of many colors and fashions, and their manner of riding. They did not ride in any kind of order, unless it was disorder. As many as could, rode abreast. Some galloped, some trotted, and others allowed their horses to walk slowly while they slept in the saddles. They were not uniformly dressed. Some wore a whole suit of the well-know blue which designates our [Union] soldiers; others had part of a suit, but most were arrayed in citizens’ garb. Some were barefoot, some were bareheaded, and one, I noticed, wore a huge green veil. Probably he was ashamed of his company, and took this method to conceal his grim visage while in the presence of decent people. Some wore jackets outside their coats, as though they had dressed in a hurry. Perhaps their keen ears had detected the sound of Hobson’s cavalry behind. Some had ladies’ gaiters, dress patterns, and the like, protruding from their pockets; and one bootless, hatless, shirtless being held his suspenderless pants in one hand, while he held the bridle with the other and heeled his horse to a gallop. Well, I did not continue my rebel-gazing long before one of them dismounted and wanted ‘yesterday’s paper, if you please.’ I couldn’t see it! Very soon the house, yard, barn, and fields were overflowing with ‘Southern chivalry.’ They were evidently very tired and sleepy, and, judging from their questions to each other, ‘How far do you think the blue-jackets are behind?’ I should say as much frightened as we were. “How far is it to Cincinnati?’ and “Have you yesterday’s paper?’ were the principal questions asked. In some houses of this vicinity, they turned over beds, peeped into cellars, cupboards, drawers, closets, and even babies’ cradles, in search of arms, ammunition, ‘greenbacks,’ and such, while others were not disturbed. They helped themselves liberally to such eatables as could be found, besides ordering the women to prepare more. Of course, they took horses. They just gobbled up every body’s…Generally; they made no distinction between the property of Copperheads and that of ‘Abolitionists,’ as they call all unconditional Union men. ‘Cause why? They either did not know their friends, or else they considered the Northern Butternuts beneath the respect of Southern rebels, horse-thieves, freebooters, guerrillas, or whatever else they may call themselves. A young farmer, George McGee by name, residing near Montgomery, made a brilliant dash among them, fired, and slightly killed one, thought not altogether! Another farmer, Mr. Landenburg, residing near Sharonville, fired among them, and wounded one of their number. He was captured, but released after having enjoyed a ride of a few miles with the ‘chivalry.’ Most persons in this part of the world considered discretion the better part of valor, and held their temper until the last invader had vanished. Like a sudden clap of thunder came Morgan among us, and passed off to the east like a meteor, leaving the natives gazing after him in stupefied horror, rubbing their eyes, and wondering whether it was all the dream of a nightmare, or a reality. Quite a number of men and boys followed in Morgan’s train – keeping a safe distance behind, however – hoping to recover their stolen horses. One old Pennsylvania Dutchman, who resides in this neighborhood, by some means, lost but one of his horses; he mounted the other and hastily pursued the flying secesh. When near Batavia, he mingled a little too closely with them, as may be proven from the fact that they took the horse he rode, with saddle and bridle. It is told that he gave vent to his enraged feelings by saying to the ‘Reb’ who took his horse: ‘That is my horse; I wish him good luck; I wish he break your neck!’ ‘What’s that?’ thundered secesh. ‘I wish my horse good luck; I wish he break your neck!’ repeated the candid German. “Reb” rode on. It is said that certain Butternut individuals, whom I might name, shouted for Vallandingham, and ‘Glory to God, Morgan’s come!’ on the approach of the rebels – all of which I can positively assert to be true. To sum up the whole thing, Morgan’s aim was evidently not fighting, but horse-stealing.”

~ The Cincinnati Commercial[xii]

Hot, exhausted and hungry the Raiders pressed on. Covered in sweat and dust the men literally embodied the verse from Jine the Cavalry which proclaims, “If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!”At 4:00 p. m. Morgan’s main column arrived at Williamsburg. They have covered 90 miles in 35 hours.

“At length day appeared just as we reached the last point where we had to anticipate danger. We had passed through Glendale and all the principal suburban roads and were near the Little Miami railroad. We crossed the railroad without any opposition and halted to feed the horses in sight of Camp Dennison. After a short rest here and a picket skirmish we resumed our march, burning in this neighborhood, a park of government wagons. That evening at 4 o'clock we were at Williamsburg, 28 miles east of Cincinnati having marched since leaving Summansville in Indiana in a period of 35 hours more than 90 miles, the greatest march that even Morgan had ever made. Feeling comparatively safe here, he permitted the division to go into camp and remain during the night."

~ Brigadier-General Basil Duke[xiii]

“We passed through several small places and came to Williamsburg, a considerable place. We rode in without opposition, and halted on one side of the street. The first thing was to bum for something to eat. I drank three large glasses of milk and got as much bread and butter as I wanted. The stores were closed. The women, children, and citizens generally came to their doors and took a good look at us, the first Confederate soldiers in arms that had visited that part of the country. They gave us something to eat as soon as called on, and sometimes sent it to us of their own accord. Of course the stables were visited among the first things. We opened a store and got a few notions, then moved to a lot in town and went into camp. We had orders to get corn wherever we could find it. We scattered and got corn from the nearest stables. Corn seemed to be very scarce. I unsaddled, took a good wash and brushed the dust off my clothes. We had been riding hard all day in the dust and looked nearly white. We had plenty of butter crackers and cheese issued to us. This together with some confectionaries such as figs, candy, cakes, etc. that I ate with Sergeant Millers mess made me a very good supper. We had orders to stay in camp so I did not go up town as I had intended, but contented myself by currying my horse and making down my bed on the grass. I was very tired and sleepy and went to bed early. I slept very well. The dew fell heavy during the night.”

~ Curtis R. Burke, 14th Kentucky Calvary, Co. B[xiv]

Hobson and the Union army were now less than 24 hours behind the raiders.

“Tuesday, July 14
On road again in direction of Hamilton, Butler Co. My horse nearly tired out and cannot keep up with column. Column halts and feeds. Forward again. Pick up a rebel horse which proves to be good. Camp at Mt. Repose. Williamsburg. Here Morgan burned a bridge. Camp at Sardinia. Get supper here and stay over night.”

~ Charles W. Durling, Company G, 45th Ohio Infantry[xv]

“July 14, 1863

General Boyle, Louisville:
Morgan was reported to be at Williamsburg, Ohio, at 4:30 this p.m., evidently making for the river. I hope our forces will be able to capture him, or break him soon.

A. E. Burnside,


[i] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[ii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.749.
[iii] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.748.
[iv] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.746.
[v] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.749.
[vi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.749.
[vii] Carter, Samuel, III. “ The Last Cavaliers - Confederate and Union Cavalry in the Civil War, 1979, pages 181-182.
[viii] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[ix] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.750.
[x] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.747.
[xi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.746.
[xii] Letter dated July 22, 1863 published in the Cincinnati Commercial on July 24, 1863.
[xiii] Duke, Basil W. “History of Morgan’s Cavalry,” 1867, page 444.
[xiv] Journal of Curtis R. Burke.
[xv] Diary of Charles W. Durling.
[xvi] “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” Part I –Reports, p.746.

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