Civil War in Campbell County

 

Material taken from Chester F Geaslen's research for his
book Our Moment of Glory in the Civil War

 

When the Civil War began, Kentucky tried to remain neutral, but in the second year of conflict,
the state voted to stand loyal to the union.  Those in Campbell County did not expect to see any war
close by but at the end of August in 1862, a bulletin was received informing the population that
12,000 Confederate troops under General Kirby Smith and General Henry Heth were cutting a swath up
through Kentucky and had already subdued Richmond, Mt. Sterling, Winchester and Paris.

A later bulletin advised that Cynthiana, Lexington and Frankfort had yielded to the Rebels with but token
resistance. Union General Horatio G Wright, Commander of the Department of Ohio, ordered General Lew
Wallace to vacate Paris, Kentucky, with his entire command to rush to the defense of Cincinnati,
Covington and Newport. He arrived September 2, 1862. Newport, Northern Kentucky and
Cincinnati were immediately put under Martial Law.
 

The Cincinnati Gazette declared:
"TO ARMS! TO ARMS! The time for playing ware has passed.
The enemy is fast approaching our city. Kentucky has already been
invaded and our cities for the first time since the rebellion are seriously
threatened.  The great duty of our people now is to unite and rise as
one man, and prepare to resist an approaching foe.  Let us prepare to
resist an army of 100,000 men bent on our destruction."

General Wallace was soon joined by Generals Ormsby Mitchel and H G Wright and Colonel Charles
Whittlesey of the Engineering Corps, who directed the installation of the gun emplacements and rifles
pits spread about the Kentucky hilltops.

Slaves and free blacks in Cincinnati were rounded up by the hundreds to dig the trenches and pits.
General Wallace found the ferrying of troops and supplies across the river from Cincinnati to be
inadequate and consulted architect Wesley Cameron the the possibility of constructing a pontoon
bridge across the Ohio. Again slave labor and free blacks lashed empty coal
 barges side by side and anchored them on both sides of the shore in two days.
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Campbell County Installations

McLean Battery-Honors Nathanial H McLean, Adj. Gen. and Chief of Staff
Dept. of Ohio.  Site-Locust Hill in back of Wilder

Harrison Battery-next hill south of McLean Batter. Honors "Pike" Harrison

Holt Battery-directly north of St. Johns Church. Honors memory of Brig. Gen. Joseph Holt,
Kentucky born postmaster general; secretary of war under Lincoln, and judge advocate of the
United States and chief of prosecution of Lincoln's assassins.

Wiggins Battery-hill west of Licking Pike near St. Johns Church. Honors memory of Samuel Wiggins,
banker, realtor, and financier, builder of Cincinnati's Wiggins Block on Fountain Square.

St. Johns Catholic Church Battery-this church built in 1853, stood witness to
the Civil War in this area.  Built solidly of field stone, it still stands and serves the parish.
Gun mounts were established on the hill behind the church, and several points on John's Hill.

Shaler Battery-stood on highest peak in Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate. At the time, this land was the
vineyards of Dr. Nathaniel B Shaler, chief surgeon at the Newport Barracks. Dr. Shaler's son,
Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, was in his senior year at Harvard, when the war broke out.  He hurried
home to Newport and cast his lot with the Union.  Commissioned a captain, he formed and commanded
the Fifth Kentucky Battery.  After the war, the young Capt. Shaler traveled extensively,
and did much writing.

Groesbeck Battery-named in honor of William S Grosbeck, noted pioneer
Cincinnati family, lawyer, congressman and state senator.  Site was where the
Beverly Hills Club sat.

Phil Kearny Battery-honors General 'Fighting Phil' Kearny, one armed U.S. Calvary commander, killed in Battle of Chantilly, September 1, 1862. Site in approximate vicinity south of Good Shepherd Convent.

Fort Burnside-site of Highland Golf Club, honors memory of Indiana born
General Ambrose Everett Burnside.

Fort Whittlesey-site opposite the Ft. Thomas Military Reservation of today, extending westward
covering the old Alexandria Turnpike. Named in honor of Colonel Charles Whittlesey, chief of U.S.
Engineering Corps that constructed the fortifications on the Kentucky hills.

Lee Battery-was situated on an overlook in The Highlands, now Ft. Thomas known as Crown Point,
northeast of the military post.  It commanded a broad sweep of the Ohio River valley.
The identity of Lee is not recorded.

Beech Woods Battery-stood on a prominence in South Newport, overlooking Licking River and Covington.  Its name derived from Beech Road, which extended from Southgate up the hills to the crest of Grandview Road.
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After reaching Walton, 18 miles south of Northern Kentucky, Heth pitched camp and dispatched his
scouts northward to pick up intelligence on the situation. They returned with reports that the Kentucky
hills were ringed with firepower fortifications and it was estimated there were 70,000 men in the
entrenchments which were over ten miles in length, and that there was a Pontoon bridge across
the Ohio River and another one between Kenton and Campbell.

On the morning of September 13, Union pickets and scouts reported the
absence of camp fire glow south of their perimeter.  Then reports filtered in
from Florence, Walton and Dry Ridge that a general withdrawal seemed
to be in operation.

To The People of Cincinnati, Covington and Newport
from General Lew Wallace, September 14, 1862:

"In coming times, strangers viewing these breastworks on the
Kentucky hills will ask WHO BUILT THESE ENTRENCHMENTS AND
RIFLE PITS? You can answer, WE BUILT THEM AND GUARDED
THEM BY THE THOUSANDS! If they inquire their results your answer
will be THE ENEMY CAME AND HAD A LOOK, AND STOLE AWAY
INTO THE NIGHT."

 

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