The Civil War in Cincinnati
The James A. Ramage Civil War Museum, Fort Wright, Kentucky
This cache is placed with the permission of the City of Fort Wright, Kentucky
There were no large battles fought in northern Kentucky or Cincinnati during the civil war, but there might have been. Confederate forces advanced on the city, and only because the city had prepared defenses did these forces withdraw. Why was the Confederacy interested in taking Cincinnati? Perhaps the same reason that the North was interested in Vicksburg, Mississippi: To control river traffic and lines of supply and communication. As the Smithsonian Magazine article, "The Best Offense," September 2005, states:
"With a population of more than 161,000, Cincinnati in 1862 was called the Queen City of the West. Teeming with railways, steamboats and slaughterhouses, it was also known as "Porkopolis," in honor of its chief product. If the city fell, the invaders would be able to deny vital supplies to the Union, secure a major transportation hub, and Gen. Kirby Smith's Confederate Army of Kentucky would be poised to advance on the industrial cities of the North. "At the time, Cincinnati was one of the five or six largest cities in the United States," said Kreinbrink. "Whoever controlled Cincinnati controlled the Ohio River Valley, all the way up to Pittsburgh."
Hooper battery is one of many artillery positions built on the southern flank of the city in the early civil war. The 8-mile defensive line was built from Ludlow, KY, on the west, to Fort Thomas, KY on the East.
"Hooper Battery was a hilltop earthworks fortification, built for the Defense of Cincinnati during the American Civil War in Northern Kentucky by the Union Army to turn back invading Confederate troops. It was constructed to protect Cincinnati and the Ohio River valley. The battery overlooks the Licking River valley in an advantageous position.
"Hooper Battery is one of 6 remaining artillery batteries from the 28 that were built on Northern Kentucky hilltops from 1861 to 1863.
"Union general Lew Wallace, assigned to defend the city, directed the construction of the hilltop defenses. Businessman William Hooper (for whom the battery was named) financed much of the project, while others pitched in. "Grocers contributed canned goods and fresh fruit," Ramage said. "Women cooked meals and volunteered as nurses. The Black Brigade of Cincinnati participated in the construction of the batteries. They got an eight-mile line of temporary defenses built in six days. People began to ask Wallace,—'Here you've created all this fuss. What if the Confederate Army doesn't come?' To which he replied, 'They will have decided better of it because of all this fuss.'"
"General Smith's army had crossed the border from Tennessee into Kentucky in August 1862 and battled its way north. In September of that year, Smith dispatched 8,000 hardened veterans under the command of Gen. Henry Heth for a march on Cincinnati. On September 10, they engaged the defenses at Fort Mitchel, only a few miles from Hooper, and in the ensuing encounter 4 Union soldiers were killed, 2 Rebels were wounded and 16 were captured. Facing superior numbers and fortified positions, Heth decided the hilltops were too strong and withdrew the following night. Porkopolis' bacon was saved. (Smithsonian Magazine, Sep 2005)
When you visit the site, you'll see that the battery faces East, not South as one would expect. Why? The Hooper battery was also likely a communication hub, able to see other batteries and transmit signals (cell phone coverage was poor in 1862). Just my opinion now, but it also it looked down on the Licking River valley from the West, as other batteries did from the east. The Licking River valley was natural conduit towards Cincinnati (the Licking flows northbound into the Ohio river at Cincinnati), and a crossfire from batteries east and west of the river valley were powerful defensive positions. The Confederates would march into the 'valley of Licking River death' unless they neutralized the large cannon hilltop batteries like Hooper first. Also, the opposing batterys could help each other with defensive fire. Therefore an invasion of Cincinnati would require a larger army than without such defenses. Just my amateur opinion.
Kentucky was an undecided state in the Civil War, with many citizen supporting states-rights on slavery, yet also supporting Lincoln and saving the Union. In fact, for several years, a star for Kentucky appeared both on the Union and Confederate flags! The Confederacy had hoped to capture Louisville (to where the Unionist governor had removed himself from Frankfort) and Cincinnati, and claim Kentucky as a sure Confederate state. But with divided loyalties, Kentuckians did not join the Confederate army in the numbers anticipated by Confederate Army generals campaigning through the state. Probes of Cincinnati defenses showed that the Union forces were sufficiently prepared, and a major battle at Perryville proved that an easy conquest of Kentucky was not possible.
For additional history, please look up the history of the battle of Perryville and the Confederate mission in Kentucky. Links are below.
THE BLACK BRIGADE
Another significant story in the defenses of Cincinnati is the Black Brigade.
"After the declaration of martial law on September 2, 1862, Cincinnati Mayor George Hatch ordered the police department to gather any and all able-bodied African American males for work on fatigue duty on the fortifications in Northern Kentucky. Men were driven from their homes and businesses by bayonet point to a mule pen on Plum Street in Cincinnati. After hours of solitude, the men were taken as a group across the Ohio River to begin work on the earthwork fortifications. This group became known as the Black Brigade of Cincinnati. Union General Lew Wallace learned about the poor treatment of the men. On September 4, 1862, he commissioned Judge William Martin Dickson as commander of the Black Brigade.
"After receiving his appointment, Colonel Dickson changed the brigade into a working regiment. On the evening of September 4, 1862, Dickson dismissed the men to tend to their families as well as gather personal supplies for the days of work ahead. He promised them that he was forming the brigade for fatigue duty and they "should be kept together as a distinct body,... that they should receive protection and the same treatment as white men,... and that their sense of duty and honor would cause them to obey all orders given, and thus prevent the necessity of any compulsion..." In return for these promises, Dickson expected the men to meet the next morning for work on the defensive fortifications. In his official report to Ohio Governor John Brough on January 12, 1864, Dickson stated that around 400 men were present when he dismissed the brigade on September 4, 1862. The next day over 700 men reported ready for duty!
"The story of the Black Brigade continues for a number of weeks as they represented the Union with pride," and many went on to serve in the Union Army. A portion of the museum is dedicated to this occurrence and goes into much greater detail. (http://www.fortwright.com/?c=article&l=en&s=black-brigade-of-cincinnati&id=41)
The park is open ONLY during daylight. Also, please visit the fine small museum at the following weekendish hours:
Hours of Operation
Friday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday - 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
The Museum is named after Dr. James A. Ramage, a History professor (1976-present) at Northern Kentucky University and Civil War author.
"The Mission of The James A. Ramage Civil War Museum is to inform visitors about the defense of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati during the Civil War and how the community came together to defend the area during this critical period in our nation's history.
The museum has many interesting Civil War artifacts, a more thorough history of the battery, Cincinnati defenses, the Black Brigade and even the pew that Ulysses S. Grant sat on in church in Covington, KY (the parents of United States President Ulysses S. Grant lived in Covington from 1859 to 1873). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licking_Riverside_Historic_District).
The museum has archeological digs, reenactments, antique sales, and other interesting events throughout the year. Please see the museum website for upcoming events.
1. Park in the Church parking lot to the North. Waypoint 1 is the entrance to the Church parking lot. All park and museum parking is in the church parking lot.
2. Handicap parking ONLY is via the driveway 150 feet South of the Church entrance. There is one handicap parking spot, and the cache can be accessed from there.
3. Please bring your spouse and children and a lunch as there are covered picnic tables and a nice playground in this park. (There are fast food places one or two stops South I-75 from here, if you want to buy and bring).
4. Please DO NOT DISTURB anything in this park or especially the house or the historic site. Please do not disturb any shrubs, cannons, or anything on the museum structure itself; do not cross any fences; the cache is not there.
RELATED CIVIL WAR LINKS
Congratulations to DnR859 and Bad859 for the FTF! (Are you folks related? Well, it is Kentucky, so that's OK). Cheers.