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Morgan's Raid Trail in Clermont County Ohio

By Richard Crawford - 2000

On July 14, 1863, at about 7:30 a.m., Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his approximately 2,000 Confederate States cavalrymen entered Clermont County. Morgan's Raiders crossed the Little Miami River at a fording place known as Dungan's Crossing. Today it is located where S. R. 126 makes a sharp turn at the southwestern end of Evergreen Cemetery, Miamiville. The crossing was made uncontested.

Morgan's men had earlier tried to cross over the Little Miami Railroad bridge, but was prevented by local militia. Morgan lost five killed, several wounded, and six captured. The Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail bridge is on the site of the old railroad bridge. It is on the north side of S. R. 126 south of Dungan's Crossing (1.0 mile). After this brief side trip return to the Evergreen Cemetery.

In the Evergreen Cemetery is buried John H. Anderson, one of Morgan's Raiders. He is buried next to his wife Katherine Deerwester Anderson. Their burial site is at the beginning of the first driveway to the left after entering the cemetery. More will be said about them later. Buried next to the Andersons is Charlie Henry Rich, the man who dealt the Dead Man's Hand to Wild Bill Hickok on Aug. 2, 1876, in Deadwood, S. D.

Go north on S. R. 126 until you arrive at Beech Road (1.1). Turn onto Beech Road. At its crossing of the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail (0.6) there is a Clermont County Bicentennial Marker. One-half mile north on the trail is a section once known as the dangerous curve. Here, the Raiders placed cross-ties wedged upright in a cattle guard causing a train to derail. They hid in a cornfield about one-half mile north of the obstruction. On the train were about 150-300 unarmed recruits bound for Camp Dennison. None were seriously hurt. Engineer John Redman was seriously injured and one man was killed, fireman Cornelius Conway. Stories are still being told and sightings made of the ghost of Conway and carrying his lantern in this area.

Shortly after 7 a.m., Lt. Thomas Paxton and 16 of his Loveland militiamen were dispatched on a reconnaissance mission to check on telegraph wires that had been cut between Loveland and Camp Dennison. They discovered the Raiders burning the derailed train and tearing up the track. Sgt. Ramsey and 10 men attacked the left flank of the rebels, and soon they were sent scurrying off by the Confederates, but not before one of the rebels was shot in the neck. He was carried away by his comrades and died at the village of Ward's Corner.

Continue going east on Beech Road and turn left onto Branch Hill-Miamiville Road (0.7). Turn left onto Branch Hill-Guinea Pike (1.5) and follow it into Branch Hill (0.5). The Raiders followed the railroad line from the derailment. In Branch Hill Morgan now was joined by Col. Basil Duke's men who had crossed the Little Miami into Clermont County here.

Turn around and follow again Branch Hill-Guinea Pike. At the intersection with Ward's Corner Road (1.7) was once the community of Ward's Corner. Morgan told the local citizenry to give his cavalryman a Christian burial or he would return and destroy the town. The body was later disinterred and returned south. At Ward's Corner, the entire Loveland militia attacked Morgan's rearguard.

Branch Hill-Guinea Pike ends at S. R. 28 (3.4). Here is the community of Mount Repose. It was known as Camp Shady, or Camp Repose, a military camp at the time of Morgan's Raid. Here, the Raiders took what they needed and burned the rest, including 50 wagons. At Camp Shady the Confederate force split. One column headed east on S. R. 28 to Goshen (3.7) and turned south there following present S. R. 132.

By this time, the Union pursuers were enroute. Under the command of Brig.-Gen. Edward Henry Hobson, they rode east from Camp Dennison, through Milford and Newberry (present village of Mulberry) on present S. R. 28. In the area of Mulberry and Mount Repose the Union cavalrymen spent the night of July 14. They did not arrive until 9 p.m.

The main Confederate column rode on Woodville Pike with some of them turning right onto Deerfield Road (0.8). When the remainder of the main column arrived at S. R. 132 (2.6) they turned right. At Simpkinsville (present Williams Corner) (4.4) they met the column that had used the Deerfield Road. These riders had ridden to S. R. 131 (2.7) and turned left to meet the main column (0.7).

The combined force now continued on S. R. 132. They arrived at Owensville (4.0) about noon. At U. S. Route 50 the Raiders turned left. They soon arrived at the Boston Methodist Episcopal Church (115 W. Main St., now the Owensville Village Hall). Owensville's original name was Boston. In the steeple of the church was an old man who fired both barrels of his shotgun as a warning to the raiders. Morgan sent some of his men riding into the church where they dismounted, climbed the stairs to the sanctuary which was on the second floor, and brought the man, his gun, and an American flag he had placed atop the steeple, back outside with them. The old man was forced to ride to Williamsburg with the Raiders and the flag was tied to a horse's tail and drug through the dusty streets.

While this was going on Morgan went into the Malone house (no longer standing) across the street from the church to rest and cool off from the 90 degree-plus heat and the dust clogged roads. Five-year old John Walter Malone later wrote of Morgan's visit. He went on to become the founder and first president of Malone College, Canton, Ohio.

Next door to the Malone House was the Pattison Hardware Store (present site of the IGA Grocery). Sixteen year-old John Pattison was working and witnessed the ransacking of his home town. In 1905 he was elected Governor of Ohio, the only Clermont Countian to serve in that office.

On the southeast corner of U. S. 50 (Main Street) and S. R. 132 (Broadway Street) stood the two-story brick Ulrey home with part of the building being used as a general store. Razed in 1961, for many years it was said to be the biggest brick building in Clermont County. Mrs. Ulrey was alone at the time and sent the rebels in her store running as she blocked them from entering her living quarters where she had hidden all the family horses.

Turn right onto S. R. 132. After probably a little more than one hour, the Raiders began to leave Owensville. They passed the Pattison home at 410 South Broadway and arrived where the road forks. S. R. 132 is to the right and S. R. 276 (known as another Deerfield Road) is to the left. About 100 men took the right fork to Batavia. The remainder took the left fork to Williamsburg.

On S. R. 276, the road has a four-way stop with S. R. 133 (5.6). Beyond the intersection on both sides of S. R. 133 is what was known as "The Big Field," the first land cleared by a white man (James Kain, in Summer 1795) for farming in Clermont County. Here many of Morgan's men spent the night of July 14. Others slept on the other side of town along S. R. 133 (present site of V. F. W. Hall). This was the Raiders' first overnight stop in Ohio and they were exhausted having ridden 95 miles in 35 hours, the trip beginning in present Sunman, Ind.

Morgan arrived in Williamsburg just before 4 p.m. The groups that had gone to Goshen and Batavia arrived in Williamsburg a couple of hours later. He and six of his officers spent the night in John Kain's Tavern (built 1816, razed 1907) that stood on the north side of Main Street between Third and Fourth streets.

When the Union cavalry arrived at 1 p.m. the next day, some of Hobson's officers stopped at the tavern and while there, a wagon was parked in front on Main Street loaded with ammunition. The brake began to slip and cavalryman Samuel Hayforth of Indiana rushed to stopping the slipping. He fell and the wagon rolled over him. He was brought into the tavern where he died. He was buried in the Williamsburg Cemetery and his body was later disinterred and taken home. The cemetery is located at the west end of Gay Street which runs parallel to Main Street.

Stores were looted and townspeople were forced to prepare meals, but most of the citizenry's valuables had already been hidden because the huge dust cloud heading to Williamsburg from Owensville had been seen by everyone. The dust had been made by the hundreds of horses advancing along the extremely dusty road.

On the northwest corner of Main and Broadway streets stood the home of John Lytle that was torn down, probably in 1951. A stone step from his porch is still on the corner. There is a carving on the step made by one of the rebels. It states, "John H. Morgan, July 14, 1863, 3,000 men." At the time Morgan actually commanded about 2,000 men.

Many of the residents had fled town with their most precious belongings. Many of these people left town on Pignut Alley (present S. Third Street). It can be reached off Main Street.

At 112 Gay Street lived Byron Williams (NW corner of Gay and Front Streets). He discovered among Morgan's men, George Harris, captain of the artillery. Harris had been a friend of Williams and when they met on the streets of Williamsburg, Harris told Williams he wanted to desert the rebels. He was from Ohio and was attending the Tennessee Military Institute in Nashville when the war started and he was almost forced to enlist in the Confederate service. Williams offered to hide him in the attic of his home which he did. That night, in the bedroom below the attic, three of Morgan's officers spent the night and did not know of the deserter being on the floor above them.

To reach the Williams home, turn north onto Front Street from Main Street. Gay Street ends at Front Street. Look to the east at the end of Gay Street and there is a slope down to the East Fork of the Little Miami River. At 1 p.m. on July 15 the Union cavalry went down this slope and crossed the river to continue their pursuit. Years before it had been the fording spot on the Bullskin Trail, one of the most important Indian trails in Ohio, also used by Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone. When the Yankees arrived in Williamsburg from Batavia they were directed down Gay Street where both sides of the street were lined with tables loaded with food and drink to hand to the cavalrymen so they wouldn't lose time stopping to eat. It may have been the first "ride through fast food service" in world history.

Reveille was at 3 a.m. on July 15 and by 8 a.m., the last of the Raiders were crossing the covered bridge at the site of the present bridge on Main Street. Some of the Raiders had shaved wood off pigsties that were on the John Wright farm. It was scattered on the wooden floor of the bridge and set afire, destroying the bridge. The farm was located on the NE corner of Main and Front streets.

The main force of the rebels rode out of Clermont County to Brown County (1.5) on present old S. R. 32/74. A portion of the rebels, led by Morgan's brother, Col. Richard Morgan, proceeded to Bethel (7.0) using present S. R. 133 which is a right turn off old S. R. 32/74. Hermon Stone and three friends from the village of Clover planned to ambush this party of Raiders, but as they completed the dip just before arriving at the intersection with old S. R. 32/74, they saw some of Morgan's men and fled.

Richard Morgan's men rode straight into Bethel although there were small parties that rode through Hennings Mill and Clover. Hennings Mill can be reached by turning left onto Hennings Mill Road. Clover can be reached by turning right onto Concord-Hennings Mill Road and then right onto Bethel-Concord Road.

Turn left onto S. R. 125 and head east to the Clermont County-Brown County line. A small number of Dick Morgan's men turned left onto Sugar Grove Road (2.1) and rode on it into Brown County (1.0).


At Camp Repose or Shady (Mount Repose) Morgan had sent some of his men toward Goshen (3.7) on S. R. 28. There is a report they stopped at the blacksmith shop in Goshen (NE corner George and Wood streets). They ventured to the area known at one time as Charleston or Manila. From S. R. 28, turn right onto S. R. 132 and then left onto Woodville Pike until you reach the intersections with Manila Road (2.1). Here, the rebels encountered a group of men from the Goshen area known as Tod's Scouts. They were commanded by Col. Joseph Wheeler. Five Confederates were killed and 30 captured. The dead are believed to be buried somewhere nearby.

Some of the Raiders did not engage in the fight at Manila, they had already left Woodville Pike to head south on Belfast Road. The land in the area of present 6276 Belfast Rd. (0.8) was, on July 14, 1863, a 25-acre farm owned by David Deerwester. Several rebels stopped here to steal horses and something to eat. One of the southerners, John Anderson, was smitten by 21-year old Katherine Deerwester. She pleaded with the rebels to leave her family horses and they did so. Anderson promised to return after the war and marry Katherine; he did. They are buried together in Evergreen Cemetery, Miamiville.

The group containing Anderson continued south on Belfast Road and through the village of Belfast (2.8). After crossing Stonelick Creek, take the left at the fork onto Bergen Road (1.4) that will soon end, after becoming Brushy Fork Road, onto Monterey Road (2.2). Bear left onto Locust Street in the village of Monterey. Turn left onto U.S. 50 (1.4) and then right onto S. R. 133 (0.4) until arriving in Williamsburg (6.4) when the party rejoined Morgan's main force.


Hobson's men left the Mulberry and Mount Repose areas at 2 a.m., July 15. An advance force arrived in Batavia about 8 a.m., hours after Morgan's men had left. By 10 a.m. Hobson and the main forced reached town. It took much longer that than it should have to get to Batavia, but the guide was unfamiliar with the area and got everyone lost. The Union troopers ate and rested. James Given of Perintown reported that it took 2½ hours for the Union cavalry to pass his home and he gave about 50 of them breakfast and fed their horses. To reach Perintown from Mulberry. Turn south off S. R. 28 onto Wolfpen-Pleasant Hill Road. It dead ends at U. S. 50, turn left into Perintown.

The Confederates had arrived in the Clermont County seat of government, late afternoon on July 14, by taking S. R. 132 south out of Owensville (3.7). The citizens of Batavia had been expecting them. Horses and other valuable possessions had been hidden out in the fields and woods. A force of old men and young boys had met in front of the old courthouse (NE corner Main and Market streets) to form a defense, but when the alarm was yelled that Morgan was coming into town, the men quickly scattered, abandoning Col. William Howard, a veteran of the Mexican War.

The rebels were reported to have been courteous to the people in town, but they robbed the omnibus driven by Whig Holloman. Some of the officers were reported to have rested in the home at 205 Spring St. and one is said to have carved his name in the glass of a window of this house.

When the Raiders left Batavia they took old S. R. 32/74 to Williamsburg (7.0) and when the Union cavalry left in pursuit, in the late afternoon that day, they took the same route.


Some of Morgan's men entered Withamsville the afternoon of July 14. They broke into stores and businesses and stole horses from the stables of the Bennett House. The Bennett House was the village's stage coach stop. Built in the 1820s, it still stands behind the Village Market (795 S. R. 125/Ohio Pike).

The Raiders spent the night across the street from the Bennett House in the Methodist Episcopal Church where they tied the stolen horses. No longer standing, it stood just off S. R. 125, facing the highway. It was torn down in 2000.

The next morning, the rebels left Withamsville and headed east on the Ohio Pike

Aaron Cleveland lived on what would become present Cleveland Lane in Amelia. He owned the stage coach company on Ohio Pike. His office stood on the SW corner of S. R. 125 and S. R. 132 that headed south to New Richmond. He had already been warned that Morgan's Raiders were in the area, but he was determined to get his passengers to Cincinnati. The stage pulled out of his Amelia office headed west to Cincinnati. When the stage arrived at a rise in the road at present Bach-Buxton Road, (2.2, from Withamsville) Cleveland noticed approaching horsemen. He stopped the stage and waved to the horsemen to warn them of Morgan. The men he waved to were the Raiders riding from Withamsville. They took all of his horses and he and his passengers had to walk back to Amelia.

One home in New Richmond (310 Susanna Way) was said to have been plundered by a few of Morgan's men attempting to reach Kentucky by crossing the Ohio River there. At the time it was the home of the Clasgen family. Before the southerners could cross the Ohio they were stopped by the Union gunboat "Moose" that had been stationed in the Clermont County village of Palestine which is west of New Richmond on U. S. 52. It can be reached by turning south onto Palestine Street (3.3).