Civil War general passed through Madeira area

By Regina Villiers. Originally published June 12, 2002 in The Suburban Life, added June 15, 2019.

     On a rainy, stormy Sunday in April, almost 100 people gathered in Madeira High School’s cafeteria for brunch.  After feasting on the delicious repast provided by Jack and Janice Johnston, aided by some members of the Madeira Historical Society, the crowd listened to author and historian Lester Horwitz recreate the Civil War raid of General John Hunt Morgan.  In 1863, Gen. Morgan had passed near the very spot on which the diners sat, as he stopped at the Hosbrook farm in Madeira.

     Lester Horwitz is author of the book “The Longest Raid of the Civil War” about Morgan’s raid through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.  It’s a substantial book, about 20 years in the making, with 15 years of research and five years of writing.

     As thunder rolled outside, the audience listened to Horwitz retrace Morgan’s roll through three states in the Civil War raid.

     Gen. John Hunt Morgan grew up in Lexington, Ky.  He fought in the Mexican-American War and then became captain of the Lexington Rifles, a Kentucky militia.  When the Civil War broke out, he and the Lexington Rifles left Kentucky and joined the Confederate Army in Tennessee.  He was considered one of the South’s most effective guerilla cavalry officers and he attained much glory and admiration.

     The idea for the famous raid came from Morgan himself.  He approached his commander, Gen. Braxton Bragg, with the idea for a raid north.  He would strike at the Union forces in Kentucky, destroy what Union supplies he found and damage the L&N Railroad carrying Union Supplies to battle fronts in the South.

     Gen. Bragg agreed to this, but he ordered Morgan not to cross the Ohio River.  Morgan, as history shows, carried out his own idea and disobeyed Bragg’s order.

     Though he started out in Tennessee, Morgan’s Raid actually began when he crossed the Cumberland River at Burkesville, Ky. on July 2, 1863, with 3,000 raiders, four cannons, two Howitzers and two Parrotts.

     Morgan proceeded up through Marrowbone, Campbellsville, Columbia, Lebanon and Bardstown in Kentucky.  At Brandenburg, Ky. he crossed the Ohio River again at Harrison and entered the state of Ohio.  He went across northern Cincinnati, through Hamilton and Clermont Counties.

     He then went east and turned north through Ohio. Eventually, they ended up at West Point, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border.  He and less than 400 men were captured there on July 26, 70 miles from Lake Erie, making it the longest raid in the Civil War.

     Though he started out with 3,000 men, a large percentage did not complete the journey.  The first battle at Campbellsville, Ky. had cost him 71 dead or wounded.

     The raid also dealt Morgan a personal loss.  He had five brothers and all served under him throughout the war.  His 18-year-old brother, Thomas Morgan, died from a bullet in his chest at a battle in Lebanon, Ky.

     By the time Morgan entered Ohio, he had los one-third of his force.  His men were dog-tired from being in the saddle with little rest.  They had been pursued all the way by Union Gen. Edward H. Hobson and an army of about 4,000 men.  Hobson had started after Morgan’s Raiders in Kentucky, about 30 miles behind them.

     Along the way, Morgan’s men entered stores and took food and supplies.  They stopped at farms, demanding to be fed and they “traded” their exhausted horses with farmers by taking their fresh horses.

     After the war, farms and businesses made claims to state governments for damages caused by Rebel Raiders.  The state of Ohio reviewed each and paid compensation for a total of 4,375 claims.

     Horwitz researched all these claims for his book and was able to pinpoint all of Morgan’s stops and to make a timeline of the raid.

     In his book, he provides details and stories of local stops.

     He found that in going through Madeira, Morgan’s Raiders had stopped at the Hosbrook farm.  Both John and Maylon Hosbrook had been paid for damages, mostly the loss of horses.

     A Deer Park story says that Morgan and his men invited themselves to breakfast a 4:30 a.m. at the John Schenk farm.  Schenk reported that it took one and one-half hours for all the troops to pass his house.

     When Horwitz was doing research for his book, a woman, Helen Ward, lived in the Schenk house.  She brought out a stack of old, old newspapers telling about the raid and she gave the newspapers to Horwitz.

     An Indian Hill story tells about Tom Boone, who was walking near Given and Shawnee Roads on July 14, 1863, when he was approached by some of Morgan’s men, looking for fresh horses.  Boone was allowed to go unmolested when he told them he was a “friend” and directed them to a farm where they could find horses.

     The book by Lester Horwitz, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War,” is a detailed, definitive account of the war, which put families in conflict and, sometimes, pitted brother against brother.

     More information can be received through the Madeira Historical Society or from Lester Horwitz at 9410 Farmcourt Lane, Loveland, Ohio 45140.